There is this picture I have of me and my dad. I am probably three or four. My hair looks like it was hastily applied to my head from a collection intended for the pubic region. My father has on one of his old plaid shirts that my mother would "mistakenly" throw away over the years. I don't know what I have on because you cannot see my body. I am about four feet off the ground, my spindly limbs jutting out like sticks of sugar cane.
We are both smiling. My dad's reaches from one ear to the other and all of the sixteen dentures that I own are put on display. In my hand is a book, one of the many manuscripts that i was surrounded with as a child. My dad's hands are free but not really.
We are standing in the room where we used to iron. In that huge house we lived in in Benin. At the corner of the picture, you can see a foot. My mother's. Everytime I look at the picture, I look at her foot. i look and look because I cannot for the life of me figure out how she came up with the concept that her toes look like "unsuccessful Ijebu groundnuts." But, such are the kind of statements my mother makes.
It is a happy picture and an odd one. Not odd that it is a father and daughter having fun. But odd because my father, after being pestered by me the whole day relented and went in search of the ankara wrapper that had been set aside for the task he was about to execute. My father hoisted me on his back and strapped me to him with the wrapper. I was too big for my mother to carry. Besides, I was no longer a baby. I now had a baby brother who was probably drooling on himself somewhere. Yet, I wanted to be "backed"
Probably sensing a budding insecurity, my father gave me what I wanted. So in that picture of mine, I am oddly potruding from behind my father. His hands reach around him to support my weight because even though he has applied a scientific formula to the tieing of the wrapper, it is coming loose and I am slowly slipping to the ground. My legs come out at his waist and it appears I have lost the slipper on my left foot.
But it does not matter. My dad has made his little girl happy and from the picture, it appears he is happy too......