I Blame It On My Father

A story about Petal, a young blue headed woman working through her family drama and most importantly dealing with her "daddy issues" which have affected her life and relationships so much. On her journey, she struggles with forgiveness, her mother's mental illness and vulnerability in relationships. She did not know that a broken relationship with a father could have such dire consequences. Things become worse, much worse before they become better. A story about hope, love, patience and forgiveness.

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10. Chapter 10

The hill sprints were tough. The club training for this morning was on Fountain Hill and the incline was really working on Petal's calves. It had been a while since she had trained with the club. It was good to be with the other club members even though she did not really know most of them at all, just being surrounded by enthusiastic runners made her feel enlivened. The job hunting was not going well. There had been rejections, apologies and the worst of all, no response at all. Petal needed to find a way to establish a new career path. If she could work and study at the same time then that would be great.

She regretted studying communication science. Studying and actually working in the real world had been very different. The internships were quite nice and she had loads of fun... until her first permanent job. It was horrible; there was nepotism, racism, ageism and sexism. She was a customer service representative in a money hungry company which did not care about values and ethics. Management had poor communication and abused their authority whenever they could. A day at work was like a day in a battlefield. Fighting for equality, defending her intelligence and dealing with hard headed people. Companies like that do not like to be challenged or questioned, they claim that they always strive to improve but that is all nonsense for the induction. Petal resigned after a year. The problem was that communication as a major meant that she was not qualified for a specific job, basically she could work anywhere where she had to well... communicate. It all just sucked. Society had deceived her. Get a qualification and get job – yeah right! Now she wanted a job where the main goal was not to bring in revenue for the big bosses. She wanted to start her own thing in the future. Right now though things were not looking too good and she was more than happy to be sprinting up Fountain Hill and forgetting it all.

After training they all went for drinks at the mall. Once in a while the club members would do something like this to promote team spirit. Petal ended up getting into a conversation with a beautiful blonde woman called Crystal. They talked about running shoes, the commitment the sport needed, coconut oil, corn bread and somehow ended up discussing work. Crystal mentioned that she was looking for a new receptionist because the one she had had decided to elope with a much older man. Now this was manna from heaven. Petal did not even need to apply and go through interviews. Crystal was the co-owner and she liked Petal and let her know that if she was interested then it would save her from the unpleasant task of recruiting. Well at least now she would not be homeless and did not have to move in with Malik.

It was not something that Malik usually did. He was not raised that way. His parents had been married for thirty five years and they never cohabited before they were married. He suggested that Petal should move in with him but only until she was able to sustain herself. Petal politely refused because she did not want him to feel responsible for her. She explained to Malik that she needed to get back on her feet and he was already being so supportive and she appreciated it. Now she could tell him to really relax because she would be able to continue living in her apartment. Malik was really such a lovely human being. Petal thought that maybe one day he would change but so far he was helping her to look for a job and kept her mind off so many stressors. He had a sense of humour, which was the thing that Petal loved the most about him. His favourite TV show was "Adventure Time" on Cartoon Network. Petal was having such a good time with him that she felt sorry for Vector. He really had lost her as a friend. She had tried to contact him but he was unable to be reached. He was not responding to texts, he did not pick up when she called, he did not even respond to her private messages on social media. She was worried about him and she would go to his place if she knew where he lived. They had always met in public or he would come to her place, she had an idea of which street he lived on however, she had never been to his place. This made her realise what a self-centred friend she really had been.

The three beautiful women were sitting at a corner table at a fine dining steak house (Stacey's treat). They were all dressed up tonight since they were celebrating Stacey's promotion to supervisor. Stacey said that she wanted them to wear black evening dresses and they had to have on red lipstick. She had always been such a diva. They were having dessert now; Hunn was having crème brulee, Stacey was having chocolate mousse with berries and Petal was having a raspberry sorbet.

"Anyway, enough about moi. Petal, so a little birdie told that you found yourself a nice hunky fella (she shimmied her shoulders)."

Petal smiled coyly and looked at Hunn.

"Which little birdie?"

Hunn laughed, "Hey this is big news Petal and it is great news."

"Yah!" added Stacey vehemently. "Girl you are a cutey sweety pie, a bit tough sometimes, but still a sweetie pie. I think that it is great that you got yourself a man who can make you feel good with some caramel kisses and can treat you like a man is supposed to." She basically banged on the table.

Petal gasped and covered her mouth with her hand as Hunn and Stacey giggled.

