I was only twelve when my mother died. I don’t remember a lot but I remember waking up at dawn to hear my father crying. You look at his face and you’ll realize that he had cried all night. I was crying too but the kind of tears my father shared came from a deeper place than mine.
I had watched a lot of movies where stepmothers maltreated their stepdaughters. I was scared to become a stepdaughter and that was the reason for my tears. I was a child and didn’t know a lot. The kind of tears my father shared came from a place of thoughts and a place of loss. While I wished I could do something to make him stop crying, I was glad to realize he loved my mother that much.
After the burial of my mother, I was always looking forward to the day my dad would come home with a woman but it never happened. What actually changed was the way he treated me. When my mother was alive, my dad didn’t care so much about me. He’ll go to work, come back home, eat and sleep.
After the death of my mom, everything changed. I was twelve but my dad walked me to school each morning and returned to the house early enough to continue taking care of me. A lot of people told him to send me to one of my aunts so I could get proper care but he didn’t. He asked whatever I wanted and he made sure he provided it.
When I was about to write BECE, this man took his time to teach me each night before I slept. We would go through past questions, solve all of them, and sometimes made jokes about the mistakes we both committed. I’d lost a mom but my dad became the mother and father I never thought he could be.
I did very well in the BECE and got a very good senior high school. The day I was going to the boarding house, I looked at his face and realized he was getting emotional. Every now and then he would swallow a lump down his throat, forcing himself not to cry.
After senior high, there was this guy in our area that I was crushing on. The guy also liked me and was getting closer each day. One day, I was standing with this guy in front of our house when my dad came to meet us. We greeted him. He asked, “What are you two doing here?” I said, “This my friend came to visit me and we are here talking.” He asked the guy, “Who are your parents and where do you stay?” The guy answered. My dad said, “This should be the last time I would see you around my daughter. The next time I catch you with her, I will make sure I lash you properly and send you back to your parents. Don’t dare me. Leave here.” The guy ran out of the compound and it was the last time the two of us talked though I saw him very often.
I thought I was a child so he was trying to guide me off early bad decisions but things got worse when I completed the university. At the university, I dated James. We started right from level hundred until we completed. He was a very calm guy from a very good home. His father was a popular politician. Both of us nursed a dream of marriage after school.
Right after school, I took him home to greet my dad. That was the worse decision I ever took concerning our relationship. My dad gave him a proper dress down and screamed at him to get out of his house. The look on James’ face that day made me realized I’ve lost him. After James had left, I confronted him; “But dad, you don’t even know him. At least speak to him and know little about him before you can say anything.”
He responded, “I know a lot to know the difference between a bad guy and a good one. That guy isn’t a good guy. He’ll just waste your time and leave you in a lurch.” I said, “He’s not a bad guy. I’ve dated him since level hundred. He had never put a foot wrong.” He said, “I’m disappointed in you Agnes. It means you went to school to have sex, right? When I was here praying for your success you were there chasing a vagabond.”
He succeeded in chasing James out of my life. I was careful from then on. I completed national service, found a job, work for a year before I said yes to another man. Peter was a kind guy. When I told him about my dad, he said, “Why don’t you move out and rent your own place? That way, he’ll know that you’re matured and treat you just like that.”
I went to my dad and told him, “I’ve worked for two years and have gathered some money. I want to rent my own place closer to work so I wouldn’t have to take a lot of trotros before getting to work.” He said, “No way. You’re not going anywhere. As a woman, you have to stay in your father’s house until your husband comes to take you away. You’ll stay here until you get married.”
The way he said it, I felt like he was ready to meet the man in my life so a few weeks later, I took Peter home to meet him. He was almost violent towards him. Peter was calm but my father kept provoking him until he walked out of the house. He screamed, “I know your kind. You walk around pretending to be innocent and caring until you get the girl. I won’t allow you to mess up with my daughter.” I got angry too. I told him my mind. He said, “Because I said your husband should come for you, you’re in a rush to get a husband. Agnes, am I pushing you away from this house? Have I treated you badly that you want to leave this house? Tell me if I’ve done something wrong to you and I’ll apologize but I won’t allow you to make bad choices.”
Peter has a strong will and he had told me time and over again that he’s never going to leave my side until he wins. My dad keeps fighting him off. I’ve reported the issue to his pastor and he had been called. Nothing has changed. I reported him to his senior brother and even to my grandmother. They’ve all spoken to him but he tells them, “No one is going to teach me how to raise my own daughter. If today a lot of men see something good in her, then I haven’t done a bad job at all raising her. If she brings a good man home, why not? I’ll allow her to go ahead.”
Who is a good man? My father hasn’t been able to define it for me. All he does is drive men away. I’ve dated Peter for four good years. We should have been married two years ago had it not been my father. Now I’m scared his patience is running low. I’m scared he’ll walk away because of my dad’s stubbornness. Tell me, what else should I do to convince my dad that Peter is the man. I’ve sat him down and cried to him to see things my way. I’ve knelt before him to accept Peter. The next thing he said was, “That guy is too short. He’ll have temperamental issues.” All these years we’ve dated, he had never been angry once. I’m twenty-nine going to thirty. I’m getting desperate.