As a mother, my heart is truly heavy over the things people say about my son.
I was looking for a son because having a boy child was the only condition the father gave for me to remain in the house with him. Before then, I had given birth to five girls and my husband was telling me that if I didn’t have a son, he would go and marry another woman who would give him a son outside.
I didn’t have any problems with him having a so outside, if my womb doesn’t have male children, who was I to question God?
But everybody knows that the sex of a child is determined by the father; my husband said that maybe his sperm didn’t go well with mine which is why we kept having girls.
Anyway, I got pregnant in late 80s, my youngest daughter at that time was almost 8 years old, so you know there was a lot of gap between Uzo my son and the second to the last girl, Baybie. Usually the gap between my other children is one year plus because in our search for a baby boy, I was just getting pregnant like every other year and from the beginning to the last, even my son, it was Caesarean Section or CS.
It was after the fourth pregnancy our doctor told me he would not attend to me again because having so many deliveries via CS was going to kill me. When I told my husband, he insisted we changed hospital; even so, the doctor that attended to me warned me not to come back with another pregnancy again…
I knew the risks I was putting myself through but my husband was on my case to have a son; there was no peace of mind for me; if I laughed, he would mock me, saying, your mates are having male children, you are busy laughing instead of crying.”
If I cooked with too much salt, he would go, “ you can’t even do anything right,, even mad women have male children and you cannot, all you do is add too much salt to soup…”
I was a very unhappy woman even though everyone outside thought our marriage was perfect.
So after my last girl, he sent me packing out of the house after one flimsy excuse; my people came to beg him. They said, “You haven’t found any other issue wrong with your wife except not having a son, sons come from God not the woman…”
After about six months, they helped us settle and I moved back in again. It was months later that I began to hear my husband was having affairs with many women outside, I was just praying to God to spare my life to look after my daughters. I didn’t care if he had a thousand sons outside.
I got pregnant again, 8 years after Baybie my last girl, I didn’t even know I was pregnant. I thought I was down with malaria, in fact, I was already treating malaria with dogon yaro leaves.
After some weeks of still feeling unwell, I decided to go to one pharmacy on our street to complain. The lady there asked me to go and do a malaria test. When I got to the lab for the test, the small boy there, after he had taken blood samples, asked me when I saw my menses last. I was not sure when that was.
He asked me to come back in an hour for the tests results.
When I returned, he told me I was pregnant.
You should see the way I laughed at him. I said to him, “When did you finish school to know when a woman, old enough to be your mother is pregnant?”
He showed me my tests results; he said though I had malaria parasites in my blood but what was more important was the fact that I was pregnant.
I wasn’t looking to get pregnant again after five girls!
I wasn’t happy about the news at all plus I had turned 43years; my last born at that time was 7 going to be 8 years old and what’s even more scary to me was that, I could have yet another girl…and this would make my husband really, really, angry with me. So after the initial shock of discovering I was pregnant, the next thing I wanted to do was to remove it.
I cried to my mother that time, I didn’t even tell my husband that I was pregnant, I was three months gone by then. My mother, she is late now, told me I shouldn’t let my husband know, she said she would take me to someone who would help me, he is a ‘powerful’ man of God who helped women give birth to boys.
My mother said she discovered him just a few years ago and that she had seen ‘his works.’ As in the sons he helped some women birth. But I told my mother, I said, “Mama, I am already pregnant, the baby’s sex is already there, what this man can do again?”
My mother said I shouldn’t worry, that the man can change the baby’s sex to whatever we wanted…so I happily followed her.
I would leave home in the morning, telling my husband, I was going to work but would board a bus going to Ijebu Ode to meet the man. I would return in the evening and my husband wouldn’t even know I wasn’t at work that day.
The man gave me all kinds of things to eat and drink and he assured me I would give birth to a son. From the testimonies of two other women I met at his place, I was assured there was nothing to be worried about.
I visited this man about 7 or 8 times during the course of my pregnancy; drinking agbo, rubbing things on my belly…wearing certain clothes under my maternity gown…to guard against anyone that would want to harm my child.
In fact, there was one time he asked me to bring a fowl, a white one. In my presence, he killed the fowl, removed all the intestines, grounded it with some things I can’t even tell, leaves of all kinds and asked me to eat it all up…I did!
I am educated but I was also desperate.
You asked me what my thoughts were during this period…I was looking forward to having a son, finally! I truly believed the man could help me.
Did my husband know what I had been doing?
Partially, I didn’t tell him the whole truth. Just that I had been told at the hospital that I was expecting a baby boy.
Anyway, delivery date came and I delivered a baby boy!
My joy knew no bounds…me, Ego, born boy!
My husband was mad with joy, everyone was happy for us, that finally, we got a son!
Then our son began to grow up to like the things that girls liked…dolls, dresses…I didn’t think there was anything wrong because this boy had five sisters, so maybe he thinks he is just like them…
But other things began to show…by the time he turned 10 years and upwards, if you were looking at him from behind, you would think he was a girl.
He has a big bumbum and smooth body. They gave him a nasty nickname on our street because you see, my son behaved like a woman, too. He has huge hair and long lashes and his body is just like a young woman’s. Even his sisters didn’t develop quickly like that!
He hated everything about boys, football, o. running on the streets, o…rough play, my son hates it all. He would prefer to be in the kitchen with me or plaiting his sister’s hair.
He didn’t finish secondary school because other kids were so mean to him and made him cry. He eventually learned to make hair, he apprenticed in a salon and became good at making hair for women. That was a kind of blessing for me.
But my husband turned against him so much, he beat him all the time; his own father was ashamed of him!
He told me one day that what I have isn’t a son but a girl who was last minute turned into a boy!
As a mother, what was I to do?
I blamed myself for how my child turned out; I blamed the so called man of god who swapped my female fetus into a male so I could have son to present to my husband but above all, I questioned God.
Why did our lives have to be so difficult?
My son was teased so much he contemplated suicide. I told him the way he is, is the way God meant to be. So around the early 2000s, I began to save money to help him travel abroad. Abroad isn’t like Nigeria where they condemn people for who they are. He travelled and well, he is doing well. He is in a relationship with another man but I am his mother, I will never condemn him!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)