This post is specially dedicated to my mum and siblings, Peter, Ruth and Christabel. I wondered why my younger brother thought to ask me what was my temperament today of all days and I still couldn’t help but go down memory lane as I proofread this chapter.
I hope parents would learn the devastating effects of training a child in the wrong way.
Lenma, where are you?
“Thank you.” Lillian told her after she placed the tumbler of water on the side table.
“My pleasure.” Chinenye settled into the sofa and returned the smile. “How have you been?”
“I am splendid.”
“So far so good, what are you grateful for?”
It had been months of therapy.
Lillian heaved and then smiled. “I am grateful that I finally saw my ex husband and apologized. I am grateful the situation wasn’t worst because so many others were not that fortunate.” She chuckled. “I am grateful that last week Sunday, I was compelled for photo shots and a dance afterwards by a friend. I can’t remember when last I laughed so much.”
“Can you introduce me to this friend; I wouldn’t mind upgrading my laughter level?”
Lillian threw back her head and laughed. Chinenye joined her, basking in the happiness of her client.
“What is your position in the family?” Chinenye asked when the laughter ended.
“I’m the baby of the house.”
“Oh—wow! Who do you look like, your dad or mum?”
“Emmm… my dad.” She stuttered with a frown etched on her face.
She decided not to dwell on her answer by moving ahead with another question. “Who are you closer to?”
“Both parent alive?”
“Dad is late.”
“Do any of your siblings suffer aggression? Do you know if any of them have anger issues?”
She shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. There have been no complains.”
“Are you certain?”
“Okay.” Chinenye paused and waited till Lillian looked at her. “Why do you think they have no aggressive attitude and you do?”
It hit her like a bolt from the blue and if she wasn’t seated, she would have staggered back. How come she was aggressive and Elizabeth, Linus and Lionel weren’t?
“You all grew up in the same house?”
She nodded and bit her trembling lower lip and then her brows narrowed thoughtfully.
Chinenye sat back and waited with her eyes fixed on her client.
“It is because they look like my mum and I look like my dad!” She blurted.
The flash of anger in her eyes didn’t go unnoticed by her psychologist. “I’ve never known looks could determine one attitude.”
“Not when you look like my father Chinenye.”
“Are you saying you became aggressive because your father was aggressive and you have physical resemblance?”
With a grimace on her face, her eyes shut and lips pursed, Lillian shook her head and drummed her fingers on her lap.
“No?” Chinenye stared at her confused.
“My father is not just aggressive, he is inhumane. I hate him.” Her eyes fluttered open and she adjusted to the edge of her seat.
Chinenye’s eyes widened. “Do you understand the implication of your statement? Lillian, he is dead.”
“It doesn’t mean a thing to me if he is dead or alive!” She retorted. “I hate him. I hate the fact that I look like him. I detest everything about him!” She declared emphatically.
“All right Lillian. We will take a water break.” Chinenye beamed. “We both take sips of our water.” She stood and handed her tumbler to her while she went back to sit and pick hers.
Lillian gulped down the water and Chinenye did same.
“Tell me Lillian, why do you hate your father?”
Lillian huffed and her eyes brimmed with tears.
Lillian walked through the pedestrian gate with her hand fastened to a mini bag and was startled to see her mother.
“Why did you Lillian, why?” She queried.
“I did not mummy. You have to believe me. I cannot do such a thing.” Her eyes searched her mother’s expression.
Abiola expelled a breath. “Let’s go inside.”
Lillian stopped her by grabbing her hand. “Do you believe me mum?”
She studied her fourteen year old daughter and last child. She saw her eyes pooled and saw her nervousness. She knew that she was innocent but convincing her husband was going to be difficult. “I believe you darling.”
“Please help me tell Daddy, I didn’t steal those items. If he wants me to swear…”
“Shut up Lillian, you don’t swear. I’ll speak to him.” With that she proceeded to the house and Lillian followed.
Lillian genuflected. “Good afternoon sir.”
Her father cast his newspaper aside and regarded her spitefully. “You decided to give me the embarrassment of my life!” He laughed mirthlessly. “I’ll give you a scar you will be reminded of through life.” He stood, rounded the chair and crouched.
Lillian knelt. “I didn’t steal those items.”
“Oti o!” Abiola exclaimed on seeing the horse whip. “Adekunle, she said she is innocent. Let’s not be a hasty in taking decision.”
“I am not hasty at all. Do you know the embarrassment I felt on receiving that call from her principal, a man very junior to me in age and in the teaching profession just to tell me my daughter has been suspended for stealing?” His voice rose in anger.
“Kunle, please…” She stood before him with her palms clasped before her in pleas. “Lillian has never stolen before. She must have been framed.”
