When I met my father several years after he had left, he remembered that I once wrote him a letter and signed it “with love and honour”. He said it meant a lot to him. I used to write a lot of letters. I was a letter writer to the extreme. A bygone thing. I think I got that from him. He used to write letters with promises of trips around the world when we lived apart. He was in London with my sister and his other family and we were in Imo State, Nigeria. In his letters he often said that we would all go to Rome as a family. Together. I believed him. Rome was the dream. Everytime I watched Roman Holiday which starred Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, I thought about those letters. Rome was a figment of my developing imagination. I now wonder if he wrote similar letters to his other family. The divided sandcastle palace of the mind he built didn’t have room for all to board, but Barrister A.B.C had a way with words that drew people to him. My sister once likened him to the character of Arthur Daley in Minder, played by George Cole. I can kinda see that. A bit of Del Boy too. He was charismatic and believable. A charmer. Charmed my mother with enchanted promises. Till the spell wore off and the aftermath of the devestation of a life was visible.
They say romance is a thing of the past. I don’t believe that. As long as there are still romantics. The world today is not as kind a place for romantics, if it ever was. Letter writing was once the ultimate stage of romance. I carried on writing letters through my teenage years. To friends. To those who I hoped would look twice at me. Smitten hearted letters aplenty. Some got the measure of me, and some were wildly expressive. An outpouring. I wore my heart on my tear stained sleeve. I never signed off with love and honour to anyone else in the years since he reminded me of it. To love and honour, I understood what it meant, so I couldn’t cheapen it with nonchalance or play wreckless word games with hearts and minds on the line. I guess I have my father to thank for that in an ironic way. I found some other letters he wrote to people I know of. Elaborately worded. He was a letter writer to the extreme.