It was difficult to have girlfriends because I always felt like the ugliest amongst them, and whenever they said anything about my appearance, I would often react violently.
It was not long before I was confined to a juvenile rehabilitation center, which is where I ended up spending most of my teenage years. I was never interested in smoking cigarettes or drinking as most of the teenagers at the juvenile centers seemed to be. All I wanted was to have a boyfriend, but whenever I was approached by anyone who wanted to date me, I panicked at the point at which they sought to touch or kiss me. Why did I react like this? Because most of them were white boys and their appearance – too similar to that of my stepfather – unnerved me, and brought back dreadful memories if they tried to touch me.
I only first experienced true freedom when I turned eighteen and left Dalarna to live with my aunt in Stockholm. She had an apartment in Rinkeby and was the most carefree person I had ever come across. She was very opened minded. I was allowed to do anything I pleased provided I told her, and it was during this time that I experienced my first proper relationship.
There was a bridge that led to the train station and most of the time, male teenagers of various ethnicities would hang out there, and whisper comments on the looks and clothing of female passersby. They would sometimes get quite excited when I passed by, mostly on account of my long flowing blond hair that was highly attractive and “different” to these testosterone-charged youths. I never received this kind of gratifying attention in Dalarna.
In time, I began to respond to them cheerfully whenever I passed by that bridge, and indeed I soon became preoccupied with attracting even more attention. It was very obvious to me who I was making the greatest impression on, because he used to start clapping whenever he saw me. But, strangely enough, he seemed to shrink away from me if he saw me when his pals where not around.
I bumped into him alone by chance in a supermarket, and there was no way we could avoid each other at that point. His name was Daoda and he was adopted from Senegal, West Africa. He told me he was twenty-three but I later learned that he was actually twenty-seven. I believed everything he told me back then. He was tall and attractive with a killer smile. His friends dubbed him “Chocolate” because he had the most beautiful dark skin, which sometimes seemed as if he was using black shoe polish on his skin as a cosmetic product.
He introduced me to his friends later that evening and I swiftly became comfortable with all of them and happy in their company. I didn’t even want to go back home at first, and felt the urge to be with them all the time. He lived with his adoptive mother who was also Swedish but had lived in Senegal for almost twenty years. She was very friendly to everyone and spoke several African languages. I was fascinated by her interior decoration in their apartment. It looked like a safari shrine.
His mother strongly influenced me in several positive ways, and even though it’s almost nineteen years now since we first met, I still consider her to be one of the best of role models I ever had.
Her son was a “chick magnet”, as evidenced by the fact that most of the other girls we hung out with were drawn to him – you could see it in their adoring eyes. I was constantly jealous because, although he always told them I was his girlfriend, he never kissed me or held my hand in public. On the other hand, he would never hesitate to give the other girls hugs when they approached him affectionately.
As my feelings for him grew, I could not concentrate at school. Daoda played football in a third-division team, and he didn’t like going to school. So, most of the time, he hung around aimlessly in the neighborhood or trained at the local football field. I feared that he’d be with another girl if I wasn’t with him, and that’s why I started skipping school by claiming I was sick, just so I could be with him all day.
We had been together for two months without him ever trying or wanting to kiss me. So, I decided to take a proactive approach and create the right conditions. The venue was at his mother’s apartment. She had travelled to Uppsala and was to be away the whole weekend. I didn’t go to school that day pretending I was having a fever, which clearly was not the case. I asked him if I could go and sleep in his room and rest for a while. He had no objection to that. He started playing with his PlayStation. That was his favorite distraction. I was pretending to sleep, but after a while, I begged him to come and sleep close to me with the pretext that I was feeling sad and lonely.
He came over, and then asked me directly if I wanted to have sex. I was embarrassed and felt caught off guard because I never knew sexual language could be so direct. I had until then never experienced any sexual encounters with anyone apart from masturbation. I told him I really didn’t know what to say, but to my surprise he just started taking off his shirt and trousers and stood right in front of me with his fully erect penis looking like an ebony sculpture to some African God of Lust. I had never seen a penis in real life right in front of me, and my heartbeat suddenly quickened and blood raced around my veins in anticipation.
I wanted to grab his manhood and really take a closer look, but was unsure, inexperienced as I was, of the correct sexual etiquette. He pulled away the bed sheets that were over me, held my arms, asked me to stand up, and as I did, he gradually unbuttoned my shirt and let it fall on the floor. Then he turned me around and deftly removed my bra, before doing the same to my skirt and panties. Before I knew it, I found myself in a dreamlike state, standing naked in front of Daoda with this giant penis throbbing against my pubic hair.
