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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8. Chapter 8

Maria was standing over the stove frying chicken livers and boiling some potatoes.

"Almost finish bebe. I make you nice food eh."

Petal sat on a wooden stool with the baby suckling on its bottle in her arms. They were in a four room house about a kilometre from the bus stop. The windows were small and did not let in much light so the door was left open. The kitchen table was covered in a floral plastic cover which desperately needed replacing.

Maria was hired to help around the house when Petal's parents were still happily married. She had taken care of Fana as a baby and Petal knew her until she was about six or seven. She said that she had been expecting Petal because she had dreamt that they would run into each other today.

"My dream it show me that you be lost here in section D. It show me you have blue hair too." She chuckled.

"I must have gotten on the wrong bus." Said Petal. She vaguely remembered growing up with Maria around. All she could remember was that she liked to tickle her belly and always made her a little cup of tea whenever she made tea for herself. When Maria came running and waving at the mini flea market Petal had a good mind to run in the opposite direction but she figured that maybe this woman could tell her which bus to take to get home and where she could get something decent to eat. When the woman began to talk about Nomu and her little boy and little girl, Petal decided that it was safe to talk to the woman who knew her mother and her brother. The woman explained that she used to live with them for years. When she mentioned that her name was Maria, Petal started to understand why the woman's face had looked so familiar.

The home cooked meal of rice, chicken liver and potatoes was very simple but very good. The baby was asleep as Petal and Maria ate. "Where is your mada? I miss her she was nice lady."

Petal looked at her plate and then swallowed a mouthful of potato. "She is not very well Maria."

"Is that why I have bad dream of Nomu in deep hole? "She paused for a moment to shake her head and then resumed eating.

"I want you to meet somebody bebe, I feel bad tings coming. So you eat then we go O.K."

This sounded like some voodoo medium stuff that Petal did not believe in and did not want to get involved in. "I will be O.K Maria, no need to go and see anybody."

"Bebe I see some dark tings around you?"

This was beginning to freak Petal out. She had been a very dedicated Sunday school student when she was still in primary school and she remembered being told to stay away from mediums and the like. It was somewhere in the bible, although she was not sure she quite believed the bible its entirety. Some parts yes but some parts hmmm.... What had she gotten herself into? Now she was in some middle aged woman's house in the middle of "the home of the derelicts" and she was about to meet a witch or wizard.

Was it lack of education? It always seemed that it was the poorer and less educated groups of people who were more superstitious and likely to fall victim to charismatic pastors, healers and saviours who were only interested in exploiting desperate people's trust. And yet, the affluent usually had no faith or belief at all in anything but themselves - it was their wealth, their brains and their skills which got them the very best in life. Petal was on the fence though, she believed that certain things were beyond man's control and God was behind all the science of life and the world as we know it. However, she also believed that religions could make people impractical and leave their heads in the clouds. She had heard of Christians who refused medical attention because they believed that they were healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This made no sense to Petal because surely these type of Christians would realise that God created human beings to understand life and medicine and heal others. The doctor's brain and skill was given to him by God right?

There had been experiences in Petal's life that made her feel that God was there and he was at work when nobody knew where and how. One day when she was late for an exam in college she missed the bus by a few seconds. Some minutes later she passed the same bus that she missed involved in a terrible accident - some people would call that luck, she called it a miracle. But there were many experiences in her life that left her questioning if God really did exist, or was he on vacation or maybe even tired of her never ending problems. "Practice gratitude", that was what always popped into her mind whenever she started feeling pity for herself or angry at life.

How though? Was she supposed to be grateful that mommy was sick in prison, that Fana had become his evil father's minion, or that she had been struggling to find a job for so long regardless of her tertiary qualification and had just been fired without explanation from a job that did not even need a high school certificate let alone a diploma? Her thoughts upset her and she started to feel tears fill up in her eyes. She pulled them back quickly and got up with her plate in her hand.

Maria refused when Petal offered to do the dishes, she had also refused when Petal wanted to leave saying that she wanted her to see somebody.

"I see darkness bebe, I see darkness like a curse."

"Maria, I don't mean to be disrespectful but I do not think your friend can fix me or my problems. Don't worry about me I will be fine."

"Huh, (Maria clapped once and put her hands on her hips), I try to find someone to help with this. You modern people think you know everyting. You no understand tings of the spirit."

