It Took Me Over Thirty-Five Years To Know One Of My Sons Isn’t Mine –
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It Took Me Over Thirty-Five Years To Know One Of My Sons Isn’t Mine

Life in the 80s was different. We didn’t have a lot of things we have today. Communication over the phone was a luxury most of us couldn’t afford so if you find a girl today and you’re not able to tell her how you feel, tomorrow she would be gone. You can’t get a number, you can’t see her on Facebook or Instagram. You would only find her where you first saw her if luck shines on you. I met her in the early eighties. I remember food was scarce then so let’s say it was around the 1982 famine period that I met her. I was hungry but my heart managed to fall in love with her. When I approached her the first time her question was, “Do you have maize stored in your barn? That’s what I need now not a man.”

I shared what I had. It wasn’t much but true love is sharing so I gave half of what we had to her. My mom was angry. My dad nearly disowned me for putting the family in danger but their problem wasn’t my problem. I had found a woman I loved and I could do everything to get her to say yes. It was hard seeing her around the street. She told me her father was strict and could murder me if I go to their house.

I remember during late nights, I would go and stand behind their house, waiting to see if she could come out of their house. Most of the time she didn’t but I never stopped going there. She had my maize and having someone’s maize at that time was like having a piece of them living with you. One night, I saw her coming out with a bucket. She was coming to throw dirty water away. I screamed out her name and she saw me. She rushed to me and asked what I was doing there. “I’m waiting for you. I’ve been coming here every night, hoping you’ll pass me by so I call you. It looks like tonight is my lucky night”

She went back in to put the bucket down and came back to see me. “What do you want?” She asked me. Looking at how I’d struggled to see her, it wasn’t the time to beat about the bush. “I love you Maame Efua and I want you to be with me.” She gave a sigh. She told me, “So is that the reason you are here? To tell me you love me? Go home and come tomorrow. My dad is around tonight. If I stay here for long, he may come out and look for me. Let’s talk tomorrow.”

Tomorrow came and we met behind their house again. She said yes but warned me not to come around in the night, “There are a lot of gossips here. When they see me, they will tell my father. When the time is safe, I will come and look for you.”

One afternoon she came. My house was empty of all the people who could tell me not to bring a woman home. We made love quickly and I sent her away. We became an item. There was not a single night we didn’t sneak out to see each other. It was in the 80s so the street got empty very early. As early as 6 pm everyone will desert the street to their homes. There were a lot of dark places. Electricity was a luxury. Most of the houses in the community didn’t have electricity so they slept early. The bad ones, the misfits will go out in the night and spend the night under the street light. The heart of the village was where the street light was.

I had a job in Cape Coast so I left our little village and left my budding relationship in the hands of fate. We couldn’t talk, we couldn’t even send letters to each other. The only thing that connected us was our faith. Faith that the lady I love was still in love with me and would wait for me no matter what. When I had the time, I went home to see her. I had a job and I was my own man so I could go to their house and see her and wouldn’t be afraid. I met her family one day and told them my desire to marry their daughter. They gave me their blessings.

I worked for another year and went home to marry Maame Efua. Wedding wasn’t like it used to be today. You could use a day or two to plan your wedding and still have a beautiful wedding. After marriage, our first child followed quickly.

Being a father was one of the sweetest things I experienced as a young man. The fact that I’d created something out of sex was a miracle I always treasured. We named him Kobby. Everyone looked at him and said he resembled me. I didn’t see the resemblance but I went with the flow whenever they said it. “His eyes, just like you.” See his tinny toes, he didn’t steal it. He got it from you.” My mom said, “Look at how he yawns. Exactly the way you did when you were a baby.”

We struggled for a second child. At some point, we resigned to the fact that there was no second child coming. The fear of not having another child made me invest all the love I had in my heart in Kobby. When his mom beats him, I will get angry and stand in for him. He knew it so he always ran to me. When he started schooling, I was the one sending him to school all the time. I will tell one of the teachers, “My child has a condition so the doctor says no one should beat him.” I would do anything to protect him. He grew calm and intelligent. He could tell apples from onions as early as two. When he was seven going to eight years, we had our second son.

