Some stories are weird and leave a bad taste in your mouth, mine is.
I grew up an adopted child. I had known since I was a lot younger that the person I called Mummy was not my real mother and the person we all called Papa didn’t sire me.
Mum had told me years back that Papa was not my father, neither was he the father of the rest of her children and I didnt mind but when I found out she wasn’t my biological mother, I was devastated. Why? Because I was told by people that I looked like her; so imagine my shock when she told me she wasn’t my real mother.
How did I find out?
I was about 13 years old at that time when I fell sick. Mum and I went to the general hospital where I was asked to do a blood test to determine what exactly was wrong with me. The lab assistant told my mother that I had a rare blood type. He wanted to know if I could come later to donate blood, he asked if mum would, too.
Mum said no, she then began to whisper to him.
I heard snippets ‘…she is not my real child… we can’t have the same blood.’
Maybe there was more to that conversation that led to the confession, I don’t know but that statement of me not belonging to her was as if it had been spoken into loud speakers. I was shocked!
Long story short, I dragged the truth out of mummy over the next few days. She told me everything.
My real mother had me when she was quite young, I was told she was Mum’s friend’s child. So where are my biological mother and grandmother?
Dead. My real mother died when I was born; I was told she got pregnant at age 14; didn’t have the guts to tell her mother about it or maybe she didn’t even realise she was pregnant, by the time she did; it was too late to get rid of her pregnancy, she went into long labour, bled too much because her pelvis was too small or something, anddied shortly after I came into the world; so that’s how I killed her.
Her mother, who is my grandma and friend to Mummy, did not recover from the loss of her child; he blamed herself for not knowing her own child, who slept on the same bed with her and was pregnant. She died a few months after, they said from heartache.
But before she died, she’d told mummy, her friend, to take care of me as her own if anything happened to her, and that is how Mummy raised me.
I always asked the question, what of my father, I must have a father, right? My mother didn’t impregnate herself. Mummy always said because my mother died suddenly from childbirth, they never got to find out who my real father was.
To be fair to her, mummy took care of me like I was her real child; I got flogged for offences like the rest of her children and I got treats for good behavior like the others, there was no favouritism there but at the back of my mind, I wanted to find my own people. I mean my mother’s side of the family. Any time I probed her about them, mummy would look hurt like I didn’t appreciate her love for me. So I let it go after a while, I decided when I grew up, I would find them.
Over the years, I finished school, well, I didn’t finish at the Poly, I only did up to OND. I wasn’t the book type. I was good at trading, business- buying and selling, so I just dropped out after OND, that one too is certificate na?
I met my husband a few years after but by this time, I had given birth to two children from different fathers. I wasn’t good at keeping relationships, I guess. The first man came and left, the second too came and left and both left me with two children that I had to raise by myself.
Then I met Collins, the one I called my husband. He was a lot older than me and he knew how to handle me. You know, I am a bit of a hot head but Collins knew how to handle me. From being my customer, yes, he was first my customer, then he began to advise me on my business, you know, small tips, big ideas and things improved for me. He took my boys like his own, he remembered their birthdays, you know, he was just different from all the men I had dated. I didn’t mind that he was almost 26 years older than me, I just decided I was going to stay with this one. You know some of us do better with older men, so I just thought, ok, maybe I am that type.
I won’t say we got married, I just moved into his house with my kids and we began to live like man and wife. He didn’t bring bride price or go to mummy to ask for my hand in marriage, I was just happy to be with him and he was happy to be with me, what else did I want? At this time, I was almost hitting 36years, so since he didn’t want children, I wasn’t going to have another child most certainly, so ours was an arrangement that worked well.
Of course he met the rest of my family, I mean, mummy and my other brothers and sisters and I met a few of his own people too but no formal marriage arrangement. I also knew he had never been married, so there was no wife anywhere to speak of. We lived like that for more than seven years…longer than I had ever lived with any man!
Then Collins died in his sleep, suddenly; he woke up to pee in the night, came back to bed, then in the morning, he didn’t wake up. They said it was cardiac arrest, heart attack, that’s what the autopsy said. He was almost 70 years.
At the wake keeping, even though I was not his formal wife, I still played that role; among the guests that came was one woman who had known him since they were much younger…he knew my biological mother, knew my story of being adopted…of course, she did not know me as in the fact that I had become an adult and all that.
Let me cut the long story short, it was through this woman we found out who my real father was…the man I had been living with for more than seven years, the man I had introduced to friends and family as my husband, that is who my father was.
The only thing I am glad for is that he is dead. I do not know if he knew who I was, I do not think so but maybe he did, maybe he did not, I really don’t want to know.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)