Through My Mother’s Eyes


“I hate my mother.”

The woman sitting on the beige antique chair across from me doesn’t show any reaction to my unusual announcement. She is a pretty woman in her late thirties, about 5ft9, and slim. Her afro hair is coiffed on top of her head, and the champagne suit dress she is wearing matches the soft-themed decor in the small room. 

“I hate my mother,” I repeat, meeting her gaze and hoping to get a reaction this time. My feelings toward my mother have been a brewing inferno since I was ten, but I have never dared to say it out loud until now. The lack of a reaction to my announcement annoyed me and made me restless.

“Why do you hate your mother?” she finally asks, still unperturbed.

When I just continue to stare at her, she asks, “Is something wrong, Daniel?”

I try to find a way to convey my feelings without sounding silly. Why did I want her to react so badly? Would that make me feel better about hating my mother?

I look through the large window at the garden outside, trying to organise my thoughts.

“Did you dislike my reaction to your statement?” she asks.

I glanced back at her, startled by her perception. Maybe she is as good as her reviews claim.

When I searched Google last Friday for someone who could help me with my situation, her website had been the first to pop up. “Beyond Therapy – Delving Deep into Your Mind and Finding Hidden Answers.” The website was clean and easy to navigate. As a UI/UX Designer, I appreciated that and booked an appointment before I changed my mind.

Therapy wasn’t normal for a proud African man like me. I had felt slightly ashamed as I hit “submit” to send my booking request, but I was desperate.

After the last family dinner where I had once again given a pithy remark about my mother and created tension in the room, my fiancée, Serwaa, gave me an ultimatum. I either sort out my issues with my mother or there would be no wedding; she can’t marry a man who hates his mother for no obvious reason.

She didn’t understand. None of them did. They all saw my mother as a saint who could do no wrong. Serwaa got along with her, as did my sister Ewurabena and her husband. They didn’t understand my position. How could they? They weren’t snatched from a rich life with an amazing father at ten to struggle for years in poverty with a selfish mother. 

I respond honestly to her earlier question in the affirmative, and Dr. Amankwah writes something in her notepad.

“Daniel, I’m your therapist. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to listen to you and help you in any way I can.”

I mull over her statement. She is right, and that should make me feel better, but it doesn’t.

“Why do you think my reaction matters to you?”

“I don’t know,” I answer honestly.

“Do you feel bad about hating your mother?”

“Yes— no.” I shake my head. “Sometimes.”

She doesn’t say anything for a few seconds.

“Why do you hate her?”

I sigh. “It is complicated.”

“Why don’t we try to uncomplicate it? I will ask you some of the most obvious questions and for now, just answer yes or no.”

I nod. “Okay.”

“Did your mother abuse you as a child?”

“No,” I reply immediately.

“Did she ever hit you?”


“Did she call you derogatory names?”


“Did she neglect you?”


“Did she ever touch you inappropriately?”

“Of course not! That is disgusting.”

Her expression doesn’t change. “I am sorry if that upset you. I’m just trying to cancel it out.”

My frown lessens. “Fine.”

“May I continue?”


“Did your mother abandon you?”


“Did she starve you?”


“Did she make you feel unloved?”

I shut my eyes. “Not really.”

She doesn’t say anything until I open my eyes again. “Did she expose you to people who hurt you?”


She writes in her notepad as she asks the questions, and after my last response, she looks back at me for a few seconds without speaking.

“You think I’m unreasonable,” I accuse hotly.

She inclines her head. “I don’t think anything, Daniel. I am just trying to eliminate the obvious reasons you might have ill feelings toward your mother. Now that we have eliminated them, we know it is deeper than that.”

That makes sense. Mollified, I nod. “Fair enough.”

“My next questions are going to require more detailed answers.”

I nod to show that I understand.

“Did you grow up with your father?”

I swallowed. “Until I was ten.”

“What happened after you were ten?”

Resentment begins to build in me as memories resurface. Focusing on the little gold fishes swimming in the mini aquarium on the centre table helps to alleviate the rising emotions.

When I am sure I can speak with no resentment in my voice, I answer. “My mother took me and left my father.” 

“You told me earlier that you have a sister. She wasn’t with you when you left your father?”

I swallowed. “My mother was pregnant with my sister when we left.”

“Did your mother ever tell you why she left?”

“To protect us. That is what she claimed.” 

I try to make my voice neutral, but a little of the scorn I feel seeps through it.

“I see. You don’t believe her?”

“No,” I declare.

“What do you believe is the reason she left?”

I shut my eyes. “I don’t think I should say.”

“Everything you share with me is confidential. I need to know to understand and help you.”

I open my eyes again. “I don’t want to betray him. I promised not to tell.”

“When did you make this promise?”

I swallow, remembering that fateful day. “Fifteen years ago. When I was thirteen.”

“Is it of importance to how you feel about your mother?”

“Yes. Yes, it is.”

“I know promises don’t have an expiry date, but you were so young then. Perhaps sharing it with your therapist might help lessen the guilt you feel.”

I haven’t told her about the guilt I feel about what had happened that day, and the fact that until now everyone thinks I was kidnapped. Somehow she knew. She could smell my guilt.

“Would you share that with me? The reason you believe your mother left your father.”

“To run away with her lover, my sister Ewurabena’s biological father.”

