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Jelani James, father who cares intensely , and his family
Jelani James, father who cares intensely , and his family

It has become a fashion to say bad things about our dads, highlight their shortcomings, complain about and try to deprive them of the things they love. We give them meager support and measure their love by how much money they give to us.

Well, I beg to differ. I have decided NOT to follow the band wagon and say bad things about my Dad. "Lucky you," you might say. Well yes, lucky me. I always had my dad, so much so that when I found out that there were children who did not know their dad I could not understand it.

I had the kind of situation where Dad went out to work and Mom stayed home to take care of us. He brought home the money every fortnight, I came to understand, and gave to Mom to spend. They went out together and came back with things to eat and drink. Mom sewed, but sometimes my sister and I got a pair of shorts or a T-shirt each when a picnic or a children's party were in the plan.

Mom took daily care of us, but Dad combed my hair. He had more patience and I was very sensitive with kinkier hair than my sisters. And he showed me what tenderness and patience were by untangling the hair slowly but surely, handing me over afterwards for my mom to plait. I can still feel his caring hands.

Dad was strong. He loved sports. He taught me everything I know about cricket. He was involved with a cricket team and took his family to the games. Mom got up when it was still dark and made good food since we had to be out whole day. I would wake sometimes to help pack the boxes and baskets. Dad would drive us to the place where they sold ice, get some in the cooler, set the drinks up in there and off we would go.

Dad was a great player, I think he was often the MVP. They called him captain. He set the field, he bowled and got the opponents out. When it was time to bat he often opened and enjoyed long partnerships with some of the other batsmen. Even when he got out people clapped. I felt really proud of my dad at those times.

Dad taught us the value of reading. He once spanked me for tearing a book. I could not see why until he explained that books were full of knowledge and that you could travel the whole world through books. I never forgot that spanking. It made me love books. The other time I got punished was when mom tried to catch me to beat me for not doing my chores. She could not run like me. But it was nothing for dad. I was half amused when he took over the chase, caught me and gave me the two slaps. That was his quota, two on the behind, never more. Other than that he spoke and we obeyed. Mom would say, "Wait till your Dad gets home" and that would do it.

Dad was always pleased when we came home with good school reports. I said pleased, not satisfied. When we came first in class he would ask, "Isn't there something higher than first?" I remember asking myself what he could mean until I saw mom smile. And then I knew it was his way of encouraging us to do better.

I am a big girl now. I still have my dad. He is getting feeble and forgetful but we are great friends. I visit him, go to church with him sometimes, share a meal with him and take him to the doctor when he has to go.

Dad may one day leave this life before me. But he can never leave my heart. Thanks Dad.

JT


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