by Ifeanyi Dike JR
“No o!” He looked at me for a brief second, raising his right brow, then he looked back into his textbook.
“No! I said I’d rather have one wife and three kids. This way I’ll have plenty of time for each of them so they’ll all be as close to me as I am with my pops, unlike Garuba. Garuba wants four wives““Oh, I remember now. Garuba said four wives, not you. But have you ever wondered why people rarely sing the praises of fathers, like in songs or in success stories”
He hesitated, looking into space as if to think for a few seconds “Now that you’ve mentioned it, I even doubt there any popular songs dedicated to fathers?”
“None that I know of. Well except Luther Vandross’ Dance with my father again“- The last thing I remember saying before dozing off in the middle of our banter. Rashid had complained about my untimely sleep before. But I can’t help sleep, can I?
The question I asked Rashid bothered me on an every-other-day basis; especially when someone composed an ode to mum, or did an interview or even had a random conversation were he shared his undying love for his mother and conveniently left out his dad. As if, she were a single parent or she was solely responsible for the child’s upbringing. This discussion of course excludes people in these categories; having said that, I am not by any means begrudging mothers on behalf of fathers. I also do not intend to start a debate. I have not conceived this thought from foreseen jealousy that my kids will not magnify my affection as much as they will their mother’s. Neither am I responding to Beyonce’s question, “who run the world?” Surely, mothers are worthy of the acknowledgment. (Yes, this is a disclaimer, my mum will be reading)
I have thought up theories as to the why. Do fathers not care as passionately or as drastically? Are they only good for paying bills and providing the basic amenities? Or do people reckon not to talk about their oh-so-macho father in such mushy light?
Well I beg to rebel. My father would be responsible for who I have become. He was firm in his show of affection. One-time, I did badly in my schoolwork, and my dad had said he would leave me in school if I didn’t do something about my grades by the end of the term. I thought, “No you won’t”. Boy was I wrong. When that term ended, Dr Dike kept to his words. Though, he came for me the next day but by this, I learnt a lesson. I was never to fail again. Not while I was still the son of Dr Dike.
My father’s lessons were better propagated with words. He never spanked me, his words were his rod and I endured it with great respect. He would take me out for ice cream and on that trip, teach me basic principles of good and bad/pros and cons and in the end leave me with what was to be a long-term resort. Sometimes I didn’t even understand what he was saying and there were the other times I wasn’t interested, but I listened regardless. I remember this one time when he got very angry because I told a lie. That day he spanked the stupid out of me. I guess he was in a bad mood. But after the episode, he explained to me why lying was awful. I cannot forget his exact words; and I hope to share them with my kids someday. I would share what he told me but for copyright infringement reasons, I won’t. Usually, his advices had the same moral lessons- to opt for the wise alternative, to think with my head first before my heart and to always tell the truth, no matter what.
Now we’ve grown into a friendship rather than a solely father-son relationship, which is why it was easy to come out to him. I had thought about coming clean to my parents for a while and when it was time to out myself, I went to dad. I told him I was also inclined to writing, entertainment, fashion and other arty things asides from studying medicine, which I was already doing. I told him I had a chance at an alternative career, other than the one him and mum had set out for me. Seeing as my father is a doctor, my mother a nurse and they own a hospital they anticipated will soon be mine, I expected a hell of a ruckus. But my father understood that I had preferences. Instead, he sat with me and helped figure a way to combine both so that neither of my career paths would suffer. He also revealed that he too was a columnist for a certain magazine in the 80s. He said, “Passion with hard work together is the best damn partnership. You can never go wrong”. At intervals, he would call to see how my arty life fared and of course, my medical life.
In his subtle way, he radically roots for me. Because of my father, I will be the best man I can be.
I remember growing up, the other boys wanted to be superman, but I wanted to be my dad, now my mentor and my friend. I do not intend to brag with this piece. I really just want answers to a few questions, from those whose dads were also amazing. Where are the songs in honour of dad? Where are the great success stories that featured dad? Where are the poems about dad? Where are the tributes to dad?
This article was first published on June 19, 2011 on www.234next.com.