From the “State of South Africa’s Fathers” – Report 2018
“I wanted to know that I mattered”
I wrote a note to my father for fathers’ day. I was six years old. “Daddy’s happy. Daddy loves me.” It’s what I told
myself every day. It’s what I believed.
I never knew my mother; she died a few months after I was born. And my dad, well, he left when I was four years old. All through my childhood and into adolescence I had this image of him being just too heartbroken, too grief-stricken to carry on. It seemed more acceptable than the truth, which was that he abandoned me. He never made
any contact for almost 14 years. I, all the while, internally repeating, “Daddy’s happy. Daddy loves me.”
I was excited to meet him, I had so many expectations. I wanted him to tell me how sorry he was, how beautiful
I was, how he had missed out on a lifetime with me. I wanted him to bring out all the birthday and Christmas presents he had bought over the years, and had never had the opportunity to give me, no matter that I would long have outgrown them. I wanted to know that I mattered. And when I met him, I wanted him to throw his arms around me, and stroke my hair whispering endearments that one does to a little child.
There he was, a grown man who it seemed had never grown up. He looked me over, as if somehow, I missed the mark. When he spoke, it wasn’t endearments or apologies, or plans for our future. He gave me reasons and tried to justify why he wasn’t there. To me, they were just excuses. My visions of him were my fantasy. I didn’t show him the note. He wouldn’t care anyway. I threw that note away today.
Essay contestant, Gauteng
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