Sunday 23 November 2008

Between a patriarch and his children

Those rotten seeds

I cannot begin to imagine the loss I have suffered from not communicating with my father for years until recently.

It is unfortunate that seeds sown a long time ago in my youth created an almost immoveable tree that stood in the way of sight, contact and interaction.

There was a time about 25 years ago when I tried to address this with my father with the force of the number of siblings by trying to move the context of our relationship beyond that of provision to one of love and care but the situation deteriorated rapidly soon afterwards.

A failed son of successful parents

I was suffering in my academic work and at the same time, a son of successful accountant and a long-term school principal, I could not run to them with my failures and the true Nigerian parentage style, I was to learn my lessons get pull myself up by the boots.

I was fortunate to have other people my parents had mentored who had suffered serious failure and bounced back owing great gratitude to my parents; they took me out of the rut and helped give me a purpose, an aim, a goal and a path to new success.

My parents were indirectly involved by reason of work they had laid down before, but they could not take direct credit for the success that began to come my way.

However, I still owe a good deal of what forms my character and principles to my parents, my father especially who still stands as a tower of achievement and reasonableness that has been honed through the years.

Rebuilding relationships

When we finally got communicating again, we did not dwell on any of the issues of the past, we just started off on a new race and began to build relationships anew drawing on his wealth of experience and the shared times of living with my parents that lasted just about 20 years.

I maintain a unique kind of place in the family hierarchy, my father is the patriarch of the clan and he shoulders more responsibilities than he should as others who rely on him seem to shirk their responsibilities for the chief.

As the first-born and by far the oldest of his children before my sister arrived almost 5 years after, there are expectations, many expectations, one of which would not be fulfilled much as many desire it – I am already in enough knots than to think of tying the knot – just a fact of life as it stands.

My siblings and daddy

There are aspects of his patriarchal domain that seem to be exercised on my siblings which I have escaped, but my siblings no matter how much younger and how much familiar he is with their circumstances need a pleasant fatherly ear rather than a commander’s orders to be present, available and acquiescing.

A patriarch is free to rule his roost, but a patriarch that is a father to many needs to discriminate between those who serve by reason of his nominal status and those he bore by reason of procreation.

It is not only a case of blood being thicker than water; it is a matter of relationships that are cultivated with the finesse of a scalpel rather than one cobbled together with a mallet. The mallet would just not suffice for the children as it might for others.

They are grown-up now

One can understand that a father expects loyalties, but my siblings are grown-up respectable persons with their families and issues, they cannot continue to be treated as kids even though they were kids with kid’s needs, desires and compulsions.

It would appear there is work to be done in bringing the nest of familial interests back into some sort of harmony and agreement.

My position in the family confers the right to order people around but that would not be the smartest thing to do, in fact, it has never been my way of doing things – I listen, I confer, I encourage and hopefully offer a sympathetic perspective to help child appreciate father and hopefully help father understand child.

He has amazing memories

I still have my relationship building situation and I am happy that our conversations have such range which I would cover in another blog – who would have thought my father was some sort of activist in the late 60s?

Well, I have done much with reading up and understanding my history, my father helps clarify the issues that are confusing but most of all, despite all the negative experiences he had of living in the UK in the 60s, he recollects fondly the ways in which he was integrated and understanding of the environment he was in.

Why would anyone ever be in schism with their father? It just happens and it can take a long while for things to get sorted out – it really can.

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