My Dad: “Allow the boy to go to his father. If he continues hanging around your marriage, your marriage would be on its knee sooner or later. You love him, I understand but for the sake of the survival of your marriage, let him go to his father.”
My Mom: “Let him go to his father. You’re lucky. Your son’s father is still in his life and takes care of everything. Many women didn’t have it like that. Let him go to him. This is abroad we are talking about. Your son would grow into a great man and all of us would benefit in the end.”
My Pastor: Your son can’t have your husband’s name. That’s too dangerous a fight to start. Obviously, you’re left with one choice. I will tell you for a fact that the remaining choice is the best for you. Let your son go to his father. He calls him dad so he’ll do what dads do for him. Or you mean you’re the only one who can take good care of your child? What if you die today, would you go with him?”
After all these pieces of advice from these people, I still wasn’t Ok. I felt there was a way around it. I felt there was a way I can eat my cake and still have it. That’s to keep my son without changing his name and also keep my marriage intact. It’s the reason I sent my story to Silent Beads. I was looking for another opinion—an opinion that would restore the integrity of my marriage and also keep my son by my side. The comments were almost unanimous. Everyone said the same thing; let your son go to his father. That’s the only way to keep your marriage.
I said in my head, “You people think it’s easy. I just wake up one day and tell him to come for his son? Just like that? What happens to me? And he’s not even going to a place where I can see him often. Abroad? When will I see him again? Will he remember me the next time he sees me? No, I won’t take that risk. When his father asked me to abort him, I was the only one there for him. When he was born, he became my companion. When many relationships failed because I was ‘born one’, he was the only one there for me, calling me mommy and filling the emptiness in my life. Never. I won’t send him away.”
It was like I knew what to do but wasn’t ready to do it. The fire in my house kept raging on. Today, it would be off for a few days. Another day, it will light up and burn everything on its way. Our kids were picking the signals from us. It affected their energy but we never stopped fighting.
One day, we visited the home of my husband. His aunt died and we went to the funeral. When we entered the hall of their house, we saw his mother and other family members seated and having a conversation. They were all happy to see us. It was Jones’s mother who did the introduction to the extended family members around. One of them asked, “This boy too is Jones’ son? I never knew he had a grown-up son like this one.” My mom-in-law explained, “No, this one is his stepchild. His wife came to the marriage with him but the way he treats him, you won’t even know. Don’t you see they’ve come to resemble?”
Jones’ demeanor changed right away. He went inside and called his mom. I know Jones when he’s angry. The way he walks changes and the walk he took to the room was the angry type. I asked myself, “What happened? Why is this man angry?” When they came out of the room, his mom forced a smile. She came to sit next to me and whispered, “I’m sorry about the long introduction. I didn’t know you two have agreed not to talk about this issue in public. I’m sorry.”
I didn’t know what she was talking about but I forced a smile.
In the evening I asked Jones; “What happened? Your mother came to apologize to me and I don’t know what she apologized for.” He said, “It’s not anything. Just forget about that.” No, I wasn’t going to forget about it. The following day I saw her mother sitting by herself so I went to her. “Mom, you apologized to me yesterday but I didn’t understand it. I don’t know what you did that you have to apologize.” She said, “My son said I’ve embarrassed you in front of the family by telling them that you came to the marriage with a son. He said it’s something you have told him not to speak about it publicly. I didn’t know about that arrangement. That’s why I came to apologize. He screamed at me. I’ve never seen my son this angry.”
I felt so bad I started stammering. I ended up apologizing to her. I said, “Mom, it’s just a misunderstanding because I don’t know what is wrong with what you said. I’m sorry about the way he spoke to you.” His mother was clearly worried and it showed in her demeanor. When I met Jones I asked why he did that. He said, “Is she the mouthpiece of our family? Who asked her to explain our roots to mere strangers? She’s like that. She likes explaining things even when you haven’t asked for her opinion.”
One thing was clear to me after that incident. It wasn’t just jealousy or insecurity that was making my husband behave that way. He was clearly ashamed of my past and he would do everything to erase that past. It’s the reason he would want me to change my son’s name to reflect his name. It’s the reason he wouldn’t like me to call my son by his surname. It’s also the reason why he suggested I should send my son back to his father. He would do everything to cover the traces of my past—the past he didn’t live.
When we came back to our own house I asked him questions. “I understand your side of the story but what I don’t understand is what you told your mother. Where did I tell you that you shouldn’t talk about my child? When did we have that agreement that I don’t remember? If you have problems with how your mother went about things, you could have addressed it the way you want without making it look like it’s something I demanded from you. That is not right.”
It turned into an argument. He spoke his mind and I also spoke my mind. The kids heard the noise and came around. I kept quiet immediately after I saw their faces but my husband went on and on and on. Two days later, my ex-husband called and I gave the phone to my son. I didn’t even say a word to my ex. My son was on the phone talking to his dad when my husband walked briskly toward him, snatched the phone off his ears, cut the call, and ordered him to go and sleep; “It’s late. A child is not supposed to be speaking on the phone by this time.” It was around 7:30pm.
