“I don’t want my daughter to lose her virginity Father,” the middle aged man said with so much emotion.
“How old is she?” I asked.
“She’s only fifteen.” The man replied. “She’s so stubborn. She never listens to me, and I’m genuinely worried.”
I could see the worry all over him. The slouched shoulders. The lines under his eyes. The tightly pursed lips. Even the bland clothes he wore. He looked old. I couldn’t tell if this was just worry for one daughter, or worry in general.
I let my gaze travel from his face to the thick layer of dust clinging fiercely to my shoes. I had been walking around just outside the sacristy before mass, and it was harmattan season.
“What makes you think she’ll lose her virginity?” I asked after a while.
“Do you know when she came home last night Father? She came back at 10:00pm. Can you imagine that Father? 10:00pm! I was so worried I had to call everyone I know. They knew nothing of her whereabouts…”
“What about when she came back,” I cut in. “Did you ask her where she went to?”
“Not immediately Father. I had to flog her very well first. In fact, I beat her so much she could not even talk. Next time, she would think twice before returning home at night.”
I stared at the man in utter disbelief. I knew it wasn’t easy being a parent to a teenage girl. But I also knew this man was making a huge mistake. “You didn’t even let her talk before beating her up?”
He had no answer.
“Look my brother, your daughter is a growing girl. Your concerns are quite valid. But if you don’t talk to her, how will she trust you?”
“Father I’m tired of talking to that girl. She doesn’t listen. She has a mind of her own. She does whatever she wants. Maybe she has joined bad gang.”
“How would you know if she actually joins a gang, with the way you’re going? How do you talk to her? Do you talk to her gently or you scream at her?”
“I’m her father. How can I talk to her gently when she does something wrong? I don’t want to spoil her nah.”
“Oh. Okay. And this beating of yours; has it yielded any positive results? She got stubborn under your current disciplinary methods. Don’t you think it’s time to blow cold for a change?”
“Father, you don’t know her o. Kai. You don’t know her at all.”
“Mr Osolase. Breathe!”
“I’m breathing father.”
“I mean, give her a break. Talk to her. And don’t shout at her. You’re her father. She loves you. Try to be a father. Sit her down and start talking to her. Don’t shout, just talk gently and calmly. If you don’t create a bond, she’ll never let you into her life. And when she makes mistakes; trust me she will make many, she’ll be able to tell you about them.”
Mr Osolase sat there, his face different shades of confused. I could tell he found my advice strange.
“And whatever you do, don’t tell your daughter you’re worried she’ll lose her virginity.”
“Well, because there’s no point. Get close to her and become her friend. That way, she’ll be comfortable enough to tell you things. If you tell her you’re worried about her losing her virginity, you’ve lost her. Trust me. Do everything and say everything you want her to know regarding the issue. But don’t make it seem like you don’t trust her enough. Let her go out. Don’t hold on too tightly. You might lose her completely.”
“Oh. Okay Father. I’ll try”.
As I walked away from him, back to my car, I could tell that Mr Osolase still had that incredulous expression on his face.
© Oselumhense Anetor, 2019.