Tag Archives: memoirs

Of bad mothers and husbands: Part 5

There’s no denying dad’s his mother’s son; he’s a chip of that cold block. Nonetheless, he made the conscious decision to be mean like her. Interestingly, dad’s mother always thinks mom’s the one who controls dad. Recently mom called dad’s step-dad to find out how she was doing after being discharged from hospital, and he took the liberty of telling her what dad’s mother has been saying.

Apparently, she thinks dad is too tight –fisted, because of mom’s control. I laughed a little when I heard that, because truth is, she focused too little on her last born, to notice the bad habits he was picking up along the way. Truth of the matter is, dad is naturally stingy. That’s the version of him I’ve known my entire life. She’s only noticing now, when she’s almost turning a century old, because she’s in need of his money.

She didn’t let him and his siblings call her ‘mom’ when they were growing up, because she never wanted to feel old. Dad has always referred to her by her first name. It’s only nowadays he’s reluctantly easing into calling her ‘mom’, because she’s evidently old. Even we, couldn’t call her ‘grams’. The way I see it, she spent most of her life focusing on material wealth… ‘loving’ those she thought had money. Therefore in that regard, my family is nowhere close to being loved by her (Not that I care…).

Dad’s mother has made very many mistakes… very many, if you ask me, because she focused on trivialities. Like the woman from the South Korean drama I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, even she, denied her only daughter the chance to marry the man she loved because he was a young broke man. Little did she know he would later become so wealthy. Her daughter on the other hand, never got married. Worst part about all these is, she’s not learning from her mistakes. Nonetheless, I know bad as she is, dad made the choice to be a bad husband, and father.

Turns out, he didn’t forget mom’s birthday. I only learnt the Sunday after mom’s birthday, that when he was out drinking on Friday night, he called mom to wish her happy birthday. That means, the entire time he was causing havoc he knew he was doing that on a day that should have at the very least, been a happy one.

Last week Tuesday (two days after mom’s birthday) was his birthday. He wasn’t home, but I bet if he was, mom would have treated him to a nice birthday dinner. She’s the forgiving type. I’d say her ‘forgive and forget’ nature is what holds their marriage together, because I do not think anyone else would have been that tolerant. So yes, his mother wouldn’t get ‘mother of the year’ award, but him being a bad husband is a choice he consciously made.

The whole of last week, mom was unwell. While she didn’t say much, I could tell dad’s heartless conduct on her birthday had affected her. One thing I know for a fact, is that mom really loves him, regardless of all his shortcomings. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to feel the same way about her; and that bothers her, even if she doesn’t say it out loud. The sadness in her eyes tells it all.

Of bad mothers and husbands: Part 4

I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence, though I really doubt it is, that dad always ignores all mother’s days, and mom’s birthdays, year in year out. It’s also worth mentioning that he’s very good with dates; I think my big sister and I inherited that from him. Therefore, we found it very suspicious that he’s the one who was volunteering to go visit his mother, only a week after she made him feel so worthless as a son, and as a man. She had deflated his massive ego, and one thing I know about dad, is that he hardly forgives, nor forgets.

He got home last week but one Friday evening, visibly angry. I asked mom if it’s because she’d told him she wasn’t going to see his mom the next day, but she told me she hadn’t told him yet. Therefore I don’t know why he appeared miffed. I told her to tell him, so he could blow a gasket already. I knew that was inevitable. Calmly, mom told him she wasn’t going. He asked why, but she told him she just didn’t feel like it. Since he had opted to forget her birthday, she wouldn’t be the one reminding him.

Weirdly, he didn’t flip the lid like I had anticipated. Instead, he called his sister, telling her they’d meet up at 7.00am the next day. He also mentioned in passing, mom wasn’t accompanying them. After that he went out and came moments later with a pack of beer cans. He gulped it down quietly, then went out about two hours later. He came back at around 2.00am. For the next four hours he unleashed hell, ranting loudly and banging things.

