I remember those days you would visit, they would call me from the play ground and tell me that ‘Daddy m Jos’ had come. I remember the pride and love in your eyes as I walked in. I remember the malt you left for me that day, and how you were heartbroken when I said, “My aunty told me not to take things from strangers.”
It wasn’t your fault, fate tore us apart. She had died and we were separated. I remember the toys, clothes and beverages you brought for me.
I remember the first day I followed you to Jos. They had told me you were my dad and against my aunty’s wish, I followed you. I remember your jacket, yes I remember that smell of comfort and safety, and your cap you gave me in the bus because it was cold, while you managed with that thin shirt. I remember when we arrived and I met my step mum. She dished my food; eba and soup and I rejected the food. I wanted tea. I remember you going out that night to buy bread.
I remember you washing my school uniform and socks and my step mum complaining that I was old enough to do those things. I remember when you would call me into the kitchen when you were cooking and you would tell me the reason why you put in every ingredient. You knew I didn’t get along with my step mum, so you took it upon yourself to teach me how to cook. I remember you being a father and mother at once.
I remember the first and only time I kissed you. It was on your cheeks when you were traveling for the first time since I came to Jos. I remember the nights when my sisters and I would massage your feet with water, soap and vaselin and you would tell us stories about why the tortoise shell was broken and why monkey always said “Amen.”
I remember when we would kill chicken together during Easter and Christmas periods and you would tell me stories about my biological mum. You told me no woman has loved you the way she did and you couldn’t bring yourself to love another woman the way you loved her. I remember you buying me my first lip gloss. Every girl in my class had one and I disturbed you. I remember it—it was purple in colour with a flower inside. I remember the happiness in your eyes as I jumped on you with joy.
I remember when you were worried because I hadn’t told you, neither did my step mum tell you that I had started seeing my period. I saw the care and concern in your eyes when I experienced the pain that came with it. I remember you telling me why you could not bring yourself to sell or change the speakers and big radio in the parlour. I remember clearly, you said when things were hard, you had to sell some of your properties so you could feed my mum and I, as the government was delaying your salary.
You asked mum to choose between the television and the radio speakers, she chose the speakers. She loved music. I remember you telling me that those speakers were older than me. I remember how you fiercely defended me in school, at home, in church and everywhere. Everyone said you would spoil me. But I understood it was just love. You had loved me even before I knew what it meant. Hope you don’t regret it now.
I remember when you would come into our room with photo album and show us pictures in black and white. I remember you showing us the picture of the woman your nearly married. I remember you, my sisters and I in the parlour, dancing to reggae music. You made me love reggae. Yes, I remember. We were dancing to Lucky Dube, Bob Marley and UB40. I also remember your dance steps, my little sisters jumping as high as their tiny legs could go and the laughter in your eyes. I remember sleeping off in the parlour while watching TV, without socks and sweater, and waking up the next morning in my room fully clothed to avoid cold. Jos was usually cold. I also remember you waking up my sisters and I at least two times at night so we could go ease ourselves.
I remember when I was operated on. You were afraid. You feared it was cancer. I know because I watched you. You abandoned your work and followed me everyday to JUTH until they were done with me.
I can’t forget when I came to Anambra for Prescience. You followed me. I remember everything. How you lavished on me. You didn’t think twice when it comes to spending for my well being. I remember how you would drop your newspaper or anything you were doing when I said, “Dad there is something I want to tell you.” I remember the attention.
I remember the pride you showed when we traveled to the village and you introduced me as your ‘Ada’. I remember you saying that the three of us were enough for you and you wouldn’t care less if God didn’t give you a son. I remember you praising me for every single thing I did right. I remember the fear and uncertainty that would grip me if I ever think of you dying.
I remember everything and I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I didn’t live up to your expectations. Sorry I turned out to be the bad egg.
Sorry I ran away from home that day and had to be brought home by strangers. Sorry for the physical and emotional injury I caused. Sorry I contributed to the high B.P. Sorry I lied, and stole from you. Sorry I refused to graduate with my mates. Sorry I am not the exact daughter you should have had. Sorry that my heart was stony.
It’s been months now and I haven’t heard from you. I’m scared of calling and I’m not mad you haven’t called. I understand and I’m just hoping you haven’t forgotten me.
It’s me Skye.
I miss you. I’m just writing my feelings down hoping that one day you might read it and know how sorry I am. Again I’m writing this so the world would know that you were the best thing that happened to me, you were right and I was wrong. So they would call me the names I deserve and probably hate me.
Out here I will be strong on my own. Wait a little longer. I’m out here correcting my wrongs, I will right my wrongs. I will deserve you. I’ll come home clean. You will see.