From being told to stay home because we had been beaten so much that beyond repair and no one should see the effect of his hands on us. To the sound of ripped clothing as he lay hands on her. Her shouts of pain and anguish.
Pain. It has been a constant companion my whole life. From the subtle voices at 1am snapping at each other, her voice raised; agitated and frustrated. His voice low, thick and lacking compassion.
From the slight sounds my siblings make trying to ignore our parents’ fight in the early hours of the day . We finally garnered the art of selective hearing. From the outright arguments at the dining table that will result in us eating dinner like refugees. From the escalated shouting matches while we try to watch TV. From the punishments we got for being present when a fight occurred and he needed somewhere to vent.
From being constantly beaten for every innocent mistake a child could make. From being told to stay home because we had been beaten so much that beyond repair and no one should see the effect of his hands on us. To the sound of ripped clothing as he lay hands on her. Her shouts of pain and anguish.
To the sight of Mama – my step grand-mother running down the street to our house, banging at the door, trying to save the step-daughter she heard cry for help three houses away. To the whispers from neighbours about us and that look of pity whenever we passed. To a lost childhood that I still look for at every nook and cranny.
Pain has always been there. He has stood by me like a leech and sucked every smile that life ever deemed to send my way. He has made my scars look simple to everyone, but scarred I am. Now I carry around the fear of commitment, the banner of anguish, the fear of love, the belief that happiness is fleeting… and so do my siblings. Not with growing up with a tyrant for a father, and a mother who constantly admits she made a bad marriage choice. Not with a father that has looked at you straight in the eye and called you a bastard. Not with a mother that constantly needs pills to sleep at night.
How do I sleep at night?
Now I walk around the face of the earth searching for that love I never knew and the father I always longed for. Walking around the world looking at it with blood-shot eyes – eyes that see joy as fleeting. Eyes which are heavy from unshed tears and weary from burdens that hurt.
Happiness for me has now become air on a hot day..just comes and is gone in a whiff. So I grasp what I can and wait for it to evaporate. Thankful for every minute it stays. I have searched for it in all ways and form but I am a walking epitome of pain. I carry it like a shield to protect me. But from what? Myself? Love? Life?
Don’t be fooled by the laughing face and the hard exterior, inside I am as shattered as a broken piece of fine China. I have carried this pain for too long and I am tired. Exhausted doesn’t cover what I feel.
30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.