When My Father Left Home

When I think of Americans, they don't strike me as people of a place, but rather people who have been granted access to things. The things aren't free, though. They'll have to strive to afford them because their country won't provide it for free. America seems so man-made to me. Sometimes it's like a great fiction novel that just turned out to be a true story.

I haven't had personal experience in America, but I have family there, especially from my mum's side. Two of her siblings live there with their families. My dad has lived there for fifteen years. Their stories, along with books, movies, documentaries, news, and etc. have informed my view on life in America.

Sometimes, when I tell people that my father left Ghana 15 years ago, they ask me if things have been challenging. As for financial constraints, we haven't had any. If we did, my parents hid it well. But my father leaving has taken its toll on me emotionally. He and I speak almost every day now that there's WhatsApp, but initially, he used to call 2-3 times a week. Still it is not the same as having him here. My dad has missed a lot since he left. I've had to complete junior and senior high without him. He isn't in any of my graduation pictures. Sometimes I even wonder who is going to walk me down the aisle if it comes to that.

Initially, my dad went to America because of work, but his plans changed when he got to America, and he's stayed in hopes of building a better life for all of us. When I was younger, many of my classmates thought I didn't have a father or that he had died. It hurt me because I knew I had a father who loved me very much. I had classmates who would share all sorts of theories with me about where my father was and what it will be when he comes back home. I've even had neighbors that I considered family ask me rude questions about my father's absence. People don't respect boundaries when it comes to these things.

I want to go and live with my dad sometimes, but only if my two sisters and mom can come too. I think about how weird it will be when we are all together again. I'm an adult now. Well, we all are. I know my dad misses home. He still uses photos of us when we were kids, even though he has recent ones of us. Fifteen years is no joke. I think what I resent the most about his time away is that I do not understand it. There was a time when he wanted to leave everything and come back home, but we all understand what is at stake. People need to consider what or who they are leaving behind when they migrate. The advice I have for people who want to leave their country and go to America is this: I'm subjecting my view to my experience, so I'm not trying to generalise, but America is not home. I don't think anyone originates from the U.S., but lots of ppl are trying to belong there. Your family and friends are home. Your parents, siblings, cousins, childhood friends are home. Think about it for a second, and you'll have to come home to be present at important events like funerals, weddings, etc. You'll come because this is still home.

- Akosua