I recall vividly my happiest moment as a child, it was the day I finally bid home farewell to boarding school. An opportunity most of my age mates only felt less excited for because obviously, it was their first time being away from home, and importantly, they’ll miss the care from family and the feeling of existing in a sound place called home. Why was I happy to leave home? Home was a slaughterhouse! My father being the butcher and me, my mum and my siblings were the scapegoats. Hardly a week went by without any of us getting a deep bleeding wound, courtesy of my father. It was either a swollen skin, swollen eyes or head, or a cut anywhere else. Tell you what, at age nine, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Home was not a safe haven, boarding school was for me. I barely came home for the holidays. I just stayed in school, participating in every kind of extracurricular activity ( cricket, basketball, etc.), anything to help me stay far away from my father. The times I was mandated to come home was unforgivable, as the calendar ticked closer to the holidays, my heart leaped for fear.
Let Me Tell You About My Father
Have you ever met a man so cruel enough to admire seeing your skin bleed, yet benevolent in providing you with the facilities you need to navigate life? He brutalized us at will in the name of discipline even for the littlest things like mistakenly breaking a plate, misplacing items, etc. Name the weapons, cable wire, cutlass, his hands, and his energetic way of throwing anything he sees on sight at you. We constantly had family members and our neighbors coming to our aid most times. Often times, those who come to our aid went home irritated and angry, worst case they became the enemy of the family. And I, my mom, and siblings were made to inherit the enmity created by my dad.
Our family was on the watch list of the whole community, so when we went out to play with other kids their parents always warned them not to play with us for fear of encountering my dad. The fear of him made our subconscious mind and hearing accustomed to his car honk seven blocks away. Not just us, but the neighbors, ‘go inside o, your dad is coming!’ they often alerted us, likewise they running inside too.
It was the norm for 18 years of my life living under his roof. As I write this article, I have this very huge scar on my left shoulder that went through 32 stitches. YES! MY DAD DID IT! He used a very sharp cutlass on me, his SON, simply because I was caught communicating with my mum over the phone. She had fled the hell called home because she had it worse than we did. I still look at the scar and remember 9-11 -2008, coincidentally, it was the same day. When the world talks about the famous 9-11 event, I can only remember the wickedness of my father.
The comforting part of his shortcomings was that we never lacked. He is very hardworking and competent in provision. He doesn’t joke with Education, he would help with my physics and geography assignments but mathematics was a tormenting ride with him. For every time I got an answer wrong, he would either whip me, slap me hard until my eyes were stained with blood. One time he held my head and scrubbed my mouth on the floor, I bleed my meat out of my lips.
And yeah, to dilute his wickedness, he would compensate with a shopping spree. He bought us the latest toys, and my mum the finest wrappers that showcased her as a beautiful Delta Igbo woman. She would put them on with a smile but only a wise man could tell it was a facade. She lived in deep regret.
A Conjugal Warfare
For as long I could remember, my mum was in grief throughout her marriage with him. I never experienced a share of genuine love between them. She would get brutalized for mere quarrels with him and also when she tried to intercede whenever he was beating us cats and dogs. I can never forget her midnight wailings that God should change him, but it only got worse.
Back then, we were Catholics and how ironic, my dad was the chairman of the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO). He was not only famous for his numerous donations but also revered as righteous. This made my mum not to confide in anyone in church but instead decided to try other denominations with hopes to get saved from her husband’s brutality.
One Sunday after we came back from morning mass, there was a misunderstanding between my mom and my dad that resulted in my mom swimming in a pool of blood gushing from her head. My dad could care less. I witnessed him sitting comfortably on his ottoman chair watching ‘People’s Palava’ on MITV. And while she was crying for help, he looked at her with spite and said ‘I am the God in this family, I can take any of you’s life without questioning’. I was only 15, but I was made to carry the cross of assisting my bleeding mum to the toilet for safety before going over to call our family friend’s whom my dad respected so much.
They heard my cry and drove me to the Rev Father who followed us home. Shockingly, my mom was ok and her wound had been dressed by our neighbor who is a nurse. However, the most disappointing of it all was seeing my mom in the kitchen cooking for him. The reverend father advised my mom to leave the marriage for her life …GBAM !!! if a reverend could say this, then you know it’s that bad. My mom hesitated leaving because of her kids, she adores us so much. But eventually after I finished secondary school, she finally got divorced. Now she is happily married and owns a home in Texas, she also co-owns an orphanage home with her husband.
The Cause And Effect
My mum left without us because he refused, but at the age of 18, I was able to run away without looking back. The experience made me grow up faster. As the first child, I was responsible for my mum and sibling’s mental state. Now we look back and smile at our experience, though sometimes it lingers in my mom’s mind and she sheds tears but she wipes them and smiles.
Before our freedom, I noticed my siblings, also males were starting to show tendencies of aggression. It was tilting to become like my dad’s, if care was not taken. I had to constantly nip it in the bud by showing them gentlemanly ways. I knew it was the side effect of the many tormenting experience living with my dad and it could most likely mar them for life. I say this because the brutality my dad showed was a result of his upbringing. He was also brutalized by his father, and the brutality was also extended to his mother. My dad’s childhood damaged him. He couldn’t give us love because he was never shown love. I have myself in control, because right from time, I knew there was more to all the bad emotions that occupied our home. I found peace living in my head (imaginations), I created a better family, a better experience, a better reaction compared to the reaction in my reality, all in my head (imagination). I looked forward to my own happiness, I knew it would come one day, I learned how to deal with all my demons ( fear, anxiety, depression, hate, etc) and replaced them with the opposite. I didn’t let his wickedness infect me. All I do now is make sure my siblings are surrounded with so much love, so they can be exemplary.
Now the only relationship I have with my dad is business talks and that’s because he has what I need (funds and connections). Deep down I know he regrets his actions, he tries to show it sometimes but I just ignore the signs and let him drown in his guilt of being a bad father and a bad husband. Frankly, I do not have any hatred for him, nor do I wish that my childhood was different. Rather the experience has made me conscious of being a good man, an attribute I might have lacked. I might have lacked empathy if I hadn’t experienced the lack of it. It made me learn that emotions are a luxury. The fact that people have the ability to show some emotions in excess doesn’t mean it is normal. Like I put in effort in my job, I put in the effort with good emotions too. It makes me satisfied.
Now you, how would you describe the method of training by your parents? Did it make you the man or woman that you are today? Also, do you agree that the best form of discipline is by beating a child? And if you grew up in a warzone like mine, with a tormenting father (or mother), please lets learn of your experience in the comment section😪👇.