My grudge is a festering wound. It's been eating at me for ten years.
It flares and closes. Angry at times. More often quietly simmering. But always there.
Ten years ago, I announced my engagement. My father wasn't happy. He said: "It's fine to be friends with negroes, but I don't want any black grandchildren."
My heart stopped.
My heart stopped. I didn't know what to say.
Suddenly my childhood hero ceased to exist. He became a stranger by the same name. My hero died and l buried him.
I didn't see him again. I told him not to call. If I had kids one day, I wouldn't let him near. He obliged.
Years passed without a word. My engagement was cancelled. I became single. Met someone else. Got married.
"It's in the past. You should forgive and forget," my mother told me. But I couldn't do either.
I could not forgive because my father saw no wrong. And I could not forget because the world never let me.
I saw him in the middle-aged man at my favourite coffee shop. Could smell him the scent of coffee. Hear him in the rustle of paper.
If I saw an interracial couple on my way to work, or shopping, I thought of what could have been. Of the adorable children I never had. It enflamed my righteous anger. Each time, my chest felt tight with pain.
The route to work went past a playground. For years my stomach clenched with jealousy if I noticed parent with a mixed race child. I longed to be the one who laughed as she went down the slide. Or cheered her on. Or spun her round and round and round until she was dizzy.
She wasn't mine, but she could have been. I carried a sense of sad longing for the rest of such a day. My limbs felt heavy. I lingered in the staff kitchen, pondering my future with tea in hand.
I have a white family now. (Not that their colour matters.) And I don't feel jealous anymore. But sadness clings to me like an echo of the past, quieter and quieter with time.
Last month I saw two children playing tag with their grandfather. Afterwards he bought ice cream like mine used to when I was little.
My own children never had such a moment.
I took the kids for a forest walk at the weekend. The scent of pine transported me back to my childhood. To camping. To days when I still loved him.
He gave me much, my father. He played guitar as we sang songs round a camp fire. He taught me how to play. And now I play for my children.
He was always by my side when I was unwell, tirelessly reading chapter after chapter of whatever book I chose. I read to my children now.
He made maths fun. He demanded good grades, but helped me with my homework so I could always achieve them.
When no one else thought I could go to university, my father believed in me. Now I'm a mathematician. I couldn't live without the joy of numbers.
Ten punishing years. Gone in a flash.
I wait by the church where we agreed to meet. Neutral ground. A cold wind sends a shudder down my spine.
I see him. My heart flutters. His eyes are brimmed with tears. I, too, well up.
We clasp into a warm embrace, as father and child. My frozen world suddenly spins again.
He says: "I have waited for this moment for so long." And in his voice I can hear years of pain.
Ten years we suffered. Ten years we lost. Ten years... for what? For being right? For moral superiority?
Although he never apologised, I forgive. He sees nothing wrong, I still forgive. He doesn't want forgiveness, but I still forgive.
And finally my wound closes. My heart no longer festers - it is scarred. And though my father was wrong, I still love him.
I have forgiven him. But I will never forget him.
Never Forgive Or Forget by Steamgirl @steamgirlgame