12 years ago, you came back home after a week away on a business trip with a young lady in tow whom I presumed to be your secretary. You stormed into the house and in your terrifying voice demanded that we pack and leave. Just like that mom, my sister and I forced to leave what had known as our home for the last 10 years. Your reason was that mom had become ‘too much’ hence you needed to ‘teacher her a lesson’. We only left with the clothes on our backs leaving all that you and mom had worked so hard together to amass.
The next few months were very tough on us. We moved into a smaller house, enrolled into an ill-equipped public school and eating out on Sunday afternoons became a luxury we couldn’t afford. When I asked mom why you didn’t love us anymore all she did was cry. She would cry every night till her eyes were puffy. I could see the pain in her eyes even when she smiled.
Just how heartless are you to live comfortably all these years oblivious of how we faired, if we had enough to eat, went to school and never visited my elder sister when she was down with tuberculosis? I understand married couples get divorced every now and then but what surprises me most is how you never made the slightest effort to reach out to your own kids. Just how callous are you to abandon and completely cut off communication with your own flesh and blood?
Mother worked tirelessly, went back to college and acquired an MBA while at the same time raising 2 kids single-handedly. In a few years, she scaled up the corporate ladder and landed a managerial position in her organization. When I was in form three she met a guy whom she fell in love with and remarried 3 years later. Stan* our step-dad doesn’t get involved in our lives at all. I don’t blame him; he is only here for mom. Apparently, he has never bought us anything, it’s mom who still provides us with everything we need. She manages to make our lives so comfortable that our college mates think we live with both parents who are so caring. Yeah, I haven’t told them about how irresponsible you are.
I always hated when other kids talked fondly about their fathers while I hardly had any memory of you except the day you threw us out in the cold. Even when we were still living together I hardly saw you. How I wished you would spend just one day a week at home, help me with my homework, go to the parent-teachers meetings back in school or even teach me how to ride a bicycle. That never happened because you were too busy growing your numerous investments and when you had time off you would spend it all out drinking with your buddies.
You thought being a great father was just about paying all bills in time when in reality all I wanted was to spend time with my father. I wouldn’t mind if you were poor but was there to help me steer through the murky waters of puberty. You were emotionally absent and the truth is buying us fancy toys and taking us to exotic places never effectively substituted your much-needed presence in our lives.
The pain of growing up without a father figure pushed me to seek solace in drugs and alcohol. I over-indulged to numb the loneliness and pain but the ‘high’ only lasted a few hours soon enough I would be sober. I went down on the path of self-destruction for close to 2 years. One day it hit me, my resentment towards you was turning me to a selfish man just like you. You shattered mom’s heart into irreparable pieces and now losing her only son to drugs was too much for her to bear. So I got sober, promised her to always be there for her and protect her even if it meant losing my life in the process.
When I went home for December holidays I noticed my sister would be uneasy whenever step-dad was around the house. After insistently prodding, she revealed to me that she had witnessed our step-dad cheating on mom on several occasions but never said a word because she wanted her to be happy. What totally pissed me off was his misconception that sister never told mom because she was sexually attracted to him. The pig had even tried to sexually molest my blood sister! I’m so full of rage, he has been away for 3 months now but when he comes back I will deal with him appropriately.
Your daughter has suffered most growing without you. It pains her that you don’t even know her favorite color or dish. You denied her the chance of being the ‘daddy’s little girl’ like her friends. You ought to have been the first man to love her unconditionally and tell her how beautiful she is every day. You were never around when she needed you to read bed time stories or stick by her side when she differed with mom. She wishes you were there to protect her from the sex-pest she has for a step-dad, chase away the boys after her and claim none of them was good enough for your amazing daughter.
Your absence greatly affected her self-esteem. She doesn’t trust men. I’ve heard her claim wont to get married, maybe it’s because she is worried you won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. I’m worried she might get into destructive relationships and date older men (a father figure) in order to fill the gap you left in her life. Anyway, mother is doing a great job nurturing her to become a strong, confident and successful young woman.
Now that we are both about to graduate from college and our career prospects are looking good you are trying to maneuver back into our lives. Last week, you asked me whether I will take care of you when you get old? When I asked why I should when you deserted me more than a decade ago you claimed to have taken good care of me till I got to class 6! After class 6 was I suppose to feed on wild fruits and live in the forest like Tarzan? Growing without you toughened me and I have become my own man so I don’t need you anymore.
Father, the main purpose for writing this letter is to inform you that I have enlisted the help of a lawyer to officially drop my surname and instead adopt my mother’s maiden name. The truth is I no longer hate you, I have accepted my fate all I can do is to take care of my mother and sister and work towards becoming a great husband and dad to my future wife and kids.
My sincere gratitude goes out to Rashid for his courage evident in sharing his heart-wrenching life story in the form of a letter so I would publish it for the world to read. He hopes that all absentee fathers would read it, realize the kind of pain they are subjecting their children to and transform to being responsible dads.
Please share this letter as widely as possible!
By Mark Maina