My mother didn’t go to school so she started trading very early. When she met my dad, she was only twenty-two years but was handling a very successful foodstuff store in the market. My father wanted to marry her but he didn’t have anything going for him. He didn’t have a permanent job and was still living in his family house. My mom thought the condition wasn’t right for them to get married so they waited until my father had a job as a driver for a certain white man. He rented a new place for himself and for his future wife and started saving for the marriage. According to my mom, they got married a year after he got a job.
Two months after they got married, the white man traveled back to his home country so my father became jobless again. It was my mother who was going up and down catering for him. They gave birth to my eldest sister while my dad was still jobless. He was a draughtsman by profession but it was hard for him to get a job. One day, he got a job on a construction site and the pay was very good. They had a child and that job wasn’t a permanent job so my mom suggested to him, “My dad gave me a land. Let’s start doing something on it now that you’re working so we can move into it when our rent is due and you no longer have a job.”
They started the project but midway through its completion, my father became unemployed again. My mom didn’t give up. She invested everything she had into the building until it was completed. They gave birth to their second child another girl. And then the third child, also a girl and that is me. According to my mom, a day after I was born, they moved into their new house and that’s where they’ve lived all their lives.
It was a new site where buildings were springing up every day. My dad even went to those building sites around to get a job but he didn’t get anything to do. Again, my mom came to the rescue; “Amponsah, this place is a new site. Don’t you think if we start a block factory here we’ll have money? The land in front of the house is big enough for something like that.” Dad answered, “Great idea but where’s the money to start?” My mom answered, “Just watch me.”
A year later, they started a block factory. According to my mom, dad got a job along the line and contributed something to the setting up of the business but the larger sum of the money for the factory came from her. She wouldn’t stop selling in the market so she left the block factory for my dad. It didn’t take so long for the factory to grow. Everyone who was building around the vicinity bought blocks from us and dad also did very well by investing the money back into the factory. Growing up, the factory should have fed the family but my father took over everything and decided not to care about us.
When we needed money he’ll tell us, “Go to you your mother, and stop disturbing me.” Mom will give us money. At the end of the term when we bring our report, dad won’t even look at it. If he did, then he would know the amount we have to pay as fees next term. Because of that, he pushed us to give our report to our mom. I witnessed the first fight between them when I was eight years old. Dad slapped my mom right in front of the factory where many buyers were there buying blocks. Mom left the site and came home. Dad followed her and beat her more. Mom was screaming. My sisters were out playing. It was the workers of the factory that came to separate the fight. All because my mom went to ask for money for school items.
From that point on, I started hating my dad. I was very young but I remember I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. After school, my sisters will go home. I won’t go home. I will go to the market and stay with my mom until she closes and come home with me. While my senior sisters were in the boarding school in SSS, I was in JSS. My dad continued avoiding paying our fees. One day my mom opened the tied end of her cloth where she usually tied her money and said, “See here, I haven’t sold anything since I came to the market. Go to your father and cry to him, he’ll give you money.” I went home. I cried to my dad, he picked a metal tool and chase me with it. He said I was trying to scam him. He said, “When you grow up and you get your money, it’s your husbands who will enjoy it. Why are you worrying me now?”
He didn’t give me the money. Mom ended up paying for me. They had a fight again one evening. The factory boys were gone. My sisters were in school. I was the only one in the house with them. I tried all I could to separate them but I couldn’t. That day, mom fought back and I was supporting her in spirit but she got beaten all the same. Dad didn’t give us his money but anytime sons and daughters from his siblings came around for money, he gave them. He was the perfect uncle to them so they all came around with their needs and he met those needs squarely, including taking care of his own brothers and sisters.
My eldest sister completed the university. My dad didn’t attend her graduation. According to him, there was no need to waste time on that. My mom went. She said, “Don’t mind your father. He’s just ashamed that he didn’t do anything for you but you still got this far.” My second sister also completed the university and my dad didn’t attend the graduation. I was the only person whose graduation he attended. I don’t know the angel that touched his heart that day.
My eldest sister got married and left home. The second also got married and left. I had a job and also left home but for some reason, everything my dad did while we were growing up is still fresh in my heart. I want to forget them. I want to push it back like my sisters have done and live around him with happiness just like they are doing but I haven’t been able to do that. I hate him with passion.
Three years ago, they celebrated their 40th anniversary as a couple. My mom holds a big position in the church and my dad has also risen in status in the church so they decided to celebrate their anniversary in a big way in the church. My sisters were pumped about it. They did photoshoots for them and printed invitation cards to invite people to the occasion.
They carried the anniversary on their heads but I didn’t care. On the day of the anniversary, they both went home and were all expecting me. Mom called and I told her, “I’m not coming.” She screamed on the phone, “Why would you do that? Everyone is here and you have to be here too. Don’t make me angry.” I responded, “You’re the one making me angry mom. What are you two celebrating? The beatings? The neglect? The shame he brought on you? The suffering? Tell me one good thing you’re celebrating and I will pick a car and come home.”
“You’re a devil. I won’t allow you to spoil our day. I’ll deal with you when this is over.”
She hung up the call and my senior sister called right after that; “What are you talking about over there? Don’t you know how to forgive and move on? Were you more maltreated than any of us? We suffered more than you but we are here. What kind of silly attitude is that?” I responded, “You’re still hurt but hiding behind forgiveness to do what doesn’t make you happy. I’m not like you…” She cut the call on me before I could finish my statement. After the anniversary my dad called me; “I heard you couldn’t come because of work. Oh, you’ve missed a lot.” My mom lied to him but that was ok.
Mom came to visit and spent three days with me trying to convince me to forget about what my dad did. “I’m the one who is supposed to be hurt not you. I suffered to pay your fees. All of you are my witness, your dad did almost nothing for you but I’m not angry. I forgave him when I found Christ. So why are you still holding on? You want him to come and beg you?” I responded, “I want him to apologize to you and own his mistakes. He can’t live as though what he did was normal and we can’t complain.”
Two days ago my sister called me. The second one. She said, “We want to surprise dad on father’s day so we are making contributions for that. We can take him out for a surprise, buy him a gift, something to cheer him up.” I was laughing in my head. I told her, “I won’t waste my money on that so please count me out.” She went on a marathon of advice. I wasn’t even listening to her. She said, “How can you marry with such a heart? You’ll come back home in no time because your husband can do worse than dad did.”
I forgave her ignorance and said, “My greetings to your husband. If he dares treat you bad and I get to know of it, he won’t like me. I will personally come to that house and take your things out.” She laughed and I laughed. She loves me and I know. I love her too. I love every one of them but my dad is out of that circle of love. Sometimes I feel I’m exaggerating. I feel I’m crying more than the bereaved. I feel left out too because they gather and they are happy but I can’t be happy because the memories of yesterday are still fresh on my mind.
Is there a way I can get over it and live my life?
The name of my father makes me bitter. I even told my mom that I wouldn’t like to have my dad hold my hands during my wedding. I don’t even want him there. She said, “Then wait until he dies before you marry.”
I’m the one who is burdened now. Sometimes my anger toward my sisters is just a manifestation of jealousy. I’m jealous of how they can live freely with my dad regardless of everything and I can’t do it. I need help. This is where I start crying. I really need help. Even if I can’t let go, there should be a way I can pretend to be happy for my family no matter how dysfunctional it used to be.