My father was thirty-five when I was born. The usual assumption is that at that age, humans are fully made, but over time I have come to learn, while observing his life as well, that there’s room for a change in perspective even at ninety, and that when we stop learning we’re better off in the coldest portions of morgues. At forty, he wouldn’t tolerate having his Peugeot 504 scratched in traffic, and at forty two, he would compel my brother and I with a black leather belt to take our medication whenever we were ill.
Our mother’s demise on Christmas of 2000 changed a lot of things, and I’m not just talking about relocating from Warri to Asaba. He became calmer as he navigated the left side of forty, he became a lot calmer, and seven weeks away from his sixty-second, and seeing how he has not only managed to raise an overthinking sociologist and a depressive lawyer, but still gets to be a doting father to a four-year-old and a good husband to her mother, I make bold to say that he’s one of the most patient individuals I know.
Dad is tech-savvy for a man in his sixties: got a smartphone before me, embraced online newspapers before me, still gets to check Nairaland before me, and didn’t send any of those infamous “bathe in salt” messages during the 2014 Ebola scourge. For some reason, he hardly interferes with my love life, and whenever I say “that ship sailed” in response to his enquiry about a lady who has stopped popping up in my photos, he simply grins and tells me to focus on my career. He was fairly aware of the last (serious) stint at dating because the lady in question chose to communicate with him, but that’s another story.
Sir Chiemeke and I bond over sarcastic jabs and one-liners in brief and not-so-frequent Whatsapp conversations (he’s since got the memo about my aversion to calls). Two days ago we’re talking and for the first time ever, he drops the “you should start preparing for marriage ” line.
Oh well, so much for ‘I have a dad who doesn’t put me under pressure’. I have a few ready-made answers.
“But my brother isn’t married. ”
“You don’t have to wait for him”.
“I don’t have a car yet o.”
“But you have house abi? ”
We end the rare phone conversation with me saying “love you Daddy “, and when he asks what I said, my tongue goes heavy and I simply say “nothing”. Sorry, my shyness extends there, though there’s a chance he heard it the first time.
Sure enough, with a fairly decent job and the fact that I send money home now and then, there’s an assumption of being responsible, but it takes more than financial independence to make a lifetime (?) commitment. I’m of the view that I need at least half of my father’s patience before I can deem myself ready to wake up next to someone for an indefinite period of time, and with the way I tune out when a lady cancels a movie date or two occasions or when she keeps ‘forgetting’ to reply my intense texts, I think I am a long way off.
Sundays are for rice, not love.