By then his speech was all slurred, indicating just how intoxicated he was. At some point he tried hitting mom, but she dared him to… He’s ever spent an unfortunate night in a cold police cell after a violent outburst at home, and for whatever reason, he’s always been afraid of getting locked up again. He’s never talked about what happened in the police cell, but I usually suspect he was roughed up.

He made drunken calls to his sister, who also, for whatever reason was gracious enough to pick up at that ungodly hour. The last time they’d gone to visit the mother he was so drunk, that he was driving at 40km/h on the highway. Sometimes he’d forget he was driving and whenever mom jolted him back to reality with a light tap on the thigh, he’d accelerate to 60km/h.

It was only by God’s mercy they arrived safe. With that in mind, mom called dad’s sister, telling her dad was in no position to drive, seeing as he was in a drunken stupor. She understood, so she called dad, postponing their trip to the next Saturday (this past Saturday).

After all that drama, dad finally fell asleep, leaving mom to cry herself to sleep on the couch. I’m not sure what time she woke up because I slept at around 5.30am and woke up six hours later at around 11.30am. Thankfully it was Saturday, so I didn’t have any urgent matter to attend to.

Obviously mom looked sad, but there’s nothing much we could do. Dad was still asleep. By the time I was making my way to the living room, dad was already there, standing at the door. He was travelling back to his house after the botched travel plans.

Seeing as I hadn’t wished mom happy birthday yet, I ran towards her with my arms stretched out, and she stood from where she was seated on the couch and walked into my embrace. I hugged her tight, kissing her on the cheeks, and she smiled. “Your dad will feel bad you’re hugging me”, she whispered cautiously in my ear; and the thought made me hug her even tighter.

Dad was purporting to act up because he’d not gone to see his mother, so I couldn’t care less what he thought of me. I was also hugging my sweet mother. Her only fault was to fall in love with dad and stick by him, regardless of his narcissism; and his callous actions reminded her of that wrong choice more often than not.

“What are you celebrating?” He asked with utter disdain. He sounded extremely bitter. I couldn’t dignify that with a response, so I just ignored him. My little sis also showed up, looking all elated and flung her arms around mom. Dad couldn’t bear the sight, so he left. However, before he did, my big sister asked him to stay, but he said they would talk on the phone later (She called him later but he refused to pick up).

My sisters and I just held an impromptu meeting, deciding what we needed for mom’s birthday, and my small sister and I drove out to get the supplies. Once dad left, the dark clouds scudded away, and a happy party vibe filled the house. Mom’s birthday turned out great.

Of bad mothers and husbands: Part 3

The early memories I have of dad and his mother when I was a child, entail dad travelling upcountry to visit her, and every time he came back home, he and mom would always fight. At the time his mother was constantly inciting him to leave her and remarry, and since he was so desirous of her love and acceptance, he would try to cause havoc, maybe hoping it would culminate in a divorce. I usually blame her for the miserable childhood my sisters and I had; for being the evil force behind my family’s tribulations.

Nonetheless, I don’t blame her entirely because I always remind myself, dad had the chance to make a different choice, but somehow he still chose to follow his mother’s misguiding advice. She may have been the proverbial tiny red devil seated on his shoulder telling him how to make our lives a living hell, but truth is, he made that ultimate decision to follow suit.

Three weeks ago, his mother called him, saying she was unwell. When she asked when they would visit, dad told her to talk to mom about it. When mom took dad’s phone, dad’s mother was asking why mom never calls. So mom told her she calls, but she never picks up. Obviously she denied it, but thankfully mom had recent call logs of outgoing calls to dad’s mother that were never picked up. She had no choice but to apologise. Mom told her she doesn’t hold grudges, and as such, she forgave her a very long time ago.

About two days later, they went to visit his ailing mother after finding out from her husband that she’d been admitted in hospital. They were in the company of dad’s only sister. He had refused to go, but mom insisted it was the right thing to do. So he’d agreed, albeit hesitantly.

