According to the stories I heard, my mother abandoned me when I was barely ten months old. My father didn’t know what to do with a baby so he let his sister take care of me. Even though I went to live with my aunt when I was a baby, I never mistook her for my mother. There was a vast difference between the way she treated me and the way she treated her children. Apart from that, my dad visited me whenever he got the chance. So I understood my place in the house.
There were times that I was treated so harshly that I complained to my dad. I asked him, “Why do I have to live here? Take me home with you.” He used to tell me “Be patient, things will change very soon.” I clung to those words on days things got very bad. Another thing that made my stay at my aunt’s house bearable was my dad’s frequent visits. We lived apart but we were deeply connected. During one of his visits, I complained again; “Daddy I want to go home with you. Aunty insults me too much.” That day my dad told me something he had never said before. He said, “Every time I come here, you have complaints about your aunty. You have to stop doing that. In life sometimes you just have to endure difficult situations.”
From that day, I learned to keep quiet about my unhappy situation. I had no one else to talk to so I just ended up brooding over things. It was not an easy way to live. I carried a heaviness inside me that I could never get rid of. I learned how to smile and nod consent to things that I was too tired to do. I mastered the art of concealing pain with laughter. Above all, I was very fluent in the language of silence. No matter how miserable I felt, I never talked. I continued to live with my aunt until my dad married a woman with a kind smile. That was when he finally took me home to live with him. Initially, my stepmother loved me. She treated me with a gentleness that I had never known in my life. She spoke to me with a soft voice. And if I did anything wrong, she would use her words to correct me and not her hands or canes, as my aunt did. I was at peace in my new home but a part of me was afraid that it wouldn’t last.
As time went on, my stepmother started making comments about my close relationship with my father. She would say things like, “You are a girl, give your father space to breathe.” Usually, it was something we all laughed about. Then she started having kids of her own. And she watched as the bond between me and my dad strengthened with my time. She felt her kids didn’t have that connection with him, so she resented me for it. Alas, the kindness she used to show me morphed into disdain. Despite her ill-treatment of me, I never did anything to disrespect her. I helped take care of my younger siblings and ran errands for her. I never even complained when I got too tired to work. After all, my dad told me to learn how to endure difficult situations. So we lived together the best way we could.
Sadly, she passed away a few years ago. After her death, I took over the full responsibility for my younger siblings. I took care of them the way a mother would. I also worked to support my dad financially. I barely spent my money on myself yet somehow my dad felt I wasn’t doing enough for the family. I could give this man my soul and he would still find a reason to complain. The painful part about it too is that he was telling people about the little things I couldn’t do for him. But when it came to the good I was doing, he swallowed it and made sure no one knew about them. I wasn’t happy with his attitude but hey, who am I to complain? I was taught to endure things so that’s what I did.
A few months ago, I realized that my dad was showing particular interest in my closest friend. I asked my friend, “Is there something going on between you and my father?” She told me the truth; “Your dad has expressed interest in me but I haven’t accepted him.” I remember warning her against dating him. I warned my dad against dating her too. They both assured me that they wouldn’t get involved. And I trusted them not to go behind my back. As time went on, I observed that whatever possible romance I saw brewing between them had died so I eased my mind. Not long ago my friend confided in me that she was having problems at home. I tried to help her to solve her problems but things just kept getting worse for her. It got to a point, her father threw her out and she didn’t have anywhere to go. She came to me saying, “I need a place to stay for a few days. When my father’s anger subsides, I will go back home.”
I opened my heart to her and welcomed her into my father’s house. Because of my own experience with my family, I understood her situation and I just wanted to help her. A few days after she moved in, I saw that she started acting weird whenever my dad was around. I didn’t think much of it until she started poking her nose into our family affairs. One time I even warned her; “If you want to continue living here, then mind your business.” I thought she would change after that conversation but she didn’t. She became louder and very authoritative. Her behaviour didn’t sit well with me so I observed her quietly. That was when I noticed that something was going on between her and my father. When I confronted her she admitted it, “Yes, I am dating your father. What’s your problem with it?” I was so shocked.
When the shock wore off, I threw her stuff out and asked her to leave. To my horror, she came at me with a knife threatening to stab me. Thank God my younger brother was home to stop her that day. What surprised me the most was how my dad stood by her and brought back her things into the house. That day, he laid his hands on me for the first time. He then told me, “If you don’t want to live in the same house with her, then you can leave. Because as far as I am concerned, she is not going anywhere.” Wow, my own father chose a woman over me? My friend didn’t stab me but I felt the pain of a stab.
I left the house for a while to calm my heart down. When I returned, the lady was around and she still hasn’t left. I have decided that I can’t allow her to run me out of my father’s house. So I won’t go anywhere. We will live here no matter how uncomfortable it gets. I rue the day I brought her in as a friend in need. My home was not perfect before she came but it was peaceful. Now her presence has messed everything up. For the sake of peace, I will apologize to my father while I wait to see how things turn out in their relationship. In the meantime, I have learned a new lesson. Never again will trust a friend.