Friday, December 15, 2006

NO LONGER YOUR LITTLE GENIUS

This is an open letter to the man who sired me

Daddy,

From when I started living with you in Nigeria after Mommy left, you pushed and pushed and pushed me. I know I’m smart, but would it have reduced my I.Q if I just went downstairs and played with children my age for just a half hour?

If I had died at that age it probably would’ve just read Overwhelmed the kid genius. Whatever happened to… “Overwhelmed the girl who was loved by many… who laughed, smiled and LIVED!”

I wanted there to be more to me than the fact that I graduated high school at 13. I would’ve preferred you tell people how nice I was, how sweet, how humorous, how personable. It’s very easy for you to brag that I’m ‘super-smart’ and graduated 5 years before my time… but did you ever ask me how hard it was for me to fit into the regimen? You’ll never know what hell it was to always be in class with people 5-7 years older than me. I constantly had to act mature just to keep up. I was constantly lying about my age… pretending to be 4 years older… cos classmates treated me like shit if they found out I was the same age as their younger siblings. Do you know how painful it was when my teacher whipped 12 year old me like an 18 year old? Do you know how painful it was not to cry just because ‘adults’ don’t cry after being whipped?

You blamed my mom once because apparently if I was in Nigeria right now I’d be a medical doctor… but at the cost of what? My peace of mind, my sanity… my happiness?! I’m only 20 for chrissakes. Yes… I would’ve had a degree but no passion for anything. You would’ve sucked the life out of me with your constant demands for overachievement… I would’ve been too busy reading biology at 3pm to go out and smell the roses. I would’ve been too busy reciting the periodic table to feel the rain on my skin. I would’ve been too busy doing logarithms to smile at the future love of my life. I would’ve been an empty shell… a competent shell… but rather empty!

Daddy I would’ve been a medical doctor who had no life ‘experience’… no human feeling, no emotion. I’d know how to cut open a heart but not how to touch the soul that lives inside. I’d know how to x-ray a bone but not understand the journey of its’ owner. I’d know how to prescribe pills for a cold but be unable to thaw the ice in my heart or theirs.

What joy would there have been in life if I had no social grace… if I didn’t know how to feel the tempo, to sway to the rhythm of life… to enjoy the symphonies … to sweat to the beat… to stomp my feet with the pulse of drum. How great would life have been if I still had not known the love of a good man… the touch of one who cares… the words spoken in the middle of the night to soothe all fears.

How could I have survived if after all this while I still did not know the delight of true friendship… relationships not based on you wanting to get into my friends pants… just on trust, honesty, loyalty… love.

Now I’m 20 and still in university but I’m happy you know. I'm not as focused or as driven as my life no longer revolves around simultaneous equations and labs. I don’t pick up a physics text book when I’m sad daddy… I slow dance with the man who loves me. I don’t view my life as a constant competition with your friends’ children… I view it as a success just by me being able to laugh again. I don’t think I’m a failure when I get an 85 on a test… I feel good that I can balance a social life and an academic one with no effort. I don’t think that life starts after I graduate with honours… IT HAS ALREADY STARTED. I would’ve been a genius who’s only idea of the world outside would’ve been what I read in books. WHAT A SHAME!!!

Oh now… I’ve seen it Daddy. I’ve seen the green grass, I’ve seen the blue sky, I’ve tasted the rain, the snow… I’ve tasted life. I’ve had joy. I’ve laughed at night, smiled in the afternoon and giggled in the morning. I’ve wanted to do things for my mother not because I’m terrified of her and it’s my filial duty but because she’s my mother and I love her very much. We talk, we laugh, we dance, we argue… yes Dad… I actually have a parent that I can share my opinions with and tell my side of the story. I no longer live in a dictatorship. She listens too you know… she doesn’t always do it… but at least she listens. She looks at my face too… not just to see if I have pimples. Remember the day you slapped me cos I had pimples? I was a teenager for chrissake… I asked mommy and she said that she too had had pimples as a teenager… so how on earth are pimples my fault? You slapped me for that daddy… why on earth?!?! Yeah… so she looks at my face to gauge my mood… she cares whether I laugh, cry or sulk. She thinks I’m perfect just as I am… she doesn’t think I’d look better as a boy, sound better as a boy, think better as a boy… no… I’m good enough for her AS A GIRL!

