One Saturday evening in the beginning of autumn, in the year 2013, my life changed forever. I heard a commotion. It was my mother and father, they were fighting again. When I came out to mediate, as I often did, my father had packed his bags. “Mama B!” he said, “I am leaving!” Mama B was my father’s pet name for me. We always had a special connection because I was named after his late mother. I cried bitterly when I saw him approach the door. “Call me anytime you need me. I will always be there for you,” he said. Minutes later he left.
I was 17 then, and today as a 25-year-old, I am proud that my father kept the promise he made to me that fateful evening. I have very happy memories with my father. My dad watched me compete at the National Schools Moot court competition. He cheered in excitement when we were announced as one of the schools that had made it to the top ten.
He drove 75 kilometers to the town I lived in with my mother to give me the “adult talk” a day before I went to university for the first time.
In my third year when I was diagnosed with clinical depression and could not continue with my studies, he sat me down and assured me that it was not the end of the world. My dad took me to all my sessions with the clinical psychologist. When I finally graduated in 2020 he was the first person I called. I will never forget how he exclaimed in excitement. “You have finally graduated my child!” Even now, as I pursue my second degree, my dad will always remind me that I will be the greatest lawyer to ever exist.
My parents have been divorced for over five years now, but I have never felt my father’s absence. He still comes around and takes me out to random lunch dates. Every year, without fail, he will sing to me, “Happy birthday, Thabi!” In 2019, when I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I decided to take a trip to Durban because I believed a change of scenery would do me good. My father funded the entire trip. That was his own special way of reassuring me that I was still loved and that, as he had promised that fateful evening, he would always be there.
My Dad is a very easy-going parent and I remember how when I experienced my first heartbreak, I narrated the events to him when I was visiting him for the summer holidays. He kept on telling me that I was still young and I should not lose hope in love and that sometimes things do not work out.
My father is a jazz music lover, something that we do not share. Every weekend when I’m visiting I am woken up by jazz melodies and to him singing and dancing to what I describe as “horrible music”. I hate jazz music but each time I hear ‘Face to Face’ by one of the greatest pianists, Jasper Van’t Hof, I am always reminded of the man who loved me first; my father. I love him with everything inside of me.
This was one of the commended entries in the My Father essay writing competition. Click here to read other excellent essays from the competition.