I thought of her as the worst mum in the world. I despised her; did not want to hear anything about her. The only time I called her mum was when she was gone. And now, I wish I had another chance with her.
“Will you please hear me out, I love you and I’m sorry for denying you that love all these years,” she cried out. I could feel how sorry she was but as to why I still held on to the anger, I am yet to understand.
That voice should have told me she was calling me from a sick bed – I thought she was doing it all to get back into my life. My ‘hello,’ filled with so much hatred and anger, is still fresh on my mind.
My mother was not part of my childhood and life was really hard at some point without her. I grew up thinking about my father as one of the best in the world. He did not talk much about my mother and his reaction whenever any of his siblings mentioned my mum raised some questions. I was told my mother had travelled. And that was exactly what I wrote in my essays about my mum.
My father had always been my ‘mum’. He took care of me like a mother would – I know this because I had equal parental attention as my friends who lived with both parents.
As busy as every doctor would be, my father still had time to attend PTA meetings of my school; ask about my performance at school and help me with my assignments each time I went home with some.
In the mornings, he would prepare me for school – bath me, brush my teeth and dress me up. He would ask me to recite poems and correct me when I went wrong.
I could see and feel how worried he got when I fell ill, sometimes he would stay awake halfway through the night, wipe my face with wet towel and check my temperature from time to time. I remember how heartbroken he looked when I fell and broke an arm at school. He cancelled meetings, appointments and trips when he needed to be there for me.
My father was a very hardworking man but still had time to drop me off and pick me up from school. When he travelled, my young auntie would come to the house and take care of me until he returned. Auntie Serwaa would come home on weekends and make all kinds of food that would take my dad and I through the week and do our laundry.
Auntie Serwaa was there for us until she got married and left the country. She too played a very important role in my early years. Now I had to spend holidays with my grandparents when daddy travelled. I must say that my two grannies did not have it easy whenever I visited.
The ‘merry go rounds’ I had with grandma before bath time each day, was fun. They would call my dad on phone most of the time and tell him they did not understand something I was saying, or to tell me to stop crying or else he wasn’t going to buy something he promised. The number of times I had to scream before my grannies could hear what I was saying increased with time. Oh gosh!! I miss all that though.
Grandma took ill and she and grandpa went to live with one of my aunties in Amsterdam for her treatment.
Daddy did not get a wife until I was about fifteen. Everything was smooth at the beginning. She was the best step-mother everyone would wish for. She tried her best to be the mum ‘I did not have’. There wasn’t a single visiting day that she didn’t come to visit me at the boarding school.
She did not forget my birthday and never stopped doing things to make me happy even after my step brother was born. You could hardly tell that I wasn’t her biological daughter. She knew when I was okay and when I was not. In spite of everything, she was not my biological mum and that was the reality. I still wished my biological mum was around sometimes. At least to know how she looks like or who she was.
At about age 18, I asked my dad once to tell me the truth about my biological mother. It wasn’t an easy thing to ask but I needed answers. He said he would tell me at the right time. I concluded that well maybe my mother was probably dead but my father felt I was too young to understand, hence, the ‘she had travelled’ story.
But some 18-year-olds, even younger people witness the death of their parents and other close family members and they survive it so why were they refusing to tell me? I wondered.
Thoughts of my mother never left my mind. I wondered why she would refuse to see me or my father if she was alive. I thought an African proverb said a mother does not refuse her baby even when s/he seems unpleasant to look at- so why has she not come to visit if she is alive?
I got more curious and started asking my aunties about my mum but none of them would say anything. I would go through my father’s documents in search of pictures or anything about my mother but I found nothing. And the strangest thing was that none of her family members came around to check up on me.
The thought that she was dead answered the questions I asked but there was this strong feeling that she wasn’t.
Then in my second year at the university, this happened. A strange woman showed up at my door in the hostel, and asked to see me- tears started running down her cheeks when she saw me. She asked if she could hug me and before I could say anything, she hugged me so tight. It was a very awkward moment as I was a bit confused.
“I am your mother Maame,” these were the words she uttered after the hug. And I was confused I did not know what to say. I called my father after she left and told him about it and in some few minutes, he was at my hostel. ‘My mother’ had left. “What else did she tell you? Who told her you stay here? How did she find you?” he asked in quick succession.
I asked my dad if that was my biological mum as she claimed and he said yes. So where has she been all these years? Why did she leave?” I asked. For a moment, it felt good to know my mother was still alive.
He told me about how my mother abandoned us when I was about two years old because ‘he did not have enough to take good care of her’. Yes, that was the reason. A porter later handed me a note from my mother. It contained her address.
I wanted to find out just one thing from her – why she took that decision. So I visited her. She smiled when she first saw me. “Thank you for coming, Maame,” she said and called out someone to come and meet me. I smiled and sat down.
A young woman came out to say hello, my mum introduced her as my sister. She went back inside after the pleasantries.
Then my mum started “I know your father has told you a lot about me but I am glad I have the opportunity to talk to you.”
“First of all I am really sorry for abandoning you for all these years. Just like your other siblings I love you but I had to leave and at the time, it was the best thing to do.”
Will this woman cut to the chase and tell me the main reason why she left? I thought.
Then I asked, why did you leave, I just want to know, please?
“Your father was unemployed and could not cater for us, Maame” she uttered.
So you left us to suffer? You didn’t even care about your two-year-old daughter?
“I wanted you to come along but your daddy wouldn’t allow,” she explained.
And after that you haven’t even come around to check up on me, or called to see how I have been? I quizzed. I couldn’t help but tear up after saying this.
I run off like I was being chased out of the house. I was so hurt and couldn’t take any more of what she was saying. I thought she had a better explanation.
From that time, I changed hostel and forgot about her. I hated to hear anything about her or mothers generally. Neither my dad nor I heard anything about her until the day she called me on phone.
I was very rude to her on the phone even as she kept on begging me to forgive her. “I was still a young lady and I did not know what I was doing. I am sorry for not being there for you, Maame,” she pleaded.
I sobbed quietly but for some reason, I couldn’t just forgive her for everything. I hung up only to find out from my dad the day after that she died after we spoke and that she was actually calling from the hospital.
I still feel so guilty about the whole thing. She wronged me by abandoning me for that long but I should have known she too was human and could err. I forgot that forgiveness is the virtue of the brave. The best thing I could give her was forgiveness. But I have been able to forgive myself after praying about it and moving on.
This is what someone put in Asiedua’s chest. A true life story – If you have an experience to share – good or bad, share with us. Someone can learn from it and not go through the same thing. Send a mail to patricia.akuffo@myjoyonline .com