When they got there they found one of my uncle’s ‘wives’. From what I gathered, dad’s mother was on full-blown diva mode, specifying the fancy hospital she wanted to be taken to, regardless of the fact that she’s always disliked dad because he’s not as moneyed as his brothers (now deceased). I couldn’t help but wonder how in her skewed thinking, she imagined dad would raise funds for such a facility, given that she’s always assumed he’s a hopeless pauper his entire adult life.

The irony of it all was that she’s always considered him and her sister indigents, yet now, that her golden sons are deceased, she was demanding the fancy life they were treating her to, from her impecunious children. In utter contempt, she told them unfeelingly, that since her rich son was no more, she considered this particular wife (one she previously despised when her said son was alive), her ‘son’. Whatever was left of dad’s fragile heart shattered into a million pieces.

“Why would she say that when I’m still alive?” He asked mom when they came back a day later, looking awfully wounded. “My mother just loves money!” The thing with dad is, when he’s happy you feel the happiness radiate from him; when he’s angry, the violent outbursts could scare the life out of someone; and when he’s hurt, he looks entirely broken, that one forgets all the hard times he’s put them through. That night he looked broken.

I would have cried for him that night, were it not for the memories flashing through my mind of the beastly animal he turns into when he feels he’s the one wielding power. Mom and my big sister just pepped him up, telling him not to mind his mother’s awful treatment. Much as I pitied him, I knew it wouldn’t be long before he was the one dishing out the cauldrons of bile.

Sadly, I was right. Last week but one he kept calling mom, making demands (not requesting) of things he wanted her to do in preparation for their trip to see his mother. It’s worth noting that in his typical tyrant fashion, he did not seek her consent. He just assumed they would go, because he’d said so. Mom on this other side was wondering why he’d be so thoughtless, insisting they visit his frosty mother, on her birthday.

Of bad mothers and husbands: Part 2

My maternal grandmother taught me what kindness means; to love with an unselfish love, and to never judge or condemn anyone. Since she died in 2013, I’ve always felt grandmother-less. Funny, or sad thing is, my paternal grandmother is alive and kicking, but when I think of her, I’m not overcome by any feeling of warmth, or affection. I just feel very indifferent towards her. Reason being, she’s the reason mom was never accepted by her in-laws; she was shunned the day dad took her home, because she was poor.

As if that was not enough, even after they got married in church, she’s always been trying to remove her from dad’s life; and as an extension of her unfounded hatred for mom, she’s always hated my sisters and I because we’re the progeny of a poor woman. She never took time to know us, but somehow she still detests our existence. How is that Christ-like?

Whenever I hear dad talking about her, I get the impression he yearns for his mother’s love. He’s always trying to get her validation, but somehow, it never comes. I pity him. Seeing as dad works out of town, mom went to visit him about a month ago, and she stayed there for two weeks. Normally I don’t trust mom to be in safe hands when she’s alone with dad, I mean, it’s one of the reasons I developed an anxiety disorder in my teenagehood when I was away in boarding school; I always feared he’d harm her.

Owing to that, I made a point of calling mom every day, just to check on her. On the days I was too busy to call, I’d ensure my small sister did. Most of the days she sounded happy, but on other days she’d be sounding so disgruntled, saying how dad was acting up. For instance, at night he’d be drinking with the music blaring so she couldn’t sleep.

However, one afternoon she told me of a heart-rending conversation she had with dad. Though she did not delve into the finer details of that conversation, she told me dad almost cried, while telling her how he was so sure his mom doesn’t love him. I know he’s right because out of him and his three siblings, two of whom are now deceased, his mom loved his two older siblings more. In case you’re wondering, she did not love them because she thought they were virtuous. Nope! She just loved them because of their fat bank accounts, and deep pockets.

In that regard, her second son, may he rest in peace, was her favourite. Weirdly though, he left very many baby mamas (‘wives’) and children, some of whom were being introduced to the family during the wakes. The mother encouraged his promiscuity, because if he was a bachelor, she would get to benefit financially, from his lack of obligations to any wife and kids.

