I sincerely regret my inability to apologize to my dad just as I rue my lack of opportunity to seek his forgiveness for hating him so much before he died. I hated my dad because of the way he treated my mother. As far as I could see and tell, as a 5-year old, my dad was wicked. He maltreated my mum. What kind of man would pretend to be a good dad, caring husband and a good Christian but would always make the wife cry in the night every two days?
Our house, built during the civil war, was a 3-bed room bungalow. My dad had a room to himself, gave one to my mum and the other to my uncle and his family. All the children in the house slept in the palour. My dad didn’t hide his fondness for me. I had the sole privilege of sleeping in his room since I was two. I slept on a mat laid on the floor.
My morbid hatred for my dad started when one night, I heard someone crying in the room, from the direction of his bed. I was initially very terrified but when I listened raptly and discovered it was my mum’s voice, I felt bad. The cry later died down slowly as it started.
The room was dark as my dad normally put off the lantern before he retired to bed. So, I couldn’t tell with what he was beating my mum. Another rainy and cold night, I was stupefied to see my dad beating my mum and all she could do was to be shouting “di m i gbuoo m ” meaning “you have killed me my husband!”
“Why wouldn’t she run away or hit him back?” I thought. I concluded that my dad was so callous as he would always do this whenever my mum made him his favorite meal of Ora Soup and Coco yam fufu. “What an ingrate of a man!” I surmised.
At 5 and half years, I believed I was man enough to protect my mum. I was prepared. I ensured that I didn’t sleep, even though I appeared to have slept, the night my mum made my dad’s favorite meal and I was right. I noticed when my mum entered the room and climbed onto my dad’s bed to receive the usual beating.
As soon as my mum started crying, I jumped up and started hitting my dad on his bare back shouting “leave my mum alone, you wicked man!” Of course, the beating stopped abruptly. They were both shocked at my activism.
About 4pm the next day, my mum sent for me. She told me that I was now old enough to join my siblings to sleep in the palour. I was shocked at her verdict. Who would defend her at night against my wicked father?
I was consoled that I had confronted the devil in my father when I had the chance. Could it be that my father had repented and promised my mum that he won’t beat her again after the last fight because I saw him receive holy communion in the church in the morning?
Few months after, my mum gave birth to Tochukwu, my younger brother. Sadly, my dad died one year after, even as I begrudged him.
Yes, he was so wicked, I then believed. How would he reward my mum’s good deeds with beatings in the dead of the night?
Did my father place a curse on me? I guess he muttered “your son shall do the same to you” after I cut short his fight with my mum. If not, why would my son, at about the same age I was then, keep barging into my room whenever he heard his mother cry the same cry my mother cried? He nearly disrupted my active discussion with his mother that would later lead to the birth of his younger sister.
At this age of mine and also as a dutiful, rampant and skilled wife beater, I could now quantify the gravity of the offence I had committed against my father as a child by denying him the satisfaction that follows the conclusion of beating of a wife and cutting short his race to a climax made faster by the loud decibels of my mother’s cry.
What an innocent child that I was!