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SINS OF THE FATHER 

THE SIN OF ENVY. (2)

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Dear Daughter…

by @HL_Blue

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“And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbour. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind”

Ecclesiastes 4 vs. 4 (NIV)

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Dear Chioma,

It wasn’t always like this. I had no idea having you as a daughter would change me into this driven, beastly monster I have become. I feel I should apologize to you but something in my mind strikes back that you are somehow to blame for this.

You were always your mother’s project. Dressed you in her fancy pigtails and pinafores and all pink everything. I think she gave up on trying to control your looks when you kept crying at the hair salon and wore your face in a sad frown whenever your hair and shoes looked so pretty. Still, I didn’t feel that invested in you until she passed away while giving birth to your little brother.

The events of that day still make me cringe. It all happened so fast. I was speechless in the corridor outside the labour room with the obstetrician when he asked me whose life I would decide to save, your mother’s or your unborn brother’s. I was still thinking of an answer when he was called back into the theatre for an emergency procedure. I heard later that if he had not intervened when he did, it would have been just you and me in this family. Well, for your sake I’m glad he did.

I didn’t know how much I loved your mother until she passed away. This is nothing near missing the water when the well runs dry. More like having all the water you ever drank being taken back from you. Every memory was a doorway to grief. The sweeter the memory, the deeper the grief and at some point I almost ungratefully asked God to take away my memories so I might not have to suffer grief in that way. But he didn’t, or else you also might have ceased to exist by now.

As you grew up, you became more and more her strongest memory trigger even though you never met her in your conscious mind. It scared me how you had her mannerisms – her pretending not to care when losing something, her one-strike rule against people who gave her heartache, her love for colours and bright lights, and worst of all, her physical appearance. I was alarmed as I watched you grow up because I had no idea character traits and appearances could be passed on so accurately from parents to children.

At first I was sad to have you, then I was glad to be part of your life. You became my project. I had to shield you and protect you. I had to satisfy you and keep you from looking outside for love and affection. I became jealous over you. I know we are inclined to value the scarce and chase the unavailable, but I could never understand why you would want to spend more time with the guys who shared their time and attention with other girls and interests than with your faithful loving father. I watched you wear their gifts proudly like a badge while my superior quality and well thought out gifts lay unused in your wardrobe for months. Did you know what you were doing to me and my ego? Did you know how much thought I put into besting the competition?

I know it sounds weird but looking back I have to admit you were the love of my life as you grew up under my roof. I couldn’t admit it then but why else did I have no desire to find emotional closure with any other female? Why didn’t I miss female companionship? Did I unconsciously substitute you for your mother in my mind? I shudder to think so but that’s the only answer my mind can come up with for now.

Then one day I had to walk you down the aisle. That day was bittersweet for me. I don’t think I even know this guy you’re getting married to. I don’t know if it was part of my coping mechanism to deny his existence totally but the only thing I know about him is his last name and the fact that he makes you happy in a way that I can’t. Why couldn’t I make you even sit up and acknowledge that I loved you? I didn’t ask to be the number one in your life, just to be in your life in any way, just to have you sit up and say hey Daddy, I love you too. But you never did. And I fear when you finally get into your marital home you never will.

You rolled your eyes whenever I asked about your studies. You cut me short whenever your love life came up in our phone calls. You threw tantrums when I protested having to come pick you up in the middle of the night because you were stranded. You waved off my compliments of your hair. You went off to school and forgot about how my meals would be sorted. I guess that was when the scales fell from my eyes and I realised I had been leaning on a shaky emotional crutch.

I am not writing this to win your favour or pity or love. In fact, you probably won’t read this till you’re reading my will. I’m writing this so you know my actions for you were as much motivated by love as they were by envy of the other men in your life. Yes, when I did or did not call, when I bought you stuff or refused to, when I screamed at you or withdrew in silence, those were all borne of envy.

I am not apologizing either. Who says that love is anything better than envy as a motivator of action? How did my actions harm you in any way? OK maybe I was dishonest in making you believe my actions were altruistic instead of self-serving but I didn’t realize that until recently so at the time I was being as honest as I could. This is just me putting the missing piece in the puzzle of your life that you may or may not even care about. I don’t even know why I bothered.

Never settle for anything less than the attention and affection of your father. That would be an insult to my memory.

 

Love,

Dad

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Responses

  1. Olatoxic
    Awwwwn…

    Who would have thought something as negatively portrayed as envy could be seen in such a sweet, touching light? Eyaa.

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  2. ijebuPrincess
    (۳º̩̩́_º̩̩̀)۳ (۳º̩̩́_º̩̩̀)۳ (۳º̩̩́_º̩̩̀)۳ this is so beautiful. I think I need to call my father.
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  3. Tiki
    I think this is the envy that most of us deal with – where you wish badly that you, instead of your neighbour, had what he enjoys, but you would rather live without than hurt your neighbour in order to take it away.

    I have to digress from the theme and say I think the father is setting the daughter up for failure when he asks her never to settle for anything less than the attention and affection he showed her. No one person can love us in the exact same way another does. Instead of measuring our lovers up against each other, our only yardstick should be how they make us feel. True, a boyfriend may not buy her the expensive gifts or call her hundreds of times like her father did, but does that mean the former loves her any less? Overcompensation is sometimes just as destructive as underachievement.

