Today would’ve been your 70th birthday. Knowing me, I would’ve made a big deal about had you lived to see it. But you didn’t. In fact, you didn’t live to see me get into varsity, you didn’t live to see my 21st birthday and you didn’t live to watch me become the man I’m slowly becoming.
This letter is going to be full of contradictions and perhaps even inconsistencies. I just felt like it was right to write it. I don’t know if I’ll share it or I’ll keep it between us. Heck, I’m a writer (a good damn one, I’m told, Papa) and I’ll share this just in case one young man out there feels the way I do.
Daddy, I’m mad at you. I’m mad that you left me. I’m mad that you lived to raise the girls and you left me a confused teenager. Hell, you even raised other’s people’s kids but didn’t live long enough for me to get my shit together. In equal measure, there’s a part of me that is glad you’re longer here. And I have felt guilty about it every single day. But I will say this, your death spurred me, my sisters and indeed the love your life (I’m assuming), my mom to become independent and even more social beings. You’ve always encouraged me having friends but would turn and tell me what bad influences they are (I have awesome friends now. Many of which you wouldn’t like). I was your perfect little prince. Although I felt (and still feel) that you and mom loved the girls even more, I was never wont for attention, love, laughs and reprimand.
I tell people that you knew I was gay because of some vague conversation we had years ago about tops and bottoms. The truth is, I don’t know if you knew. I think I might have constructed that tale, that image, in my head one day, while undoubtedly passed out in some person’s bedroom, throwing up. Or it might have really happened. My image of you as the all knowing, all loving father remains and I want to keep it that way. In many ways, I imagine that if there’s a heaven and you’re there, you’re very disappointed in me. I’ve become a shadow of the great man you were. My very own Lion. I keep thinking of this as I go through my life and it hurts, but I soldier on and know that I could never be the son you’d be proud of.
The one thing I know for certain is that I credit you for my enlightenment. Our vast conversations on evolution and religion and and and…. have shaped the conscious person I continue to become. Your death proved to me that there is no such thing as a god or gods. A lesson from beyond the grave, I believe. Thanks dad! You made sure that my curiosity was always sated, whether it be by letting me watch National Geographics every Sunday at 6 or forcing me to watch the news everyday at 7.
I’m so sorry we became such strangers during my tumultuous teenage years. I felt that you smothered me. But I see now that you tried to protect me from the world and even from myself. You alone knew the true Tshego and although he scared you, you wanted him to thrive. Thank you, Daddy.
I dream of you almost once every month. I drink to calm the pain of disappointing you, of losing you. But I have become the most amazing person that you’d probably never approve of, but readily accept coz you were my dad, the first cool guy I’ve ever met.
I honour you, I love you, I miss you and I hope that one day, I’ll be everything you’ve ever wanted for me.
From your one and only Best Friend,
Ps. Thanks for the car. I should really really fix it up and go have fun in it. Reminisce about how fun going anywhere with you was. Oh, and I’m sorry the title is so sensational. But you taught me to tell the truth, no matter what. I haven’t followed that through fully, but I try.