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“We’re all children”
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“We’re all children”

My name is Doreen Ayakaka and I grew up believing that when you’re a human it does not matter what sex you are, we are all equal. Maybe because I played with village boys most of my childhood. I did not understand that there is pride in being a girl therefore I found myself trying to act like a young Tom, a boy.

It was after I grew up that I figured that desire to conduct myself like a boy was inspired by my father. This inspiration wasn’t handed down in good faith but I now understand why.

I was born in a family of 4 girls with me as the eldest and no boy. Obviously, this was never a problem with me along with my siblings. We played hide and seek and made baby dolls. For the games we played at home, I always wanted to be the prince, the king or the husband.  My understanding was, I always saw my father dominating at home, being the man that controlled everything from the food we ate what we were all the way to how talked. I, therefore, believed that I could be a better man or husband.

I could tell from a young age that my father would have loved us more if we were boys. There was nothing to change as our mother had brought us to this earth and there was barely an option of taking us back. I there was a chance to swap for boys, I am certain that my father could have undoubtedly opted for it.

On this fateful day, I must have been twelve years or so. My father came home from his drunk affairs. Beating my mother is not something that was a marvel to us, only that this time it got washed down with a multitude of hurled insults.

My mother had prepared chicken which she had bought from selling family produce. In our lugbara culture, the gizzard is meant for a man but my mother had served it to one of us. When food was served to him, my father asked for the gizzard, to my mother’s dismay it was nowhere. He insulted and beat my mother as we all sat and watched.

My mother (deceased) was always on the wrong side of my father’s temper. It was as though for some weird reason, even when she had not done anything, it was enough to make dad infuriated.

I have a scar on my forehead and it is from the last time my father attempted to beat my mother. I must have been seventeen and I felt that we had had enough of my father’s afflictions and slurs. He was strong so I did not attempt to fight but I told him.

“You should know that women are not manufacturers of children, it’s God that grants them.” He hit me hard with a bottle on my head and the next week my mother chose to leave home with all my siblings.


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