It has taken me a long time to come to terms with writing this, I have had the thoughts in my head since last year when the ball was set rolling. I have thought it over several times, turning down the idea, picking it up from the trash can where I dumped it and going over the cycle back and forth. The deed is done, I have come to the conclusion that I must write!
Since when I was very young, I had planned that I was going to be the best dad to my kids. I have a picture of what I wanted my family to be, but all that seems to be hitting the rocks now because my child is coming much earlier than I expected. I’m not complaining. I’m just uhhhh, I don’t even know what to say, but I can’t even blame the chap after all s/he didn’t beg to come. I, or we, set the ball in motion.
The fact that s/he is coming much earlier than planned still doesn’t make him/her a bastard (because s/he, definitely, is not one) like the grandfathers think. At this point, I feel water welling up in my eyes. Why would anyone refer to my own child as a bastard? I understand my dad saying that, he has always played the ‘holier than thou’ and I’m not so pained. But for Sike’s dad to utter that is adding salt to injury. I’m sure if I were a Da-Silva, a Pedro, a Damazio, a Smith or any of those rich families in Lagos like himself he wouldn’t have made such a statement. He made the statement because I’m a loafer, a low-lifer, a gold digger, yeah those were the exact words he used in describing me. ME! I memorised those words. But I’m glad he didn’t call me a never-do-well because even the demons from the pit of hell can’t stop me from doing well.
Sike’s dad also accused me of derailing his daughter. LORD!!! If not for the love I had (or have, because I think I still do) for Sike I would have said she derailed me. People complain of the world being male-chauvinistic but I think in this instance we tend to blame a man more for the (ir)responsibility of impregnating a woman, here they say “o fun loyun” more than they will say “o gboyun” which in pidgin English is “he give am belle” thereby putting the entire blame on the man like its an activity that is wholly forced on the lady even when it is consensual or worse, when it is instigated by the woman. Damn, we don’t even believe a woman can rape a man.
Allow me to tell you what really transpired that day, the 21st of September. Yes, I remember the date vividly because I had it penned in my diary – it was my first time ever to penetrate a woman, and up till this moment, the last. You know how some things play out and you feel the devil is your direct opponent in life like in a game of chess. I mean, people do these things regularly and walk away freely and I get to do it once and the mark stays forever!
I had returned home that day from work, late as usual. I put off my office clothes and dashed to the bathroom to have a shower before sleeping. I was under the shower when I noticed the door to the bathroom was being pushed open. I was scared. Then Sike spoke out. My nerves calmed a bit. She had a key to my apartment and must have opened the main door with her key. I opened the door and was startled. Sike stood there the way she was when she came into the world – naked. Before I could say Jack we were already in the middle of the act. Minutes after, apologies said and confessions made to the heavenly father I thought life was back to normal until after some weeks when she came back to me tell she couldn’t find her period. Gush, I felt like a clown in a movie and wanted to just scream – find the gaddam period back, period! But, hey, here was real life happening to me.
Now, who derailed who? I take responsibility for my acts but the painful thing in all of these is that Sike has never opened her mouth to defend me or at least try to explain that I wasn’t the initiator of the act. You know how it feels when everything seems to be going on well for you and just one flick, you feel your whole life crumbling like a pack of cards, that’s the feeling when this whole stuff happened. I suddenly found myself at that crossroad that my people say confuses strangers. To say I was confused was an understatement.
The first point in the crossroad was deciding whether the pregnancy should stay or be ‘taken care of’? My church mind that wrote a thesis on abortion back in the university reminded me that was murder. Holy mother! Deciding to keep it wasn’t easy, the whole world turned against me. A worker in the vineyard expecting a baby outside wedlock? Who would believe it was just my first time at the act, even I couldn’t believe myself at a point that I have only eaten the forbidden fruit just once. If the abortion had sailed through, I would still have retained my position as the head of the prayer team in church but I lost that because I stood for responsibility. I would simply have walked into church the sunday after the D and C, lifting up ‘holy hands’ and continuing with life like nothing happened.
The second stage in the crossroad was to decide whether I wanted to continue hanging out with a God who seemed to let me down and forsook me in my time of need when the world came crumbling down or be cool with the world. After the whole incident was made public I skipped church, enrolled at the bar next door, did all the bad I wanted to do all by myself, but I stayed away from the vice that got me into this in the first place. Somehow, I traced my steps back to Him. We made up and I realize now more than ever before that He loves me to bits. I have also discovered that He is not a pretender like us. He was happy I chose responsibility over deceit. I found my way back to Him after the long period of being down and thinking God himself had something against me. It was easier getting back to God than getting accepted back in church. People avoided me like I was plagued with a highly contagious disease. Same people whom I have caught on several occasions coming out of the brothel on our street saw me as a sinner. Sisters who have shared their experiences of having near-death encounters in the cause of having abortions saw me as a sinner as well. Such hypocrisy!
The third direction in the crossroad was to decide what to do with my life. Do I want to throw in the towel and accept defeat or stand up, take more blows and pray I get to throw a punch that destabilises the opponent? I chose to fight on, part of the reason I’m writing this. Sike will be leaving the country in a few days’ time, the parents plan to separate me from my child. Here is my plan – I will work so hard that in some few years time I will be in a very comfortable position to re-claim back my child and prove to the Smiths that “iyawo ole la le gba, kosi eni to ng gba omo ole” (you can snatch the wife of an indigent fellow but no one can take away his child).
I can’t believe its been ten years since I wrote that stuff. I had carefully folded the paper and placed it in a box, away from where it could be destroyed or where I could be tempted to read it before the D-day. I never knew the D-day would come this soon though, reading that gave me mixed feelings – one, of painful nostalgia and, two, of a feeling of victory.
As I sit in the first class section of this Boeing, I quickly run through my life in these past ten years, its been one of hustles, dedication and favour. Its been years of watching and seeing the game unfold while I moved up from the position of a pawn in this game of chess to being a knight. I have been monitoring Sike and Oreofe, what a beautiful name for my child, in the last ten years. Today, I will be re-connecting with them in Houston as Oreofe clocks 10.
You might say ten years is a long time to wait for, but I have only followed the advice of my forebears who said “bi owo eni o ba ti kan eku ida kii bere iku to pa baba e” (Until an orphan gets hold of the sword of justice he dares not ask of who killed his father). Today, I’m armed with a name that rings bells in our society and is respected in business cycles, which is what Sike’s dad always wanted and so its best to show up now and ask for what is mine.
I am @seunalade
Dedicated to my friends who stood up for responsibility in the face of societal and religious hypocrisy.