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Help! My mother is denying me!

Written by Yetunde Arebi - Vanguard, Nigeria.
I have no parents. I mean, I do not know my father or mother. I was not adopted by anyone so, sometimes, I feel like I just dropped from heaven. I always feel lost and alone, even though I am now married and my husband tries to console me and makes me feel wanted all the time.
As I child, it took a while for me to know that I had no father like the other children. I lived with my mother with a few other people in the house. She was a rich business woman and it took a while for me to realise that the other girls who were older than me were not her children.This was because of the frequency with which these people came and left our house. They all came to work for her or learn to trade, so they always left after a while.
A few people called my mother by my name, Mama Nkem, but most of the people, especially family members called her by other names. I learnt that my mother had four other children who were much older than me and lived abroad.They have all returned to Nigeria now.
My mother used to travel very often too. Most times, she went for her businesses and also to see my brothers and sisters. They too used to come home once a while but we were never close. it was as if they resented me for a reason which was not clear to me at the time. I used to think it was because of the wide age difference between us. My mother too never related well with me. It obvious that I was a problem to her and she never liked me. She did not treat me differently from the other people that worked with her. She would rain abuses and curses on everyone and I was not spared. Her favourite abuse for me was eyen anana ete (bastards) and that I will never do well in life and would die in the forest. And she would beat me for every little thing.
I did not like her and sometimes wondered if truly she was my mother. However, over time, I began to discover things that gave me great concern. I would wonder why I had a different name from my other siblings and why they too also have different names. For instance, the first two children bear the same name while the third and fourth have different names.
When you add my own name, it meant that my mother had children by four different men.
This added to my resentment of her person and would always wonder why she would continue to blame me for her own mistakes.However, I eventually discovered that my name was actually my mother’s maiden name. This meant that I did not have a father and it bothered me to no end, especially since she always called me a bastards and treated me like one of her helps. I think it was at this point that I started thinking about my identity and who my father was. But I did not have the courage to ask my mother for fear of what her reaction would be.
However, one day, I summoned up courage and asked about it from one of my sisters, the fourth child who was home on holiday. Of them all, it was with her that I could relate. She bought me many of the things I could boast of owning at the time and she would always advise me to ignore our mother and older sister and that one day, I will be free from them. The first time I asked her to tell me the truth about my identity, she just laughed and asked why I wanted to know. At that time, I had not informed her that I knew my surname is the same as our mother’s maiden name.
She then told me that our mother was not lucky in her relationships with the men she married and so, had married at three different times. That did it, it was her answer that encouraged me to ask my main question. Her three husbands confirmed that all my four older siblings bear three different names. If our mother had married three different men, who then is my own father or why am I not bearing the same name with at least, one of my older siblings?
Would that mean she had a fourth husband? And if that is so, why am I not bearing the man’s name? It was as if I had spoken something taboo. My sister began drilling me, demanding to know why I was asking such questions and what I wanted to do with the information. She advisd that if I loved myself, I should never allow my mother to hear such nonsense from my mouth or I would wish for death because of what she would do to me. I was so scared, I begged her not to tell her that I was just worried because of the different names we were all bearing and the fact that my mother hated me so much and was always calling me a names. The next day, she called me and told me to be patient, that with time, I will know the truth about who my mother is and that she is not in the position to tell me yet. Neither should I also discuss it ever with anyone.
I was about 12 years then and had just gained admission into Secondary School. and rather than put my heart to rest, my sister had confirmed my fears that there was something wrong with me. The truth would hit me about four years later. Ever since, I have not been the same again. Our first born, a girl who ought to be like a mother to us all was the most selfish and arrogant of all my mother’s children and treated me the worst. I kept to myself anytime she was around. We were like night and day, our paths never crossed and I always wished she did not come home at all. But she did not really have a cordial relationship with the others too but she was treated with respect as the eldest and perhaps the apple of our mother’s eyes.
THE next day, our fourth born called me and told me to be patient, that with time, I will know the truth about who my mother, adding that she is not in the position to tell me yet.
