People don’t really talk much about their fathers as much as they do their mothers, which is understandable because mothers are the more present and visible of the two parents.I remember watching a program on TV about parents one time with both my parents and my dad asked why it was that most people interviewed paid glowing tributes to their mum but merely acknowledged their father’s input in their lives. I felt uncomfortable that day because it kind of suggested that the fathers didn’t exist, so to speak.
But they do. First of all without the father’s erm…’input’, the mother wouldn’t be pregnant in the first place. The father it is, that provides for mother and baby. He works hard so his family would have a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs. He is the rock of the house and his family look to him for guidance and protection. Even when he feels fear and anxiety, he is careful not to show it to his family, because if the Head shows fear, the rest of the family might as well be quaking. Fathers point their kids in the right way to go and sometimes they do it with the ‘bulala’, just like in my case.
I am writing this post in honour of my wonderful dad, PRINCE EDWIN ERIATA ORIBHABOR as he turns 50 on this wonderful 19th of April. As I write this I cannot help but go down memory lane and remember past events in my life and how my dad helped shape me to become the woman I am today. I look at him and wonder if this was the same man that was so strict while I was growing up. My dad is the disciplinarian and my mum is the one that usually cries for us to be let off the hook. You could be talking to my dad and explaining something and before you know it, you would hear a loud noise (the sound of a hot slap) and wonder what was happening. It’s only when your cheeks start to throb with pain that you realise that you just got slapped. Growing up as the first child, I used to be really scared of my dad especially when he was home. The times he was away at work were usually my happiest and I made sure I played to my satisfaction; for extra measure, I even ‘played’ the one of ‘yesterday’ when the man was around and didn’t really allow me to ‘rise’ to my full ‘potentials’ while playing with my friends. My dad was really strict mehn! Anytime I think of my childhood, the ‘belt’ always ‘showed face’. I had plenty encounters with that belt, not because I was a stubborn child, but because the man was just too hot tempered and strict. I have no recollection whatsoever of my mum even as much as slapping me, how much more using the cane or belt. But my dad, Chai!
As a child I used to bedwet and it used to anger him. I would be sleeping and forming a warm pool around me and all of a sudden, I would feel myself being lifted from the bed and before the grogginess would disappear, Omo enough flogging don take place. I would cry and cry and back then I doubted that he was my real father. I secretly nursed the hope that my real father would come and he wouldn’t be as strict as this man. This man was so strict that he always cut my hair when he ‘felt’ it had grown too long. According to him, too much hair made me lean. He also didn’t want it to get to my head that I had really long hair. He didn’t want me to do ‘shakara’ with it, because I was too young for that then. Kai! I could just be playing and he would just return from work and say, “it seems your hair has grown too long”. I would look at him praying he wouldn’t say the next thing. He did anyway. “Get me the scissors” and chop, chop… the length of my hair would drastically reduce. He was no barber so you can only imagine the ‘rat-chop’ style he gave me plenty times, those years. I am only too grateful to God that my hair grows really fast o, otherwise…Hian! It wouldn’t have been funny at all. LOL.
Being the first child, I am saddled with the responsibility of setting a good example for my siblings. I was my parents’ guinea pig through no fault of my own and all their parenting skills, they tried out first on me. Being the first has it’s perks though you know, LOL. Back then it was a rule that we read our books from 7pm-9pm after which every child marched to the living room for ‘by force’ NTA Network News. I was in charge of making sure no one was dozing and a ruler was placed in my right hand. LOL…I had fun then and my brother was the one that usually received the knocks from the ruler. Haha.
My father taught me to be bold, he inculcated in me the importance of reading and taking one’s studies seriously. Back then you dared not return home with a result sheet with a position above 1st-6th. The man was clear in that area, so we were always reading and making sure our results were good, if not…hmmmm. I remember when I was learning to read in nursery 2, it was my dad that taught me and made it easy. From that point on, I didn’t look back and English Language became my favourite subject later.
As time went by though, he reduced his level of strictness and when I look at him today, I wonder if it’s the same man that woke me up from sleep with cane after I had quietly gone to bed (and very early o), after breaking the glass in his shadow portrait while I was doing cart wheels inside the house. I can’t forget that night. The man didn’t pity the little girl by waiting till the next morning. Hahaha
My dad taught me the value of sacrificing for others and he always told us, “don’t ask ANYBODY for ANYTHING! If you want something, come to us your parents”. In fact, he was very clear about that, no negotiations. He also taught me the value of being content with what I have and that is why till today, I am not swayed by the glittery vanity around me. As kids,our friends’ parents didn’t bother to offer us food. There was no point because we wouldn’t accept it. My parents already warned us from ‘babyhood’ (LOL) that we shouldn’t eat at other people’s homes, so it was already set in stone. Don’t bother, hahaha. He loves to travel and learn about places and he passed that love on to me. He would always say, “You have to read. Learn about places and people. Go out and meet people”. and I did (still do) just that.
As he marks this important milestone in his life, I just want to say, there is indeed no man I would have wished for as a father apart from him. He has being the vocal voice of reasoning in my life, and is almost solely (almost I said) responsible for making me turn out the way I am, character-wise and educationally. Even at 50 years, he could pass for a 35 year old man and with his wife (my momma) by his side, you would think they are newly married! HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY DADDY, you too ‘MUSH’ and I LOVE YOU!!!