He caressed me and started kissing me before pushing me tenderly onto the bed, and before I could even say a word about any concern for gentleness, I had my legs wrapped round his back. What followed was an exquisite mix of pain and pleasure. Our lovemaking lasted for about two minutes, and after he climaxed he got off me and went to the bathroom without saying a word. Unsurprisingly, I was confused about what to say or how to react.
I tried to believe that he was truly my boyfriend after that semblance of sex. Unfortunately, it was the first and last time we ever had sex. I found out three weeks later that I was pregnant. Woefully, he had told me four days prior to me realizing the pregnancy that he didn’t love me. As if that wasn’t hurtful enough to hear, he wanted to spend more time with another girl, Fatouma, who was from his native land of Senegal.
Quite devastated, it was unmanageable telling him or anyone else about my pregnancy until my aunt confronted me three months later, and I told her about my muddles. She advised me to let Daoda know about it, and so I plucked up just enough courage and went to the apartment where he was staying. At that time, he had moved out from his mother’s place and was sharing an apartment with Fatouma.
He opened the door when I rang the bell. Fortunately, Fatouma wasn’t around. I told him in a quite calm and tranquil manner about the pregnancy. Even my carefully chosen words sent him into anunpredicted rage. He told me to leave immediately and never come back and to never ever try to contact him again. His reasoning was that, he was certain I was plotting to destroy his life because he didn’t want to be with me. Moreover, he claimed that he had never ejaculated inside me, and also asserted that, there were wide spread rumors of me sleeping around with other guys. An allegation I knew was simply untrue.
The reasons why I decided there and then to continue with the pregnancy was simple: the manner in which he spoke to me. He made me feel like a complete idiot. I swore to myself never to meet him again but was determined to have his baby. Moreover, the newborn would give me access to social welfare and the probabilities of state financial support and an apartment of my own. I will be able to sit home and not obligated to go to school. So I thought.
I was approximately four months pregnant when I was sitting in a bus from the hospital after doing an ultra sound. A daughter was in the making. I found myself sitting next to a curiously cute-looking guy sporting a massive afro above his handsome face. He offered me some peanuts he was chewing from a paper bag. He must have read my mind because at that point in time, my cravings for nuts insatiable. Duly, we started talking. I learned that Ismael was from Somalia. We swiftly became good friends. Inevitably, and after some time had passed, he became aware that I was pregnant, but to my surprise he asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I agreed without hesitation.
He turned out to be such a lovable character that I scarcely could believe that anyone could be so kind and nice in this cruel world of ours. Later he introduced me to his family and they all accepted the fact that I was already pregnant. His mother told me she’d been in the same situation when she had first met my new boyfriend’s father. After all my ordeals, it was now blissfully comforting to find myself in the midst of all this love in abundance.
After I moved into his apartment at Tensta which is quite close to Rinkeby, he bought new furniture’s and repainted the house pink, saying it was for our daughter. He usually accompanied me to my prenatal consultations at the hospital. He also did most of the cooking and cleaning, and even gave me bedtime back massages every night. He was just those kind of guys who seemed to have fallen directly from heaven into my life.
Josephine was born on a Sunday morning and Ismael was at the hospital throughout the entire process. He was so supportive that the nurses jested he could be a candidate for their `Father of the Year` award, but when he told the nurses that he was the adoptive father rather than the biological one, one of the nurses got a little moist-eyed. The sight of that made me almost cry with joy.
Shortly afterwards, Ismael’s family came to the hospital to see us and it was only when the nurses came to inform us that visitation time was already over that they left. Back home, we received constant support from well-wishers, and lots of presents. Our apartment began to resemble a restaurant as a result of receiving so many visitors, and so much activity in the kitchen. I felt happy and certainly had everything that I needed, but nevertheless I did feel somewhat confused deep inside.
Josephine was growing at an alarming rate. At 8 months old, she was looking as if was 2 years old compared to other kids. Ismael was always working and ultimately was exhausted during the weekend. We never went out to have some fun. He preferred to be at home with Josephine, but told me he had no objections for me going out to have some fun with my friends when I wanted. A genuine gentleman.
