I am a mother for five children, four girls and one boy. I married into a polygamous home, the second wife of an Owo chief. My husband is now in his late 70s and like many Nigerian men, he was more particular about having sons than having daughters. Ask me, o as if girls are not children. But in our days, men did not show much joy when their wives gave birth to girls, so you can imagine that for years, I was not a favorite in my husband’s house. All the other wives, there were three of us, had one son each, I was the only one with four girls and I was treated like a second class citizen because of my girls.

Of course I went through great lengths to ensure I had a son for my husband; I went the herbalists, ate a few things, drank concoctions all in a bid to have a son.

In my days, we didn’t know that the sex of a baby is determined by the father; yes we were all educated, I finished standard six, my husband stopped at secondary school and my co wives were a nurse and a teacher but culture is a strong thing. The woman gets blamed for the sex of her child; even my co wife, who is a nurse told me one day that chief will soon drive me out of the house since all I have in my womb are girls.

Oho, imagine that!

Which was why I went looking for a son at all cost from different sources; eat this, I would eat, sllep here, I would obey, drink that, I would drink. That was me….then I got a son. Before then, I practically had to seduce chief to sleep with me because I had been abandoned to the ground floor. Our house was three floors, chief and the other two wives have flats upstairs, I and my girls were relegated to the ground floor. As the second wife, my space should have been upstairs.

Anyway, I got the son I had been looking for after several years. Then chief began to shower me with gifts. My son, Bandele became the reason I was not kicked out of Chief’s house. I doted on him, I showered him with so much love as the only son and the last born too. His sisters too loved him dearly.

Bandele my son became spoilt of course as you can imagine, though I tried to instill discipline, he was the last son in the household, so his father spoiled him too plus he is a spitting image of his father.

From primary school, Bandele went to one of the best schools in Owo. His father wanted the best for him and to be honest, apart from the fact that he was spoilt, Bandele was very brilliant, always coming first, may be that was why we even spoilt him, because he was a smart boy.

Then chief decided he would be the first of his children to go and study abroad after his secondary school. My dear daughter, I didn’t like this at all. It was like snatching a suckling child from its mother’s breasts. I was not too happy but I was also proud, all his elder siblings schooled in Nigeria but Bandele will go abroad to school.

We sent him abroad, after the first year, he came back a different human being. Ok, I must also say that my son is a very fine boy, yes, very handsome. So when he came back, he was even finer, there was something about him I couldn’t place a finger on.

His father of course was overjoyed to have his son home, we were all happy but Bandele was not the same.

So I kept asking him if he was ok? How was school? Do you have good friends? Do you remember the son of whom you are? Are you ok?

After the second week or so, my son told me, ‘Maami, I want to be a girl. This body I am in is not mine.’

Egba mi! What madness is this boy talking? At that time, I had never heard anything about transgender. I know there are gay people and I honestly have nothing against them but I had never heard anything about a boy wanting to change to be a girl.

The first thing I thought of was that my co wives were behind it. They had thwarted his mind, they want to make him an imbecile, a totally useless boy because their own boys hadn’t amounted to much, Gboyega, the first son for chief did not finish University because of cultism; Abiodun the son of the third wife and chief’s second son, has impregnated; half of Ondo girls; he is a lecturer.  

My son is the only decent male child that chief has and now they want to destroy his destiny!

I called my eldest daughter to explain the madness her brother is talking; all three of us went to my grandparents, far from our house, to discuss the matter. We had to go far because this kind of talk is not the type people should overhear, walls have ears o.

That was how I got to know my son discovered he is truly a girl living in a man’s body.

Itun mo? What does it mean?

He has made plans to start taking drugs and undergo surgery; my head was just spinning.

So I will suffer for sending my child abroad? He caught this madness abroad, no such nonsense in Nigeria!

You say I shouldn’t talk like that? I suffered before this boy came, this madness of his was going to send me to an early grave; chief would probably run mad! Another ear must hear this!

And so we kept it from chief; even the rest of my children didn’t know for years. We just asked Bandele to keep it a secret. Go back to school, don’t come home again.

For more than five years, Chief begged him to come home, especially to see him on his sick bed; Bandele did not; he could not because chief would know and he would die immediately from shame or disappointment.

I am told he changed; I have no wish to see the change. I am told he is now living in New York; with a boyfriend who wants to marry him…I will never tell chief why his son will never come home again

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