"Stacey why do you have to talk about men like that?" she asked

"Honey don't mind Stacey, she has been around those loose flight attendants for too long, that is flight attendant talk right there."

"Hey!" Stacey protested. "Don't you talk about us like that. We meet a lot of handsome strangers during our travels so do not be envious O.K. And what is so wrong with what I am saying?"

"Listen, Malik and I have a relationship based on mutual understanding and a deep friendship. None of us is looking for a fling. Our relationship is not based on the physical, we want to have a solid foundation."

"Aww." Hunn smiled and touched Petal's shoulder. She was a fervent believer in true love. "That sounds amazing, and it is really so like Malik. I have only met him a few times but he seems like a really genuine guy. I am happy for you."

Stacey faked a bored look. "I know all of that is important and I believe in it sure. (Talking with her hands the whole time), I am also looking for my genuine Mr Right. I did not say go and fornicate with the guy, but there is nothing wrong with some kissin' and huggin' with a handsome man after a long day." She banged on the table again. "Hey let me see his picture by the way."

"Oh goodness." Petal sighed, and scrolled through her phone to find a few pictures from one of the dinner parties with Malik in them. She handed it over to Stacey.

"Hot Damn! He is an A+." The three women laughed.

It was a lovely afternoon when Petal and Malik drove up the driveway to his parents' house and childhood home. It was sunny but not hot, with a cool breeze blowing every now and then. It was a beautiful home. Coming up the driveway, one could see the beautiful flowers amongst the greenery. There were sculptures and there was a little fish pond in front of the magnificent white house. Nothing says "I have a lot of money" like a big white house. Sure if it were another colour it would still be magnificent, but white, the maintenance alone is enough to break the bank. Malik's mother was celebrating her sixtieth birthday and his father was throwing a party for his wife.

Petal was reluctant to come in the beginning. She thought of meeting all the high profile relatives and wondered what on earth she would be talking about at a party like this. She had seen pictures of Malik's mom and dad. They looked sophisticated. When Malik parked the car there were several other cars parked in the yard. Petal was wearing a simple knee length red summer dress with black pumps. She had dyed her hair back to black sometime during the job hunting process before she met Crystal and right now she was grateful to have done that, imagine what the parents would think about a blue headed receptionist who lived in section C dating their son. At least without the blue hair, she would only be a receptionist from section C, not a druggie or an emo with the mind of a teenager. And thank goodness she did not have any visible tattoos or piercings in inappropriate places. What would they think of her? Her mind was racing. Malik looked over at her and noticed the anxiety in her face. "Hey, this is a party relax. You are lovely and they will see it too." She smiled at him and then he came around to open her door.

The truth was that Malik was anxious on his part. They were his parents and they had expectations for his life. They wanted him to be married (to Sarita preferably) with children. They wanted him to buy a house in section A and they had hoped that he would finish off his engineering qualification and take over his father's business which was now run by a non-family member which was less than ideal for his father. Malik had avoided coming home for a while. At least if he had a beautiful and smart girlfriend with him, it would divert the conversation away from him.

The front door was opened. There were sounds of chatter laughter and cutlery and crockery as they walked in. A waiter in a penguin tuxedo appeared onto the passage and walked into another room. He reappeared seconds later with a tray filled with Bellini cocktails and returned to the room he had come from before, he nodded as he passed. Malika and Petal entered the room. There were people standing around cocktail tables. There was a buffet set up with different types of canapés and hors d'oeuvres. There were a few other waiters in penguin tuxedos walking around with trays of drinks and empty glasses. The interior was even more beautiful than the outside. Chandeliers, lighting, paintings, marble surfaces....

A medium built woman dressed in a white dress and very high shoes with greying hair came towards Malik. She opened her arms, hugged him and kissed him on both cheeks. Then she moved to Petal, "Hello dear." And did the same. She smelled like flowers and herbal shampoo. "Nice to meet you." She said as she held Petal's gaze. She had the same hazel eyes as Malik. She looked very good for sixty, in fact she looked amazing. There were fine lines but her skin was a lovely olive and had a glow. Her hair was greying but it was full and shiny and she had it up in a bun which emphasized her facial features.

"Nice to meet you too. I am Petal. Happy Birthday."

"Hope you like it ma." Malik handed her a box wrapped in a sliver iridescent wrapper.

"Oh, (she threw her hand in the air) when you get to my age these birthdays don't really matter. I am just happy to see you here. Now, where is your father?" She turned on her heels and looked around.