I started going out to nightclubs with friends and expanding my horizons in my own modest way. Then one night I found myself being invited to an after-party by a guy I was dancing with. He told me he lived at Rissne, which was just one metro-stop from where I lived. I accepted the invitation thinking I would just be there for an hour or so before returning to my boyfriend and daughter.
When we arrived at the apartment, which he evidently was sharing with several other people, we continued drinking. Later he handed me a smoldering joint of marijuana. I hesitated at first but ended up smoking it with him and his friends. I didn’t just realize what was happening but I recall later that we had a lot of sex, and I think it was like the best sexual experience I’d ever had in my life.
I woke up around 9 am. I was naked on the sofa while he was sleeping on the floor. Dazed and confused, I dressed up hurriedly and left the apartment silently without saying goodbye. When I arrived home, Ismael was already up and playing with Josephine in the living room. Wracked by guilt and embarrassment, I told him I drank a little too much and so had ended up sleeping at a girlfriend’s house. He calmly told me to call or text him the next time that happens so he would not have to worry about me or where I was.
That was in some way the best and worst thing he said to me because I now had the free will to do as I wished without getting into any arguments or arousing the suspicions of my partner. That’s how I continued to see Ousmane who was from Gambia. I kind of knew he was bad for me because I strongly suspected he was a drug dealer. He certainly sold a lot of marijuana; but he always gave me money, bought me new dresses, shoes, jewelry, and was excellent at satisfying my sexual desires. My sexual drive with Ismael was rapidly dwindling, as he usually complained about tiredness. Even when we got intimate in bed, it was just not as wild and passionate as with Ousmane.
Two and a half years later after the birth of Josephine, I was pregnant again and when I estimated the approximate time of conception, and factored in my sexual habits, it was just evident that Ousmane was the person who had impregnated me. Strangely, I didn’t feel any guilt or sense of betrayal towards Ismael. I did however feel a growing sense of shame and anxiety over how his family and friends would react in due course. On the other hand, in a strange way, I longed for an escape from all the familial “goodness” that I felt I underserved.
Nonetheless, I felt adventurous with Ousmane and enjoyed the constant adrenalin rush of being with him because he was unpredictable and dangerous. He could be so kind and then snap moments later or explode with rage over the most inconsequential issue. Another annoyingly captivating thing about Ousmane was that, he was disarmingly direct: when I was well groomed and had taken care over my appearance, he will always compliment me with beautiful words. However, it was easy for him to tell me that I was the ugliest thing he’d ever seen when I wasn’t in a good mood.
Sometimes he’d give me small amounts of weed for my own use, and on other occasions he would send me off to collect money from individuals who had bought his “merchandise”. Actually, I had never handled so much money in my life. I remember collecting seventy-five thousand kronor in cash from a man at Stockholm’s Central Station. It was so thrilling and “badass” when I brought back a load of money. He’d casually pull out a bundle of cash and hand it straight to me without even looking or counting the amount. Much of the rest of the time, we would simply smoke a lot of weed and indulge in all kinds of sexual fantasies and adventures that we’d viewed on pornographic videos.
When I told him I was pregnant, he said he didn’t care, so long as I would continue running his errands. He even promised to get me another apartment if I felt like moving away from Ismael, an offer which I willingly and swiftly accepted without hesitation.
It was a nerve bending moment when I told Ismael about my pregnancy and my plans to move out to a place of my own. It was a really tough thing to do because I knew fully well that karma will not be favorable to me. He was devastated and begged me to stay; arguing that the situation was still manageable and that he would be able to handle it. He told me I was so confused and damned my actions on him for not being there constantly for me. He even proposed that I can leave Josephine with him and come to visit any time I wanted until I got the apartment but I rejected the offer. I left on a conclusion that, I’ll be coming back soon to pick up my things to move to another apartment when it was ready.
I however left Ismael and Josephine that evening and went back to meet Ousmane and didn’t even go back visiting Josephine for almost two weeks. It was not easy to stop smoking marijuana because it was everywhere in his apartment. People were constantly moving in and out of the apartment, sleeping over, drinking, house parties and lots of sex noises at night from different rooms in the apartment. It was just insanely beautiful. I was now almost leaving with him in the crowded apartment and I finally brought in Josephine to be there with us. I thought it was fun until when I was on the seventh month of my pregnancy. I confronted him again about the supposed apartment he had to get for us, he punched me in the face saying I was so ungrateful and wanted to live like a princess when I was looking like a sea cow at that moment.
