It felt too good to be true. In just a few moments of sitting, he had moved from being penniless with no hope of paying his school fees to a full academic year’s scholarship! Now he could resume, complete his final year of study and graduate. It was great news.
The only damper was his sister. He had overlooked her apparent ignorance of Chukwuka’s cry for attention initially as fatigue. The baby sure knew how to cry and with her mother at her beck and call, it was only a matter of time before she was weary. That, coupled with the select house chores Bolanle insisted on doing and her newness to motherhood.
But now, now… She probably didn’t know but she had the look of apprehension she always wore when she was trying hard to hide something.
She was looking lost again and completely forgot to reply his effusive thanks to her and her husband. Even Emeka was beginning to look worried. He decided to excuse them. She’ll probably tell her husband if he gave them some privacy.
He went into his room and danced a jig as he closed the door behind him. Three steps forward, two backward and a turn around. He fisted his hands and brought it down in victory. Yes! Yes! Yes! He needed to start packing his bags. He habitually resumed a few days before official resumption, though he would delay this time. He wanted to spend more time with his precious little Chukwuka and the entire family. He probably wouldn’t see them all for a full year.
He couldn’t stop the smile on his face as he brought out his leather bag and began stuffing some clothes. He should get his niece a baby something. One of those frilly little hair band babies wore. Or something else entirely, because Chukwuka had very sparse hair which was present only on the crown of her head. He chuckled. She must have gotten the baldness from Emeka’s side of the family.
His hands stilled at a sound. A sob, actually. That was not Chukwuka. That left only one person. Bodunde.
He dashed into the living room and saw Emeka cradling his sister as she wept silently. He crept closer. What was wrong? She raised up her head, probably for air and her eyes met his. Her face crumpled again and this time her cries came unrestrained and intensified.
“What’s wrong, Sister?” he asked as he drew nearer to where they both sat. Her tears seemed to impede speech, so he turned to her husband to ask him instead, “Bro Emeka, what is wrong? Someone should tell me what is going on!” His fear was coming out as anger but he couldn’t take back his demand.
Dabbing her eyes, his sister implored him to sit. “Bankole, jokoo.” When he didn’t budge, she tried again. “Please, sit down Bankole. There is something you need to know.” She sniffed a little and continued, “but before I tell you, please know that it does not change anything, at all. I’m only sorry I didn’t tell you sooner and I don’t really know how you’ll handle it.”
Dread was steadily creeping up his spine. There was this air of impending doom surrounding him. He had the feeling that whatever his sister wanted to tell him would change his life, and likely not for the better. But he had to know.
She looked to Emeka as if to ask for aid and he squeezed her shoulder gently. She seemed to draw courage from the action and she took in a deep breath and spoke.
“Bankole, our father…no.” She shook her head and attempted again, “my father is not your father.”
Seven words. Seven words potent enough to knock the wind out of him. Seven words that justified the hostility his father had subjected him to growing up. Seven words that gave life to the childhood suspicions that had crossed his mind often when his father practically loathed his existence. Hearing it confirmed now didn’t lessen the blow. It only broke his heart with finality and raised up another question. Who was his father, then?
The question was about to exit his mouth but he saw his sister wasn’t done yet. There was more?
As if convinced the information had sunk in, she swallowed nervously and continued. “And errrr… Bankole, my mother isn’t your mother either.”
His sister hadn’t stopped talking but he could not hear anything else as he felt blood rush to his ears. No. Please, no. This must be a sick joke. The words rang again in his head. My mother isn’t your mother either. He couldn’t believe it. His mother…?
His hands were suddenly cradling his head and a stinging sensation ran behind his eyes. His entire foundation was shaken and crumbling down. His parents weren’t his. Wait. His sister wasn’t his either. That meant Chukwuka wasn’t his niece either. His life was messed up. Totally. He wanted to hit something. Shout. Protest the hurt and betrayal he felt. Who in this green earth was he? Where, or to whom did he belong?
Snatches of Bodunde’s continued speech wafted into his ears. His mother was Bodunde’s dad’s concubine. …his mother using her pregnancy to blackmail Bodunde’s father… broken trust between Bodunde’s parents later when his infidelity was exposed… Bodunde’s mother took the baby under her wings… later discovery that the child was by another man… nobody knew his father…
The joy in the day fizzled out at the sorry revelation. He was illegitimate, all his life he’d lived a lie, and he only knew about it twenty one years into his existence. Someone had to wake him up from this nightmare. And quick. Please…
Hey guys. Thank you for reading through.
Do you think she should have told him? Is family ties limited to blood or birth? How should Bankole deal with this revelation?
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