Growing up my parents always had issues with money. There was money in my father’s pockets but there was never any at home. My father has three brothers and one sister. They are all grown up with their own families yet they depend on my father for upkeep.
I remember when I was a child, my dad’s elder brother who lived in Sefwi fell ill. They took him to my aunt so that she would look after him. His medical bills and general upkeep were my father’s responsibility. Even if my aunt wanted to prepare tea for him, she would come to our house for money from my dad. It was surprising what they did because every one of them had jobs. They could afford to do certain things on their own without my dad’s input but they didn’t.
My dad took care of this man at our expense. He would hold money in his hands but tell us he didn’t have money. If we asked him for school fees or money to buy books, he’d say, “Go and ask your mother, she is working. She will take care of it.” I was a child but I understood enough to be hurt by my dad’s actions.
Inevitably my uncle died. It didn’t end there. My dad bore all the funeral expenses. When everything was over, we thought he would finally do his responsibility and start taking care of us but that didn’t happen. My father’s mother got sick and she also became his responsibility. All his siblings watched him bear the cost of her medical bills and her upkeep without pitching in. They acted as if she wasn’t their mother too. He took care of her for many years until she died.
When she died, the cost of the funeral was all his to bear. After the funeral, we thought again that he would finally start paying attention to us but we were mistaken. He shifted his focus to his sister and her children. He set up a business for her and paid her son’s school fees. The boy was in SHS just like me. I was always owing school fees and got sent home while my cousin stayed in school because my father paid his fees.
I remember how I used to starve when I was in my final year. Things were really hard for my mum so she couldn’t buy me provisions. Because I was owing school fees, I wasn’t allowed to go for dining. How I survived that year, only God knows.
My mother was always angry because of my father’s behaviour. She usually said “He goes about taking care of his siblings like he is superman yet he neglects his own children. Where is the sense in that?” We moved from one rented apartment to another. Only for us to find out that my dad built a four-bedroom house for his siblings and their families to live in. When my mum confronted him about it he said, “They are my family. It’s my responsibility to take care of them.” My mother asked him “So what are we then? The children, what are they to you? Sons and daughters of your enemies?”
They argued about the house. It turned into verbal altercations. My mother resolved not to use her money to take care of the house. It became a competition between them. When something gets finished, they pretended not to notice while waiting for the other person to buy it. I am the last born so I was living with them when this was going on and I was the one who suffered when they did this.
There was a time my dad broke his thump by accident. He had to stay home for some months to heal. I noticed that none of his siblings or their children visited him. We, the family he neglected, were the ones who took care of him till he recovered. Despite all that, this man didn’t learn his lesson. He still goes above and beyond to do things for them. It makes me wonder if they have bewitched him.
One of my dad’s siblings lives abroad. He is the only one who doesn’t mooch off him. He called me recently to tell me, “There is a piece of family land we are about to share. Your father is trying to hide his part. His plan is to sell it and give the money to your cousin to help him travel abroad. I don’t support what he has been doing all these years. He won’t listen to me so find a way to get that land from him.”
I was hurt when I heard this. My brother hasn’t gotten a good job since he completed school, yet my father hasn’t thought of helping him. I told my mum about it and she got angry. These days they are always arguing. To add fuel to the fire my aunt has gotten sick and my dad has taken over her care. He pays for everything whiles my aunt’s husband sits with his hands between his thighs. I wish there was a way I could address this issue because it’s tearing my family apart. Mom has been patient through it all because she believed something will change along the line. Her faith in that change has waned so she’s fighting back.
The last time I visited them they were arguing.
I tried to get them to stop but they only got louder. In the end, I left them and went to my place. I don’t know why my father can’t see that his actions hurt our family. I don’t know what he sees in his family that makes him want to go all out for them at our expense. Sometimes I’m tempted to believe what they say. That maybe, just maybe they’ve taken his mind somewhere and it’s the reason he doesn’t care about us but them.
I want to make him see the reasons but I don’t know what to do to make him see it. When my mother tries to tell him, he gets defensive and they fight. I’m scared of the way things are going. How can I tune the clock of his mind towards us? How do I make him see how much he had hurt us and how much his continuous neglect is killing the soul of the family? How do I go about it?