Fiifi was different. When I say different, he was different from everything Kobby was. He cried at night and ensured we didn’t get enough sleep. You’ll give him food and he’ll vomit everything out. He was always sick and his sickness almost always drained our pockets. At some point, we had to take him to mpaebɔ to look into the kind of demons that were worrying him. My mom again had something to say, “That’s exactly how you were when you were a baby. This chip didn’t fall far from the main block.”

Kobby was smatter, Fiifi was dull. Kobby was fair like me but Fiifi was dark. Kobby walked when he was nine months. At twelve months, Fiifi was still on the ground looking for something to hold before he could stand on his feet. He came at a time when all the love I had in me was invested in Kobby but he was also my son so I gave him what was left.

In 2011, Kobby invited us to his 25th birthday. He was no longer living with us. He had completed the university and was working in Accra. At the birthday party, I looked at him with a fond heart and compared him to Fiifi who was sitting next to me. Everything about them looked different. Physically, they didn’t match but according to observers, they both looked like me. How can two people look so different and yet resemble one thing? Something flickered in my mind, a certain curiosity started stirring in my spirit. “Find the answers. We are in the 21st century and it’s easy to know who your son is.

In 2015, before Fiifi went out to start his National service, I secretly did a DNA test. The probability of paternity was 98%. I gave a huge sigh of relief. At long last, the niggling doubt that made me differentiate between my two sons had been resolved.

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Fiifi wasn’t clever but he pulled his weight. He managed to complete the university with flying colours and fortunately for him, had a good job after service. Both of my kids had left home. Our nest was empty. Kobby got married. He came home one day and all of a sudden my curiosity was triggered again. “I’m very sure Fiifi is my son. What about Kobby? What if he’s not?”

I brushed it aside. I called the thoughts blasphemous because how could it be that Kobby, the favourite of my sons isn’t my son?” But one day I gathered the courage and did it. He isn’t my son!

I’m smiling as I write this but my smile is just like oil on the surface of water. It’s on the surface of hurt, disappointment, wasted life and at certain points, suicidal thoughts. At my age that everything about me is growing feeble, I shouldn’t go through such heartbreak but that’s exactly what has pushed me to write this story. Kobby doesn’t know he’s not my son. My wife knew all along that Kobby might not be my son. She wasn’t sure but she suspected it because of the time she got pregnant. According to her, there was another man in the picture before we got married. He was her parents preferred candidate but he was never ready. I wasn’t in town so he took over, even until the last minute that we got married.

I asked her why and she said, “I didn’t know if you were coming back. He was there for me every day and was providing but I couldn’t even talk to you because you were out of town. I don’t even know what I’m saying but after marriage, nothing again happened between us. He travelled after we got married.”

No amount of defence would suffice but at some point, I realize forgiveness has to come from me before anything else can be achieved. I asked her, “So who else knows about this? Anyone from your family knows about it?” She answered, “Nobody knows about it. I wasn’t sure about it myself so how could I tell anybody about it?” I told her, “Let it remain like that. No one ought to know, not even the kids. When I die before you, don’t mention it to anyone. We’ll both die with it because that’s all we can do.”

I haven’t forgiven my wife. Forgiveness is like saying no matter what you did, I let it go. I no longer blame you and I accept you wholeheartedly back into my life. That’s not how I feel. I feel like we are too old to hold grudges and are too old to let go of all the memories we’ve made together just because of this.

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I look at her and judge her but I’ve come to accept that, regardless of what has happened, she had been with me throughout life’s thick and thin. When I was sick, she didn’t abandon me. When I needed someone to take care of me, she was the one who did. Currently, in our old age, she’s the one who takes care of me. She asks what I will eat and she makes it ready. She knows my life because she’s a witness. She lived my life with me and she alone can be here with me until the end. I don’t hate her. I love her with everything within me but it doesn’t erase the fact that she cheated. I’ve come to terms with that so we can see through the rest of our lives together.


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