Happy 2013, everyone!
I'm starting off posts for the year with something from Seun Odukoya. He's been writing since... I dunno, long before I met him; and he
bullied me into suggested starting this blog. He's written his first book, For Days and a Night (Curious title, no? And no, the 'For' isn't a mistake.) and I'm looking forward to reading it, as soon as I can. Below is a little something to whet your appetite, entitled 'To My Little Girl'. Enjoy.
I was listening to Tupac yesterday (don’t ask your mum who that is; I promise to tell you next time I see you) and I started crying. Yeah, daddy’s been crying a lot lately. I hadn’t realized I had that much water in my body.
But I was crying because I was thinking about you. And while they were happy tears because I’m proud of you, they were also sad tears because I realized I haven’t been there as much I as ought to have been – or as much as I promised to be. I was crying because it feels like it was only last week I and your mum were choosing names for you – and suddenly overnight you’re six years old. That’s scary.
I am not the best father a child could have, and if there’s one thing I wished for that morning the doctor gave you to me, wrapped and wailing so loudly (he said you should consider the opera; such lungs!); it was that you came with an instruction manual. Because, although these hands of mine have done a lot of things; are capable of a lot more, they are not in any way hands to mold a life. No.
But I did promise to do my best – and I know better than anyone that I have nowhere near kept my word. And I’m sorry for that. Apologies don’t cut it though; I taught you that, so this is the first step in correcting that.
Allow me apologize for the times when you came around and you wanted to sit on my lap or just play around with your father and I would snap or lose my patience and say ‘darling, daddy is working.’ Yes, it usually is true because whether I’m scribbling in a notepad or punching away furiously on my laptop – it is work. That’s what I do.
But no matter what, I should always make time for you. I should. And maybe I should sit you down and say these words, but baby – as much as a writer as I am; it’s incredible to note that speaking; saying things like this…putting words like these in a sentence is next to the hardest thing for me to do. It’s true, you see. You ask your mum how I asked her to marry me.
Which brings me to this: it has come to my attention that some kids at your school tease you with the fact your parents are no longer together and that somehow it’s your fault. Before I come to burn that school down, let me tell you this: Nothing your mother and I did or do is in anyway your fault. It’s important to me that you understand this: I did not marry your mother because she was pregnant with you; I married her because I loved her and she loved me. She got pregnant six weeks into our marriage (daddy’s impatient I know!) and for two years we raised you together. In fact, if there’s anyone to blame for the separation, it’s me. Your mother tried. But as you well know and I admit; I am a handful.
I know your mother has also told you this but it’s important you hear it from me too; I did not cheat on your mother. I was not an unfaithful husband neither was she an unfaithful wife. We were crazy about each other; in a world where marriage has all but become a joke and love is just a thing to say when it’s convenient. We loved each other. And we tried to make it work – no; I should be honest and say your mother tried to make it work. But in a head where it’s mostly noises and gory pictures, it gets hard to tell what really matters and what does not. And no woman deserves to watch someone she loves slowly kill themselves, so your mother had to leave me. She had to.
She would ask me then why I had married her because it seemed to her I needed no one; and instead of being honest with her and telling her how I felt, I would keep quiet because I couldn’t find the words. Hence I lost her.
But I won’t lose you.
I am sorry I asked not to see you when grandma died. I guess it’s the same thing about not needing anyone; not wanting to bother anyone with my wahala. I fell apart baby, and it scared me for you to see me that scattered. But I’ve also come to understand that sharing your worst moments with people who care about you is also a way of telling them they matter. I’m still learning; you see, and as strange as this may sound, I am learning a lot from you.
Baby, you’re beautiful. I swear it’s like you took the best parts of your mother and I (your mother; now that’s a babe!) and made it in your own signature. I wonder how many hearts you’ve broken in your class; I wonder how long it will be before they start kicking my door down to ask for your hand in marriage. And while it’s a day that sort of scares me; it’s a day I earnestly pray for and about because it’s not about me. It’s your day, baby. Though it’s coming later it will come – so allow me say some things.
You are beautiful – but that’s because there’s more to you than your dreamy eyes and milky-white teeth. Someday soon those things won’t be as they are now, so don’t waste too much time trying to make them look better. Of course take care of them, but what you should nurture are those things that cannot be seen or touched. Those things that are only felt, those things that express themselves through words and actions; those are the things you need to spend time with because those are the things that define you; those are the things that will never go away. They make you you.
Watch what you wear, because it might be misleading. People who watch you walk by have no idea what goes on inside your head, but your dressing influences their perception. Before you talk about your mother; she’s a model. She wears clothes for a living. Dress how you want to be addressed baby. Never forget that.
Boys are not bad. They’re naughty, spoilt, confused, childish but essentially they are not bad. I mean, I’m not bad now am I? Boys just need firm hands and a heart that knows what it wants and won’t settle for anything less than. They automatically want to disrespect women – but show them you deserve their respect and they will give it to you. I know I messed things up for your mum (I love talking about her don’t I?) but I did not fight the divorce because I knew she deserves better. I’m trying hard to be better.
Find love because it’s real. Only God could have made a miracle like you, and God is love. Why believe in God if I don’t believe in love?
There’ll be times when your heart will argue and disagree with your head, and there’ll be other times when your head will dissent with everything your heart says. No matter what you do baby, always try as much as you can to find a middle ground for those two warring guys. Balance is so necessary.
Remember to always smile. Baby, I know that makes me sound like such the hypocrite because those lines on my face didn’t come from smiling a whole lot. I know; but truth is truth whether I practice it or not. And who says you have to make the mistakes I made? I made so many just so you won’t have to, but make mistakes. Learn for yourself. That’s the only way you learn anything of value.
I know mummy takes you to church and daddy goes to church. We’re training you that way because that’s the only way we know. But while I was born a Christian, I had to come the point where Christ found me for myself – just so I could have a relationship with Him. So baby, go to church and practice what you’re taught; open your heart and find Christ for yourself. As much as your mother and I love you, you will have to stand before God all by yourself.
I’m not preaching, dear. I’m just talking to you from my heart. And I know this should not be in a letter – but I doubt there will ever be a time when I’ll be able to sit you down and talk to you about these things. It’s a letter; so you can always come back to read this and know undoubtedly that I love you. I really love you. You’re the best part of me.
All I do is to give you wings. But you have to fly for yourself. Go to school and study hard – but read other books. Watch movies. Learn – go at knowledge as hard as you go at your skipping ropes. You can do anything.
You’re my little girl and I love you.
Words from a father to a daughter.
Want more of Seun's writing? Click here to download For Days and a Night. It's free!