The beacon of hope is a story centered on an experience between a son and his
Things have been hard for me for a while now. Like REALLY hard but I endured it all. My Father died in 2013 and my mum is still a mess. He was the breadwinner of the family but really that was all he did; Provide. He was mostly absent and whenever he was around, all he did was bark orders and criticize everything everyone does. In all my memories of him, he was always angry and bitter.
He never played with us and not surprisingly, I have never seen him smile. I loved him all the same, I mean I secretly wished he was dead when he caused me and my younger siblings anguish but I never meant it. I got my insane wish and the quiet and peace I really wanted were never achieved though. But little did I know that all these while, I simply misunderstood my dad, he was bipolar.
Even My Favorite Uncle was Indifferent
You see, what most movies and stories about death never tell you is how the family copes afterward. On the days surrounding the burials, so many people acted like they cared but that is all it is. An Act. Then little by little, those same people rain down the practicality on you.
For example, my father’s best friend Uncle Joe came to the house immediately after my dad died and stayed with my sibling and me, as mum could not bring herself to tell us the news, I felt ‘not alone’, he was there and my favorite Uncle. Well, three days after the burial, the same Uncle Joe called me to his house and while I was expecting some relief package, he calmly explained how much dad owed him and how urgently he needed the money. All I thought was “way to go, Uncle Joe, you will make a good devil in case hell needs one”.
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At first, I was relieved…
When I heard the news of my dad’s death, at first, I was relieved. I know that seems inappropriate but he really terrorized my siblings and me. But then I thought of my mum, my siblings, and my academics and it dawned on me that I hadn’t lost just a terrorist but the breadwinner of the house. He was extremely strict but he paid the bills.
He was intolerable but he made sure we had food in the house. He was authoritative and hot-tempered but he never raised a hand on my mother or we the children for that matter except on occasions when as children we misbehaved to the extreme and even then, he would postpone our beating until ‘he is not angry’ according to him. On countless occasions, he has left the house in order not to do something he regrets as he usually threatens.
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The Survival Journey
His death was a big hit, we depended on him for daily bread and I was just a 16-year-old kid who just gained admission into the university to study law. I have to confess that because of the harsh environment I grew up in, I was a bit detached. It was my adaptive response of not feeling too much pain and it works usually.
I never cried after the news, even once. I would stay up thinking about how my mum, little brother, and sister were going to survive, many nights were sleepless but I never cried. I couldn’t. It was as if he was challenging me in death, testing me to see how strong I was and I was not going to give him the satisfaction that he was right about me being weak. I never cried even when I was about to take my life.
At 23, I was working three jobs to assist my mum who was now a petty trader. Still crushed by the way for the loss of her beloved husband, something I still can’t understand. I extremely loved my mum so I was not going to give her a hard time about it.
On the 5th of April, 2019 I was to be settled by my boss who I have worked with for 7 years now and with that, I could take a breath of relief at least before continuing my now challenging life. On the 1st of April, my boss accused me of stealing a huge sum of money.
I couldn’t understand it, I never stole before and if I wanted to why would it be just a few days to my settlement? I was trying to explain how ridiculous it was and then the next thing I know the policemen were in front of the shop. I was in shock. I couldn’t move and was dumbfounded. Not long after, I regained my sense of speech because now I was shouting in pain from the beating I was receiving.
I was trying to explain even though deep within me I knew it was in vain but I still tried. About an hour later, I was at the police station. I stayed there for 2 weeks and it was the most dreadful thing I have ever experienced and truly I have experienced some tough things after my dad’s death. On the 19th, my mother and my boss came to the station and he rudely told me he was been merciful to me because my mother had pleaded and made a deal with him to pay back the money and that as punishment I would not be receiving a dime as settlement.
And the Worst Happened…
We were to pay? No settlement? All my labor was for nothing? I was filled with bruises all over me, my mouth swollen, been molested in the cell and the bastard was telling me that he was being merciful?
I was furious and I just wanted to slit his throat but somehow my mum knew how I felt and gently held my hand and forced my head on her shoulders and my anger vanished immediately but it was now replaced with a thick cloud of helplessness, pain, and despair. I couldn’t do anything to my boss, I couldn’t help my situation especially as I didn’t any proof whatsoever. I felt like nothing, a type of worthlessness I haven’t felt before even from my dad’s verbal torments.
