‘ “F*cking son of the wind.” It should be on his tombstone,’ I thought as I stood, fuming at the kind of father God gave me.
‘It should be on his tombstone quickly.’
I wished my father dead already, but the bastard is as fit as a war horse. He works as a bouncer at Bar One, eight streets away from here; seven if you took the Baale Street shortcut, which I stopped taking because that old whore with beautiful, blood-shot eyes, who sat at the Lady White brothel kept calling me her husband. I liked to think she mistook me for my useless father for the same reason I now hate looking in the mirror – I am a spitting image of him, only with a lot more hair and a pair of thick glasses .
I wasn’t wearing my glasses when I hit my father yesterday; I simply posted my fist to the midpoint of the blurry baldness in front of me. It was a lop-sided fixture: Bouncer versus Boy . Eagle Eyes versus Bat. I can’t remember why I wasn’t wearing my glasses.
‘I always wear them to bed,’ I’d told Ben last Tuesday afternoon, during lunch break.
‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’d love to see my dreams clearly, too, I guess.’
I started laughing, but Iya Rili’s rice jumped into the wrong pipe, and I almost coughed my heart out. My best friend kept laughing while he patted my back. I like him; he gets me.
I remember the first time Ben and I met in Lawani Memorial High. Mr. Mokoya effortlessly made Chemistry look like a badly-scripted insurance company ad; Mr. Ojoku’s Biology classes were always connected to the reproductive system, and my classmates giggled all the way; the Mathematics teacher was a Youth Corp member; what did she know? So, I had left the classroom, and played hookie through the Maths period.
In my hurry back for Miss Temidire’s French class, I bumped into a boy at the end of the flight of stairs. Tall. Light-skinned.
‘Hey, Google, watch it.’
His voice was baritone. He had a shadow of a moustache. His uniform was starched and ironed so stiff, you could hit a home run with it. He turned to walk away and I shot back.
‘You almost broke my chest bone with your uniform, Barry White.’
He turned and walked back up the stairs, and looked at me ponderingly.
‘Please, tell me, what will I be when I grow up?’ he said as he bowed to me.
I was confused. I leaned against the wall and folded my arms across my breasts, waiting to make sense of this lanky jester’s buffoonery.
‘I mean,’ he continued, ‘with glasses this thick, you must be able to see the future, right?’
He had a smirk on his face. I wanted to predict that he’d grow so tall, his idea of skydiving would be to reach down and touch his own toes, but I didn’t. I liked the way his mind worked. I smiled.
‘That was a good one,’ I said. ‘But I’ve heard that before.’
He flashed his dentition as we shook hands.
Ben Onyeka and I did everything together from then, including sharing a crush on Miss Temidire, and arguing about who loved her first. We shared the highest-scorer position in her tests, and argued about how old she was. We made a pact that whoever came out on top in our exams would be her boyfriend and the other person would settle for Odale, the silhouette girl in France Afrique, our French Language textbook. It was Ben’s idea, and we’d laughed about our gentleman’s agreement which somehow became as secret as the school was populated.
It is no secret that my worthless father patronised the Lady white. My schoolmates say it was where my parents first met. They call my mother ‘the White Lady Ambassador to Emordi Kingdom’. Oyebo Oyegunle, my most ardent taunter, once said that my eyesight was bad because my cornea were made from semen-coated condom parchment.
The only point I have over Oyebo is that my father once beat up his father one Saturday morning during ‘environmental sanitation.’ I still can’t remember what their argument had been about, but I heard that Oyebo’s father had said that my father’s meagre bouncer’s pay could not take care of a real woman, only cheap whores. They said my father turned green , and growled, ‘You son of the wind!’ before pouncing on Mr. Ladega Oyegunle and pounding him to a kilo of big-mouthed unconsciousness.
The bouncer stayed in the Akere Police cell for a week; the jester stayed in Muyibi Medical Center for a month. The Residents’ Association resolved the matter, and all was forgotten; the bouncer kept bouncing at Bar One but the jester has never participated in any monthly clean-up exercise since then.
