Failing to Fail

I guess this is what Middle-Child Syndrome is like: feeling out of place, like a bit of an overcast and not quite up to par with one’s siblings. I feel all of the above and worse, but I’m not the middle child.

Being the eldest of 4 girls has always been decidedly difficult, and from our looks to our outlooks, I’m quite obviously the one people often whisper about: was I handed over to the wrong parents; was I adopted secretly; was I REALLY the daughter of my father; where did they find me? Maymuna, Maryam, Munira and me. Aisha. The epiphany to have their children’s names start with an ‘M’ clearly came after they had their first child. Strangely enough, I thought I would’ve been the favoured one – I initiated their prodigy and I’m the fairest of us all. Crazily enough, they don’t see beauty in my fair skin, nor my straight nose or my voluminous hair. None of that screams beauty to them, the fact that I couldn’t make ‘B’ grades at school let alone ‘A’ grades was the stain that pushed me into the corner of rejection.

Failure doesn’t exist in my parent’s house – or should I say, my father’s house. And thus I’m hardly ever addressed directly, nor is my opinion sought – they don’t even think I should be shipped off to a far off marital home because failure doesn’t exist.

Every parent has dreams of their children’s success, and my father is no different. From the day we could say “Baba”, we were initiated on the shapes of letters, the names of colours and how to hold a pencil correctly. I remember going to school at five years old and being able to write my name in cursive. He smiled those days. Now the light of his eyes never shine my way. He was once my beacon, but now I’ve been relegated into a modern day Cinderella. Disney hasn’t told me story, though – I’m not the step-daughter, my father’s still alive, and I live in Nigeria.

If he’d beaten me the day my results were published I would have felt the punishment to be just. It would’ve left a scar I could see, feel and one that would eventually heal. My day to day punishment of internal banishment is cruelty on a level I never knew possible. The seed from his loin that he probably wishes he never planted. Harry wasn’t a Bolt. I imagine my seed’s name to be Harry because a Bolt doesn’t produce a C-grader

You can say I feel sorry for myself, that I should pick myself up, and I should find my path in life. And what do you know of living in a household of accomplished figures? The PhDs from London, Masters from The States and names with a plethora of letters trailing them. My father took his blanket of disgrace and throttled me with it.

I’m hoping it’ll be swift, and that it’ll work, because there can be no greater shame than a failure failing to permanently remove her existence from the closed eyes of her oppressors.

© LaYinka Sanni, June 2012


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