Tuesday, September 25, 2007

family

My sister and her new hub are coming to stay on Saturday. Their forthcoming visit has set me thinking about all sorts of things to do with siblings and location and family etc. (I'm a bit cautious about mentioning family members on the blog in case they suddenly discover it and get all sensitive or something.) Anyhow...

I think I mentioned in passing how, once upon a time, after a 20 year estrangement I saw my father in Sierra Leone again.

As it happens - finding him was a fairly easy task. First I went into the Sierra Leonean High Commission in London, sat in the waiting area for a while, told them what I was there for and was ushered into an office. The conversation went a bit like this:

Me: 'I'm looking for my father'

Large Official: 'What's his name?'

Me: 'MBD'

A ripple of frowns, then the large official turns round and bellows round the office: 'Anyone here know MDB?'

Everyone shakes their heads.

Large Official: 'No. Sorry no one has ever heard of him'

I smile politely and leave.

At the time, I was sharing a nice woody house in West Norwood with a couple of lodgers and a live-in Polish landlord. It was nearly Christmas and I'd told them what I was doing. The Polish landlord suddenly became more obsessed about the search than I was.

'Directory enquiries!' He urged and snatched up the phone.

In five minutes he presented me with 2 numbers. There were only 2 MBDs in the whole of Freetown.

A bit shakily, I sat down and rang the first number. A small boy answered.

Me: 'I'd like to speak to MBD'

The phone dropped and the boy ran off - back through time, shouting 'Daddy, Daddy!'

A man came to the phone. My heart stopped beating

'Hello' the deep voice said.

Hello I said, 'It's Me, Barbee Surname'

There was silence. Then a rapid: 'Oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God'

Across the room the Polish landlord and other house inhabitants eyed me inquisitively. I gripped the phone and hoped my father wasn't going to have a heart attack there and then. Then the rush of questions: 'How is your sister? How is your mother - when are you coming here?'

So it was a while and a bit after this I went to Sierra Leone to see my father again (I may post about that sometime.) Intriguingly - when I did see him again - he knew that I'd been into the High Commission in London to look for him.

It was a trip that my sister never made. A pity. Our father died a few years later.

****
Recently my sister has been delving into family trees and the like - history, people, location, connectedness, places. She found out a whole heap of things that none of us ever knew about my father - another family in Liberia - even half sisters with the same names as us!

Another discovery was finding that we have another older, half brother in the UK.
My mum and my dad met at Edinburgh University in the late 50s. Before my mum, my dad had a brief fling with a young woman. When she announced her pregnancy he denied the baby was anything to do with him and never ever saw him. So our half-brother grew up with no contact with his father.

But now my sister has met our new brother and his family and everything.

And weirdly in photos - he looks a bit like me....

4 comments:

potdoll said...

wow - what a story! would love to hear more...

far away said...

Ta Pot.

Probably will sooner or later..

Pillock said...

Wow! More, please.

Elinor said...

Whoa! That's amazing. if you put it in a script, people would say no, it's not true to life but it is!

Please tell us more if you can.