To my so called father
Growing up in the 1980’s in south east London was pretty tough not including that I am dark skinned and Asian. I stuck out like a sore thumb. So not only did I have to endure years of racism on an everyday basis, I had also been abandoned by you.
A choice you made with no consequences to you. Being a man your family accepted you were entitled to make this choice. You were probably encouraged due to the decade and how women/girls were seen as a secondary * and that I’ve not once received a letter or acknowledgment of who they are. I don’t even know what they look like.
I don’t know if you think about me often or not at all. I don’t know if you feel any guilt for abandoning me in the 1980’s or if I did something to upset you, hurt you or make you angry when I was 4yrs old. I don’t know if you ever want to contact me or if you just live life that the part of life with me never existed.
I wanted to tell you I was in pain for a long time over your abandonment. You abused me by your absence, you beat me by your distance. You made me sad from your silence and you scarred me through emptiness. I felt rejected. I was led to believe ‘our culture’ was led by moral values. Honesty, integrity, to be a provider, to be hard working and to take responsibility in leading the family. But you failed.
I don’t know what it’s like to have a father or even to say the word ‘Dad.’ When I have to say the word, I feel uncomfortable. I get agitated, like trying to speak Swahili. My mouth goes slightly dry and I become in a mist of confusion. This dates back from my childhood, being in the playground, in my oiled plaits and grey multi-coloured zig-zag jumper. I told one girl I didn’t have a dad. “You don’t have one?” She replied. Her friend joined. “She hasn’t got a dad” the girl reported. “You haven’t got a dad?” Then another two, then a few boys surrounded me “But everyone has one” of the boys said. I didn’t know what to say, everyone is looking at me with their judgment, confused and disbelief eyes. I could feel the lump in my throat growing and my head bowing lower and lower. The school bell rings. The children disperse instantaneously. (Sigh of relief) Thank god. My body’s defences stood down and I ran to class.
As of that day it was easier to say you had died
I was told that you dismissed me as ‘just a girl’ and that one day I’d want to know you and look for you”. There were many comments and stories I heard about you. None of them nice, caring or comforting. But you hurt many people before you left. I have been told by numerous people that you threatened to kill me. I had recurring dreams when I was younger but they were actual memories. Memories of being terrified I was going to die, that you would kidnap me and hurt me.
What I do know….
I know you hurt mum. I saw you. The police officers had to stop you. I saw them. I know you hurt the other lady after mum. I saw you. I know you hurt my sister when you didn’t turn for your access. I saw her. I know you weren’t trusted when I had to undress and bare my body to the social worker when I was 6yrs. I saw her. Elders said I look like you and that I’m dark skinned as a result of your abuse. I heard them. I was ugly for a long time. I felt that. They warned me if I didn’t behave that I’d have to go and live with you. I was scared of that. They disgustingly threatened me, “you look like him, so you don’t want to become him, do you” They controlled me.
Not only did your refusal to pay any child support make life a struggle. You were given the gift of being a father and you broke every single rule. Your affairs, your lies, your threats, your negative actions. But you abused me by your absence, you beat me by your distance. You made me sad from your silence and you scarred me through emptiness.
But a lot has changed. I’m much stronger now. I’ve grown to understand that you had no love to give me. You were weak and selfish. I know I am loveable and that I can end the cycle of low self esteem, self doubt and fear of abandonment. You have a granddaughter and she’s beautiful. She is fearless, strong and has a father that is her pillar of strength. He spends quality time with his daughter, ensuring she is loved and that he is present in her life. He does everything I do. He changes her nappies, drops her to nursery, he feeds her, clothes her and plays tea parties with her. I chose a man that isn’t you. I became more than I ever thought I could be through being a parent. I became more than you and more than my childhood. Your abandonment doesn’t define me. I’ve learnt to love my dark brown skin because it’s part of me. I am powerful from my childhood memories. As I know I am not alone. I know what conditional love is.
I am a proud Sikh, British Asian woman who always and will be who I want to be.
Just a girl..