I woke early, shaved, taken a cold shower, then with a glass of fruit juice and some crackers, I occupied my favorite chair before the television. It was to be a twenty–overs cricket match, meaning excitement non-stop. The channel messaged that the match would be televised thirty minutes later because they were wishing a happy Father’s Day to all fathers. Also, the phone lines were opened for persons to call in and have their say about us fathers. I seized the opportunity to slice some cheese and tomatoes to go with the crackers, but all the while half my mind listened to the callers. Most of the callers spoke ill of fathers. I found my chewing accelerating as my anger increased. Even the female moderator joined in the verbal father-thrashing. Eventually, I dialed that call-in program:
“Good morning, my dear. Thank you so much for reminding us fathers that today is Father’s Day. Usually, on Mother’s day my wife receives a special breakfast in bed. Here I am, on Father’s Day, eating crackers with cheese and tomatoes—put together by yours truly. My wife is still in bed.”
“Be honest with yourself. Do you deserve better treatment?” the moderator challenged.
“Certainly! I have made that clear to my wife on several occasions when the pain from her hardheartedness got to me. I am now immune to her indifferent attitude towards my need for the occasional pampering. Note, miss, that our children never regard such abuse of daddy as neglect on their mother’s part, because she gets up each school day to prepare breakfast for the family. Somehow, dads are viewed as heartless law-givers, against whom the rest of the family must take a stand, as if we had used the women against their will and are consequently doomed by law to compensate and protect the injured parties. There’s also this expectation that fathers must devote all, even their time and attention, strictly to concerns deemed important by wives. For example, wives feel offended when politics and other serious matters engage some of their men’s attention, unconscious of the fact that their husbands stand on the front line, facing God and Government on their families’ behalf.”
“Okay, sir, you’ve…” the Moderator intercepted.
“Please do not interrupt me! I am speaking on behalf of all fathers. It’s our day, but for over ten minutes you women were getting off over belittling us fathers. You cheered when the implementation of new laws reduced the authority of men over their wives and children, because you relentlessly seek to sit on our thrones as heads of the homes. Don’t you women recognize that the source of most of your complaints this morning stem from the very implementation of those laws, which seem determined to make sissies out of men?”
“Do you have a clue concerning the tempering influence men wielded over the vain thoughts and deeds of women before men lost their authority to the new laws? You have cheered your self-destruction; and the increased rate of Earth’s destruction.”
“Other than anger, you seldom see outward emotional upheavals from fathers, like the tears women love to shed in the presence of others, generally to aid the achievement of their objectives. Whereas men hate crying, and when it overpowers us we prefer not to be seen that way. That trait in most men, I suspect, fools women into thinking that little or no love radiates from the hearts of their men. Wrong!”
“Why do you think we generally die before our wives? We destroy our bodies from the tears we shed internally. Pull back for a while and begin to study your men from the inside.”
When I came off the line there was a flood of calls from fathers eager to support what I’d just said. Some requested clarification concerning something or the other that I’d said, then that women poked in and the program turned into one hot debate. I forgot that I was really there for cricket, until a reminder was given by the moderator. And when the cricket started, I became lost to the goings-on about me. I was there batting, bowling, fielding, umpiring, cheering…
At about four ‘o’ clock in the afternoon, my telephone rang.
“Hello,” I greeted.
“Have you received a Father’s Day special meal as yet?” a purring female voice asked.
“Who wants to know?” I responded, thinking that the voice sounded vaguely familiar.
“Someone who heard you cry from inside today and who cried outwardly for you.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“The best restaurant in the city. Let’s have a splurge,” she said and giggled like a tease.
I’d never had an extramarital affair, but in those few seconds I reviewed my life with my wife, and found it wanting. My mind flashed to that saucy moderator.
“When and where?” I inquired, trying to sound casual against a galloping heart.
I arrived at the rendezvous and my wife, looking like Miss Universe, hugged me and kissed me passionately. When she came up for air, she said, “I heard you on the call-in program. I didn’t realize how much you were hurting until you agreed to meet with a woman you didn’t even know!”
I stood there stiff with embarrassment, awash with disappointment.