It has been said that keeping of dates is a gift bestowed on ladies but anytime I hear anyone say that, I instantly want to differ. To me, dates worth keeping can be and are kept. It has been proven that men do not readily remember anniversary dates but trust me, most men remember the date they got their first car or something else they treasure or otherwise.
There are some dates, coupled with some events that I have accepted that I cannot forget although generally I am bad at dates.
When I turned 12, my mother, by dint of her job as Research fellow, had a contract In Greater Accra so we relocated to Asylum Down from Ho. I knew it was going to be a whole new experience living in Accra- closer to my cousins – who lived on the Ring road. All our vacations were spent with them and it was always memorable. But dates on which those memories occurred, I do not remember.
A few months after we had settled in our new home, my parents agreed that we needed help since we no longer had the luxury of relatives helping out like we had in Ho. One day Akua Serwa was brought. She was going to be paid to help take care of us. Although she looked older, her documents showed she was twenty one. It was a bit awkward having an ‘outsider’ join the family but in no time, we got used to her.
My elder brother, Smith, came home during his long break from Senior High School and things sort of changed. Anytime, he was on vacation, my parents insisted that he assisted us with studies and not only introduce us to new dance moves, slangs, games and videos.
This trip, he was excited, surprisingly, to teach us; a chore he hitherto, performed grudgingly. Early Monday morning, after we had locked after our parents, my sister, Sarah and I sat under the mango tree facing a board with the title “Reproduction in Adolescents”. Smith came out with Akua Serwa following him in her underwear. We were totally shocked. Smith realizing it, told us that we were going to use Akua as our ‘practical tool’ so we have a better understanding because the topic was complicated. From characteristics of an adolescent to puberty rites (which Akua told us she had gone through in her hometown), Smith taught us all we needed to know under the topic. I must admit that we enjoyed that lesson although we felt uncomfortable whenever Smith touched a part of Akua’s body.
The next day, we rushed through the study of integers and got ready to play a game we had never played before, “Being Mummy and Daddy”. I wanted to play daddy’s role but Smith said as the eldest, he was the one to play the part. We shared the other roles and before we knew it, Akua Serwa and Smith were in bed covered with the sheets. I do not know remember what happened after that because Smith gave us a 20,000 cedi note to get a snack and that excitement overshadowed everything else I must have seen.
Smith’s friends visited occasionally and before they left, in turns they entered Akua Serwa’s room. We heard giggles minutes after but we were always too busy watching a new movie or playing a new game we had learned that Sarah and I paid no heed to what they did.
One day, while Sarah gone to braid her hair, I said I wanted to go into the room too because I had turned 13 the previous day. “You are not adolescent so wait till you are” could not hold anymore. I was made to promise that I would not utter a word. I did not.
Some months passed and Smith and his friends went back to boarding school. Akua Serwa was sick. She had said Smith, Paul, Michael, Prosper and I made her sick. My mother was crying. My father was furious and I insisted I could not have made her sick. I do not have any ailment. After all the shouting and wailing, my father came to me for answers, I guess. I recounted everything.
Then he asked me if it was with her consent. I had never heard that word. Smith was brought home from school together with his friends. They were asked to kneel while daddy and their parents spoke. We were all taken to the police station. Prior to that, mummy had called daddy names. Wicked, being the only one I can remember. Just before daddy packed out of the house, our sentence of a year, six months had started at the borstal home.
The counselor who visited us explained our crime to us, told us how wrong what we did was. My parents received counseling too. We were all made to take some STD tests of which we were declared ‘clean’. That was in February 2000.
Sometime around midday on the 22nd of November, 2000 we were released. At a session with my parents, (who were now divorced because of misunderstandings they had had on how to deal with our behaviour) the section leader spoke about how parents needed to be vigilant no matter what, especially when they had adolescent children. They were advised to also create an atmosphere where children could tell them almost everything. If I had that, I am sure, I would have told my parents about our escapades. Again, we were also told to question things we thought were wrong and talk to our parents and teachers.
The counselors also praised our parents for not shielding our wrongdoing and owning up on our behalf to Akua Serwa’s parents. They did not send her packing or cover up our misdeed. That is all history now, anyway. Apparently, sleeping with helps was a thing most young people had been doing. On some occasions, the influence had been from the helps rather.
Smith is a medical doctor now and is a volunteer with the National Social body in charge of adolescent reproductive health. Sarah is a lecturer and offers counseling services for free to students who need it. My name is Stephen and I am a Journalist. Did you just ask about Akua Serwa? She miscarried the pregnancy. She is a Secretary and still is a part of our family.
By telling our story at every given opportunity, I believe some lessons will be learnt by both parents and even teachers.