I was raised by my mother because I was abandoned by a selfish father. And let me even tell you what’s worse, I am my parent’s only child!
My father left my mum when I was about two years’ old. So I was raised by my mum; she was the one responsible for my education, my life in general. Now when I turned 15, I wanted to go live with my father; before then, he had been a shadowy figure in my life; he would visit on my birthdays and I won’t see him until the following year. In all of his visits, he never stayed beyond 30-40minutes max, he always seemed to be in a hurry to leave.
So why did I want to go and live with him? You know, I was a kid, I loved him all the same; he was my father, right?
I didn’t see anything wrong with him not wanting me to be with him, him not wanting to stay around my mother and I for long. I figured whatever happened between him and my mum was their problem, not mine. I wanted to believe my father truly loved me.
So when I turned 15, I had a quarrel with my mum, I felt she was too high handed and indeed my mum was a tough cookie; she was a former Principal of a girls’ secondary school up north; then she retired and started her own school in Lagos and she was as strict and as nasty as many of these principals.
Now something happened between us that period which prompted me to tell her I didn’t want to live with her anymore; I found her strict rules stifling; I had often wondered maybe that was why my father left her in the first place.
I can’t fully remember the details of what happened between us that day, I think I broke a glass cup, then she made me drink water with my hands or something…anyway, I was determined to abandon ship. I spat on my mother’s love and labour over me all these years and decided I wanted a father who never wanted me in the first place.
That’s childish foolishness for you.
And you know what? My mother never batted an eye lid, she said, “You want to go live with your father? Be my guest”. With that, she asked me to pack my stuff and drove me straight to my father’s house, somewhere in Ikotun! She knocked on the door, my father opened, my mum said, “She says she wants to live with you.” With that, my mum turned around, opened her car boot, dumped my stuff on the ground and drove off before my father or even I could open our mouths!
Of course, we got there unannounced and I never even realised my mother knew where my father lived. She never talked about it, so…
Anyway, my father had no choice but to take me in. He was living with a woman he wasn’t married to and they had no children. At first, I was happy to be away from my mother’s prying eyes, her constant discipline, her need to get everything done right; dishes must be drained on one rack before being transferred to another rack; pots and pans must be hung back to front to prevent dust settling inside; floors must be mopped thrice a week because she never liked to wear slippers indoors and so no dirty feet…my mother was a slave driver…
In my father’s house, I woke up when I wanted, I went to school when I wanted and it was no surprise when I had to do WAEC, I failed…then my mother stepped in again!
She came and dragged me kicking and fighting back to her place and by the time she was done with me, when I wrote WAEC for the second time, I had all A-s!
Now, of course, mother and I had this love hate relationship over the years and my father still kept his distance much of the time until I needed to get married…
Now, let me give you a little more background. The guy I was to get married to, came from a, well… you know, good family.
His father and mother are still together and they still appear very much in love, his grandparents, too, are alive and still living together…no constant fighting or shouting matches like I got used to with my own parents on the rare occasions they came togther…you know that sort of thing. Divorce and single parenthood isn’t common in that family, so I wanted to make an impression that though, my parents may be separated, they still basically come together for anything that concerned me.
I didn’t know I was fooling myself!
I took my husband- to- be to meet him for his blessings and arrangements about the wedding, father daughter walk, aso-ebi… etc that was when my nightmare began!
My father told me I had to pay him for the two years I lived with him, eating his food; he said I had been working for three years prior and as a daughter, I was meant to be giving him stipends, which I failed to do and by his estimation, it had accumulated to more than N500,000. I kid you not!
My father asked that I should settle his outstanding NEPA bills and sundry other bills…
You know, I was so ashamed he said all of these in front of my fiancé. I wished I had gone with my mother so she would tell him the story of his life…he said until these conditions were met, he would neither show up for my wedding, nor wear the same aso-ebi with my mum! He told me to go and hire a father outside if I couldn’t meet his criteria!
I was so furious with this low life of a father, I vowed that was exactly what I was going to do, hire a father to walk me down the aisle! Must I even have a father? What of my mum?
Anyway, when I got back to my mother, she of course was angry but guess what? Mummy said, “Is that all he wants? We will give him…”
She said “Let us agree to call the mad man the groom, so he can let us be…” in our language it says, “Eje ka pe were l’oko iyawo, ko ba je ka ri mu mi”.
I couldn’t believe my mother would agree to this…we paid that man close to N1million! Yes, we paid!
You know, looking back, I see I had wronged my mother in many ways; I didn’t say “thank you” enough for all her labour and discipline that shaped me, her sacrifices I took for granted, instead, I was pining for a father who only wanted to exploit me. For years I blamed my mother’s high-handedness for the reason my father left her ans he didn’t help matters because the two years I lived with him were full of constant jibes at my mum, how her attitude drove him away from her…
I was too foolish to see he was the problem, not my mum. I am so sad now because I lost my mum before I was able to fully appreciate her labour of love over me. I wish I could roll back time, tell her I was wrong, show her how much she meant to me…too late, now.
My mum passed and this thing of a father is still alive and still feeling entitled, he is still constantly making demands off me and even threatening to curse me and my children, if I don’t give in to his wants.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)