19/08/2012 17:54

My way out of a broken family - Testimony

By Radovan Ley

I was born in the early Nineties in a family of mixed parentage, my father being from one of the islands in Milne Bay and my mother from a Mekeo village in Central province. I have always known her as a nice and sweet heart figure, always willing to help, but kind of mad as well! Dad too has always been a devote Christian, a clown and easy going fellow, but a complicated man as it soon turned out to be.

Growing up at Six Mile

I grew up knowing nothing better than the streets of Six Mile in Port Moresby. Like any kid I always wanted a box of toys. But mum would only buy me clothes, which at times I totally disliked. Dad had a good job in government. He was the one to always bring toys to the house.

My parents gave more than just love to me. They really cared for me and everything seemed to have no ending. I was so glad to be part of a so wonderful family.

It didn’t last. When I was about nine, the big bangs on the walls of the house would ring like church bells in my ears as I woke up to the sound of mum and dad fighting. Besides me were my small sister and my baby brother. I didn’t understand what was going on and why all this was happening. I just tried my best to protect my two small siblings.

Mummy was in fact violent. Dad had many scars from cuts and bruises sustained from her knife slashes. The fights continued for days, and often we would not sleep at night.

After some time my father didn’t return home. And for us it seemed as if he was dead. We missed him so much.

I was questioning my mother on why my father had not returned. Had she chased him away? Or was it because dad did not like us anymore? And I often blamed myself for letting him go.

The following nights and days were long for me and mum, as we were out in the streets and hotels of Port Moresby searching for dad at the smallest lead we got from people. At times I would sleep on my mother’s lap thinking of him, and where we may be able to see him. I got thinner and thinner worrying about him.

One day, we got on a police vehicle and we drove into the suburb of Gerehu. There we found him. Only then, I understood why dad had never returned. He was living with another lady at her place.

The police told him that we had been around for nights. He agreed to come back home. Dad looked different and even talked differently. But he still kept running away. And mum went to the courts to file for separation.

In the courtroom

One day I found myself in a courtroom. My thoughts were puzzled as I stood next to my mother to greet the magistrate who entered the room. Standing beside me was my small sister and in my mother’s arms was my small brother. Looking over to the other side, I could see my dad. He looked happy and confident along with his new partner. Tears ran down my eyes and I hated her badly.

After several hearings the court handed down its verdict: my mother was to receive one thousand kina by her departing husband; after which they would be legally separated. She warned us not to talk to dad, or risk getting bitten up. Dad and his new “wife” happily left for another province. My mother was alone, with little education and no job.

I was in Grade 4 by then. My youngest brother was three years old. With no contact with our dad, we suffered. Often I went to school with only twenty toea. Or nothing at all!

My mother used to cry when she saw how determined I was to go to school, but had no means. My grades dropped.

Luckily our home was on a hill at Six Mile. We defied the city regulations and made a big garden at the back of the house, which kept us going for the rest of the year.

First I hated the taste, but then I grew fond of eating cassava, as it was the main food on our plate when it came to meal time.

My small brother was sent to the village to be looked after by my mother’s relatives. He was very small and I missed him so much.

Although one year later my mother found employment in a tailoring company, a salary of seventy kina per fortnight was not enough to care for me and my small sister. Therefore, mum sent me too to the village where I spent one year going to school, gardening, fishing, hunting and keeping a close eye on my small brother.

The way out: respect, love and commitment

The next year I came back to Port Moresby to do my Grade 6. At that time my dad was released from the Bomana prison as he had been arrested over alleged misappropriation in office just after he had left us.

Upon his release he had no place to stay and no money to travel back to his new location, so he came to our home at Six Mile. It was really hard for my mother to accept him back, after all the hardships that we had been through and when she was already seeing someone else.

Life was hard again and my parents hardly talked to each other. They only fought over small misunderstandings in the house.

I decided to take time in Church activities in my parish as an active youth member. My mother used to make fun of it and call me a “saint’, but to her surprise I passed Grade 8 and went to High School. Now I am in University. I have worked on every school holiday as a shop assistant to help pay for my school fees.

I believe that the break way of my parents’ marriage was not mum’s or dad’s fault. They were victims of their own weaknesses. I respect and love them.

As for me, now I have almost made it. And this makes me vigilant and alert not to go down the same terrible path when my time comes.