I was so scared of him that I never brought up the apartment topic again. The three of us had to share the tiny room. He kept on acting as if Josephine never existed and did whatever he wanted to do with me anytime he pleased even if Josephine was awake. Weird enough, I enjoyed the pain. We never got a new apartment. Josephine was crying all the time.
I gave birth to Philip from a caesarian operation at the hospital in Huddinge. I was there alone.
Ousmane came visiting the third day and brought me some flowers and a new pair of shoes. He stayed there for a couple of hours and told me he will be right back but I only saw him two weeks after when I came back to the apartment with the new born baby. Most of the assistance I had was from the other tenants in the apartment because Ousmane was never around. He didn’t sleep with us anymore.
Philip was just two months old when Ousmane came back home with a tiny looking teenage girl who was probably like fourteen years old and told me that she was homeless and he just wanted to help her. He said she will be sleeping on the sofa until she finds a home for herself and that she might also be helping to take care of Philip. Her name was Kristina. I had no choice but to accept. The whole situation was just chaotic and I was just too numb to think for myself.
My aunt was really furious at me because everyone in the neighborhood knew who Ousmane was and the kind of trouble he was capable of putting me into. The late night parties continued even though with a lower volume from the music they played in the living room. The smell of marijuana was just pungent when you walked into the apartment.
I don’t even remember if Ousmane ever helped in even changing the diapers of Philip or took him out for a walk. He was always asleep during the day and will go away in the evening just to show up late at night or early morning. Kristina used to assist a little taking care of Philip but it was clear that she was addicted to different kinds of drugs and was not quite mentally stable.
My breaking point came when I woke up one early morning around two o’clock to go to the toilet. As I opened the toilet door, I saw Kristina sitting on Ousmane. They were both naked on the toilet sit having sex with marijuana smoke everywhere. I wanted to scream but had no inner voice. I just went limp. I closed the door, went back in my room, brought down my big box and started parking my dresses inside. I just took a couple of baby clothes, placed Josephine in the baby carriage and had Philip in my arms and just left the apartment and headed directly to the train station.
The trains were not yet on traffic but fortunately I met some night guards there and I briefly told them my ordeal without giving precise details. They decided to call the police. The police car arrived about twenty minutes later and I was taken to a hotel which was some sort of a refuge for abused women in Stockholm.
It was a big room. Well equipped with furniture and a long balcony on the tenth floor of the building. It had beautiful view to the city. It was so comfortable that I had a very good sleep. It felt like I had been having decades of sleepless nights. My kids were still sleeping when I woke up in the afternoon from the sound of the door bell ringing. It was a visitation from a social worker and we had a lengthy discussion and I was very relieved to tell her my entire story. I stayed there with the kids for a month and was provided with all the necessary assistance that I requested.
I had a weekly session with a psychotherapist who greatly helped me to come in terms with my present situation and the modalities to move on with my life and create a better future for my children and me. It was a unanimous and encouraging decision for me to change my location of habitation in order to avoid any contacts with anyone I knew who was not involved in my life in a positive manner.
I decided to move back to Dalarna so as to be close to my mother. I was accorded an apartment and it was financially supported for, by the social services there. My life in Darlana was just evolved around my kids. I had Philip with me all the time and Josephine was placed in a day care but she immediately started having problems connecting with the other kids. I bonded back with my mother and we often met or spoke for hours on the telephone. She would often come and visit us and as well will sometimes help me babysit Philip.
I decided to study to be a Chef. I enjoyed studying cuisine and cooking seemed natural for me. I later had a trainee offer at a local hotel and it was great fun working there. I had stopped smoking and drinking which was good for me but unfortunately made me gained a lot of weight. My appearance wasn’t pleasing and my insecurities escalated. More to that, my mother was diagnosed with a terminal lung cancer and she became really sick after two failed chemotherapies. I now had to take care of both her and my kids while working at the same time.
Going to her house was irksome because of what that had happened to me there when I was a child. Anger and frustration soon became my normal reactions and I started having difficulties at work with my colleagues. My boss was always complaining of my late comings to work and my cooking skills became questionable due to several rejected plates by clients from my orders. I hated the fact of my mother being sick. It was exhausting for me to handle, coupled with the fact that nobody ever even seemed to notice my presence, talk more of giving me any physical compliments. I had no boyfriend and I missed having sex.
