SINS OF THE FATHER

 “One can be a brother only in something. Where there is no tie that binds men, men are not united but merely lined up.”-  Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

 To a child, family is everything; his refuge from the storms of life, his comfort in times of pain, his source of endless happiness. Uncles, aunts, all are kind and full of smiles, always handy with a sweet or two, kind words to say, a tickle here and there; everyone is kind and loving to the child of a family member. Sadly, by the time this child grows to be an adult, this beautiful, simple, loving construct of family is usually gone and replaced by disillusionment, apathy and in extreme cases: distrust. If the child is lucky, this stops with extended family and the child can remain fully trusting of close nuclear family members, in extreme cases, by the onset of adulthood, this once much-loved child is an isolated, paranoid adult with misgivings about everyone including his/her own siblings. Sad it may be, but true it is. I’ve seen it happen several times over.

 The deconstruction of the original, loving family image usually occurs as a result of several different driving factors. For one, adults act differently to you as you grow older. Everyone loves a young, innocent, cute child. Even strangers will play with a random baby off the street making such remarks as “Ooooh! What a cute baby!” or “Awwwww, he looks adorable”. But with puberty comes loss of innocence, “cuteness”, and “adorability”. No one offers to carry the brooding 11year old girl sitting in the corner. And by the time the final teen years are reached, most people don’t know who the child is really. He/she becomes a decoration in the home of the parents. Uncles, aunts simply know you as “Brother Tunde’s Son” or “Doctors daughter”. Then when they see you, they ask silly questions like “Are you the one that won the scholarship to covenant?” or “Youre brother Emeka’s son, the one going to Unilag abi?” Like you have no name, no identity, save for the school you attend or the achievements of which your parents speak the most. This happens to most of us to one degree or the other and I guess, in many ways it is understandable; every family member can’t be expected to know everything about everyone else.

 But nothing completely shatters the sheltered family image that most of us have like the sudden death of a parent. See, parents (good ones anyway) are what I call the “Family Bullshit Dam (FBS)” to their children. They keep all the external family bullshit away from their children by dealing with it themselves and not letting their children become unduly biased against or hateful of anyone. This is usually the job of the father. Sadly, when the FBS passes on, all this pent-up, historical bullshit comes crashing down on those left behind and in some cases, the remnants of the family drown in it. Sometimes, the fathers themselves are the source of the bullshit: the direct result of keeping secrets that shouldn’t really be kept for example:  illegitimate children showing up at funerals are now common for many Nigerian families – but that’s not what I refer to today.

 Today I’m writing about internal family dynamics; the uncles that gave insult to your mother and as such became persona non grata, the uncle that your mother inadvertently offended, the aunt that refused to help your dad in a time of severe need, those quarrels between your mother and her sisters you never knew about, the unspoken feud between the family of your father and mother, simple misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion and became lifelong vendettas….all those things that shouldn’t come into play when the main protagonists make an unexpected exit from the stage of life, but still, somehow, do because some ‘adults’ cannot let things go. They must punish the children for the sins of the father, real or imagined.

 I personally experienced this, having lost both parents last year, I initially thought the entire family (at least most of it, anyway) would rally around us – me and my brothers and help till we were stable again, being orphans and all. Oh, how wrong I was! At first yes, there was the perfunctory eye service from all corners, people overcome with emotion promising things they could not deliver, saying we could count on them…yeah….right… This was just the calm before the bullshit storm and its associated flood.

 I cannot go into the details of all that has transpired so far, that would be out of place and quick frankly, stupid of me. But I can safely say that we are well into the bullshit tsunami now and all the creatures are showing their true natures. Of course, there are those family members that have done a lot for us and to whom I will be eternally grateful. I cannot thank them enough, for they have gone well and beyond the call of duty. The sad thing is that there are so few of them. Judging by the sheers quantity of siblings and half-siblings my parents have, I imagined that we would have more care at our disposal, sadly not. Till today I and my brothers are yet to receive a phone call from some of these siblings. I don’t understand…how can your sibling and his/her spouse both die and yet you feel no obligation to even call the children they left behind for well over a year? Do you not fear God? Even beyond the apathy and lack of care, which I can deal with, it now appears some family members have actively started seeking to undermine us and our attempts to be something more than just mediocre. That is the biggest shock of all.

