Inspired by “Papaoutai” ( meaning “Dad, where are you?”) by Belgian singer Stromae
Lyrics (The song is in French, it was difficult to find a 100% accurate translation but this at least sums up the song)
Is it possible to /understand fatherhood without being fathered?
Watching him grow, seeing the close up of those first teeth, first smile, the first steps video; first holiday, first best friend and that devastating first broken bone.
Annual summertime snaps, the grass, bright clear skies, grazed knees, innocent cries. Winter wonders, through he’s eyes, each season brings a new coat for warmth. Over the years scenery remains the same, but he’s face is constantly changing.
A tradition of regular photos is built, every Christmas, on Easters, and new year; on birthdays, new school years and achievements. A picture of my son with that smile, defiantly taken from he’s mum, glossy eyes through the lens as if looking directly at me, eyes belonging to me, do mine belong to my father? It’s hard to tell with just the one photograph as a reference, the only reference.
Piano, gymnastics, dance, art. He tried it all, it’s not a myth when they say kids are expensive, finding them that thing they love, to keep them out of trouble, even if he only attends the 5 out of 100 lessons paid for. Money spent to build a character, create a man. If manhood could be bought, would I be a better father? I’d be a better man, maybe. There are many questions to manhood, women can try and answer some, I appreciate my mum for that, she didn’t mean to inflict her hatred for men towards me, but it was something she couldn’t help. At first I hated her for it, until I realised why. Till I saw it with my own eyes, the pain of watching a half filled family become something it shouldn’t be.
I watched my family grow, happy first years, till the horrors of adolescence kicks in. That smile of he’s begins too fade. Hobbies are replaced with goods, a game console, boxes of trainers, anything left is spent on fast food, clubs and outings with he’s boys, the new family. When mum has to work so much, and dad is absent, what else can money go to? The once so regular pictures become less frequent, if I had to rely on pictures to find him, I’m sure I would know him by face. I question if he would recognise me.
She’s not the same when I see her, he’s mother. Slightly more warned out. Does she recognise me? 18 years is a long time, to me she still looks the same. Maybe the pictures on Facebook caught her at her best. Maybe Facebook showed the happy family I had been watching. The family that was growing without me. She looks up at me as she answers the door, looking frail, as if she hadn’t eaten in a long time. Her ‘save my son’ campaigns pulled me to come. Pulled me to stop being a Facebook father. I hadn’t ended up in jail, or joined a gang, or any of the negative statistics that come along from single mum families. No, I didn’t, but because of my actions I have caused my son, the boy I had only seen through pictures on a website to be a percentage on the statistics I successfully dodged.
The woman I left doesn’t even recognise me. What will her reaction be when I let her know I’m ready to be a father. Although I know nothing about fatherhood.
Story Mode by Piarvé Wetshi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.