My mother died smiling while I was trying to tell her a joke. I didn’t even realize it until the nurses came rushing in the room due to the beeping sound from the machines that helped her breath. She had been under palliative care for two months. The nurse whom I was already accustomed to due to several visitations gave me a hug, told me she was very sorry and asked if I wanted to give my mother a kiss and say my goodbyes. I hesitated but just held her hand before kissing her forehead. I just didn’t know how to feel.
After her funeral, I couldn’t carry on living in Dalarna any longer and decided to move back to Stockholm. I was hurting inside so badly, my life had little or no meaning, I was already on the ground, I was just not afraid of hurting anymore. I even felt good sometimes just feeling sad and angry.
When I moved back to Stockholm, I rented a second hand apartment in Skärholmen. It was a two bed room with enough space and my children had their own room. I don’t think I was a good mother to them even though I tried my best to keep them happy and provided for their individual needs. I was not a very good role model to them and my disciplinary tactics to them never worked well. They had a lot of quarrels and physical fights and I couldn’t restrain them accordingly. My daughter was almost physically stronger than me. She was just a photocopy of my mannerisms when I was young. She had been through a lot too. It had been easier for her when she was attending the pre-school in Stockholm. There were several biracial children around and the prejudices she felt was minimal compared to what she experienced in her pre-school in Dalarna. She only liked Dalarna because we had a stable home but she frequently got into fights in school because of her appearance. She was unique from the other children. With a huge afro hair style, she was always a target of mockery and verbal insults which she retaliated with physical fights. She looked naturally bigger than her age and hardly smiled. She even attacked and brutalized other little boys who dared to say something stupid to Philip. She was quite protective of him but at the same time they never seemed to agree on anything when together. I was helpless. I didn’t know how to be a father and a mother at the same time.
I got a job at a Greek restaurant in Skärholmen. I was happy working there. I was made the chief cook. I made friends with one of my co-workers. Her name was Agnes. She was very jovial and happy all the time. She had a very free spirited attitude and she will constantly tell me of her interesting adventures. She travelled like twice every year to Jamaica because she had a Jamaican boyfriend. She had married him in Jamaica before he moved to Sweden and they were living together in Alby. She sang all day long at work and loved dancing to reggaeton and dancehall music. She was really fun to hang out with and I absolutely loved her. We started interacting a lot after work and she visited me often, took my kids to her dancing lessons and I sometimes followed. It was there that she introduced me to her husband who was the dance instructor. He was a very funny man. He was always smiling and will laugh at any silly joke.
They were really happy together and I was quite jealous of that. It was not surprising when she invited me one evening to her house for dinner and introduced me to a man. I thought at first that he was Jamaican too but his accent was not just like that of the Agnes`s husband. He was from Gambia but acted or tried to speak like a Jamaican. She told me that they had been friends for a long time and that he was a very nice man and since I was single he could be a perfect match for me. I couldn’t back out of the offer even though I just had a bad feeling dating or wanting to be with another man from Gambia due to my nightmarish experiences I’d had before.
The following day, thirty minute before we closed, Lamin came to the restaurant where we worked. He was not very talkative but he always tried to speak in a philosophical manner and at some point I started liking him due to his calmness. We went out on a date. I mostly initiated the conversations but was happy doing so because I felt as if someone was really listening to me. He was very gentle and liked hugging a lot which I felt was quite comforting. I even invited him to my apartment after we had dinner but he said it was too early for that. I was quite flattered and I remember dreaming of him that night. I must have been missing the last long hug he gave to me on the train station before he left.
We saw each other every day after that but he never came to my apartment or even told me precisely where he lived. Two weeks after our first date, he told me that there was some reconstruction work going on where he was living and asked if he could stay at my place until the work was finished at the apartment where he lived. I was just overwhelmed and told him that he could live with me for as long as he wanted to. I later picked him up at the train station that same evening. He just had one travelling box. I didn’t worry about it. I was just happy to have a male companion and I really trusted him because of the encouragements from Agnes. He made me understand he was a practicing Moslem and will not force me to adhere to his religious ideologies if I didn’t want to, which I thought was very compromising. I respected him more for his brilliance because I’m not a very religious person even though I do pray to God from time to time but on the Jesus’ level.
He told me he was working with a friend and they were trying to open up a cleaning company. He talked like an entrepreneur. Philip liked him and they played often but Josephine just didn’t want to interact with him on any level. After a month of living together, it became apparent that he wanted everything done in his own way. He became quite controlling and will tell me how to dress, what kind of food was good for me, the time to go to sleep, and he sometimes woke me up so early in the morning with Arabic incantations of Koranic verses.
