By REBECCA KUKU
My father was 40 years old when he married my mum who was just 18 then.
Father was a very successful banker and had started his own finance company a few years back before he felt ready to start a family. So the search begin for his bride to-be finally and it was decided that he would take mum as his bride.
I was born a year later, and two years later my mum gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
“We were a happy close-knitted family when my dad was home but when he went to work, mum would tell me to look after my two younger siblings and she would go play cards at the roadside. Every day, before 6pm she would come back to the house and tell me to cook dinner whilst she washed and changed and just as dad’s car was heard in the garage she would pretend to be at the kitchen cooking.
But I didn’t mind, because when dad came home, mama would become the most wonderful mother in the world.
However, when I started grade five a few years back and my younger siblings were in grade three, the bank that dad was working for opened a new branch at another part of the country.
Dad was told to go and manage the bank branch there. We all wanted to move with dad, but mum said that she couldn’t just leave her ageing mother and move to another province. Dad was understanding and said that he would send us money and come visit every two months whilst we could go and spend school holidays with him, just till my mum’s mum passed on as she was very old and frail.
As soon as dad left, our mother became our worst nightmare for the next two years. You see, before Daddy left, he opened bank accounts for all three of us, and mum had her own bank card, so he would send money for all of us.
But mummy took our cards, the next day, said it was for safe keeping.
It was okay for a while, then mummy started gambling heavily. She would forget to buy food for the house and when we asked for our bank cards she would scream at us.
She started drinking, and started partying, leaving us at home to fend for ourselves. Many times the three of us would go to school with empty stomachs and no lunch money.
And when dad called to check up on us, she would stand with a broom on the side and threaten us to tell dad everything was okay even though we had no food in the house.
Sometime, she would force us to call our father for extra money to buy toys or school staff and when dad sent it she would use it to go out and drink beer.
Then she started bringing home another man; he would come at night but be gone by morning.
One morning, she brought the same guy and his friends to our yard. They were all drunk, we were just about to leave for school. I was in grade seven then and my younger siblings were doing grade five. I called my little ones to come quickly so we could walk to school, when I saw my little brother on the side with blood running down his cheek.
I ran to him, and he said that a man who had come with our mother pulled our little sister into the bathroom and he was trying to stop him and he slapped him.
I was only 14 years old then but with all the strength I had in me, I broke the bathroom door down and hit the man with the clothes iron. He was already wobbling on his feet from the alcohol so he just dropped to the floor.
I was in time to save my sister from being raped. I took her and we walked quickly out of our house and went to school. At the school, my little brother‘s teacher saw the cut on his face and asked him what was wrong and he and my little sister told her.
The principal called all three of us to the office and we told her again about what happened. She called the bank and the bank gave her my father’s number, she then called my father.
My father came on the last flight. It was dark when he came to the school to pick us up. We then went to the hospital as dad wanted to make sure my little sister was okay.
The doctor checked her and said she was okay then he dressed my little brother’s cut on his face. We then placed a report at the police station and went home to arrest the culprit. When we arrived home with the police all the drunk men were gone, only our mother and her lover were drunk and sleeping naked in our living room.
My mother’s two older brothers were there with us, as dad had called them and told them about the incident. They were so embarrassed and quickly covered mama with a cloth.
Dad sent the police away saying we could do the arrest in the morning when the two drunk love birds woke.
The guy woke up before mum did. He was shocked and scared we could see but dad just told the officers who had come back in the morning to take him in for questioning.
Mum couldn’t say a word. She got dressed and her brothers took her to the police station.
All their friends were picked up by police that day and brought in and we identified the culprit. He was arrested and later sentenced to just 18 months in prison. My dad sold the house, left my mother back with her brothers and we moved to where he was working.
I am now 19 years old and doing my second year at a university near home and my two siblings are in grade 12.
“Dad has been more than a father to us, he is our mother, our best friend and our rock. He even took online classes to braid our hair, teach us to cook different dishes and how to do just about everything that a mother would have done.
My little brother still has a scar on his face from all those years back, but we are who are today because we have a great dad.
No, he never remarried because between work and raising me and the twins, I think dad never had time for himself. As I write this, I can hear the front door opening and I know my dad’s home.
His hair is all gray now, he has left the bank and now concentrates on his own finance company.
And I pray that he lives forever, sometimes I wish he had remarried so that he could have a companion in his old age but then again as every father will tell you, they don’t need companions when they have daughters, because daughters can never leave their father no matter what.
I sometimes think of my mum and I feel sorry for her when I see my friends with their mothers. I wish my mother too could have loved us like that.
But I guess it just happens. I’m sharing my story because I’m tired of reading everywhere about dead beat dads who don’t show up, or dads abusing their kids, or dead beating their wives, so I want people to know that there are dead beat mothers too.
Some of us are blessed with good fathers, whilst others have good mums and some are very lucky to have great mums and dads.
So appreciate your parents as some of them make a lot of sacrifices to ensure that their children are fed, clothed and safe.