Growing up, I shared a special relationship with my father. We were very close. Not even my only sister enjoyed the sort of love and doting attention I got from my father. My dad named me after him. We were born in the same month. Oftentimes, I slept his room. He wouldn’t eat his food without first finding out that I had eaten. He was the only one I allowed to bathe me. And in those nights when he would lounge on the sofa after dinner, watching the night news, I would crawl up his thighs and get comfortable on his tummy. My dad had a big stomach, and I loved his masculine smell, all of which constituted a comfort that often caused me to sleep right there in his arms.
This clear favoritism often caused misunderstanding between my parents and drew to me the resentment of my siblings.
Then a time came when a not-very-nice aunt came to live with us. It wasn’t long before she too began to frown at my closeness with my dad. And she sought to put an end to it. So, this woman, in all her oversabi glory, began telling my mother that I was behaving like a homo. She told her that my mother didn’t put a stop to my attachment with my dad, I would most definitely turn out to be homosexual. In fact, in one of her many reports, she said that boys who are attached to their fathers usually grow up to be homosexual. And she followed up her reports with a recommendation that I be sent to the village to live with my maternal grandmother.
My mother approved. My dad expectedly didn’t like the idea, but he was a calm, even-tempered man, and eventually the two witches had their way. I was pained, sick. I hated the future which comprised of me staying in a lonely village with an old woman. I hated it. It didn’t matter that my grandmother was an amazing woman (very religious and hardworking) who cooked delicious meals. Before long, I was packed off from my home to the village.
However, the first few weeks with my granny weren’t so bad. My dad always visited on Sundays after mass to spend the whole day with me and his mother-in-law. His company and presence was everything to me then. And then he was transferred to work in Lagos and his visits were consequently cut off. But by then, I’d already gotten used to living and schooling in the village – never mind that I had to walk a long distance to my school and back. At this point, I had become a village champion, an mgbeke. My mother also visited, but only when there was a function in the village, like funerals, traditional weddings and such. My siblings came around every holiday to spend time with our granny and me.
After my common entrance exam, my granny became sick and an adult caregiver was needed for her. The family got a young woman to take care of her, and my mother brought me back home.
A lot had happened by the time I returned home. My witch of an aunt had traveled to Enugu where she claimed her female friend got a job for her. She spent a few months there, only to return to our house with a pregnancy, this time with me in it. She couldn't go back to the village because of the shame of her condition. Fortunately for her, the guy who impregnated her later came around to pay her bride price and took her with him to Enugu. Home felt good again!
Months passed, and then year after year, I heard she’d gotten divorced from her husband, remarried, and gotten divorced again.
A few nights ago, I was on a long call with my mother when she told me that my aunt, who now has three daughters from two husbands, had moved to Port Harcourt, where she was shacking up with a known lesbian. When my mom called her and asked her why she left Lagos to go live with a lesbian, she answered, “Ebe amu nwoke juru ya, otu nwanyi aga ajukwu ya?” Translated, this means: Since a man's dick has rejected me, will a woman's vagina reject me too?
Upon hearing this, I laughed out really loud. I quickly reminded my mother of all the things that woman said when I was a child about me being homosexual, and from her responses, I could feel my mother was now contrite and was sorry for how she let my aunt influence her mothering of me.
I don't like my aunt. I’ve never liked her. I was told she still asks of me. I don’t care for her. But it’s interesting to note how she must’ve projected her feelings of homosexuality on me. It really does take one to know one.
Written by Cheejiokey