“Dad, why do you have Jide’s picture and account number in your wallet?” I repeat the question louder, although with a shaky voice close to breaking.
Mother’s hand slips out of his. “Julius Kanayo, please answer our daughter’s question.”
“Kokoma, i can explain… Please…”
“Oh my God.” I put my hands between my thighs, allowing my sobs rock me back and forth. Edi makes to hold me and i lash out at him. This makes no sense. No sense at all. Is this a dream?
“Koko, please, let us not do this out here.”
“Where else dad? Where else?!? You still want to keep this a secret? That you’ve been sending N100,000 monthly to your unknown son for over 10years???”
“Koko!!!” Father’s tone when he is angry is blood chilling. But this instance, i feel nothing, hear nothing.
Edi speaks up, “uhm, i really think we should all go back inside and start again. Koko please…”
I walk zombie like into the house, wondering how Jide had missed out of all the drama.
Or not. He was standing at the window.
“Tell me all i just witnessed was staged. That you all just have a flair for acting.”
I say nothing.
When everyone is back in the house, all eyes settle on father. Waiting.
“Yes, i have been sending Jide money all these years. Yes, i have kept that picture in my wallet for long. But believe me, today is my first day of seeing Jide for real.”
“Oh please!!! That changes nothing. You remained anonymous for years, that’s not a sign indicating your interest in knowing or seeing him.”
“Kokoma, please let dad finish speaking. We all need to know the truth.”
“How funny. You mean I, Kokoma Kanayo, needs to know the truth. Last i checked, i was the only one not in on the whole family business/family marriage thing. Last i checked, i was the only one not told about Edi’s infertility and need for a ‘sperm donor’ who ended up dying of HIV. And now? I am the only one discovering my boyfriend is my half brother.”
The ticking hand of the wall clock is suddenly louder as i pace from one end of the sitting room to another. I don’t bother wiping away the tears. Every one seems to be mulling over the few points i had made in my unexpected outburst.
“Actually, we had no idea about that second point. What did you say about Edi?” Mother and father direct questioning looks at Tafo and Edi who are both now looking like scared little children.
So i know i have caused more trouble than where it all started from. I dash into the guest room, give mama Edichie a brief peck on her sleeping face, pick up my phone and purse. And run.
I hear them calling after me, all of them, especially Jide. The pain clutches at my chest at the thought of him. It tightens more and more, making me double over as the cab man drives me towards the airport.
To think i was finally coming to terms with becoming a Mrs. Akorede. I had even started sorting through my list of Yoruba names to know which ones were valid for naming our children.
God, i had finally found love. Enough love to resist Edi.
My phones are ringing. I know it’s them. I put them on airplane mode. I have no idea where i’m going to but i am certain of my need for space and distance. My thoughts go to Kelvin and i hope he is let in on the whole issue soon.
It hurts to be kept in the dark. Hurts real bad.
Back in Edi and Tafo’s place, father is torn between explaining Jide and understanding his first daughter’s family dynamics.
“I think i should leave now…”
Jide had been quiet all the while. No one was sure if he was in shock or otherwise. His expressionless face gave away no emotions.
“Jide, please wait. You need to listen.” Father is standing, walking towards him.
“No. Sir. I don’t think i want to. Not now. Maybe not ever.”
Some long awkward minutes after he leaves, Tafo begins to talk.
“I never loved Edi. You knew this, especially you mum. I did not want to get married. I do not even believe in marriage. Ovie was good to me and i loved him. Yes, he was not perfect but who is? Even near-perfect Edi here is not. All the time we spent trying to get pregnant is enough evidence. I did not plan to get pregnant for Ovie but i did. And I don’t regret it as much as i regret bending to your will to get married. My retroviral status is under control. I already started my drugs and i am on regular check up.”
“Edi, you are the head of the house. Is it true… All she just said?
“Yes. But right now, i don’t think all those things are as important as finding Koko. She has been gone for over an hour.”
As if suddenly remembering where it all began, mother starts hitting father with questions.
“When did this happen? Why Yoruba? I thought you were averse to that tribe. How old is he? Why didn’t you tell me? I trusted you. How could you keep such a thing from me, from us all? What would now happen to Kokoma?”
“Woman!!! Please keep quiet AND LISTEN!”
There is an almost inaudible wheeze coming from the guest room and a very soft and weak voice calling for Koko.
They all rush into mama Edichie’s room.
“Edi, call your father.”
“He is in Uyo. How does calling him help us right now?”
“Young man, you will shut up and do as i have said. Your mother needs to know the truth before she… Before it’s too late.”
“Jide is your brother.”