Father, I Struggle.

Victor Daniel
7 min readJun 3, 2022


Life comes at you fast.

On one damp night, I’m sitting at the park at Sunnyvale Junction with Ashraph and my dad, waiting for our fish to absorb all the smoke it needs to become edible. Outside, a car screeches but not fast enough, so it flies right over the zebra crossing and gets stuck right at the middle, fucking up its bottom plate. Everything happens within seconds. The driver spends the rest of the night trying to wiggle himself and his Honda out of that situation. It didn’t matter what grand plans he had for that evening; that tiny mishap just redirected the trajectory of his night, and the domino effect may stretch over the following days.

Life really comes at you fast.

One evening in May, I received an invitation to the Force Criminal Investigation Department. I expected the invitation because I’d been in possession of a car that had become the subject of a criminal investigation. If you are reading this right now, I’m assuming that you know this part of the story. I cannot tell where the plot started from, but it was on the morning of April 19th, 2022 that my year went on a dramatic downward spiral, and even though I have managed to wade through the worst part of it, I haven’t quite stopped drowning.

“Wait, what?”

I was on my way from Bitchly’s house the morning I saw that post. There’d been a meeting, it lasted through the night, my friend was a fraud and my life was a lie. I’d known her for a couple of years, been friends with her for around half of that period, benefitted from her finances, and now had to defend or renounce that association in light of new revelations.

The judgment was swift — we were her friends so we had to be knowing accomplices. Suddenly, pictures of us, her known associates, littered the internet; but my own stood out conspicuously. I had posted a picture of myself posing with the 2009 Corolla she gifted me a year ago, and this picture quickly became the ultimate symbol of her friends’ complicity in her scheme. I’m no stranger to being the subject of controversy on the internet, but this time I was being accused of an actual crime.

The internet is at its meanest when you’re subjected to the judgment of strangers, because they do not know you and have no obligation to treat you as a human being. I wasn’t thinking so much about myself, because I have learned to build enough mental resistance against adversities. But then my family?


Growing up, I’d seen how my father reacted to adversity. I hated it. I hated how he would let himself get physically worn down by a problem, and how much toll it took on his health. I hated that he could not protect me from the knowledge of what he was going through, so I groomed myself to process my struggles differently. Yes, I’m going through shit, but no, it’s not your problem. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m strong enough to deal, and I will come out of it alive.

Contrary to what you may have assumed about me, I don’t share a tight-knitted kinship with my nuclear family. I’m the one who doesn’t call home very often and I keep them as far away from my business as possible. It also doesn’t help that I’d stopped going to church and picked up social vices that don’t represent the values we were raised in.

But that midnight, I sent a message to the WhatsApp group informing them about what had happened and about my decision to let go of the car as a form of reparation.

On the day I was given that car last year, I called my father and told him. It was a gift I considered expensive enough to give an account of to my parents, even though I’d become independent for a while. He had interrogated me on the motive behind someone gifting me a whole ass car. He had taken her name, and alongside my (step)mom, done a background check on the legitimacy of this person’s public persona. It checked out. She had a visible business footprint, and reputable media platforms had flattering pieces about her. It all checked out, then suddenly it didn’t.

So when what had happened, happened, and that photo of me standing next to the car became the subject of a Twitter mob, I let them know about it, and they wrapped themselves around me in a warm, fuzzy embrace.

Righteous indignation.

Everyone is perfect in hindsight. The righteousness of the mob is the fuel that stimulates their treatment of you. You should have been perfect. You should have known. You should have said no to the gifts. You should have called her out when she had that problem with that person. You should have had the clairvoyance to make calculated judgments on matters relating to friendship. You should have refused to be friends with her.

It’s easy to lack introspection when you’re one of the mob. The accusatory compass isn’t pointing at you, so you develop a sense of moral superiority that makes you comfortable enough to pass judgment without nuance. Without giving yourself the room to ask yourself if you could have done any better when put under the same circumstances.

