I particularly remember, Papa, the day you first told me that males don`t cry.
That was the beginning of my emotional disaster.
I struggled to hide emotions. I was trying to “be a man”.
I know better now, Papa; tears have nothing to do with gender. Humans cry.
You owe me an apology, Papa. You owe me an apology.
For every time you said “boys will be boys”, instead of correcting my wrongs, you owe me an apology.
I still don`t understand why you never allowed me to cook, sweep, and do dishes.
You claimed there were feminine duties. Guess who now struggles not to be a stinky bachelor.
I wish I did more than washing your car and carrying heavy stuff.
I wish you brought me up as a human being, not as a male child.
I wish you paid equal attention to my sisters` education as you did mine.
I wish you trained them to be human beings, not preparing them for marriage, as if that was all their lives were about.
Papa, the time you spent instructing us on what tribes not to marry from could have been spent on better things. I wish you taught us unity, I wish you taught us peaceful co-existence, I wish you told us about the beauty in diversity.
But how could you?
I remember that your first tenancy requirement was tribe-based.
You couldn`t have given us what you didn`t have.
You were more particular about what my sisters wore, in relation to your societal status.
There was more to their wellbeing than all that.
No wonder they couldn`t tell you when Uncle Somebody, every night, did THAT to them.
They are still trying to get over the trauma.
You talked so much about the strength of a man, I almost believed no evil could happen to a man. Because “a man will always be a man” as you always said.
Aunty Somebody abused me nightly. But how could I have told anyone? How could I have sounded less of a man? I “manned up” all those years. Guess who`s traumatised now.
Papa, the 10 commandments you made us memorise, the memory verses, the gospel songs, and all other things like that…they felt like fiction because our lives never reflected them.
They were mere words. They meant nothing to us.
Papa, you hated the use of the left hand so badly, not even caring that some of us were wired that way. I wish you took some time to find out what it had to do with the brain.
You taught us body positions while greeting, and many other trivial things that brought praise to your name.
But Papa, what happened to etiquette?
What happened to respect, and not just a show of it?
Why did we grow up treating people of other beliefs the way we did?
You taught us that everything we were was the best, and superior to all others —
But now we know, Papa, that the world was never about us alone.
Our ideologies were never “the ideologies”, there were only some of the existing ideologies.
Papa, if I decide to continue, this letter may be endless.
One thing I know that your style of parenting taught us is how not to be a parent.
We, however, appreciate your efforts.
We live to learn, and we learn to live better.
May we be better parents.
May we be better parents, so we can attempt to have a society void of patriarchy, chauvinism, religionism, tribalism, racism, and every other vice that has brought us where we are today on this planet.
Did we not agree that charity begins at home?
What then happens when we don`t get it right with parenting?
But how can we get it right with parenting in a society where personal values are lost?
Before you bring that next child to the world, unlearn what you need to, and learn what is required.
Practise every moral you teach.
Make the world a better place!
© Akinsiwaju Sanya
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