My father walked out of our home one day and never returned. My mother had to raise me and my brother all by herself. It wasn’t easy for her. She always left the house at dawn and returned late at night. She sold whatever was trending on the market in a particular season. That’s how she could afford to feed us. My brother was six years older than me so he always took care of me in my mother’s absence.
He bathed me, cooked, fed me, washed my clothes, and took me wherever he went. I was his little handbag. He was the only parent I knew. I was very attached to him. I barely saw my mother. I was always asleep when she left the house and asleep when she returned. My brother was the one who saw her and interacted with her.
When I got to JHS 2 my brother was a Level 200 medical student at Legon. My family moved to Nsawam but my school was in Achimota. I had to wake up and 4:00 AM and hurry with my chores so I would catch the train from Nsawam to school. It was really stressful for me. When my brother got to level 300 he decided to rent an apartment at Christian village. He told me “As soon as I get a place, you will come and live with me. That way you won’t have to go all the way from Nsawam to Achimota to school.” I was very happy. It was all I wanted. To live with my brother and be closer to school.
When he got the apartment he told me about it. He described the house to me and where it was located. I hadn’t gone to see it but I pictured myself living there. In my daydreams I was happy. He called me when he painted the place “Now the room is ready. When can we both move in?” We fixed a date on a Saturday he would be less busy. When the day arrived I called him, “How are you? Are we still going?” He sounded unwell, “I’m sorry sis we have to cancel our plans today. I’m sick. We will have to do it tomorrow.” I said, “Do you need to go to the hospital? Have you taken any medication?” He said, “Hey don’t worry. I’ll be fine. Take care of yourself. I’ll see you tomorrow.” We said our goodbyes and hung up.
The next morning my brother died. The news tore me apart. I didn’t know how I was going to survive without him. My mother’s concern was the room he rented. A week after his death she sent me to go and find the place. I went to Christian Village with the description my brother gave me of the house. I roamed till my legs almost collapsed under me but eventually, I found the place. I spoke to the landlord and he confirmed that my brother rented from him. I broke the news of his death to him. He was shocked “Oh! I just saw him last week. What happened ?” I spoke to him briefly and left. My mother went to see him later and he refunded the rent my brother paid to us. He even attended the funeral.
We buried him 21 days after he died. I became very lonely. It was just left with my mother and me. I was heartbroken and lonely. My mother and I could have taken comfort in each other but we didn’t. We didn’t have that kind of relationship. There was no mother-daughter bond. The only child she loved died and left her with me. I am sure my presence must have angered her a lot. She always treated me like I was a disappointment. She beat me every chance she got. She could wake up one day and decide to insult me from morning till evening. Everything I did irritated her. I missed my brother so much. I wished it was possible to talk to the dead and have them talk back to you.
One of the boys in the neighbourhood called Fred used to follow me around but I never paid him any attention. After the passing of my brother, he came to me again professing his undying love for me. This time I paid attention to him. I was lonely and he was there. We started talking. The closer I got to him the more I liked him. Soon I started feeling butterflies in my tummy when I thought of him and when I was with him. At a point, I couldn’t contain my feelings anymore. I accepted his proposal. Fred tried to take advantage of my innocence and naïveté. He’d ask me to visit him and every time I went, he would try to do shuperu. I always refused. Sometimes we’d quarrel because of it but I was determined to keep my virginity.
We didn’t have electricity in our house so I usually charged my mom’s phone at a neighbour’s house. One evening she asked me to go charge her phone. I took it to the neighbour’s house. Gideon, a friend of mine lived in the house. I decided to stay there for a while and talk to Gideon. We chatted until the phone got charged and I took it and left. When I got home my mother locked me out. I knocked and asked her to let me in. She shouted, “Go back to wherever you are coming from.” I was outside her window crying and begging her to let me into the house. She kept shouting “Go away.” Mosquitoes were feasting on me. I was cold and scared. I called Fred “My mother locked me out. I need someone to talk to.” He said, “Why don’t you come and sleep at my place?” The thought of a warm bed enticed me. I went over to his place. By morning he had his way with me. That was when everything started. On Fridays, he’d call me “Come and visit me. Tell your mother you are going for all night prayer service at Hebron. She won’t suspect anything.” We did that for 3 months.
