Like Father, Like Son

A Biography Not Entirely Focused On Myself

My parents, both immigrants from Nigeria, have learned a lot about overcoming obstacles.

I’ve always tried to write. “Tried” was the keyword. Just as any other young, adventurous, and misguided adolescent would do, I constantly allowed my curiosity to sway me into experiencing all the different things that life had to offer. One day I was telling my mom that I wanted to be a comedian, and then the next day I was telling her that I wanted to be an author. That was the beauty of it all: I was endlessly searching for something new to love and cherish without ever considering any of the obstacles or potential consequences that could come with it.

“Why don’t you try to write a book?” my dad said to me. On a few occasions, my dad and I would find ourselves alone together in some of the most random places. Whether it was in our kitchen on a school morning, at his office after school, or on the way home from a basketball game, the two of us seemed like an oddly-perfect pair of best friends that consisted of an eight-year-old first generation Nigerian American and his middle aged Nigerian father.

My dad was always a stone-cold realist on the outside but a compassionate lover on the inside. He would constantly remind me of how important books were. He said that they were “a way to become smarter”, yet as a child I wasn’t so capable of understanding. Anyways, I would read those books as a way to appeal to my dad. I adored my father’s approval more than anyone else’s, so I began to constantly bring books home, reading them from front to back in a matter of hours, knowing that I would, in result, make my dad happy.

My Mom always called me “GQ” growing up, because I always walked around with some sort of “ confident swagger”.

I never looked up or even answered my dad whenever he would ask me about writing books. It wasn’t that I resented the question, but instead, I felt as if by him inquiring about me writing a book was some sort of insult towards my creative thinking ability. He knew that I loved rainy days for the simple fact that I could just stay inside and read and how I would always practice writing poems and short stories to better myself as an aspiring author, but he didn’t know that I had already started my own novels, creating my own characters with complex and ever-changing personalities. I remember those nights–the ones filled with dreamy envisions of the poetic hero I could, maybe one day, turn out to be.

Ivana, Grandma, Nicole, Patrick, Uncle Chris, and then Me -wearing red on red clothes, free of care.

“Daddy!” I shouted excitedly as my dad made his daily arrival back home from work. It was around nine o’clock, and I had already finished my homework and had dinner. “I want you to read this book I wrote.” I had finally finished. It was about seventy-three pages long on Microsoft Word, and consisted of thirteen chapters–something I was extremely proud of as an eight-year-old. After eating the bowl-full of home-cooked spaghetti my grandma always prepared on Tuesdays, my dad sat down on the torn, leather office chair at the computer desk and began to read. I waited anxiously, struggling to read his facial expressions for any hint or indicator to whether or not he enjoyed what he was reading.

“Ah,” he said,

“Keep writing.”

I knew my dad was only letting me down easy. Though he was a stern man, he was not cruel and knew not to hurt such a fragile child’s ambition. Years later and now I’m a college student at the University of Georgia tasked with writing a biography about myself. My only guess as to why I’ve written so much about my dad instead, in what’s supposed to be my own personal biography, is that after all the years spent arguing and disagreeing with him, I have come to realize that I really have become just like my father. “Like Father, Like Son,” they always said. Whoever “they” was, I’m sure they’ve travelled through a similar path.

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