I wouldn’t say I’m a regular reader of your column but whenever I have the opportunity to read the Nigerian Tribune, I always looked out for your column. I love the way you publish people’s predicaments and I appreciate the manner people respond to the stories published in your column.
Taiwo, I wish to use this opportunity to tell you and your ever-concerned readers the story of my life, with the hope that they will learn a lesson or two from it. I hope you will publish this letter, not minding my style of writing.
Well, the story of my life is not unusual. I am a love child, born in a peculiar situation.
According to my mum, she met my father in a hospital in the old Ondo State. My mother was a first year student-nurse, while my father was a youth corps member in the same hospital; he had just graduated from the university as a Pharmacist. One thing led to the other and they started going out.
It was very easy for my dad to talk my mum into having an affair with him because, though, she came from a very humble and religious background; She was quite young and naive. She was so carried away by his sweet words that she didn’t realise until after they parted ways, that under normal circumstances, my father wouldn’t associate with her likes.
Along the line, my mother fell ill and she went home for the school break. That was when she discovered she was pregnant. She wrote a letter to my dad, informing him about the pregnancy, he didn’t reply; she wrote another one – ditto. Then she went back to school only to discover that my dad had left a week earlier after finishing his youth service, with no contact address.
He, however, left a note for my mum asking her to forget about him and get rid of the pregnancy. “You don’t expect me to take you home to my parents. My people will not associate with your likes,” he stated. And so, she started her ordeal through life.
First, her angry parents rejected her saying they wouldn’t harbour a prostitute and bastard. But thank God for her maternal uncle who took and cared for her. Secondly, she had to drop out of school to have her baby. Going back to school after my birth wasn’t easy for her, there was no money and there was really nobody to take care of me.
She went to a teachers’ college instead, thereby forfeiting her dream of becoming a nurse.
Her going to school afterwards was because she was determined to make something out of her life and prove that she could be somebody. And this she was able to prove because right now, my mother is a lecturer with a Ph.D to her credit. Even her parents who rejected her then now see her as the golden child of the family. They reconciled about 13 years ago.
For whatever reason (though sometimes I feel, it was because of the experience she had with my father), my mother never married. Of course, there were men, but none was able to convince her to get married. They all said she was a tough woman, blunt and unbending. But if you ask me, that toughness is just a thin layer. Underneath it is a vulnerable, hurting woman, crying to be loved. A woman, who would not want to hurt again.
I know this because, many times, even as a child, I have seen her clutching a photograph to her bosom and weeping like a child. When she would be thinking that I was asleep, I would always remember that night; as a teenager, when I forced her to talk about the picture and why she was always crying like a baby.
She told me about my father and the circumstances surrounding my birth. The way she spoke, I guessed she still cared about him; but still hurt. Probably that was why she made me bear my father’s surname. That night, she made me promise her that I would study Medicine, to make her dreams come true and give her joy.
Sometimes, I feel that my mum was indirectly living her life through me, wanting me to become what she couldn’t be and better off than my father. Not that I minded, after all, it was just the two of us, we had each other and would do anything to make each other happy.
After I left the medical school, I did my housemanship in Lagos, and there, I met Bolanle, a co-house officer. I was attracted to her at first sight and she seemed attracted to me too. I later got to understand why I was attracted her. She told me I looked to much like one of her father’s friends who incidentally bears my name.
She asked if I knew Chief Oladele, I said no. She said I should ask my father if he knew the man; I said I couldn’t because I didn’t have one and didn’t care for one anyway! I have a caring and hardworking mother, and that’s all I needed. I started avoiding Bolanle when she wouldn’t stop pestering me about this issue.
On a fateful day, I was not on call, while I was having a quick nap, Bolanle breezed into my flat and bullied me into taking her out for a date, but with a promise that she won’t talk about the Oladele man.
