Today is my Daddy's birthday. Had he been still alive, he would have been 70 today. He died 9 years ago at the ripe age of 61 in his prime. His heart gave way cos of the 'weight of evidence' against him. People say it was because he ate too much dog meat but that's their business cos I don't think so!!!
My Daddy was a caring, fun loving man, charismatic and enigmatic just like my younger sis (who I have just discovered has a blog also. The first time I read that blog, I suspected the owner of the blog did funny and incorrigible things only she (my sis) could achieve but she refused to admit it was her blog until the cat has finally been let out of the bag. Maybe I'll reveal who she is in my next post this one is not about her)
Back to my Dad now - He loved to party and relished any excuse to cook loads n loads of food, gather people around him and throw a party. I loved the parties but not the aftermath cos it meant that we kids in the house had to wake up early and see to all the dirty gigantic pots used in cooking, the dirty plates as well as the dirty drinking glasses and cutlery. I remember 1997. That was a year of parties, parties and parties galore - First of all, there was his "swearing in" in january, some of his colleagues came visiting calabar to open "XXX" and he threw a lavish party at his country home to welcome them, then after that was his 60th birthday celebrations - his birthday parties are a must and he has them every year, then after that were the easter celebrations, then after that he celebrated 21 years on the "higher echelon" of his chosen profession, and then he died two weeks after turning 61.
Our mum died in 1995 - 3 years before him and we couldnt imagine life with him as the sole parent. We loved him but he was a disciplinarian and would not spare fools gladly. The rod was used liberally if we did wrong. Thankfully he spared the rod as each and every one of us - his kids entered secondary school. But he had other ways of keeping us in check without using his rod. I remember my younger sis (madam blogger) used to be known and referred to as 'prison woman' in our house. This was cos she wouldnt cry when she was flogged for wrong doing and so dad resorted to locking her up in solitary confinement in the study/library while he had his siesta as her punishment.
I remember once when mom was preparing lunch and all of a sudden, she scooped out some into a different pot and embellished the contents of the pot with more mede medes. We asked her who the food in the smaller pot was for and she replied: "This one is for the General and that one (bigger pot with lesser orishi rishi) is for civilians" and the name stuck. Every other person in the house became a bloody civilian with dad being the General.
I remember the fun rides we used to have on saturdays when he would drive me, my sisters and kid brother around town in his car. Sometimes we would even go to 404 joints, buy some and go straight home to tuck in. I remember when we were kids and his friends used to come over every saturday to partake of lunch which consisted of delicious 404 prepared by our mom. He was so notorious for eating 404 that some of his friends in his later years would bring huge pots of 404 when coming for his parties and everyone would tuck in and banter over it.
I remember the evenings on the balcony with him, chatting and enjoying the evening breeze. His siesta was always straight after lunch at 3 - 3.30pm and we civilians were free to go where we liked (unofficially of course) and sneak back home before the stroke of 6pm when he would be awake and back on his balcony. We werent allowed to go anywhere without his strict permission.
I remember the plethora of friends that used to hang around him and come visiting every evening from 6pm. He loved having people around him.
I remember him being reverred in his chosen field and profession. He always did have an imposing stature - which only clothes from High and Mighty could fill cos he was both 'high' and 'mighty' also, which made him both loved and feared.
I remember the hugs and kisses we used to share. I remember going to hug him and on several occassions he would pull my bra strap on my back and let it go with a loud noise, more like a 'snap' and a 'plonk' and I would squeal: "Daddy!" He was that naughty. I remember aiming to kiss his cheek on several occassions and he would turn his head at the very last minute and the kiss would land on his lips. He was that mischievious.
I remember going on errands for you daddy - it was tiring climbing up and down the staircase several times every evening but I still loved it. Hearing you shout our names, and we would yell - "Yes Daddy" in response, preparing ur breakfast, helping out with ur clothes, putting out your shoes, tying and untying ur shoe laces. Serving your friends when they came around.
I remember all of us at home scampering to the door on your return from work to say hello to you or scampering and tidying the house cos your car was at the gate.
I rememember the christmas, new year and easter celebrations when you took us all around Calabar in ur car to see the various masquerades and parades about town.
I remember you being a strict disciplinarian admonishing us when we went wrong and telling us you were once a help and know what it is like to live in another person's house and on no circumstances were we to treat the help badly or without respect or inhumanely or we would answer to you.
I remember slapping one house help on one occassion and my punishment was that you wouldnt speak to me for over one week and glared at me each time I spoke to you or was in ur prescence. Boy, Was I glad when I finally reentered your good books.
I remember the plethora of ladies that flocked around you when you became eligible once again after mommy's death and you asking me which one you should marry in the presence of one of them and me replying untactfully "They are too many ladies or something like that. " Thinking back now, if looks could kill, I'm sure that lady must have felt bad and fuming inside though she was all smiles in front of you.
I'm glad you told all of them you werent interested in marrying again and that you wanted to concentrate and bring up your kids and not subject us - Thank God to the wicked step mother experience which you had.
I remember you allowing me to drive my mommy's car after she died and telling me it was all mine now. I remember that day in school my heart started beating very fast during lectures but I didnt know it was a sign or why my heart was beating so fast. I remember going to visit a friend after school that day and on the way back home the driver and the PA seeing me in town and picking me up after I flagged down the car and taking me back home. I remember them being unusually quiet in the car on the drive back home and answering my questions in monosyllables until I let them be.
I remember entering the house and sitting in the dinning room to chat with the people I met there. Everyone seemed unusually quiet and unwilling to talk. I remember your friend coming downstairs and taking me upstairs to break the news that your heart had given way and you had died on your bed while waiting for lunch to be prepared after coming back from work that day. I remember breaking down into tears refusing to allow your body to be taken for an embalment believing God for a miracle and you would be revived and all would be well. Life without you was unthinkable as you were the only parent we had left.
I remember the tears and the confusion about us all being made orphans at such tender ages. I remember asking myself how we were ever going to survive in this cruel world without you. I remember the furore after your death, during the burial preparations and after your burial. I remember us kids being left all alone and everyone in town seeing us as 'rich kids' with mighty inheritances but we weren't really cos we were scrimping and struggling to survive and cope in the initial teething period after your death.
We all love you daddy and wish we had told you this over and over again while you were alive but we didn't know you were going to be plucked away so soon. We miss you terribly. You advice, your imposing stature and personality towering over us and protecting us from all ilk. Above all, we miss your loving arms around us.
H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y D A D D Y!!!