I am Nadia. My mother is Scottish and father is Arab. I don’t speak Arabic. I am not familiar with the cultures, traditions or history of my father’s country for I don’t know his origins. I have never met my father.
My mother tells too many lies. Sometimes I don’t know who I am. Over the years I have asked my mother many questions about my father. She almost always gave me answers. The answers to repeated questions however, were not always the same. Thus progressing into a spiderweb of entangled, innacurate information. I began to learn early on that my mother, restricted by her painful past, was not a reliable source. Unfortunately, she was my only source.
My father was always real to me. Intangible but vivid and palpable. His physical appearance, his personality, his habits and attributes all existed in my imagination. Inconsistent and somewhat flamboyant, his image as my father has been ever changing over the years.
He was once the dirty, hairy, deserting Arab. Ugly, selfish and cold, but wondrously intelligent and intriguingly different.
He has also existed in my imagination, as the hero father. The tall dark stranger who was just like me. The father who would one day appear unannounced and shower me with love and understanding. With a similar texture of hair to me and a similar skin colour. He would tell me he liked his coffee the same way I did and I would then know that he could see the world through my eyes. He was strong and confident. He was wise, worldly and wonderfully different. He was my real dad. Of course, this dream was never realised.
My mother told me “curiosity killed the cat”.
My father still exists in my imagination. He is no longer flamboyant but he has become somewhat consistent. He his still tall and dark. The racist misconceptions have gone and left behind a more real, human image. A quiet, solitary image of a man, who for reasons still unknown to me, never got to know his own daughter.
My father is a stranger.
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