My Stepdad

His name in Fulfulde means grandchild. I didn’t realise that until after his death…

I often refer to my mother as a single mom and majority of my life she was but I did have a stepdad for 7 years. She married him when I was between 3 and 4. She says the big clincher was me. As a child, I was very particular about who could look after me and where I would sleep. Suffice it to say, I would only sleep in my home or in the arms of those closest to me – mainly, my mama or one of the female cousins we always had living with us in Yola (my hometown). 

My mother recalls that not long after meeting my stepdad, I was tired after a trip and I chose to curl up in his arms and go to sleep. All this in the face of me being rather aloof with him (I was a hard child to please when it came to strangers). I think he had asked several times if she would marry him at this stage and she had hesitated. Practically, she probably thought it would be a good thing for her two girls to have a ‘father’ and the community would certainly encourage her to be married for her and her children’s protection. But I know she had been burnt by her relationship with my biological father and that she also valued her freedom highly (which a husband in Yola traditionally would take away to a large extent).

This seemingly insignificant act of sleeping in his arms did 2 things. It told my mama (rightly or wrongly) that he was a good man and that her daughter felt safe with him. It also told my stepdad that although I acted like I didn’t care much for him, I loved him in my own funny way. She says she told him her decision soon after and they got married.  

So did I warm up to him after this show of affection? Not really. I told you I was a hard child to please. I accepted him because my mama loved him. I loved him too; as one would love an uncle and not my favourite uncle at that. But I steadfastly called him uncle and I never let anyone call him my father. I always pointed out he was my stepfather to anyone who made that error. My sister, 3½ years older was a much easier child. Despite the fact that she actually knew my biological father and had been hurt by the events leading to the divorce. She treated him as she would treat her biological father. Had he lived, she would have bestowed the highest fatherly honours on him when she came to get married. She would have asked her husband’s family to ask him for her hand in marriage. Me…I never intended to do that. I would have said to my husband’s family ‘go and ask my mother – she is both mother and father to me’. The family would have overruled me of course and directed them to my stepdad had he been alive and still married to my mama. Kids!

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2 thoughts on “My Stepdad

  1. You were a little child then and only knew a little! Even though you were “stubborn”(your words), you always had that love for him in your OWN little way which I think he understood!
    Now, the only thing is to keep on praying for him. Allah knows your intention. Besides, Uncle Jika always took you two as his own biological children. I am sure of that.
    Ya Allah, forgive him, my dad and all Late Muslims who have gone before us and grant them eternal peace of Al-Jannah firdaus, when our time reaches, let us die with Kalimatul Shahaadah “Laa’ilaaha’illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihiw Wasallaam”; allahummah ameen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hope so Mamman because although I am writing what I felt when I was a child, my feelings and thoughts are now less black and white as they were then. I know now that I loved him and that the things I didn’t like about him, I would not have liked in my biological father either. May God rest his soul, your dad’s and all of our loved ones that have gone before us!

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