When she realized I was getting serious about her, she told me, “I have a son. He’s four. The circumstances surrounding his birth is a story I don’t want to remember. It’s the reason why I haven’t told you all this while so just in case you don’t know, I’m telling you today that I have a child.”
The announcement shook me a little but I was too far gone. I had been in love with her for a very long time I didn’t know how to deal with the information she gave me. I asked her, “Is the child’s father around?” She said, “Nope. Since the day I announced to him that I was pregnant, I haven’t seen him again.” “He didn’t accept the responsibility?” I asked. She answered, “He accepted that he was responsible for the pregnancy but that was how far it went. He was pushing me to get rid but I didn’t. He got angry and left the picture.”
It took me some days to come to terms with the fact that the woman I loved had a child. It changed the dynamics of everything but I was so sure we were going to end up just fine. The only hurdle I had to cross was convincing my parents about her. We dated for one and a half years before I took her home to meet my parents. Mom liked her instantly. Dad was just being a dad. He didn’t show any emotion towards her. He met her just like he would meet any of my friends. A couple of months later I told my mom; “Do you know that Esi has a child? Yeah, she does but the father of the child is not in the picture.”
She screamed, “Then why didn’t you say it earlier? Does it mean you didn’t know until now?” I told her, “I knew it right from the start but I wanted to be sure about her before telling you anything. Yes, she has a child.” She advised, “Don’t you think you need a fresh beginning? A woman with a child comes with certain unforeseen issues. The love would be good today but in future when you’re living together things may change. The father may not stay aloof forever. He might come back to claim what’s rightfully his and linger around. Are you ready for that?”.
When we started talking about marriage, I brought my mom’s perspective into the conversation. “Your child, what happens to him after we marry? I’m not talking about now, I’m talking about the future and every implication that may crop up.” She retorted, “You don’t have to worry about that boy at all. He’s your own just as he’s mine. He doesn’t have a father. Do you know his full name? He bears my father’s name because there’s no father anywhere. When we marry, you can even decide to put your name on him and I won’t mind. You’ll be the father automatically.”
When she realized I had concerns about her child, she involved her parents. Her dad called me on the side one day and made it emphatically clear; “That boy calls you dad already and nothing is going to change. I will ensure that. You’re free to use him the way you desire to use him. He’s your child, train him the way you want, take him to any school you desire, shape his future like he’s your own son because he is.” I spoke to my dad about it and he said, “I don’t even know why you guys are going up and down with this issue. Do you want to marry? Then go ahead. Her child would be your child. I don’t see why that should be a problem between you two. Are you the only one going to have a stepchild? I was a stepchild too but I turned out just fine. Just feel free.”
So a year later, we got married and moved in together with the boy. We needed a new school for the child so we went around searching for a school together. When we finally found one and they asked for the boy’s name, my wife added my surname to the boy’s first name. The woman wrote it down and sold the forms to us. My wife filled the form and wherever the boy’s name appeared, he wrote my surname as the boy’s name. I had no problem with that. We had already had a conversation about it. Even if she maintained the boy’s name, I wouldn’t have had issues with it. We were already married so little things like that didn’t bother me.
I took sole responsibility for the boy. I paid his school fees and paid for extra classes too. I bought his books and uniforms. Everything that has to do with the boy, I provided. My wife would ask for it and I would provide it. A year after marriage, she got pregnant. We had a girl. Our home was finally balanced; a boy and a girl. A boy and his sister. The boy is currently ten years old. We had a beautiful family where everything worked out just fine. We lived within our means and saved what ought to be saved for the future.
During one of those school vacations, my wife told me she was taking the boy to his grandparents for the vacation. I didn’t shake my head. He left a day after the vacation. I was looking for some papers in our drawers when I came across a sealed envelope that looked like it was being hidden in plain sight. It had a tape running over the lip of the envelope. It looked new and heavy and that piqued my interest. I tore off the tape. It was the term reports of the boy. I nearly put them away until something caught my attention. The name on it was different. The boy’s surname had been changed. It no longer had my name and it didn’t have the name of my father-in-law too.
My wife was on the outside so I walked to her with the envelope in my hand. I asked, “What’s the explanation for this? The boy’s name had been changed? What happened and whose name is he bearing now.” The fear in her eyes told me half of the story even before she opened her mouth. She answered, “I was going to tell you but my father said I should leave it to him to handle it but somehow, he hasn’t been able to tell you. Now that you’ve found out, I think I have to tell you myself.”
The boy’s father came back. When he did, he went to meet my wife’s family and they thrashed out the issue. According to my wife, that happened a year before I found out. The man was made to pay a huge sum of money as compensation and was asked to pay for the upkeep of the boy. In return, he would have access to the boy for bonding. My wife told me the boy was going to spend the vacation with her parents not knowing the boy was being sent to his father and that was the second time something of that nature was happening.”
The first thing I did was call my father-in-law; “Is that true? That the boy’s father is in the picture now and you were the one who steered the affairs?” His answer was, “I’m sorry but I was waiting for the right time to tell you. Forgive me, we would come home and talk about it.” I cut the line and threw myself on the bed. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t disappointed. I was so angry I wanted to hit someone for playing me for a fool. They said it had been a year but within that year, I had been the one paying for everything. “What sort of stupidity is that? Do they take me for a fool?”
My wife saw the state I was in and she left the house. I called to find out her whereabouts and she told me, “I was scared you might hit me. I’m so sorry about everything.” I screamed, “So where are you?” She answered, “I’m home.” I told her, “That’s alright but don’t come back ever again. Stay there, and when your son returns from vacation, keep him there with you. If I see your face around here, I swear it wouldn’t be good news for you and your family.”
I was ashamed when I ran back home to tell my parents what has happened. I knew my mom was going to say, “I told you so but you didn’t listen.” She heard my story and said, “That’s evil. What did you do wrong to deserve this evil? I thought your in-laws were human beings too. How could they treat another human like that?” My dad was burning with rage so he couldn’t say much, He said, “Let’s wait and see what they would do.”
Finally, the two families sat down. My wife’s dad accepted their mistake and apologized profusely for it. He said, “To compensate for everything that has happened, we would give the money we took from the boy’s father to you. After this, the boy won’t live with you again. We will find a way to get his situation sorted but accept our apology and let’s not push the pain any further.” My dad asked, “What do you think?” I answered, “I don’t need their money. The embarrassment they’ve caused me goes deeper than this money can fill. I will take my daughter. My wife is free to go on and live her life. After today, we won’t have a marriage. She’s capable of worse things if she can hide something of this nature from me.”
They thought they could resolve the issues and fix the marriage but I wasn’t going to allow them to mend what they’ve broken with their own hands. Once trust is broken, life becomes harder. I wasn’t going to walk in the shadows questioning the next move of my wife. We are still in court finalizing our divorce. It hasn’t been easy, the ups and downs and the emotional stress but I believe once the divorce is over, I will rest my mind and give my heart the break it deserves.