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‘I neglected my four female children, today they’re my cornerstone’

I got married to my sweetheart and colleague, Nse, when we were both teachers about 20 years ago in Calabar. She was quite young and pretty then, but what actually attracted me to her was her brilliance and determination to succeed in life. She was everything any man would want as a wife as well as the mother to his children. Although my family initially objected to our marriage, because I knew she was the woman for me, we fought for our love and won.

In the fourth year of our marriage, Nse became the principal of the secondary school while I left teaching and became a big-time government contractor and started making so much money. We were so happy together but unfortunately I was not a happy man. The reason was because our marriage produced only four girls. As an African man, I wanted a male child or children so that I would be regarded and respected. I felt female children were useless as they would all end up not only in a man’s house but in his kitchen.
I didn’t want to bother Nse for more children so that she wouldn’t fill my home with female children so I decided to start dating Emem, a younger woman. I started coming home late as I began to spend more time with her in the apartment I rented for us. When Nse noticed this new attitude and started complaining, I picked up unnecessary quarrels or even heated arguments with her until I angrily moved out of our matrimonial home one Sunday evening.
I abandoned my wife and four daughters and started leaving with Emem. A few months later, we had a small traditional wedding. When Nse found out, she was enraged but after some time, she told me she had forgiven me and our friendship remained cordial. My daughter’s vowed that they will never forgive me for leaving their mother. To them I was already dead.
A year later, Emem gave birth to a set of male twins. That was the happiest day of my life. When I saw them sleeping in their crib at the hospital, tears of joy rolled down my eyes. “God, thank you so much for my sons. Finally, I am now a true African man,” I muttered. I named them John and James.
At this point, I completely forgot about my daughters and concentrated on training and giving my sons the best of everything in life. As they grew older, I showered them with so much love, attention, gifts and money. Meanwhile, Nse took responsibility for the girls’ education and welfare since I told her I will not train them through school. “Moses, why are you not interested in training your daughters?” Nse asked. “Just like I always say, women don’t need education because they always end up in a man’s kitchen, so there is no need to waste my money on them,” I revealed. “My daughters will become career women in life with or without your help. Even if I don’t have to eat for them to be educated, I will do it. Moses, I will surely prove you wrong,” Nse vowed. Determined to prove me wrong, Nse singlehandedly trained them through secondary school to university, while I focused on my adorable sons who will keep my lineage alive as well as succeed me.
I guess that Emem and I over-pampered John and James as we spared the rod and spoilt them. However, I am still paying dearly for it. As they grew older, they began to reprimand their mother and I whenever we tried to correct them. Sometimes they even shouted or punched us but we overlooked all of that because we felt they were still children. Once they demand for anything, they expected to get it immediately. If they don’t, anything can happen. For instance, if they asked their mother for food and it was not yet ready, they will either push or punch her for delaying their meal. Eventually when the food is ready, they might tell her to enter the kitchen and prepare something else for them to eat since she wasted so much time before serving them. For me, if they request anything from me and I give them an excuse, they will start by kicking, slapping and then finally punching me.
However, a day after their 18th birthday, something happened after the elaborate birthday party we held for them. They both demanded for cars as their birthday gifts but I turned down their requests. They threatened to deal with me and their mother before storming out of the house. Not sure of what they would do next coupled with how they had been physically attacking us, their mother fled and left them for me. “Moses, I will not allow these boys to kill me before my time. Yes, they are my children but I will not die because of them. I am going away for good,” Emem declared.
Can you imagine living in fear with my sons in my own house? However, the last straw that broke the camel’s back was when they bashed my Landcruiser jeep and I told them to fix it if not they will be severely punished. Instead of pleading for forgiveness, John and James pounced on me and beat me until I was unconscious. They took me to the hospital and left me there to die. When I regained consciousness and found myself on a hospital bed I asked one of the nurses what happened to me. She informed me that I was brought to the hospital by two young boys and that I had been unconscious for almost two days. I pleaded with her to get in touch with Nse, my first wife. Immediately Nse was contacted, she rushed to the hospital to see. She informed me that our first daughter, Mayen, was in charge of my case. I felt so ashamed of myself. She assured me that everything will be well when I finished narrating the ordeal I had been going through in the hands of my sons.
By the time I was discharged, she promised to take good care of me. By the time we got to my house, all my three cars were gone and John and James were nowhere to be found. The gateman informed me that he was sure John and James had sold the cars. He also advised that I should be ready for more surprises because he did not trust my sons. While I was still trying to comprehend that, two men came to my house three days later and informed me that I had just a week to vacate my house because they are the new owners of the house. They informed me that John and James sold it to them a week earlier. I almost slumped from my chair as I started shedding tears. “God, what have I done to these boys? Where did I go wrong?” I sobbed. I was evicted from my own house which I built with my hardearned money because of the evil deeds of my sons.
Immediately they left, Nse suggested that I move in with her to the five-bedroom bungalow our daughter’s built for her. There and then, I started shedding tears again. I shed tears because I felt like a fool, after abandoning her and our daughters for so many years, she still loves and cares for me as if nothing happened. I told her I cannot live under the same roof with her because my daughters will not like the idea since I neglected them. She promised to talk to them. “Moses you are still my husband and the father of my four lovely daughters,” she said.
After pleading for forgiveness from my daughters, they once again accepted me as their father. I am happy to say that she is enjoying the fruit of her labour. I learnt that a year before her retirement, knowing that their mother is a workaholic, they bought a land and built a crèche and nursery school to still keep her busy and active. They equally employed capable hands to assist her. They also built a five-bedroom bungalow in which we live presently. Although, they were singlehandedly trained by their mother, today I also enjoy the wealth of my daughters. I am very grateful to God.
For almost 28 years, I neglected my daughters but today, as the saying goes, the rejected stone has become the chief cornerstone. My first two daughters are medical doctors, the third is a chemical engineer while the last girl is studying architecture. I have come to realise that children, be they female or male, are gifts from God. Neglecting female children is the worst thing any father can do. The last I heard about John and James was that they were shot dead by the police for armed robbery.

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