by Nicole Winifred Ayogu
It was a big day for me.I chose one of my best clothes. I wanted to be in my best,trying hard to impress . I hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed when he meets me. I have always worshipped the thoughts of him. He was my idol, even though I never met him. Now I have a chance to meet him for the very first time.
It is exactly four years I embarked on the know-your-father adventure. Mother never talks about him and, at 25, I decided to look for him. Four years later my search paid off.
I was at the restaurant thirty minutes before the scheduled appointment and ordered a bottle of cold water to calm my nerves.
Then he walked in. I knew it was him because I looked a lot like him.
I stood up and faced him, with a wide grin on my face.
I had rehearsed my speech several times but my tongue failed me. I just stood there grinning, what I hoped wasn’t sheepish.
‘Elle,’ he said and I nodded.
He sat down . I did too.
‘You haven’t changed; you still look a lot like your 3 months old self. Did your mother tell you that’s how old you were when I left?’
I shook my head.
‘How is she? Your mother?’
I nodded. I haven’t found my tongue yet.
‘Any other siblings? Did your mother remarry?’
I shook my head.
‘What are you doing now?’
I cleared my throat.
‘I am a medical doctor. I have my own hospital.’
‘A doctor?’ he asked, his face expressionless. I nodded, expectantly.
He kept quiet for a while staring at me with his deep brown eyes.
After what seemed like a life time, he finally spoke.
‘Your mother couldn’t do any better?
‘I’m sorry? ‘I wasn’t sure I heard him well.
‘She had to send you to the medical field. She knew I wanted an engineer. Did she do it to spite me?’
‘I chose it, and she let me. I’m successful.’ I replied, my heart pounding. I felt a hole somewhere.
He should be proud of me, my inner self screamed. Trying hard not to throw a seat at him.
‘You have three siblings, all boys. The youngest is about five older than you. All engineers – Mechanical, Chemical and Petrochemical. I’m really very proud of them.’
‘Are you saying you’re disappointed I became a doctor?’
‘I already said it,didn’t I? Elle, your mother should really have done better.’
‘I’m meeting you for the first time. Couldn’t you be any nicer?’ I hurled the words at him like it would cause him some pain.
‘The world is not nice, learn to deal with it.’
My jaw dropped. I had expected an emotional Daddy and daughter scene. This man is mean. Little wonder he didn’t last with Mother. How did he even become my Dad?
‘You shouldn’t have looked for me. It was best you stayed away. I don’t want you interfering with my kids. Don’t mess the lives of my boys up. I hope you didn’t look for them too. They’d be better off not knowing they had a half-sister somewhere in the universe.’
I wanted to scream, ‘Dad, stop it.’
But I couldn’t get myself to say the words, ‘Dad’ he didn’t deserve it . Maybe I should have listened to Mother and not bother about him.
‘Do you know my official name, Mr. Jude Ekwueme?’ I continued without waiting for his response,’It is Gabrielle Elizabeth Onah’. Onah is my mother’s maiden name.
‘O good. I was scared you’d bear my name and taint the family image.’
‘What did my mother ever do to you that you hate her this much and the hatred is passing on to me?’
‘She didn’t tell you? Three things,’ he counted on his fingers, ‘Being Elizabeth Onah. Being Elizabeth Onah. And having you. So tell me why I should like any of these!’
‘You’re a monster . I wish I never knew you’
‘It would have been better you never looked for me.’
He stood up to leave, ‘Tell your mother I’m surprised she’s still alive.’ He walked away.
By this time my heartbeat was thrice the normal rate and I had murder in my head.
He can’t do this to me and get away with it. Vengeance runs in my DNA. I swore there and then, to look for my half-brothers and get back at him.
‘Mr . Jude Ekwueme. You have drawn the line by leaving and blown the whistle today. It’s begun!’