Three months after we had settled in our new home, a 3-bedroom apartment, we joined the closest Catholic Church and everything began to follow the usual routine again. Mum joined the C.W.O of that parish, my elder brothers joined the Rosary Brigade Guide & an O’ War while I joined the Block Rosary Crusade in preparation to receive the First Holy Communion.
How I looked forward to that day. I dreamt about it a lot – walking down the aisle in my white dress, my palms held together in front of me as i knelt in front the Priest (giggles…). Every Catholic child always looked forward to that titillating experience. I don’t recall ever seeing dad visit the Church even on Sundays, but as usual, it was okay since mum was already an active member so she prayed for him too. (I could only hope so).
Did I mention that dad was a principled disciplinarian? He was very strict, or rather – stern which s the word I’d prefer to use. We weren’t allowed to visit friends and when I persisted, he’d ask, “How many times has
that friend come to visit you in your own house? My friend, get inside and make yourself useful”. He never hesitated to flog my brothers whenever they did any thing wrong. Mom always got her far share too if she as much as opened her mouth to beg him to stop.
“Daddy no send anybody ooo. Him go arrange your matter, treat the f***k up wella….hehe”
I always dreaded those moments and would hide in a corner in my room to cry bitterly whenever he was at it. I would always pray that I never cross his part or offend him in any way. One time, I went to dust his ans saw that he had about four canes under his bed, with two long specially designed whips which I later got to know were the infamous ‘koboko’ nut I’d never seen him use it before.
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I finally got to meet my mum’s younger brother and his new wife. I’d heard so much about them. She was already pregnant and there was so much anticipation for her delivery. Aunty Reen, as she was fondly called, was such a wonderful woman – She was friendly and hospitable. These attributes endeared me to her at that time and I didn’t hesitate to visit them from time to time until she gave birth to her first daughter. In all, she gave birth to four children, three girls and a boy. I loved my cousins a lot and always spent the holidays with them. They had two maids so I didn’t have to do any domestic chores except to watch TV, play, eat, sleep and watch TV again. “So much comfort for 10 year old, right?”
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The only thing I knew about Christianity then was the story of creation and how Mother Mary had instructed us to always say the Decades of the Rosary in order to save the world from destruction & to save souls from Purgatory, just as we had been taught in our Catechism classes. Asides these, I always saw preachers and their numerous crusades on TV (mum loved to watch them and attended their programs once in a while, secretly and on her own in order for dad not to take notice of it). I would wonder at what they were doing without their rosaries yet teaching for hours, and worst of all, praying in languages that I couldn’t understand. I always presumed that they were talking in their local dialect. It was just too much for my little feeble mind to comprehend even though I yearned to also experience it. I was only ten years old and knew nothing about the world except for the images I saw in cartoons. I was slow at understanding events around that happened around me.
Sometimes, when I stayed till Sunday whenever I visited my Uncle and his family during the weekends, we’d attend a Pentecostal church
. This too, I could not comprehend because my Uncle was supposed to be a Catholic too. I just made sure that I wore rosary, never taking it off (I used to, at least…..until Aunty Reen tore it off my neck one day). The things I saw in their family was a sharp contrast to what was in my family.
Things got worse at home after dad lost his job ( I only got to know about this five years later). I hated the gloominess and strife that had enveloped our home but cherished the serene, luxury and cheerful home I saw whenever I visited my Uncle and his family. It made me want to abandon my own family for theirs.
“Who no like better thing abeg…..you?”
And even though it happened in an unlikely way, I finally moved in with them against dad’s wish but the event that led to it had left me with no other choice.
Here’s something I didn’t say about myself: I was very intelligent and outspoken. I was that kind of kid that exuded fearlessness and would say whatever I wanted to say to anyone without fear or favor. I loved reading a lot and wrote many fictional short stories too, which helped in sharpening my knowledge too. I was what people would term ‘too wise for my age’.
Back to the incident that made me move in with my Uncle and his family……………..
To be continued….
What was growing up like for you…..were your parents permissive or restrictive? How did it affect your social life while growing? I and other readers would love to hear from you!