“You’re so useless!” And with that, Julia’s father slammed the door in her face.
She could hear the door lock click as he mumbled something about foolish and insecure teenagers disturbing others with their life.
“Happy birthday, useless”, she muttered to herself.
Life at 17 surely did not start out fun. Walking down the passage, she slipped into her room, hoping her mom wouldn’t notice, although she was pretty sure mom heard all that transpired between herself and her dad. As she laid on her bed, she felt even more frustrated as hot tears escaped her eyes.
“C’mon, Jay, you’re better than this”, she heard her head tell her but the treacherous heart countered, “but daddy said I’m useless”.
I could remember in the far distance of my babyhood that things were not always like this. Perhaps, it was residual memory from childhood or maybe I just thought so because momma always drummed it into my ears how daddy had always loved me and how he used to be so proud of me. I think that she had meant another Julia because all my life, I’ve always lived in dread of dad. Looking back, a year ago, he told me I was a pain in his life on this very day. The year before that he just starred at me and then walked away. My 15th birthday was no better. ‘Fifteen and foolish’ was all the felicitations I got from my dearly beloved father. On the fourteenth one, I heard nothing from him and on the thirteenth, he drove me to my boarding school, where I would be safely hidden from his sight. And momma would say he had always loved me. If this was love, then I’m pretty sure I have always had plenty of it that I was sure I wanted no more of it. I searched my head for anything that could have made dad so mad at me. Nothing. Yesterday ended without even seeing him. He returned really late from work, perhaps way after I went to bed. So I couldn’t possibly have offended him. I cleaned and polished His shoe and ironed his clothes the day before and so I wasn’t in any deficit of my duties. I couldn’t help but sigh. For how long would I have to put up with this?
“Julia!” Rang momma’s shrill voice from the kitchen.
I pretended not to hear. I have been drained of any willpower I had when I got up from bed about an hour ago by the thorough tongue lash from dad. I did not have any more strength for anything on this day. This shouldn’t have hurt me but sadly though, it did. I should have been used to it by now but strangely enough, I wasn’t. It just made matters worse.
“Happy birthday, baby”. That was my mother.
There was something cooing in her voice I knew I had to be wary of. Was I growing numb to displays of affection or was I just being paranoid? Either ways, I decided to just take the day as it comes and try to be happy, no matter what.
“Are you crying, Jay? Because of that ‘small’ thing your father said to you?”
Now, I was pissed and it was worse still because I couldn’t place it, what got me mad. Was it the emphasis on the ‘small’ or the fact that my mother disregarded the fact that it hurt to have your father say that to you, especially on your birthday? Either ways, I just turned on my side and said
“I’m fine, mom, I’m not crying and thank you for remembering. I really appreciate”.
Now, I meant none of that. I was not fine, I had been crying, although I did not notice and I really did not appreciate that she remembered my birthday. Not now that she had added salt to injury.
“Come and prepare breakfast. Cook the rice and the stew. I’ve already put the rice on fire but I’ve not put salt” my mom said to me, as I heard her retreating footsteps.
“Voila, Jay,” I said to myself. “Happy birthday once again”.
Knowledge Lauretta Odia is a prolific writer studying law in the University of Benin. She belongs to an erudite team of writers known as The Legal Watchmen and she has authored many other articles. I_am_Lee is her pen name.