The sins of the father

I sat in a court room today, for a brief moment, and listened to lawyers debate about whether my father was legitimately my father. My birth certificate was produced and another one whereby my father legally recognized me, 19 years after my birth and one year before his death. Respecting the rules of the court, I could not stand and say anything. I could not express my disbelief that this was still an issue, almost 20 years after his passing. I say disbelief, because I wasn’t angry. That anger had long been felt and expressed the first time I faced this situation. It was in another court, 12 years ago, when another lawyer referred to me as my father’s alleged child. At the time, the audacity of the man of law who said it shook me and caused an inexplicable anguish.
My disbelief today however, quickly turned into reflection. Who do I blame for this? The ‘other side’, which has evidently ran out of arguments, is using this card to further their motive. Morally, I will say hands down, it is wrong. But it is a card which is on the table for them to deal, so can I truly blame them? The difference between my court room experience in 2007 and today, is that I wasn’t a parent then. My definition of ‘me’ has changed since becoming a mother, and with that, my reflection led me to thinking about the sins our parents commit and how, we, their children, somehow, without fail, always end up paying for it.
Allow me to elaborate.
Most parents feel they have a sense of duty to provide for their children. A home, education, health and happiness. All these are part and parcel of parental duties and rightly so. There is nothing wrong in doing what needs to be done to ensure that your family has everything they need. The problem lies when we make reckless decisions and pin it on ‘providing for our family’ as the reason. I say reckless, but some decisions are in many cases, far from reckless. They are calculating and intentional. The Godfather comes to mind, and so does The Sopranos. I remember when I first watches these movies and shows and was fascinated by how a man was able to sit down and play lovingly with his children before walking out the door for a hit.  How was a person able to do that? I understood then that the pursuit of wealth and power blurs our logic and we engage in ‘what needs to be done’ so that our own families are taken care of. But are they really? After watching the first two seasons of Narcos, I read up about Pablo Escobar’s kids and learned that they were exiled to foreign lands and had to take on different identities in order to simply exist. Their father’s immense wealth, acquired through criminal activities did nothing to spare them of a tarnished life. I don’t think they even saw a penny of it and had to receive financial assistance in order to survive. Ironically, they were not even born when he started. Is that fair?
We have seen it here too. Children of politicians and affluent business people have been targeted and slandered on social media. Personally, I feel strongly against it. The thing is though, the children are easy targets. They often know nothing about their parents’ involvement in whatever the allegations are. Sometimes they are misinformed, other times, ill-informed. It doesn’t matter which one it is, one way or another, hurting them or trying to hurt them is the only way others who feel they are victims, deal with their situation. My thoughts drifted for a while on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently set up here in Seychelles. Having been privy to a few cases which have been filed, I realise that many of the alleged victims are no longer with us and it is their sons and daughters and family members who came after who are seeking some form of justice. The ripple effects of our wrong-doings expand much further than what we tell ourselves in order to live with our conscience.
So, I ask again, who is to blame?
As parents we cannot go about our business hurting others, be it other family members, friends, strangers, colleagues, a community or even a nation and simply expect that these ‘others’ would or should somehow take the higher moral ground and spare our innocent ones the consequences of our sins. It is not the way the world works. Victims seldom forgive and most certainly never forget. The legacy we leave our children should go beyond properties and money in foreign banks but also goodness to others so that they too can reap the benefits.
Today, I walked away from that court and revisited thoughts about my father. His sins were not worthy of news headlines or social media slandering. I knew about them long before he died. I recalled mentioning it in his eulogy and informing the congregation who attended his funeral that he was not a perfect man but that I loved him anyway. In a way, as I write this, I once again embrace who he was – with all his many faults, some of which, since his death have provided material for those who feel that his decisions made them victims, to hurt me. I chose not to begrudge them. His questionable decisions, if one puts it that way, not only gave me life but also a good and loving life. As a parent myself today however, I am reminded that my decisions and actions I take will have an effect and an impact on how the world will view my children one day. It is my duty to them to always try and do what is right and be good to others. That responsibility lies solely on me.

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