We can call our fathers whatever we want to, say whatever we want to say about them but trust me despite everything we love them to the core. Look there is no formula to parenting and most of them have made some mistakes but hey no one is perfect, not even Efo’s daughter who is called perfect. As Father’s day approaches I can’t help but share my story with you.
As boy growing up, there was nothing I dreaded more than my father’s angry voice or him clearing his throat whilst my charges for the day were being recapped by the Inspector general of the house, my Mum. I swear, you can hear my heat beat ‘kpo’ like the sound of lizards hitting the floor in a falling off a tree contest at regular intervals. Most of you would agree that, a one on one chat with our Dads was not a part of our wildest imaginations. The only conversations we had with them were question and answer sessions with our heads bowed down and our feet drawing abstract imaginary images on the floor. With my Dad for instance, whenever he was looking for something, we had to make sure the thing was where any of us saw it before we offer to help him find it. Woe betides you, when you say you saw the thing somewhere and he asks that you bring it to him and then you come back to say it is no longer there.
One of the things that baffled me and still baffles me is when my Dad would insist I stopped crying whilst he was beating me. Am I supposed to laugh in pain? What kind of impossible request too was that? Even Tom Cruise would give up on this mission for it is truly impossible. The funny thing is that my beatings always increased when I wanted to prove that I could take a beating by not crying despite the immense pain. I know most of you will say ‘ooh but we were all beaten when we were young’. Well for your information there is beating and there is BEATING. And in most cases I received the BEATING for my mischief because my Dad was an ‘Eweman’. Now, let me take my time to explain this. You see in Ghana, the best disciplinarians are fathers from the Volta region who are teachers, Military men or carpenters. The unfortunate thing however is that all ‘Ewemen’ are carpenters and so it becomes worse when he is a teacher or military personnel in addition to his born-with profession of a carpenter. And with my Dad being a teacher you can begin to sympathize with me now. Reminiscing about these I’m beginning to suspect that our parents were in a sort of competition. For a minute, just close your eyes and imagine the sounds you would hear from a cluster of semi-detached teacher bungalows that had boys within the same age group on Saturday evenings. Yeah, that was us. An emotional ensemble of beatings and cries that could compete with the Israelites’ cry to Moses in the wilderness from the various households on OLA campus.
But aside all these I can say with all authority and certainty that my Dad loved me to bits and was just trying his best to keep me on the right track. Did he overdo it at times? I will say YES, but if he were here, he will disagree but hey in such a contentious debate would you agree that you are wrong? My main problem however was how like most parents he felt I was the five or seven year old kid who he must help tie his shoe lace when I entered the university. For me it was an interesting experience. Even in the University my Dad always referred to me as a boy. Well I’m sure if he were to know some of the things I was doing and capable of doing he wouldn’t have but his perception fully changed about me one Sunday when I did the unthinkable.
Now, my Dad’s trademark insults when he was really mad at me for something I had done or said were to first say ‘Are you silly?’ and then comes the real insults that come in two folds, “stupid boy and foolish boy’. And so on this particular Sunday, my Dad discovered that I had not moved some roofing sheets on which we dried some maize to where he had asked me to. So he shouts from across the compound asking where the roofing sheets were still where they were and my response was that I felt where they were, was ideal. Wrong answer kroa.!
“Where are you?” he fumed
Immediately I emerged out of the room, I was greeted with the trademark question and insults of
“Are you silly? You feel you are now wiser than I who gave birth to you because you are in your final year in the University? Stupid boy! Fooolish boy!”.
My next action surprised everyone including myself. I burst out into a hysterical laugh that confused him and made him look white as though he had seen a ghost. My big sister came rushing out of the room and looked at me as though I had committed the unholiest of all unholy sacrileges. Their reaction made it even worse because my laughter intensified. Then my Dad found his voice and with a sterner look that could crack a palm kernel, he said,
“What are you laughing at?’
Not wanting to choke on my laughter, I covered my mouth and took in a deep breath and said
“I’m laughing because even at this age you are still referring to me as a boy”
He looks at me, shakes his head, and said
“I’m sorry but you are a Foolish and stupid young man’ and bursts into laughter himself and signals me to come over so we pack the roofing sheet together.
I’m sure my sister did not understand the effect of that moment as my Dad and I did. For it was one of those rare moments when a father realizes that his son is a man and needs to be treated as such.