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Recently, I sat recalling some of the events of my adolescent and teenage years, when it occurred to me that little had changed since those times and the present. By little had changed, I meant that my father still remained as ‘over’ security conscious as he was in those days and I used to be highly irritated by this attitude. I am not anymore.
His ‘over’ security consciousness was the bane of my existence then. My father would never be content to see an object slightly out of place without wanting to know how it came to be there. A forgotten to be locked door at night would result in waking up all of us to be questioned and if the culprit could not be ascertained in time, then a round of flogging would follow. Other incidences like windows left slightly more ajar than usual, unfamiliar/suspicious noises or sounds, smells, faces, unfamiliar/suspicious or displaced toys or objects etc would also attract his scrutiny to my utmost exasperation.
Life in the northern part of Nigeria in those days was not as dangerous and full of strife and fear as it is now – or so I innocently thought. The only major near dangerous situations I experiences as a child living in Sokoto state was of the family being robbed while we slept on the first day of our arrival in the state and subsequent other petty theft like the Zulu’s (a dog-eating tribe) occasionally robbing us of one or two of our dogs for their nutrition.
However, I still saw nothing in these little incidences to warrant my dad’s over security conscious actions such that one night, in reaction to one of the countless waking ups to question about who left a particular door open or who heard a particular noise during the night, I cried out in anger to my mother: ‘but who/what is he always searching for that he was yet to find all these years? Why must he live in constant fear of the unknown and subsequently infect us with this feeling of insecurity? Why is he always suspecting every strange or unusual person or thing? And what exactly is he expecting to find or happen? Who is this enemy he is constantly looking for?’
My mother, bewildered by her child’s outburst, was in an uncomfortable position. She had long come to trust my father’s strange habits and intuition and so saw nothing wrong in his actions, or maybe perhaps just the waking up of children in the middle of the night part. Being that my father had no discovery to tell for all his ever vigilant actions, she was at her wits end to explain to a child the need for this behavior; thus all she could say that night was: ‘respect your father and obey, child. Soon you will understand the reason for his actions’.
But the anger of a child recently and often disturbed from sweet slumber could not so easily be appeased with those few words; so I hated my father as a child. Little did I know that my parents were right i.e. my father who with his actions gradually instilled in us a sense of security awareness – now an invaluable tool in today’s society and my mother for her words of advice; if only I knew then how soon they would come to pass. . .