A Space Too Little Explored [2] No Scorecards

no scorecard

Every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes.

No Scorecards

My father married my mother after the death of his first wife. That marriage produced a son I would know as my senior brother later in life. My father and mother moved to Lagos from his village in Yenegoa around the late 1930’s. They lost their first son, who would have been my elder brother.

My father joined the army and participated in the second world war of 1939 to 1945. I was born around the beginning of the war. After he came back from the war in 1945, I came to know him as my father. My two junior sisters were born in quick succession. Arrangements were made for me to attend primary school. My left arm was raised over my head to see if it could touch my right ear to determine my readiness for school.

Sometime later, we moved to my father’s village. There, my father built a house for my mother and her children. He did not live with us. He married another woman and from that point on, he neglected my mother. She moved to her village with my sisters because she could not accept the situation. Since I was in school and my father was paying my fees, I could not leave with my mother. I stayed with my grandmother, who cared for me. During the holidays, I went to the farm with her and I went hunting with an uncle.

After a few years, my father said he could no longer pay my school fees, so I left his village where I lived with my grandmother and went to live with my mother. During this period, my uncle who worked at UAC in Burutu requested someone to assist him at his home. I was chosen as the only suitable candidate. However, once I arrived Burutu, he left me with his mistress who was a trader. I again attended school and went to her shop in the market after school. My uncle spent weekends with her, which were the only times I saw him.

He moved from Burutu to Sapele and then to Warri because of his job, and his mistress and I moved with him. When I gained admission to Government College Ughelli, my uncle said he could not afford my tuition. His mistress, who had now become his wife, persuaded him to continue paying. He did. However, when I reached class 3, he stopped. I looked for sponsors to no avail. I wrote the resident, as governors where then called, in Warri intimating him of my plight. Although I did not receive a reply from him, the school asked me to return. That was how I completed my schooling in 1958 without paying any further fees.

Is every man trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes?

So much time has elapsed that it is not now easy to put in proper perspective what my reactions were at the time and how they may have affected decisions I have had to make subsequently. I did not see my father after I left home. My uncle with whom I spent most of my adolescent years was a disciplinarian who was not easy to please. He was relieved when I finished school and did not hesitate to mention that my training up to that point was the legacy he was bequeathing to me.

In those days, not educating a girl child was normal. So a father’s decision not to send his son to school was regarded as his business and not subject to any misgivings. Polygamy features in Nigerian society, even today.

Against this backdrop, I want to accept that those who raised me, particularly my uncle, did their best. Because we lived in close-knit communities, role models were not difficult to find. In the twilight of my life, I am not keeping any scorecard. From a young age, I meant to take my destiny in my hands. The challenges I faced served as vehicles en route my destination.

At the time my wife and I had children, it was the vogue for parents to train their children to whatever level they could attain. We were reasonably well-off and ensured our daughters received a good education. Although I do not see numbered dotted lines linking the trajectory of my life as in a colouring book, perhaps, subconsciously, for I do not remember thinking this way, I was trying to do better than my father had done. Posterity will tell.

 

Aeneas carried his aged father on his back from the ruins of Troy, and so do we all whether we like it or not, perhaps even if we have never known them. – Angela Carter.

 

A.C. Yeseibo is a retired banker. He makes his home in Port Harcourt with his wife and enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren.

P.s. I am honoured to share my blog stage with my dad. Years ago, he wrote me a letter that has frayed at the ends and torn at the fold. Reading and rereading the letter through the years, his writing style became my own.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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47 thoughts on “A Space Too Little Explored [2] No Scorecards

  1. Wonderful story and I liked the surprise that the writer is your father. How appropriate for Father’s day. Timi, you are full of surprises. At some point we all have to take a hand in our own destiny!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s something about fatherhood or the lack thereof in a person’s life… we are wired that way…
      I guess at some point we let ‘it’ all go and focus on building what’s here now …
      All the best!

      Like

  2. There is something special about this story. I suppose it’s the honesty, the story itself, and the fact that the writer does not ‘keep score’ and allows the reader to feel angry and shocked for him. And then respect for his forgiveness and simple telling of his chlidhood.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I read this with interest… a generation different from the one we live in. They accepted the cards they were handed, blamed no one and simply got on with it. I wonder how the world would be today if the majority had that same attitude… yes, you were handed lemons, but can you make lemonade? It appears your dad did!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. He did.
      Blaming others can keep us walking in circles. At some point, we have to get on with it as you say.

      A different time. It’s a pity that in this more enlightened time, some fathers neglect the upkeep of their families.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed reading this, I loved reading this, I love how the older generation has such an interesting way of telling their story. I love how they are so accepting of and at peace with their past. It is true we do carry our fathers on our backs 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so happy to hear you did. Our fathers exert a strong influence…

      @older generation telling stories, me too. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I cherish their stories more now than at any other point in my life. I wanted this series to be written by older men. I wanted their insight on life. I could only get my dad to write and I’m glad he did.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lady Bilingual,

      Lol… “Survivalism” isn’t quite fitting for A.C.’s remarkable feat. “Overcomer” shines more brightly.

