By Yetunde Arebi
The article you are about to read is a contribution from an ardent reader. He says he was born out of wedlock by a teenage mother. He was moved to share his story growing up after reading some of the stories of young women or rather girls who found themselves pregnant and having to raise their children all alone.
Below, he tries to capture some of the issues children born to such parents have to contend with. He believes that there is hope, when one puts his/her faith in God, adding that one must however be hard working and focused.
I am a regular reader of your column and it has been helping me a great deal to handle some problems in my life. I say more salt to your soup. I have read several stories about young teenage mothers and their struggles. I want to let you know that at one time or the other, we as individuals, must made one mistake or the other as the case may be. The only point there is that we should learn from our mistakes.
I am a twenty (20) year old man who took special interest in this topic because I am “unfortunate” to be a child, from a teenage relationship. Every one of us wants to tell one sweet story or the other, but none of us want to go through the stress of life.
I strongly believe that I have passed through what I did so as to have something to share with others, including you reading my story now.
It all happened (as I was told), when my mother was in Secondary School; that one thing led to the other and she became pregnant for a student who was in a technical school in the same town.
Because the guy responsible was not working then and my mother was still a student, the normal stress began. The family of my mother began hunting for the guy, who began running from pillar to post. Finally, he was forced to leave our town for another town which made him to miss his final exams too. On the part of my mother, she insisted of giving birth to the child while her family members settled for termination.
There is something important about destiny and children; they don’t die anyhow and unfulfilled because God has a purpose for them. Because God is faithful, I was given birth to and raised by my maternal grandparents.
They gave me a very good primary education. Though they were not wealthy, they tried their best. While I was with my grandparents, my mother went back to school to complete her Secondary School education. When she was in Form IV, I was already in Kindergarten school.
After much struggle, she was able to complete her Secondary school and even went on to obtain an OND in Catering and Hotel Management. By this time, I was already in Primary School, doing marvellously well too. Meanwhile, some form of jealousy had started to mount in our home because I was doing better compared with my mother’s sister’s son (cousin) who was just a few months older than me. Nevertheless, what God will do, he will do. (Jn. 6:6).
When I was in Primary five, I lost my grandpa after a brief illness as Nigerians would say. All this while, I had been bearing his name, i.e. my mother’s father’s name. But after the death of my grandpa, I was about to enrol for First School Leaving Certificate, my mother changed the name and I started bearing my supposed father’s name.
At this point in time, I still didn’t know my biological father. I was used to my grandpa and we loved each other so much. He taught me a lot of things. He always bought me things. We had the same set of clothes. If he bought something for himself, he would buy for me.
My grandpa taught me how to dye hair and even involved me in household farming. Together with my grandma, they brought me up in the way of the Lord just like in the case of Timothy in the Bible. All these increased the jealousy of my cousin towards me.
One bright sunny day, two years after the death of my grandpa, a young looking man surfaced in our house. I was already in JSS 1 and living with my aunt, her son and my grandma. I was told by my aunt that the guy is my father.
I just stared at him because I didn’t know him and didn’t know how to relate with him. After saying what he had to say, he announced that he was leaving. My mother at this time had already married with a child. My cousin and I were told to take him to where my mother was working then. When he was about to leave finally, he gave N15, but it had no value to me because he was a stranger. I was 12 years old then.
During my stay with my aunt, I had some terrible experiences but I thank God. Tough times don’t last, but tough people of purpose and destiny do. I was called all sorts of names, including a bastard because I did not know my father. Though I was not moved at the initial stage, later, the situation became unbearable that I had to confront my mother about it. She would tell me I should not worry, that with time, I will know him.
As God will have it, my aunt had to leave town with her children and my grandma went to live with my uncle in a nearby town. I had to join my mother in her husband’s house which he rented for her. All these years she has been responsible for my schooling, clothing and feeding and even for the six years I spent in Secondary school.
But as time went on, I began to see the need why I must not continue to remain in that condition. That was also the time I realised that I must make it in this life and prove a lot of speculations about me wrong. I kept friends that will accept me for who I am and not who they expected me to be. Besides, I did not have any money to offer them but we were happy together.
I did not pretend to be who I am not, nor tell them fancy stories about me. Despite all these, people still saw something peculiar about me which I was not aware of. Because of this, people usually made friends with me, especially older ones. I soon discovered that the favour of God was upon my life.
I want to quickly say that for as many as are passing through one difficulty or another, look up to God and not men. Men may fail but God doesn’t fail. God has not failed anybody before and you will not be the first person. Heb. 13:8. As time went on, I came to realise that though I don’t have or know my biological father, I have a father who is the father of all fathers. The everlasting father and the great provider. Once you are connected to this father, your life’s questions are answered already.
One of the things that keeps baffling me is that, all those people in my mother’s family who had moved for abortion when my mother got pregnant are now having their rewards. Their children became pregnant at different times and were not opportune to complete their secondary education.
Another thing is how God miraculously provided me a job after my SSCE and I have been using it to take care of myself and even my younger ones.
Can you believe that at the age of 20, I still don’t have anyone to point to as my father? But I have a God who is all sufficient and I can even do more than some people with both parents as their guardians and counsellors.
My advice to as many children who are passing through this similar period is, they should know they are passing through it and not staying in it. It is only God that can see them through and not man. Do not be proud.
Humble yourself and make others believe in you. Do not entertain any form of inferiority complex because you are as complete as other children. Take it as a thing of joy that you have passed through that way. It is because I passed through that way that I am able to share this with you.
I want to quickly say that we should not despise anybody in this life, even the so called teenage mothers and their children, because you don’t know whose turn it will be tomorrow. If anybody despises you in life, tell God. He will spice up your life, such that people will wait for your decision before they can move on.
Don’t advice anybody to go for abortion and you too should not go for it. You don’t know the child that will make the difference in your life, turn it around from poverty into wealth and from sorrow into joy. Depend on God for your life. Know the type of people you seek advice from so that your success will not be aborted.
The question I now want to ask is that, should I go and look for my father or should I just get on with my life as I have always done. He has refused to come and look for me again. I have an idea of where he stays. He is now married with about four children.
I met one of them by accident where I went to write my examinations but he did not know me. Hmm! Should he go looking for his biological father? Do have a wonderful weekend!!