Her father’s sins


I miss telling stories about the people I’ve known in my few years on this planet, or rather my few years in university. My varsity experiences were made better by the diverse people I got to meet.

A girl I know was going through a lot. For someone many considered blessed, she was going through things a girl should never go through. Her strength was in her cold heart. A heart that grew cold long before she’d had any say in the kind of woman she wanted to be. It was these things that brought us close. In a lot of ways we shared a common sadness.

It was the beginning of the school term. Everyone was excited to be back after a long holiday. That first week of term is a lot about friends catching up on all the events that happened over the holidays. I usually have the least exciting anecdotes, so I find a simple joy in listening to everyone else’s tales. Little did I know that I was in for a somewhat of a scandal when I visited Kagiso’s room for a quick catch up.

A few months before the holidays, Kagiso found out that her mother’s cancer had returned. While we were excited about going home, she just wanted to be home for her mother. We’d IM over the holidays about her mother’s illness. Although she was weak at times, she was responding very well to treatment and the prognosis was good.

I knocked on her door with so much glee. She opened the door and gave me a big warm hug. We held on for a few seconds longer than usual. This setting a tone for what was about to come.

We started with a bit of small talk. The usual-you’ve lost weight, your skin’s looking good-frivolous things that don’t matter. I could tell that she was anxious to tell me something. I figured it was about her mom’s illness. So I asked how she left things.

Without mincing her words, she jumped right into it.

This is Kagiso’s story

When I was younger my father had an affair. My mother is the kind of mother who believes in protecting her children’s innocence so she’d always cover for him. Yes he was a businessman and he travelled a lot. But there were many nights where my home was without a husband. Not because he wasn’t there in presence, rather he wasn’t there in a way that I could swear on a bible that he was a loving and caring husband to my mother. Although he adored his children. I never questioned that for one bit.

It is for this reason that I resented my mother as a little girl. I felt like she was the one driving him away. I was a child then, it only made sense. I’d often think ‘Why doesn’t mommy kiss daddy hello. He’s been gone for so long. She’s so mean to daddy’.

One night, I walked in on her talking to him on the phone. She was in tears, weeping, begging him to come home. Saying how much she missed him and how much she loved him more than she (the other woman) did. This was a rude awakening for me. Unnoticed, I walked back to my room. I felt heavy and empty at the same time, almost lethargic. After what felt like a great deal of effort, I made it to my room. I couldn’t sleep.

I felt like an awful child. All those times I’d bombard her with questions ‘Mommy, where’s daddy, when’s he coming back. Mommy I want daddy’. Those memories played over and over in my head. I felt real guilty for the first time in my life. I learnt how to hate for the first time in my life. I felt remorse, compassion and empathy. I cried myself to sleep. I aged twenty years on that night.

I said nothing about this to anyone. I kept this to myself. I decided to be everything I can possibly be to my mother.

Fast forward ten years later. I go home for the varsity holidays. My mother was doing better than I could’ve ever hoped for, considering what I’d seen the last time she was ill. Everything seemed normal on the home front. It was home and glad to be back.

A week into the holiday, I get a phone call from Kirsten. Her parents had bought her a new car. She wanted us all to drive down to KZN. I obviously didn’t want to go, but I told my mother about it and she insisted that I go have fun with my friends. I was skeptical. But I went anyways.

We left for St Lucia on a Friday morning. We got there in the afternoon and jumped right into action. Did the things that juvenile girls do on a juvenile weekend away. On the Saturday morning everyone was hung over. But I drink like my father so I could function. I seized the opportunity to drive Kirsten’s new car and I drove to the local grocer for supplies. I wasn’t prepared for what was waiting for me.

I see this man, pushing a trolley a man who resembled my father. A man who was my father. He was with two boys, twins, not much older than my youngest sister.

You often hear people talking about near death experiences, how your whole life flashes before your eyes. The same thing happened to me. Everything I’d buried and masked through the years greeted me in that moment with insolence and spite. I was suspended in time. Everything in front of me was moving so slowly. My subconscious was taking in every single visual element of the cruelty before me. My eyes were fixated on those boys, and yet it was like I was feeling more than seeing. My cold heart was breaking. I could almost hear it over the sounds of cash tills, beeping scanners and trolley wheels.