Neither should I also discuss it ever with anyone. I was about 12 years then and had just gained admission into Secondary School. Rather than put my heart to rest, my sister had confirmed my fears that there was something wrong with me. The truth would hit me about four years later. Ever since, I have not been the same again.
As time went by, my siblings started returning to Nigeria one after the other. The first son who also happened to be the second born returned home with his wife and children about the same time with the fourth born, the one close to me.He stayed for a few months in our house before they finally moved into one of the flats owned by our mother.
It was during a conversation between him, his wife and our fourth born that I first overhead the secret. I was indeed not my mothers daughter and therefore not sibling to any of my sisters and brothers. My mother was my sister, our first born and my mother was my grandmother. My supposed siblings were my uncles and aunties.
It took me a few minutes to understand what I was hearing and because I was not part of the conversation and did not have the courage to go and demand for explanation from them, I could only hide there behind the house. I didn’t know when I started crying.
Things started making more sense to me. The wide age gap between my siblings and me and why they could not relate well with me. But it also left me wondering about a lot of things. If my sister is my mother, why are they not calling me her daughter? Is it that she did not know that I am her daughter? Why am I bearing my mother’s maiden name, or rather, my grandmother’s maiden name and not my father’s name? Who is my father and where is he? Is it that he did not want me or why does he not come to see me? Why are they keeping my real identity a secret?
This little secret was too much for my little head and it began to worry me so much. To add to that, the maltreatment from my mother and neglect from my siblings and their family did not help my situation. My mother treated our first son’s children with love and kindness, buying almost everything under the sun to pamper them. I was even made to look after them even though I was just a few years older than them. The most painful thing was that they were all enrolled into private schools while I continued in the public school. It was as if nobody was interested in my happiness or survival at all. In fact, if anything happened to me, they probably wouldn’t have cared.
I carried this secret with me for a very long time before I could summon up the courage to ask my usual source of little succor and information. She could not believe her ears when I informed her that I have discovered that our mother is not my mother and that my mother is aunty Obioma. She asked who told me and I told her how I heard them talking about it months back when brother and his wife were still living with us. I begged her to tell me the truth and why everyone calls me grandma’s daughter.
She said it was a long story and she was not in the position to tell me. She also warned that no one else must hear about our conversation. Should I be foolish enough to tell, I must never mention where I heard it from. However, it appeared my aunt could not control herself and she must have gone to discuss it with our brother who in turn, discussedwith our mother.
One day, my mother came in fuming and shouting my name at the top of her voice, calling be a bastard and other awful names. She asked who was telling me stories and that the person and I would die together. To cut the long story short, I was told that my father was a bastard like me and had died in the forest like I also would. That day, I got the beating of my life and my mother did not only renounce me as her daughter but warned me not to tarnish the reputation of her daughter with my ugly story. If I was so badly in need of a mother, I should go and look for one elsewhere.
My problem doubled from that day. But the more I wanted to know the truth concerning my birth and who my father was. I still found it difficult to believe that Aunty Obioma could be my real mother. Of all my mother’s children she treated me the worst. I kept to myself anytime she was around. We were like night and day, our paths never crossed and I always wished she did not come home at all.
As the first born and a girl, she ought to be like a mother to us all but she was the most selfish and arrogant. She did not really have a cordial relationship with the others too but she was treated with respect as the eldest and perhaps the apple of our mother’s eyes. When at a point she did not come to Nigeria for several years, I was really happy. By that time, I heard that she had married and had children. When she returned to Nigeria, she settled in one of our mother’s houses with her family not too far from our mother’s house. And she continued to ignore me as if I never existed.
I would watch the way she related with her children as if they were the most precious things in the world. I would serve them all like a maid, even at their house at her demand or my mother’s.
She would tell people to my hearing about the three lovely children that God has given her and how they will get the best things in life that she could afford. They also attended private schools and travelled often abroad for holidays. Her husband even as I speak has never given me a kobo, even when I had my first child. Neither of them attended the naming ceremony.
