Saturday, May 21, 2011

May his memory be a blessing

The first 12 years of Blessing's life pass in comfort. Her father is loud and drinks a lot, but in her eyes, he is the lovable big man who swings her and her brother up onto his shoulders as soon as he returns home from his cushy government job.

Then her mother catches him in the arms of another woman and flees Lagos to move in with her parents in their primitive rural home. Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away  is the coming of age story of a girl uprooted, a family in turmoil and a country in chaos.

Seeing her father for who his really is--not the king of the family, but a flawed character -- a failure, really--is key to Blessing's initiation into womanhood.

And so relatable. I was 8 years old when my charmed childhood came to a screeching halt. Dad had an affair and my parents separated. I met the Other Woman. I hated her. I hated my Dad. Divorce was on the table.

Although my parents reconciled and the separation only lasted about half a year, my father's betrayal forever colored my opinion of him. I admired his charm, his professional successes and his smarts, but I couldn't shake the feeling that deep down he wasn't a good person.

My Dad died of a sudden heart attack 9 years ago this week. When loved ones die, Jews say "May his memory be a blessing," and my father's memory is a blessing.

A mixed blessing.

I received my copy of Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away as part of my membership in the From Left to Write Book Club. Instead of critical reviews, we write posts inspired by the book we've read.