Papa said that it was okay to cry. Whack. Whack. The rubber thread got me teary. My brothers eagerly waited for the tears to spill, lips raised in mocking sneers. I wouldn’t shame myself. I held back the tears. “No, not today. This girl won’t cry.” Mama kept on plaiting my hair. Whack. Whack. My back felt the pain, but my eyes refused to spill water. Papa noticed and said, “Don’t hold in the tears, let them out.” And I did. I let out the tears. Even now, I let out the tears. Whenever I feel too much, I let out the tears. Whenever I feel too overwhelmed, I let out the tears. Whenever I feel too clogged up, I let out the tears. Not because I’m weak, but because Papa said it was okay to cry. Tears to me are a form of reset.
Papa said that it was okay to be lost. Growing up as the last child sucked. I was the clueless kid, the lost one in every conversation. My brothers greatly rubbed in that fact. Poor me tried hard to prove them wrong. “You don’t get to call me ‘young blood’ or ‘kid’,” I argued internally. I tried to impress, but I ended up embarrassing myself. But Papa said, “Give yourself time, soon you will know enough.” He was right. I don’t know enough. I still feel lost, uncertain, and unsure. But yhaay, it’s okay to feel lost.
Papa said that it was okay to read. I watched Papa relax outside after every evening meal, head buried in a book. I wanted to read like him. I wanted to be him. I picked up Papa’s copy of Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s “Weep Not, Child” with young excitement. I understood nothing. I picked up Papa’s copy of George Elliot’s “Silas Marner.” I understood nothing. It became a cycle of picking and dumping until I got frustrated. Then Papa said, “Hey, it’s okay to read “Bola beg for food” it’s okay to read “Akiti the ghost”. Just keep reading, it gets better.” And till now, I’m still reading. Of a truth, it got better and it’s still getting better.
Papa said it was okay to be scared. A boom. A shriekkkk. Yeah, you figured, the shriek came from me. Papa scared me. As the result, I cried. It became a recurring event… A boom, a shriek, fear-filled tears; Papa’s warm hug, comfort, and whispers of “hey, it’s okay to be scared.” I hated the dark. I hated the unknown looming figures that made the darkness their habitat. I hated the shadow. Now, there is something about the unknown, its shadow, and uncharted territories. It necessarily does not hold fear any longer. Deep within, a voice keeps re-echoing “it’s okay to be scared.” I can start scared, but fear won’t have any rule… It’s like a mantra now.
Papa said it was okay to be loved. He named me Oluwaferanmi. I am loved, dearly loved by a Father who won’t leave me. And you are loved as well, by God.❤️
When Papa said that it was okay and quite alright, I didn’t understand. Now I do.
A happy posthumous birthday, my man.🤍❤️🌹