Just as I promised you, here is Family Secrets by Kycee Q. Read, share and drop a comment.
Miss Nigeria Competition, Lagos 1980
The crowd went wild with applause and Onajite couldn’t believe her ears. She stared on in disbelief even though the smile still remained stuck on her lips. It had been the first thing she had learnt during training, she recalled. Pageant 101
“No matter what happens” Chima had called out in a hall of twenty-three models “never stop smiling, not for a minute, not even a second. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; even though you feel like farting” he had laughed “…Keep smiling”
And so she did, not that she felt like farting but her feet had suddenly gone weak and her breath had cut. She had won? Onajite wondered, bewildered with joy. She couldn’t believe it even though she could see the Former Beauty Queen, Linda Osiri walking towards her with a giant grin on her lips. The presenter, who was smirking unctuously at her now, had begun to gesture her towards a seat that had suddenly appeared from nowhere at the center stage. It had been excessively decorated with colorful ribbons and flowers. That was her throne, wasn’t it? Onajite wondered delightfully as she walked majestically towards it.
“And now please give her another round of applause as she takes her seat on the throne” the Presenter continued and the crowd cheered.
Onajite bubbled with pride as she felt the crown rest perfectly on her head. She couldn’t contain herself. Even though she couldn’t help but notice the little flinch of sadness in Linda’s eyes as she kissed her on both cheeks and muttered a “thank you”, she didn’t care. Yeah, Linda your time is up. Now it’s my turn” she thought slyly. This was what she had always wanted, to be a queen. She had dreamt repeatedly about it and now for the first time in her life, she could stop dreaming because it was happening. Even though she still couldn’t believe it, it wasn’t a dream, it was real.
“The wave, Jite, the wave” she heard a whisper in her ear. It was Chima, her director standing resplendently by her side grinning at the audience. She stood up quickly and after kissing the cheeks of both the two runner-ups who had been waving delightfully by her side, she paced the runway with a bouquet in one hand and began to wave with the other.
“And there she goes”, the Presenter announced cheerfully “isn’t she just beautiful? Please, give it up once again for the most beautiful girl in Nigeria” and the crowd responded with loud cheers and whistles.
At the front seat, she could see her Fiancé, Captain Efetobo smirking proudly at her as he jammed his hands along with the crowd but just as she turned to walk back to her seat, she noticed how quickly his smirk had faded and in its place, was something else……Anger.
Odafe wanted to be in shock. Wasn’t he supposed to go into cardiac arrest or something? He wondered as he stood motionless with his eyes sweeping over the last content of the letter. The letter was addressed to him alright, and the date on it was obviously recent. The words were written in black ink he noticed, Black ink with a black message, he shuddered. He tried to decipher what he was feeling,
Shock? Pain? Anguish? Anger? Relief?
All seemed to be at lost to him as he put away the torn envelope into the trashcan beside his desk and rested the letter there on the desk. “What now?” he muttered quietly to himself as his thoughts began to cluster together.
What should I do now, hit my head on the wall because the tears wouldn’t come?
“Sir, Is everything okay?’ Temi, his secretary asked interrupting his thoughts. He must have forgotten that she was still standing there waiting for further instructions.
“My mum is dead!” he answered absentmindedly. His thoughts must have slipped out because the look on Temi’s face was enough to scare off the soldier ants marching hastily on the far end of his wall but quickly, he sent her off. The last thing he needed at the moment, was someone breathing down void condolences at him and rubbing his shoulders as if the world had suddenly ended and he was at the wrong end of it; but knowing his secretary, there was no way she was going to be quiet about it. She must have told a million people already. “A gossip, that one” he cursed beneath his breath as he slumped into his chair and picked up the letter. He recognized the handwriting, there was no mistaking it. He scowled.
My dearest son,
It is with great grief I write you this letter. I wish I can say it’s on better circumstances but it isn’t…I should probably just get right to the point… Your mother is dead! And I know that we have our differences but the fact still remains that you are my son, your mother’s son…. So please….
He didn’t finish the sentence, Odafe observed as he shredded the letter into pieces and disposed them into the trashcan. His father was never really good at expressing himself Odafe knew that. Being stern and draconian, who had ever heard of Retired Captain Efetobo Ogheneruno pleading? It was simply unheard of. The grief must have aided the four lines and that was how far it could get, but he also knew what that meant all too well-Going home; back to Delta state-the one place he had sworn never to return to.
Did he really have to? Should he?
Couldn’t they just leave him out of it like they’ve left him out of their lives for the past five years?
Now their mum was dead! What good would going back achieve? Can’t they just bury her by themselves? Or
Is their father now broke? Isn’t he still one of the richest men in Asaba?
What the hell does his family need him for?
At thirty-three, Odafe has been trying to expand his Front-view Investments Company there in Lagos. Aside his small apartment, car and of course his wife, he had absolutely nothing else. Besides, the fact that it even had to take his mother’s death for his dad to reach out to him only made him feel worse. Must bad things happen first before good can be appreciated? He still hadn’t forgotten what happened…He doubted if he ever would.
His thoughts were soon interrupted as his phone rang out loudly.
“Hello, Mr Odafe speaking” he answered ignoring the name on the caller-id.
“Dafe it’s me Kunle, how far? I just heard o” Kunle, his friend announced abruptly.
Dafe rolled his eyes… I said it! Kunle doesn’t even work here!
“Is it true?” his friend asked ignoring the silence.
“Yea, it’s true” Dafe answered reluctantly.
“Oh menh! I’m so sorry. You know when I heard, I was hoping it was just a rumor…really sorry menh” Kunle went on apologetically.
“Nah, it’s okay…how your family? Dafe asked desperately trying to change the topic “I haven’t seen your girls in a while”
“They are fine o. All of them dey… So have you told Rhoda yet?’ Kunle asked
“Hmm…I’m sure she must have heard already. News travel fast” Bad news especially, Dafe replied angrily. He didn’t know why people couldn’t just mind their businesses. He was hoping he would be the one to break the news to his wife knowing how much it would upset her. Pregnancy and bad news don’t mix so well together and he wanted to be there “hmm…if otherwise, I can always tell her when I get home from work” he added trying to keep his temper in check.
“Alright menh! So when are you leaving?” Kunle asked oblivious to the giant scowl on Odafe’s face.
At last, the long dreaded question, Odafe grumbled…
“Hmm…tomorrow…the day after” or never! He responded reluctantly “Not sure yet K…got to plan these things you know…”
“I get, I get. Just let me know sha…would drop by your place this evening. In the meantime, just take it easy, ok?” Kunle advised quietly.
“Yea! sure tin man! thanks” he answered and then dropped the call. For a few minutes, he glared at his phone contemplating if to keep it on or turn it off. More calls were going to follow, he decided and then he hit the red button. Slowly, he picked up his receiver and dialed his secretary. She picked after the third ring.
“Temi, please cancel all further appointments” he instructed calmly “and ehmm…you are free to go home”
“Really? Thank you sir” Temi answered excitedly as he dropped the call and then disconnected the cable line.
“hmm……silence” he murmured quietly throwing his feet on his desk.“ isn’t it so much better ?” he asked rhetorically as he rested his head back on his executive chair and stared up at the ceiling.