I used to go to the beach everyday after school to contemplate the most beautiful landscape in my city. I also went there to play soccer on the hot sands with my friends, or to help my dad fish. He used to ask me and my other two big brothers to help him bring the boat back to the sands and help him take all the fish to the fishmongers in my village.
One day after school I went to the beach as I usually did, but something different happened. There was a girl named Mirrian who I had always liked. I always thought that she didn’t pay attention to me because I have really dark skin, but I was wrong. She came at me wearing a long traditional Cape Verdean dress and said hi. She was really short, with chocolate skin and brown eyes that looked like caramel candy.
She told me that she had always wanted to talk to me because she had always loved boys with really dark skin and afro hair just like mine. My heart started to beat fast. Imagine the girl that you always wanted, the girl that you had a crush on, liking you back.
That day, we talked for hours and hours, appreciating the beautiful view from the beach. The next day after school, I was rushing to go to the beach and find that beautiful girl again.
The thing that I liked about her the most was that she was a hard worker. She was 20 years old.
We talked to each other for two months before she decided to be my girlfriend. I worked so hard to earn her love and respect.
At the age of 17, I lost my virginity.
3 months later she told me she was pregnant.
I felt like my entire world was falling apart. I was only a 17-year-old boy with no job, a full-time student with dreams to achieve.
I had two options. One: tell her to leave me alone and leave her by herself. Two: drop out of school, forget about my dream and work to provide a good life for my future child. I chose to drop out of school and work really hard to have my little baby.
At first, life seemed as confusing as the card deck of a magician. I had no idea what would be the best for me. I had to talk to someone else, someone old enough to understand my situation. I decided to speak to my mom because I was so afraid to tell my dad; he was a straight parent with a lot of rules.
When I told my mom what happened, she got mad at first, but then she told me to keep the baby and not to drop out of school.
Then, it was time to tell my dad.
Once my dad came from work, my mom told him about the news. He got really upset, he yelled at me and almost beat me, but after an hour of talking he told me that he would help in everything that I wanted in order for me to stay in school. When I told him that I wanted to drop out from school he slapped me so hard I couldn’t feel my face.
“Everything that I did for you in order for you to go to school is not considerable?” He asked. I didn’t answer back, I just walked away without talking, crying inside.
After days of fighting over the same thing over and over again, our relationship wasn’t good anymore. Not only were my dad and I not on good terms, everyone was criticizing me because I didn’t listen to them—I dropped out of school.
After two weeks my dad told me he would help with my future baby, providing me everything. I refused. I’m an independent and proud person. I couldn't sit and watch my parents work really hard to provide me with everything.
I dropped out from school and started to work with “Enapor,” a huge company in Cape Verde that is responsible for all the exports and imports. At first I used to to carry heavy products on my back and had a lot of back pain. But nothing was more important than the life of my baby.
I remember days that my friends would pass by and make fun of me, saying I was stupid and dumb, because I was working for myself, my baby and my girlfriend. That made me cry a lot, but their words weren’t strong enough to make me give up on everything.
My workplace is where the boats dock to unload products from island to island or from different countries, where people travel to other islands in Cape Verde. I used to feel so cold at night, and hungry, because I used to eat once a day. I didn’t have time to take care of myself for long. I worked so hard that sometimes I couldn’t feed my soul.
I used to get home at 9 p.m. tired, hungry and stressed, because everyday I had to walk an hour and a half in order to get home. I knew it was dangerous to walk by myself during that time.
I worked really hard to feed my baby, my girlfriend and also help at home.
After seven months my baby came into the world. It was a boy, with beautiful dark skin, and eyes that looked like the moon. My baby was a big boy—healthy and beautiful.
His mom and I could not stay together because of many problems. I wanted to marry her, but the fact that she was older than me made her thoughts different from mine.
After almost one year I met the love of my life and we have been together for 24 years.
She was a tall woman with light skin and was really skinny, with beautiful natural hair. But, she had a lot of attitude.
She was the opposite of my first girlfriend, as she liked to fight over everything and her attitude was the most horrible thing. But she was trabadjadera, a “hard worker.”
When she was only 15 years old, she used to take care of her little brother, the house and help her mom sell cookies.
When my baby turned a year old, he started to get sick a lot so he left to live with his mom and grandma. Unfortunately my baby boy never got better and died with a fever. Then a few years later, God blessed me with a baby girl who I named Cleusa. I have two children, Cleusa and Nilson. I’m still working hard to give them everything that I can afford, but I will never regret what I did.