It’s Easter, one of my favourite periods of the year. I would send you ‘greetings’ but I can’t stand the ‘Happy Easter’ greeting. It’s sort of flat. I prefer ‘Christ is risen’ with the response ‘He’s risen indeed!’ That, after all, is the essence of Easter- his death, resurrection and what that sacrifice symbolizes for us. I have been away from social media for a while (read as Facebook and Whatsapp), which is one of the reasons why you haven’t heard from me in two weeks. The second reason is this- it turns out that when you stop writing consistently for a while, you begin to wonder if what you are writing is good enough, which is what I have also been doing during those two weeks. Maybe I should eat more chocolate- that always makes the world better..lol!
Enough about me. We have a story to finish! This one is dedicated to my dear friend Yvonne who got married over the last week. I am so happy for you, love! In case you guys missed it, this was where we left off.
‘And you didn’t think that you should tell me? What makes you think that it is okay to keep things like this from me? He is my son for crying out loud!’
She blinked twice and looked away.
Yes, it was selfish to not tell him. But it was also easy.
‘I didn’t want to ruin what we have.’
‘Explain to me how that is possible. I didn’t cheat on you to have this child. I didn’t lie to you about him. I didn’t even know about him. And yet somehow you are the victim? Concerned about what you might lose? What about him? Have you thought about what he has lost in the last 17 or so years? What if it was your son? Wouldn’t you want him to meet his father?’
‘Are we fighting about him or her?’
‘What in heaven’s name do you mean?’
To be honest, Barima wasn’t so sure either. He wasn’t going to lie. He had to see his son- but he also desperately wanted to see the mother of his son.
He should have never left her behind. He should have asked her to come with him and not taken no for an answer. He could still see her in his mind’s eye- her coy smile, the defiance in her eyes, the way her back arched when she was trying to get to him, everything. It was like he had kept her locked in a part of his heart that he had never let anyone else into. He would have probably lost her a second time if Yussif had not said something.
‘Oga, a boy came here with his mother. He said he was your son. I sent them to Madam.’
A son. Cecilia’s son. They had fantasized about having children and even messed around with names, holed up in the guest house that Barima’s friend owned. This felt like a second chance- probably the only chance he was going to get.
‘I’m going to find him.’
‘I had a feeling you might say that.’
‘He is my son. I need to see him.’
‘And you know this how?’
‘Cecilia said so. I believe her.’
‘Is this Cecilia woman going to be a problem?’
‘Do me a favour. Stop making this about you and a woman I haven’t seen in 17 or so years. This is about finding my son and making up for all the years I have not been there for him.’
‘I am not doing this with you. Not today.’
It was the same dream every time.
The man he had seen in the pictures- the man Maa said was his father- he was smiling at him and holding out his hand to him. Every single time Michael tried to grab his hand, he disappeared. And then he would wake up.
‘I need to stop dreaming about this. I need to move on.’
That would explain why he felt weak in the knees when he walked into the living room and saw Barima seated there. It wasn’t a dream- he was here.
‘Hello Michael. I am your father.’
Michael blinked. Twice. Three times. It was him.
It would be too presumptuous to say Daddy. And out of place to say Barima or Sir, so he left the Hi hanging.
It was awkward, regardless.
Barima wanted to embrace him, but he wasn’t sure if he was open to that kind of affection. Heck, he knew nothing about him. What he liked to eat, what he enjoyed doing, what his shoe size was, whether he could reverse park, if he was still a virgin, nothing.
Michael’s voice broke the silence.
‘What happened with you and my mum? Why didn’t you look for her?’
‘God knows I looked everywhere. She just stopped responding to my letters so I came down to Ghana to look for her. Nobody knew where she was.’
‘I didn’t want to be found.’
That was the first time Cecilia was speaking. Both men turned in her direction. This was news to both of them.
‘My pride was wounded after what your sister said.’, she said, gesturing at Barima, ‘I didn’t want to deal with you or your family. Michael, I didn’t want you to grow up in an environment that was so full of malice and spite. I just wanted to shield you from the disgrace I endured.’
‘But why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you trust me to handle it? You kept me out of my son’s life- out of your life- without as much as a second chance. Why does everyone decide for me?’
‘It’s all my fault. I robbed you both of the pleasure of being in each other’s lives. By the time I realized my stubbornness would never be enough to raise our son, it was already too late. You were married with kids. My pride was wounded that you didn’t look harder or that you didn’t wait longer. Everything is my fault.’
Michael swallowed hard. He didn’t know that his father didn’t know about him; that it wasn’t his choice to not to be a part of his son’s life. The anger that he had been carrying for so long suddenly felt useless, inappropriate even.
Barima rose to his feet a second time. He caught his son in an embrace. It didn’t matter whether or not Michael was a touchy-feely person. He was his son and that was how he treated all his children. Michael was his son.
It started out as a whisper. The pitch got higher each time he said it, like he was gaining confidence with every pronouncement.
Cecilia was sobbing quietly. Barima also pulled her into the embrace.
He felt whole.
It was a feeling he had never ever felt before.
He had a father. A real father. One who wasn’t ashamed of him. One who didn’t reject him. A father who was embracing him at the moment. His own father.
It was almost ethereal.
There were so many things that needed to be worked on, so many issues that needed to be ironed out. What if his siblings didn’t like him? What if his mother felt left out in the whole family reunion situation? What if things didn’t work out? What if he didn’t fit in?
Somehow the smell of his father’s perfume drowned out his insecurities.
At least for now.