At this point, my dad was not a terrorist; he was just a deeply flawed man that probably could have used a lesson or two on fatherhood.
I can’t explain it but somehow, my mind turned on me. Maybe I had given my boss a reason to think I was a thief, maybe I had even given the policemen a reason to beat me up, and maybe I have given the fool who raped me continuously in the cell at the dead of the night a reason to do so. I just wanted it to end. All of it.
I just wanted all of it to end. My future was bleak and this was a new level of trauma I couldn’t process so I decided to end it. I was going to use ‘otapiapia’, drink as many as I could, and then die. That way, I could take that break I felt I needed so badly. On the 21st of April, I got the poison and I was going to do it but not before I talked to the bastard who started it all in the first place.
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The Bitter Truth Revealed
I searched through my mum’s room for a picture of my dad. I was going to give him a piece of my mind. If he hadn’t died, if he had better friends, if he saved enough money for his family, if he had life insurance, and if he was a better father, all this wouldn’t have happened. I was about to do the deed but unexpectedly, my mum arrived.
She had come to pick her purse where she kept some money she would use to pay the friend who lent her money to make my bail. She asked how I was doing and if I had seen the purse. I hid me soon to be a weapon of destruction as I pointed to where she left the purse. She was about to leave when she saw the portrait of my dad. Immediately, I felt guilty because now she was going to cry.
But she didn’t, she came towards me and sat by my side. “You see, my son, he really loved us. All of us, but you especially. He was so proud of you”. Was this going to be the last thing I hear? Way to ruin a death mum, I thought.
“Whenever he was stable, he would boast of you and tell his friends what a great son you are. How strong and brave you are, how you had finished as one of the best in your secondary school, and that you were going to make the best lawyer because of how well you argue with him and make him feel like a child each time. He would always joke that you were the man of the house and he was just the bank account”.
I felt I was hearing a different language. What did she mean by ‘stable’, he was proud of who? But worse even, he joked?
I Misunderstood My Dad, He Had Bipolar Disorder
“Mum, what do you mean by stable? And sorry to contradict you but dad never told a joke in his life” I replied. “Of course he did, he was one of the funniest people I ever met, and he was filled with life and joy. Don’t you remember how he used to take you and your siblings out on Sundays when you were younger? You kids developed your love for reading by reading newspapers with him during the weekends”.
I griped with insight as the memories of good times started to flood back. “But what happened, I asked, why did it change and what do you mean by stable?” I asked with shame. “Your dad has an illness, he was bipolar. His mood swings but as it progressed, he was much more depressed. He didn’t want you to know what he was going through and he worked even harder to ensure you would be safe if anything happened to him but the more he tried, the worse it got.
His drugs were becoming more expensive, he was becoming more unstable and well, I had cancer of the breast and had to do surgery and chemotherapy which cost money too. He made sure we were taken care of” and then she began to sob and not long after, started to cry.
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The Beacon of Hope
‘Well, here come the tears’ I thought as I tried to console her. She continued “He worked so hard. He didn’t want me to have to worry about how I looked after the mastectomy that he ensured I had a repair afterward”. I was in the hospital when I heard he had killed himself. I didn’t see the signs. She was now crying so profusely and coupled with the fact that a whole lot has just been revealed to me and that I might have misunderstood my dad, I couldn’t help it anymore.
The grief of it all came like a huge flood, how come I never knew all these? Was I so occupied by how badly I felt by his treatment of us that I never gave him the benefit of doubt? I was crying so profusely that I was gasping for air as well. How come I never knew any of this? At this point, I realized how stupid my decision to kill myself was. What was going to happen to my now 16-year-old younger brother who just gained admission to study Medicine? Would he drop out as I did? Would he have to shoulder the entire burden? Would this recently revealed history repeat itself? Would my mum even survive it? My tears were uncontrollable and a love for my dad and life was springing forth.
I was living for something. If not for myself alone, for my family and until I can find the strength to live for me again, I would make sure they are taken care of. I had no certainty but I was shown a light, a beacon of hope. Hope for the dreams of my siblings, for the consolation of my mum, and probably hope for me.