Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A Journey Home - Part 1

It had been weeks since the matter of me and my father’s night-time discussion had occurred. As the weeks slowly went by everything seemed to get back to normal…which basically meant just tolerating everything in silence. To be totally honest things weren't too bad. There were a few moments when my father and I got on but things still could have been better.

Over a month had passed since I came home from uni; and I was starting to get bored of being at home most of the time. The youth-club which Samson was going to show me had closed down to due government cuts and; so my summer plans were now non-existent. The only consolation I could look forward to was the family-trip to Nigeria that we had coming up.

Me and my family had visited Nigeria once before. I was quite young then and barely remembered anything except the immense-heat and running scared for my life from masquerades in the village.
As young a child Nigeria was a place my father only spoke of when mentioned in the news or if the National team lost a football match.

I had always wondered why I and Peace didn’t visit more often. My father and mother use to travel there once in a while and leave us behind; this was when me and my sister were old enough to be left alone though; and of course unlces and aunties would occasionally check up on us.

When the time eventually came to leave Peace and I seemed quite excited. Although we had heard many scary and weird stories about Nigeria, it didn’t phases us…if any of the stories were true we’d just have to see it for ourselves.

Preparing for this journey had been an experience in itself. Relatives kept calling my mum asking if they could bring items to her and help deliver them to their own relatives in Nigeria. My mother had to politely refuse. The stress of being responsible for other people’s items was something she didn’t want.

At the airport, my sister and I looked on at other passengers in amusement as some of them tried to find ways of dodging the excess-weight fee for their luggage. They tried turning their luggage in different positions, moving the contents around inside even arguing with the airline staff. To my mum and dad this all seemed normal.

The call for our flight had been announced and so we headed to the gate to go on board.

On board my father and I sat together. My mum who was already starting to doze off, wrapped herself in a blanket. Peace sat next to her reading a book.

“Mikel, when we reach Naija…I think it would be great if I showed you a few things…I feel this would be a great opportunity for us to…”
my father paused.

“” I think that's what he wanted to say.
He looked at me.

“Obiora, my son…I only ask you to do one thing for me, if we’re going to bond as father & son I want you to also make the effort…meet down the middle, try to understand me at times also… i na ghota? You understand, right?”

I responded with a nod and just tilted my head back, closed my eyes and let my thoughts carry me off.

I began thinking of how me and my father would actually start to bond. It was the first time I ever heard him mention the word. The word ‘bond’ felt foreign. The relationship we’ve had had never really been like those you see on TV; playing football, play fighting, you know, typical father-son stuff. My father’s main focus was always my education; and as for him and my sister…well their relationship was no better.

I used to hear that fathers & daughters were always close, but I never saw it with Peace and my dad; we were both close with our mother, but with our father? It was a totally different case. Yes we loved him but if you were to ask us if we liked him…I couldn’t answer. I guess if this trip went according to plan that might change…hopefully

So far I kept thinking about ME and my father, but a part of me wondered how he was going to get close with Peace. I came out of my thoughts and decided to address this to him. My father was half asleep, I knew how much he hated being disturbed when resting but I decided to ask anyway.

“Dad? What about Peace? Are you going to try and bond with her too?”

My father yawned and grumbled his answer to me.

“Yes, but that will be between me and her…let me first focus on you first.”

I remember when my mum told me about some of my father’s past; and how he was the bread winner of the family after his father went missing during the civil-war. I tried to think of what my dad went through to make him becoming the man he is today. I wondered if his hard-life growing up was the cause of his sometimes emotionless character.

As my father sat there with his eyes closed, I just looked at him; one thing I just realised is that he rarely ever spoke about his past. Anytime he did mention his childhood was when he was nagging me or Peace.
I remember one time when Peace was around 14 or 15;  my dad had asked her to get him a glass of water and she did get it…but she had an attitude about it. My dad just shook his head in disgust.

“You kids today in this country are spoilt & lazy. When I was your age I had to walk miles under the sun to a river to fetch water. All you have to do is walk to the kitchen and it becomes a problem…it is a shame”

The harshness of his own childhood was probably too much for him to talk about; but whatever the problem was, it was something he didn’t want to share. The only person my dad opened up to was my mum. And one notion my mother believed in was, whatever is discussed between parents is kept between parents; so she didn't tell us anything either.
I guess the trip to Nigeria  was what I should have really been focusing on.

Slowly I became a bit bored of my own thoughts and started drifting off to sleep.
I dreamt that masquerades flogged me & my father. Whilst I cried out in pain, he remained silent not saying a word about it.