Africa

Daddy, I am your daughter

If you are a girl or a lady and you are separated from your dad, you are not alone. This story is a real life story of a girl at the time and now a grown woman who was and is still disowned by her dad.

Her name is Ifeoma, not real name. Back in the days, she was a brilliant student. Her parents are highly educated and I could say, among the elites of one of the states East of the Niger. She was brought up in a very conservative family. Her mom was a Matron in one of the reputable hospitals. Her dad was a lawyer. He went to school in the famous London School of Economics. He had a degree in economics and law. He came back to Nigeria, got called to the bar and became a reputable lawyer in the east. He rose to become a High Court Judge.

 
Both parents met in England and got married immediately they came back to Nigeria after the civil war. Ifeoma is the first of their six children. She was the daddy’s little girl when she was born. She was very light-skinned, beautiful, smart, and intelligent and they use to call her “Adaeze” or Princess. She stood out as a pretty girl but very reserved and even shy. Before they had other children, Ifeoma was the love of their life. They would not end any discussion with a friend or relative without a good mention of her. She grew up as the favorite and could never do any wrong in the sight of her dad. Her dad use to go to social occasions with the ‘little’ Ify. When they got other kids, which included 4 other female kids and a son, the attachment continued and other kids were jealous of Ifeoma because of the love being showered on her by their dad. The closeness with the dad continued during her primary and post-primary schools. She went to a Special Science School. In spite of her father’s tight schedule, he always paid her visits on visiting days as she was in the boarding school. They lived in GRA and are well catered for. Ifeoma and her siblings kept no friends. Ifeoma was not even allowed to have even female friends. The closeness between her and her dad started to erode as she became a full blown teenager, with the spurt of adolescent. Her dad was nursing the secret plans that she would take after him and become a lawyer. To his chagrin, she opted to be a science student instead, since she did not like the life or career as a lawyer. She wanted to be a medical doctor. That was the first disappointment, her first mortal sin, but he got over it and life went on. When she graduated from school, she made all her papers and proceeded to take the Joint Matriculation Examination popularly known as JAMB. She didn’t do too well in JAMB, so she applied to do the pre-degree course otherwise known as pre-science at the Abakaliki Campus of former Anambra State University of Technology (ASUTECH). After the program, she was not able to make the score for medicine and was given Micro-Biology. She would have been admitted to do medicine had her father taken it upon himself to do the extra incentive for the school admissions as every most rich parents do. However, since her dad was a no-nonsense lawyer and has been elevated to the rank of a High Court Judge, it was more difficult to do ‘egunje’ since he was seen as an incorruptible judge. So she ended up reading Micro-Biology.
 
 
Things remained normal with her and her dad in her freshman and sophomore years. At that time, there had been several disagreements with her dad stemming from her asserting herself as an adult. Things got worse when she was in her third year. She fell in love with a guy that came home for vacation from Europe. The guy in question wanted to marry her. It was like a fairy-tale to her since she never actually had a serious male relationship. She was kind of infatuated with him. All her life and her ambitions changed because of this new feeling inside her. She came home one weekend and went straight to her dad and told him about the guy’s proposal. The dad was dumb-founded. “Which guy? You are still in school and you wanted to get married? What are you talking about? What happened to your medical ambition?” he said. Ifeoma was planning to go back and read medicine after her first degree. “But dad, I am a grown woman. I know what I am doing. Chinedu loves me. I have seen his parents and they are very nice people. I can still go to school over there if I want to” she said. Her dad would hear none of that and called her mom to tell her what he just heard. A few days later, she came home to their house with Chinedu. Chinedu was a good-looking guy in his late twenties at the time, and appeared to have all it took to take care of a lady and in fact a family. He had a Mercedes car, a house at Onitsha given to him by his father. However, he looked every inch like a ‘yankee’ even though he was based in Belgium.
 
He had a jerry curled hair dripping with oil, and spoke English laced with American slang. He wore a tight fitting pair of jean and a shirt, looking like a musician! When the love birds entered their house, her mom was very accommodating to him. If she had any misgivings about Chinedu, Ify’s mom didn’t reveal from her conduct or even her body language. But when the dad saw Chinedu, he had a fit. The learned judge was livid with anger. He was as scornful to Chinedu as he was highly disrespectful. He walked him out of his house raining abuses on him and even on his daughter. He basically kicked the guy out of his house. “If you kick him out of your house, you are also kicking me out”, Ify said. To his father’s surprise, Ifeoma did what no one ever expected. She eloped with Chinedu and that was the last anybody saw of her for almost a year! She abandoned her school which was an abomination as far as her dad was concerned. No one knew where she went to and she maintained no contact with anyone; not even her siblings and even close friends knew her whereabouts. Her father’s anger turned to sadness, disappointment and even shame. After a whole month and no one knew where she was, her father reported a ‘missing person’ to the police but to no avail. The police put up a missing person poster but no one came forward. No one even knew Chinedu’s town or even what part of the world he resided or whether or not they both took off to Europe. Finally, after 10 months of search without any success, her dad went to a reliable dibia- native doctor. After some incantations with a white fowl and kola nuts, the dibia told him to go home and that after 30 days, his daughter would return. True to the herbalist’s words, Ifeoma came back to their house looking haggard and unkempt. When she arrived at their house, she knelt down and asked her dad for forgiveness for all the shame she brought to him and to her family. Rumors were flying around that she was even pregnant when she came back but was aborted by the parents. It took months for him to start talking to her again.
 
