Your boy is a man now,
Your boy is the man you brought up the way you did.
Your boy is rigorously making efforts to retrain himself.
Papa, your boy is in pain.
Papa, I wish you told me.
I wish you told me, Papa, what I know now.
I wish you told me the truth about the chimney and the bottles.
I wish you told me more than “Those who do it will go to hell.”
I wish you told me the truth about how you smoked and drank, but in hiding — I saw you one night, Papa, then many nights after.
The keyhole was big enough, and the fragrances did not do a great job. Papa I knew!
Papa, I wish you did more than scaring me about females.
I wish you taught me how to manage testosterone.
Papa, I wish you were a mentor. I wish you were a counsellor.
Papa, you spent hours weekly, teaching at marriage seminars, but your boy lost his hair on the scintillating laps of Delilah. His mind almost followed, Papa.
Papa, you made feel like failure was the end of the world.
All you did was to refer to your fictitious distinctions.
I finally found your results, Papa. I almost thought red was your favourite colour, and “F”, your best letter.
My failures were genetic, Papa. I know now.
You often told me not to lie, Papa. But whenever your talkative friends visited, I delivered your message innocently, saying, “He said he’s not at home.”
Papa, you instructed me not to steal. I obeyed until you came home for an “indefinite leave” as you called it. I saw the letter, Papa. You pilfered at work. You were fired!
Papa, honestly, I tried to do everything you said, but your actions were the worst distractions I had to deal with. They never matched your words.
You told me never to beat my sisters, that real men don’t beat women.
But Papa, the black eye Mama often had couldn’t have been because she fell, as she always told us.
We once saw your fingerprints on her cheek.
Papa, if parenting were a course, you should have a carryover.
If childhood were a dream, I’d call it my scariest nightmare.
I particularly remember, Papa, the day you…
[Check this space next Sunday for Letter to Papa — Part 2]
© Akinsiwaju Sanya
What are your experiences with parenting — as a child or a parent? Share them with us in the comment section.
By the way, did you miss my introductory post?