He never assisted financially in any way but was always requesting me to lend him money to send to his mother in Gambia. I really never got to know him so well but five months after we were living together, I was pregnant again. He told me it was impossible for him to introduce me to his family while I was pregnant; `according to their religion’ if I was not married to him.
I talked to Agnes about it and she said it was true and that it will be much more appropriate if we got married. She said that it will give me some kind of security and he will be more comfortable to be with me. I agreed but it was just a little strange when he told me that we had to travel immediately to Gambia and do the traditional wedding there. He said it will be respectful for his family members to see me and accept me like his wife because he was facing a lot of pressure from his relatives back home as they were already preparing to consolidate an arranged marriage for him with someone he doesn’t know. I felt sympathetic about his situation and agreed to travel with him to Gambia. Agnes agreed to take care of Josephine and Philip for the two weeks we were to be in Gambia. I was so excited and curious because it was the very first time in my life travelling out of Sweden. Honestly, it had always been my dream to go to Africa. I really can’t explain why but I was just too attracted to African men and going there was just like a dream come true and it absolutely was.
I hugged and kissed Philip and Josephine at the airport in Arlanda. While sitting in the plane, I was overwhelmed with joy and confusion. Lamin had paid for everything and he assured me it was the best thing for us to do so that we can really be happy together forever. I couldn’t stop kissing him in the plane even though he was a shy person who never wanted to express his emotions out of our bed. We arrived at the Banjul international airport and it was just an amazing site of brown faces and constant smiles. We were welcomed at the arrival entrance by over twenty of his relatives and friends and I was just their center of attraction. Everyone wanted to shake my hand and give me a hug. I’d never felt like a royalty figure before but that was just simply exonerating. I just knew this is the life of concern and comfort I’d ever wanted.
We drove in a convoy to their family house in Banjul. More people were wailing and welcoming us. It seemed as if I was a movie star acting a real life role. I had never met so much happiness in humanity as I experienced in Banjul. I had to pinch myself several times to be sure I wasn’t dreaming. I was only aware of my consciousness when I called on my phone back to Sweden and spoke to Agnes and my children. It was only after the phone call that I could affirm that, everything happening was real. Apparently, the wedding plans were already arranged. Lamin just informed me that we will be going to the municipal court in two days to sign the marriage certificates, but the big traditional wedding was to take place in his father’s village which was like a hundred kilometers from Banjul.
I had my hair breaded in rows which I thought was quite exotic. I was constantly accompanied by his female cousins whom he had earlier introduced me to. The court session and signing of the marriage certificate was very quick. I was amazed by the rapidity of the entire process. Strange enough on that same day, I saw three other white ladies who were much older than I, also doing the same marriage proceedings. I think they were from Denmark but we never interacted even though I wanted to greet them. I was so busy with my new found family. It was just a festive atmosphere and I was the center of attention. Lamin had hired a professional photographer and the entire event was recorded on video and still pictures.
For the four days we spent in Banjul, the party never seemed to end. I don’t think I even slept. I was unbelievably happy. We travelled in a rented bus for about two hours on our way to his father’s village and I could not stop looking at the beautiful scenery and admiring the simplicity of nature. We had four guys with drums in the bus playing rhythms that was just mesmerizing to listen to. The commotion was amplified when we arrived at the village. I never knew my life was so valuable. Upon arrival, one of Lamin’s aunt opted to carry me on her back like a baby to the ceremonial compound which was like a two hundred meters walk from where we parked the bus. They are Moslems and the entire process was a shock for me to experience. The women were almost segregated from the men and I didn’t even have time or spaces to talk or even ask Lamin on how to act or react.
I went through several rituals which I thought was funny because of the applauses and cheers. I didn’t really know what I was doing that triggered them to laugh and clap, but it was just entertaining to them. I felt like a queen and for two days, my excitement was intense. We travelled back to Banjul on the fourth day with loads of presents, food items and I was given a new name Aisha!
When we came back to Banjul, I was completely exhausted. Lamin had arranged for us to go to a hotel resort that was close to the beaches. It was very relaxing there and I also met some white folks including some from Sweden because I could hear them speaking in Swedish. We just had three days left in Gambia. I was resting in the hotel room when Lamin came late in the evening and told me that he was to take part in some sort of a traditional rite in his father’s village before travelling back to Stockholm. Promptly, I will have to be travelling home alone.
