This is daddy. And this is a little awkward. I don’t know where to start so I’ll start from describing where I am and why I’m here.
It’s a small room with just one window. It’s stuffy but that’s the least of my worries. There’s a really hungry looking policeman standing by the door. He is scratching his crotch too frequently and shaking his head. I think he must have some sort of venereal disease. But that’s also the least of my worries. The table on which I’m writing this letter is wooden, but chipped all over. It has different scribbling on it, apparently of different ages. They range from incoherent (like ‘Bisi wasere fun mi 1996 – forever) to exceptionally profound (like ‘The real prison is that which they make us build in our minds- Prof. Convict).
There’s a smell here – terribly pungent. I want to believe that the cell rooms smell better than this but somehow I can’t bring myself to believe. I got in here about 5 minutes ago and they gave me just 15 minutes to compose this letter to you. Your mom is just outside the door, possibly sobbing. She’s been sobbing since I was merely an accused. The doctors keep telling her it’s unhealthy for the baby in her – you. In my not-so-proud-of moments, I shouted her down and told her explicitly that she would be the reason why I’ll eventually lose my case against the prosecution – she and her negativity. There were times I was not really a good husband, I’ll admit. When we found out that we were pregnant for you, I thanked God because I saw you as another shot to make things right with my family. ‘I’ll be a good daddy‘, I told myself. But the wind always has a way of carrying our words and dreams to the wrong ears.
So yes, I’m writing this letter to you to give you a first-hand introduction of myself; to let you know that although you’ll arrive and grow to be about 13 years old without seeing me as a free man, I am really your father and I absolutely love and adore you. Maybe I’m not the best of men, maybe. I’ve done bad things (obviously), but I know that I love you more than you can possibly imagine.
You will most likely hear of what I did to land me in here, so there’s no need going over that. I must just add to whatever version of the story you hear, that I was not proud of anything that I did and that I’m working on myself.
I love you already Ojuoluwantelemi. We chose that name for you after I was bailed out from the first arrest. Your mother thought that if we started calling you a specific name, you’d seem realer to the Universe and in some way, it would conspire to make things work out for us. I chose Ojuoluwantelemi because I knew I was going to get locked away and I wanted the eyes of God to follow you everywhere you go – for me.
When you turn 5, I hope your mom reminds you how super smart you are. I hope she packs good food for you to school. I hope you outsmart all those children in your class. And I hope your innocence is preserved.
When you turn 10, I hope you remember to enjoy childhood, because adolescence and puberty are lurking around the corner in all the glory of their mood swings and hormonal-physical changes.
And when you turn 15, I’ll be there to remind to how much of an amazing woman you have become.
Daddy loves you Ojuoluwatelemi Afolabi.
Always remember that.
(Right on time… the itchy crotch policeman is growling at me and insidiously walking over here ;-D )