Opinion

Growing up was a nightmare for me

By Odeh

hezodehh@gmail.com

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The first born in a family of five, the earliest memories I have is my mother mistreating me. As a young child, I could not understand why the one woman who should have loved me unconditionally treated me with such contempt.
She made me do all the house chores. I would clean the house, wash the clothes and cook for my younger siblings.
As the other kids enjoyed playing outside, I was forbidden from playing with them and when not in school, I was confined to the house.
I hated home and my only consolation was when I was at school. I always yearned for daybreak and literally counted the hours to class. Never mind I had to prepare breakfast for my siblings and prepare them before they went to school.
My mother beat me at the slightest provocation. The beatings were so frequent, I almost got used to them. Her hatred for me was so intense that she would even tell me to take drugs and die. Over and over, she would tell me how much she regretted giving birth to me.
“Die you rotten child!” She would shout at me. She even went to the extent of offering me a rope to hang myself.
On the other hand, my dad was an angel. He was always there for me and offered a listening ear.
In fact, when I got my first monthly period, dad was the one I confided in. He bought for me sanitary towels and thereafter would buy them monthly. Unfortunately, my mother would go livid and would take the pads away from me.
Every time dad came to my rescue, mum would almost kill me in anger. I could not understand why my dad was so good to me yet my mum was the exact opposite.
I remember my parents had frequent fights though in my young mind I could not understand why they fought. One night, however, as they were fighting, I overheard a conversation I probably should not have but which changed my life forever.
“Why don’t you return her back to her people?” my father said. What a way to learn that the man I had respected and known as my father was not my biological dad!
Hot tears of confusion flowed down my cheeks. I could not share with anyone what I had just heard. I had no friends to turn to as my mother had forbidden me from making any. All alone with no one to verify or deny my story, things went from terrible to unbearable. Soon after, my maternal grandmother passed on and mum had to go to the village for her burial.
That night my dad came home very drunk. He opened the door of the room I shared with my siblings. I’m not sure but I thought I heard him lock the door. I held my breath and waited. Suddenly, he yanked the blanket off me so hard, I shook in fear. Dad was visibly agitated and I could not figure out what had angered him so much. Shaking like a leaf I asked him if he wanted food. He replied in the affirmative but asked me to fetch his phone from their bedroom where he said he had forgotten it.
In my innocence I headed to their bedroom. As I looked around for my dad’s phone, I heard heavy footsteps behind me and the door locking. When I turned around, I saw my dad staring down at me and breathing heavily. He threw me on the bed he shared with mum and before I knew what was going on, he tore of my pants.
My plea for him to stop fell on deaf ears as he mercilessly raped me. When he was done with his heinous act, he threw me out of the room. I was bleeding profusely as I ran into the darkness. I wished I would die. My young mind could not comprehend what just happened.
I ran into the darkness, confused with blood oozing out of my private parts. I was reeling from what had just happened. The man I had known as my father all my life had thrown me on his own matrimonial bed and robbed me of my innocence.
Then it hit me that I had nowhere to run. Furthermore, the thought of what my mother would do to me if she knew I had left my siblings unattended scared me more and I slowly made my way back to the house. As I lay in bed that fateful night, I could not understand why children suffered so much? Why was the world so cruel? Maybe if I lived with my biological dad I would never have been raped. These thoughts flooded my mind and I did not realize how soon morning came.
The following morning, I forced myself out of bed to prepare breakfast for my mother’s family. My dad demanded for his breakfast like the previous night never happened. It was business as usual for him but business unusual for me. No amount of tears was going to change what happened.
I did not bother to tell my mum that her husband had raped me. She would never believe me. Unfortunately, I conceived and it became harder to hide the pregnancy as the months went by. Also, my parents seemed to fight more often. My father now openly showed his dislike towards me.
“Take her back to her people. She doesn’t belong here,” I heard him telling my mum during one of their fights. Mum said she could not in my current condition.
Due to my advanced pregnancy, I dropped out of school in Form Two. My relationship with my mother had hit rock bottom and she did not even take me for ante-natal clinics.
I remember when the labour pains came knocking; I laboured for two days. On the third night, they were so intense and I had no idea what was going on. I took a walk outside trying to figure what was happening to my body. When I could take it no longer, I shouted to my mum for help.
Instead of taking me to hospital, she turned our already crowded house into a hospital. Yes, my mother, with no medical background became my midwife! All I remember was her cutting me up with a razor blade saying that I had refused to push. In spite of everything, my daughter bore my mother’s name. I was now a mother but had never experienced the love of a mother. How was I going to love my child? All I knew was hatred.
I wasn’t sure whether it was because my daughter was a product of rape or I was following in my mum’s footsteps, but I could not accept my daughter and I loathed her like hell! Life continued to be hard and one night, I ran away from home leaving my daughter behind.
That evening I was ready to become a street girl but luckily I was rescued by a Good Samaritan. He was a nice gentleman and we ended up ‘getting married’. This was not really my choice but I preferred this new life to my mother’s house.
We were happy initially as a family and we got two boys. Life, however, seemed intent on dishing me its worst. My relationship with my sons’ dad started going south. Eventually we broke up and I was left alone to raise my three children.
Yet again I was all alone in the world with no one to turn to. My mother had made it obvious she wanted nothing to do with me. She had even disowned me publicly and said she wanted nothing to do with me.
In my distress, I had sought out my biological father and managed to trace him but somehow my mum managed to ruin our relationship by poisoning him against me.
I’m currently living in another twon with my three children; mum had demanded that I pick up my daughter from home when I got ‘married’. Life as a single mum is very challenging. To make ends meet, I am the local dobie woman. I wash clothes for my neighbours and sell detergent. I don’t make much but I’m able to feed my kids.
My daughter is now 14 and I’m glad that by the grace of God, I have been able to love her and accept her. As she was growing up, I realised that I had allowed my mother’s hatred to consume my heart and I had transferred it to my innocent daughter.
Hatred is a powerful emotion and it can blind you and cause you to do regrettable things. I could no longer let my daughter go through the pain I had experienced. I try to live a day at a time.
On several occasions, I have tried to reach out to my mother. Sadly, she has continued to reject me.
I remember a recent incident when I could not raise school fees for my daughter who is in now Form One. She had to stay home. My mother reported me to the police that I had refused to educate my daughter and somehow managed to get me arrested.
Luckily, I was able to explain my case at the police station and was released to go look for school fees. Instead of assisting me, she still enjoys seeing me suffer. She even told me she would want to see me rot in jail.
It breaks my heart that the woman who gave me life wants nothing to do with me. I have forgiven her and I hope one day she will embrace me as her daughter.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY:
The devil is out there seeking to devour families with hatred, anger and bitterness. But the good way to fight back is by forgiving one another. Right from ourselves. This is how it goes, Forgive yourself, forgive your brother and/or sister. We will all become united. A united family begats a united church, a united church begats a united country and UNITED COUNTRY ATTRACTS GOD’S BLESSINGS.
….odeh!!

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