 I’m not sure why I decided to write this today, it being father’s day and all, a day to celebrate and cherish family. I guess it’s because I miss my father deeply and I wish he were here to tell me who I could trust, what the history behind this apparent animosity and apathy is, what to do, how to handle it. In many ways I’m not sure what to do about it. I’ve never been much of a people person and my natural instinct is to isolate and insulate myself from people. But I don’t want to do that, I can’t. My elder brother and I are our own men now and have to speak with one voice, march to one beat, heading in the same direction toward a common goal. I’ve sworn to myself, that I will never let anything come between us. Anything. But in order to do that I need to be able to make decisions about things and people, carry my own weight, know how to handle the complex situations that have been left behind in the aftermath of our parents demise.  I miss my father’s wise counsel and the calm manner with which he handled things which I described in my father’s day post last year.

(https://thinktankt.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/memories-of-my-father-on-fathers-day/)

 If there is anything to take away from this post today, I guess it’s the need for children to know where the family skeletons lie, where pitfalls exist and where dangers lurk. I understand that parents have a need to shelter their children from the bullshit of life but personally I feel that once a child is old enough to go to war, drink alcohol and have children of their own, it’s time to break them in. Gradually let them know who can be trusted, what transpired before, not with malice or bias but simply for them to know and understand. The last thing you want when you’re sailing your ship of life through a storm after your captains death is to have a saboteur on board.

 HAPPY FATHERS DAY.

 

~Oh a few things: the final chapter of The Legend of Bangkok will be up this week. Sorry for the long delay. Also, I’d like to thank those of you that saw fit to nominate this blog for the Nigerian Blog awards thingy. Thanks. ~

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21 thoughts on “SINS OF THE FATHER

  1. *pause* sorry for your loss 😦
    you speak the gospel. I have always wondered why parents do this. at this age,am still not even sure who owns the house next to ours in the village. I do not consider this behaviour from parents a form of ‘protection’.it is a habit I am disgusted with,especially since my own parents are masters of the art. everything I have gone on to learn behind them has me in shock *sigh*

  2. Won’t go into any sad, sob stories here, but I totally get where you’re coming from. I find it’s always important to remember God is in control, and He has a plan and a purpose for everyone and everything. I’m sure your parents souls are at rest 🙂

    • I forgot to add. There are no secrets in my family. My mum’s always made sure we know what’s going on and what led to whatever it is we’re going through. Sometimes, it helps to have a better understanding of the situation.

  3. First of all…sorry bout ur dad..he sure is proud of u now!

    Ds post…sad but true…I can relate wv ds…ds re d memories we try to suppress…but at d end of d day…they make us strong!

    It is well……….

  4. I can so so relate to this post… it’s really sad how most of our fathers chose to live out their generation.. esp. in terms of relationships…. what’s more disturbing is the path I see ours swerving towards…sigh.. God help…

  5. Wow! Good read! 1st time here & I’m very pleased. Sad but true. It scares my siblings and I sometimes when we dare to imagine what life would be like if our parenta are no more seeing as even as they are here we get the shorter end of the stick many times that they are temporarily absent. All in all,it is well. C’est la vie.

    Please check; PSA: NEW KID ALERT!!! http://bit.ly/kg6Vh9

  6. Thank you bruv.
    Family and friendship are two relationships I shall never completely understand. We have an idea of what it should be and that idea is just an idea most of the time.

    I’ve learnt that people are people, be they family or friends. One can sometimes hope people live up to share the good they’re capable of but I’ve found it to be wiser to leave hope for hope for at the end of the day, one is alone in this world.
    One just hopes never to be lonely.

  7. I love the way you let it all go here. Leave extended family be though. They know nothing better. I question the whole system and its relevance but yeah, people may accuse me of being “oyibonized”. Most fathers don’t learn from the mistakes of their fathers. Some did not even have them to start with. The challenge for us is breaking the vicious cycle by being the fathers our kids and their mothers need us to be. *Raises wine glass*. To fatherhood!

