“Gay?” Daddy said.
I froze. WHAT ? I really hadn’t seen that coming. I mean WHAT? Daddy really knew a lot about his kids, and this severely scared me. I knew Obinna was gay but I didn’t expect to hear that from Daddy. For a second I thought I had mistakenly spoken those words.
The temperature in the room immediately got denser. Mummy stared at Daddy in thorough shock. An overwhelming veil masked her eyes. For what felt like a whole minute no one said a word.
“What do you mean by that?” Mummy started. “Are we talking about Kachi, or are you talking about Obinna?”
“Obinna is gay.” Daddy said with a stern look on his face. He was looking at no one, merely staring into the space around. His expression rose from upset to anger to fury. I guess saying those words out just made him resent the whole idea even more. At that point I felt pity for him — the thought that two of his kids might never be married to a woman, and the most outrageous thought that they might even end up being married to fellow men.
“Nnamdi, you have to be sure what you’re saying. This is serious; don’t say what you’re not sure of. If it’s just a suspicion, then don’t say it with so much certainty.” Uncle Arinze said, holding Mummy’s right hand still to the bed. He too was in shock. Mama had not said anything in a while; she often shook her head steadily, and clasped her hands together in unison.
“Nna, please say what you know. We know Kachi is a homosexual, but Obinna is not like him. Obinna is a very good and focused child; he would never do a thing like that. He respects our family name so much and…” She paused as the door flung open.
“Enough of all these rubbish, Mummy. What’s the problem with you all? What is wrong with a person being gay? I don’t see how it affects the next person. This is my private life, and what I do with it is none of your business. I am gay, so? It doesn’t change the price of garri in the market, neither does it change the level of corruption in Nigeria. I don’t see why this is even an issue at all. I don’t complain when I see Junior and his numerous girlfriends frolicking and getting all cosy, but when you see me in such a position with someone I love it becomes a problem because we are of the same sex. You should be more worried about Junior and his band of girls rather than worry about who I choose to love. At least one of us understands the meaning of that word. Honestly, I am tired of you Nigerians, always getting up in other people’s businesses.” Obinna said, all in one breath; his fingers shaking rigorously in the air as he spoke. He paused and waited for his words to digest well with everybody, while taking in his own breath. Even Mama understood enough to wrap her hands behind her head.
I was stunned, amazed to say the least. Obinna had taken this to a different level. I was wowed. He became the man that I had been scared of being all my life. He took a stand; I only wondered how this would play out.
Daddy stared at him in total disbelief. He hadn’t expected Obinna to accept it enough to even defend his stance. Mummy was dumbfounded, Uncle Arinze was blank, and Mama clasped her hands together and shook her head rigorously. I was scared. I was scared because my family wasn’t the kind to just get used to things, or just get over things, and this sure was going to linger. But I still had to savour the thought of One Golden Boy Down.
The silence was blaring.
“We need to take this whole thing serious.” I started, dragging everyone’s gaze towards me. “Obinna, come in and sit down, let’s talk about this. We don’t need to act in an irrational way. Let’s think first before we act.” I knew nothing I said would unburden the domineering weight on Mummy’s shoulders, or the piercing pain in Daddy’s eyes, but someone just had to say or do something to try.
Obinna took a seat closest to me, staring Daddy right in the eyes. He had guts. “I’m not going to apologise for being myself, if I’m going to be killed for loving who I love, then they just might as well start now.” He said, partly to me before I pinched him. The boy just couldn’t shut his mouth. This wasn’t the time or place to start wagging his mouth or claiming a ground. All he had to do now was let this digest.
I had found out Obinna was gay through my friend, Onyeka. Onyeka told me that he once woke up in the middle of the night to a mouth on his cock. And as he stated, the boy had skills; skills enough to rank a pro. As grotesque as that sounded, I found it amusing, and troubling at the same time because being a pro meant he had had other places and people to practice. But I never confronted him because I knew he would tell me in his own time.
