“Oh this isn’t happening.” I muttered, rubbing my eyes with my fingers as I gently sat back down to regain my wit. Why wouldn’t he just shut up? He was far too flippant, always needing revenge for the minutest hurt. Obinna really had to learn to shut his mouth or he would one day get himself into a grave problem.
“Ada, come in here.” Daddy said, raising his voice. Of course he had seen her. Everyone had seen her. Her little “Lord Jesus” act wasn’t going to make her disappear into extinction. A few seconds later, Daddy stomped towards the door nearly bumping into it as it slowly creaked open.
“Dad, good evening.” She said, standing directly in front of him, smiling a smile that belied her eyes. She was nearly his height; eyes nearly on a level pane. She was shaking to the marrows and everyone could see it. “How is everything going? Is there a problem?”
“Sit down.” Daddy ordered, pointing behind him at a presumably vacant seat which Junior had occupied after the unexpected blow. “Dike! Dike!” Daddy called out, raising his voice impatiently even though he knew that Dike was just outside the door, and had answered him the first time.
Dike practically jumped into the room, nearly stepping on the already smeared that had Ada’s sandal print on it. “Sir?” He was our help; we practically grew up together. He was about seven when Daddy brought him to stay with us; young, naïve and shrivelled from hunger. He had changed a lot with time. I guessed that was one of the very few achievements in the field of good deeds that my family could boast of.
“Bring in two dining chairs. Tell Somadina to carry one.” Daddy said, never taking his eyes off Ada, who was intentionally putting space between herself and Junior, but more importantly, farther away from Daddy.
Dike left and came back seconds later carrying one of the dining chairs with Somadina at his trail. They positioned the chairs very close to each other, and I saw the look of disdain register on Ada’s face. Had she suddenly begun to hate her lover, or did she completely blame him for putting a child in her? He didn’t rape her, neither was it a onetime thing. She completely consented to it; the pregnancy, perhaps, she didn’t budget for.
Immediately the door slammed shut, and Ada and Junior assumed their positions, Daddy started. “Ada, are you pregnant?” he asked in a very low monotonous tone like he expected every word to sit in well.
“No, I’m not.” I looked at her searchingly, wondering if she was sure she wanted to walk that walk.
“Is Junior responsible for this pregnancy?” Daddy continued, ignoring what she had said. He stressed on ‘this’ like he suspected it might not have been the first.
Obinna was stilled curled up in Mummy’s arms and seated between her and Uncle Arinze on the bed. She secured hers. Mama looked heavily burdened, and this had nothing to do with her heart problem or diabetes; I knew it was because of the fact that her grandchildren were falling apart and there was little or nothing she could do to change that.
We were indeed falling apart. Junior, the immaculate first child that could never go wrong, was accused of being responsible for Ada’s pregnancy. I, Kachi, the second child and son, who had always been a shame to the family name, the one who couldn’t graduate from the university as a degree holder, was being shredded in unequal bits for loving who he loved. Then Ada, the only girl in the family, the only paradigm in Daddy’s collection of achievements, the reason he smiled at night, the only one he could bank on, was pregnant, not for a random stranger but for her brother, Junior. Obinna, the fourth, was a spoilt child, a typical Mummy’s boy who always clung to her side because she was always there to get him out of trouble; presently facing a case of molestation from me, Kachi, which influenced his wrong choice of sexual preference. An accusation he neither disproved nor approved.
Then finally was Somadina, a boy of fifteen who already had his life mapped out for him; a boy with daily routines as to how to go about living his scripted life. A boy with so little option that other sibling’s shortcomings were imposed on him – The correction baby. Every day I watched him shrink deeper and deeper into a shell he had no control over. He mostly reminded me of myself. Lonely, shy, and unhappy.
“Answer me!” Daddy shouted startling everyone in the room. It was so unlike him to raise his voice on her. She was never wrong in his eyes; he had seen her through her years at home on two consistent fallouts with JAMB, and had told her that it wasn’t her fault after she came home crying from a night party where she was nearly raped.
Mummy was awfully quiet, neither saying a word nor looking in our direction. She merely clung to Obinna like she too was seeking succour from something, and he, her safe haven; almost like she too was hiding something.
“Yes, Dad. Junior is responsible for my pregnancy.” Ada started. “Or at least I think so. I think he was the only one I slept with within the time when I was ovulating.”
“You think?” Uncle Arinze asked.
“Yes, you’re never completely sure about these things.” Ada said randomly like she was trying to make simple conversation, while running her hands through her hair. Suddenly, a sense of nonchalance enveloped her. She began to talk like she didn’t actually care about the graveness of this unravelling. She talked like she had some certain leverage. Like everyone had to dread this little secret she too was sitting on.
“Ada, mind the way you talk. You’re in a mess, the least you can do now is show some remorse and not sit there and sound like…” I had started.
“And sound like what, Big bro? Like I feel ashamed of what I have done? Of course, I’m pregnant, I should feel ashamed. Every pregnant girl my age would feel ashamed, but it’s happened so it’s happened. All I, or since you all already know, we can do now is come up with a solution as to how to handle it. No biggy” She said crossing her legs and waving her hair behind her left ear.
“I don’t believe this is my daughter talking.” Uncle Arinze said. “It just doesn’t make sense. I know it has happened already but at least show a little sign of…”
“Your daughter?” Daddy cut in, turning to know if he could understand what Uncle Arinze had said by looking in his face.
“He means his sister’s daughter.” Mummy jumped in hastily before squeezing Uncle Arinze’s left hand to quiet him down.
There it was, the reason Mummy had been quiet. I wasn’t sure anyone grasped unto the surfacing drama the second I did. That was Mummy’s secret. Ada was Uncle Arinze’s daughter. Touché!
“Don’t correct me; I know what I’m saying. Ada you should be ashamed of yourself.” Uncle Arinze continued, untangling his hand from Mummy’s grip.
Then came the silence once again. Again they had to sit back and process the little piece of information that they had just received while I floated in excitement.
“You had to tell him at some point. You did this all for him. He would understand. He should be grateful. I would.” Uncle Arinze continued in passive sarcasm. He seemed to be enjoying this.
“You should have at least let me tell him myself, eh!” Mummy complained, pushing Uncle Arinze slightly before standing to come face to face with Daddy. “Nna, it is not what you think.” She started. “I did this all for you, and…”
“All for me?” Daddy asked. “Did what for me? Had my only daughter for your brother, and let me love her as if she were my own for all these years? And you stand there to tell me that you did it for me?” Daddy was furiously hurt, and I saw his eyes redden with tears.
I had never pitied or related to him as much as I did at that time. I was fund of putting myself in other people’s shoes long before I could get out of them. But I couldn’t deny a certain level of amusement on Mummy’s part. Karma really was a bitch. Like Mother, Like Daughter.
“Don’t you call me that, You…” Daddy looked away, uncertain of a befitting word to describe her.
“Nna, I’m sorry. I did it for you, honestly. We were going into our third year without an issue when…” she paused to swallow and gather the courage to continue. Tears began to run down her face when Obinna stood to hug her.
“Get away from that woman.” Daddy shouted before turning to stare scornfully at Uncle Arinze.
This scared me to the marrow. Even Mama had started shedding painful tears. The rest just stared and listened.
“Nna, you are impotent. The doctor said you could never get me pregnant.”
“What? Are you crazy? I am not impotent. I can’t be impotent when I have a son. Dike is my son…”
“I didn’t know what else to do so I…” She paused registering what Daddy had said. “What?”
Then the silence fell again. Suddenly my smeared blood with Ada’s sandal print held more importance.