My father has always been a man of few words, but last week I realized we had much more in common. I kept track of a whole day conversation between us, starting after breakfast.
“Papy, are you done eating?”
“Oh yes, forgot the other glass!”
Now I started writing while he was reading.
Two hours later:
“You ok Papy?
Two more hours, he’s still reading, while I’m writing.
Annoyed by my errors, I said:
Are you ok?
An hours later:
An hour later, he walks toward the glass door:
Together we said: “Over 10 of them!”
“Wow!” I answered.
“Wow! They’re eating all the plants.” (He said)
I resumed my writing while he’s opening the mails. Not a spoken word between us, till about an hour later when my loudmouth daughter walked through the front doorr.
“HI PAPY! How was your day?
Papy and I quickly glanced at each other, the we both nod our head to say:
“Oops! The drum is here!”
My father was known to be a character. I always admired him for his ability to reason, his sense of humor and realism. Unlike the jealous and unreasonable fathers, who lived in our neighborhood, when it came to matters pertaining to boys and girls, my father was not shy in understanding. In fact, he had such a remarkable ease, all our friends were comfortable around him. Young and old were welcomed to our house after church, to enjoy his sense of humor, while we sat around the table for our Sunday soup.
“If a young man shows interest in you girls, you must invite him to your house, and introduce him to us. A young lady should never permit a young man to court her before he meets her parents; he may fail to show her due respect.”
Of course, my step mom thought differently. “Boys should not be welcomed till the girls are much older!”
“What are you talking about?” My father would answer her. “They are girls, and regardless, boys will flirt. I would rather they do it here!”
So I was fourteen when I received my first letter from an admirer. In fac,t I was home sick during that whole week, and honestly had no idea about the boyfriend and girlfriend world. I thought people just grow old and got married. But somehow, this boy from my class had fallen in love with me. Till this day I try to recollect what gesture I might have done, to draw his attention. Apparently, when he did not see me at school, he decided to write me a letter, which he gave to my younger sister.
The letter was a declaration of his passionate love for me. Looking back, I think he must have been one of King Solomon offsprings because his letter pretty much had the same verbiage as the “Song of Solomon.” The love languages displayed in the letter were like a foreign language to me of course. I recalled my older sister reading it while laughing her heart out. After the long love poem, he would ask me “If I could be his girlfriend?” Thank goodness I was wise enough to answer him: “Thank you for your letter, but I’m too young to have a boyfriend.”
Because my letter eventually fell off my sister’s notebook, so my Stepmother picks it up and asked her:
“What is this?
My younger sister said, “after I swallowed the cup of saliva swimming in mouth, I answered:
“I am asking you what is this?” And you are asking me, “What’s that?” I said “WHAT IS THIS?”
“It’s, it’s a letter to, to.” She swallowed another cup of saliva before she says, “To a boy!”
“Is that right! So we’re paying all that money to a private school, so you can learn how to write letters to boys, AT YOUR AGE?”
“This is not my letter Mom, it’s my sister’s letter.”
“Oh! So now you are a mailman who delivers letters to boys?”
Of course, my step Mom called me. But, any attempt to reason with her was of no use. Telling her ” I did not encourage the boy to write me,” was like pouring a cup of water in the ocean. It did not matter to her. Her logic: “Boys had no business writing me, I had no business answering them, and my sister certainly had no business carrying the letter. So she placed the letter on my father’s pillow for him to scorn us later.
Meanwhile, both of my sisters had diarrhea, and could not relax. I was peacefully taking a nap.
My older sister feared that my father would claim, “She was the one setting the bad example since she was older.”
My younger sister on the other hands, feared my father would say, “She was too young to follow our footsteps.”
My thought exactly: “I did not ask God to make me beautiful, and I certainly did not encourage the boy to write the whole freaking chapter from “The Song of Solomon,” so I had no ground to worry.”
Finally, after my father called me: “What is this I hear you are writing letters to boys?”
“Papy when you were a young man, and you wrote a letter to a young lady for the first time, did she encouraged you?”
“Papy answered “Absolutely not!”
“Exactly! So if I answered the boy, “ I’m too young to have a boyfriend! What did I do wrong?”
“Papy shook his head, then said: “Well done! Go back to your room.”
My Stepmother was furious. After she fussed and fussed: “You are not going to discipline her? She’s encouraging boys to write to her. “The girls should not have any boys showing interest in them at this age, so you are spoiling them!”
“I have four girls, for whom I’m spending my wealth to care for them, paying a chauffeur to drive them back and forth to a private school, so they can obtain the best education; though Am thankful to God they are not looking like a Rottweiler dog; if boys don’t start writing letters to them now, out of all men, I would be the most to be pitied!”