“Why wasn’t another child framed, why must she be the one?” His eyes flashed in anger. “Why weren’t Livinus, Linus and Elizabeth framed for stealing in secondary school, why must she be the one?”
She knelt before him. “Sweetheart please.”
He pushed her out of the way and bolted the door.
“Go to your room and wait for me.” He ordered with a voice that made Lillian took to her heels with tears rolling down her cheeks.
She got to her feet and stood before him once more. “Horse whip is too much, you will injure her. Kunle please…”
“Get out of my way Abiola.”
He pushed her with so much force that she fell against a dinning seat knocking it over. She screamed in pain but there was no stopping for him as he mounted the stairs.
Lillian who had been peeping hurried into her bedroom and began praying frantically that the ground would open and swallow her.
By the time, she picked her herself up and climbed up the stairs, her daughter plea and scream had become weaker.
She pounded on the locked door with all her might. “Don’t kill her for me Kunle! Kunle please…it is enough!”
Ten minutes the door opened with Kunle dragging a barely conscious and bruised Lillian out of the room. The hem of her skirt was soiled with urine. He dragged her down the stairs and out of the house.
“Kunle!” Abiola shrieked as she hurried after them with a hand splinting her side yet careful not to miss a step. “Lillian! Omowummi!”
Lillian didn’t respond and that frightened her mother.
He dumped her outside, locked the door and faced her.
“She is not spending the night in my house.”
“And you’ve locked the door so I can stay inside with the injury you’ve inflicted on me.” She raised her blouse for him to see.
His eyes widened at the bleeding inflammation on her side coupled with other bruises. “Abiola I’m …”
She cut him short. “I should stay in this house when I don’t know if you’ve killed my child. What kind of mother do you think I am?” She glared at him. “I realized today that I don’t mean anything to you. So I cannot plea with you and you listen after over twenty five years of marriage? Do you realize the implication of what you’ve done to her if she was telling the truth?” Without waiting for his reply, she unlocked the door and slammed it after her with all her might.
Lillian wiped her tears. “That night changed my life. I stopped being daddy’s girl. My mummy and I slept outside and I never forgave him. The principal called my dad two weeks later and told him it was a false allegation and the perpetuators had confessed to the crime but my dad never apologized to me. I hate it that I look like him. I hate him for what he did to my mum and I hate him for believing a stranger completely without the tiniest interest in my side of the story. I hate him Chinenye and I never forgave him.” She burst into tears.
Chinenye crossed over and threw her arms around her. “He had no right to do that to you. That was extreme.”
“I knew he hated me and was aware he won’t have done that to his boys or Elizabeth. He wanted me to be in the commercial department but I chose science and he was disappointed, he was waiting for an opportunity to discipline me and when that opportunity popped up, he took complete advantage. Is that a crime?” she sobbed. “Is it a crime to choose one profession?’
“No it wasn’t. Parents are not meant to choose careers for their children. They are to guide and support.”
“Do you know that when my mum supported my choice, he accused her of infidelity? He told her that I wasn’t his daughter.”
Chinenye chuckled. “When you look like him more than the others. Mysterious isn’t it?”
Lillian stopped crying and freed herself from her embrace. “I decide to take up the challenge and be more successful than my elder ones in a unique profession. I studied aeronautical engineering in Zaria and since I was the best graduating student, I won a scholarship to West Lafayette, Indiana and didn’t return until I became a consultant in aeronautical telecommunication engineering. I was very successful but I got married and failed. If he had been alive, he would have laughed me to scorn.”
“Or maybe he would have realized his fault and reconciled with you.” She stated calmly. “Have you ever wondered what would have happened if your ex husband was aggressive?”
“We won’t have gotten married.” She replied without thinking. Matthew was right; no man would have tolerated her paranoia and aggression without retaliating in the relationship phase talk more of marriage.
“That is the same reason you don’t have friends. No one want to be associated with a bitter person because in the long run, the venom inside will spring forth and hurt those around you. For anger fertilized and watered, for aggression overlooked, it gives room for the demonic spirit of aggression. The spirit that makes one wants to go beyond hurling or breaking objects and rather draw blood. Do you really want to be free?”
“Yes. I want to be free.” Lillian sniffed. “I am tired of this burden. I really am.”
“Choosing not to forgive can be likened to putting oneself in a mini prison, locking the door and throwing the keys beyond reach. First, you have to forgive your father. Who knows he might have been remorseful but didn’t know how to apologize? You have to also have to forgive all those girls who framed you for stealing that made you lose trust in any other than yourself, who also made you paranoid? You also have to ask God for forgiveness for taking the reins over your life, thinking you’ve got it all figured out and not handing it all to him. Do you think you can do that?”
Lillian nodded as tears slipped down her cheeks, a silent river of them.
“You will be fine my darling.” She reached out and took her palms in hers. “All will be well.”