W A R D U N I
V E R S I T Y|
Faces & Voices IV
AN ANTHOLOGY OF VERSE AND PROSE
Letter to My Father
I have tried writing this letter countless times before, but words never accurately reflected the pain I felt inside. I could never find literary phrases that brought to justice my suffering. I have hated you for so long. Ever since my swollen, hurt, and saddened Mama, with two growing girls’ mouths to feed, left you, I hated you. And while Mama did the best she could to make up for your absence, she could never make enough money or buy us enough toys, to make us forget.
Every time you called us, you and Mama would argue. I would plug my tiny fingers in my ears, and hide under my bed until it was my turn to get on the phone. We would talk about my good grades, friends, and summer programs, both knowing that there was absence in our relationship. I wanted a relationship with you, and I blamed myself when you wouldn’t let me into your world. I promised you wouldn’t eat too much or ask for anything, if you let me into your world. I wasn’t asking for a lot, or so I thought. I just wanted to be held in your arms. I’ve always been called “my father’s child,” so I wanted you to wipe away my tears, pick me up when I fell, and tuck me in at night. I wanted you at my graduation and needed you on prom night. Where were you?
My healing process has just begun. I know I have such a long way to go. For years I have hidden my hurts and pains in rigorous workloads and pseudo-apathy. Inside I cried and longed for a relationship with you. Divorces are difficult processes for the young to conceive, but I was wise enough to understand that you and Mama divorced-not you and me. It has been difficult growing up black, female, and fatherless. And although I appear to have made it just fine, I know that inside, I have deep scarring. It is only in my solitude with Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, incense, candles, and salty tears that I have acknowledged my wounds.
Learning to love you is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever faced. It’s wild how quick I can figure out answers to challenging mathematical problems, but I can’t find a theorem for forgiving. As I grow into womanhood, I need you now more than ever. I realize that daughters desperately and frequently need their fathers in their lives. Without our fathers, we feel void of the majestics of womanhood, almost isolated. When I look at old photos of you, I see a king: ancient, regal black, and amazingly beautiful. However, I know that you are among the monumental number of emasculated black men running away from the black family unit because your father ran away from you. Thus, you have never realized your own significance or reconciled with your own identity. Consequently, you unconsciously continued the cycle of confusion and anguish, giving birth to sons and daughters that have a difficult time understanding themselves.
Daddy, there is so much I still need to learn from you, and there is so much you can learn from me. If this letter ever reaches you, know that I love you, and I am trying to understand.
2000 Howard University.t