By Muhammed Lamin Drammeh
The man didn’t relent in his quest to take me from my uncles. On the next day, he came back to the house. I looked at him, I felt something. The man was serious with what he was saying. Again, uncle Musa chased him away. The man went saying that he would take the issue to another level. I was tongue-tied.
Later, my mum arrived. She was in a haste and visibly disturbed. She looked at me and started dropping tears. I couldn’t stand and watch her cry, so I went inside crying too. I’m sure she felt for me growing up without a father.
I had a place in grandma’s wardrobe where I kept every document important to me. I opened the place and took out my birth certificate. In the birth certificate, my father’s name is Phoday Phatty and I heard uncle Musa calling the man Sankung. I have been called Taphaa Phatty since I know myself. These two different names added to the burden on my immature head. I then took the birth certificate to mum and asked her why is it that none of my father’s relatives ever visited me or gave me a gift and why is the man claiming for me? I asked her several questions, but she would not answer any of them.
Tears just kept rolling over her face. She was just shedding tears.
Angrily, I got up, shedding tears and went inside. While in the house, I clearly overheard grandma suggesting to mum that let me be taken to another village where my aunt lives. Mum approved her suggestion. At that point, I knew the truth. “I’m not going anywhere. I will go to my father and none of you can stop that,” I’ll say this loudly to their surprise. I asked them to tell me what was hidden. Uncle came out but before he could realise, a police Toyota pick-up appeared with the man inside together with three police officers. As soon as the man alighted from the Toyota, I ran to him. He grabbed and cuddled me. Finally, in my father’s hands. Mum was angry. She attempted to take me from my father, but one of the police officers denied her. The officer asked my mum, uncle and granny to go with them to “Talookang” police station to settle the matter..I was happy on that spot. I boarded the car happily under the care of my father.
At the police station, we were asked by the station officer to get inside a
tiny room he refered to as his office. In the office, he asked them to sit while I arranged myself on the floor. I was actually in a joyous mood meeting my father.
The S.O told them that the issue was a serious one and could be a serious court case if it’s not solved at that level. He explained the route the issue might take in court. So he asked my mum to explain everything in detail and mum started while in tears.
“Officer, I met this man 22 years ago in Banjul. He asked me out for a date for few days, and I accepted him. He said he loved me and he would like to marry me. I was made to believe that he loved me, so I gave him everything including my pride as a woman just because I fell for his words. Even against my brothers and parents’ wish, I would visit him regularly. My brothers warned me not to be following him to his house, but I convinced them that Sam loved me and had introduced me to his parents.”
“My love for him was visible in everything I was doing. I would satisfy in his lust, all in the name of love. He would demand for my pride almost every day. His parents knew me and I would cook for them sometimes. We were in love – a love that was in the open.”
“Officer, this was the situation at that time and I happened to get pregnant for him. It first started with sickness and later went to the hospital. Financially, he wasn’t strong so I would not disturb him in that regard. In the hospital, I was tested and I showed him the medical report. When he read that, he asked me who was responsible and my response was that it was him. After saying that, he hit me, slapped and kicked me using every foul words in his head.He asked me to get out but I refused because I knew only him as a man.”
“When he realised that I meant what I said, he locked me in the house and went out on his business. When he came, I was in the same place where he left me. Perhaps he was advised. He later apologiszed and bought me a dinner. I accepted his apology because of love. He succeeded in convincing me to abort the pregnancy, which I did.”
“I actually kept everything in the dark from my parents. Only Binta, my closest friend knew what had happened.”
“Officer, I continued going to his house and his appetite for my womanhood continued to germinate and, because of love, I would give him my pride. A year later, I got pregnant again.”
“This time too, he asked me to abort and I told him that I was not going to commit another murder. In his house, he took out a knife and threatened to kill me. He said such has never happened in their family and I should abort the pregnancy or run to another village. Because of fear for my life, I agreed to abort. He gave me money to go to the hospital, but I ran away..I called my parents and explained everything to them. When they approached his family, he strongly denied being responsible of the pregnancy and with his parents also saying that they were even planning to tie the knot between Sam and his uncle’s daughter.”
“My brothers tried but they couldn’t go any further. They seriously warned me to stop going to his house, but I never listened. So I had to live in shame. I took care of the pregnancy and took care of Taphaa for 19 good years. Officer, how can he claim that this boy is his son? Where was Sam for twenty years? He got married to two different ladies and he couldn’t have a child with them. That is why he’s claiming the boy’s fatherhood for him. I gave him my own surname and falsified his father’s name all because this man rejected him even before his birth. We had kept this in secrecy. My brothers took care of him, paid his school fees and now he’s about to go to the university… Officer, over my dead body! I would rather die than the beast taking my son.”
These were my mother’s words. I stood up and vowed not to call him my father and I’ll do whatever mum desires. If I had a gun, I would’ve shot him dead. I later went out and headed home thinking about my mother’s intelligence and my surname. Someone who rejected me before birth and put my mum in shame for 20 years isn’t the man to call a father. I am having a surname that is not originally mine. Will I be able to change my surname? I think I’ll leave this country and go to a faraway country. My father isn’t actually my father because he denied being my father before my birth. Since then, I have been living without him.