Tag Archives: Hot Water

Adieu Papa

12 Jul

Countless number of times I’ve tried to write about my father, but something somewhere, somehow just doesn’t add up but I found courage and inspiration in @Aunty_Hotstuff ‘s post Dance with my Father‘. So here goes:

I was never scared of my Dad. Unlike most people I was actually very fond of him, in fact I preferred to offend him than to offend my Mum. My mum was the disciplinarian of the house, I remember a time she flogged me six strokes for coming second in a class of twenty-nine, ‘Why didn’t you come first?’ she had asked with each stroke of the cane. Dad on the other hand was not overly bothered, he would only advise that you put in more effort and that as long as you set your mind on something, you can achieve it. He would however deprive you of some perks that had been earlier promised.

My Dad neither knew how to appreciate people, nor know how to apologize, he believed that you shouldn’t do anything that would make you apologize and there was no way you can absolutely satisfy him. My Mum would wake up as early as possible, prepare us for school, go to work, come back home early in time to cook us lunch and dinner, and all my dad would do is complain about something that wasn’t done properly. I always pitied my Mum and my older ones whenever he started complaining about food not properly cooked or plates not washed properly. Being the lastborn, I was saved from his occasional wrath. My Dad was a good cook, he makes the best meals I ever knew the rare times he cooked, and my Mum even says it that it’s hard to top his cooking.
Whenever you did something to really annoy him, he would look at you with utmost disdain and call you abusive names in Yoruba, ‘Oloshi-omo’ he would say. As we grew older, he stopped using those words entirely. He was highly principled and it would probably take a miracle for my Dad to change his mind once it was made up about something. Even when my Dad was proved wrong about something, which was very rare, it took a lot of time before he would swallow his pride and apologize and accept.
The only time I could remember my Dad smacked me was when I was being rude to my immediate elder sister and she reported me to him. He smacked me hard and warned me never to disrespect her again. I can’t think of a time when he picked up one of the numerous canes scattered around the house to flog me.

‘Daddy’ like I always called him was the ‘Ideal Man’, a true father. I remember a time when my Mum was carrying a bowl of hot water to the bathroom for my sister and I. We were in primary school then and we were already late so I wanted to run to the kitchen to hurry her up, unfortunately for me she was already on her way with the hot water to the bathroom. I collided with her and the whole bowl of hot water spilled on my chest, it took the timely intervention of my Dad to stop me from peeling my skin to the bones. (I still have a scar that looks like the ‘Map of Africa’ like my sisters used to tease me with the on my chest). Though I had to miss school for a few weeks, my Dad never made me feel lonely, always cracking me up with jokes about my reaction when the hot water poured on me and practically home schooling me. I confess that was one of my best times in Primary school.

Another time, I went to represent my Mum at one of her numerous AGMs (Annual General Meeting) of teachers, and on my way back I had an accident on the bike. When we got home, the bike-man refused his fare and apologized to my Dad but it took the intervention of my sister to stop him from insulting the man or even beating him up. Despite my protests that I was alright, he insisted that my chest be checked and rubbed first by my sister, then by him and for the next two days he kept rubbing it for me morning and night.

When I ‘failed’ my JSSCE exams and my brother and my sister who prepared me for my exam then punished me severely for making a fool of myself, deceiving them that I was reading my book while I was reading novels thus having a bad result. I had already boasted about this to my other sisters before the result came out. My dad didn’t chastise me for getting such a poor result, he even helped to treat the wounds I sustained from the punishment and encouraged me to buckle up as soon as I get into the Senior secondary school. He even rebuked the actions of my brother and sister then, told them that they went to the extreme and that they shouldn’t have punished me that much.
I was just thirteen when he was taken away from us and though most people thought I was too young to understand what it meant, they were wrong. I was far older than my age, I wouldn’t have anyone to argue ‘men’ issues with, no one to take me shopping, no one to advise me on how to handle women, no one to see me through my entry into manhood, no one… I still remember clearly the last words we spoke to each other as I left the house that morning, I had just come back from boarding school and he wasn’t very happy about my results. He was having a serious case of cough and amidst one of the bouts, he advised that I spend more time at home studying during the holidays and catching up on what I failed. Only for me to come back home in the evening to an empty house and then to find out later in the evening that I’d lost him to the cold hands of death.

***
Of the numerous things I admire about the way my father lived, one of them is the fact that throughout the years he was married to my mother, he never ate outside for once. Even at functions, he would wait till he got back home until he ate anything, and God bless any of my sisters at home if a plate of hot Amala is not on the dining table for him.
I miss that I couldn’t share the details of my first kiss with him, my first heartbreak, my first encounter with alcohol, my first….

If at my age, I’m half the man he was at my age, I would be so honored. I love you so much Dad.

R.I.P David Akinola Oke
1939-2003

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