Monday, December 3, 2018

my first daughter called joy

“But dad,” Natasha paused before opening her door. “Don’t ever do something like this again, okay?”
“I promise,” Bernard said.
“What happened, Ben?” Martha asked her husband the moment they were in the privacy of their bedroom.
Bernard sat down on the edge of the bed and hung his head down. Martha joined him by his side.
“I met her Martha.”
Instantly, Martha knew who he was referring to. “Where?”
“Outside Tasha’s place of work…she works there too.”
“I know, some strange fate.”
“Who recognized who first? What did she say when she saw you? What did you say to her? How is she? What does she look like? Where has she been? Is she okay? Did she grow up well?” Martha was excited to hear the good news.
Ben had not given up on the search for his daughter despite the many years that had passed. She was relieved that he could finally get some peace of mind now and experience happiness without feeling guilty every time he smiled.
“Everything happened just like I feared honey,” Ben informed his wife.
Suddenly perturbed, Martha gave her husband a questioning look. “She wasn’t happy to see you?”
“She wasn’t.”
“Oh no…but don’t look so beat my love,” she took his hand. “We expected something like this to happen didn’t we? It’s not like you parted on good terms. The two of you just need to sit down and talk so you can properly apologize and beg her for forgiveness.”
“I wish it was that easy,” he said. “But she doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“That’s because she is still mad honey, the two of you just reconnected. It will take some time before she can start thinking of you kindly. Just be patient with her for now and keep going to her and do your best no matter how bad she treats you.”
Bernard sighed heavily. “Nothing like that will ever happen.” Tears had welled up in his eyes.
“Why do you say that honey?” Martha asked. “You are scaring me now. What did she say to you?”
Bernard fully turned his body around to look at his wife. “Honey,” he said in a very low voice.
“What is it Ben?” she asked.
He took a deep breath before speaking. “Luyando,” he began. “She arh…she….”
“She said some things….” He continued. “Some pretty awful things about me to her new parents.”
“So she was adopted? Wow, that’s even better. We always feared something bad might have happened to her or that she might have been taken by some bad people.”
“Did you even hear what I said?”
“I’m sorry honey,” she said. “I was just so relieved when I heard adopted. What did she tell her parents? It can’t be that bad. Did she tell them about your drinking?”
“She told them more than that.” Ben was looking down now, unable to repeat the words that his daughter had said to him. How was a man to tell his wife that his own daughter had accused him of violence and rape?
What did she say?” Martha probed her husband.
“The worst things baby, she said the worst things. She accused me of doing some terrible things to her.”
“Honey, look at me,” Martha put her hand under his chin and lifted his head up. “What’s going on? What did she accuse you of?”
The tears Ben had desperately been fighting back since he came home came pouring out. Like the typical man he was, he tried to hide his pain but Martha knew him too well. She moved closer and embraced him.
“Whatever it is, you can talk to me about it honey.” She told him.
Martha waited for him to calm down and when he finally did, he looked her in the eye and finally told her.
“Rape!?” Martha was in deep shock. “She accused you of rape?”
“I never did anything like that to her Martha. I would never touch my daughter like that. Please, please…you have to believe me. No matter how drunk I got, such thoughts never even crossed my mind. I promise you Martha….please, say something.”
Ben, Ben,” she put her hand over his lap. “Relax, I wasn’t quite because I doubt you. Rape? You?” she laughed. “I was just shocked that she would accuse you of something like that. Why did she do that?”
Ben looked relieved upon confirming his wife’s trust in him. “She said it was the only way to ensure they adopted her instead of just leaving her some money and sending her back to me. She wanted to have the kind of life they gave their son.”
“Wow,” was all Martha could manage.
“I don’t know what to do Martha. What am I supposed to do in a situation like this?” He got up from the bed. “My own daughter accused me of rape and physically abusing her because she didn’t want to have anything to do with me anymore.
“If before I didn’t know just how terrible a father I was, now I am more than convinced that I deserved to die instead of Tasila.”
Martha got up and went to stand in front of him. “Don’t say that honey, not even as a joke. Luyando was in a messed up situation but she had no right to accuse you of those things, no matter how upset or hurt she was.”
“She threatened me, said that if I tried to contact her or her parents, she will spread the news that I am a rapist.”
“But we both know that’s not true.” Martha said.
“It’s my word against hers,” he said. “And who can doubt the word of a ten year old? What will happen to Tasha and Alex if Luyando goes through with her threats? I don’t want my children to live through the stigma of having a rapist for a father. Society is very cruel Martha. No one will care about the truth or even bother to search for it.”
“What if I try to talk to her? Do you think she would agree to meet with me?”
“I doubt it,” Bernard said. “She was so upset by the fact that I have a family now. I was not a good father to her and she most probably dislikes it that I managed to turn my life around after she was gone. She would have preferred it if I died or if I was still languishing in the gutter.”
“Don’t say that Ben. Don’t beat yourself over the things she said or did not say. Let’s just think about it for a while and hopefully we can come up with a plan. Right now she’s angry that you’ve reappeared and she probably thinks your presence might endanger her position and security in this new life of hers. Should we tell Tasha about this?”
Ben looked petrified. “I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “Luyando said not to tell her. I am just worried that this may affect Tasha’s opposition at work. What if Luyando gets her fired? I know she is my daughter and I shouldn’t say this about her but, something in her eyes made the hairs at the back of my neck stand out.
“Her mother’s death didn’t just change me, it changed her too. She had become introvert and rarely spoke unless spoken to. She became haughty, short-tempered and she would easily get into fights with others.
“Perhaps, if I had paid a little more attention to her, she wouldn’t have turned out this way. I let her down at the point in her life when she desperately needed me. If after so many years I haven’t been able to forgive myself, I can only imagine what goes on in her mind when she thinks about me. She hates me…and the sad thing is, she has every right to.”
Martha put her arms around him again. “She might have every right to hate you, but she doesn’t have the right to accuse you of things you never did. Let’s just wait for a while, maybe she will come around.

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