"Maria please, I need to go. Tell me which bus I need to get and where the bus stop is."

"No!"

What? Did she just refuse to tell Petal how to get home? What was wrong with the people in this place?

"Your mada was very nice lady and I will help her and do you favour O.K, so I will take you to see somebody."

Why did she keep insisting?

"Thank you Maria but I really really have to go." Petal immediately rushed to the door and ran out of the house and kept running without looking back.

There were burst sewage pipes and litter that Petal had to jump over while holding her breath. She noticed faces staring at her in the streets. There were thin dogs eating from dumps and children playing barefoot on the street. It was such a contrast to where she lived and obviously and even bigger contrast to where Malik lived, and an even bigger bigger contrast to where Malik's parents lived. Life was such a funny thing; there were things like rank, social class and unfairness and yet everyone was born precious and unique, with the right and the ability to reach their full potential.

She was thinking of going to the bus stop that she had gotten off at but wondered how she was going to avoid the ginger root woman. She decided to just ignore her and act as if nothing had happened, get on any bus that came along and ask for assistance from the driver. The bus was probably going to end up at the main terminus anyway where she could get a bus to take her home.

Her apartment was quiet. She got in and dumped herself on the bed. What a crazy day this had been. She wondered what Maria's witch or wizard friend was going to say or do. Why did Maria keep insisting on taking her to this person? She fell asleep fully clothed without even realising it. It started raining outside; it grew dark and windy and then there was a drizzle. It was pouring very hard when Petal had a very strange dream:

Petal was dressed in all black - black jeans, black boots, a black t-shirt and a black jacket. She was running, sprinting actually with all her energy but she was not getting anywhere. She was on an empty road in the middle of the night. It was dim. She kept running with desperation and exhaustion all over her face. Malik appeared about six metres from her. He stood facing her. He was dressed in a white Punjabi, looking at her questioningly, he reached out his right hand to her and then returned it to his side and walked away. Petal fell abruptly to the ground, face hitting the concrete. As she pressed her palms into the ground to lift herself up, she felt something in her mouth. It was mouldy and musky and like a lemony ginger. She spat it out, disgusted. She looked up to see her primary school teacher looking down at her disapprovingly. Her arms were crossed and she was shaking her head. Suddenly they were in a classroom. The teacher turned into mommy, she came right to Petal sitting at a small desk and hugged her and then she kissed her gently on the lips. Petal was on a mountain top on picnic blanket and wearing a polka dotted red dress. Her mother's gentle kiss and embrace became more intense and the next thing she knew she was in full lip lock with a man. While kissing this man she saw Malik just as he reached the mountain top. He was tired and sweaty he was even sweating from his eyes, but no, they were tears, he was crying. He looked so devastated. She pulled away from the man she was kissing and pushed him away - it was Vector! She ran to Malik but before she could reach him and apologise he fell backwards and down the mountain. She leaped after him and before they could reach the ground... her eyes opened.

"What on earth was that!" thought Petal as she sat up. The apartment was dark and there was a breeze coming in through the bedroom window. She went to close the widow and noticed that it was raining, no wonder, she always slept like she was dead when it rained. Only she did not really sleep like she was dead, her mind was busy the whole time. She actually felt even more exhausted. What was the time anyway? It was 9:13PM and Petal realised that she had not updated Hunn and Malik on how the day at court had been. Hunn had been super supportive from the beginning, calling Petal and texting her and meeting with her whenever they could both fit it in their schedules. Vector had also been quite the shoulder to lean on in a non-sentimental kind of way. But now there was Malik. She did not know him as long as she had known Vector but he had good intentions, besides, the only way that they could actually get to know each other better and strengthen the relationship was by actually being together and getting to know each other better. She wondered if there was a way that she could still be close friends with Vector without negatively affecting his relationship with Lilo or her relationship with Malik. She looked at her phone: some messages from the running club group chat about a charity race, some insurance marketing message, a message from her service provider, two missed calls from Hunn, one missed call from a private number and three missed calls from Malik.

She decided to send a short message to both Hunn and Malik: "Hey. Long day, court was productive. Dosed off, will fill you in tomorrow." Send.

Her phone rang just two seconds after, but it was not Hunn nor Malik. It was a private number.

"Petal Hallo?"