Oh what a jumble things would be now if the only memory I had of parenthood was yours… that a slap meant love… that a whip meant affection. What if I’d grown to hate my mother cos of you constantly putting her down… then I never would’ve known genuine love… someone willing to put down their life for me just so I can live… someone willing to give the clothes off her back so I can be warm, someone willing to deny herself companionship if her partner did not accept her children. I never would’ve known that not everybody thinks women are ‘second rate’ citizens, a waste of space, less intelligent, less capable of success, ambition if not pushed to the limit. I never would’ve known that there’s love in a glance, in a hug, in a word, in a meal, in a surprise. When was the last time you hugged me dad?

Every time I heard your voice, my heart jumped cos I knew you’d find fault in whatever I did. The vegetables were always overcooked, I was always too slow, the food always had too much salt! I never did know that love and fear are two distinct and separate feelings.

I never questioned the reason why I was always scared in my own house and uncomfortable in my own skin. There were tons of times I wanted to be ugly you know. I remember when I started growing breasts, I wore tons of shirts underneath just so you wouldn’t notice… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it… but I was wary. I knew what you did to other people’s children… so imagine yours… I mean you fed me, clothed me, housed me… I belonged to you right?

I was very good at the school work. I always came first or second in class, got 80’s and 90’s in every test… but my heart wasn’t in it as I wasn’t learning for me… I was learning for you. Now I learn for me… I read for pleasure… just because I can. I remember when I started reading novels… I did it to escape my life… it was just too rigid, too scary, too hard… the life in the novels were fantastic… girls had great parents, great friends, great lovers and eventually great children… why couldn’t we be like that? We reminded you too much of our mother didn’t we? I was so sneaky about everything then… But guess what- I no longer have to sneak around for stupid little things. I listen to Celine Dion now on full blast which I never could do with you. I mean you’d never told me not to listen to her but I just knew you disapproved of everything I did except bring in A’s.

I lived with you for years but you could probably count how many times you ever saw me laugh right? Well I had this whole universe planned out in my head… in it I was loved by all, treated kindly by all and did the same in return. In my daydreams, I was happy. Outside the house, I laughed a lot actually… everybody in school loved me cos I was so nice, funny and cute. All the girls wanted to be my friend and all the guys wanted to date me. I bet you never knew that at 12 I had a boyfriend. RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE!!! I dated Jimmy cos he was so nice, he smiled at me with his eyes. He held my hand all the time and hugged me a lot. He walked me home from school and told me how pretty I was. It was a good change… all guys weren’t the same. Remember those times I told you to give me money for some special evening or weekend lab at school which you encouraged cos you’re in love with ‘education’… I SPENT ALL THAT TIME WITH JIMMY... AND YOUR MONEY FUNDED MY OUTINGS! I BOUGHT NEW CLOTHES AND PAID FOR RIDES WITH YOUR ‘LAB MONEY’!!! oh and guess what… I went over to his house and we played computer games, went for dinner and made out… YUP… WE MADE OUT… KISSING, TOUCHING, GROPING… ALL THAT GOOD STUFF!!!

See daddy I’m not your little genius anymore… Sometimes I get 75’s, 78’s, 80’s on tests and midterms… hardly ever 92or 95… but I’m happy. I could always do better but at least I’m in a good place. I have a life outside the classroom and it’s pretty great. I have friends who love me and whom my mom doesn’t want to have sex with. I have a boyfriend who understands and respects me. I have a great mom who will do anything to ensure my happiness and success, a fantastic sister that’s funny, pretty and smart. Oh I know you like her even less cos she looks even more like mommy than I do… but you know what… YOUR LOSS!

I’m no longer your little genius
Your Daughter
Overwhelmed Naija Babe

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

First things first. I'm first Yay!

Anonymous said...

Confessions - that was a lot to read. Happy you're having fun now not a bookworm anymore.

Yosh said...

Some parents never learn...not even from the experience of other parents and their families.

Good you have that freedom now and what's more? You use it wisely!

I'd switch to BlogSpot sometime, :)

Have a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

Well written...I've written you before because your father is so much like mine. I eventually became the doctor but I did it on my own terms. I took a break long ago to smell the roses.Live your best life Overwhelmed and God speed.

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@NaijaSapphire: lol… today’s prize is…… A starbucks hot chocolate and toasted bagel with Strawberry Cream cheese!!! Are you excited?!?! Lol… it rocks not to be a ‘by-force bookworm’ my dear.. you have no clue…

@Yosh: That is soo true.. and it occurred to me that one day I should also write the story of my father(at least the much of it that I know)… cos some of his attitude might stem from his background too and the way he was brought up. Lol… hurry up kia kia switch to blogspot so we can amebo here jare… I will have a good weekend.. do the same too babe and come back with plenty gist for me…

@Anonymous: Thanks babe… it’s funny that we all don’t know each other but we see parts of ourselves in other people’s writing. I think I do remember reading your comment… seeing that you did accomplish your goal of becoming a doctor does give me hope that I too can do it. Thanks so much for dropping by my blog and your words of encouragement… they always mean a lot… I love success stories!!!