My son ran inside and my husband threw my phone somewhere. Later, I heard the phone ringing. It kept ringing and ringing and ringing, I didn’t answer. I was too broken to utter a word. My eyes have already welled up with tears. I lifted my head up and looked at the ceiling so the tears won’t fall. It fell through the corners of my eyes and entered my ears. “Wow…this is too hard.”
I called my senior sister the following day. She said, “Come home to rest your head. You’ve been through a lot.” I went with the kids. It was a Saturday. When the kids were sleeping, we talked. I told her everything and she said, “It’s time to let the boy go. You’ve allowed this boy to dictate your life for so long. It’s time you let him go so you can take control of your own life.” I was quiet. I couldn’t say a word. She was just echoing the things everyone has said to me. She continued, “I remember Obed and how he loved you. But in the end, you dropped him because he said your child will have to live with his grannies when you marry. I remember the guy with an accent too—what’s his name? The one who wanted to marry you and take you abroad.” I answered, “Ansah?” She screamed, “Yeah, that guy too. You dropped him because he was not ready to travel with you and your son. You’ve lost enough opportunities already. It’s time to live for yourself.”
I said, “I let all these guys go and settled for this one because he loved my son, now see?” She said, “You now understand it when we say men are scum? It’s not because they cheat or lie or break our hearts sometimes. It’s behaviors like these that make them scum. How can you make life so easy at first and later turn around to make it hard? Only a man can do that but as I’ve said, look out for yourself this time and allow the boy to join his father. Raise a new family and trust that he’s in good hands.”
When I was leaving my sister’s place, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I called my ex on our way and asked him, “If I ask you to come for him, how soon can you come?” He asked me. “You sound like someone in a hurry. Is everything ok?” I said, “Yes. I want him gone but I want it to happen as fast as possible before I change my mind.” I wanted him to hurry the process so I told him, “My husband wants his name on him because he wants a uniform family. So you better be quick before we change his name.” He laughed. He said, “Then I have to hurry up before he tells you to do a surgery on his face to change his resemblance to me.”
I told my husband, “The boy’s father has agreed to come for him. He’ll be around in December.” He responded, “Do whatever you like.”
He was in Ghana in December. I sent the boy to him and never saw him again until he left with him in January. The next time I heard his voice he was talking on the phone with me and telling me how cold the place was. His father bought him a phone so I can talk to him whenever I wanted to. I didn’t need to get to him through his father. I thought it was a perfect arrangement for me. We talked every day. He sent me videos of his first day at school and sent me random photos of his day and what he encountered. He sent me photos of his friends too. I loved the connection. One day he called and wanted to speak with my husband. I told him and he said, “I’m not in the mood to speak to anyone.”
One morning, I woke up and the chat with my son had been deleted from my phone. I knew he went through my phone because my phone had changed location in the morning. I asked him, “Why did you delete my chat from my phone?” He said, “Don’t ask me stupid questions. If you’re fornicating with your ex, go ahead and do it and leave me out of it. Harlot!”
Eish! Has it come to that?
It turned into a fight. He called me all the different versions of a prostitute. He said I’ve changed the name of my ex on my phone so he would not know it when he calls me. I deleted his number when he gave me my son’s number so my husband will know there was no conversation between the two of us, but he had to misinterpret it so he could pick a fight with me. My son is gone since January but the fight between us hasn’t stopped. He doesn’t give me housekeeping money which I don’t really mind. He’ll leave the house and come when he wants and If I dare ask questions, he’ll turn it into a fight. When we fight, he’ll use the fight as an excuse to stay out for as long as he wants.
Last month, I woke up at dawn and saw him going through my phone. I didn’t mind him. I just went to the bath, urinated, and came back. He threw my phone at me and said, “You think I don’t know that you’ve been deleting messages and call logs? You want to tell me that you haven’t spoken to your son for a week?” I said, “He calls me on Whatsapp. Check the call logs on Whatsapp and you’ll know we spoke just yesterday.” He screamed, “Say you’ve been speaking to your ex and not the child. Don’t use him as an excuse to get to your ex. When he was in Ghana, you were with him. I know it. Everything now shows that you two are planning on something evil.”
When you have to fight every day, it get’s tiring at some point. I was too tired to respond to him so I went to bed and put a pillow over my head. He left home the following morning and I didn’t see him again until four days later. I didn’t call him to ask where he was. I didn’t send a message. I just lived my life like all I had was my daughter. When he finally returned he said, “I’m giving you space to talk to your ex. Very soon, I’ll leave the house for you so you can bring him here whenever he’s in Ghana.”
The thing is, I’m too tired to fight back so I’m watching him at the tip end of my eyes. One day, he’ll leave and I will also leave. The thing is, he always comes back after some time but when I leave, I’ll never come back to this marriage again. I did it alone with my son until he found me. I can do it alone with my daughter too. I have a job. I have a family who understands what I’m going through and has my back. When I fall back on them, I will fall on a cushion. And That’s all I need to live a meaningful life.