SHORTLY after our moth er’s outburst and curses on me, Aunty Obioma called me one day and asked if what she heard about me calling her my mother was true. I could only stare at the ground as she too began raining abuses on me and calling me a crazy girl. She said she could never give birth to a child who will never do well in life. That it should be the first and the last time that she would hear her name linked to such a story and the last time she will also discuss the issue with me. Our mother is my mother. If I am not satisfied, I can go and look for another mother of my choice and ask her for a father too.
This has been my life ever since.
The maltreatment continued and in fact became almost unbearable such that, it was affecting everything i did. I was not doing well in school and had to repeat twice before I finally made it to SS3. It was no big surprise to everyone that I did not make any Credit level pass in my School Certificate Examination. But while brother suggested that I should be given a second chance to take the exams again, our mother insisted that there was no need and that I will never pass even if I sat for the exams a 100 times. The decision was then taken that I should go and learn Fashion Designing at a corner shop about two streets from our house. Anyway, that was where I met my husband, the guy I now live with and have a child for. We had two children but one died shortly before it turned one year.
I was further devastated and humiliated two years ago when our mother died. She left houses, Shares and money for everyone, even though, Aunty Obioma got more than everyone. She did not leave anything for me and the reason for that was never stated. All her other grandchildren got some, money, clothes and jeweleries. Aunty Obioma did not say anything. It was obvious that she already knew the content of the will, even before it was read. Only our other siblings expressed surprise and insisted that she ought to have left something for me.
Despite the fact that my husband knows everything about my story, he too was annoyed that nothing was left for me. But there was nothing anyone could do about it. After everything had been distributed, I went to see Aunty Grace, our fourth born who funny enough had lost favour with our mother before her death. Her own inheritance was the smallest compared to what she gave the others. She was not happy with Aunty Obioma and our mother and I think this was what made her disclose the truth to me.
Aunty Grace insisted that Aunty Obioma is my mother and that my father was an elderly man who once worked for my mother as a Gateman and Gardener.  Nobody knew how it really happened, they just discovered that Aunty Obioma was pregnant and that it was the man that confessed being responsible for it. She was in Secondary Shool at the time and probably did not really understand what had happened to her.
Our mother was said to have sent him away after cursing him but there was nothing anyone could do about the pregnancy. Because of the scandal, Aunty Obioma was sent to the village to stay with relatives until she gave birth to me and I was passed off as my grandmother’s daughter. No one ever spoke about the pregnancy or my father again. The hatred and anger against my father was subsequently passed to me.
The more Aunty Obioma and my mother saw me, the more they hated me. So, what do I do? She said I could go and talk to our other siblings to help me plead with Aunty Obioma but she would not go with them because my case was part of the issues that made her fall out with our mother and Aunty Obioma.
My other siblings confirmed what Aunty Grace told me at different times but none was ready to help me confront my mother. They all agreed that if my mother insists she is not my mother, it is not their business to force her to accept me. The most painful part of it is that no one knows my father’s name or where he came from, so, I can’t even say I want to go and search for him.
The new twist to my problem is that when our baby died and the problem became too much for us, some people took my husband out for spiritual consultations at an Alfa’s place.
To our greatest surprise, we were told that my mother, or grandmother has used me for money ritual. That I am just a walking corpes, I will not die but will never be successful or do anything good with my life again. That I was the one producing all the wealth that my grandmother had. That it is a secret between my mother and Aunty Obioma and because she knows I am worthless, she will never want anything to do with me. We have since gone to other places but all we hear are similar stories.
After these revelations, I began to recall some of the things I saw while growing up. Our mother indeed had been a member of many secret cults in and out of the country all the way to India and some African countries, even though she was also a staunch member of the Methodist church. I am convinced that there is some truth in what all these people are saying.
Aunty Obioma and her husband are elders in their church too. In fact, they are one of the pillars of the church and are highly respected. Another information I gathered was that Aunty Obioma never told her husband that she had a child long before they got married. So, when they returned to Nigeria and he was told, he refused to accept and acknowledge me too. Everyone had been disappointed because they had hoped that he would help resolve my issue. Now, I believe his refusal must have been prompted by our mother. I am now confused and scared. I know it is a matter of time before my husband turns against me too and I will be alone in the world. I just feel like dying sometimes.

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