He hadn’t lived life the picture-perfect way and this had come back to torment him in his quest to seek reprieve now that death lurked menacingly.
He could only do one thing now to make right the things he had done wrong to the one person that he loved most. He just wasn’t sure she would want to listen to him now. Why would she want to talk to him at all, let alone allow him to be part of her life? He slowly exited his car, not quite sure of what to say when he got to the door.
“I’m coming, just a minute!” His mind drifted back to when she was born. She was so tiny and fragile. He grew nostalgic at the feeling of how he felt when he held her. The door opened and he was jolted out of his reverie. “Don’t be afraid to tell her who you are.”
She couldn’t place the face. “May I help you?” she asked. He was overwhelmed. He wanted to grab her, hug and kiss her as though she were still a little girl. Instead, he composed himself and the tears started to flow.
“I came to talk to you; I don’t know if you remember me?” he said, half – stating, half –asking. She tried to remember where she had seen him, but her memory failed her.
“No”, she replied, and continued almost immediately, “I’m sorry, you seem so familiar, but I can’t place you. Have we met before?” she said, wondering if she really wanted to know the answer to her question.
He looked at her for what seemed like an eternity and thought “redemption is never gained in one particular moment; it is a slow process, timeless as the “Prodigal Son”.
He then said “I was your first father ”. And time stood still. For an eternity, it seemed.
Six months later, she stood beside the man she’d always know as her father, crying silently as Mother Earth received Okon’s remains. He drew her closer as the wind buffeted them.
She thought back to that fateful day. How he’d explained to her that he had always loved her from afar but had felt that he was really no good to her as a father. How he’d explained away his lifestyle and his lasting regret over having left her and her mom.
The tears continued. The priest was on the final lap. Reminiscences came in torrents. How he painfully narrated his story of how the last twenty-five years had unfolded. How she cried with him and told him that she didn’t really understand how he could have made the choice to have his lifestyle over her.
Somehow, in the way humans were made to be, they never grew as close as a daughter and father should be. But he did get to redeem himself in her eyes though. And when a hand gently nudged her to reality, she mouthed the timeless words as the grounds receded behind them.
Submitted by Ekeoma Ohaegbulam