Soul said...

overwhelemed.
isn't rain against your skin the sweetest thing?
spending hours watching it fall.. (smile) you are beautiful aburo. beautiful.
oh and this is one soul that has been touched by you in a way that surgery could never do.

Anonymous said...

This was really hard to read, and I can't imagine how you must've felt, but I'm really glad you are able to articulate your journey like this. Thank God you've come this far. I'm proud of you.

azuka said...

Sometimes I stop reading because I'm pretty sensitive. This was one of such times.

I don't know if I'll come back to complete my reading, but whatever little I read touched me...

Anonymous said...

Damn girl speak the truth...wow!! thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

deep - it was alot to read but Im glad ur letting it out. You are healed in Jesus Name - it is well.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh....overwhelmed naija babe, that was deep. Thank God for the person u've become just with the amount of emotions that were going through ur veins during your childhood and teenage years. Stay blessed and keep laughing!

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for my prize! So excited. To be a successful person means to be happy with your life and not a bookworm. If someone get all C's and is content with their life afterwards, the person successful. That's how I see it.

Anonymous said...

Overwhelmed, it is for these sort of brutally honest posts that I return to your blog time and time again. Like you I finsihed high school early 14+ and was then in freshmen year at college at 15 with men and women, some who had jobs, some who had kids, all who had lives. Like yourself I had to create my own universe in order to survive cos trust me these people were not about to hang out with a pre pubescent. Funny how parents wantig the best for their kids can sometimes be doing the worst for thier kids. I also eventually realised that I was allowed to get Cs and Bs and not die. I was allowed to have "fun" and not be a sinner or feel guilty.Oh I could go on but don't want to crowd your space. Glad you survived and found your feet.

Anonymous said...

Came back to reread it, and I felt a lil bit of the hurt, there's a difference beteen a father and a daddy. I can see you really anted him to be your daddy but he was content being a father. Then I tried to see it from his point of view and realized maybe he didnt know any better, maybe thats the way he as raised, maybe he'll never know any different.

stranger said...

OWN...I LOVE YOU...some of your writings bring me to tears...but i do know that tears may wash away the blood but only love can heal the wound...so imma say it again...I LOVE YOU...i don't know you, never met you or seen you, but OWN I LOVE YOU...and because i do i ask you to take a leap on isaiah 53v4..."he has borne your grief and carried your sorrows...

36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...

Like wao!!! im speechless? a slap for having pimples??? na die o!!! on a serious note, i finished high school early too think 14 or so. uni at 19 masters at 20, but thankfully i wasnt pushed too hard only cos i didnt live with my parents though, sometimes our parents cant see past what they want from us, but the important thing is for us to also have a sense of being and no what we want for ourselves. im trying to see all of this from ur dads point of view as well, my mum has a saying thats something like ppl do things according to the limitations of thier knowledge or something like that, so maybe thats they way he knows how to be a daddy.

Anonymous said...

Wow girl!!! The post reminded me of my dad in some way. Good you are openning up and moving on. And it is really good cos right now, I can't find that inner strenghth to fight my own demons just like you.

You go girl!!

Jem said...

You know what, the moment i read a couple of the lines in red, i was deeply touched and could not go further. For some reason, this reminds me of myself but in a different way and it just goes to tell how families have issues deep within even when it looks rosy outside. Children go through a lot especially when they are very young surrounded by grown ups and no frquent association with peers whatsoever.

Not jus parents but family in general could do a lot more to make a one feel confident and happy because at the end of the day it's you and ur feelings that count. Thank God that we grow out of the situation, overcome it and never look back !

chainreader said...

yay, i'm 20th!

what? 20th is the new first!

now, that is some real stuff! the taste of rain, swaying to the rhythm of life, sweating to its beat......! fabulous stuff!

did he really slap you for having pimples? 'cos if he did, what i want to say is not printable!

Anonymous said...

I couldnt bring myself to finish this because it was so sensitive and touching to me. You are a beautiful person, you've got a beautiful soul


Thank goodness you turned out to be the girl LOVED BY MANY, including me even though I make fun of your harajuku hairstyle, you know I got both ur back and ur makossa dance any day any time. :D

Anonymous said...

Now i think this is what blogging is all about! I was so touched by this post. I have been meaning to write about my parents but have no idea where to even begin!

My dads agenda for me was to become a doctor as well. It all went horribly wrong in im consumed with guilt and anger till this very day!! I wonder how many others feel like this?

i enjoyed this post v.much. Im so glad youre happy now....its given me hope believe it or not!

take care! XXX

Anonymous said...