      That would make Timi the “Protégé of an Overcomer”. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Timi,

    “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” has never rung truer. 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading your father’s heartwarming piece, biography-ish stories always hold my interest especially those from the much older generation. It’s always nice to see the time from another life through their eyes, and then make comparisons.

    I feel like they grew up faster than the nouveau generation, they seemed more self-assured in that way that early independence shapes one. Just like your father said, they truly did take their destiny into their hands, taking full responsibility for the outcome, regardless.

    Recently, I discovered that most of the movers and shakers of Nigerian politics in the very early days were only in their thirties. Today, the Minister of Youths is 51.

    @ “I was trying to do better than my father had done” This touched me deeply. Sometimes, unconsciously our parents become the yardstick.

    Thank you so much for sharing your delightful story Mr. Yeseibo.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Nedu, I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed reading this piece. I wondered if the biographical material would hold my readers’ interest as I whittled the piece down to under 800 words. My sisters who helped me proofread were as biased as I was- A.C. is our dad after all, and so we loved the piece.

      Lol@ Minister of Youths is 51. The irony XD

      It was a different time. We can look back and imbibe what was good from their era.

      @ parents, true. They can exert a powerful influence. I’ve been mulling over the Angela Carter quote.

      Thanks for reading. The pleasure is his and mine.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Recently, I discovered that most of the movers and shakers of Nigerian politics in the very early days were only in their thirties. Today, the Minister of Youths is 51.

      A dear friend raised this while we were once. They were in their late twenties and thirties. And for one who is crawling into the other side of 20 and with so many unmet goals, moving and shaking my head (so at lest I am a mover and shaker too)

      I got angry at first (the Nigerian anger since these folks are still around) but I had to get over it. Because I wouldn’t be helping myself lingering on that anger. Can angry people even make lemonade?

      Anyway, it’s down to us young people to work on ourselves so we will be difficult to ignore and have a voice that they cannot help but listen when we speak. So many young people are not thinking (even though they think they are thinking). So the old folks continue, since they at least can think (even though what they think is nor qualified to be called thinking)

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Sounds like your dad grew strong and resilient as a result of his rather “bleak” upbringing.

    May spending time with his children and grandchildren now and in the future be the source of much joy to him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It seems he did. It was a different time and place… Then one factors in the effect of war on a soul… Still I can’t wrap my mind around the events as easily as my dad can.

      Maybe time gives perspective, acceptance, and closure. And maybe the love and joy he’s found in other places more than make up for the past.

      Like

  7. Interesting read. I agree with your dad that most of us try to imitate, live up to, make up for, or expunge the legacies of our fathers. He is brave not carrying scorecards over… very brave. May our generation muster that courage.

    He has lived an eventful life. I hope life has been kinder to him in more recent years…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know, I interviewed or rather grilled my dad after he submitted his piece. There was no bitterness or sense of loss. It was what it was, as far as he was concerned.

      I added the last quote by Angela Carter, after I got him to reluctantly concede that perhaps his and my mother’s zeal for educating us (their kids), was borne in part from his early life experiences.

      @may our generation muster that courage, true. The older I get, the more aware I am of my need for grace, the more gracious I am towards the flaws of my parents, the more patient I am with their humanity ….

      Yes, life has been kinder to him. Thanks Abi.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Timi, as a “drop in” reader of your blog, I know I should expect guest writers. I am happy you do this, but I feel that even as I came into a series, a brief introduction would help orient me. Maybe this is just my feeling, but I thought honestly up to the very last words of this post, it was about you. . .
    The retired banner, A.C., seems to have had a challenging time in his life, with many uncontrollable changes and circumstances in his life.
    Father’s and mothers are definitely part if if our past history, present and future ways we handle Life. I feel bad that an uncle who was more prevalent in his life still wasn’t a very kind nor warm man. This must be hurtful, at some level, and often, unfortunately it happens we follow the footsteps of those who taught us be example. . .
    Take care, A.C. and thank you for pouring out your heart. 🙂
    Nice series, Timi, leading up to Father’s Day! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your feedback Robin.
      In the second paragraph, the writer says he was born around the beginning of the 2nd world war …. Surely, I don’t look that old? Lol 🙂

      A.C. seems to have made peace with the way he was raised.
      Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I apologize and I am one who should understand by reading every word. Timi, I feel bad but due to working as many hours as I do, I won’t trouble you with poor reading skills anymore.
        It is a great blog you have here. No, of course you don’t appear the age of being born in the 40’s although many people don’t picture me born in 1955 either.
        Thanks for straightening me out. . .

        Liked by 1 person

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