I thought it was weird because he never told me about it. On the other hand, he was my husband and I was his “Aisha”, and we were expecting a baby together. I just had to trust him.
I was quite happy when I arrived back to Sweden. Agnes, Josephine, and Philip were waiting for me at the reception hall of the airport at Arlanda. They didn’t even recognize me on sight due to my braided hair. The sun exposure had tanned the color of my skin and I was dressed in traditional Gambian attire. I had bought lots of presents and there was a scramble over the presents because everyone wanted to have everything.
I resumed my services at the restaurant and everything looked normal. I talked every evening on the phone with Lamin for a week before he told me that I had to send in an application to the Swedish immigration bureau, so that he can come back to Sweden as my husband. According to him, it will facilitate to establish his company since as he has a Swedish wife. I talked to Agnes about it and she told me it was the right thing to do. I did and after a lot of bureaucratic tussles, he was back with me in Stockholm after three months. I had already requested for all the documents and formalities on how he could open his cleaning company but when he came back, he wasn’t interested about it. He instead started travelling to France, Denmark, Germany, and Holland every week. He said he was helping his brother in Germany to buy used cars and mechanical spare parts which they shipped in containers to Gambia. He said it was a profitable business. He never spoke so much, I just believed him.
His interaction with Josephine was just not good. When he was home, he liked playing with Philip even though it wasn’t consistent. Philip was often disappointed because he could not trust him to be around even when they had planned to do something together.
I was already accustomed to our lifestyle with him not being around. Months when by, and as I remember ; It was on a Friday evening that I started having a lot of cramps and out of experience, I realized it was about time for a new baby. Lamin was not home so I had to call Agnes to help me take care of Philip and Josephine. Lamin later met me at the hospital in Skärholmen. It was quite a relief to have him around and he seemed so happy when John was born. Everything went on smoothly at the hospital and we were discharged on the third day.
Some of Lamin’s friends came visiting the new born. We were all happy even though Josephine didn’t want to carry John or be around him. It was a sad feeling and the hatred between Lamin and Josephine intensified. He continued with his business trips as usual and I was home full-time with the kids. It was during these periods that I realized clearly that Josephine was completely uncontrollable. I had no strength to discipline her and I had numerous reports about her fights in school, at play parks, and also bullying of the neighbor’s kids. Parents in our neighborhood really hated her and it was very easy to notice due to the way they looked at me sometimes.
I presumed that they thought I was just a bad mother. It was saddening when people became silent when I was passing by or most often, tried to avoid eye contacts with me. The neighbors absolutely hated Josephine because she was very aggressive. Not a surprise to me when the social services just came without notification to my apartment one afternoon. Since as I had already been registered at the social services in Stockholm, it was easy for them to understand my situation and a discussion about Josephine to be given to some foster parents was under proposal. Three months after a lot of deliberations, it was quite clear that she would be given to a family for foster care. After a series of meetings with the social workers and multiple therapeutic sessions with a child psychologist, Josephine was visibly happy that she will not be staying with me anymore.
It broke my heart to understand that she seemed not to like me that much, but on the other hand, it was a wave of fresh air to know that she might be happy somewhere else and will probably have a better life structure than what I could offer to her.
I met her new parents and they were really classy and lovely people. They were both medical doctors and also had one adopted daughter from Peru. They were leaving in a beautiful small community out of Stockholm. It was compromising because I had the possibility to talk or meet Josephine when I could. I had a bitter-sweet feeling when she was picked up by her new parents. I remember crying so much but had such a peaceful sleep later that night.
Lamin was home four days after Josephine had left. He never asked about her. He didn’t even notice her absence. When I explained to him about the recent developments, he didn’t say a word.
Life was quite normal and everything seems to be in place. Lamin helped out by paying for the house rents which I really appreciated. Time seemed to go so fast and it was quite a surprise that he booked for a cruise trip for us to celebrate our three years of being together as a couple.
We went to Riga in a cruise ship and stayed in the hotel which was quite luxurious. Visited some parks, museums and attended a circus performance. We stayed there for 3 days and on the evening of our departure back to Stockholm; he came to the hotel with a man whom he said was also from Gambia. He said he had to introduce him to me because “Kevin” as he called him would be coming to Stockholm the following week and will stay with us for two days. We just had to help him take along two boxes of dresses that belonged to him. It was all fine with me until when we arrived at the custom control at the harbor. That was when I realized that Lamin’s second name should have been “TROUBLE”!!!