I can hardly comprehend how someone can be so driven to live his dream through his child that he does not care if it destroys her.

I wish we could get daddy dearest to comment and tell us what his agenda really was. How does one explain this behaviour?

exschoolnerd said...

now this was touching..reminds me a little bit about my relationship with my mom..but not this extreme..so i guess i can say i know how u feel.the only difference was at least u were smart...i was an average student and that even made it worse..

am glad uv gotten over it all..and moved on..and are much happier now..i know i've learnt from my mum's mistake and will definately do things diffrently when i hve children of my own..

stay blessed.

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Soul: Thanks Egbon…. Really thanks cos you always understand and know the right things to say… Thanks

@Daddy’s Girl: Thanks babe… the healing has begun right?!

@Azuka: I remember you told me a little about your situation a while ago… I’m happy you’re dealing as well… be well

@NaijaLove: Thanks for reading

@The Life of a stranger: Amen!!!

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Jaycee: Laughter is the best medicine eh?!

@Naija Sapphire: lol… you prefer Dhl or Fedex?! I just hope they don’t spill your cappuccino in the mail oh!!! I see exactly what you’re saying… hopefully we can set a better example for our children

@Toks- Boy: Thanks sunshine for reading and for sharing… sometimes parents don’t understand how much we struggle when we’re pushed so hard… I mean we might do well on the academic front… but what about mentally, emotionally(where it really matters).. I mean what good are if you have a ph. D but no ‘soul’?! If you’ve lost everything that makes you ‘you’ in the process of constantly trying to meet and exceed your parents expectations… who lives the rest of your life for you?! I’m glad I’m ‘finding my feet’… I know I’m still figuring things out… Here’s to the rest of that journey!

@NaijaLove: you’re so right… but I’ve learnt to live without him now… I’ve learnt some… and I’m still learning some… Thanks for reading

@Stranger: Thanks for the love… really thanks… it overwhelms me that people I don’t know care that much about me and my journey in this life…I love you

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@36inches of brown legs: Yup… a slap for having pimples! He’s a lawyer… educated in London… I don’t know what ‘educational’ limits he could possibly have.. perhaps they’re emotional scars… mental stuff from when he himself was a young dude…I’m trying to take all these things into account to try to understand his reasoning… maybe I’ll figure it out and maybe I won’t… but I guess the key is to try to live my life the best way I can… regardless.. Thanks babe!

@Confessions: Yes you can babe… you already are so strong… I admire you… and thanks for dropping by!

@Jem: You understand…. Thanks babe

@Chainreader: lmao… yes… 20th is the new first… and because you’re way ahead of the times with your analysis… I’m giving you a ‘special christmas gift’… A yellow winter scarf with cartoon characters on it!!! Lmao… hehe… Thanks for always stopping by…

@Naijadude: I love you babe… thanks

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Yellow Ibo Girl: Babe I don’t even know how I wrote this post… I was going to talk about something else but the words just started flowing you know and who am I not to obey the ‘voices’?! I still have the anger you know… but I guess it gets better with time… the more you talk about it and deal with it… I think a lot of people do feel the same way but just don’t talk about it cos strangely enough a lot of this behaviour is accepted as ‘the norm’… parents are supposed to push and push and push you… they always ‘know what’s best for you right?!’… oh things are gonna be so different when I have gifts… Heaven knows!!! And babe abeg update your blog!!!

@In my head and around me: I can’t comprehend it either.. but it still happens… he doesn’t know my blog.. I’m not in communication with him and don’t intend to be at this time… I need to figure stuff out before I go there at all… My dear one can’t explain the behaviour… we just try our best to live with the ‘aftermath’

@exschoolnerd: was I smart?! Or was I just pushed really hard?! Sometimes I actually wonder you know… I love that you wanna do different when you have kids… so do I babe… so do I!!! Thanks for dropping by my blog… you’re on xanga so I can’t comment on yours right?! XANGA IS SUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!! SWITCH!!! lol

TP said...

My dear, you really have been through a lot. No wonder you are overwhelmed. I really admire the way you write about stuff, please keep writing. It makes me think that we all have been through difficult stuff, but we never tell people because their opinions about us may change. I am proud of you because even though you had such a horrible parent, you have still managed to find happiness and love in your life. I'm glad you have a mum that is there for you now, and you know that there still good people in the world. I pray that you will find true release in your writing and healing in forgiveness. Stay blessed babe!

