Her father was her world. Her mother too but everyone knew that a girl’s first love is almost always her father. She looked forward to coming back from school to him as well as visiting days when he would come to see her and her brother, regaling them with tales and fables that they believed even if untrue or outrageous. Such was the relationship that Anaborhi had with her father.
So when he started acting weird, she was confused and at a loss. She had returned home for a long holiday and looked forward to his 40th birthday when she met him in a horrible state. He was taken away one night after a week of her return and for two days she did not set eyes on him and her mother was gloomy, only smiling sadly whenever she asked.
“You will see him soon dear,” her aunty would say and she would be shooed away to her room. After another week, she and her brother were taken to a hospital on the mainland where their father sat in a corner, eyes wide, as they entered the room. Anaborhi and her brother started crying at the sight of their father. He cowered in the corner whimpering each time they tried to draw close to him.
“What is wrong with him?” she asked her mother as they returned home. She watched a tear rolled down her cheek.
“If I could answer that, we would not be in this mess darling” was the gloomy response her mother gave her. Anaborhi started to cry more. Things went from bad to worse as they had to leave their home and move to the family house. No one offered any explanation. All they knew was that it had to be done before daddy came back home.
Once there, Anaborhi started noticing strange things. She never knew that her mother’s sister Akpobome was not married neither did she know that this was the same for many of their cousins. She found out that the men who eventually married all ended up the way her father was and either their wives left them or they died.
“Is this a trend Aunty?” she had asked. “Will daddy be better?” Akpobome had only smiled and hugged her.
“Stop worrying your little head about all this. Nothing is a trend” she had reassured. “He will get better darling”
And it seemed things did get better but Anaborhi was only a child who didn’t notice the extra effort her family was put into ensuring that their childhood was as normal as possible. There was only so much and so far that the ruse could be maintained for with adulthood came the realization of their situation.
Many years after, Anaborhi graduated from the university and came home with a fiancée with the intention to marry after 6 short months. Akpobome stood strongly against this, disgracing Akin out of the house on one of the days that he visited.
“Why?” she had asked “this is the 6th time I am asking you this today and I promise mum, aunty, if I do not get a tangible explanation, I will take drastic actions on this matter” she had threatened. Akpobome had laughed aloud as they sat in the living room area of the family house.
Akunna eyed her sister. “So what is funny about all this now?” she had asked coldly. Akpobome stopped laughing, wiping a tear from her eye as she relaxed in her chair.
“Oh, nothing! Just that her threat sounds so familiar. Oh yes, it was the same action YOU took when you ran away from home” Akpobome spat out. Her voice was laced with venom at Akunna and she felt the sting. Tears framed her eyes and instantly she stood up and left.
Anaborhi watched her mother leave and turned to stare at her aunt. “I asked a question and you two turned it into a sibling spat? Is that the question I asked or are you guys trying to stall or change the topic?”
“Madam, watch your tongue! If you want to know what all this is about going and ask your mother and stop bothering me. She is the one that has been living in denial for years till it all came back to bite her!” and she was gone. Up and out of the living room leaving Anaborhi standing in shock.
After a few seconds, she turned and walked in after her mother finding her in her room seated on the end of the bed, staring into space.
“I asked a question and you came inside to cry? I used to leave you when the waterworks start but this time around it won’t work, I need an answer immediately” Anaborhi said, raising her voice slightly. She braced for more tears, resolute in her decision not to back down and to press on for the information she needed. So when Akunna asked her to sit and listen, she was taken unawares and in shock for a few seconds.
“I said sit down so I can tell you all you want to know”. Akunna said again this time looking up at her daughter when she didn’t react the first time. Anaborhi sat and Akunna sighed before straightening her back and narrating the story that she had been told before her marriage.
To be continued ………….