“Step Back, Dad!” (14)
Hello, this is the 14th episode (Here is episode 13) and it’s been an amazing journey so far. Thanks for staying hooked on Redigion. If you love what you read here, please nominate this blog in The Nigerian Blog Awards. Categories are FAITH-BASED, NEW and WRITING.
Have you ever felt betrayed by someone you loved? One you thought would always have your back, no matter what. It is like having the devil stab you on your back with a three-edged knife. I have been stabbed and no, not by the devil, but by the ‘angels’ I entrusted my life with… the three most important people in my life, and right now, all I just want to do is to travel far, far away and start life afresh, but first, I need to settle some scores… starting from the man who held me in his arms some 28 years ago.
The cab driver blared his car’s horn loudly in the Lagos traffic, which seemed to have gone worse these days. For the first time, I was not impatient with the delay. I needed some time to think and plan before meeting my father. Why didn’t I see what was coming all along? I had been blinded by love and closed my heart to the unbelievable. All I needed was a shattering revelation from the woman I thought was my ‘mother’…
Mrs. Folarin had apologized over and over, but her words had fallen on deaf ears. How could she do this to me? I had been to her for counseling several times. She had been a source of inspiration, had motivated me to keep ‘praying’, when she had been a major cause of my misery. How more wicked could one be?
Segun had been quiet most of the time, but his face showed he had a hard time taking everything in. He had been a pawn too and had played nicely into her hands. He only asked one question at the end of the discussion – WHY?….., which our host had no reply to. Then he quietly stood up and left the office without a backward glance. I had followed few minutes later.
At 9.15pm, I arrived home and discovered dad was not around. Then I remembered today was counseling day. He would be in church to see as many as he would. Well, I would wait patiently for him. I had my ‘counseling’ to give and if this would bring a break in our relationship, so be it. My phone rang and it was Segun calling. My fingered lingered on the green button. Was I ready to listen to his side of the story? Segun had hurt me. Really hurt me and hearing his voice would only increase the pain. All the outings with Tayo had been real, after all. I let the phone ring. First things first.
The gate opened and I knew my father had arrived. I sat at the dining table as that was where it all began… the day he warned me explicitly never to have anything to do with Segun… probably the day he had hatched his break-up plan.
When he came in, he didn’t see me at the table. He looked at the clock and muttered. “This girl has not arrived. She has started keeping late nights.”
“I’m here, dad!”
“Oh!” He smiled. “I didn’t know you had arrived. How was work today?”
“Good”. I gestured at him. “Come sit here. We need to have a serious conversation that will determine a lot of things from tonight.”
He didn’t seem to notice the seriousness in my voice. “Really?” His phone rang. “Oh! It’s Deaconess Folarin.”
“Don’t pick that call.” I walked up to him and grabbed the phone.
When he saw my reaction, he became concerned. “What’s wrong? Have you been crying?” He lifted his hand to touch me, but I shifted so he missed. “Is it about Segun? What has the boy done? Didn’t I warn you to stay away from him?” His voice was louder now.
“How could you do that?”
“How could I do what? Young lady, you have to be clear. I will not do anything to hurt you. I am your father.”
“I know everything. Everything, dad! From start to finish…all your plans to make sure I do not end up with Segun. You went behind me to tell the Deaconess to break my relationship with my fiancé by all means, all because he is not Igbo and I am so disappointed in you.”
“Oh that!” He waved his hands. “I was only trying to protect you.”
“Who told you I needed your protection? I am 28 now, not the little girl you played hide-and-seek with. I am a grown woman and can make my own decisions.”
“Not when I am still your father and you are still my little girl, no matter what. Yes, I spoke with the Deaconess. I had to put things in proper place because you were stubborn and would not listen to me. I will not allow my daughter to fall into the hands of just any man.”
“And Segun is ‘just any man’ because he is not from our tribe?”
“Well… amongst other things… yes, he does not qualify. My dear, there are better brothers in the church and some have even walked up to me to ask for your hand. They are not disrespectful like what’s-his-name who went behind my back to toast you first before coming to me.”
“Is that what this is all about? Respect and tribe?” Unbelievable!
“That and many more and I will not change my mind. I will not give my approval for him.”
“Never mind. You have won, okay? Segun and I have taken a break. Does that make you happy?” I picked my bag from the table. “This is one of the times I wish mama were alive. She…”
“Stop there, young lady. Don’t bring your mother into this.” He pointed a finger at me.
There was a momentary silence. I looked at him squarely in the eyes and spoke conclusively. “I am going away from here, away from you and your influence. I am tired of being manipulated.”
“Where are you going? You want to leave me on my own?” He sounded frightened.
“You will be fine and you won’t be alone. I need to be in control of my life and I do not need your permission to do that.” I turned my back against him and expected a sharp reply, but none came.
When I turned, I found him sitting on the sofa with his head bent down. He looked sad and withdrawn and I felt pity for him. I sighed and moved to sit beside him. “Dad, I am sorry if that hurt you, but I need you to understand I need to do that. I cannot be who I should be if I remain under your shadow.”
“Please don’t leave me.” His voice was weak and he wrapped my hands in his. I noticed his hands shook visibly. “I don’t want to be alone. With your brothers in the UK and you gone, I will lose myself.”
“Then you have to let me be, daddy. You have to step back for me to become the woman God wants me to be, even if it involves getting married to another tribe.”
He raised his head. “Whatever I do is just to protect you, not to harm you. You are my little girl and with your mother gone, it is my duty to ensure you settle down well and with the right set of people.”
“And the right set of people can only be igbos? I think the right set of people should be God’s children, no matter the ethnicity.”
He sighed. “Let me tell you a little story and you will understand why I made my decision. Before your mother, there was a woman. She was Yoruba. We met at the University and fell in love. I really loved her and planned to marry her. But her family refused. They said I was not good enough because I was Igbo. All my pleas fell on deaf ears. We had to break up, was the most painful decision I made in my life. From that moment, I made up my mind, I would never have anything to do with that tribe. My dear, they are not good people. They will never accept you will be good enough for their son and that is what I am protecting you from.”
I was short of words. I now understood why he was so determined. Though his plan was manipulative, he really had good intention.
I caressed his hands. “Not all of them are like that.”
“Segun is. I can smell that in him. You will never be good enough for him.”
“So my husband must be igbo?”
“If possible, yes.”
I released his hands and stood up. It appeared he would never change. “You cannot keep playing God, dad. It is His decision, not yours. Remember that.”
“Will you still leave me?” He asked with a shaky voice.
I didn’t reply. I left him there and walked to my bedroom. I flung myself on the bed. I was tired, physically and emotionally. Time was when I would have called Segun and shared my encounters with my dad with him. Now, I was alone. My phone vibrated and I saw I had missed 6 calls from him with a message waiting. It was a four-worded text from him
“Can we start afresh?”
A million dollar question to which I had no answer. Tell me, should we?