It is no wonder, consequent to his death, she’s one of the aggrieved parties in an intestate succession case, claiming a share of his estate; not just a small percentage, but a huge chunk of it. When my dad was almost tearing up talking about his mother, mom comforted him, telling him God always finds a way to balance things because He gave him a loving wife and children, to make up for his mom’s shortcomings.

I silently wondered if dad would have turned out different if he’d accepted his mother’s preferential treatment of his siblings sooner. He’s been in denial pretty much all his life, until recently, when he couldn’t ignore it any longer. She was being too obvious about it.

Of bad mothers and husbands: Part 1

My maternal grams was a very kind woman, God rest her soul in eternal peace. I have very fond memories of her; whenever we visited her, she’d let me sleep in her bed because I was named after her. That’s not say she loved me more than she loved my sisters; on the contrary, she loved us equally. When she smiled, she had this warm, calming vibe, that was the epitome of sincerity and good heartedness. Even when she admonished someone occasionally for something wrong they’d done, it was never with malice, or to belittle them.

I know she was a wonderful woman because somehow she managed to see dad’s goodness. Even when he erred majorly, she treated him with so much love and warmth. To date, dad loves her. Every once in a while, he will say something nice about her. For instance, there was this day mom and I were watching this South Korean drama, and there was this dramatic scene, where a woman was about to slap her daughter because she’d just brought home the man she loved to meet her parents.

The woman’s main bone of contention was that her soon-to-be son-in-law was a webtoon artist; a profession that’s apparently considered lowly by the moneyed folks. Ergo, this woman just couldn’t bear the thought of having one for a son-in-law, because he would be the sole, painful reason she’s gossiped by her fellow rich women during social gatherings.

Dad, who was on his annual leave, was just seated there scrolling through his phone, and he just happened to look up when that part was playing. Seconds later the show ended, and I stood to leave. As I walked to the kitchen, I heard him tell mom, “Your mom never treated me like that. My mother, on the other hand, treats me like that to date. She’s a very materialistic woman”, he sighed dejectedly. It broke my heart to hear him say that because I understood where he was coming from.

He ran away from home when he was only a teenager, I think, because he could not bear to live with his overly strict mother. Being strict is not unheard of when it comes to parenting; I mean, mom has raised my sisters and I by instilling that fear of her wrath in us. Thankfully, I got to a point where I realised it wasn’t her wrath I should be afraid of, but God’s; and that’s been my guiding principle to date. With dad’s mom, it was cruelty masqueraded as strictness.

When she cooked meat, dad wouldn’t get his serving unless he said grace to her satisfaction. I know she grew up Catholic, but later on changed to Protestantism subsequent to her divorce, seeing as divorces are frowned upon, and the church doesn’t allow one to remarry, unless the marriage has been annulled, under Canon Law. When she got saved, she ditched her ‘party girl’ habits and adopted this strict religiousness, which I’ve always found problematic since I was a child; it’s hard for me to reconcile her ‘saved-ness’, with all the wicked things she does.

My understanding of getting ‘saved’, is that one accepts Jesus as their personal Saviour, and as such, they abide to live by the teachings prescribed in the Bible; New testament especially, where Jesus outlaws some teachings from the Old Testament, like the law of Moses encouraging ‘an eye for an eye’.

Being a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus Christ; to be guided by the precepts of Christ; to be Jesus-like. Tithing, fasting, attending church services and reciting prayers isn’t to be Christ-like. On the contrary, it is how we conduct ourselves when it comes to our treatment of other people, with respect to Jesus’ greatest commandment: to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbours. This is the hallmark of Christianity. Anything contrary to that is just hypocrisy on heels.

Children; who will protect them? Part 5

When I was a child, I really wanted to become a nun. However, as I grew up, I realized I liked boys, and I’d be happier married. That’s my position to date. Every time I contemplate the life I would have had as a nun, I realize I would have been so miserable, because I do not have the patience and commitment it takes to live in an enclosed convent; especially having gone to all-girls’ boarding schools from the age of ten, until I finished high school.