To us distant relatives, no one knew where she went and because the Judge maintained a very secretive life style, no one bordered to ask since you would be wasting your time. Ifeoma lost one whole academic year. She had to start from where she left off. She became more focused and wiser. She never kept late nights, no parties, and no extra-curriculum activities. She finished her third year and proceeded to her final year. By that time, she had decided that she was not cut out for medical career after all. She finally graduated from the university and went to her NYSC. Whether or not she maintained relationship with Chinedu, no one knew. After her service however, Chinedu came calling again. However, this time Chinedu became more serious minded. No more jerry curls hairs, no more tight jeans or American accents. He became more mature and looked more focused. He wanted to marry her now for real. No more games and no more gimmicks. Chinedu moved from Europe to the United States the past three years. But Ifeoma’s dad would have none of that. The day he came to do the ‘iku aka’-traditional introduction before marriage, Ifeoma’s dad virtually slammed the door on his face and his friends and few realtives. He threw them out of his house. Their dog, Jimmy, was sent to chase them away. He sent people to warn him to stop coming to his house or risk going to jail. “After what he did, he still had the temerity to come to my house. If he comes to my house again, I will arrest him” Ifeoma did everything to convince her dad to accept Chinedu as his son-in-law but to no avail. Her mom cannot plead her case because the Judge was a very stubborn man and never listened to anybody. His wife is always in awe of him. If the wife cannot get through to him, who on earth could? Sources close to them said that the judge was not just angry because of what Chinedu did, taking his daughter away. The main grouse he had was that Chinedu came from a business and illiterate background. Even though his father was relatively rich and a Chief, his father was not educated. As a High Court Judge and a highly respected member of the bench, he would rather be an in-law to a reputable Judge or lawyer or even a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Worse still, the prospective son-in-law was neither a lawyer nor came from a family of reputable lawyers. He was not even that educated as far as he is concerned. Chinedu read Business Administration in Belgium. It was even irritating to him to even see the guy in his house looking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Chinedu and Ifeoma sent lots of emissaries to her dad to see if he would change his mind but all fell on deaf ears. Determined to marry Chinedu, she went to her uncles whom she did not normally had a normal relationship with because of her scornful dad; and asked them to plead with her dad to soften his stance about her sweetheart but no luck. Take the bull by the horn They used every method of ‘diplomacy’ to make him bulge but he remained adamant. After many months of cajoling, the uncles became very angry. They decided to take the bull by the horn. They confronted him the way no one had ever dared him before. “Are you a human being or a god? You cannot marry your daughter. Since you cannot marry her yourself, tell us why you keep blocking her marriage. If you use her to do charms, or if your secret cult forbids giving your daughter away in marriage, tell us.” It was a very spirited argument between the judge and his brothers. They left out of annoyance but not before warning him that after thirty days, if he kept stone-walling, they would give his daughter away by themselves in his absence. He remained adamant and dared his brothers to do their worse. Seeing that there was nothing that would change his mind, they decided to take the bride price from Chinedu and his people. They sent words to him to come on a certain date at the family’s ‘obi’-altar. They also informed her dad about their intentions. The eldest of the family ordered him to come home on the appointed date, failing which the whole family would take the bride price from Chinedu and his people and the gods of their fathers would sanction it with or without him. On the appointed date, Ifeoma’s dad was nowhere to be found. They waited for him for another hour and decided to perform the tradition. They gave Ifeoma a cup of palm wine and told her to go and give to her suitor. She did as she was told and ‘bingo’ she is married! They later put the whole bride price in an envelope and sent to the judge. Whether or not he threw the money away with the messenger, no one cared anymore. But that was where her trouble got much worse. Her father disowned her. He was livid. “She went to my illiterate brothers and they gave her away in marriage” He swore not to have anything to do with her again, ever. She used her uncles’ house as hers. She had her first child in Nigeria as she stayed with her parents-in-law. Her dad neither cared nor acknowledged the first grand child. Even her mom would hide whenever she went to see her daughter. She stayed about a year or so before joining her husband in the United States. Ifeoma's dad turned his attention to his second daughter, Uju. Uju did all his bidding. She was at his beck and call. She read law and her father took her to every social gatherings for the learned gentlemen. She married 'right' as her husband was a lawyer and came from a reputable family. Uju now took the 'ada'-1st daughter from her sister, Ifeoma. Ifeoma's only brother, Uche, was a whimp. He was docile as their mother. He never asked questions and was also at her father's beck and call. He also read law and was afraid that if he raised an eyebrow against dad and got disowned, he would no longer inherit his father's property including his prize law office. So their dad was an 'oracle' as far as everyone was concerned. Ify has been living in the US for over seven years. Even though her mom has retired from public
 
