Societal, Stories

I AM NOT HIM.

My name is Seun Adams. I turned 23 today and I should be excited about it but I’m not. I’m not because exactly 10 years ago today, on my 13th birthday to be precise, my life as I knew it changed.

I come from a regular Christian family of five; father, mother, two siblings. I’m the first child and only son. My family was very normal and loving. Being the only son (and the spitting image of my father), I was loved by both my parents especially my mother. Not like I was a spoiled brat or anything, cause believe me, I got just the right amount of spankings (from my father though; mum could never quite bring herself to hit me) to keep me in check. There was a lot of love in my home, everybody loved everybody else and we didn’t have any major problems except that my mum had a skin condition that made her go to the hospital a bit frequently. It wasn’t that serious though as she was never hospitalised; whenever the symptoms arose(bruises, cracks, dark marks), she’d go to the hospital and come back with her medication and salve for the bruises and in a couple of days she’d be as good as new. Any other issues we had were solved through prayers and discussion. Basically, we were the perfect family, if such a thing exists. Or so I thought.

It was a normal day, or as normal as it could be considering that it was my thirteenth birthday and we were all excited, I especially. I mean it’s not every day that one officially becomes a teenager. Plus birthdays were really special in my house. I woke up that morning by 4.am (over excitement) which is way early for me as I usually have to be dragged or threatened out of bed and after tossing and turning on my bed for about 5mins, I decided to surprise my parents and wake them up for a change. As I crossed the sitting room that separated their rooms from ours, I heard muffled sounds meaning they were up already and my bubble burst a bit. Okay, so I wouldn’t wake them up but the fact that I was up would still surprise them. As I moved closer, the muffled sounds grew louder and I could distinctly make out my mom’s voice. It sounded like she was whimpering. Okay, maybe I should just go back to my room, I thought. I was a year older today yes, but I definitely wasn’t old enough to walk in on my parents making love. Gross. No child should ever have to witness that I thought, smiling to myself and turning back. 

And then I heard the piercing scream. That didn’t sound like pleasure. That was pain. My mother’s pain. As I charged into the room, the sight that greeted me is one that I will never forget. My mother was crouched on the floor, stark naked with blood streaming from more places than I care to think about. She was almost unrecognisable with all the bruises and stripes that covered her body. My father hovered over her, eyes gleaming, like a hunter about to pounce on its prey. His left hand was wound tightly around the end of a leather belt, the metal head dangling. His right hand. In his right hand, he held a blood smeared razor blade. I’ll never forget the look in my mother’s eyes that morning. She looked like a wounded soldier begging. Begging for her life. It was that look that jolted me out of my shock. I ran to her and put myself between her and my father. Then I looked up at him, silently daring him to touch either of us. I didn’t know what I would do but I was sure the rage in my eyes matched the one I could see in his. He looked like an animal. Like he was actually considering tearing me apart. And then he faltered. His hand dropped, the blade falling to the ground as if in slow motion. I’ll never forget the sound of the blade hitting the ground. Yes, I heard the sound. And then he, my father, grabbed his car keys and left. And that was the last we ever saw of him.

That was also the beginning of my horror.

It wasn’t until much later that I learnt that my mother’s skin condition wasn’t medical at all like we’d been told. What I witnessed was the last of beatings that were almost as old as I was. They had started with a slap or two now and then ‘to keep her in check’ and like everything else, they escalated over the years. But the ‘blade mechanism’ I witnessed was a premiere and I was privileged to have a front row seat.

After the incident, my mum became very distant. I figured she just needed her space to get over the horror of it all. But I began to notice that she was distant to only me. My sisters, who didn’t know the whole story where closer to her than ever. I thought maybe she was a bit embarrassed that I witnessed the incident but when she started keeping my sisters away from me, I knew there was a problem. Like she was protecting them from me. I tried to ask her about it but she dismissed it as a figment of my imagination. I didn’t know what to do. We’d never been close to my extended family so there was really no one I could turn to. So I continued in silence. After a while my sisters and I were almost strangers. It felt like they had something against me.

On the day I turned 14, the anniversary of the day my father left, my mother acted like nothing was happening. I had to remind my sisters that it was my birthday. After passing my mother for the umpteenth time, waiting in vain for her to wish me a happy birthday at least, I decided to confront her. I could understand that she would have mixed feelings but I was her son for crying out loud…

“Mom?”

“Yes?”

“It’s 7th of July. My birthday.”

“Oh. Happy birthday.”

“Oh happy birthday? Is that all you can say? Mom for crying out loud it’s my birthday!!!”

And then jumping out of her chair with so much venom and hatred in her eyes that I shrunk, she screamed at me…
“SO WHAT? IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY, SO WHAT? You drove him away! You drove your father away a year ago! And you want me to celebrate? Celebrate what exactly? CELEBRATE WHAT?”

“But mother…”

“DON’T YOU DARE! Who is your mother? Me…?”

At this point I’m stunned. This woman. This screaming woman in front of me is my mother. My mother! I took a step towards her in an attempt to calm her down and she suddenly retreated and raised her hands in defense. As if trying to shield a blow.
“For God’s sake mom…”

“No please. Stay away”, she whimpers. “Please no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Please don’t hit me…please”

And then it dawned on me. She saw me as my father. And that was when the nightmare really began.