I usually imagine the experience would be pretty much the same. It’s also worth mentioning that I abhorred boarding school; being away from home only aggravated my anxiety disorder as I could not see my family whenever I wanted.

I feel it’s the same for anyone with a sexual preference contrary to society’s expectation. They might have been socialized to believe heterosexual relations are the right way to go, but somewhere down the line, one realizes they want something different; that contrary to society’s expectations, their happiness lies elsewhere.

Knowing myself, I know I would have fought tooth and nail to stay out of the convent if for instance, my mom had insisted I join. With that knowledge, I wouldn’t force my sexual orientation on anyone. Legally, an adult of sound mind is allowed to make their own choices. They might not be choices approved by everyone, or anyone for that matter, but the least we can do, is accept them.

In light of this, I believe what my neighbour’s niece needs is love, and acceptance. I think if her family had a conversation with Jesus, that would be His response, “Love and accept her for who she is”. Most of the time we assume God’s role then go judging people around, forgetting that at the end of the day, only God has the unilateral power to determine what’s right or wrong.

It’s no coincidence that the greatest commandment is about love. Truth is, love heals. My neighbour’s niece drinks to numb the pain of rejection; so wouldn’t it be right to assume, her family’s love and acceptance would heal those deep-seated wounds that make her drink?

When mom told me this lady feels her parents hate her, I tried thinking what could have triggered it, trying to connect the dots… and my thoughts were simple: possibly the dad raped her, and her mom colluded with him, either out of fear of retribution by society, or out of distrust; chances are the mom thought the possibility of her husband raping his own daughter was too atrocious to even comprehend, that denial was her only solace. If that was the case, then this lady must have felt utterly betrayed by her own parents, who she thought would be her protectors. Mom just thought I was being ridiculous.

A few days later, mom checked in on her, but she only found the aunt. As it turns out, my hypothesis was actually right. The lady was raped by her dad when she was six years old, and in an attempt to cover up his sordid offence, he started feeding her alcohol; possibly hoping it would impair her cognitive ability to rat him out. That, was the genesis of her alcoholism.

Twenty one years later, this young lady is carrying a heavy burden, imposed on her by the same people who were supposed to protect her. Her own parents hurt and betrayed her. Her biological dad stole her innocence, then set her up on a trajectory that has been mainly characterized by rejection. In short, he ruined her life! Her mom, on the other hand, may not have been previously privy to her husband’s paedophilia, but her silence, and inaction after the fact, made her an accessory to the crime.

Now, in the wake of their incompetence as parents, lies a broken child; a young woman, who’s trying to find her place in a society that she feels has already rejected her. Sadly, she’s not the only one going through such anguish; there are many children suffering in silence. 

That’s why I keep wondering: children; who will protect them?

Children; who will protect them? Part 4

She went to great pains explaining to mom how she ran away from home because she felt her parents hated her. Upon mom’s enquiry as to when all that started, she said she started drinking excessively and dating girls when she was thirteen. That young age had the cogs in my head turning…

While some people may argue childhood is a social construct, depending on when different communities deem a person is no longer a child, I associate myself with the provisions of Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives the legal definition of a child as, a human being under the age of eighteen.

At thirteen this young lady was only a child, right in her first year of teenagehood. While she may have already formed her own perception of things generally, and her particular tastes and preferences defined, any parental guidance at that point in time would have, in my opinion, bore more fruits. Had anyone paid more attention to her, so much could have been resolved. Now at 27, whatever damage that could have been done is arguably done. Consequently, the only way forward is healing.

Her aunt told mom she had suggested her niece goes to rehab, but the niece had refused vehemently. I couldn’t blame her. While her alcoholism may be deemed an ill that requires fixing, to her it is a coping mechanism. Therefore, in my thinking, the particular problem that needs to be addressed is why she drinks. Chances are, when that problem is fixed, she will, hopefully, on her own volition quit drinking.