Fair game.

I understand the psychology behind being part of the mob when the subject is someone with whom you have had a fallout. I saw certain people’s comments about her and as much as I felt a vicarious shame, I understood that she treated certain people horribly too. So it’s fair game. I and Kosi don’t like ourselves much, so whatever he said about me during the pendency of this debacle, I understood too. I may not have acted the same way in similar situations, but I cannot put the burden of decency upon people who have legitimate angst.

Father, I struggle.

I struggle under the weight of the standards I hold myself to. I let myself suffer the consequences of the wrong choices I make. I’ve let myself go through the humiliation of the past month believing that it’s the price I have to pay for wrong association.

I’ve asked myself some of the hard questions, like if I would have been so available to be friends with her if she didn’t have as much bread as she did. Like if there was any moment I could have stopped to think about the legitimacy of her money but didn’t. How strong are my principles, and how much did I compromise myself in being friends with her?

I’d decided that it was best to sell the car and give all of the proceeds to some of the victims of her scam. On the day I gave up the car to the sales agent, I was on my way back home when the famous Abuja closing-time rain started. Boy was I drenched. That was my karma, I told myself.

There have been nights I found myself shivering from anxiety. Nights I stayed up but away from my phone because I knew that I couldn’t afford to go through another torturous trip down the newsfeed. I’ve had nights I had to smoke more than I would, and drink things that I wouldn’t, because they were the only things that offered me a chance to rest.

I have now come to be more understanding of my father, who has had to go through great difficulties in life, losing 4 children and a wife and still having to raise another family all over again; pulling all of that weight well past his prime while dealing with more than I’m having to deal with right now. He did crack, but he didn’t break.

I have spent the last month shrinking away from association because it’s the way I know best to deal with the hole I’m in. The fewer people I have to meet, the better for me. I let myself understand fair criticism from friends who say I should have known better. I have enough empathy to understand the agony of all victims personally affected by this scam, and I force myself to understand statements made out of genuine hurt. But I struggle to forgive the acquaintances who made (or supported) comments alluding that her associates should go to jail, even when all evidence exonerates us from the notion that we actively participated in the scheme. I struggle to forgive the sweeping excitement with which I was condemned by people who I had personal relationships with. I hold these grudges dearly, and I would cherish every chance I get to shrink further away from the judgment of these people. I hope they understand when I clear house.

I must recognize the warmth of friends and strangers who stretched their hands at me in good thoughts during the heat of April 19. People who believed me when they didn’t have to, who reached out to me and defended me by proxy. Sometimes it’s very lonely at night when I have to helplessly watch my mind wander far into the dangerous depths of anxiety.

I hear that I’m being harder on myself than I’m culpable for, but I have not been able to clear myself enough to live life like I used to. I want to be eaten from inside out until I’m totally consumed by it, then I can start to rise again on my own terms. But while all of this is happening to me I’d like to spend my long free days in bed, being in the zone. I hope that life moves on without me. I’ll catch on later, in my own time.

A lot of times I don’t have the motivation to engage people as they want me to. All the time though, I have to wear the cloak of strength because I have a personal responsibility to myself and everyone I love to stay unbroken. I recognize that everything is finite — good and bad times. I recognize that I must not feel entitled to an interminable period of happiness; that sadness is as temporary as joy and I have an entire lifetime to enjoy both. I recognize that there’s a depth in adversity that pulls you back to your core.

I recognize that it’s now too late for me to live ordinarily; that I will always be in close proximity to the center of the storm. I will just learn to swim better. I will turn things around very slowly, and everything that’s mine will eventually come back to me.

But right now, father, I struggle.



Victor Daniel

Humour, social criticism, fiction, and reflection. Stories in Zikoko, Brittle Paper, Lolwe, Afrocritiks, & more. Newsletter: https://whichwayshome.substack.com/