I don’t need a father now!(II)
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On our way, Bolanle stopped in front of a big pharmacy. She said she just wanted to say hello to someone, I followed her with the intention of breaking the neck of any man who dare snatch my date, but the person wanted to say hello to turned out to be Chief Oladele – her father’s friend!
She introduced me to him on first name basis and continued to chat with him. I knew Bolanle planned the meeting so that I could see for myself, but I could not chastise her because my curiosity had been raised.
I was not just curious, I was amazed as well. Right there, I understood why Bolanle was bent on my meeting Chief Oladele. He was not just an older version of me; he also looked like the man in the picture my mother kept to herself. That day, while Chief and Bolanle were chatting, I kept my peace and a straight face, even after we left the place, I didn’t say a word about it to Bolanle.
The following weekend, I went home and picked the picture without telling my mum; I went to look for Chief Oladele, it took me about three weeks before I was able to track him down. When he eventually granted me an audience, I asked him where he did his youth service; he said a hospital in former Ondo State. I asked him if he knew a student nurse by the name Idowu, he said no and added that student-nurses weren’t his type, so he couldn’t remember relating with any of them. Then I showed him the picture and asked him if he knew the man and woman in the picture.
He took a look at the picture and started sweating. He kept on looking at the picture, then at my face. After what seemed like an eternity, he asked me where I got the picture from. I told him it belonged to my mum.
He then confessed that he knew the people in the picture and went on to narrate his own side of the story. He said he wanted just a brief affair, not one that would tie him down especially with someone like my mother.
After his story, I made him realise that the stone that was rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone. Idowu, (my mum), whom he thought would always be a low-class breed to people like him, is now a senior lecturer and the bastard child (me) is now a medical doctor. I told him it was nice knowing him and I left his office.
I was pleased with myself for the calm way I handled the issue. I was still feeling that way when I narrated the whole incident to my mother later. In her case, she had mixed feelings; women can really be unpredictable. Chief Oladele, tried mending things with me using different tactics but I ignored him. I don’t need a father at my age.
A man who didn’t want to associate with my mum then, because she was a nobody. Now, he wants to relate with her because she’s now a success in her profession. A father who didn’t want a child born by a nobody but now wants him because he has made something out of his life, so that he could proudly say; “That’s my first son, he is a medical doctor”, a father who wants me now because his other children are a bunch of irresponsible lots.
Chief Oladele went looking for my mother and apologised for his wrongdoing. Before I knew it, they have started relating as if they didn’t have a tale to tell about the past.
My guess was right. My father had a very strong hold on my mother and she still loved him despite all what happened. Where my father was concerned, the iron-lady is an illusion. Imagine some weeks ago, my mother told me they (my parents) were thinking of coming together as husband and wife. I understand how she felt, but I had to be blunt with her. I made her realise that I do not trust Chief Oladele, and he could hurt her again. There was no indication my dad had changed, maybe what he needed was just someone to add a new feather to his cap.
I also made her to realise that, though, she wasn’t happy, she had been living a peaceful and simple life. Chief Oladele’s life could only mean complications. Take the case of his many women (past and present) and his unruly children as an example; it wouldn’t be wise for us to get involved with a family ruled by anger, envy, devilish manipulations and other vices. I don’t know what my mum was up to, but it is her decision.
As for me, I have decided not to get entangled in my father’s affair. I have forgiven him (thanks to mum and Bolanle, now my fiancée). I am glad to know my root and I don’t feel any bitterness towards my father. I have been living a simple life; I can’t afford to have it complicated by my father.
Sometimes, he would invite me for a family gathering or function and in almost all, I politely refused. Not that I am being proud or unforgiving, I just don’t want any problem for my life. You can imagine how his other wives and children would feel about me.
As I said earlier, my story isn’t unusual but it serves as a lesson to those people who judge by physical appearance to see into the future.
Taiwo, I hope I haven’t bored you with my story, but really I would like you to publish it because I believe that the more people get to read about things like this, the better our lives would be.