"Hi Petal it is Lilo."

"Oh, why the private number?"

"I am using my work phone. Just gathering my things. Hey I know it has been crazy on your side, on my side as well. We haven't had a chance to see each other. I am leaving tomorrow and I would like to see you before I go. I do not think that I will have much time before my flight so maybe we can go to the airport together?"

"Oh my goodness, so you decided to go on the mission trip?"

"Yes! I have to.... It's just one of those things you know. You have to do them otherwise you will regret it when you are older."

"Wow, so how long will you be gone... and how does Vector feel about this?"

"Huh, Vector is not very happy but he is supportive. I agreed to six months but it could be extended. It really depends on the progress. Vector and I will just have to try long distance. I might be able to visit after six months."

"Wow. What time is your flight?"

"I have to be at the airport at seven in the morning so we can pick you up at around six-ish, maybe a little later, are you available? I know its short notice and I will understand if you will be busy."

"Yes of course. I will."

"Thanks! O.K then, see you tomorrow."

"Bye."

At 6:17AM Vector's red Volvo parked outside Petal's apartment building and he texted, "we're outside." Petal rushed to the car. Vector was driving and Lilo was sitting next to him. She looked fresh for someone who was up packing and doing last minute checks. She was wearing a turquoise blouse and a black jacket. Turquoise looked good on her. Her long braids were tied up in a high pony tail. She smiled and waved as Petal approached the car. Petal got into the back seat. Lilo reached out to her and gave her a warm hug. As they drove to the airport, Lilo was filling them in on where she was going and who she was supposed to meet at the airport on the other side. She explained what her pre departure briefing was like and how she met two other missionaries that she would be travelling with. She was very excited. Vector kept asking questions on safety, the living conditions, sanitation and if Lilo and the other missionaries were insured. He was obviously concerned and unsettled about her departure. They continued chatting about airports, strange cultures and different cuisines.

After the checking in, hugs and goodbyes Lilo disappeared to the boarding gate. Vector and Petal stood next to each other watching the space where she had disappeared from. She looked over at him. He looked so downcast. She touched his shoulder. "Hey. She'll be back." Vector smiled wryly. "Now I lost my friend and my girlfriend." He said. Petal frowned a little bit, "What do you mean, she'll be back and you will keep in touch... phone, email, Skype and even snail mail if necessary."

He looked right into Petal's eyes, "I mean that you and I haven't been as close and now Lilo is gone as well." Petal looked away from his gaze and put her hands in the front pockets of her jeans in a nervous reaction.

"We were not that close." She said finally after a long pause. "I mean (she continued), we were friends, we are friends, but not like best best buddies or kindred spirits."

"You were my best buddy Petal. I know now that I was not yours but you were mine." After he said that he turned around and walked away. Petal hurried after him.

"Wait Vector! (She stood in front of him, lines on her forehead), what do you mean. Don't make me a bad person here. We have known each other how long? And yes we are friends but we have never been all deep and sentimental. We are hangout buddies. Why are you being like this now?"

"Whatever Petal, you are so selfish. You made sure that we were never close beyond what you wanted. You are so selfish you did not even realise that our friendship was killing me so much because I loved you!"

Petal gasped. She ran her fingers through her blue hair and turned on the spot. Vector had disappeared. She looked around and saw him on the escalator heading towards the parking. She followed.

She got to the car and sat next to him. He had his hands on the steering wheel and was staring straight ahead.

Petal spoke first. "I am sorry Vec, but I am happy that you have Lilo now. She will be back and you will pick up where you left off...."

"Ya." Was all he said and he started the engine and drove off.

They rode in silence until they stopped outside Petal's apartment. When Vector did not speak Petal decided to say something. They could not end it like this.

"Vector I am sorry about... the past and all that went wrong with us (she looked down at her hands and fiddled with the bracelet she got at a crafts shop near a restaurant she had been to with Malik), I know you will miss Lilo and I hope that we can still be friends."

"Sure." Another one word response.

Petal exited the car and walked up to her apartment. While putting her key into the keyhole she felt a hand on her shoulder, "Petal." She turned around startled. Vector pulled her to him and kissed her deeply. Petal's heart was racing and she half resisted until she opened her eyes and noticed a man standing in the hallway. She turned to look at him. Malik stood frozen, betrayal and sadness all over his face.

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