On that same note, I found it very inappropriate for the aunt to be suggesting ‘going for prayers’ as the solution to her niece’s problems. Granted, as a Christian I understand where she was coming from because most of the time I believe prayers will fix everything.

However, for someone going through an emotional crisis, prayers might not feel appealing at all. In any case, when someone is down in the dumps, struggling with a certain issue, the first thought going on in their mind is, ‘God has deserted me’. Truth is, it is really hard to pray when one’s faith has faltered.

Maybe the aunt thought prayers would turn her gay niece straight, but then again, that is also a wrong approach in my thinking. It is true, prayers bring about miracles; but in this case, the million dollar question is, is homosexuality a problem that needs fixing?

Children; who will protect them? Part 3

My story makes me slow to judge others. People look ‘normal’ on the outside, but deep down I know they could be battling serious issues, owing to traumatic pasts. There’s this niece of our neighbour I used to despise, until recently. She came off as arrogant, and it was with so much patience I barely managed to get through two seconds of rudimentary conversation with her.

They are next door neighbours, but interestingly, our engagement with them is purely business.  When Covid came, the whole ‘working-from-home’ arrangement disorganized things a lot; with teachers being some of the most affected, as they had to stay home until their respective schools came up with a feasible ‘online classes’ plan. In light of this, seeing as our neighbour is a teacher, she ended up getting into an eggs-supplying business pro tem; and that’s where we come in.

When we found out they were supplying eggs, we decided to be buying from them. Initially we’d deal with our neighbour, the teacher, or her husband; but when Covid restrictions were lifted and people went back to work, our neighbour’s niece was left in charge of the business; and boy, was the young missy rude!

At some point, we felt we couldn’t deal with her anymore, so we stopped buying from them. Problem was, their eggs are comparatively big, and they never go bad even when someone buys in bulk. See, one of the habits we acquired during Covid was to purchase things in bulk to avoid instances of them running out when there were lockdowns/movement restrictions. Given that eggs have a shelf-life of thirty days only, it soon dawned on us that our neighbours’ quality was second to none.

After a careful deliberation, we decided to go back to our neighbours’ shop, because when it comes to food, one can’t compromise on quality. Ergo, with regard to the mean girl, we decided to deal directly with the shop’s owners: the teacher and her husband. Mom would call her, then her husband would deliver them in the evening. We didn’t have to deal with their rude niece anymore.

Remember when I said in Part 2 of this post, that there’s usually more than meets the eye? Rude girl wasn’t an exception. In any case, her wounds run so deep, that it might take years for her to heal. I started off despising her, but once I became privy to ‘Her Truth’, my perception of her took a complete 180º turn. Now all I feel for her is pity.

About two months ago, mom passed by their shop and she found our neighbour and her niece. I’m thinking mom walked in on them having a spat, and our neighbour started complaining about her niece’s unruly behaviour. She told mom she’d been requesting the young lady to go to church and get prayed for, but she wouldn’t hear any of that.

Obviously mom got curious and needless to say, went ahead to ask what the problem was. Our neighbour told mom her niece is an alcoholic. In her defence, the young lady told mom she drinks to numb the pain of rejection by people she thought loved her. Turns out, they ostracized her when they learnt she’s gay.

Though I wasn’t there to see mom’s reaction, I bet she must have felt particularly uncomfortable with the subject, owing to the fact that when it comes to sexual orientation, she’s very ‘close-minded’ about it. I can’t blame her though; she grew up in a very religious setting. I mean, she was literally on her way to the convent to become a nun when dad waylaid her.

Furthermore, in her younger days, the internet, which plays a vital role in advocating for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community, was not as prominent as it is today. Ergo, matters revolving around homosexuality were practically taboo. I cringed, imagining the young lady’s plight; given her sensitive situation, then having mom and her religious aunt as her advisors? I’d imagine she was caught between a rock and a very hard place.