I was preparing to write my BECE when I found out that I was pregnant. First I tried to hide it. My mother saw the signs and when she asked I told her it was malaria. She got me malaria medication and I threw them away. Fred tried to get me to abort it but I refused. He took me to the pharmacy and pleaded with the pharmacist to convince me to get rid of it. I refused. Here is why. When my brother passed, we went to “ebisa” and the priest told me, “A gentleman in your neighbourhood will impregnate you. You will try to get rid of it and then you will die.” I didn’t make much of it until I got pregnant. So I decided I didn’t want to tempt fate by getting rid of it. Eventually, my mother found out that I didn’t have malaria. When she realized I was pregnant she tried to get me to get rid of it but I refused. She said she’d take me to the hospital to do it but I insisted I wanted to keep the baby. She tried everything she could think of but I stood my ground.
She made my life a living hell. I spent less time at home. She continued to beat me even while I was pregnant. She starved me. I thought of my brother, my protector, often and I felt his loss so deeply. I was always crying. This continued till I had the baby in the seventh month. After 15 days the baby became an angel. I was hurt but I decided maybe she was better off in heaven, with her uncle. I took to the streets. I was 18 then. I sold pure water, plantain chips, and nkosua ne meko (boiled egg with pepper). The point is I sold everything I could get my hands on. I moved out of my mother’s place and went to live with Fred. We were still together after everything. He abused me physically and emotionally but I couldn’t leave him. I allowed my love for him to bind me to him.
Two years after my little girl got her wings I got pregnant again. Fred continued to be abusive even through my pregnancy. I reported him to DOVVSU but no one did anything to him. He was a driver for a chief in our town so I went to the chief’s palace. I reported Fred to them. That day when he got home from work he beat me up for reporting him. No one fought for me so I stopped reporting him. Our neighbours always advised me “Why don’t you leave him and go to your mother? If you continue to stay here, one day he will kill you.” I thought about my mother’s torrents of abuse and decided I’d rather stay with Fred. I encouraged myself and tried to be strong. By God’s grace when it was time for me to deliver, I had the baby with no complications.
Ten months after the delivery Fred sold his father’s land and travelled outside the country. He left me with GHC 290 and keys to his room. He never sent me money again. He was trying to punish me because I told him we were over. My mother took care of the baby while I went to sell stuff or do some odd jobs to sustain us. A few months later Fred called me and I told him “Send me money so that I can enrol the baby in school.” He said “I am never sending you money. If you want me to take care of the child, take him to my family. I will take care of him from there.” I weighed my options. My mother said she had to go back to trading. I don’t have anyone else to watch him while I go and sell. I decided to take him to Fred’s family. He sent them money and they took him to school. I left Nsawam for Accra to hustle so I can make some money and go back for my baby.
I visited him whenever I got the chance. I didn’t like how they handled him but I tried to be rational about things. When things got better for me I went to Fred’s family to take him. They told me “Fred said we shouldn’t allow you to come for him.” I tried to reason with them and plead with them but they refused. I called Fred “I want my baby back.” He said “No. That’s what you get for breaking up with me. I don’t want whoever you decide to marry to raise my child.” We went back and forth with the issue for two years.
One day I got fed up and went to take my child when no one was looking. People in the neighbourhood saw me with him but they didn’t suspect I was kidnapping my own child. I made sure they couldn’t reach me. The additional blessing was they didn’t know where I lived. I was happy to finally have my baby with me. After a few weeks, Fred got through to me. He was angry “I won’t send you money for the child’s upkeep. You have refused to marry me so you won’t see my money. Let the man you marry take care of the child.” I told him “I am giving you time to take responsibility for your son. If it gets to a certain point and you don’t do it he is no longer yours. I will change his name and cut ties with you forever. I am no longer the naïve girl who fell in love with you Fred. Don’t try me.”
He ruined my life and caused me soo much pain. What annoys me is that even after 8 years he hasn’t grown past his selfishness. He has no remorse for his actions. He is trying to manipulate me into marriage but it will not happen. I hate to say this but he disgusts me. He tells me he’ll come and marry my close friend so that it’ll pain me. Jokes on him.
I hope someday I get the courage to tell my mother the many ways she hurt me. Until then I am focusing on taking care of my son.