You father taught you a lesson no father should teach a daughter
You were 6 or 7 when you found out you had a brother. A brother not born of your mother. Your father had taken you out to see his ‘friend’ . The lady who had opened the door was surprised to see you, there was a little boy peeping behind her. He looked about your age. You shook your head when offered snacks. You shook your head when asked if you wanted to watch cartoons. The little boy had a birthmark on the V where the index finger met the thumb. Daddy has the same. And he looked like Daddy.
He talked while you listened. He told you about his father, your father. How he father travelled a lot but sometimes spent weekends with them. You remembered that your own father spent weekdays with you and sometimes went on work trips during the weekend. Occasionally you would look up and glance at this boy that looked like Daddy. On your way home, your father would stop at your favourite place, Flavours where you had three scoops of different flavours of ice cream
“Nnenna, we went to my friend’s house and had ice cream later okay?”
You nodded your head.
When you got home and your mother asked how your outing was
You replied it was fine.
Over the years you would know what was expected of you. You were to cover up for Daddy. You never mentioned the little boy to your mother. The messages you read from girlfriends were overlooked or deleted . You would walk pass your parents room multiple times when you heard them arguing. Sometimes you would be called in during arguments. One person accusing the other, the other threatening to do something and you would be seated right in the middle, crying, mumbling words . A position no child should ever be in.
It was after your first year in the university, you were about 17 or 18 when your mother found out about your father’s son. You came down that Saturday morning to her sitting at the dining table, your father was on a trip.
“Fa ma, they know” she said while starring at the cup of tea she was stirring
“They know he has a son”
All these years you had tried to protect your mother from your father. You never complained as a child. You were the child that gave no trouble, always well behaved. The fulfillment your mother never got from your father you tried to fill in. You hid his secrets hoping your mother would never find out because you knew how much it would break her heart. A role a child should never have to play.Now there you were, seated at that table looking at your mother and confused on how to comfort her.
“They had always known”
She never did drink that cup of tea neither did she stop stirring.
You would be 23 when you find out that your boyfriend is cheating on you. Not with one. Not with two. This isn’t your father. You weren’t looking for clues, the clues found their way to you. He’s driving home while holding your hand, you’re smiling and mumbling words that cannot be heard . You would become that little child settling her parents arguments again
Nnenna tell her to read it properly
It says love, Hope .Nnenna show it to him
But your father had prepared you for days like this. Your father had taught you to be quiet, very observant but quiet. He had taught you to listen behind closed doors. He had taught every body movement a cheating man would have. You had learnt that it was possible to loathe someone that you love. He taught you how to silently cry tears that sting your eyes and left lumps in your throat. Many times, these men would remind you of the lessons you had learnt. Lessons no daughter should learn from her father.
There he was, your father. In the same sofa he usually sat on. Legs crossed, glasses on, reading a newspaper. He has that birthmark on the V where the index finger and thumb meet. You see the face of the boy from when you were 6 or 7. He looks up and asks you how your outing was. You look at him. He who taught you how to hide a thousand emotions behind a smile.
You smiled and replied it was fine