This is part of a much longer story being written by Tahirah Abdulazeez. Stay tuned for more from her.
Julius is the man that I want to be with, in the eternal sense, but I know it is not meant to be. In my mind there have been a series of warnings and cautions, whispered then screaming, epic in the ways that the myths from antiquity will have you believe, as though I was a visitor to the temple at Delphi. And the nymphs or sylphs and other fragile spirit creatures are all singing and wailing that I am taking a trial of love, walking on gleaming hot coals with no god to protect me, because this love is not the path they would have chosen. And in giving in to my romantic rebellion I only have Aphrodite to contend with, she the magnanimous but ever so fickle goddess of love. So I am not safe, with every kiss and every stare I am digging myself deeper, twisting myself into a cavernous engulfing but oh so delicious mistake. But I have to do it.
It is partly the fault of my father. I never really had one of my own, which is to say the man with whom my mother conceived me happened to be very ill-equipped to deal demonstrably with any of the other myriad roles synonymous with parenthood. Not too long after I was born a crisis occurred in the world known only to him that caused him to flee and not be heard of again for many years. My mother did the best she could; she attempted to remarry many times, maybe not out of the romantic notion of partnership perhaps but to prove to herself that she could do it. That eternal connubial bliss was something she was capable of, and she wasn’t, in the terms that were whispered behind her back by her so-called happily married sisters, incapable of keeping a man. So I had many step-fathers of varying levels of moralities and stick-around-ability, but none, finally stuck around all that much and at some point my mother gave up. But by then many years had passed and I grown up essentially fatherless. My bonafide father – (whose name I only found out by accident at the age of eight was Barnabas, because speaking it caused my mother to go into an apoplexy of rage and bitterness) – resurfaced when I was nineteen. He appeared almost exactly as I had fantasised he would, out of the blue, contrite, bearing gifts and just when I could not put up with my mother and her eccentricities anymore. Unfortunately the other parts of my fantasies were not to be realised and after a week or so of getting to know each other the event that occurred at my birth happened again and he disappeared. This was to reoccur and become a pattern.
The thing is, he isn’t a bad man and this isn’t an unusual story. Around where I grew up it was actually the norm. In the playground we discussed our absentee fathers in low tones with words squeezed out of emotion constricted throats. What I mean is it was a common everyday tragedy to lack at least one dependable parent. No one made a big deal out of it, we just walked around with a huge gaping hole in our chests which we pretended didn’t exist.
But something happened when I met Julius’s father. He is unlike any other parent I have met in real life. He reminds me of Bill Cosby, the fictional character from TV that epitomised in my childhood mind the perfect father. Everything from the cheesy sweaters to the complete emotional involvement in his children’s lives, like a Zen philosophy personified, he always had the right advice and laughed at the right parts of a monologue as though he were actually listening. After a few minutes in his presence I decided, the way a weary traveller on getting to his hotel room sinks into a comfortable sofa and thinks, “I’m home”, to never be without him. I saw him in my future, as a genteel grey haired grandfather, with years of accumulated goodness lovingly etched into his wrinkled face and dissipating into an aura around him. I saw my children, perfect genetic replicas of Julius and I bouncing happily on his undulating arthritic knees like colourful little sailboats and imagined the peals of joyous laughter and happiness creating a sonic wave that will reach me where I stand and envelope me with a warmth I always suspected I lacked and dreadfully needed. I decided then to marry Julius and to give my children something I could never have, to afford them a gift that cannot be bought yet is integral to having a good life. I wanted them to grow up with the sense that they belonged somewhere wholly and irrevocably and were loved and wanted.
Yet I know with a damning prescience that I cannot explain that this might not happen the way that I have foreseen it. That maybe wanting something so badly is a harbinger of crushing, utter disappointment. But I cannot help myself. It has ignited itself within me, it is something that I nurture and foster, a light that once established I have become dependent on and cannot put out.
More of Tahirah’s work can also be seen here: http://guerillabasement.com/blog/?tag=tahiraha