My father and I are kindred spirits, both brooding, bespectacled people, people who are perfectionists, drivers. However, our relationship is deeper than that. Of all my father’s children, it is obvious that I am the one he is closest to. I would not call myself his pet, I just understand him more, simply because I think a lot like him. I understand him. I understand him when he throws tantrums when Lagos life gets to him, I understand him when he broods about my future, the future of my siblings, our collective future. I understand him when he talks about politics, something he cannot talk to with my mother or my other siblings, because I also read the same newspapers, as gaudy as some maybe.
I know about his unaccomplished dreams. My father is a successful lawyer with his practice based in Lagos, Nigeria. But, he didn’t want to practice originally. He wanted to a professor, and get his Ph.D. and live the life of the intellectual but-not-necessarily-very-rich. I know that sometimes he must wonder how life would have been if his father, my grandfather, had just agreed to sponsor his education to Canada. I remember him telling me how when he met a now professor friend of his who was surprised that my Dad hadn’t become a professor by now. My dad had been the brightest while this friend of his had barely made it. My dad shrugged, he had wanted that life but the responsibility of raising his siblings and later his own children held him back. I know he is stalling on this dream until all 4 of us get to college. I know how he likes his eggs and that he prefers my mum to cook for him, although he never complains when she doesn’t. I know he worries about me, this child that seems ambivalent about God. For now, I am not a good Christian. I lie, I hide: things. I have dangerous thoughts. I struggle to believe; Father, help my unbelief.
I also know that my father, Kingsley*, cares deeply about all his children. One day, he called me, in Nigerian parent fashion, that he felt something in his spirit. He said he felt that I was knowingly or unknowingly trying to impress someone that probably didn’t deserve it. That I was beautiful, smart, and intelligent and I was deserving. He was right. About everything, and I didn’t even realize what I was doing until he mentioned it.
My father is 6’2, dark and can be intimidating on the surface. Deep down, he is the most intelligent, most industrious man I know. I do not say these things because I am expected to say good things about my father, I say these things because they are. Because I have lived with it all my life. And I love him.