This story was told to one of Life Touchers Africa Network’s contributing writers and has been edited for readability. Names have been changed for the purpose of anonymity.
When I see my mates go to school with their basic needs met by their parents, I always admire the privilege the universe has given them on a platter of gold. I wished I had the same privilege. I wished I had a responsible father, and that my mum didn’t die.
My name is Abike I grew up with my police officer dad and my mum who sells provisions from a kiosk situated at the front of our house.
Growing up, I often watched my mum and dad fighting loudly over minor issues, most times because my dad had accused my mum of being the cause of his nemesis. According to him, my mum is the antagonist of his destiny, she’s either the one stopping his timely promotion at his job or the one causing his setbacks in life.
My dad always hits my mum at every chance he gets. When I was 10 years old, a fight ensued between them which led to mum rheumatic buildup on her right leg. She battled with this until her passing.
I remember vividly what happened on that day. It was my graduation from primary school. Mum attended alone as usual. I have always looked forward to my dad attending, even if just for once, but he only knows how to promise.
Was I always disappointed? Yes, I was, but at the same time, I was always happy to have my mum show up.
Mum and I got home late that day and unfortunately for us, my dad got home before us. My mum had earlier concluded that we would have the food we brought from the graduation ceremony for dinner since we had only a few foodstuffs left at home.
When my dad got home and realized that there was no food, he waited furiously for our arrival and pounced on my mum the moment we stepped into the house. Mum struggled to release herself from his grip and ran out, but he chased after her.
In a bid to outrun him, my mum fell and got seriously injured. Only then did he stop chasing after her. The injury healed but she suffered a build-up of rheumatism on her right leg had rheumatism and that didn’t stop my dad from beating her after that.
The most annoying part of it is that my dad hardly put down money for our upkeep yet whenever he’s around he demands food cause according to him my mum was the one causing setbacks for him so she should be able to cater for the house through her shop sales.
Come to think of it: how much can one possibly make from sales of sweets, biscuits and other minor provisions? My mum’s customers usually owed her so the inflow of funds was greatly limited, and our food ration was usually 0-0-1 or 1-0-0.
To minimize cost, I attended public schools from primary school to secondary school. Whenever my dad had money he either gambled with it or spent it on alcohol giving my mum little to nothing for our upkeep.
The unfortunate event that put an end to everything happened during the period I was preparing for my post-UTME screening into UNILAG. A fight ensued between my dad and mum over the need for my dad to give me my post-UTME fee as the registration deadline was close.
I thought it was just one of their many arguments so I ignored them. All of a sudden I heard my mum’s scream, I ran into the room to check what was going on, and I was dismayed to see her lying dead on the floor bleeding from her forehead.
My dad ran out as I was entering the room. I screamed for help but by the time the neighbours started trooping in, it was too late.
I wished I had come into the house when the argument began to compel them to stop. Perhaps that would have prevented him from hitting and killing her. I wanted the fight to never happen, and I wished I had never told my mum that I want to apply for admission to UNILAG.
I wished my mum was given a second chance to live. I wished her life was not cut short by her irresponsible and violent husband.
She had always wanted to leave my dad’s place but she said she would wait till I had finished secondary school and gained admission to gather money for accommodation.
I wished she hadn’t died, maybe I would have had the chance to go to university. Now, I’m left all to myself alone in this cruel world.
A few months ago, my dad sent me out of the house claiming I was a bastard anyway. I sought shelter in the solace of the outer space of people’s shops at night, I survived in the day by hustling to sell sachet water and soft drinks on the expressway of Abuja.
I’m going to keep giving my best shot at life. First, I’ll try to stay alive. And perhaps in the future, I might be able to see myself through school and make meaning out of my life.