    PS. I really should go home this weekend. I miss my daddy. 🙁

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    1. BlackPearl
      I agree with Tip but only because a lot of times, girls settle for way less than they deserve. I see where you are coming from Tiki, but I do think we should not settle for less. He might not do it in the exact way her father did it, but the man should show just as much (or even more) love and affection as her father did, it is only right if she will be spending her whole life with him.
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    2. DontAsk
      I dont think his advice was based on the gifts and stuff. Just to set a standard and know what to expect in terms of love and dedication. Best advice ever.
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  4. Pandorus
    Nope. First, this is oddly remniscent of that trashy Lust post where Captain Obvious is oddly attached to his son. Second, the envy never actually shows forth anywhere. Just nope.
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  5. ijebuPrincess
    This is the best post in the sotf series so far. It captures d theme in its entirety. Touches on our emotions and adheres to all things literary. Thanks uncle efe
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    1. lordfiddler
      I beg to differ on that. This was not envy described here o because envy is not a learner. He didn't break any of the boys legs or do anything to frustrate the efforts of the "competition" or even distract his daughter from them…
      ENVY is not a docile, siddon-look typa feeling o! It moves you to DO stuff. It's not listed as one of the deadly sins for nothing! Check out its CV.
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      1. silentblare
        Your feelings about what envy is do not translate to what it actually is. The actions envy inspires are not necessarily obviously negative friend. A lot of achievement is the result of envy, so says the quote from the holy book right at the beginning. That acid was not poured on someone does not mean envy is not present. Human emotions are also never clear cut. This post! It is subtle enough to feel real. This is not nollywood silliness. I was curious as to what Efe would come up with, and as it has been for over 28 years, I was not disappointed.
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      2. DontAsk
        and her father did things. he bought things. he tried to outdo the other guys so that she may one day realise that and give him some priority.
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  6. Tiwalade
    Awwwwwww.
    I like how this showed the other side of envy as well. Envy can come under the disguise of something more positive; it doesn't always scream out for what it is. This is very subtle and I think a lot of people can relate to it.
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  7. kophojomo
    Reading this post made me think about my dad…My mum never understands how I can still love him so much even after a huge row…I digress.
    Great post! Very subtle but also very on point.
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  8. slim
    I love how the person behind the pen is being projected unto the characters. I start reading and I check the writer first.

    I've always wondered how my relationship with my son would be, if I loved his father before he passed and he was a stunning replica. This post makes me smile. Perhaps it wouldn't be such a good idea.

    Efe I see how you deftly steered away from choosing btw the child and mother. Lol. Well done.

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  9. lordfiddler
    In my opinion, this is a very nice write-up…. amazingly emotional, but truly devoid of any real ENVY. Envy is not docile o, it's not a feeling that just runs through your head without dropping hints on what to do to "set things right"! What did he do or not do to his daughter that poured sand in the garri of any of "his competitors"??
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  10. gboukzi
    I like the serenity of this post. The apparent hurt veiled in intense calm. Sending such a strong message, but in such a soft manner. I'd have loved to read a twist or two to the storyline though. Because I think this isn't really what a father would naturally say to his daughter directly, so as not to sound envious, and because the theme of the post is envy, I'd have loved to see an uncontrollable situation forcing him to speak his mind; maybe even a 'tragedic' turn that sees the daughter in a coma or something. All in all though, well done Efe. Well done!
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    1. highlandblue
      Yeah he couldn't say these things directly cos of pride. Which is why the letter is hidden in his will so it can only be read by her when he's dead and unable to get any reply. Thanks for the review 🙂
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  11. Akin
    I like how the envy of the father is portrayed here. Its direct and affcts the daughter in a way she cannot understand. The thing is, it felt a bit boring at some point. But in the end I like it. See, which of us is not eenvious of another persons success or attention sometimes. We try to getmore but its not always gra gra. Envy is a feeling and doesnt need action to become a sin. The bible says covetousness is a sin even before u evenel take anything.
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  12. jiji
    The story is written with so much calm and beauty, you can see the father approaches his envy with maturity and wisdom. I enjoyed reading this.
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  13. Aj
    i truly loved this and the series in general. think after the toolsman’s post i like this best. All that being said, could we pretty please have Aso-ebi on thursday?pleeeaaasseee
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  14. nijezie
    Like the calmness of this post could be felt, makes you not to be mad at the dad. This is probably the same calmness cheating niggas use to ask for another chance
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  15. Rezza
    I don't think this man wrote this letter in one go, hence the calmness. I like it, i actually read the story in my father's voice.

    But then i wonder: if she's already married, why "Never settle for anything less than the attention and affection of your father. That would be an insult to my memory"? This man plans to oust that husband of hers, even from the grave.

    Na wa

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  16. Ngor...
    I like this. I was moved by this letter… I know selfish, and I cannot say that this man is selfish.
    If there's such a thing as "good envy", this is it. If we had more jealous fathers like this, there would be no Tontos and Snookies and the world would be a less orange place… *sigh*
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  17. [email protected]
    Love it….it so calm, giving u this *awwww* effect
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