He admitted to the custom officers that the boxes belonged to him and that I had nothing to do with them. He was detained there by the police while we had to be escorted back home in a police patrol vehicle. Upon arrival at my apartment, two other police cars were in front of the building. They proceeded in conducting a search of the house. With the help of their sniffing dog, they found a stash of money, a plastic bag full of white powder and pills which were evidently narcotics under his dresses in one of his boxes. I almost fainted.
I sat down. I was trembling but had to talk with one female officer who asked me series of questions about my relationship with Lamin and the drugs. I have never been so scared in my entire life.
Three months later, I could not stand the sight of him in court. I continuously felt like vomiting out of anger. The social worker who had helped me years earlier to move from Stockholm to Dalarna was by my side, assisting me as a witness to my testimonials. As if the drug trafficking case was not enough, Agnes had separated from her Jamaican husband whom I met by coincidence in a shopping mall four days prior to the court trial of Lamin. He told me that Agnes was offered 80,000 kronor by Lamin, so that she could find him a woman to get married to. The deal was to help him acquire a permanent residency in Sweden.
I had actually been traded by someone I considered a sister, who knew everything about my trials and tribulations in life. What a manipulative bitch! Everything about Lamin was a lie and all his gestures and actions towards me was just pure theatrical. I was just his ‘get-through tool’. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment and programmed for deportation back to Gambia upon completion of his prison sentence.
I never ever recovered from that incident until this day. I never ever spoke to Agnes again. I had to change work and relocated to another apartment because I was so scared and started to develop social phobic tendencies. I was home on sick leave for almost two years after being diagnosed of PTSD.
My best comfort during those periods was that, Josephine had become a very humble girl and we started having a good relationship. We communicated and interacted periodically even though it was much more like sisters hanging out together. She didn’t call me ‘Mamma’ anymore but I was just glad she was happy.
Proverbial phrases explains that ‘time heals all wounds’, Not for me. My agonies stayed constant. It’s just like having an open scar on your chest. I tried several times during the years to get in contact with Josephine’s father, but never succeeded in convincing him to accept Josephine as her true biological daughter.
Josephine was already in high school when she met Daoda for the first time. Even though they had a shocking resemblance, Josephine didn’t have any kind of emotional attachment to him and he seemed so uninterested in creating a bond between them. He was married with four children and clearly told me that he was already ‘hands-tight’ with so many responsibilities and clearly didn’t want any more complications in his life. Josephine too was quite indifferent about him.
I personally was living in a trance. I had no regular feelings for any man anymore. I was basically numb because an extensive anger within me. I never had any intensive relationship again. I was just pleasuring myself with guys I met in clubs or sometimes dating sites. I just wanted sex and fortunately enough, it’s quite easy to get any guy you want to sleep with when you go to reggae clubs in Stockholm. It’s always so predictable how these black guys usually line up in the clubs. Most often in those unregulated African clubs. Attendances might just offer ten white girls with a multitude of over forty black guys looking desperately for a hook-up. It is quite easy to make a pick of your choice. I really can’t understand if I’m cursed or if it is just a weird coincidence: I usually pick a guy just to realize after that he is from Gambia. I have gotten so accustomed to them that I even understand Mandingo and Wolof. I got so used to it that, at some point I thought it was just normal. They habitually had marijuana. I enjoyed smoking sometimes.
Philip´s father was a career criminal. Constantly going in and out of jail and as I later heard from one of my boyfriends, he became psychotic and was in a psychiatric institution due to drug abuse. He could not be rehabilitated anymore and was tricked by some of his family relatives to go back to Gambia. I have never heard anything about him since then. Philip never knew him, which to me is inconsequential.
For some strange reasons, Lamin is the only father of my child that I still talk to. He was deported back to Gambia after serving his prison sentence. He opened a small restaurant and bar and seems to be doing fine. He usually sends presents to John whenever he meets someone in Gambia who is travelling to Stockholm. It’s just unfortunate, that he can’t talk with John because he can’t speak Swedish and John doesn’t know what to say or how they can communicate when I give him the phone to talk to Lamin. Anyway, he is always happy receiving presents from the father.
I think I got pregnant again twice from two different Gambian guys, but I did an abortion on both situations without even letting them know I was pregnant. I don’t think I’II ever live together with a man.