According to my mother, my father left her when she got pregnant with me. They were married with two kids at the time. He wasn’t ready for a third child, so he asked my mum to get rid of the pregnancy. But she refused to do that. And he got angry and left her. When my mother finally had me, my dad’s position concerning a third child did not change. He didn’t show up to see my face. He did not even name me. After a while, she named me after her brother.
Along the line, she remarried and had three children with my stepdad. My older siblings lived with my father, and I lived with my mother. When I turned twelve, I had to help my mum sell for us to survive. Sometimes I stayed out of school to help her. I didn’t like doing that but I understood her struggles so I did what was necessary. Things were so bad that when she gave birth to our lastborn, I had to stay home for two weeks prior to my BECE. By then my stepdad had impregnated another woman and abandoned us. I would wake up at dawn to see my mother crying. If she saw that I was awake, she would pretend to be praying. All of this made me love her more. And I was willing to do anything to lessen her burden.
Things didn’t get better for us when I got to SHS. I remember how I had to gather dumped pieces of soap to use. Through all the hardships, I passed my WASSCE with good grades. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that there would be no financial support for me to further my education. I started job hunting, and after a few months, I got a job as a cashier for a Forklift company. On my third day at work, the CEO, who was a 72-year-old man proposed to me whilst giving me a ride. I was only seventeen years old then. I was so appalled by this old man that I didn’t return to the job.
After that job, I worked as a househelp. When that one didn’t work out, I got another one as a shop attendant at Kantamanto. I saved part of my salary for school and sent the rest to my mum. I was working but I was always starving. It got to a point I got severely depressed. I was certain I would lose my mind. Everyone I went to school with had moved on in life while I felt stuck working for money that I wasn’t even spending. I couldn’t give up when I felt like it, because I had to be strong for my mother.
By and by I gathered enough money for school. In 2009, I gained admission to one of the best training schools in Ghana to read medical laboratory science. On vacations, I travelled for clinical attachments at the Bimbilla government hospital. I went all the way there because the hospital gave free accommodation and bonus allowances. Which helped me continue to send money to my mother. After my national service, I met a man. He was eighteen years older than me but that didn’t matter to either of us. This man was kind and thoughtful. I could feel his love for me was genuine. We met in April and we got married in August.
Marrying my husband is the best thing that has ever happened to me. The problem is, my mother knows that too. When she realized how much he loved me, she turned dark. She started using me to milk money out of him. Meanwhile, I was already taking care of two of my younger siblings (in SHS and JHS), and sending her monthly allowance. This means I didn’t spend a penny out of my salary. Everything went to my family but it wasn’t enough for her. She was always asking me for money to do one thing or the other. If I tried to turn her down, she would say “You saw how I suffered when you were growing up. I just need this one thing to make me feel better.” And I’d feel bad and ask my husband for money.
At a point, my husband felt something was not right, “What do you use all the money for? Are you secretly in debt?” I couldn’t tell him it was for my mum. When I delivered my first child, we asked my mum to come and help us take care of the baby. She told us “I just took a loan for my business. If leave now, how will I pay back?” So my husband asked her “How much is the loan? I will pay it so you can come and help us take care of your grandchild.” He paid her GHC2000 before she came.
In 2015, I received a transfer from the North to join my husband in Kumasi. That was when things got worse with my mother. Living with my husband meant I no longer had an excuse to take money from him whenever she comes asking. I gave him a list at the end of every month and he stocked the house with everything I would need and more. So the best I could do was pay my siblings’ school fees and send her monthly allowance. This made her very unhappy. At a point, my sister whose fees I was paying in SHS gained admission to a midwifery school and my elder sister took over her care. My younger brother who I took care of in JHS, moved in with me and my husband.
Somewhere in 2018, my mum tried to sell a piece of land she owned in Accra. My husband didn’t want my family to lose the property so he bought it for me. He told me, “We can build on it and have your mum live in it until she is no more. Then you can have it for yourself.” It sounded like a good idea so I agreed to do it. My mum sold the land to us at a higher price than the market price, but we didn’t complain. We built a two-bedroom house on it, all that was left for us to complete it was roofing and some finishing touches. My mum lives in Accra while we live in Kumasi so we put her in charge of the building project.
After we’ve invested so much money into the project, she told us that some land guards planted juju on the land. In 2019, my husband and I travelled with our son to inspect the building. On our return, we got into an accident. Fortunately, we survived without a scratch. The following day, our Kia went to supply items but got involved in a serious accident. All the five workers in the car were hospitalized, and the car was badly damaged. By the grace of God, the workers survived. My husband went through huge financial losses but I never ceased praying and fasting, until we bounced back stronger than before.
I observed that whenever we sent money for the building project, we ran financial losses. So I told my husband, “I think we should put the building project on hold for now.” And he agreed with me. My mum on the other hand didn’t agree with me. She put a lot of pressure on me to finish the project but I didn’t budge. Somewhere in 2020, my elder brother who never helped us in any way connived with my mum and sold our house. She spent what she could spend out of the money, and bought a treasury bill with the rest.
I almost developed high blood pressure when I found out from my sister. My husband had to use the police to retrieve what she invested, which was GHC14,000. She was so desperate that she sold the entire house for GHC20,000. My husband got angry and sacked our lastborn from our house. The boy was preparing for his WASSCE at that time so I had to plead with my husband to let him come back. As for me, I was very ashamed of how my mother was behaving. It felt like she was trying to turn my husband against me. For days I couldn’t sleep, nor eat. My husband had to send me away on a vacation to help calm me down. I loved my mother dearly, because of everything we suffered when I was growing up but I don’t think she feels the same way about me.
The painful part about everything is, that she doesn’t feel sorry for her actions. I know that if it wasn’t for my husband’s love for me, my marriage would have been broken by now. She is still my mum but I don’t trust her anymore. I keep her at arm’s length and do whatever I can for her from afar. My brother is still living with us and he is about to go to university. I bless God for giving me a loving man to marry. And I hope someday, things will be better between my mum and me.