This wasn’t Uncle Arinze or Mama’s ground, this was an issue between the nuclear family members, and extended family members weren’t exactly needed, so they kept shut; Mama clasping her hands every other minute, and Uncle Arinze rubbing Mummy’s hands to keep her still. Each contributing in the most minute way possible.
Mummy, on the other hand, hadn’t said anything. I wasn’t sure if she didn’t know what to say or if she felt her hope for a better life had been snatched from her. Obinna was her scholar, the only one to bring sunshine to her face in her older years. Maybe she was ashamed of him so much that she didn’t know how or if to express it, or maybe she would look over his sexuality because she wouldn’t want to lose her most treasured asset –Her Doctor. Or perhaps she would think it was just a phase that would pass.
“This is all Kachi’s fault.” But this I did not expect. “When they started getting close, I suspected this thing. Only God knows if he has been touching him at night.”
And as that was said, Daddy descended on me; hitting, slapping, kicking. This was exactly a case of transferred aggression. I was curled up on the floor at this time, and as these aimless battering poured down, the door flung open. I immediately felt woozy, watching as the cream tile stain red.
“What’s going on?” Junior asked, pushing his way through the door while intentionally ignoring the drops of blood on the floor. “What is going on? What is this? Daddy, is this why you summoned me home?”
“Your brothers are gay, and Kachi has been molesting Obinna at night. That is why I summoned you home.” Daddy said. I honestly couldn’t mask my surprise because at first I thought he was hitting me because he thought I might have influenced him a bit, but touching him at night? That was lowest level of low, even for my dad. I expected more.
Daddy slapped me harder as I uncurled and brought myself up to see the trail that ran down my face, hitting my right eye on the door frame. I couldn’t make a sound. I wondered how the slap hurt more than the cut producing the stream of blood. I pulled off my t-shirt and used it to dab at the blood to stop it from rushing out. Thankfully, it wasn’t a deep cut.
Junior immediately dropped his carry-on bag and pounced on Obinna, taking everyone by surprise. He put Obinna’s head between his legs and pounded his fisted hands on his back – Mummy Style. Mummy immediately stood up and separated them, slapping Junior hard on the face. “Don’t you dare hit my son like that; he’s not your punching bag. Don’t you ever touch my son again!” They was a certain weirdness in the Ownership her voice carried.
She was still protective of him. At least he had someone to fight his battles, and somehow that contended me. I crawled up quietly to my seat, assuming my previous form, still dabbing at the cut. Obinna was wrapped in Mummy’s arms, away from all the predators that hung around. Her son – that was a luxury we didn’t have to worry about savouring. Doctor, to her, trumped Pharmacist, Engineer, or any other occupation in the world, and OAP was certainly somewhere at the bottom of the list – if not off the list completely. Being a doctor meant steady income; they save lives; what more could she ask for?
“Everybody should calm down. Junior, take a seat. Let’s all do the right thing and talk.” Uncle Arinze said. “There’s no need for this.”
“No need for what? Junior hit me like that, and all you are going to say is ‘Let’s talk?’ Not after what he has done to me. There’s nothing to talk about.” Obinna lamented, over Mummy’s attempt to hold his mouth shut.
“You know, what surprises me is how we can live in a glass house, and we are all experts at throwing rocks about. Junior, you’re a hypocrite. You act like this because you feel you don’t have a flaw?” I spoke up, tasting my blood.
“Shut up!” Daddy yelled.
“You think you are Golden, and everybody should fall at your feet while you reign supreme. Trust, when the table turns, I wonder how many of people would still be seated at it.” The strength in my voice both frightened and exhilarated me. Somehow I had begun to find a voice; my voice. And it felt so good to hear.
“What does that even mean? I can never be gay. I never will be; I have a lot of female friends that hang around me. I don’t roll with guys like you do. Fag! Gay Mofo!”
“Yeah, you don’t.” Obinna said, sharpening his tongue.
“Obi, don’t. Don’t say anything. Let him bask in his glory. It is said that pride goes before a fall.” I said, staring Junior in the eye; eyes that registered fear.
“Don’t say what? That Junior is responsible for Ada’s pregnancy?”
“Lord Jesus!” Ada said as the door flung open… And close.