They say that you are my father. They tell me that no one can replace you.
“You have only one father. And your father is your father.”
But I look at you and I feel nothing.
That is not true, I look at you and I feel nothing that a son should feel for a father.
But they keep telling me, that the biological connection surpasses any other connection. That I was fathered from your loins, that I carry your blood, that everyone can look at me and see your face. That I am you and I cannot run away from that. I bear your name.
Why do they keep telling me things?
Why do they never talk to you?
There are things a father does to his son. He paves the path of life, leading him responsibly. A father educates. A father disciplines. A father pays bills till the son becomes a man. A father guides. A father loves.
My father is a rich man. I watched his debauchery and revelry while I struggled to be my own father. Sometimes he spoke so eloquently about his intentions. How he was going to make me an enviable son. I used to find this exciting, finally my father was going to care for me, like fathers are meant to.
They were all lies.
You see, my father sounds fatherly especially before an audience. He speaks of his intentions and even talks about things that he has supposedly done for me. I used to get excited. I used to believe that after the speech, he would pat me on the head and finally be my father.
I was wrong.
Once he stepped away from the podium, I ceased to exist.
I went back to the life of a bastard, a child spawn from the seed of a very short burst of exhilaration. A 30 second spasm that led to decades of wondering whether I was a mistake. I feel like the product of an ill thought out relationship. One that sounded like a good idea in theory but the sex was bad.
Do you understand why I feel nothing for this man?
What you ask of me is difficult.
Frankly speaking, it is not even fair.
I may be his seed but that is where it stops.
Some of my siblings left. They were adopted all over the world. I stayed and every single day, I ask myself why.
You see, their new fathers take care of them. The new names they bear mean something. I watch them confidently strut around with their children holding their red passports and green cards. They speak back to their fathers, they are protected and treated better than I who still lives here at home with my own father. They are angry at our father. We all are. We cannot understand why one person can be so rich and yet watch his kids struggle with their wits to survive.
Some people say we are not good children. We cheat, we lie, we break the rules and find ways to pilfer from daddy’s pockets. They say we are the reason daddy is unable to take care of us. We deserve the ignoring.
I laugh at them.
What role model did we ever have in our father?
When did he ever teach us how to behave?
When people were investing in educating and training their children, our father watched us sit on floors in public schools. He saw us study with lanterns and candles in mosquito ridden and cobwebby former cafeterias in universities. He saw us hustle in order to scavenge a reasonable life. We saw him squander money meant for us, so we found little ways to get our own back. Since our father was always careless with money and locks, it was easy to pilfer from him.
Those of my siblings that did not steal from daddy were so badly off that we laughed at them. Why starve of hunger to impress a man who is not even looking at you? What awards exist here for honesty and integrity? We frustrated our honest siblings that wanted to be good simply because it was the right thing to be.
You carry champagne flutes and stroll on your gleaming golden balcony. You pretend not to hear us cry. Even when you do hear us, you shout back that we are the ones the created our misery.
Did we ask to be born?
Did we create this?
Who shouts at a hungry child?
We call you father and daddy because we are sentimental.
I am sentimental.
The truth is that we know that we are legitimate bastards.
When the other kids in school speak of their fathers, I join in. Nobody wants to be the bastard child. It is better to have a dead father than one who roams around town brashly exposing his genitals.
The gall of it is when you decide to openly blame us. And then you openly tell people that you will fix us.
How can you remold what has been cast and set and displayed?
You will need to break it. Recast it. Reset it.
You should have trained us when we were still malleable and not now that we are well ill formed.
You ignore me or insult me all year round and yet you mark my birthday every single year. You make speeches and have ceremonies and speak of how far I have come along. People clap their hands and sing my song.
Yet I am not even invited.
I sit at home and watch you make promises on TV.
Yet 2nd October comes and my life remains that same.
I hate you.
Sometimes I want to strangle you with my bare hands.
But I am a coward.
When I do see you, I genuflect, I nod like a lizard and I call you sir.
Maybe I don’t hate you.
Maybe I hate myself for still looking up to you to swoop in and make right every wrong thing you have done.
I hate myself for believing you will knock on my door with tears in your eyes and apologise for 56 years of abuse and abandonment.
And after apologizing, you then shut up for once and fix me up.
I hate myself for seeing the green white green flag and identifying with it fiercely.
I hate myself for despite doing everything in my power to always feel nothing, I cannot lie that underneath the nothingness, there is a tiny something, an irreverent, illogical, against-all-odds kind of thing.
I hate you. I think.
But I love my siblings. My co legitimate bastards.
Who also did not ask for this.
If they are flawed like I am flawed then it is your fault father.
I will not judge them if they give up and leave.
But I am in this for the long haul.
Happy Independence Nigeria.