‘You son of Hulk,’ Oyebo said as we walked home from school yesterday. His buddies from ‘Commercial Class’ flocked around him and laughed whenever he spoke, whatever he said. They made jokes about how we Science Class boys couldn’t tell the difference between a girl’s nipple and a doorbell’s button.
‘Any day Odale gets pregnant, we know who’s responsible,’ Prince Fadina said.
Their laughter was louder each time. I didn’t know what to do. Ben didn’t come to school, so I had to do this battle all by myself.
‘Strike the shepherd, scatter the sheep. Strike the shepherd, scatter the sheep.’ I kept reassuring myself as I searched for what to strike the shepherd with.
‘Oyebo,’ I shouted.
They all fell quiet. Being usually quiet, even I was startled by my own voice. But I had to be heard this time.
‘How’s your daddy’s jaw?’
Oyebo was surprised. He looked around; his buddies were giggling. I needed to lay it on thicker.
‘Can he chew meat now, or does your mummy still blend it into his pap?’
Oyebo’s eyes were getting wilder and wetter. His friends had lost themselves in feats of derisive laughter.
”Does he still pee in a pottie? Does his ‘thing’ still work?” I heard myself saying. Then I thought,
‘Where did that come from?’
Oyebo started dragging sniffs to plug his tear ducts, but it was too late; tears flowed down his cheeks, his chest rose and fell and rose and fell and he looked like he was ready for a fight. But instead, he turned around and started walking quickly.
‘Wow. Too easy,’ I thought.
His friends followed him, laughing as they went, some falling unto the dirty floor of Tolu Avenue in uncontrollable laughter.
I was going to tell Mama about it when I got home. I was full of glee. The heat of the sun was like cool breeze to me. The hunger I’d felt earlier had been satisfied. I was the reigning Yabis Master. It was going to be a wonderful weekend. Ben had to hear this.
I got home, and walked into the bathroom to wash my face. I then went into the kitchen where some clatter had come from and found my mother sobbing. She looked like she had a black eye. It could have come from only one source. I turned around and saw my father coming with something like a belt in his hand. I tried to stop him but he pushed me aside and slapped me with his genetic left hand. My mother screamed and lunged at him with, I think, a pestle to his head. He grunted with pain and lashed the belt at her shoulder. Her cry pierced my heart, and with blind rage, I punched my father.
‘Eh! You son-‘
Before he could call me the son of the wind, he had staggered to the floor, and was bleeding from a cut on his nose bridge. He tried to stand up but staggered and fell again. He wiped the blood from his nose with the back of his hand as he groped for something to hold, but the alcohol in him made the chairs dodge his grip. Then my mum, amidst sobs and grimace, rained insults and curses on him, telling him to leave us alone and never come back.
He just lay there, dazed, and shaking his head and blinking as if he couldn’t believe he was on the floor and the ceiling boards were white. After about twenty minutes of groaning and wretching, he got up, swaying back and forth, looked at me, but pointing at the wall beside me, he said,
‘You [hic] you s -[hic] son of a bitch.’
He dropped his hand and weaved droopingly to the door, muttering inaudibilities. He struggled with the handle for a moment, banged his head against the door three times as if to rid his mind of his drunken madness and to remind himself how the door worked, and flung it open, and staggered into the November sun.
‘To hell with him,’ I said.
‘Shut up, Wilmer Emordi,’ Mama said, as she walked to the wide-open door, wiping her nose with the edge of her wrapper , and watched him go. She slowly closed the door, shook her head, and walked into the bathroom, blew her nose, ran the tap, and walked to where I’d pasted my angry back to the wall.
‘He’s still your father, Willie. Here, your glasses.’
I wiped the lenses with my dirtied shirt, looked in the blurry mirror and blinked hot tears down cheeks that still stung from the slap. I replied,
‘I am nobody’s son.’