I want to write an ode to that man, my father, my teacher, my friend and my age-mate.
When I was born, or so I am told because I wasn’t there, in the sense of being cognition, my mother was still in college or had to go back to finish her studies and that is where the friendship began. The stories I hear are of him carrying me everywhere and all. I have not seen photos (maybe I should ask him for proof).
He was my teacher in every sense. You see, he taught in the school that I attended (just like mom) and his lessons started with training us on handwriting. Interestingly, my handwriting depending on the weather, has elements from both of them. But this is an appreciation post for dad.
In my repudiation or religion and questioning of cultural mores and norms, my father has been an inspiration. You see, when one an aunt of mine died at home, following the breakdown of her marriage, some of our uncles came and said, according to tradition, she couldn’t be buried in the home. He told them in no uncertain terms that they could wait for their sisters to die and bury them out of the home. His argument being that while my aunt was sick, she was living in the home, how would her death then mean she can’t be in the home and that was the end of the discussion.
On another occasion, on still cultural issues, when some of the villagers made a demand on him that he follows some practices, he told them unequivocally that he wasn’t consulted when these rules were made and as such, he is free to make his own. So yes, we try to make our own. Thanks to that man, my father.
My father has had a interesting relationship with the church. There are times he went regularly and times he seldom went. I can’t fault my parents for giving us religion. I think they had few options open to them given their fathers and grandfathers before had taken them to church, so it was only a matter of course that we too should go to church. Our conversation when I first told him of my atheism was to ask how I was going to teach my younger siblings about morality. To him, religion and morality were intertwined at the hip and it wasn’t possible to have morals and be irreligious, a legacy of Christianity, I think. At this point in time, I think he has made peace with my irreligion and I think he now knows his children and grandchildren need not go to church to be good members of the society, that religion is not the reason we are moral.
My father, he is a good man. The villagers can hardly go to him with gossip. If you are going to tell him so and so said anything about him or somebody else, be ready to say it in the presence of that person. Maybe he believes each person deserves a fair hearing before they are condemned.
Some of the hilarious moments I recall about spending time with my old man was when some fellow kept coming to him for money for tobacco, he told him he would buy him seeds so he has a continuous supply of leaves but this fellow didn’t want to do the hard work of waiting for his tobacco leaves. Or whenever someone inebriated came to see hi, his condition was they had to be in the same state of sobriety before they could have conversation. And this only meant one thing, you have to come back when sober.
Last year, my father threw a party to his friends. It was his 60th birthday and they were happy. For one, they were not going to a friend’s home to pass their last respects but to celebrate the joys of life. Some of my villagers were so happy that an old man (i think he qualifies to be old) can have a birthday party. It was a good time.
I wish him a long life and thank him for being that good man in our (my) lives.
I love him, my father, I do.