Kovie (@kovieparker) wrote this some time back and finished it just this evening. Could not be more spot on.
“I don’t know my father…”
Nelly had just said that to me as we lay on the living room floor, our backs slightly propped up with throw pillows to allow for a proper view of the 21″ LED screen hanging on the wall across us. The empty box of pizza we had just devoured was between us and the Television was still on. It was a hot Saturday afternoon and she had come over so we could go swimming together, but we were both feeling lazy and allowed ourselves get distracted by the movie showing. We ordered a box of pizza, turned up the AC in the room and settled in to enjoy the day. The second movie had just ended, and the last slice of pizza consumed, when she made this unprecedented declaration. I turned my head slowly to face her, unsure of what reaction or response would be appropriate. She had a somewhat abstract look on her face, trance-like. Her eyes were fixed to a point on the ceiling, her hands folded across her stomach, lips slightly apart as if she expected the words to proceed of their own accord.
I met Nelly barely six months ago at a friend’s party. I had run into her in the bathroom and she had complimented my shoes. We were soon engaged in a conversation on everything from fashion to politics and ended up spending the entire evening in one corner of the room just talking and sharing laughs. At the end of the evening, I offered her a ride home as she was slightly inebriated. A friendship and a bond was created that day.
(We have similar tastes in everything except men and share interests in a lot of activities. She jokingly introduces me as her ‘soul-sister’. I know very little about her personal life though. She seems to shy away from any topic that will make her reveal details of her life especially as it pertains to her family. I have never had a problem with that as I’m not exactly one to share intimate details either.)
“Babe, are you okay?” I asked, trying to decide what to do with the information she had just shared with me. There was no response from her. She was quiet, too quiet. Even her breathing seemed to have slowed down, almost as if she was asleep. She wasn’t though, her eyes were still open. Still staring.
Without warning, words began to come out of her mouth. She was addressing someone but spoke like she was alone in the room. Each word was spoken with caution, like she had just one chance to make this speech and she wanted to make sure she was using the right words.
“Daddy, why did you leave? I’ve missed you. I miss the soft kisses on my cheeks that you never gave me. Uncle Jide gave me kisses though. On my cheeks and more. He was nice and friendly. Mummy always let him tuck me in on the nights he was around. Then he would kiss me goodnight on my cheeks first, then lips. In time, he moved lower and everywhere his lips went, his fingers followed. He made me kiss him back too and I liked it. He was my daddy. That’s what I called him when we were alone. He said he liked it when I called him that. It made him happy, and I had to make daddy happy so he wouldn’t leave. I was twelve when he finally left. I cried. Even harder than mummy.
I miss the gifts you never gave me. Providing for all my needs like Alex. He always gave me all I wanted. He got me my first phone you know. After uncle Jide left, mummy didn’t have enough to take care of both of us. So Alex gave me gifts of all kinds. I got a lot of expensive things for free. Yes free. Unless you count the small favors I gave in return. It was nothing really. Better to let him have me than those cash less boys in school who wanted to score but could not afford it. Alex was special. At his age he could still perform wonders. The things he did at sixty a lot of men at twenty-five could not handle. Many thanks to the special blue pill.
I’ve had a lot of daddys. Tall, slim, fat, rich, short, old, young…“
As this point, my mind began to drift. I couldn’t bear to listen anymore. She was stirring up emotions in me I had buried for years. Memories that were locked up in the deepest and darkest recesses of my mind. I didn’t have a daddy either, an absentee father didn’t count. And just like Nelly I had searched for a father in all the wrong places. I needed someone to love me, protect me, provide for me, guide me. One who would chase away the monster in the closet. I needed to be someone’s little princess. I didn’t mind giving up a piece of me in exchange for that which I desired. And I gave. Little by little I gave until I woke up one day to realize that there was nothing left to give. For as I gave, I didn’t receive in return. I had moved on from that, grown up from that longing or so I thought. I focused all that was left of me on my career and built a life for myself. As far as I could see, that was enough. Now Nelly’s words were breaking through my defenses and I was beginning to feel that longing again. Someone to love me.
“I don’t have a father” she repeated, signaling the end of her tale. I took her hands in mine and made her look into my eyes. I needed her to see that I understood, that I felt her pain and was willing to share her burden.
“Neither do I” I responded, my voice barely a whisper. Then I lowered my head to hers and our lips met.
Someone to love.