My son, Sam is a lunatic.
He roams the streets, talking to himself, feeding from dustbins and spending his nights under the bridges of Lagos.
Sometimes, when I know where he is, I would go to give him food because mad or not, he is still my son but I can never take him home again.
As a mother, I have decided to let him go.
I had Sam when I was barely out of my teens; he is the son of a man I met briefly on my way to school one day. Sam’s father is dead now but then, he was quite a notable personality. If I mention his name, you would remember him. I was never meant to get pregnant or have any child for a man who already had four wives in Lagos.
I wanted a sponsor for my education, Chief, that is Sam’s father, wanted a plaything. I got pregnant, I wanted to abort it; it failed twice.
How? You’ve never heard of failed abortion before? I bled profusely and yet the fetus did not drop. The second attempt was expired drugs…if you can’t go to the right places to abort a baby, you will encounter quacks and if you don’t lose your life in the process, be thankful.
I didn’t try it a third time; I just accepted that maybe Sam was meant to be born. I told Chief, he said if the baby was a boy, he would accept him, he said he was ‘looking’ for a son. Sam came and I thought my life would be better.
It was war in chief’s house, Sam became the only son he had. The first son from one of Chief’s wives was autistic so Chief never regarded him as a son. All the others, 7 in all were girls, so when Sam was born, Chief was happy.
The other wives were vengeful, they were nasty to me and my son, so after Sam’s first birthday, I ran away with my son.
I went to Ibadan to live with my parents and raise my son. Thankfully Chief was sending money for our upkeep. When Sam got to SS1, Chief insisted on taking him back or else he would stop sending me money. He said Sam was now grown and could take care of himself in his house. We dragged this for some time but becauae even my parents supported Chief, I let Sam go.
Chief spoilt him and the other wives hated it. To be honest, I don’t think they did him any kind of fetish thing, Sam just lost his head with a father who over indulged him. He failed his WAEC and had to redo it the following year. In those days, whenever I visited, I saw my son had changed, he was even rude to me at one time and I knew it was because his father had spoilt him.
When he passed and gained admission to one of the private universities, his father promised him the moon.
At the university, he dabbled into drugs. I don’t know what type, I just know that by the time he was in his third year, he was addicted and out of control.
What did I do as a mother? I tried to counsel him, I told Chief to stop giving him money, I asked that he be sent back to Ibadan during his holidays so I could at least monitor him.
Haba you think I folded my arms? But Sam was already a big boy, he could manipulate his father and lie to me.
So, it really was no surprise to me when he was kicked out of school barely a few months into his final year. He failes a drug test and you know private schools dont play with drugs… that’s when his father called me to come take my son.
We thought that in Ibadan, he would have no access to drugs…he did, drug addiction is a terrible thing and to be honest, I didn’t know he should’ve been hospitalized. I just thought, let’s stop his drugs supply.
On the other hand, maybe if I had told a few people about his drug dependency, I would have got help but you know this sort of thing is a thing of shame; who wants their neighbours to know their child is on drugs?
So, I kept it hidden and he got worse. He must have got someone feeding him those drugs. He would steal my money and go do drugs…then one day, he went out of the house and never came back!
In this age of kidnapping, the first thing we thought of was that he must have been kidnapped. We asked people around, and there were a few who said they’d seen him. We found him the following day close to Challenge, he had no shoes on. He didn’t even recognize me. That’s when the real battle started.
I called his father and told him what happened. Chief came to meet us at home, he said Sam had lost his mind, that he was now a mental case. Of course, the first thing we did was take him to Alfa, as Muslims, it was the first place we thought we should send him…and in deed he came to his senses after intense prayers…but it didn’t last.
From there, people recommended places we could go; go to that pastor, take him to the mountain top, fast 40 days, give him food with no oil or pepper, lock him up in chains… I did all.
Sam would get better but drugs were still in his eyes, after maybe two months or so, he would go back to drugs again.
He would leave the house and after a few days I would go pick him up from the streets or under the bridge or bus stop.
Chief himself stepped in, he asked me to come to Lagos, that he would take him to the hospital at Yaba. He did, Sam would be well after a few months of treatment, then he would stop taking his drugs and be back on the streets. Sam used to trick me; he would pretend to be well, pretend to be taking his medicines, and when I think , ha, thank God he is getting well; he would steal something, phone, wristwatch, onetime he took a carton of indomie, tgen sell them off to buy drugs.
I have other children because I remarried in Ibadan but I abandoned them and moved to Lagos because of Sam. Even then, it was a bad case, cured today, trick us or sometimes run away and be mad tomorrow on the streets.
After sometime, I saw he was bent on destroying himself, and maybe that was one of the reasons his father suffered stroke and died.
These days, I still ask my house help to go check if Sam still hangs around his usual places, if they find him, they give him food, no money.
But many times, they wont see him. He is always on the move.
I have given him up for dead..My sister it’s the best I can do for him.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)