This time, I am glad she doesn’t show any reaction.

“How did you come by this information?”

I swallowed hard. “My father told me.”

“You said your mother left your father when you were ten. Were you still in contact after that?”

“No. It’s a long story.”

“We have forty-two minutes. Why don’t you tell me?”

I take a deep breath and tell the truth for the first time. 

“After we left, my mother took us to our hometown, a small town in the Eastern Region called Osino. We returned to Accra two years after my sister was born. That was when I saw my father.”

“Where did you see him? Did you go back to your previous home?”

I shake my head. “No, he found me.”

“Did you meet by coincidence?”

I swallowed as unpleasant memories stirred. “When we returned to Accra, my mother struggled to cater for my sister and me. She had a small kiosk in which she sold sachet water and soft drinks. The kiosk also served as our living quarters. Sometimes, when business was slow, she would arrange some of the water and drinks in a pan and walk 200 metres to the main road to hawk in traffic with my sister straddled to her back. When things were hard and we needed extra money, I would help out with my pan of water as well.”

I pause to take a sip of the Awake Drinking Water she had provided earlier. She didn’t say anything while I drank and calmed my emotions.

“I was hawking in the streets one Friday afternoon after school when a black Lexus hailed me for water. I was down to my last three bottles and eager to sell the rest so that I could go home. The driver in the Lexus was my father. We were both shocked to find each other in such a manner. When he asked me to get in, I didn’t hesitate. This was my father, the man I had always looked up to, and I had missed him. He took me to a new house at East Legon and told me that if my mother hadn’t left it would have been my house too. I told him about my sister and how much we had struggled since we left him. I spent the weekend with him. He ordered fast food and allowed me to watch TV. We didn’t have a TV in our kiosk. For the whole weekend, I never thought about my mother, or that she would worry. At that moment I resented her more than ever. She had left this good life to struggle with her children in the slums. What kind of mother did that to her children?

I was wearing old patched clothes, attending public school, and hawking in the streets occasionally so that we could afford rice and stew with one boiled egg each on a good day. Meanwhile, we could be enjoying life in comfort with my father.

He returned me to the slums on Sunday night. I was excited. I thought that if my mother saw him again, and if I told her how big and nice his new house was, she would relent, and we could go back to our old, comfortable life.”

I pause again, taking another sip of water. This time, she speaks.

“I take it that it didn’t quite work out that way.”

I chuckle bitterly. “No, it didn’t. My father didn’t want me to tell her or anyone else that I had met him. He took me to some bushes on the way and roughed me up a bit and gave me a convincing kidnapping story to tell. That was when he revealed that my mother had run off to be with her lover. Unfortunately, the man — my sister’s biological father, disappointed her and left her desolate. I begged him not to leave me there. I wanted to live with him instead”.

“He didn’t agree?”

“My mother had told many lies about him to his church. He needed to clear his name before he could take me in. He said the damage was so deep that it would take him some time to be able to prove his innocence. However, he promised to come for me as soon as he could.”

“Did you ever hear from him again?

I shake my head. “That was the last time I ever saw him. I returned to my kiosk heavy-hearted, disappointed, and resentful.”

“How did your mother take your return?”

“She wept tears of relief and joy when I returned. She had turned the whole neighbourhood into a search party for those three days, searching for me. She was happy I was home, but I wasn’t. And I didn’t care about how she felt. This was all her fault, and I didn’t want to be back in the slums. She never let me back into the streets to sell. She was afraid I would be kidnapped again. Instead, she borrowed some money and sent me off to boarding school.”

“Did you ever try to find your father again?”

I snort. “It took me some years, but I was able to save enough money to scout around tracing the house at East Legon he had sent me to. The man who opened the gate was not my father, and he didn’t know who my father was. After I got my first job, I tried to find him at our former house. I was told he had died four years prior. He died a sad drunk.”

She gives me one of her neutral looks. “Do you blame your mother for his death?”

I think about it. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“How was your parents’ relationship before your mother left, with you?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. Normal?”

“Did you spend a lot of time with your father?”

“Not really. Mama never finished early enough.”


“Papa gave Mama something to do. If she finished before he got back, then he would take me out. If she didn’t he would go alone. I don’t quite remember what she had to do.”

“I see. Why do you think your Papa spending time with you depended on your Mama doing something?”

I frown. That is weird. But it had made sense to 10-year-old me.

“I don’t know.”

“From what you’re telling me, everybody else’s image of your mother is different from yours. The memories that plague you are from your childhood. Children see things from a child’s perspective. Perhaps revisiting your childhood would make you see things in a different light.”

I am willing to try anything. I hate my mother, and I hate that I do. My relationship with my sister and recently my fiancée is strained because of it. On one hand, I know how hard she worked to take us out of the slums into a better life. On the other hand, I feel it’s her choice she suffered so much. We had a good life with my father until she decided to follow another man.

“How can I revisit my childhood?” I ask my therapist.

“Have you heard of hypnosis?”

I frown. I have, but it is just something that works in theory… right?

“Yes,” I answer.

“For your next session, we can try that. Think about one memory that recurs a lot in your mind. The sharpest memory of the time before you left your father’s house. It could be a memory of a normal day.”


“That would be all for this session, Daniel. See you next week.”

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