I have a daughter who is over 18 years old. She does not know me as her father because I denied the pregnancy when I was young.
I met her mother back when we were in secondary school at Inter house sports activities involving our two schools. I was one of the athletes in my school but she was a prefect in her school and they had invited us to participate. The prefects were detailed to take care of visiting schools.
That’s how we started; I was I in SS2 while she was in SS1. We just exchanged numbers. I didn’t have a phone, so I gave her my mother’s phone number. She had a phone which she said her elder sister gave her, that’s how we communicated.
We soon discovered we had a mutual friend and that was how we began to use his place to meet.
I liked her, Vicky; she was smart, knew what she wanted in life and I was really proud to be her boyfriend. Well, we were also young and foolish too. We didn’t have much sense even though we thought we knew everything there was to know.
After a while, being in different schools, I began to hear stories that someone was toasting my girl. I was told that he was interested in Vicky and that she had been seen with him after school.
Our mutual friend, whose house we often met at, told me he didn’t think it was true but if I had doubts, I should ask her. When I asked her about it, she denied it, she said she wasn’t interested in the guy that he was just disturbing her.
She called one day to ask that I meet her at my friend’s place, our usual spot. She came with another friend of hers. When I saw her, I knew there was trouble.
She told me she was pregnant.
I said, ‘pregnant ke? How?’
I asked how because I thought we were careful. I mean, I never ejaculated inside, I always withdrew. That’s the way we had been doing it. We didn’t know about pills and little more about condoms. So, I was shocked when she said she was pregnant.
I was in my final year and preparing for my NECO at that time; so you can imagine the state of my confusion. I just told her it couldn’t be me that was responsible for it, after all, I had heard stories she was seeing another guy.
I remember the shock on her face, the look of disappointment and pain on her face when I told her I couldn’t be the one responsible for her pregnancy. She just broke down in tears crying that I had ruined her life, that I was the one responsible for the pregnancy and that I was a wicked soul for denying it.
See, truth be told, I was scared. Yes, I was having sex and all but I was just a kid. I didn’t know what else to do but run when I saw trouble. So, you can hardly blame me here. My parents were not rich but they were not poor either but I was in my final year and getting ready to write my school cert exams. I myself was totally unprepared for this pregnancy matter. I could not be 100% sure the pregnancy was mine!
I didn’t know how she was going to tell her parents. I didn’t ask. I just ran and I was determined to keep denying it; it just didn’t seem possible in my young mind that I could be responsible for a baby!
A few days later, a Saturday morning, around 9am; Vicky’s parents came with Vicky to my parents’ house to tell them that I had impregnated their daughter. I couldn’t even look at her, I mean Vicky. I couldn’t look at her face. You see, she is very fair and her face was red and swollen but I couldn’t bring myself to meet her eyes.
When I was called, I denied it. I saw the look of disappointment on my mother’s face and I was more determined to deny the pregnancy. I said I wasn’t responsible for it because it wasn’t only me that had been sleeping with her. When I said that, Vicky just broke down and cried some more.
See, I know this sounds callous; but at that time, I wasn’t thinking that hey, I was doing her bad, no, all I had in my head was she must have got pregnant from the other guy, even though I had no concrete proof that she was sleeping around. Secondly, I was just 17 myself and she was 16; so a child was not on my horizon. I was thinking of passing JAMB, passing NECOand WAEC, hanging with my boys and sneaking out to go and smoke and drink, chasing girls, then university. So, you see, a child was not part of it at all.
Anyway, when I told them; my parents and her parents, that I wasn’t responsible, my parents supported me but my mother said we should wait until the child was born. vicky’s mother on the other hand replied, ‘For our place, we no dey reject pikin, if you talk say the belle no bi your own, no wahala, o. We go raise am.”
That was all, and they left!
I heard months later that she gave birth to a daughter who was my spitting image. I heard from our mutual friend. I couldn’t tell my parents about it but I think a while later, after the child was born, my mother found out the child was my carbon copy. She wasn’t able to pursue that matter because she died shortly afterwards, maybe if she had been alive I wouldn’t be in this situation.
My path and Vicky’s never crossed, and I saw no need going back to claim a child I had said wasn’t mine. I finished university, went for my masters, moved abroad and got married to another woman. Many years after marriage and we have no children. Is this punishment against me? I don’t know.
I came back to Nigeria a few years ago for a visit and met with my friend who informed me I needed to see Vicky’s daughter.
I saw her, she was me! Anyone who sees us will know that she is my daughter.
But she wants nothing to do with me; I understand. Vicky wants nothing to do with me; I get that as well but you see, I can’t let go. I want my daughter in my life.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)