Precious Martins 1 year ago
@PreciousMartin... 11 min read View all 7 comments 7 #short-stories

Home And Trauma Part 1

How come you feel alone in the midst of family? How come you feel relieved and happier when you are away from them? Childhood trauma and emotional effects from parents are underrated in most Nigerian homes. Spare the rod, spoil the child they said, but is that all there is to it?

What is home? For me, home is where you feel safe, comfortable, and happy in the presence of your family. But how come I don't feel safe? Happy? Comfortable? In fact, I feel sad, vulnerable, anxious, and scared when I'm home. I'm always at my lowest at home. I don't know about you, but I don't think that's home anymore. Lol. My family is okay, good even. At least that's what people outside think. I mean we have a house, a car and enough money to cater for basic needs. Dad and Mom with five kids, four girls, and a boy. What else is there to a family? 

I'm the eldest child and first daughter. Not an easy position to be in, especially with what I'm about to tell you. It's actually the saddest title to have, but I got it. We had all these in my family, so what could be the problem? Don't worry; I'll list them. I think a good percentage of dads aren't the closest to their children. Dunno why but I guess maybe there are too many responsibilities for them that they can't just keep up with their children. They are strict and stern; they don't really understand what an emotional connection to a child means. All they understand is as far as they can provide for you, there is no issue.

It's a sweet idea in a way, but is it really everything? See, now my dad is a strict man. He was a scary man too. We, his children, were scared of him...I particularly was scared shitless. I am the first child, so I had more stories to tell and more experiences than my little siblings; some weren't even born yet. He was firm on discipline, flogged mercilessly, and left scars on you to remember you of your misdeeds. It was a way to train a child, especially in African homes but was it 100% good?

Well, I got a lot of beatings growing up. I bore the brunt of any problem at home, even when it was my sibling's fault. With the number of beatings I got, you would think I was a rebellious child...lol, but I wasn't. I never sneaked out of the house, never stayed out late (I didn't even go out except on errands), never reported for causing trouble outside, never failed on academic grades, and never followed the bad company. I mean, most children do that, and they only get a scolding. So what was I flogged mercilessly for? Some were misunderstandings, lies, siblings' fault, and even as little as a cup on the bench outside. Yes, it's true. One time I was flogged with a leather belt because someone left a cup on the bench outside (not even overnight oo), and till now, I don't know who did it.

One time, ahead of pipe went into my head because my mum's younger sister, who was staying with us, then burnt a pot of soup on fire. I was like 8 or 9, and ignorant me was getting ready for school that morning. Then I heard my mum shouting about the pot of soup her sister left on the stove. The next thing I knew, my dad, who was working on a pipe outside, came in with it and hit that hard redhead that controls the flow of water on my head. Apparently, I was in trouble, too, for allowing food to burn. Lol. The hit was hard enough to penetrate my head and gave me a deep wound; I bled a lot that day; my mum shaved my head and rushed me to the pharmacist. I didn't go to school that day, and I kept applying some capsules on it till it was covered; I still have the scar on my head till now; hair doesn't grow there...lol. It was worthy of note that my dad didn't even flinch after blood started spilling from my head; he just went back on the plumber stuff he was doing; he didn't even check once till I recovered.

Now that was one problem I had with him. You beat up a child with one hand, and you cannot draw the kid back with the other hand. How do you think that would make the child feel? He continued on his flogging spree so much so that when he calls your name, your stomach does a flip, and you are already feeling scared cause it means you are in trouble. And in between those 'discipline' moments, they were never a daughter and dad moment. He calls you when he wants to send you on an errand or punish you, and you go back to your bed, cry yourself to sleep and treat your wounds, and the next time he calls you is to send you on another errand or punish you. The cycle continued like that. At some point, I finally understood we were living like tenants or rather oga and household. We could not joke or laugh about anything together; I couldn't even sit in the same room with him comfortably, and I couldn't look him in the eye without fidgeting. I could even swear the house looked homely when he was not around.

My siblings felt it, too though they were still very small; the second child and daughter of the family, my younger sister with a 3-year difference, understood more. Whenever my dad went out, they would laugh and play with happiness, but immediately after he stepped into the house, everything died, and the house was as silent as a graveyard. 

I still don't see how that's a good trait for a father. He trained us, and me in particular, with fear. One time the Generator was on, and the children were watching a cartoon in the sitting room, me included. Our parents were in their room, which was pretty far from the sitting room. My dad came out and scolded us that he had called our name, but nobody answered him. He said the next time he calls and no one answers; he will come and beat me up. I was absolutely terrified to hear that. The Gen was making one hell of a noise, and no matter how I reduced the volume of the TV, I couldn't still hear myself talking. I didn't want to turn off the TV since my siblings were watching it and I couldn't reduce the noise from the Gen. I tried my best and proceeded to watch the tv with the rest, but still, my mind was not at peace. I would walk to the hallway occasionally and strain my ear to hear if he was calling, and when he was not, I would go back to the cartoon and go again to check 5 seconds later. I was restless. I couldn't even concentrate on the cartoon, so I finally gave up. I walked to the hallway and sat on the ground close to my parent's room door. That way, I won't miss when he calls. My ass was hurting, but I didn't leave till he came out and turned off the Gen. *Sigh. 

If the beatings and fear didn't damage my mental health enough, then the curse words probably did. Senseless, good for nothing, fool, useless, e.t.c. I got that along with the beatings from my dad. Yeah, you might say it's not new to an African home, but I was affected by it deeply. I'm an overthinker and extremely sensitive with words. It was like I could see the disgust on his face when he called me useless. I took it to heart, and it tormented me. My first suicide letter was when I was 9 or 10. I wrote how much I hated my dad and this family, how much I wanted to just disappear from the world, and how I wished I could just die. The funny thing is my parents read it and laughed about it; nothing changed. There was a big gaping hole in our emotional connection. I always wished he would always leave the house. That's the only time I could breathe properly. And I guess God heard me because some years later, my dad got a job in another state. 

While my mum was going on and on about how much she would miss him, I was joyous. I was so happy he was leaving that I could as well shed tears of joy. On the day he left, I waltzed all over the room in happiness. Dunno about my siblings, but I could tell some tension left them too.

God forgive me, but I hoped he wouldn't come back. I mean, he should be alive and well but staying far away from me. My mum would pray he gets a new job that brings him back home, and I would pray the complete opposite...lol. I almost asked why when my mum would tell me he took a small leave to come home. And in those few days he stayed, I would be as tense and on edge as a rock, praying the days to roll over quickly and he would return back to work. So now you know how I saw my dad in my family. You would think there would be some balance with my mum being the opposite of my dad. Lol, no, she wasn't. And may I say she was worse...That would be a separate story on its own. Follow me for the next chapter on my family.

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