Where Is Daddy?

 

As a little girl growing up, everything was always mommy-mommy-mommy and I would wonder whether I had a dad or not. I must have been around 3years or 4 years old when I got curious about seeing my dad. Everyone in school always talked about their daddy, some had their dads came to school to pick them or drop them; so where was my own dad?

I began to pester my mom – “where is my dad?” I had no idea what he looked like – I’d never seen his picture because, somehow, there was no picture of him in the house at all. I didn’t know why and, till now, I don’t know why.

My mom kept telling me that when the time was right, she’d tell me everything about my dad. When I turned ten, my mom sat me down and told me the story of things that had happened when I was born. According to my mother, I was born in the house – my father wasn’t around when she had me.

When they took the news to him that his wife had had a child and he knew that the child was a girl, he made it clear that what he wanted was a male child and since my mother had had only girls (I have an elder sister), he wasn’t going to be responsible for the raising of the children. I was told that he moved out of the house from then and never came back home. My naming ceremony was handled by family members from my mom’s side but I was told he sent a name that he wanted me to bear.

Relatives from my mother’s side threw a party my tenth birthday with the hope that the party would be an opportunity for my father to show up and for us to meet but he never showed up. I kept bugging my mom that I wanted to meet my dad and so she gave in and took me to a house in Bodija – it was the dad’s family house. I remember very well that we met a woman there – she told us that she didn’t know the whereabouts of my dad. Whether she lied to cover him up or something, I wouldn’t know but we thanked her and left. Still, I wasn’t satisfied.

I was the kid who would never give up and so I kept pestering my mom and her younger sister that they had to find my dad. Months after my tenth birthday, my mom’s friend told her that they had found my dad – he was living in a house in Ijokodo. My mother and I went to the house at Ijokodo but we met no one.

A neighbour came out to us. When we described who we had come to see, the neighbour told us the person fitting that description lived in the house truly and that he was married with a boy child. I was only ten years but I would never forget how that piece of news devastated my mom. Right there, she burst into tears and for whatever reason, I burst into tears too. We left a message for him and we told the neighbour to tell him we came and that was it. We never heard from him afterwards.

After my tenth year – having seen that my mom had tried her best to link me up with my father, I stopped bothering her about it.

Growing up was difficult. It was really hard for my mom raising us all by herself. Putting me through school did not come easy at all. Wanting the best for me, she put me in private schools for my primary and secondary school education. When I was in primary school, there was a time she hawked yoghurt for people, I saw her struggle – did all sort of jobs just to take care of my sister and me. It wasn’t a pleasant experience at all. One of my mom’s sisters and few people around showed us support but then it was not enough to see us through. At some point, I suggested to her to remarry but she refused – she said she already had two children and she only wanted to focus on raising us.

My mom is a strong person – she tries as much as possible not to let the state of things weigh her down. She is a prayerful woman and I believe that her faith is one of the reasons why she has been able to pull through so far. Sometimes when it gets overwhelming for her, I’d remind her to trust God to see us through, I’d assure her that everything will be alright. But I also had my moments; I had times when I’d wonder why God let me come into the world through a man who refused to show up and play his role. Why would others have great, responsible dads and I didn’t? In those moments, I’d sometimes breakdown and cry.

My mother is a typist on campus – she types assignments, final year projects etc for students. Right after my secondary school, I joined her in the trade just to support her. For the next two years after I left Secondary school, that was what I did – I’d go with her to the shop, try to get customers for her while she did the typing. I also do private lesson for children – had parents who got me to teach their kids after school. I did this just to augment the pool of money that was disposable to us as a family.

After two years of working with her at the shop, I got admission to study in UI but then, a familiar problem – money – reared its head. I was meant to pay an Acceptance Fee before I could do anything else and we didn’t have the money. The fee was twenty thousand naira and the deadline was really close. Nothing was coming forth from the business and no help seemed to be coming from anywhere. I told her that she shouldn’t wear herself out trying to raise the money; if I couldn’t get the money, I’d forfeit the admission and try again the next year. As God would have it, a church member who happened to be a lecturer in UI paid for my acceptance fee and that was how I got admitted into UI.

Knowing where I was coming from and my journey so fat, once I got into UI, I began to seek ways to not be dependent on my mom. Someone connected me to a woman who could hook me up with jobs while I studied. I went to see the woman and she informed me that I couldn’t start right away – I had to finish my first year and my GP (grade point) would determine whether I could work or not. At the end of my 100 level, I informed the woman that my GP was a second class upper and so I was enlisted for work. My mom did not want me to work, she wanted me to focus solely on school but then I reminded her that I needed to support her and – at the very least – not be a burden on her. In the end, she agreed.

From my 200 level, up until I graduated, I was schooling and working. We didn’t always have jobs every day and so that meant I lived on whatever I got from one job to the next. For a job, I could earn N2000; I’d have to feed and live on that till the next job came along. There were times when, in order to make some money to sustain myself, I’d have to skip classes. My best friend and I were in the same hostel and class; she used to cover for me anytime I had to skip school. Even though my mom knew that I was working in order not to be a burden on her, she still always gave me the little that she had. Sometimes, too, my aunty would call me and send whatever she had. This was how I lived, one day at a time.

