• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Another Father’s day

12 Money Tips for Fathers

My mother and grandma are the only parents I’ve ever known. As I grew older and began to ask questions about my father, I would be reprimanded for asking “stupid” questions. Any mention of my father was a sacrilege so I avoided it as best as I could, at least for the sake of peace. In my young mind, I knew that it was only a matter of time. A day would come and I will ask about my father and nobody will be able to shut me up then.

The day finally came and it was father’s day. Our local church was agog with activities as they chose to celebrate fathers for the very first time. It had been a very interesting day and it served as an opportunity for me to ask all the question that had been eating me up for a very long time. I was almost 21 years old and I deserved to know about my father and his family.

As if on cue, my Ma and grandma asked me to sit down. It was time to reveal the well kept, age long secret. They knew they could no longer bully me into silence. When my mother bit into her bitter kola and starred into space with that far away look, I knew it was going to be a very serious talk. She sighed and took a deep breath then she recounted the most chilling story I’ve ever heard.

Ma’s POV:

When your father and I got married, things were tough for us but we loved each other deeply and we were very happy. We could barely survive on his income as a clerk at the local government development centre. I had a petty trade store by the side, business was good but we ended up eating everything I had in the store including the little profit I made. We were scraping and feeding from hand to mouth and just living one day at a time. Then I became pregnant and as if things couldn’t get any worse, our landlord increased our rent. We couldn’t afford to pay the new rent so we had to move in with my in-laws.

Nothing prepared us for the kind of things we faced when we started living with your father’s family. My parents were also poor but I knew they could never treat anybody with contempt and disdain especially their own child. Sometimes I asked your father if the woman we lived with was his biological mother because of the awful way she treated him.

My mother in-law had a cocoa farm and fortune smiled on her when she made huge sales from selling her produce to some foreigners. Your father asked her for a loan but she refused. He wanted to open a store for me, he wanted me to have something doing so that I would not have to be in the house all the time but his mother responded that her money was not for lazy people.

Not too long after that, your father became very sick. We could not afford treatment at the health centre so all I could do was cook herbs for him to drink. The herbs were obviously not working because his condition gradually grew worse until he began to have seizures. At this point, his mother suggested that I take him to the hospital and I reminded her that my husband and I did not have that kind of money. She did not hesitate to tell me how wretched and beggarly her son was and how we were constituting a nuisance in her house. However, she grudgingly agreed to pay for his treatment.
Thankfully she made an initial deposit of #2,000 naira and the nurses sprung into action. The struggle to keep your father alive was fierce, the nurses worked round the clock to make sure he got well. I could see their efforts and I could tell that they did their best but your father succumbed to the illness after three weeks. I was devastated and my heart was broken. I was shattered and it was a surprise that I did not loose my pregnancy. My best friend was gone. He was a very good man and his only crime was that he was poor.

Trouble started when we wanted to take his corpse for burial. We were asked to clear the outstanding bill of #30,000 naira before the body would be released to us. I ran around to sell my sewing machine and some other things I could lay my hands on and I was able to raise about #7,000 naira which they collected but still refused to release my husband’s corpse to me. I did not want to feel entitled, but I knew that my mother in-law was the only person that could help me out at that point. She made over two million naira from her cocoa sales so what I was asking from her was a drop in the bucket yet she stood her grounds not to give a dime. In her words, “if the hospital would not release her son’s corpse to me, then they could go ahead and eat it”. And that was how it turned out. Till date, I have no clue what happened to your father’s corpse. We could not offset the bill and like they say “the rest is history”.

A few days after his death, a letter of appointment came for him from the city. He had been offered a job at the governors office. His mother’s only regret was that this could have been a good opportunity for her to walk around the village with pride because her son worked with the governor. I knew that I couldn’t continue living in her house. I didn’t even feel safe around her anymore, so one morning, I packed my bags and left and I never looked back.

I listened in shock as my Ma told me this sad story. The pain was still visible in her eyes. I was speechless. It had taken her so long to tell me this story yet I wasn’t prepared for what I heard. How cruel could a mother be to her own child?

I can’t imagine how painful the experience was for my mother. So painful that she never got married again.

I finally got the answers to my questions but I was content with just being my mother’s son. I didn’t need to know who my father’s family were. If they never thought it was important to go look for my mother after she left, if not for anything, at least because of the pregnancy she left with, then they were not worthy to be a part of my life.