Being raised by EX- BDF soldier

For many years, I thought I was living a normal life until I met someone who lived one. Hello world, this is my story…

My acquaintances call me James. I am a young man of 20 years and I have four siblings.  I was introduced to this world by two loving parents. I say “loving parents” because their presence, joy and happiness always seemed to follow me around wherever I went. My days in paradise were short lived. After six years of my existence, my little brother arrived on earth. Responsibilities started piling up as I had to act as the big brother not just a big brother but a tough one.

My dad was a soldier, which meant for each mistake I made I had to be disciplined. I remember those days well. I used to baby sit during the school holidays whenever my parents went out to work. Usually when they arrived home, my little brother would complain about how hungry he was and the first thing I would get from my dad was be a slap on my face, followed by few soccer kicks on my back. The one sided war usually ended with a military boot on my neck.

I felt that my little brother did that because he enjoyed the sight of me getting kicked around by my dad. On occasions where I provided the evidence, of unwashed dishes, to show that my little brother has actually eaten, all I got from my dad was usually, “Ooh, next time make sure he is well served.” The beatings continued as I grew older and got worse as my responsibilities increased. Three years after the birth of my brother, I had to take care of my new little sister. There were times when my mum would intervene, but that made my dad think my mum disrespected him in my presence. 

I asked my mum to stop interfering, I was a big boy and I could handle all the army fists and kicks. To be honest, I did that because I could not let my mum get my dad upset I mean then what a quarrel, from a quarrel to a fight, later on a divorce? The last thing I want is to see my family falling apart because of me.

At school I had no friends, the only friend I had was my book. At home I was not allowed to play outside. To dad, playing was a waste of time, he felt there were better things one could do. Even today, I do not go outside without dad’s approval. Today I have 43 contacts in my sedi lame and all of these people are people dad knows and has approved I could mingle with. For your information, the youngest of them is 28-years-old and is my half-brother. My half-brother is the only friend I have. His visits are like heaven to me.  Joy envelops me.

His presence makes me feel like a part of me has gone on a vacation. Maybe it is because when I am with him I have the privilege of doing what I do not usually do. Laugh!

I enjoy listening to his stories about how he socializes. The people he meets outside in the malls, something I seldom do. I love asking him about his growing up around my grandparents.

I have never visited my grandparents because I am not allowed to. During the festive season, I usually go to the cattle post to go and release babereki (workers) for the holidays. I spend the holidays alone at the cattle post. My father tells me what I am supposed to do as a son. He tells me I should not fear being alone in the bush. I often wonder if is my role as a son, why it applies to me alone and not my siblings. Usually, the whole family visits me on Christmas and New-Year’s day. The sight of them leaving is unbearable. Pain finds a way to bring me down for that moment. I keep asking myself, “What did I do to deserve this?”

However, believe it or not, the moments I spend at the cattle post with the pigs and sheep, I have dubbed as the best moments of my life because the days I am away from home, I get a break from the beatings.

My worst moments are the days I spend around my dad. Every day I am treated as a soldier. All I am asking for in life is to live a free and normal life.

My advice to all the parents out there, do not think is a coincidence that you are reading this; this is a wake up call for you to change your attitudes towards your children. You may not see if you are abusing them.

That smile you see every day, the day you are dead is going to become wider not because he or she is happy you are dead because he/she is finally embracing freedom at your rest. It all starts with you to make the world a better place to live in. I love my dad but I hate what his career has done to him.

Editor's Comment
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