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@tp: Lol@ me being ‘overwhelmed’… I am aren’t I?! Thanks luv… I appreciate your comment… I’m trying… I really am trying… and I guess that’s what matters most

africanprincess said...

life is for living hon. and Im so happy that you have ownership of that; saddened that your father didnt understand that. Im doing great thanks for asking-have vacation next week so I may get to updating. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow!
Great read.
Thank God the shackles are off and u r enjoying ur life.

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@africanprincess: Thanks sunshine for your words of inspiration… babe its been a long time you put something up now… abeg update fast fast!!! yay@the vacation time you have oh… what am I getting for Christmas babe?!

@Bella Naija: Thanks babe… I’m glad too for my sake

Anonymous said...

he slapped you for having pimples?
na wa oh.

keep being you overwhelmed!!!
and it's true, you are right the A's arent everything.

i have to reread this!

angie said...

I thank God that you are able to overcome all that and become this very wonderful person that you are.
(this is probably irrelevant but i still believe michael jackson is the way he is becos of his childhood traumas- which is affecting him badly!!!)

nosa101 said...

Never use British Airways in your life and I am emailing this post to your dad.










.........and the A's are everything

Anonymous said...

At some stage i couldn't read any more but i went back and finished. Glad you let the voices speak.

Only thing - what did he do to other people's kids?

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Mphahlele: Yes he did!… That’s the only thing I know how to be(I think)… Me! Thanks luv

@Angie: I’m grateful for that too… I agree with the Michael Jackson too… its easy for the outside world to make fun of people when they truly don’t understand… I mean some kids are more sensitive than others and one thing I could tell you girl is that even today some of the things my father did or said affect me till this day regardless of how ‘strong’ or ‘well-turned-out’ I am!! If I’d stayed with him any longer…. Only heaven knows what would’ve become of me!!! Thanks sunshine

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Nosa101: lmao… no comment cos ‘u crazy’… lol

@Noni Moss: Babe you don’t even want to know…you really don’t want to know… maybe one day I’ll write about those… I’m still processing other stuff in my head cos I’m currently going through another ‘overwhelmed state’… my best friend… my boyfriend.. FUCK!!!! I DON’T KNOW WHATS HAPPENING!!!

chainreader said...

girl, i hope whatever is going on sorts itself out real fast! you don't really need any wahala right now.

you are in a whole lot of prayers that you don't know about.

blog away!

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@chainreader: I hope so too babe… cos I’m so confused right now plus it hurts some. I think I need closure on some issues right now. Thanks for your prayers luv… I really appreciate em.. God bless you too

Anonymous said...

what about you text him "dad you once slapped me just because i had pimples"

hmm "some" nigerian parents are brutes!!

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Dami: I’m not in communication with him… I can’t be right now… I just can’t!

Uzo said...

I really love this. So profound and so well said

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Uzo: Thanks sunshine… I just love that word profound lol… I mean recently I’ve started using it for the most mundane things… I mean just last night… I was eating ‘ukwa(breadfruit)’ and I said mommy this ukwa tastes profound… lmao.. she just looked at me and laughed! Abi the grammer no rhyme?

Anonymous said...

i'm a number of days late to the comments party i DO realise, but never having been one to fail to put my two cents worth in... here we go!

by the way - before i proceed - you've got a great blog and a great writing style. your candour is refreshing. about this particular post... GOD! i have GRAPPLED - and continue to grapple - with the the mindset of some african parents (mine included). the projected expectations? this whole life they have mapped out for you that you're supposed to just accept and make good on out of "appreciation" for all their "sacrifices"? the feeling that you're never good enough? their fucked-up ideas of "success" and the exact degree programmes that constitute its achievement?

i've harboured the theory for a while now that in much the same way one can die for want of food or from a grosse excess of it, an over-zealous approach to education can prove just as harmful as a total disregard for it. i wish someone would write a book on that - on how our parents sick obsession with "a good education" threatens to be the undoing of this generation of young africans. an unprecedented irony, huh? but i digress. i just get so angry when it comes to stuff like this...

hey, look at you! look how you've turned out - how HAPPY. wow. you have a LOT to be proud of. i'm glad that you're - if not already fine - at least well on your way there. i really am.

Anonymous said...

Funny I finished at thirteen as well. Turned nine at the end of JS1. It sucked always having to be overly mature to compensate for my actual age.I thank God for my parents love and support though.

Keep your head up, it's great to know you're happy now

laspapi said...

Gritted my teeth through this post. One of the most painful things I ever read.

You can let go of the pain now. Parents don't always know as much as we think they do.

Bubbles said...

Wow! Your father slapped u cos u had pimples? That is some crazy shit. I mean... how's that something to be punished for?