I’ve always had a reservation about the lifestyle of families living in one room. I mean, father, mother and children all living in one room. I still fail to understand how they can manage to manoeuvre in that little space and live a decent, respectful and meaningful life, without it impacting negatively on the children. I live in a suburban environment where this style of houses are prevalent and I see the resultant effect on both male and female children.
The chances of a large percentage of them making it out of these enclaves are quite slim. While one may be able to tailor their activities as toddlers, this becomes pretty difficult as they grow into their own being. Every night, these kids are forced to see porn movies with their parents as the star actors, and that is besides the other vices they are exposed to living in such proximity with all manner of people. The worst part being that they are usually forced to look for solace outside of the crib as soon as they attain their teen years.
Yet, we keep wondering why we have a high concentration of miscreants, young prostitutes and teenage mothers littered all over our big cities, especially Lagos. This peculiar lifestyle must be checked if we are to get it right. The narratives of the young man you will be reading today has only further convinced me of my position. Steve, a 39 year old banker says he was exposed to voyeurism at a tender age. He holds his mother responsible for the way his sister turned out and affects the way he relates with her also.
“If you see a wayward young girl, don’t condemn her right away. Sometimes, when you investigate her background, you will discover that she is either a replica of her mother, or a refined version of her. What I’m trying to say is that the exposure and training a child receives in the formative ages will determine a lot about what he grows up to be. Again girls take after their mothers in most things especially sexuality. They look up to them for all the little details, so where these mothers are lacking, there will be problems.
As a young boy of about four years old, my mother and father were separated. Till today, I cannot say precisely who was at fault, for both of them used to fight endlessly accusing each other of something I later figured out was infidelity. The quarrels were so much that my mother packed out of our two bedroom apartment to her parent’s house, taking my older sister and I along.
We did not stay too long here, as she soon found herself another man, a divorcee like herself who also had a child. All five of us lived in a room with one big bed which served my mother and step-father and any little baby born at any given time. My mother would later say that this was a better deal because my father’s two bedroom was rented while her new husband’s ‘house’ was his by way of inheritance. In her mind, he was a bigger fish though she was proved wrong years later.
It was in this little room that I had my first baptism of voyeurism. My sister who was two years older than me, our new step-brother, a year older than me, and myself slept on the floor on a mat in this same room. Night after night, we watched as the two of them tackled themselves in an endless bout of wrestling, it was not a funny sight.
It took me several years to find out what actually held us spell bound then, about the whole act. You see, it wasn’t that I enjoyed whatever it was they were doing, but we just couldn’t help not watching. It was a scary sight, yet intriguing and disgusting in an unexplainable way. My step brother probably already used to these dramas did not really find it interesting enough to lay awake for. But for my sister and I, it was an entirely new experience and we lapped it all up like dogs on heat.
I remember one night I’d woken up feeling very pressed, I wanted to get up and urinate, but they were still at it and after what seemed to me like ages without any idea of when it would all end, I had to do it on our mat. I couldn’t get up for fear that they would find out that I’d woken up. An incident happened which finally made me lose interest in the little game.
My mother lost her shop to demolition carried out by the government during that time, so our big room had to be divided into two, one served as the bedroom and the other her shop. Around that time, somebody gave me a gold fish and this became our little pet. Because it was kept in the shop, my step-brother and I moved our mats into the shop to keep an eye on it, and we soon lost interest in the game on the bed. However, my sister had become a captive of the act, she refused to move because of what she wanted to watch, and there I believe she formed her ideas about what her life would be.
I remember that I was about seven or eight years old when my mother informed me that I would be going back to live with my father and his new wife. They came to take me that same day, it was later that my father told me that he wanted to take the two of us, but that my mother refused, insisting that she could not leave two of us. Besides, my sister was of great assistance to her at the time. She had given birth to her second child for my step-father then and they too had started having problems. He was now forever coming home late in the night, half drunk and ready to pick a quarrel if queried. To say that I was glad to leave at that period is an understatement. Up till today, I hold my mother responsible for what my sister turned out to be.
She was in JSS1 when my mother brought her to our house one day, she said she wanted to report her to our father so that she would not be blamed if she was suddenly discovered pregnant. According to her, she found a male wrist watch in her possession and on enquiry she revealed that a man had given it to her. The man turned out to be one of the mechanic boys in the area. My father was so angry that she had the guts to bring such a story to him when she had refused to hand over the girl when he asked for her. He blamed her for what was happening, insisting that she was responsible for the girl’s behaviour. I did not realise it at the time but when I grew older it became clear to me.
My sister dropped out of schools two years later, barely managing to finish JSS3. My mother had found more money on her and in a bid to make her account for the money, my sister reportedly ran out of the house and was not seen for several days. She told my father that she did not want to report the case because it might cause a scandal.
After two weeks she was traced to a man’s house where she was staying. My mother wanted to create a scene but we were told that her husband intervened and my sister was taken home. She finally ran away to an unknown destination and for almost three years and was nowhere to be found. My parents were not on speaking terms because of the matter and we did nothing about her until one day, she came to inform us that my sister had returned home.
The story has it that a quarrel had ensued between my sister and her lover. Later in the night, he’d tied her up, plugged the iron and burnt severally with the hot iron. It was incredible, unbelievable, wicked. We all stared at her in disbelief. She told us that her lover, a teacher had discovered that she was cheating on him with one of their neighbours and after endless warnings, decided to teach her she the lesson of a lifetime.
According to him, she would never be able to flirt around again by the time he was finished with her. It was the neighbours that rescued her from being murdered or fatally wounded when they broke open the door. The story must sound as weird as it was to us when we heard it. But that was how my sister found her way home. My father paid the hospital bills, but he refused to allow her come to live with us as he was sure she would be a bad influence on the other children. My step-mother had two children too by the time, a girl and a boy.
At 16 years, my sister had been married and divorced or how would one describe her sojourn in the houses of her lovers? One would think that she would be through with men after her escape from hell, but we were wrong. My mother took her to her home town because she’d caused so much scandal and disgrace in Lagos, besides her mates had sat for their West African School Certificate Examinations that year, so she could not be enrolled in school in Lagos again.
She was taken to Abeokuta and enrolled in a secondary school. Yes, she’d expressed desire to go back to school that was why they took her in the first place. If she’d told them she wanted to learn a trade or something maybe it would have been better for her. Though, she later confided in me that it was our mother that insisted she must go to school because she hoped that my father would take her into his custody seeing her reformed and back in school. Unfortunately, our father refused and only agreed to pay her school fees. Anyways, it was here that she met an elderly man who impregnated, married her at the age of 16 and she had her first child two months after her 17th birthday.
When I remember how my sister finished herself, I blame it on our mother, because she introduced us to the act at a very tender age. You see, the psychological composure of each individual differs and it takes the grace of God for many of us to overcome certain events in our lives. You will see that some people will just say they are giving up an habit and in a few weeks they’ll be back at it, while some will never go back to that thing again. Take for instance, smoking.
The discoveries I made about my mother’s behaviours over the years have only confirmed my beliefs about her and I regret to say that it has even informed the way I deal with her today. You can’t believe that I cannot allow my children to go and spend the weekend at her place because I have this fear that they may imbibe one evil or another in a spate of two days. Our visits with the children do not pass more than an hour at any given time. If she is not satisfied that is her problem. My wife cannot visit her without me and that is the way it will be till her she dies. I have no apologies.