Letter to the “forgetful” dad

Dear father,

15 years ago, you came back home after work. It was a Saturday. You stormed into the house and in your terrifying voice demanded that I pack and leave with you. You made me leave everything behind that was my life. My mom, my brother and my sister. Just like that. You loaded my desk and bed and my suitcase. Your reason was fighting with my mom had become ‘too much’ hence you needed to ‘teach her a lesson’. We only left with the little possessions I had.

The next few months were very tough on us. We moved into a house in the city, away from the open spaces and the frost on the grass. Away from the acorn tree and away from my family. You were such an angry person. Angry at your staff and angry at the world. Drinking over weekends and forgetting to pick me up from boarding school.

Just how heartless can one person be, I sometimes use to ask myself, because you know no bounds. Good marks in school was not enough. All you were interested in was me getting my LLB so I can be an advocate and “show people how it is done” All you were interested in was raising me with military precision. Something you proud of to this day.


I always hated when other kids talked fondly about their fathers while I hardly had any peaceful memories of you. Even when we were still living together I hardly saw you. How I wished you would spend just one day a week at home, help me with my homework, go to the parent-teachers meetings back in school or even teach me how to drive. That never happened because you were too busy growing your numerous investments and when you had time off you would spend it all out drinking with your buddies.

You thought being a great father was just about paying all bills in time when in reality all I wanted was to spend time with my father. I wouldn’t mind if you were poor but was there to help me steer through the murky waters of puberty. You were emotionally absent and the truth is buying me fancy clothes and taking me to exotic places all over Africa never effectively substituted your much-needed presence in my life.

The pain of growing up “without” a father figure pushed me to seek solace in my deurmekaar friends at the magazines I worked at.  I went down on the path of self-destruction for close to 2 years after moving to Joburg. One day it hit me, my resentment towards you was turning me to a selfish woman- I was becoming just like you. You shattered mom’s heart into irreparable pieces and she lost her eldest daughter.  So I got sober, promised her to always be there for her and live my life in a better way.

Your youngest daughter has suffered most growing without you. It pains her that you don’t even know her favorite color or dish to this day. You denied her the chance of being the ‘daddy’s little girl’ like her friends. You ought to have been the first man to love her unconditionally and tell her how beautiful she is every day. You were never around when she needed you to read bed time stories or stick by her side when she differed with mom.

You messed up your chances with your only son. For some odd reason you also left him places. How on earth do you forget to pick up your child? Not once, but numerous times. You have to this day never done anything meaningful with him- no father and son trip, no memories created together. You left a boy in charge of the household. You left a boy with a broken mother to pick up the pieces. To clean up the mess you created and left.

But then you changed- for a while you were the perfect dad to us. But today your old self came back.

After missing Z’s birthday today after you repeatedly promised you that you will be there I am truly done. It is ok that you broke your promises to me as a child, but you are not going to do that to my girls.

I need to thank you for teaching me about business, for pushing me to always want to learn. For making me tough. For teaching me about drive. To never give up. Thanks for making me a fighter.

Knowing you I am sure you are not even worried or you don’t care that you missed her birthday   Because if you were you would have picked up the phone. I was really worried about you. Not anymore.

But tonight I am telling you I’m tired of this. And I’m done.

I really love you





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