Without a Father, Part I

By Hadasha Williams

My mother and I moved far away to another town because of my abusive father when I was fifteen years old. My best friend Sara lived in that town where we moved to. Sara and I were neighbors back when we were still ten years of age. We would go to school together and became best friends right away. Our friendship ended when she and her dad left us when her dad got a promotion at work as the CEO of Sama International. We had no way of communicating with each other. I could have visited her since I knew the address of their new home but it was far away.

Sara’s dad owned many houses enclosed by a gate. As the landlord, he stayed in the largest house and rented out the smaller ones nearby. When we moved, we were lucky that he had an opening in one of the smaller structures. It had only two rooms, a small kitchen, and a small balcony which was enough for me and my mom. I was so excited that Sara and I would be neighbors once again, it was as though God always wanted us to be close to each other.

My mum was a trader who moved from one town to another to trade. She sold clothes for both men and women. When she was away, I would leave our house and go to Sara’s house for sleepovers. We became inseparable. Once again, we went to school together, did our homework together and carried-out discussions.

Sara held her dad on a high pedestal, and I didn’t blame her. The man treated her like a queen. For he would do anything that Sara asked. He would buy her the most expensive shoes and clothes. He would even give her pocket money for school. Sara’s dad was called David. David was always nice to me, but sometimes I caught him staring at me. It was weird but I didn’t think much of it.

One night, during my usual sleepover, I was thirsty so I went to the kitchen to get some drinking water. On my way to the kitchen, I saw David sitting in the living room watching sports. He asked me to take him a glass of water. I was about to leave after giving the water to him when he asked me to sit beside him on the couch. He asked about my dad and that had always been a difficult and emotional topic for me. I broke down in tears as I told him how mean my dad had been to me and my mum. The memories of him being drunk and beating up my mum so badly and locking me up in my room came flashing back in my head. It was as though I was taken right back into those moments. In front of Sara’s dad, I had a nervous breakdown. I was so anxious and depressed, I cried till my voice couldn’t be heard any more. David asked me to put my head on his lap. It was weird but I thought he was only trying to console me. So I laid down my head on his lap. A few minutes later, I fell asleep.

I woke up the next day in Sara’s bedroom. Feeling uneasy and sore after nodding off during the conversation with David. And I couldn’t remember how I got to her room. Sara’s dad must have taken me there of course. I didn’t think much of it, after all I was just fifteen years old. And I thought of David as a father figure.

David became very affectionate towards me after that conversation. He often gave me money secretly and told me not to tell anyone. Sometimes, he would take me out to the beach secretly to talk. The first time we went was on a weekend. I was a bit nervous because Sara had not come with us because she had to go and see her grandmother in the village. It felt as though daughter and father were going on an adventure. We talked about the things I liked, how school was and he told me how beautiful I was. After so much talking, we ate and took some juice, played with the water and then returned home when I got tired. He never touched me but we hugged warmly. I wanted to tell Sara about my secret outing to the beach with her dad but he asked me not to. He said he wanted to keep it our little secret.

A few weeks later, my mum got sick and was unable to work and our rent was due. Instead of evicting us, David allowed us to stay in the apartment for free. I was so happy that I had a father who loved and cared for me. My mum and I stayed in the apartment rent free for a year, even though my mum had gotten well and started working. When I turned sixteen years old, I started developing an interest in boys. One evening, I was sleeping over at Sara’s place, and Sara and the house help had gone off to bed after dinner. I met David watching his soccer game as usual. Since I saw him like a father, and my mom was always away, I told him about a boy I had a crush on at school. I was nervous to tell him but Sara had a boyfriend and David was okay with it. I was sure that he would have no problem with me having one too. I went ahead and told him about the boy. He got so angry and started yelling at me. He told me to forget any feelings I had for the boy. He told me that the boy would just use me and then leave me. Shortly, he apologized and told me that he only wanted the best for me. But he still made me promise not to talk to any boy at school.

I became a little scared. I felt that something wasn’t right. He allowed his daughter to date but now he had a problem with me dating. In fact, he even invited Sara’s boyfriend over one time for dinner to get to know him better. So I couldn’t understand why my case was different. I started distancing myself from David and refusing the gifts he offered me. Two days later, he bought me a dress. I told him that I didn’t like the dress because of the color and refused to take it. He asked me if he could go and do an exchange, but I still refused and told him to let it go.

One week later, he texted me to meet him at our usual spot at the beach after school. I told him that I was busy. He got angry and threatened to evict my mum and me from the house if I didn’t go. I got frightened at first, but I remembered that mum was saving some money and I knew that even if we were chased out, we could still find another house to live in. So I calmed myself down. There and then, I knew I was dealing with the wrong person. He didn’t really love me as a father, he just wanted to use me.

After realizing what he wanted from me, I was ashamed to tell Sara and my other friends at school. I was scared that they would make fun of me. I wanted to tell him off but I knew I had to wait for the right time. I was so mad because I couldn’t do anything. I had to go meet him to find out what he wanted. I had thoughts going through my mind. What if he rapes me or kidnaps me. Oh no, it’s just in my head. Let me just wait and see what he wants. I texted him back and told him I would meet him.

To be continued….

27 February, 2023