I am a mother who wanted the best for her child.
I am a woman, who suffered to have a child. I am a good mother and what I did was simply to correct my own child. The same way I was corrected when I was growing up, the same hand of discipline my parents used for me, I used the same to raise my children. But something went wrong. Maybe I was a little too hard. Maybe I should have waited until my anger cooled. May be I was afraid if I do not deal with the situation my son will become an area boy…but is an area boy not better now? An area boy, though a rascal is still alive, at least. Where is my own son? In a grave I dug with my hands.
How did I get here?
Hear my story and do not judge too harshly.
I had a son. We named him Muyideen; we called him Muyi. He was my second child. I have three children and he was the only son.
Now, we live in Agege; things are not exactly the way I want them- my husband is a public transport driver; he tries his best to put food on table for his children and I; me, I am what you will call a petty trader. I buy and sell many things from food stuff to small provisions and I have just added cooking small, small food for people at the garage.
I make Ofada rice and stew. Not too much, because by 12 noon, I would have finished selling and be back to my shop to sell for the day. So, we are trying as parents to give our three children the best we can.
Muyideen being the only boy was very stubborn. As a boy, a lot was required of him. His sisters are doing well at school. They don’t give me problems. But Muyi, no, he will be the one who will not do his homework, he will be the one the teacher or principal will call me or my husband to come to school and be told he joined bad gang.
And being the only son, we wanted to ensure he gives us a good name, that is why I was hard on him. Hard in the sense that I didn’t spare the rod at all. You know some parents will say, he is okon’la, the only son in the midst of girls- so take it easy.
No. I don’t want my son to end up being an area boy, unfortunately, these are the gang of people he preferred to walk with.
What is that saying about show me your friend and I will tell you who you are? That was what Muyi was; all his friends, no one is decent among them. All of them, agberos, area boys, rascals.
I have often asked him, “Muyi, can’t you find decent boys to be friendly with?”
“They are decent; they just don’t have money to go to school” he always answered me.
“How can they be decent when they smoke igbo, their eyes are always red, their clothes unkempt.”
But he would not let me talk, he will say they are not his real friends that he is just befriending them so that they will not attack him or do him harm as they did to others.
What did I do to our ancestors that they gave me this child? Because I knew he was lying to me.
Muyi at 16 years was in SS1, when his mates had finished secondary school. So, I was angry with him all the time because I just know he could do better than what he was doing. I did not get much schooling, there was no parent to send me to school, my husband, too, no education but we wanted our children to be educated, to be good citizens of the country. And the being the only son in the family, we didn’t want him to be useless.
I banned him from talking to those boys, I told him I would injure him if I ever found him with them again.
Two weeks later, see my son with them, see him smoking igbo with them. I was the one who saw him that morning when I went to sell ofada at the garage.
Oluwa ooo! This boy didn’t go to school even though he dressed in his uniform that morning. I called my husband to come home and see his son; come and see the son you are fasting for but he was busy eating like a glutton and making your fast useless.
Baba Muyi came home at about 10’ o clock at night. Both of us were angry with Muyi. Instead of Muyi to apologise, beg, say something to show that he was remorseful, he told us he didn’t want to go to school anymore. That he was tired of school!
I was so angry, I just picked a piece of wood that I was using to prepare for the next day’s food. I picked it and struck him with it! I hit him on the head.
He ran, then staggered, then fell, then died there!
I couldn’t believe it! Now, now? Can someone just die like that, now, now!
Ha, my own has caught up with me. The evil sent to me has caught up with me. Like a dream, we shook him, we begged him to get up, we poured water on him, nothing happened. Muyi was dead and I killed him.
That was how Baba Muyi said, we should bury him in the house. We are Muslims, we can’t keep the dead and this one is a bad death. Our own child. Our only son and as a mother, you cannot understand my pain.
I wanted what was best for my child. I labored day and night to make him a good responsible human being, then I killed him, with my own hands.
I will never forget my son. I will never forget the day I picked up wood and slammed it in anger. I will forever see him stagger, fall, die.
I don’t know who reported us to the police. They came three days after we buried him, they dug him out and said we murdered him, that is why I am here today. My husband too is in police cell. They say he is an accomplice.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)