I Found My Father Online
I found my father online and it was a revelation. Because I have always been told that I look so much like him, but had it not been for his name, which bore a resounding resemblance to someone I may have known, I would never have been able to recognize him. It is hard enough to harbor the embers of estrangement, but the thought of a reunion just prods the sixteen-year-old wound that refuses to heal.
The last memory I have of him was colored by fury, not my own, but my mother’s. Two rickshaws were furiously parked outside his house, onto which my mother kept hurling things furiously. The Sony sound system, the clothes I had grown out of and the clothes I was to grow into, my mother’s registers and her students’ copies, everything as if put into Lucifer’s boiling cauldron, to be made a hot mess out of. It was a weekday and I had never yearned to go to school as much as I did that day. I was yanked out of my sleep, furiously. But what was more enraging than my mother’s conduct was my father’s adamance to stay put.
My mother’s fury was like a fountain pen that leaked onto a blotting paper, but my father was ink-proof; her fury could not move him. Very often, I feel like my mother and father, both at the same time; impregnated with emotions, on the verge of an explosion, however, simultaneously, nonchalant. I have the best of genes and I have the worst of genes, but I don’t think I have any part of me left. Because every independent part of me, that did not resemble my parents began to evaporate. I was either headstrong like my mother or selfish like my father, conscientious like my mother, or gregarious like my father. And what is left of me is someone hankering for a morsel of the self.
So, I found my father online and it was a revelation. It was a creeping sense of realization that reminded me that I had a father. But I didn’t. I watched my father lie to me, interspersed with reminders that I looked like him as if that meant something. He said that he had tried to reach out to me online and on-call. He never found my Facebook profile, the same profile that I have ostentatiously adorned with winsome banter and information about myself. He could never reach me on my phone because he never had my number, which is ironic since my number is the same one my grandfather would use before he conked out. So, even after all these years, my father has maintained his oath of adamance, to stay put.
For a moment in the duration of that conversation, I felt like the headless chicken that lived for eighteen months. Because someone somewhere did not do the best job of killing him and missed his jugular vein. Miracle Mike met with his unexpected death a year later when he choked on a kernel of corn, but what could be more unexpected than hanging by a thread when you were all prepared to croak?
My father and I exchanged details of all our common relatives who had died. He floated across names of certain deceased people I’d never heard of and I put on a tone of alarm, perfunctorily. He was keen on telling me about his son, my erstwhile cousin, and his erstwhile nephew: what he was studying and the job offers he had lined up. But he was also kind enough to spare a second to hear about my developments. My father had so little to say but he could not stop talking. It felt like the same sixteen-year-old verbal diarrhea that he had still not found a remedy to. He said he missed me but it sounded like one of those template responses that you have cut out for the most asked questions:
“How are you?”
I found my father online and I wish I hadn’t. Because I had made a mistake, it was not my father I had found. In retrospect, it felt like one of those impulsive acts when you crave to reach out to a stranger, who’d have no wind of your baggage and simply engage in non-intrusive banter. But the catch is, I did not find my father online, I looked him up. And that is the deal with strangers: you don’t look them up, you stumble across them, the same way my father stumbled across me.