Children, who will protect them? Part 2

In part 1 of this post, I delved into the challenges occasioned by parents who fail to protect their children. The pertinent example I gave was on parents who either directly or indirectly molest their children. A typical instance of that would be where a father rapes his child, adopted or biological, and the child’s mother, afraid of the legal and social ramifications of such an atrocity, becomes an accessory to the crime, in an effort to protect the husband; hence the post’s title, ‘Children, who will protect them?’

What some parents, and the society fail to realize at times, is that something as traumatic as rape/sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) could be life-changing. Actually, differently phrased, in most cases, victims of SGBV suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, in an attempt to cope, some survivors resort to a lifestyle that others might not concur with.

When I think of myself, I usually imagine majority of people would treat me differently if they knew half of my story. Ordinarily, I come off as very reserved and closed up. The only two people I open up to freely are my two sisters. That therefore leaves majority of outsiders with many unanswered questions about me.

My truth, is that I grew up in a home marred by domestic violence and socio-economic violence, where my dad would insist my mom stays home instead of going to work. One of the most sinister things my dad did to ensure my mom wouldn’t be able to find a job, was to hide her college certificates.

Seeing as we moved houses a couple of times over the years, mom thought they must have gotten lost in one of those moving instances. She found them last year, when she’s practically hitting retirement age. Words cannot explain how betrayed she felt. He wanted to control her life, and to a large extent he did, because over the years he’s wielded financial control, not just over her, but over my sisters and I.

Owing to that, my sisters and I have grown up dreading marriage, and worse still, getting married when one isn’t financially stable. At the moment, most of our cousins and friends are getting married, and the pressure to follow suit is building up with each passing day. People who don’t know the genesis of my hard-line stance when it comes to marriage think I’m unmarried because I’m too difficult.

I remember before I joined law school, I met a young man, who was six years older than me. He’d already graduated from university, and doubled up as a teacher and painter; he owned his own studio and art gallery. Furthermore, his mom owned a high-end clothing store in a fancy mall, and they lived in some lavish neighbourhood. In short, he was financially stable.

After six months of dating, he asked me to marry him, and I panicked! That evening I did not give him an answer. It was my birthday eve, so he was like, “Now you’re old enough to be my wife”. One day later we met up, and when we got to his house, he welcomed me warmly, telling me to get comfortable because everything in that house was mine.

I should have been ecstatic, that my would-be-husband was, for lack of a better word, rich; however, the thought of getting tied down like mom had me gasping for air. He was wealthy, but growing up in a house where mom’s lack of money was the root cause of hers and our misery, had me thinking, ‘Once bitten, twice shy’. There was no way I was repeating mom’s mistake. I kindly tuned his proposal down, and swore to myself, that I would never get into another relationship, until I was financially stable.

About three years later, in my first semester of law school, I met another guy. His buff chest that had his suit jacket fitting like a glove, had me swooning over him like a hormonal teenager. Thankfully, I had the grace not to be too obvious about it. About a month into the semester, we started talking, and before long he made his intentions clear, “Once I’m all settled, I will marry you”. He had a first degree in political science, and was working on starting a consultancy business.

Instead of getting thrilled at the prospect of getting hitched to my crash, my mind went into overdrive, and all I could see was ‘red’. Dizzying warning alarms went off in my head. Subsequently, I started avoiding him from that day. Whenever I saw his texts or calls, I’d get all nauseous, and my relief came when he deferred the semester.

I tried explaining to him why I couldn’t get into a relationship with him, and seeing as he continued pursuing me, my guess is, he never quite understood the extent of my brokenness. Living through domestic violence altered my perception of love, and marriage. So while my age mates are busy getting married, I’m prioritising my financial independence; not because I’m trying to push some feminist agenda, but because this is my coping mechanism.

My unfortunate childhood experience taught me that my husband’s money will always be his, and if I don’t have mine, the lack of it will have me and my children going through what me, my sisters and mom went through. I really cannot willingly subject myself to that again; not if I can help it.

