Some people have told me that I do not have a forgiving spirit, I said, ok, no problem.
But you can only tell me that if you’ve walked ten years in my shoes, otherwise, keep your opinion to yourself.
I am preparing for my wedding which comes up in a few months’ time.
My fiance is aware that I have a mother but she will not be at the wedding not to talk of high table.
As the first born child of my mother, I should be her joy and her pride like I see the way my friends’ mothers treat their daughters. I had no such love from my mother. It’s to my shame, no, strike that, not my shame.
After going through some counselling sessions, I have realised the shame was not mine to bear, it is my mother’s own. She should continue to bear it and suffer the trauma I carried for more than 18years.
What happened between mother and daughter?
My father left us when I was 8years old and my mother had three mouths to feed and send to school. I am sure it wasn’t easy for her back then. But we were all good children. Our last born was 4; the second, 6 years.
To the best of my knowledge, I was the one who consoled my mother the many nights she wept over the loss of her marriage. I was the only one who knew how hard she struggled to put food on our table and send us to school…until I turned 10 years. That was when she passed the mantle of family care to me.
I don’t know if it was still the pain of losing her marriage or she was herself not a responsible woman but mother began to have friends who encouraged her to go to parties to meet men.
I had no idea about this back then, this is all from the benefit of hindsight. She brought the men home and they often sneaked out of our house in the early hours before neighbours woke up. After sometime, these men began to move from my mother to me and what did my mother do; she turned a blind eye.
Many nights, I would lie there crying, waiting for mother to listen.
I would tell her how one of the men she brought home touched me, grabbed my breasts, dipped his fingers into me or showed me his penis and asked me to touch it!
Yes, by the time I turned 11, I had been raped twice and I told my mother about it all. I told her who did it, pointed at him in her presence. What happened? I received a slap that sent me sailing across our parlour that night. The second time it happened, I didn’t even bother to tell her
I became rebellious towards her and one day, she beat me and told me that once I turned twelve, I would be responsible for feeding my siblings since I was such a smart ass.
I threatened mother that I would go find my father and report her to him. I would tell him she was bringing different men into the house and they were touching me.
She laughed at me and told me to go ahead. I was young, I had no idea I could go to the police or even tell my teachers or trust any adult.
True to her word by the time I was 13, I was already sleeping with some of her men and being given money for the family.
Hmm, the scars I bear on the inside must never show on the outside or you would run away from me. I would be a truly hideous creature, I swear to you.
My own mother used me to bait men and they paid huge sums for sleeping with me.
How did I survive?
See, talking about it doesn’t give me joy. Sorry. I am crying again.
Of course at that time, I had no idea what she was doing, I mean, I was 13-14years old at that time. But she would promise me things and say if I did it one more time, she would buy this or buy that for me but I didn’t want any of those gifts, I just wanted to be left alone.
Then one day, our neighbor, one woman whose kitchen was close to ours came into the picture. In the house we lived then, the kitchens were in a row but the rooms were built separately; each tenant had his/her own kitchen and bathroom; the bathrooms were side by side with the kitchens on a different row. Anyway, that day, the woman was in her kitchen with her girls and she heard me crying in ours.
One of her daughters came out and saw me then she went and told her mother who called me into her kitchen. She asked her daughters to leave the kitchen while she talked to me. I began to cry and told her it was because another male visitor was in our parlor and I knew I would soon be called inside to sleep with him.
When I told her my story, she too began to cry but before she could do anything, we both heard my mother calling me to come to our parlour. The woman told me not to leave the kitchen, she locked me in and told me to be quiet while she went into their own side of the house.
What did she do?
She went to report to her husband. Her husband was a military man who had just been transferred from the north but did not want to live in the barracks. That man was a very strict man with his children in short, everyone on our street knew the man was a no nonsense man.
It was this couple that God used to rescue me from my mother. The man came to our parlour, in short, he barged into our parlor and asked my mother point blank, “Iya Bola, I hear you are prostituting your daughter to men! If I catch any stupid man here, I will get my boys to lock him up in the guard room and they will burn you alive!’
You know, that period was also during one of those military regime times when the military had so much power.
My mother was shocked, even I was shocked as he began to threaten my mother. You know the funny thing, the stupid man that was already in the bedroom hearing the military man’s voice shaking our parlour ran out through the window of our bedroom into his car and drove off wearing just singlets and boxers. I swear!
Hummn, that night, there was no insult my mother did not insult me. She threatened to take me to my father, as if I wouldn’t be glad to be with my father. She threatened many things.
Some days later, my father surfaced. Apparently he had gone back to our village not being able to cope with Lagos life, he had also wanted my mother to come along with him but she refused, claiming her life was here in the city.
It took me years to get rid of the pain and trauma when I joined my father in the village. It’s been tough, like climbing out of a pit toilet covered in feaces and slippery things. That’s how I often feel when I remember those days.
So, I was with my father until I finished at the polytechnic. My siblings too were rescued from my mother before she turned them into sex slaves.
As for me, relationships were hard. Very, very hard. I was never able to keep to any one; I always broke it up after a few days or months, until I met my pastor boyfriend, who by the way himself was a reformed cultist…yes o, we both have our baggage.
He was the one who helped me get counselling. I got help from people who had gone through things like this before. People who prayed with me and asked me to forgive my mother, which I did. It was therapy for me, too, anyway.
I am not a complete and whole person. I don’t know if I will ever be but I see myself as a work in progress and as I prepare for my wedding, my mother not be there. No way.
She was never a mother, never even a relation, she was a monster I am covering to make her appear human.
(series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)