Marrying a single mother means marrying her children too. That was what I did when I married my wife. On top of that, there is that silent rule stating that I will have to assume the father figure, playing that role; what more that my wife’s ex is such a bastard who doesn’t lift a single finger to help out, let alone pay a single cent in alimony. That means, there are certain rules that I have to set for the kids, although the rules aren’t as tight and hard as I used to impose upon my children when they lived with me.
Two years ago, I was still living with my kids. And because my ex was hardly at home prior to the divorce, I was the one who tucked in my two younger ones, Farhan and Nisaa, and slept with them. I ate with them, entertained them as much as I could, watched Farhan do his homework or employ the elder sisters to help monitor him – I was always there for them.
But not anymore.
Both Farhan and Nisaa now live with my ex, Fazira with my other ex, while Hana goes to a university. Not only don’t we live beneath the same roof as we did up ’til two years ago, all of us hardly see each other. And when we do, it is always for not more than 4 hours – 3 being the maximum average.
During dinner tonight, I scolded my stepson Yunus. The blame isn’t entirely his – his food had arrived almost an hour late, and he fell asleep at the dinner table. When various attempts by my wife and her cousin to wake him up failed, I sounded the aggressive voice – that woke him up, and got him to eat some. The wife tucked him in after that.
The wife was silent when she got back to our room. After asking several times, she related what was asked by Yunus to her:
“Why doesn’t Daddy like me? Why did he scold me?”
And all I could muster was that I apply the same rules to my kids.
I had nothing more to say.
Both my younger children asked me this question when we no longer live beneath the same roof:
“Don’t you love me anymore? Is that why you don’t live with us anymore?”
I can only hope that my elder daughters can understand why these things happen. They know what I went through – and I hope they can help me explain to their younger siblings.
I miss my kids. I miss waking up with them. I miss going to bed with them. I miss kissing them and hugging them at night before they go to sleep. I miss eating with them. I miss the sound of their voice and laughter. I miss holding them tight assuring them that they’re always safe with me.
Do they feel safe now that I am no longer around?
Every time I eat something nice at home, I wonder what were they eating. Who’s feeding them? Am I eating something better than they?
I always miss seeing them when I come home; and I often wonder if they still miss and think of me?
And there I was, lying next to my wife, looking at her crying, thinking of what Yunus had asked her, while I shed a drop of tear from the eye that was covered by the pillowcase.
And it’s never easy.