He walked right passed, not even giving me a second glance. I stood and watched as he picked her up – throwing her into the air, her laugh and joyful shout making my heart ache.
This was the earliest memory I had of my father rejecting me.
I was only two years old when I first experienced the feeling of rejection. Some may say that a child that young would not even be able to feel such a strong negative emotion, but I did.
My father had chosen her over me. He chose my stepsister, because he loved her mother, but not mine.
The family says he married her mother, because her child needed a father figure. Did I not? Did I not need someone who I could look up to? Did I not deserve a father? These questions have plagued my mind and had affected my life in such a way that I might not be able to recover.
My tenth birthday, finally I was double digits! He picked me up from my grandmother’s house, and we had lunch.
“I’ll get you a gift at the end of the month,” he said.
I was not surprised and I did not expect anything. Of course, at the end of the month, nothing. And I did not hear from him for two more.
It’s April, Easter comes around. There’s nothing but a simple “Happy Easter!” Then I see pictures of a party on his WhatsApp status. I was never surprised. Never will be. Clearly I was not important in his life, and he was not important in mine.
Yet, the tears in my eyes, the clenching of my heart and the hand clasped over my mouth said something different.
Christmas, a day of joy and festivities. He had asked me what I would like to become one day. I told him that I wanted to be an author or microbiologist. I got a toy microscope. The first gift I’d ever received from him. And I was grateful.
It has been three years since I have last seen him. He does not even bother calling. Gradually, all negative emotions have faded away.
I am thirteen now, I understand his behaviour, I understand that I am not important to him.
That does not mean that I am unimportant to anyone else. I have my mother, grandmother, cousins and friends. My mother has been through this with me, she has seen my tears and wiped them away. She is both my mother and my father.
I have learnt not to feel negatively towards him. He will always be the man who brought me into this world. I will always have respect for him and love him. One day, he will realise what he has put me through. My mother raised me alone, without any help, without his contribution in any way.
There will always be absent fathers. In any way, physically or emotionally. It affects us as children. Single mothers go through a lot, we experience this. I do not have a father, but rather many who love me the same way.
This was one of the highly commended entries in the My Father essay writing competition. Click here to read other excellent essays from the competition.