Thursday, 26 May 2011

My father Rowland

My father's name was Rowland. My mum often called him 'Row'. He was a big, big man and he knew everyone or so I thought when I was small. Whenever I think of my dad I think of his study and all of his books and his table that we were all fascinated by but not allowed to touch. On that table lay several bars of Ghanaian Gold, it was very James Bond and absolutely magnificent. When I glance around my house I see glimpses of him, in the piles of books that I have stacked in my favourite spots that have currently taken my interest. In the way in which I obsessively swat at flies that buzz around the room on summery days, stopping at nothing to get those pests out of the house. When I glance down at my long second toe or the dry dusted white knuckles on my hands or my right eye that waters uncontrollably in the breeze. I see him. And it is such a comfort because I worry that with each passing day, he is fading. Fading in my mind, in my photographs, in my day to day.

He was a man of many dreams, indefatigably ambitious and with a heart and mind that liked to 'go wander'. He was a brother, to many. A great talker, a man of many, many tales. A man of grandeur if only to me. He charmed plenty and angered few. He yielded a shoe horn with such joy and finesse and brought forth tears of laughter (especially from Grandma Peppermint, a foe of sorts) with his misunderstandings of british humour. He always knew where to go for anything you needed or desired, a trait of a true African!

One of my treasured memories was of a long walk meandering through shanty style homes near where we lived, I was about six or seven years old and my mum had returned to the UK temporarily and I was missing her terribly and dad needed to visit someone but had promised me that there was a wonderful suprise along the way. We came to a tin house where I was introduced to an elder lady who was sat on a stool tending a large clay oven that was used to bake bread. She was Mamprobi's bread woman, responsible for providing the surrounding area with fresh bread. At the time it was incredibly difficult and expensive to get hold of evaporated milk, top of the list of my food treats. Suddenly this very smiley 'aunty' was gesturing for me to sit on her lap whilst she used a long wooden paddle to remove a loaf of bread from the oven. I remember the heat of the white painted clay oven. She spoke to me but I didn't understand her and so dad translated and told me that the the loaf of bread was for me. She went on with the gesturing and ordered a teenage boy nearby to bring something to me, he ran inside one of the houses and came back with a tin of Nestle 'Ideal' milk!

I can picture clearly my dad pouring the milk into a bowl and breaking up the still warm bread into pieces and dipping them individually into the milk and then into my mouth. I can feel my cheek against his chest and my side against his protruding belly, the buttons on his shirt twinkling at me. I remember seeing wet circles appear on his shirt, spreading like blotting paper as my tears dropped. The salty taste of my tears along with the smoothly sweet taste of the 'Ideal', the warmth of the bread and the comfort of my daddy's big arms around me, his dry dusted white knuckles on gorilla black skin catching my eye. I believed unquestioningly that there was nothing that this man was incapable of, something that time and age and hindsight has faded somewhat. However, put quite simply my father is a man that I miss dearly.

My father the sportsman - Adisadel College

Dad with younger brother and my Uncle John

Dad pictured far right sporting a kente and moustache

Dad with two of my beautiful smiley elder siblings

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful tribute, Katy, brimming with love. I hope that you share this post with your boys. Do not fear the fading of memories - your father's imprint remains in you, and you will bring so many memories back in just talking about those precious moments together. Xx