As I share this experience, my heart is so blank. I don’t know if I should consider it the handiwork of destiny, or if it is just wickedness from my mother. Whatever it is, this is the ‘hot spot’ I find myself now and I am considering several decisions to take.
I grew up in a normal home with my mother and father, and three younger siblings. My growing up years was like any other child’s; either of my parents took me to school until I was old enough to go to and from school. The relationship with my two younger brothers and a sister was just perfect.
With a very impressive WAEC result, I gained admission to study Mechanical Engineering in one of the Federal Universities. But my father was particularly worried that my siblings were weak academically. I tried all I could to keep encouraging them and helping to put them through with their school home-work whenever I was around. After high school, my sister went to a Beauty and Fashion School, while my brothers decided to continue working in my father’s bakery and kept making efforts at gaining admission to college.
We were all treated equally, but most of the times, my father showed preference towards me over my brothers. He boasted of how I have made him the proud father of an Engineer, and that I must be the person to run the overall affairs of his businesses. I told him I didn’t like that and that my brothers would definitely get a college education too. My brothers knew how well I worried about their progress in academics and appreciated it with promises of not disappointing me.
After my youth service programme in 2008, I got a good job in one of the south-south states. After two years on the job, I met the love of my life and brought her home to my parents. Every member of my family was happy and we started the marriage preparations. Remembering vividly one afternoon, less than three weeks to the wedding, I got a strange call that was to bring about the turning point in my life.
The caller introduced himself and addressed me as ‘my son’. ‘Any elderly person could call a younger one son’, I thought. But it got beyond what I have ever imagined or dreamt of in my life. He revealed what I considered ‘a twist’ in my life. Calm and calculated, he sent me an errand to my mother that, ‘ go and ask your mother who this man is. Print out a copy of the picture I sent to your e-mail box and ask her who she was carrying and who the man sitting by her side is.’ When he eventually allowed me to talk, I asked him who he was and why he wanted to ruin my life at this point. He replied to say that the opportunity to find me came this late and he was glad to tell me he was my father. He said that I was only one year and four months old when my mother took me away to her new relationship and that the man I had known as ‘father’ all my life, knows very well that he was not my father and has no right to claim me as his child, even if he trained me because of his wife, my mother.
He gave me his full details and begged that even if he died without seeing me, I should go to his family. I felt like I was watching a film or having a bad dream, but it was happening to me for real! Devastated, I went to my fiancée and told her what had just happened. She broke down completely, but encouraged me to print out the photograph and go to confront my mother.
As I drove down the road close to my parent’s house, I thought of many odd things to do. I searched, but could not place a finger on any experience where I was treated like a stranger. Rather, I fought with a floodgate of memories of love from the father I had known in life. But when I looked at the picture in my hand, I saw ‘me’ in the face of the man who claims to be my ‘new and real father’; there was a striking resemblance between us.
Still holding the picture in my hand, I packed my car hurriedly in front of the house and banged the frontal door to open. My ‘former father’ was not home and my brothers were still at the bakery. I didn’t pay attention to my sister as I asked to see my mother right away. She was surprised to see me come home when it was not weekend, and she asked if it was because of the wedding preparations. My reply to her was to hold the picture before her face and asked her to tell me who the people in the picture are or else…
I probably would not have the best words to describe how wide her eyes got and how surprised she looked. Torrents of sweat drops gathered on her face as her shivering vibrated loud enough like drum beats to my ears. I got a clear answer from her reactions even before she spoke. But she opened up to confirm that that was my real father, and argued that my father had abandoned us in pretence of going in search of a job. She claimed that my former father came to our rescue and decided to adopt me as his son.
I didn’t allow anyone into the room, not even when my former father came back. Of course he guessed what might have happened and drove off again. My mother blamed everything on my new father and didn’t stop cursing him. I opened the door to meet my siblings waiting to find out what I was arguing with our mother for, but I couldn’t say a word to them. I had to go and pass the night in a hotel in town because I was still beside myself with rage. I needed to know where to place these three people and the roles they have played in my life and the situation I have found myself.
Back to my station, my fiancée stood by me and supported a postponement of the wedding because of my surname. By that very weekend I went to locate my new father. Seeing him, my emotions gave me away to tears. He was not wealthy, he didn’t live in a modern house like the one in which I was raised, but in my vein flood his blood. We embraced each other and held on in that position for as long as we could. I could not hold back tears as his flowed freely. We talked about everything, and he encouraged me to go ahead with my wedding even if he could not be present.
Where should I start from; doing a change of name to back all my certificates, going on with the wedding plans or not, loving or hating one or all of my parents?