I got to find out what I am telling you after my son was hospitalized. Before then, I saw my son deteriorating right before my eyes and I was powerless to save him. I thought he had caught something the doctors couldn’t find a cure for. He was a 17 year old, looked healthy. All the tests we ran were good, there was no injury, at least none that we could see, and yet, this boy was slowly disappearing before my eyes.
My son was just 17 years old then at a boarding school here in Lagos.
From what I was later able to put together; from him, from his school and from his friends. So apparently, one girl, let’s call her Mathilda, came in to join them in their SS2 year. She came in from the States. I think, maybe her parents relocated back to Nigeria. Anyway, Mathilda came into that school and naturally, all the boys in SS2 and SS3 fought for her attention.
As a mother, later when I saw Mathilda, she was just a fine girl. You know; tall, delicate, biracial…and all that, she was 16years old then.
Anyway, Mathilda, after all the boys that felt they ought to make a move on her failed, settled for my lad, Wale.
Wale was quite popular in school. He is kind, he is smart. He is gentle and a sportsman as well. Maybe that’s what Matilda saw in my lad, I don’t know. I was told Wale and Mathilda were an item, so much so that practically everyone in school knew it.
Now, whether this kind of thing is allowed in school is a different matter. These kids were not exactly babies. I doubt that sex was involved but I was told they were always together; at the canteen, at events where boys and girls mingled…everyone knew them.
At that period too, though I had no idea what was going on in my son’s life in school. I remember he was super bright, super active, super happy. He told me about Mathilda but I just put it down to school boy crush. I remember my husband and I making fun of him when we teased him about his girlfriend. At first he denied having but later told us he liked a new girl called Mathilda.
I didn’t think much about it until I began to notice a decline in his general health.
At first, I put it down to his forth coming IGCSE exams. Classes were intense, his private tutor was hard on him to prepare him and so was I and his dad. we were asking him a million questions about how prepared he was and all that and just generally being on his case concerning his studies.
It turned out that all of that moodiness, all of that sadness had nothing to do with his academics. He had lost his girl so some super kid who came from the US as well.
So this kid, a rich kid, too, let me skip his name, as I later discovered had come to the school and the first girl he wanted for himself was “our” Mathilda!
Mathilda, my kid’s girl.
I can’t believe as a Nigerian mother, I am even talking about this. But this matter almost tore my family apart. I mean, these were kids who probably would forget about themselves after secondary school.
Anyway, so rich kid comes in and Mathilda as I found out, fell for him. I was told he pursued her s vigorously, even the girl was floored. Gifts, perfumes, flowers, right in front of my boy…he gave her these things. To hear a few of Wale’s friends describe it, “…he snatched Mathilda from Wale, like you snatch candy from a child…”
That means it was easy right?
I honestly don’t believe anyone can be snatched if they didn’t want to be “snatched.” But anyway, not only was Mathilda snatched, she and this new kid “flaunted” their relationship in Wale’s face. According to what I was told, Mathilda took her new boyfriend to all of the places she and Wale visited, they took photos and somehow these got to Wale…who at 17years, just didn’t know how to handle it.
While I was thinking pressure from school was making my child sick, it was a girl, who obviously didn’t know much about relationships and how you can hurt people without being aware of it.
Anyway, next thing I knew, my son was suspended from school a few weeks before his IGCSE exams! This was shocking because while he wasn’t necessarily an all A student, he was a prefect in his school, their football captain and well-liked by his teachers too.
He was suspended because he had engaged in a fight at school.
He beat the living crap out of the rich kid over, Mathilda!
What happened, I was told the rich kid had returned a gift Wale had given Mathilda, telling him he got her something better. Wale lost it and beat the boy…of course from pent up emotions of having the boy rub his victory in his face.
The school Principal called me to tell me my son was being suspended as a deterrent to other kids.
Much as I pleaded for this suspension not to reflect on his school’s record, I perfectly understood the school’s position to use him to let other students know that engaging in fisticuffs was a no no.
He wrote his IGCSE exams from home but days after the exams, when he was to return to school, he pleaded with me not to return to school. The boy wouldn’t eat, wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t lucid anymore. I feared he would commit suicide.
I tried to reason with my kid; ” this girl isn’t worth this trouble, she would forget about both of you once she heads to uni…we girls are like that”
“You will meet other girls, you are still too young…”
“This is just a crush, nothing to kill yourself over…”
All these of course fell on deaf ears.
My husband and I had a serious fight over it because while I understood perfectly what my son was going through, a broken heart and seeing the love of his life in another man’s hands, my husband felt he had to man up and face it!
He told our son that running away was never going to help him; “so how long will you run if another guy gets your girl?”
I wanted to save my son and so, we were at logger heads for weeks…we watched my son go from a happy go lucky kid into a shell…
For days, he chose to be silent. He ate sparingly.
Every time I asked him to talk to me…he would be tight lipped, he would later, after several prodding just burst into tears.
I had to do something, months after this incident, my son couldn’t get out of this funk! I took the decision to get him a school abroad and pay the first year tuition. Thankfully my husband came round, he saw the best way to help the boy was to find another environment for him. Today he is the star player in his school, abroad. He is doing well in his uni and he is thankful we pulled him out when we did. I hate to think what could’ve have happened if we hadn’t pulled him out of that school when we did.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)