Condolences from relatives, friends and well wishers kept pouring in. We may have thought the people who would come grieve with us to be very few, but the numbers shocked us. Thankfully, their support was very much appreciated because we wouldn’t have found a way around the rites and all the attendant jamborees.
One of the evenings, we were all seated in the living room pondering over the tons of people who came with their testimonies of who our father was; “He was a very good man… sorry”, “this loss is so unbearable… sorry”, someone even came up with the most shocking line -- “he was the kindest man I and my family ever knew”. The hell was he talking about? Who was kind? To the point of being called the “kindest man ever liveth!”
The thought of that brings chuckle to me. I should be mourning, but I am not even feeling the least bit of loss. Not even a teeny tiny bit. You see, our father was lost to us long time before now. Yes, he comes home from whatever office he works in, and drives us to church a few times – that is if Sister Veronica and her family must have travelled; or the many other reasons he gives for abandoning us to trek the long distance to church. Imagine, the man once said we were too late in waking up, so he left us because he wouldn’t want his family to make him lose out from meeting the first Angel that comes to bless early goers. That was 6:10am. Church service starts at 8am. Crazy man!
He wasn’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong. He still paid our fees – after we prepared memos and defend our budgetary demands, with pleas and groveling; he still buys our Christmas clothes occasionally – so we would look good when he takes us to go visit his friends; there was food on the table, for the most part – but there was an unwritten rule that we kneel before him after every meal, to thank him for handling his responsibilities. You see, our daddy wasn’t all that bad – he just wasn’t there for the seven kids he gave birth to, or to the woman who bore those kids. Sometimes I wonder how he made the time to sire us.
There was no relationship between us and him. I remember one morning vividly; one of my sisters asked him for money to buy girlie things. He said she should remember this acts of kindness very well, and that when she brings the man of her dreams, he would be paid in full! But this same man waits behind after church services, giving marriage counsels to families, and dolling out good money for whatever reason they may have presented. He wasn’t even the pastor – just one of the, in his words, “background disciple of love”. And loving he was – to other folks.
One day, he drove by our route to and from school, and saw me and my friend walking home; he gave the boy bike money and asked him to go home and not over weary himself; turned to me and said back in his days, he walked more than 7 miles to school... "toughen up, boy"! That was a good man.
I wished we got to know this good man everyone was talking about. But what do I know? He was really good – to outsiders!