She has been living in the US for over seven years. Even though her mom has retired from public service as a Matron in one of the hospitals in the east, she still would not go to the United States to do ‘omugwo’ for her daughter whenever Ifeoma had a child. It was because Ifeoma’s dad forbade her. It has been very painful for her that her dad did not want to have anything to do with her or her kids, let alone her ‘greasy hair’ husband. Anytime she calls her dad’s phone number, he would pick up and hang up on her. If he knew it was her calling, he would not pick up. The worse part that happened recently that made people to say ‘tufia’ was that during his retirement ceremony as a judge, the program of event had the Judge’s biography. In the biography, instead of saying that he has six children, he stated that he has five. It seems like a typographical error, but when you look at the names of his children listed, you would find out that Ifeoma’s name was conspicuously missing. Ifeoma now has a nursing degree in one of the reputable Universities in the USA, a loving husband, four kids, and a dog.
 
She wished that her dad remained her best friend as he used to when she was young, but all these changed because of her love for her sweetheart who is her husband. She is suffering inside despite her achievements since she came to the states. The last time I spoke to her after her dad’s action during his retirement, she wept all through. “Could you believe it, Chukwudi? My own father disowned me” In her last call to her dad, she hid her phone number and disguised her voice. When her dad found out it was her and was about to hang up, she cried, “Daddy, I am your daughter”. She wept uncontrollably when he hung up on her, again. Everyone blamed Ifeoma and chastized her for eloping with a guy. But she was a teenager at the time and was virtually living in a semi-prison of a house in GRA before she went to University. Remember, at the time, the guy equally wanted to marry her. So we put all that into account. Secondly, she came back and apologized to the dad and did all the penance. Imagine what she went through at the time. But she got her life back and we were proud of her for getting her bearing back, she went back to school and graduated. She did her NYSC and worked for a few years. Obviously, Chinedu had grown up too since we found out that it wasn't infatuation the second time, but true love. The dad put him through hell too and disrespected his people inspite of the begging and everything he did to win his heart, but to no avail. Everyone begged this man! Everyone you can think of that knew him. They did everything for many years but this man would not forgive and forget. Everyone was against him and the whole umunna led by his brothers had to intervene.
 
Folks remember Mike Ejeagha's music that people should do things in moderation. He told a story about how 'mbe'-tortoise went and stole from his in-law. His in-law caught him and tied him and left him in the sun along their market road. People going to the market asked what 'mbe' did, and were told how he stole from his in-laws. People cursed at 'mbe' saying "out of all the places, you chose your in-laws house to steal, you committed abomination". They blamed the tortoise-mbe. Then in the evening when they were returning from the market, behold 'mbe' was still tied down in the sun. They asked, "what did 'mbe' do this time" and were told that he stole from his in-laws. And they asked, "did he steal again or the one he stole in the morning"? They were told that he was still being punish for the same thing he did in the morning. They turned around and blamed 'mbe's in-law. "It is an abomination. B/c your in-law stole from your house that you tied him and left him in the sun since morning. If he didn't steal from you when he is hungry, from whom would he steal." They now turned against mbe's in-law for his meanness to mbe. This Ifeoma's case is just like that. People should learn how to let go. This malice has been borne for more than 15 yrs. We sin against God everyday, even as we speak. Christ asked his apostles how many time should they forgive their brother's transgressions, the answer being 70×7 or so. So playing God is not the best. Also remember that in Igbo land, if you mistreat a 'nwokpu' or 'nwada' and she dies, the consequences is grave.Even some 'nwokpus' don't need to die b/4 the consequences manifest. You cannot throw away your child with the birth water. Ifeoma is still his daughter even if he found out that he did not 'father' her which was not the case here. Your child is your child no matter what he/she did. Even in the bible, David did not condemn Absolom eventhough Absolom wanted to kill him. When Absolom was captured and killed, David mourned for his son which offended his soldiers which captured Absolom.
 
CSN: 40005-2008-04-27
 

 

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