"He must be having a cigar. You two get comfortable and I will go and put this away." She clack clacked away.

"Wow, your mother is beautiful. I haven't seen your dad but I am sure you look more like you mother."

"Really. I think I look more like my dad. I just have my mother's eyes, but if you think I look like a sixty year old woman then...." He walked ahead of her imitating his mother in high heels.

Petal laughed hard and followed him to the buffet.

As they walked around the buffet picking an assortment of finger foods Petal asked Malik a question she had been meaning to ask since they were driving to the house.

"How come you haven't seen your parents in such a long time?"

Malik paused. "Huh, just some stuff with my old man."

"Cling, cling, cling. Ladies and gentleman I would like to propose a toast." A heavy man in a navy polo shirt started to speak. Petal guessed that he was Malik's father. Wow they looked alike in many ways.

"I would like you to all join me in wishing my lovely wife, Mrs. Rosina Moodley a very happy birthday. Rosina you have been for thirty five years, the best partner and I am so thankful that you were born. I know you do not like the birthday song. But come on here next to me." Rosina shook her head and blushed as she came to stand next to her husband. He kissed her on the cheek and held her hand. "Everybody please raise your glasses and say salut." And everyone repeated after him, "Salut!" They cheered and clapped. A group of people went over for hugs and kisses and birthday wishes.

There rest of the party was spent having small talk with different people and Malik introducing Petal to family friends and relatives. Sarita was not there, Petal had hoped to meet her. The guests left slowly and Malik's father invited Malik for some whisky and cigars in his lounge.

"Good to see you son." He said as he crossed his legs on a brown leather sofa with an old fashioned in his hand. "Yes, it has been a while."

"How have you been?"

Malik knew that this was just an interrogation. He was not doing this because he wanted to chat or because he was really concerned about his son's well being. He knew that Malik did not smoke cigars or drink whisky.

"Still working in IT, still haven't considered completing that engineering degree. I am dating Petal, the lady that you met earlier. She is a lovely person."

His father swirled his glass and placed it on the arm rest.

"I see you still haven't changed your mind about the company?"

"No, I haven't. I am sorry dad but I do not want to run your company. I am happy where I am."

"I have put in a lot of hard work and energy into that company. That is the company that built this home and gave you your education and when I die, I want to know that my company, our company is in good hands and is still in the family."

"Dad we have discussed this before. I am not having this discussion right now." He tried really hard to contain himself.

"Fine then, you do not want my company. So tell me about this Petal girl, will you two be getting married and making us some grandchildren anytime soon. Your mother and I are not getting any younger."

"Dad, we will see where things go."

"You boys don't know what it is to be a man. You know when...." "Dad I am not having this discussion with you right now." Malik got up and left the room.

He rushed down the stairs and his mother saw him coming down. She was sitting on the sofa with Petal and she go up and went to him. "Honey, are you alright?"

"Yes, I am good ma, we just have to get going."

"Alright then." She hugged him and spoke in his ear. "Honey, just remember that we are just concerned about you and we want the best for you. We want to know that everything that we worked so hard for will not go to waste. Just understand where your father is coming from please honey. (She glanced over at Petal and saw that she was looking at the TV) We just want you to be happy and don't get me wrong but, Petal, are you two serious? Look honey it is nice to get together with a pretty girl for some fun while you are young but you need to start going for women you consider having a future with."

Malik looked appalled. "And what would make you think that I wouldn't consider having a future with Petal? She is beautiful and she is smart and she has character. She is not...."

"Shhh. (His mother gestured for him to lower his volume and glanced over at Petal quickly) Malik, she is nice but really. She is not ... eh. She is just not for you. Think about the future."

Malik could not believe what his mother was saying.

"Mom. I am grateful for everything that you and dad did for me. You made sure that I was an independent and strong individual. Which is why I cannot let you choose a life for me even though I love and respect you. I love Petal and that's it." He walked past his mother and went to the sofa where Petal was sitting. "You ready?" he said and she got up and after saying goodbye to his mother they left.

Petal noticed that Malik was unsettled the whole drive from his parents'. She did not say anything until he stopped outside her apartment building.

"Are you O.K? You seem a bit down."

He looked over at her, his hazel eyes distressed.

"I love you Petal. I want you to know that."

Petal frowned. Neither of them had said that to each other.

"I love you too." She almost whispered."

He leaned towards her and kissed her softly.

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