It was March 2014 when Nana Ama called to tell me that she was pregnant. We were both fresh out of the university and were looking around for job opportunities. A guy in my situation had no reason to be happy about a pregnancy. I asked her, “Are you sure?” She said, “You remember what you did on Val’s day? I warned you. I told you I wasn’t safe but you wouldn’t listen. Here is the result.” I asked her, “You checked from the hospital and they told you that you are pregnant?” She said, “I tested it myself and it is positive. Test kits don’t lie.” I told her, “Do it again. We have to be very sure?” The next day she did it. Early morning around 5:30am she called me; “It’s positive. We better start talking about what to do next.”
I was shaken. I asked myself a lot of questions. Prominent among the questions was, “Are you in the position to take care of a child?” The answer was no. When the two of us met to finalize our decision, I said, “No we can’t have it. You don’t have a job and I don’t have a job too. It will be very hard for us and the kid. Think about that.” She said, “It’s hard but we won’t always remain like this. You can have a job tomorrow. I can also have a job today. Everything may change from today. What if we get rid of it and get a job the following day?” I said, “In life, planning is good. We didn’t’ plan for this one. Let’s wait and get a job first so we can plan better for another one.”
She told me she will think about it. I called every day to ask what her decision was. She kept telling me, “I haven’t decided anything yet. I’m scared. I rather tell my parents so they do their worst than walk to the hospital and get it done.” Days later, she called. She said, “I’ve told my parents. They are very livid. They’ve asked who is responsible. I haven’t told them anything yet. Tomorrow I will tell them so get ready.”
I was home one afternoon when she came with her mother and her senior brother to meet my parents. My dad asked me, “Is it true what they are saying?” I said, “Yes it’s true.” My dad asked again, “You know about it already or you got to know about it just now?” I said, “She told me about it before now.” My dad told them, “You heard what he said. He has accepted responsibility. He’s his own man so discuss the rest with him.” He got up and left the discussion. My mom called him several times but he didn’t listen.
It was tough afterward. My dad withdrew all support he was giving me. At some point, he told me, “You can’t start a family in my house. This is my house. When I realized that I was going to start a family, I left my father’s house. You’ve started yours too so start looking for your own place. You can’t bring a woman and her daughter here, think about it.”
I will wake up at dawn, leave the house, and hit the street looking for a job. Nana Ama never stopped calling me. She needed money to go to the hospital which I couldn’t provide. She said her parents had stopped giving her supports and were asking me to help. I couldn’t help. One day, through a conversation with a friend, he told me that one of their cleaners has stopped reporting to work. I asked, “Has he stopped?” He said, “Now we don’t know, because when we call, he doesn’t pick.” I told him, “When you decide to hire a new cleaner, please call me.” He laughed. I said, “I’m serious. I will do anything just to earn something.” He said, “Then I will be there and watch you clean the hospital?” I said, “Don’t watch me. Just link me to the job.”
One week later, I was in my uniform, moving from ward to ward. Cleaning. Emptying garbage cans. Getting things shiny again. It was hard but what else could I do?” One morning, I was at the hospital cleaning when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw Nana Ama and her mother. Apparently, they were coming to the hospital for antenatal checks. She asked, “What are you doing?” Her mother looked at me in a sad way and left. I told her, “What does it look like I’m doing? I work here.” “You mean you’re a cleaner? A university graduate?” I said, “Just something to get something.” She walked away.
I was so ashamed I couldn’t call her. For several days we didn’t talk. I called her one day and she said, “Stop calling me. I’ve been better without your calls.” I apologized and told her, “I’ve stopped the work. I haven’t gone there again since you saw me.” She said, “I don’t care. It’s your own life.”
Honestly speaking, I couldn’t give her anything all the while that she was pregnant. When she gave birth she didn’t tell me. I heard it through friends. So one day, I dressed up and went there to see my baby. Her family looked at me with disdain in their eyes but it didn’t bother me. She asked me, “What are you doing here?” I said, “You didn’t tell me but I heard it so I’m here to see my child.” She said, “You have a child? Where have you been all this while? I wasn’t ready for her nagging. I went straight to the bed where the baby was sleeping. I looked at it. I said in my head, “Oh a girl?” I stayed with her for several minutes, waiting for her to open her eyes and see me for the first time. She didn’t.” I asked permission to leave. She said, “You call her your daughter but you came here empty-handed.” I told her, “I will get a job. I will play my role.