I just stood there and watched as it became clearer that those boys were his. It was in the way they looked, there was an undeniable resemblence. The way he looked at them was another like a stamp that would forever seal what I felt for my father, nothing.

I watched them walk away as a tear rolled down my cheek. I just then realised that I’m my mother’s daughter. Every time my father walked away, she’d helplessly watch with a broken heart. Nothing can prepare you for anything like that. There was no comfort for me. I felt a loneliness I hope to never feel again. All the company in the world left the store with my father and those boys.

This middle-aged lady briefly saved me from my initiation into hell by coming up to me and asking if I was okay. I don’t know how much longer I would’ve just stood there if she didn’t come. She had such kind eyes, I suppose in that moment Charles Manson himself would pass for someone with kind eyes too. I opened my mouth to speak, but I somehow found myself deep in her bosom, weeping. I didn’t care, I couldn’t care. I’d just lost my father. I needed to mourn him. I was inconsolable. She was rubbing my back and stroking my hair. It was like a granule of sugar in my bathtub of lemon zest, and I couldn’t be more grateful. She kept saying something in Zulu, but I couldn’t hear her over my sobbing.

Slightly embarrassed, I eventually stopped. I thanked the lady, left her clueless and rushed out of the store.

The sun was blinding, but it was different. It felt different. It wasn’t as warm as it was before. I became clear to me that things had changed again in my life. Once again I had aged.

I got into the car. It then dawned on me that I still had things to buy. But I just didn’t want to. I also remembered that I was with four other people, who I so desperately didn’t want to be around anymore. ‘Ah fuck, those fucking perky bitches’, I though to myself. That’s when my good friend Obi called, it’s like he knew something was a miss. He asked me how everything was. I knew I couldn’t handle another episode, so I played it down and told him how much I hate those fucking perky bitches. His advice ‘drink them away’. Just like that, I decided that’s how I’m going to survive the rest of my weekend. It was the only way.

With my head slung low, ashamed for such an extroverted display of emotions, I walked back in the store. Grabbed everything we needed. Then I rushed to the bottle store and bought enough gin and tonic to sedate me until I got back home.

As I was driving, a part of me kept hoping I’d get involved in a freak accident. I just needed a little distraction, some else to suffer through, anything but this. But I had to think about my mother. This triggered another emotional reaction. I hadn’t at all considered her. ‘Did she know? Oh my God, this is why she has cancer again. That bastard is making my mother sick’. My mind was like a network of trains with multiple collisions. I had murderous thoughts. I was fuming! ‘He gave her cancer, he gave her cancer twice’. Over and over again in my mind.

Before I knew it I was outside Kristen’s holiday home. I sat in the car for a bit. Had a croissant and washed it down with a massive gulp of gin. Braced myself to face everyone.

The girls were barely awake. This was a grace I was truly grateful for. I was to get sauced before I could have a conversation with anyone. I fixed myself a good shot of GNT went outside and lit a cigarette.

And so the weekend continued. Juvenile! Most of it was a blur, as per my intentions.

It was Monday morning and time to go back home. It suddenly hit me that I wanted one of them to see that something wasn’t right with me. I wasn’t going to say anything obviously, but not at any moment did one of them come up to me and ask if everything was okay. These are girls I’ve known for over ten years. Couldn’t they tell that I was going through hell? I found this quite disturbing.

As we were driving home. I contemplated the kind of person I was. Questioning if I was perhaps acting normally to my friends. Was this who I was? Maybe I was going through hell long before I saw my father in that store. I was already there. I mean, hell is hell right? How much hotter can it really get?

The girls dropped me off first. We had a quick chat reminiscing about ‘the good times’.

Before I walked in the house, I took a deep breath, as if to channel some divine being into me. And just like that. I decided to be that little again.

With my new discovery unnoticed, I walked into the house. I said nothing about this to anyone. And again I vowed to be everything I can possibly be to my mother and now my sisters too.

As for my father. I don’t have one.

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About obialone
I'm random and unwise. I'm always seeking wisdom in its simplest form. I'm scared of not being scared, so I find ways to terrify myself. I care about everything, and I'm interested in all things. I reserve the right to change my mind, anytime. So in most cases I find it best to humble my opinion

One Response to Her father’s sins

  1. Thabang says:

    Obi!I have no words. Only an uncomfortable lump in my throat one feels just before they are about to cry. Thank you gore sharing!

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