When I was seven, I had a flower
I knew not its name but its beauty was a wonder
I kept it potted in my room, hidden to all but myself, and its alluring petals had me staring at it hour after hour
It was the one thing in the whole wide world that I cared so much about
And my chest would rise with excitement when I took its beauty into my heart’s pouch

One day a friend came to visit
He saw my flower and suddenly became the botanist, started directing me on how to treat it, how best to keep it
This flower will die soon, he said, it needs a bit of sunlight
I was afraid the sun would scorch it, so I said to him, my love for it is enough to keep it alive, and I’m never letting my flower out of my sight
He shrugged and left me in my bliss
And little did I know that things were amiss
My flower, my beautiful flower, I lost it, oh how my world shattered, how I did shiver
When slowly, I watched it wither
I had lost the love of my life
But I had learnt my lesson, my love wasn’t strong enough, If I had shown it more love, it would have survived

When I was eleven, I had a bird
Beautiful and blue, elegant and cute
After my mama and my flower, it came only third
I was amazed at its beauty and would hold its gaze as it flapped its wings of freedom in its cage
It must have smiled at me a lot too
Cause I gave it care, I did soothe
Every day as I woke up, my first thought was to feed it
And every night as I went to sleep, I looked forward to the next day, just to see it

One day, a friend came around and I was glad
Until he said he thought the bird looked sad
He told me he saw sadness in its eyes
And I told him to make away with his lies
He must have wanted what I had
For why else would he land on that rocky pad
He added that the bird would die
If I did not allow it to lift to skies
To flap its wings truly freely in the wind
And blend with its own, and chirp and sing
It made me angry to hear that lot
My friend should die already and rot
Why could he not understand my path
My love for it was more than enough
It had me and needed no one else
Or at least that’s just what I felt
So the next day I woke up and searched its eyes
To see what sadness I could find
But it flapped and hopped and fidgeted and fluttered
It was happy, I thought, that was the end of the matter

A few days later I found it dead
Lying peacefully in its cage, it can’t be, I said
Was it really true that it needed its kind
That friendship was what it needed to find
That couldn’t have been it
I was the only friend it ever needed and that was it
With tears in my eyes and warmth in my heart I dug its pit
My love was once more lost again
And one more time, I knew true pain

When I was thirty, I had a daughter
Fair as the setting sun, a true princess of Afrika
What joy she brought, I named her Sharika
And once again I had found my love
This time, things would be different, and not for naught
She laughed and played hearing Daddy’s voice
I said, hey my love, be wary of boys
I gave her everything she needed
I spoiled her, I made her know she was needed
Every night before I slept I prayed
Like my flower and my bird, she would not abandon me one day

Soon enough the trials rose like the sun at dawn
I was angry when I saw her on the lawn
She had everything she wanted in my house
I saw no need for her to be out
So I told her, little princess, do not step outside
Don’t you know you are my life
I made her sorry with the back of my palm
It had to be done, for I wouldn’t forgive myself if she came to harm
Just then, I had my friend walk in
What was it again, I couldn’t help but think
This time he shook his head, said not a word
With tears he turned and out he went
Though he spoke not, I knew what was on his mind
But I would rather not hear it, so I never did mind
She was my daughter and I loved her and that was all that mattered
What more could I give, wasn’t I a good father

One day I woke up to find no daughter
She left a note in the side drawer
I shook as I read and silently wept
For my daughter had left while her father slept
Once more, my love was not enough
For she had to leave and find her own
But now I know
Yes I know what my friend tried to tell me a long time ago
To love, one must know
when and how to let go



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