Mum refused to take me with her whenever she went to court. But all the time, she came back looking either very sullen or downright upset. She often said unkind things, sometimes very rude and obscene about dad.
She said he was a liar who pretended in court that he was an angel and that mum was the fool, an aggressive woman who beat up him and her children and also often left them alone for days on end.
Of course this was true for both mum and dad. Whatever it was in the make-up of their love and marriage that just could not jell, it resulted in two people that ended up torturing me and my brother Lucius, either directly through their physical actions on us, through starvation when we had to go to bed without eating because both were out and there was no food in the house, and through loneliness and neglect when we were left alone and scared in the house and so on.
Some of the things dad did were so depressing and continue as fresh scars thatstill torment me to date. They make me feel some kind of hatred even within the natural love I have for him as my dad. There were times when he came home dead drunk, very late in the night, and realising that mum was not at home, he came to where we slept with Lucius. My kid brother would be fast asleep.
He would then whisper to me to take off my under pants, that he wanted to give me fatherly blessings, that that was the way blessings were given. I didn’t like that because mum always said taking off my under pants and allowing a boy to put his organ for urinating on my organ for urinating was a stupid thing. She said if she found me she would beat me.
She said it was a sin against God, that it would actually hurt and be very painful but here was dad telling me to do the very same thing mum said was stupid. He would do things which, as mum said, were very painful to me. Then he would warn me that I should never tell anyone, that if I did, the blessing would melt, and that when that happened, I would become sick, with AIDS and die a very slow painful death. He also often promised me gifts and new clothes for accepting to be blessed and keeping quiet about it.
I hated to have him, my dad, on top of me, hurting me while he sounded and acted very excited about it. He seemed to enjoy blessing me, as he would have me believe he was doing, even as painful as such blessing was.
Some girls at school talked about the stupid thing.
They said they had boyfriends who did it with them and that it was nice. They said their parents told them it was a stupid thing but one of them said the parents were damn liars because they themselves did the stupid thing at night.
“That’s why they sleep alone in their bedrooms because they don’t want us to see them doing it on their big double beds,” she said laughing. She was naughty. Other girls laughed with her.
I was confused. How could mum tell me putting urinating organs on each other was a stupid thing, then dad tell me that was how fathers were supposed to bless their daughters, while friends told me it was something nice which boyfriends did with their girlfriends?
Of course now I know I just happened then, like many other kids in unstable homes like ours, to be a victim of both defilement and incest. Father took advantage of the broken status of our home, the regular absence of mum to have carnal knowledge of me. Whatever reasons a loving father would have for having sex with his underage daughter I will never understand.
I have always felt like asking him, in my adult and knowledgeable life, why he did that to me, why he lied that he was blessing me when in fact he was just taking advantage of me. I have always wanted to find out what he found sexually attractive in me, his own underage daughter.
I still have the natural love every child has for their father. He is quite elderly now, as I write, a completely reformed person who does a lot of church work in his village with the Reformed Church in Zambia.
He probably remembers the things he used to do to me and how I must also remember them and possibly detest him for it all. I suppose that’s what he meant not long ago when, on one of his rare visits to my house, he knelt down before me and said he hadn’t been the best father I could have had.
He said he thanked God that for all the terrible things him and mum had subjected us to, I had still grown up to be a normal girl and now happily married with a very good job.
He asked for forgiveness a million times and said if it wasn’t for his knowledge of Jesus, he could probably have committed suicide.
He also took blame for the total rebelliousness that had subsequently led my younger brother, while in his teens, to go into alcohol and drug abuse, being totally addicted to marijuana, beer, cigarettes and even the stuff they call jenkem.
Lucius got lost in the crowds of unruly youths at bus stops and drinking places, shouting obscene things at any opportunity, picking people’s pockets, fighting with such regularity his face was soon so scarred that that natural handsomeness he had inherited from dad was soon gone.
Well, I have digressed many years ahead in this tale of my harrowing childhood. Let me return. Mum and dad finally did divorce and she was allowed to keep custody of me and Lucius. Dad said it was ok she could keep the children but he must be allowed access to them.
He disclosed that mum had kept her present residential address secret, denying him access to us though we the children belonged to both of them.
The court ordered her to disclose where we were staying and that he should see us whenever he wanted. He was also ordered to continue providing for us.
That is how the unpleasantness continued for a while longer. Whenever dad showed up to see us, there were angry and unpleasant scenes all over again. Mum often told dad that she didn’t need his assistance, that we could cope without him.
He would fight back and say he knew she now had a free range to bitch around and could therefore make much money which was why she was boasting that she didn’t need him.
“Are you jealous that I can now meet men at will, who I want and when I want?” she once retorted. “I was all yours, I kept myself for you but you abused the chance and left me so don’t be bothered that your friends have taken over.”
“I don’t want my children to be exposed to naked prostitution,” he fought back. “You can bitch as much as you like for all I care but don’t spoil my babies.”
They said so much to each other. Then they fought! As used to be the case before. She went back to court, at the advice of Uncle Bridges, herboyfriend. The court warned dad that he would be barred from visiting us if he ever came home and quarreled or fought with mum. They said if he had difficulties coming face to face with his former wife, he should send for the children and meet them somewhere where she wouldn’t be present. He should similarly send his support to them through a third party.
We saw and heard less and less of dad. Uncle Bridges visited us at least two or three times in a week. Whenever we saw him, Lucius and I would get very excited, and shout “Uncle Bridges …” and try tooutsprint each other to be the first to reach him. Lucius loved to jump at him and he would grab him in midair like a football. After some time, he would put him down and hug me, always referring to us as “my kids, my boy and girl”.
He was sucha nice man I started liking it, maybe even looking forward to seeing him at our home but more so, seeing him with mum.
He had a way of changing mum from an angry monster to a happy, charm and smiling woman. I even looked forward to seeing them go alone, the two of them, into the bedroom where they would speak in low tones for some time and then be quiet for hours on end.