HALF IS ALL IT TAKES VI by Engee Mbah
I get out of there fast; but not before I had to pretend to be meeting Charles for the first time. The man offered to drop me off which I declined.
‘At least, let Charles drop you off.’
‘No!’ My voice was shrill. ‘I want to take a bus
‘. I added, in a more controlled voice. He dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out some money which he handed to me. Charles stood aside, with a frown on his face and hands in his pockets as I rushed out.
Now, I am at home, sitting on the sofa, staring at the television, eating yoghurt. I have been at it for hours. The money my sperm donor gave had been like 20 times more than what I had needed for transport. The rest had gone into buying 12 cans of yoghurt. Don’t judge me, I eat yoghurt when I am stressed.
‘Jesus! So, he’s my brother?’ This comes out every now and then. I am not even following the movie on t.v anymore. My thoughts are whirling.
I am on my tenth bottle of yoghurt when my father comes back, you know the one who is not really my father. He gives me a side eye when I greet him, taking note of the cans of yoghurt around me. Then, he heads to his room.
Good thing I had cooked before starting on my yoghurt binge. Now, I just need to heat up the food and serve on the dining table, so he can eat after bathing. I do this, and resume my yoghurt eating and staring at the television. My mother comes in a few minutes later.
She takes me in silently, then takes the cushion opposite me.
‘What happened?’ She wants to know.
‘Nothing, really.’ I answer. She just looks at me in silence for some seconds
‘So, um, I met his son.’ I say. My mother gives me a frown of puzzlement.
‘He doesn’t have a son.’ My mother says. My brows rise.
‘He has three daughters with his wife.’ She clarifies.
‘But, I met this young man who called him dad.’ I tell her.
‘Did he tell you the said young man was his son?’ My mother asks. Well, now that I think about it, the entire introduction is a big haze. I hadn’t been paying attention. I was more interested in getting the heck out of there.
‘He just introduced him as Charles.’. I am fishing, obviously.
‘Oh, Charles has lived there since he lost his parents at four.’ She tells me. I feels a burst of relief. That is until she says, ‘His mother was Enyinna’s younger sister.’
‘So, what? He’s like my cousin?’ I ask.
‘Yes.’ She replies. That’s when the contents of my stomach work its way up north. I hightail it to the bathroom. Yoghurt doesn’t taste good coming up as it does going down.
When I come back to the sitting room, my mother is giving me this suspicious glare.
‘Is there something I should know?’ She asks. I shake my head.
‘Are you sick?’ She wants to know.
‘Just too much yoghurt.’ I say.
‘So, you seem to know a lot about his family.’ I change the topic before she can suggest going to the hospital or something.
‘We kept in touch. We are friends more or less.’ She answers with a shrug.
‘Friends huh?’ I say, remembering her dressing and the swing in her step earlier. I am beginning to think I don’t know my mother. My doubt must have been conveyed in my tone because she squints her eyes.
‘Yes, friends. We aren’t bumping uglies.’ She says. If I was fair, I would likely be red right now. My mother hardly ever talks about sex, except to tell me to keep my vagina shut. I didn’t even know she knew that phrase. Taking advantage of my shock and silence, she escapes.
‘I need to freshen up and eat. Get rid of these cans.’ She says, before escaping to her room.
It is official, aliens have taken over my mother’s body. Either that, or I don’t know my mother.
In the night, I make some rules for myself;
1. Keep your vagina closed
2. No dating until you are 25( because I figure I’ld be employed by then, in case I accidentally get pregnant)
3. Don’t date anyone from Njikoka or Ebenebe, they could be unknown relatives.
4. Boys shall not sleep over
5. Just keep your vagina closed if all else fails.
The strike gets called off the next morning. It is announced on the 7 a.m news.
I run to my mother’s room. I can hear her shower running. I knock on the door.
‘Mum, I am going back to school, today!’ I yell. The shower stops running.
‘What?’ She inquires.
‘I am going back to school today. The strike has been called off.’ I answer.
‘I can’t drop you off today. You will go tomorrow.’ She says.
‘No. There’ll be lectures tomorrow. I can take a bus.’ I say.
‘What of provisions? I need to buy those.’ She says.
‘Just give me money. I will buy them.’ I tell her. There’s silence for a moment.
‘Okay.’ She answers.
‘What?’ I ask. I am not sure I heard her clearly.
‘I said okay.’ She answers. I am shocked speechless. I have never gone back to school by myself. She never lets me.
I hurry back to my room to pack up some of my stuff and prepare, before my mother changes her mind.
Before heading on to work, she drops me off at the motor park and personally put me in a bus, which is pretty annoying. I am not a child for chrissake.
During the first few minutes of the journey, I mostly stare out the window. Then I dose off. I wake up some minutes later, to find my head on someone’s shoulder. I jerk away with an apology on my lips. Then, I look up and my gaze settles on the most amazing eyes. They are brown with hints of gold, I think. The face isn’t bad either.
‘No need to apologize. I didn’t mind.’ He says with a smile that starts small then stretches into a full blown grin. With a smile on his face, he is downright handsome.
I dig into my purse, and dig out the paper, containing “The rules”, and a pen. Then, I scratch rule number 2.
Then, I introduce myself. He tells me his name is Harry.
‘So, where are you from?’ I ask.
‘Ebenebe.’ He says.
‘Darn!’ I mutter under my breath. I dig out the list and scratch out number 3. Hey, don’t judge me, he is that fine.
‘Wow, that’s my mother’s place.’ I say. His gorgeous eyes light up. If he’s wondering why I keep digging out a piece of paper and scratching out stuff, he doesn’t ask.
‘Really? Which part and what family?’ He wants to know. I answer the question in detail, hoping we are not related. By the time he tells me his, I’m fifty percent sure we are not related. But, just in case we are, I am abiding by rule 1 and 5. Well, hopefully.