!!DISCLAIMER!! This story is a work of fiction and is in no way an imitation of persons or events in real life. It is a representation of the writer’s imagination and thought processes.
That being said, please read and enjoy…
Secrets. Secrets are like eggs and tea. When they break or spill over, there’s no recovering them. I guess if you realize at the initial stage that your egg has a crack or your tea is spilling over, you could try and salvage it. But years of truths left unsaid amount to spider web cracks and broken eggs.
I think I was 12 when the cracks started to show. Or rather, I was 12 when I started to see them. The cracks, I mean. The chinks in our armor, the rip in our seams, I saw them all. Mother would try to hem them back together or close the gaps with sticky tape, but we all knew that these cracks needed something stronger than industrial glue. We all knew, and mother knew it most of all but she and her sticky tape were adamant in their desire to fix what was long gone. I think I was 12 when the cracks started to show, and once they did, everything turned to shit.
I wouldn’t call my family dysfunctional. No, that seems too direct a word. We are normal and functional and religious and good. We do what is required of us, and avoid the uncomfortable and unconventional at all costs. You can see the problems here, too, can’t you? Normal is overrated and too accepted. Functionality is subjective, isn’t it? And don’t get me started on the whole “religious” matter, we won’t leave here today if you do. You see, the problem with avoiding the uncomfortable is that when a family member happened to near this restricted “zone”, it was a no-go, no-see, no even talk am matter. For example, last year, my sister came out to my parents and finally admitted that she was batting for the same team. In fact, to them, she was probably playing a different game entirely. We were having dinner on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday evening and she blurted out that she was a lesbian. I had known for years. Really, it’s my sister we’re talking about here and we shared a room for half our lives. I would have been stupid or knee-deep in denial if I thought she was straight. But my parents were oblivious. I expected a full on blow out. That night, some African Magic drama starring my sister and my parents was supposed to go down and my blood was boiling with anticipation. Once she began her speech with “Mummy, Daddy, there’s something I need to tell you…” my heart started playing that tune in African Magic movies that tells you that shit was about to go down. It was a shit-show and I had front row tickets. She made her confession and I waited for the bomb to drop but, in the end…nothing. It’s like they wired their minds into denying the possibility that a homosexual gene could manifest in their progeny. To say the least, dinner that night was boring as hell and the next day, my mother took my sister to see the church pastor.
People say that family is family, and so we have to forgive them regardless of the foul shit they hand to us or how often the shit-handing is done. We just take it with smiling faces and grateful tongues. Because we’re family. Well, my family has had its fair share of shittiness and gratitude for as long as I can remember and mother has swallowed the largest amount from both sides of the family. Take 2005 for example. That was a pretty shitty year for her. She had popped out three girls for my dad and a fourth child was on the way. Naturally, the uneducated idiots in the family were the ones with the loudest mouths, and boy did they talk.
“Mummy Tope, e e ti bimo o! A fe omo okunrin, sugbon, e n fun wa awon obinrin radarada! E e ti bimo o!” and other stupid comments along that line. If they got their kobo’s worth for the education they claimed to have gotten, they would be pressuring my father to produce a male child. After all, he was withholding the X chromosome from all of us and should have been forced to release it for the sake of his family and his wife’s peace of mind. Anyway, they shamed and humiliated mother and, ultimately, she had her fill of familial shit. Long story short, out pops another child and this time a boy. Yay, right? I would have celebrated with everyone else who closed their eyes to the truth, but I’m not really one for facades. As a nine year old at the time, even I could see that that child was five shades too light to be my father’s son. He looked nothing like any of us and with each passing year, the differences became more evident. Eventually, the tea spilled one fateful day when brother dearest was taken to the hospital for a blood transfusion and none of us was a proper match for him. Tea spilled, egg broken.
It was a late afternoon in December when father came back from his business trip to Ibadan. Or was it Lokoja? Or Port- Harcourt? Frankly, I’d lost track of where he went to for “business”. New clothes, new shoes and new school bags accompanied my father, but with them, a new scent. He smelled of woman and I knew it the moment he walked in. Mother knew it too, I saw it in her eyes. But like all other things she knew, she pretended not to notice. Frankly, my 11 year old mind thought my father wanted to smell like a woman because he always returned home with cherry scented perfume telling secret stories on his skin and hands. Always on his skin and hands. Never on his clothes. He was meticulous in keeping the woman off his clothes. Maybe because he knew mother took care of his laundry and wanted to keep what little respect he had for her alive. Or maybe because the shirts and suits were too damn expensive to let some hussy get her perfume on them. Who knows? But one thing I know is that whenever he returned with the smell of woman, mother would put on a little more makeup or dress a little skankier or go get her hair done a bit fancier. She would hold on to her man for a little longer and try to erase the strange woman’s scent off him. I always saw it as a ceremony. Something that was part of our culture and tradition. Do what you can to rub your scent on your man so that any slut within a 50 mile radius would know that was another woman’s property. It was like marking her territory. Kind of animalistic, if you think about it that way. But the funny thing was, I suspected that the “other woman” was doing it too.
30 years down the line and we all flew the coop. None of my siblings, legitimate or otherwise, could stand being suffocated in that house so we left for greener pastures and fresher air. I still count down the days till mother finally realizes that she should leave too. It’s been decades of submission and shit and frankly, a person has to have their limits. She has a breaking point, and she’ll discover it soon. Time reveals the best kept secrets and ours were revealed long ago. The tea spilled and, as it did, the cracks in our familial egg widened. Mother’s sticky tape still holds it together. When she rips it out -and I know she will- we can all be free of this prison. This prison of broken eggs and spilled tea.