December 27th, 2009
Lunch started off the same way it always did. JJ and Dad discussing politics and general current affairs, Marizu joking around with my kids, Legachi trying to make small talk with me, and my Stepmother pretending everything was perfect.
But this time around, I had even more on my mind. I kept on looking at my Dad, noticing his frailty and mortality for the first time. His voice was still strong, and he still commanded as much authority as I could remember…but he had lost some weight, and his movements were a bit more measured.
And my Stepmother’s words kept ringing in my ears. My Mom had asked him to leave?! That wasn’t the story we had been told.
He must have felt my eyes on him, because he suddenly looked in my direction, and our eyes held for a moment, before I quickly looked away.
Mama Legachi noticed the exchange. “Doesn’t she look wonderful, d’im?” she remarked. “Ihunna, you have really done well. You’ve lost so much weight!”
“She has always been a beautiful girl…with or without the weight.” he complimented, still looking at me.
At that point, I couldn’t take the pretense any longer. I dropped my cutlery loudly, and walked out of the dining room. If I had always looked so beautiful, why all those years of verbal and emotional abuse, taunting me about my weight?! The man had some nerve!
I walked outside, and sat in what used to be the garden. The pretty, colourful flowers had been replaced by grass and weeds. It’s obvious that my Dad’s retiree pension isn’t enough to maintain the property the way he had been able to in the past.
Hearing footsteps, I assumed it was JJ coming after me.
“I’m fine, Jay.” I said, without looking up. “I’ll just wait here until you and the kids are ready to leave.”
“That might be a rather long wait…” came my Dad’s voice.
I immediately shot to my feet. As angry as I was, I still had a good dose of reverence for the man…maybe a bit too much.
“My daughter, please sit,” he said, taking a seat on the chair next to mine.
I slowly sat down, but couldn’t help but look at him questioningly. My Dad had actually followed me outside?! My proud father?! My sisters had to hear this one oh!
“I hear you haven’t been well.” I said, when I found my voice.
He made a gruff condescending sound. “Oh please! Don’t mind Felicia. Always exaggerating!” Felicia is my stepmother.
“She said you had a few strokes. That’s hard to exaggerate.” I said, smiling despite myself.
He shrugged “Well, as you can see, I’m fine and strong. Do I look like someone who had a stroke to you?”
I nodded. If he said so!
We sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Ihunna!” he suddenly said, his voice emotion laden “That was my Mother’s name. And you have always reminded me so much of her. The name couldn’t be more apt, because of all my kids, I see myself in you the most! When you were younger, your Mom accused me of favouring you over your sisters,” he smiled wistfully. “Perhaps she was right.”
I looked at the man, puzzled. Who was this emotional stranger, and what had he done with my hard-as-nails, no nonsense father.
“What really happened between you and my Mother?” I asked, surprising even myself. For years, I had held onto the belief that he had left my Mom, primarily because of her weight. He had left her for the skinny, beautiful, and younger Felicia. And his repulsion for all things overweight had been what had translated to his heavy handedness to my sisters and I.
“You never met your maternal grandmother. She died a long time before you were born…as a result of diabetes and heart failure. I don’t think she was even up to 50 when she died,” he answered after a lengthy pause. “Your Mom’s older sister also died very early…you remember her, don’t you?”
Aunty Ogugua. I remembered her as clear as day. She too had been overweight.
“And when I saw your Mother going down that slippery road, I did everything I could to stop it,” he continued “But, in hindsight, my method was wrong. I thought I had to be hard on her, to get her to see reason. So, I berated her for every kilogram she gained, for every extra pound of flesh I saw. I scolded, I harassed, I teased…in my heart, I thought I was giving her tough love,” he shrugged “But rather than change, it was as if my actions pushed her even deeper. She grew unhappier by the day, and her weight kept skyrocketing.”
I could clearly remember my Dad’s constant mocking of my mother, and the memory wasn’t giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
“Then one day, she asked me to leave,” he continued “She told me she had had enough of me making her feel bad about herself, and that she wanted me out of her life forever,” his voice started breaking “I pleaded, I begged, I did everything…but her mind was made up. So, I left.”
I looked at him in shock. My sisters and I had been away in school at the time, and we had come home one holiday to be told that he had left. But we hadn’t been told he had been asked to leave.
“Then why were you so horrible and mean to Ogo, Akwaugo, and I?!” by this time, I had tears rolling down my eyes.
To my shock, so did my Dad. “After your mother died, I became afraid of losing you. And you three looked like you were following the same path. Every time I saw you look larger, it was fear that made me lash out the way I did.” By now, the man was weeping “You three girls are the most important people to me, over and above anybody else. And it breaks my heart to see how my fear of losing you ended up making me do things that resulted in exactly that!”
At this point, I wrapped my arms around my Dad, my Daddy, and we both cried together. We cried for all those years of hurt, sorrow, and pain…all those years we had lost.
But even through all the tears, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me. This was the reason, the sole reason, that I had been an emotional wreck for most of my life. This was the reason behind my feelings of inadequacy and poor self esteem.
Now, those feelings were gone…and I felt light…light and free!
Catch up on Ihunna’s story here:
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 1: Grubbido
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 2: Fragile
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 3: Defiant
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 4: Progress
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 5: The Gym
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 6: Killjoy
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 7: Pain
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 8: Frenemies
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 9: Exhilarated
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 10: Popcorn
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 11: Free-fall
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 12: Sunday Morning
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 13: Mission Reactivated
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 14: New Things
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 15: Bad Business
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 16: Luxury Items
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 17: The Solution
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 18: Magic Formula
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 19: Date Night
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 20: Quinoa
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 21: Perfect Fit
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 22: Keeping In Touch
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 23: Delete
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 24: Philosophical
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 25: Keep it Moving
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 26: My Co-Wife
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 27: Old Jeans & Old Friends
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 28: Prawn Stir Fry
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 29: Facebook Tagging
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 30: Detox Part 2
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 31: Abs & Crunches
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 32: Making Notes
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 33: Christmas Party
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 34: Ashiedu
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 35: Willpower
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 36: Packing…and TV
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 37: Last Minute
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 38: Body Image
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 39: Christmas Trip
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 40: Christmas in the Village