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Who Was the Man I Called Daddy?

 

Who Was the Man I Called Daddy?

 

  

My aunt is carrying my brother and I.

The sky is orange and red and in our eyes—sunset in the tropics.

 

I ask Aunt why she is crying, she says,

“Your daddy has gone to heaven.”

Did he go away because I bit him,

my mark on his back?

I didn’t mean to,

but he was hurting mummy,

Who was curled,

protecting her head on the floor.

 

My brothers and I sit in church, next to Mummy

Our feet dangle above the floor.

The house is filled with relatives, strangers,

The conversations are whispered.

 

Who was daddy? I ask my grandmother.

“He was bad; he made your mother’s life hell.

It’s good he’s gone.”

Why didn’t Mummy run away?

“She tried,

but the priest made her go back.”

 

Who was daddy? I ask my aunt.

“He was religious, generous, and good.

He didn’t talk much,

he was like a father to me.”

But he beat Mummy,  

“Your mummy argued with him.

 

Who was daddy? I ask my mother.

“He was a loving father, an honest man.

He made coffee the morning he died.

I came back from the hospital,

and among the fireplace embers was the coffee,

kept warm for me.”

Do you miss him, mummy?

“No, I don’t. It’s a relief.

He was a monster

when he drank.”

 

Do you remember daddy?

I ask my brothers, years later.

“Of course not. Who remembers

when you are only one and two?”

I remember him, I say.

He smelt of alcohol, cigarettes, and love.

His eyes were the saddest on earth.

 I remember his warm chest and comforting arms.

I remember his gentle hands pushing my hair

out of my eyes,

touching my face when he said goodnight.

 

The same hands beat my mother

And I would scream and push and bite.

Who was the man I called Daddy?

 

 

Nandhini G. Natarajan

 

I had an article published in the Washington Post in 2016. On 5-17-21, I received notification from the Academy of the Heart and Mind that my short story,  'A Summer Awakening', has been accepted and will debut on their website on June 5, 2021. 

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5 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this poem; heartbreaking, poignant, and real for far too many.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment Olga! It means a lot. As this is my first published poem, I am thrilled.

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  2. Beautiful written, yet powerfully tear jerking. That's not always easy to pull off, but you have done it with this most excellent piece.

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    Replies
    1. I really appreciate your heart-felt comment Linda! This is the first time I am publishing a poem, so I am quite excited.

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    2. Super big congratulations! Keep that pen moving.

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