Naming my father: A micro love story

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Merlin (by Santu Mofokeng)
Merlin (by Santu Mofokeng)

Small love. Big love. Skinny love. Toni Morrison’s “love is or love ain’t, thin love ain’t love at all”. Early in the morning love. Love and honour your parents love. Love at the ends of its tether. “I can’t do this anymore” love. 

Here Bulumko Nyamezele considers the love of a father.  


As far as memory permits, I fell in love with my father the first time he called me his son. Then again, sentiment is a bias curator of the past. My father kept to himself most of the time. I only noticed his birthday on the day that we buried him. Epitaphs have a way of answering unasked questions and questioning the existence of living things. My father was a saxophonist, a painter, a writer and he could harmonise kingdoms into our living room. I’m his and my mother’s last born child. They got married 11 years after I was born. He never mentioned it to us because he was too ashamed that it took him so long to commit and my mother was too excited to let that deter her from celebrating being acknowledged. He is a perfectionist who inherently thought that the finished product would always justify the means and the absence that came with them. He learned that from his father who had inherited it from his father. My brothers are my father, my father is me. The last words he said to me were “son, I love you”. Sentiment dictates that my memory is better that way. 

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