So you see, someone who doesn’t know my story will comfortably and ignorantly, if I may add, judge me. So far, two of my aunts have made my sisters’ and my unmarried state an issue. When I was a kid crying my eyeballs out, these are still the same people who were oblivious to our plight. Now that the damage is done, they’re on the frontline castigating us. Question is, if they were made privy to our story, would they still judge us? I bet not!

The Hard Conversations – Roe v. Wade: Part 3

In this case, for instance, if ‘no abortion’ is the general rule, then the exceptions to the rule are the varying reasons women have for contemplating abortions. For illustrative purposes, I’ll use Malta. Basically, it’s the only country in the European Union that has a total ban on abortions. This I learnt recently, when I was watching this story on France 24, about a pregnant American woman, who bled profusely when she was on holiday there. She was sixteen weeks pregnant.

The irony of the matter is that she was there with her partner on ‘babymoon’. Before the unfortunate incident, she was actually celebrating the pregnancy. I’m imagining she was ecstatic… anxiously awaiting the birth of her baby. Chances are she even had planned baby names.

Seeing as any pregnant woman would ordinarily be looking forward to holding their little bundle of joy, albeit with a little trepidation because of the birthing process, my lucky guess is that the termination of the pregnancy was the last thing on her mind… least of all, in a foreign country.

The untimely bleeding raptured the amniotic sac, and there was almost no amniotic fluid left. In addition, the placenta was partially detached. This compromised the pregnancy’s viability, with doctors saying there was no chance of the foetus surviving. Shockingly, she was denied a medical emergency abortion, because the foetus still had a heartbeat.

The doctors in Malta were so adamant, that she had to be airlifted to Spain, where abortion is allowed. Though I’m not a medical doctor, I gather her condition made her susceptible to sepsis or haemorrhaging that could lead to death. Then, there is the trauma of knowing she was carrying a foetus that would never develop fully. The anxiety and dread must have been debilitating.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, laws are meant to regulate human behaviour; and seeing as respective states assume the paternalistic role, where rules are imposed on us, in an attempt to promote the greater well-being of the members of society, one could try to understand why we have such controversial laws. Nonetheless, for the simple reason that law does not operate in a vacuum, it is safe to say that any person mandated with the responsibility of making laws, should look at each situation holistically before putting that pen to paper.

I must admit, when I was younger, I thought abortion was about young girls seeking termination of their pregnancies because they got into some sexual relations and unexpectedly got pregnant. At that time, I thought abortions, were a misguided/sinful reaction to an issue that had solutions: use of contraceptives, or plain old abstinence. I thought the solution was to foresee the possible obstacles that could arise and be proactive about it: prevent a pregnancy before it happened.

Furthermore, the gory videos I watched as a teenager in sex education class detailing how the foetus is removed from the uterus, especially when it’s at an advanced stage painted abortion in plain black and white. It was ‘murder’! The defenceless foetus died an undignified death. It just felt wrong. I remember feeling particularly scarred. Worse still, were the health risks I learnt the girl/woman could subsequently suffer.

Now, relatively older me, who’s read on issues revolving around ectopic pregnancies, anencephaly, severe pre-eclampsia… traumatic rapes and incest, and the resulting effects of inbreeding… etc.; and older me, who’s come across heart-wrenching instances of women who’ve suffered the agony of having to lose babies they desperately wanted simply because of health issues, realizes that abortion is not a black and white issue; and as such, it would be a grave mistake to collectively label it as murder.

In any case, it is actually a vast grey area that cannot be put under one ‘no abortion’ umbrella. Doing so would be tantamount to hiding behind a veil of unmitigated ignorance; utter ignorance to the real situations that real women go through in real life. So yes, I support life, because it is sacred; however, when we say life, it is not just about the baby’s life, but the woman’s life as well.

This therefore, in my very humble opinion, calls for all concerned authorities to look at the bigger picture, before repressing women’s right to reproductive health; because while laws are important, they will bring more harm than good if they do not take into consideration the real issues in the society. It is a tricky balance, but one that cannot, in my opinion, be avoided.