My mother thinks monitoring spirits from my father’s village have been set on me. My dad’s family don’t like my mom, she’s educated, calm and sophisticated, they are not. She thinks they are some wild villagers and have sent monitoring spirits to prevent my marriage. For this reason, this story must be narrated from the beginning, from before I was born.

My father always wanted a daughter to shower his love and his wealth upon. I’m his third daughter. I didn’t get much in the love department, however, neither did my sisters or brothers; known and unknown.

My mother tells the story of how her father and my dad met. She had taken him home to Ijebu Ode to meet her parents. Upon greeting family members, my grandfather said to my dad ‘Doctor ba wo ni?’ My grandfather was a professor of microbiology married to a physics teacher, they had two children. They were a family of academics and high flyers, and they were expecting a doctor of some sort; my dad is an accountant. They did not like his brain, and they didn’t trust members of his profession, they said it over and over, however, once mum and dad got married, they never mentioned it again. My mother might have paid attention if they did not nag so much. They assumed that mother would use her head to marry. Instead, she followed her heart. I don’t think she was in love, and I’m not even sure that she was in lust either. She hardly speaks of those days; she’d rather talk about her childhood.

My father’s family are of a different sort; the lack of education and poverty made them so. Daddy was the first male child of his mother and first son of his father. His father had five wives, I think he has about 20 siblings, I don’t know them all, I never bothered.

By all accounts, dad was a good husband to mother up until the sons of ‘the other women’ started popping up, I was five when I realised I had two brothers, one was ten the other was twelve. My parents had been married for fifteen years. Mummy had attempted to speak to daddy’s sisters initially when she discovered the infidelity. However they said she was an ‘Ijebu Woman’ and, as a result, was stingy by nature. My brothers and I can recall vividly the day mummy confronted daddy about it, her face encountered his fist, and she was silent from then on. Daddy was the bread winner not just for us but for the extended family. No one could correct him. The Pastor’s at church were worse because daddy paid tithes, offerings and made pledges to various building funds. After all, ‘you don’t bite the finger that feeds you’.

I was five when I realised that my family was different. People in the church were happy each time daddy took the microphone to speak and pray. I don’t think they all understood that he was a philandering whore. I also began to notice that we went on more holidays than the average Nigerian family. We were out of the country every single school break and twice at summer. Mother saved like crazy from the joint account; she is ready for the coming ‘rainy day’. Though he provided for our material needs, but emotionally we were not acquainted. Mummy enrolled us in all sorts of lessons and activities, and once we completed junior WAEC, we were all shipped to boarding school in the U.K. At that point mummy became a part-time lecturer, she would come to see us in school all the time; daddy stayed in Lagos with his women and children. Mummy didn’t care. I was five when I stopped loving my dad. I knew mummy, and I were sharing him with others, and that hurt me. I distanced myself from him and as a result from men in general.

I followed mothers footsteps, and I’m currently a lecturer in biochemistry. I avoided dating most ardently when I was in school, and university. When I started my Ph.D. I thought I will fall in love or, at least, get married to anyone, but I never learnt how. My family is worried about me; they think I’ll end up a spinster with nothing to show but a career. However, that is better than the other option of ending up like my mother, who has a long lasting marriage, to a successful husband, yet I know she is so lonely. My brothers are unmarried too, Gbenga is 34 and Bayo 30, they are both medical doctors in the U.S. I know they’re afraid of repeating daddy’s mistakes.

I’m 27, and I’m getting tired of being alone. But I’m more afraid of being married and lonely. I used to blame my father, but I realised that I made my choices. I have chosen to be distant and unwelcoming. I never make eye contact with men who are polite or pay attention to me. I know that even if the most faithful, truthful, God-fearing man wanted to love me, I wouldn’t let him in, my walls are so high, I can’t let go now.

I wanted to be like mummy’s mother, ‘a woman of substance’, but I’m now convinced that nothing can keep a man happy. Mum’s dad died last year; two men attended the funeral with their wives and children, they were both mentioned in the will as sons. Their mother was a widow, and they claimed their father was friends with grandpa, and he had helped them out in childhood, by paying fees and meeting their financial needs. They claimed they were not grandpa’s sons. Grandma didn’t know of their existence, and she wailed for days after the will was read.

I don’t think I want a man or a husband, but I don’t want to be another ‘cautionary tale of the church spinster’. I am afraid of being hurt, and I know that whatever you’re scared of and run from, eventually catches up with you.

Hello my name is Fikayo, and I think I’m what you call bitter

whatever you're scared of and run from, eventually catches up with you. Click To Tweet