Written by Faith Oneya

I have my father’s hands. Most of my life I wished I had my mother’s hands though. Hers were a pianist’s hands. Tapered fingers. She could have been a hand model; I used to think as I stared longingly at them.

My father’s fingers were squat, like mine. All my life I have been teased about having ‘sausage’ fingers and ‘fingers that do not match my height’. Yes, I am 5” 7’ with short fingers.

If God had allowed me the space to choose, I would have chosen my father’s eyebrows and my mother’s fingers. But I am grateful now that he was not that philanthropic then because my fingers remind me of my father every day I look at them.

I remember that my father never raised his hands on me except to pat me on the back the day my mother died. To tell me, in his own awkward way, and through the tears that were burning his eyes, that things were going to be okay.

I remember my father’s hands as they flipped through my report book, turning the pages as he remarked on the teacher’s comments. He would tell me;

“You have always been a bright girl; you just need to focus more.”

I remember my father’s hands as they held my suitcase on my first day of campus, walking me to my room.

“I want to meet your room-mate,” he said.

I remember my father’s hands too; when I was four and I came home crying. He picked me up and placed me on his laps;

“What is wrong Mummy?”(Yes, he used to call me mummy when I was a tiny tot)

“I don’t know how to draw a fish.”

I remember my father’s hands as he took his Parker pen and drew me a tilapia fish, with all the fins and everything.

I remember my father’s hands too, the first time I asked him to draw me a girl, and how I cried when he did because he drew me a stick girl that was, in my 4 year-old eyes, naked.

“Why doesn’t she have clothes on?’ I asked

“Because, mummy, she had washed them.”

I remember my father’s hands too, when he switched off the television whenever the Mexican soaps were on because; “What exactly are they teaching you?”

I am glad I have my father’s hands.