The money I made from working was to sustain myself daily, I couldn’t save for anything. By the time I was going to my third year, a situation arose – I couldn’t pay my school fees. My mom was struggling to raise the money but things were just tight. Generally, I find it difficult to ask people for help; if I don’t have something, I try all my best to get it by myself without being a burden on someone else. At some point, I made up my mind that if I couldn’t raise the money then I’d drop out of school. In those hard years and those tough moments, I had opportunities to be wayward and to follow a different path but my mom had laid a Christian foundation for us and for me, I knew I had to stay steadfast.

I belonged to a campus fellowship, Redeemed Christian Fellowship; at the fellowship I was always a cheerful, playful person. On one occasion, as I carried the weight of my struggles to raise my school fees, a sister in fellowship (her name is Ronke) walked to me and asked me why I looked dull and downcast. I didn’t want to tell her at first but she was persistent and, in the end, I opened up to her regarding the school fees. She made a case for me to the fellowship and they paid my third year school fees.

Even though my sister and I aren’t on great terms, that year she chose to pay my accommodation and that was how I secured a room in the Hall of residence. My final year, God raised people for me and even though things were not easy, I made it through nonetheless and I graduated. I had my NYSC in Ogun State and I returned to Ibadan.

One Sunday in December of 2020, I got a call from my mother. She informed me that there had been a development and that I should come to her church. At that time, my mom and I had begun to attend different churches. My father’s younger sister had gone to meet my mom at her church and was requesting to meet me upon the wishes of my dad. Apparently, my dad knew the church my mom was attending and had told his sister to come find us.

I told my mom that I wasn’t interested in acknowledging anyone from my dad’s side and I told her not to give anyone my number to call me; but then my mom told me that if I saw my aunty, then I’d have seen my dad because they looked exactly alike. Out of a sheer desire to know what my dad looked like, I decided to come around but I told my mom that I’d not official meet the woman – I’d just stay a couple of feet away and see what she looked like.

I got to my mom’s church and saw my mom outside talking to a woman. I came close enough to hear their conversation but I just stood randomly like a stranger waiting for someone or a cab.

I heard her say she wanted to meet the child that her brother abandoned, me. She said that provided my mom would allow me see him, my father wanted to meet me and apologize for all those years he was away. She also said my dad did not come himself because he was worried that my mom was a harsh woman; this was so untrue – anyone who knew my mom would tell you that she’s the farthest from harsh or troublesome.

The woman asked my mom what I was up to and where I was then – my mom declined to answer. She asked my mom for my number and my mom refused to avail her my number. My mom asked her to drop my dad’s number and that if I was so inclined to be in touch with him, I’d reach out. His sister refused to drop his number too. The church service was on and she needed to return into the church; my father’s sister kept pleading but my mom wouldn’t divulge any information. Where I stood, I was pissed.

You abandon a child from the moment she’s born and then you send your sister to be following up on her after she completes NYSC. You didn’t contribute a kobo to her life and you suddenly come knocking after twenty-something years. Were you expecting her to come running into your arms like a two-year-old girl whose dad just came back from work? He couldn’t even own his mistake and show up in person, instead he sent his sister. That was the only time there was ever any effort from him to reach out till date.

After I completed the NYSC program, getting a job was hard. I knew I couldn’t just sit down at home and still be relying on her for my feeding and upkeep without bringing something to the table. I took a job as a teacher in a private school – my salary was N18000 and tax deductions were still made on the salary; that was less than my allawee during NYSC. I kept applying to organizations but the salaries they offered was nothing to write home about.

I couldn’t sit with an N18000 salary job, so anytime I saw any call for applications, I would put in my application. I was a young woman without any option. In 2020, there was a call by the Oyo State Civil Service Commission that the government was recruiting teachers. I applied. I heard nothing regarding that and, some how, I just forgot about it.

I got another job at another private school through a friend. The pay was slightly better than N18000 but the distance to where we lived was far. I worked at the new job for three months and it was extremely stressful. I had to stay with my aunt’s place which was closer to the school. I lost so much weight that when my mom saw me, one time that I came home, she almost cried.

After my third month at the school, I resigned and came back to live with my mom. A day or so after I resigned, I got a text that I had been scheduled for a CBT by the Ministry of Education for the recruitment of prospective teachers. I wrote the test and I passed. From April 2021-August 2021, I was at home doing nothing and in September 2021, I resumed as a teacher with the Oyo State government.

With all of these things that I went through, it made me not fancy the idea of getting into a relationship or marriage. I used to feel like if a man could dump his whole family merely because he had female children and not male then any man can do anything. For that I grew up detesting men and I never made room for any guy to get too close to me. I had men toasting me but I never gave them a chance.

In my fourth year, I heard a sermon in church about forgiveness and letting go; it felt like the preacher was speaking right to me. That day I went home and cried so hard. I prayed to God to help me go through the healing process completely. God came through for me and I had a mental shift; now I see that even though my dad may have done what he did; still, not all men are the same.

I still have all the memories of all that we went through, sometimes it still hurts.

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