  8. *Hugs*
    I really felt this. So Deep.
    True, Everyone, every family has challenges..Diverse ones but I sincerely CANNOT imagine what you must be going through. God is and always will be your strength.

    I love the way you wrote this. Your writing is amazing. Every paragraph meaningful and captivating.. Heartfelt- Not searching for pity nor begging for love. Just beautiful and heartfelt.

  9. I can directly relate with this, we share almost the same experiences in this area. In my case the extended family also used dubious means to take over most of my dads inheritance. Its sad, but at the end of the day men will be men “Individualistic”

  10. I lost my mother when I was younger and….true enough, the loss brought out all sorts of skeletons. I liked this post and could relate to it a lot….but most of all, I was blown away by the strength in it. Loss of one parent is hard, losing both is impossibly painful. I’m sending all sorts of good wishes towards you and your brother! Xx

  11. Great one bruv. Sorry bout ur loss…bet ur parents would be happy to see how u guys r maturing in their absence.
    I can so relate to dis mehn…considering how large my family is. On my dad’s side der r times I regret growing up not knowing most of my relatives…dat being said, my dad never hid us from d FBS…when we were younger he hinted at it, but as we grew older he got a lot more revealing in his information. Now to a certain extent I can’t blame him for d relationship he has wit a lot of his cousins.
    One thing I’v made my up on is that I’ll be close to all my sibblings for life, n so will all our kids, as long as it’s within my power.

  12. Really deep, and honest. I love the way you wrote this, heartfelt, brought tears to my eyes in some parts.
    I totally agree with you too, much like everyone else. I was sheltered from such family secrets for awhile, but thanks to my older siblings, all that ended. While I appreciate being in the know now, the disillusion was saddening, to say the least.
    Really sorry for your loss.

  13. Even though I haven’t lost any of my parents. I can relate to this. In my family its more like an unregistered competition between cousins. The various aunties and uncles the major instigators. Sorry for your loss man. I am happy that you are determined not to let anything come between you and your bro. Determination to move ahead in the right direction is key. God bless you and this is going to be of immense help to me.
    Respect boss!

  14. Almost every Nigerian family if not all can relate to this.Going by this gospel I ve to salute my own folks then for keeping us abreast of all things [family feuds $ all]. You are not alone my bruva cos from all we the kids ve seen, were my folks to be gone today it wld be the same apathy $ gloating from most of them. This makes me wonder of how unfortunate or shameful the extended family system has become. We are slowly buh surely becoming anti extended family in thought.

    Great post my dear; $ happy father’s day to ur Dad’s memories. I’m sure he’s nudging y’all in the best direction altho U can’t always feel or notice it.

  15. Aww Wole. I haven’t lost either parent, or felt ‘categorized’ by the external family (I.e ‘Doctor’s child) but you wrote with such simple emotion that I couldn’t help but ‘feel’ you. I may not have met your dad, but from that post, he must have been a really great one. Someone fully deserving of this day. You know that was the first post I read on your blog? It motivated my ‘search’ for you.
    Be strong, dear. At least you have learnt a life value from it, and that’s important. 🙂

  16. SOla, nice one. I really appreciate the thought you put into this, Writing something this sensitive and yet with a slice of humour. Shit happens in every family! Though my parents have me informed of most of the things going on in the family, showing me who to trust (Though I would never trust some people they seem to trust) and who not to touch with a long stick, I still have to make my decisions on the kind of family I keep around me. I remember the discussion you had with one of your cousins after your Dad’s funeral service about being closer to friends other that family, and correcting it in a way, and I shake my head and thik to myself that Some Friends are woth more than “so-called Family” put-together. Also about the disappointment some relations have turned to, I smelled it before, during and after the prayer session in your place after Mummy’s burial. Know this for sure, The father you’ll always have is God, and you can carry a sieve with a large mesh size and sift all those family away cos you’ll never need them if they dont love you. The worst that can happen to a man is to go to a family member that dosent love you for help and God will keep you from that. Take care Brother and hope to see you soon.

  17. This is beautifully written. I can relate on many levels… So Sorry for your loss. I thank God for seeing you and your brother through thus far.

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