Everyday People

Caroline

“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. And I’ve been through some tough times, and I know a lot of people can recall tough times, and maybe are going through some tough times right now, but they don’t last.” — Alonzo Mourning

#EverydayPeople

“I was barely five years old when I lost my dad, so I didn’t know him by face. I was only shown his pictures when I grew up, and that’s the little I know of him. Mom literally took care of us. We are five in number, one boy and four girls… I don’t know one of my sisters because she was taken from mom by her father before I was born. Her father was different, that was the reason she was taken and no one ever saw her again, not even my mom. I was told we stayed in Togo before the war broke out so we had to flee to Ghana. My mother is from Ghana.

Life wasn’t easy when we came to this country. My mother was the only child of her father before he married another woman and had eight other kids with. Meaning, my mom had eight step-brothers and sisters in all. My mom’s stepmother had a very strong hatred for my mom and we could all see it because she didn’t want her children to mingle or even go close to my mom. We became isolated from the whole family and were treated as though we weren’t part of the family.

Help came from nowhere. My mother struggled. She went to people’s farms to work for them so we could get some maize to prepare food with. That was her daily routine until she started farming for herself to feed us. We sometimes would cook raw cassava flour, grind raw pepper with no fish, only salt and onions and eat so we could make it through the day. That was how hard the hustle was. Along the line someone came to take me from my mom to go stay with her in Accra, because when we came back from Togo, we settled at my mom’s father’s village. My mom allowed for me to be taken to Accra. Honestly, I would want to believe that was the worst mistake she made of my life.

I stayed with a pastor and his wife, and trust me, it wasn’t a nice experience at all. I was beaten mercilessly for things I never did. One incident I will never forget was when I was accused of stealing money I knew nothing of. I had to fetch water one day before going to school. My chop money was the balance I was going to take to school after fetching that water, but unfortunately for me – the water seller didn’t have balance, so I had to take all the money to school since my guardian already left for work and I couldn’t tell her. I went to school, spent what I was supposed to and brought the change home. I went in to change and was about going to the water seller’s house to give her her money, when my Auntie called and asked which money I was holding. I explained to her about what happened in the morning. I didn’t even finish explaining then the first slap as usual landed on my face, with her screaming, “Tell me the truth, where did you get that money?” I kept telling her it was for the water seller but she was having none of that and kept beating me mercilessly.

I remember begging her to at least, follow me to the woman to confirm whether or not I was lying but she just wouldn’t stop hitting me. She then started asking if I was taking money from a box under our hall. I became confused because I didn’t even know what she was talking about until she mentioned the ‘space to space money’. They had a telecommunications center in those days and her husband’s nephew was the one taking care of it, and according to her – he was bringing the money home at the end of every week, which he puts in that box. I had no idea what was in that box because I never ever touched it, ever!

The beating continued until I became extremely hurt, before she finally let go of me. As if that wasn’t enough, she called almost everybody to tell them I stole her money and how she felt it in her spirit. And because she was a pastor’s wife, everyone believed her. The news spread even to the church, that I was a thief. I was being bullied by almost everybody. Bright, who was the nephew to her husband also came home and beat me up mercilessly. Dave, that woman destroyed my childhood and labelled me with a very bad name. I was only seven years by then, yet I took it all. And for some reasons I matured quite early mentally. And, looking back at how my mom was suffering to take care of us made me mentally strong with suffering and other difficult situations – even though I was very young.

A lot of other things happened and many of them were no fault of mine. We were more than four kids in that house but I was always the one beaten for other people’s dad deeds. Mom took ill for three to four years and was taken to different hospitals. She was finally brought back home because no hospital could detect what was wrong with her. I finally came back to my mother when I was 11 years old, which to me, was one of the happiest days of my life. My mom’s health wasn’t getting any better then. There was a time my sister went to a nearby cocoa farm to fetch firewood and came to call me to help her carry it, but I refused to go with her. She did all she could but I still refused. Little did we know my mom was taking her last breath, and I was having some sort of connection with the whole process. That was why I was refusing my sister.

An elderly woman came to beg me to go help my sister, and I think that was when I finally agreed to go help her out. I am in tears writing all this Dave. We came back only to find a lot of people in our house, both the young and old had all gathered around. We immediately sensed what could be going on. And so we rushed to the room only to see my mom lying down, lifeless, with a spoon in her mouth and her jaws tired together with a white rope. I couldn’t even cry because I was shocked. I remember being timid before busting into tears. That image never left my head till date.

I wish I never saw her in that condition because it traumatized me. I became an orphan at the age of 12 years, and it hasn’t been easy I must say. We were shared amongst some family members from my mom’s side and I was taken to the Upper West Region (Wa). My Uncle stayed there with his wife, and my elder brother too. I completed JSS, had a school placement but no one ever asked when it was time to go to school; not for once was I asked what I needed or if they should take me to get admission.
A few of those who got placement started going to school but no one in the house cared to ask about me going to school. So one day I decided to ask my brother about my schooling and the answer I got wasn’t encouraging. I decided to call my sister in the Volta Region, who was teaching by then to ask if there was a way I could go back there to continue my schooling, and luckily enough, there was this very affordable school at where she was teaching. I decided to go back to the Volta Region to continue schooling which went well.

I stayed with my sister until my second year, when she told me she was going to join her husband at Nsawam. My woes began again but I promised myself I was going to finish school at all cost. It wasn’t easy at all studying in a town I knew nobody, but I was there to school anyways, so I concentrated. I slept on empty stomach for days without eating. I was that determined to at least, have that certificate. I rented, so it saved me some stress of public mockery amongst my mates. No one knew what I was going through. I stayed in school for a whole term and no one even sent me 10 pesewas for water. It was funny to me, though sad a situation. I was being sacked from the exam room for school fees whiles every other student had payed. I did not give up.

I kept my focus till I finally finished school successfully. But when I thought I could finally rest, I took ill. I had a sore inside my head (piles or kooko) which made life very uncomfortable for me, because it affected my breath. I battled this for three years before finally getting cured. I lost myself confidence. I went through depression and I’m still trying to find myself. It hasn’t been easy but I am still holding on to faith and God. I literally took care of myself through school, but of course, a few times with help coming from my family.

The road has been long, tough and difficult to tread on. But I still have hope and faith in God that, it will be well someday. Someday, the grieving child will smile and be happy. I’m an Artist now. I sing and write songs. Things aren’t the way it should be but I thank God I made it this far. Nobody will believe my story if they saw me and knew who shared this. They probably would be thinking I have it all. Lol! Share my story to inspire another person. I would write a whole book if I should tell the challenges I faced after school and still facing but I think I will leave it here.

Thank you.” – From C A

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