Our baby was almost a year old when I heard Nana Ama was traveling abroad. I tried seeing her but anytime I called her, she told me she was in Accra. I will ask, “So when are you coming back?” She will say something like, “I will come when I finish what I’m doing here.” For several weeks I didn’t see her. She wasn’t picking my calls too so I decided to go to her house and ask what was happening. Her mother told me, “She didn’t tell you? She had traveled.” I said, “Oh really? And she didn’t tell me?” She said, “If you were responsible enough, you would have known everything. Anyway, she’s gone abroad. You’re free to live your life. I don’t think she will go through all this suffering alone and come back to settle down with you. Live your life. She has chosen her path.” I told her, “I look for her not because I want her to settle down with me. It’s because of our child.”
Her mother said, “Your baby? What have you bought her since she was born? Not even a diaper but you have the gut to claim that she’s your baby?” I left her house with my emotions bruised. I told myself, “I will get a job, work harder and become my own man. When the time is right, I will go after my child.”
I never heard from her again until 2018 when I heard that she was getting married. I thought the marriage would happen in Ghana so I was looking forward to seeing her. My hope was that she would come to Ghana with our daughter so I can introduce myself to her. The marriage happened in Denmark where she was living. Her parents won’t give me her contact and I had no access or whatsoever to her. I had a job then and I was ready to support. I dated A girl for two years and was ready to marry her but the day I told her that I have a daughter, everything changed. She didn’t want a man with a child so she walked away.
Last year, I went to Nana Ama’s parents and laid my frustration down on their feet. I told them, “I need to know my daughter. She has to know that I’m the father. Why is she keeping her away from me.” That day her mother said, “Young man, it’s about time you get to know the truth so you stop worrying yourself. There was a mistake. The child isn’t yours. Nana Ama is now married to the child’s father. You didn’t do anything for the child to deserve explanation that’s why she’s been quiet all this while.”
I laughed. I knew she didn’t like me that much but I didn’t think she would go as far as denying me what was rightfully mine. I said, “You’re joking, right?” She said, “I’m serious.” I said, “If it’s a plan to give my daughter away to another man, then you people are joking.” She laughed. She said, “I will tell her to call you so don’t worry.”
A few days later, I had a foreign call. It was Nana Ama. She said, “My mother told you the truth. I’d wanted to tell you long ago but it was my mother’s idea to wait for a while. She’s not lying. I have the DNA test here to prove it. If you doubt me, you can conduct your own.” I was lost for words. “Nana Ama, are you serious? Are you going crazy? You think I will sit and watch whiles you give what is mine to someone else? You lie bad. Tell me you’re angry because I didn’t support you from the beginning. Insult me, curse me, do whatever you want and I will allow it but this, I won’t allow.
The day I told my father about it he said, “There’s no need to fight about something you can settle through evidence. If she says she has DNA proof, you too, get your own.”
She was in Ghana in July. She didn’t want to see me. It was her mother who called me and told me, “The child is here. When you’re ready to get samples, let me know. I will come with her. The day I saw her, my heart skipped a beat. She looked exactly like her mother. I looked at her in all directions to see if I will get anything that resembles me. I didn’t. We went ahead with the DNA anyway. The results came and I wasn’t the father. The man who gave me the result told me, “This is the first test. If you are not convinced, we can do it again, looking at the issue at stake.” I said, “They already have a result that says I’m not the father. I only needed a confirmation.”
Nana Ama’s mother called me one day. She said, “Has the result come? Are you the father? We also need to know so we can have a total closure.” I told her, “I don’t have anything to say. I’m moving on so she can also move on.”
That was their closure. I needed to know what happened. I needed to know why. I needed to know how. Nana Ama won’t talk to me. I don’t even have her number. Her mother thinks I don’t deserve any explanation. She said, “We told you that you’re the father but you haven’t played that role in any way so take it as it was a mistake. We’ve corrected it so let’s move on.”
For six years, I carried the burden of a father because she told me I was the father. I lived my life like someone who had a child. I made plans about it. I weaved my future around that knowledge. I told people. It destroyed my relationship. It nearly destroyed me but these are not enough investments all because I didn’t put money on the table. I leave it to God to be the judge.