From that day, my mother alternated between thinking I was my father and blaming me for his departure. The departure of her beloved husband. She made my sisters scared of me, telling them how I could beat them up. During the periods when she blamed me, she would punish me by denying me food, money and sometimes shelter. When she thought I was him, she would be scared and would make sure she and my sisters didn’t come in contact with me. I guess at such times, it didn’t help that I was the spitting image of him. But was I to blame for that? It really hurt that my own mother would think me capable of being like that man. Or maybe I was? He is my father after all. I was living in a nightmare. Living with a deranged mother. Plagued by self-doubt. The church couldn’t do much and my mother vehemently refused medical help.  When I turned 16, I decided that I’d had enough. I packed the little I had and left my house.

Now I’m 23. I haven’t done too badly for myself. I hustled my way through the rest of school and even have a small business of my own. I haven’t been able to sustain a relationship though. I’ve never really allowed myself to love. Everytime I start to have real feelings for a girl, I run. What if I’m truly like my father and I end up hurting her like he did my mother? What if I get married and my child witnesses what I witnessed as a child? That can’t happen; I won’t let it. And so I run as far and as fast as my legs would carry me.

But I want to go home. I love my mum and my sisters and I miss them very much. But I can’t. And every year, on my birthday, I’m reminded of that dreadful day.

Someone please tell my mum. I am not my father.

24 thoughts on “I AM NOT HIM.”

  1. >Oh Wow!!! This is honestly the most touching piece I've read yet. The organization is amazing. I must admit; I initially started to question the sincerity of the dialog, then I keep reading and realize that there's no normalcy with the woman… She has really been broken.Honest to God a good piece. Keep it up dear…

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  2. >Oh my goodness! This is one of the most amazing original write-ups I have ever read. While reading, the pain I felt for the boy was almost real – I had to remind myself that it was only a blog post :) Any sensitive reader would be in tune with the feelings arising from the story, deep. The woman – if such a case happens in real life, needs major therapy.I totally commend u on this piece hun… Big ups!!!

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  3. >wow! deep much! love it. really sad what he has had to go thru for the past 10 years. while im glad its just fiction, cant help but feel bad seeing as tragedies such as this do happen.wonder why u'r just now starting to blog. u'r a very decent writer!

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  4. >Thanks guys, for all the kind words.Writing this piece was an experience for me because even though its fiction, bits and pieces of it are real and are happening to people every day. I'm glad i could share a bit of it here. I've toyed with the idea of developing it into a full story. We'll see. :)

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  5. >hey! really interesting. I didnt actually read it as fictional. Its crazy how much violence is perpretated against women everyday and no one seems to recognize it as a problem. In this case its very sad that instead of the woman to find strength in herself after her husband left she takes it out on her son. I cannot blame her for doing this because she went through a horrible ordeal. If you do decide to develop this story further, it would also be nice to know exactly why the mother is acting so hostile. What is going on in her head? Has she been so badly psychologically manipulated that she will take the "love" of her husband in whatever form it comes? Or could be be feeling stigmatized by society because she is a woman who couldnt keep a husband?

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  6. >Each time I read ur blog,am amazed that a wonderful writer such as u still exists. U write about what we can actually relate to. Totally unselfish writer. Pls,I can't wait to find out what happens next

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  7. >Spent d whole day (in the office) reading your blog… Almost ran a red light cuz i was too anxious 2 read d next paragraph on my smartfone… Dania u r good… am waiting on ur novel… i'll fly back 2 naija if i have 2 just 2 get a copy for myself, ur that good.

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  8. >I know this is not the *Sigh* post but that's all I can really do now. Touching, very touching. It is sad though, that somehow in the future he may be his father. What we usually fear comes upon us, except we surrender to the Holyspirit and let God work in us.

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  9. >u truly are ggooooooddddddd!!!So sad……..if only she could get help?Such men need to be tried and jailed for destroying a precious female……..

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  10. Hi, this probably has nothing to do with your post, but we have some things in common and i don’t mind having a blogging friend here and there to steel ideas from. In a fellow tremite (not headquarters though), blogging newbie and fellow Jesus fan.. Im not here to get you to subscribe to my blog (Ok maybe thats one of my resons) .
    I just wanted to let you know im happy you let the humans in….we really appreciate. Believe it or not your the reason im here, blogging, I read blazers from time to time…and i keep telling myself i can do better…reading your blog..I don’t think so anymore . anyways, a friend of mine kept giving me BLAZERS! for no reason at all… And then I asked if she knew anything about you …She said she heard you were a blogger (before this I tried at the blogging thing a couple of times….let me just say it didnt go very well) I asked what blog site ,,,she told me………..the rest as they say is history….
    I’ve been at this one for about a week…i was think of giving up until i decided to look your blog up….Now i here…posting the longest comment ever! Hoping that this isn’t looking like obsessive fan mail (because really i am a fan……i think that sounded a little weird). And also making sure I don’t type in anywrong spellings so you won’t think I’m in over my head……. You can delete all of the above if you want and leave this REAL comment
    I love your work….it tells me your spunky and love to sit and dream…..bless are you among bloggers..(I didn’t read this post im commenting on….I read only your first and got all i need to know….My first blog post was a total yuck…good thing there isn’t any DONT LIKE BUTTON)

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