The church is filled to capacity. The mid-day sun is shining remorselessly bright through the windows of the church. I notice my eyes are red with a quick glance at my reflection in the mirror. I shouldn’t be crying. Now is the time for happiness. I’m getting married. A buzzing sound fills the air, and the scene begins to fade. I awake to the sound of my alarm clock and realize that it was a dream.
The clock reads 7:00 am. This is going to be unlike any other Saturday. Sitting on the edge of my bed, my mind begins to wander. Father always says I look like my mother. I never knew her. She died in the community hospital the day I was born, and when I think of her, all that comes to mind is the untended grave overgrown with weeds. It has always been just I and dad.
This is going to be unlike any other Saturday. Sitting on the edge of my bed, my mind begins to wander. Father always says I look like my mother. I never knew her. She died in the community hospital the day I was born, and when I think of her, all that comes to mind is the untended grave overgrown with weeds. It has always been just I and dad.
Sitting on the edge of my bed, my mind begins to wander. Father always says I look like my mother. I never knew her. She died in the community hospital the day I was born, and when I think of her, all that comes to mind is the untended grave overgrown with weeds.
As a kid, before I even hit puberty, I knew I was different.  I knew the syllogism without having the slightest idea what it meant: different people are treated badly. Therefore, I would be treated badly if anybody knew I was different. I remember once hearing my dad say “I wish they would just line them all up against the wall and put a bullet in their heads.” He hated different people. Strange to hear my loving father sound so hateful.
It rocked me to understand what it meant to be different. I found it difficult to understand my dad. Who was us? Who was them? I’d lie at night, wrestling my thoughts, eyelids wide open. I couldn’t close them. Lesbo, my schoolmates like to call me. Such is the cruelty of children and of girls, in particular, displayed in full vigour when difference or weakness is discovered. They have their suspicions. It has taken me two failed high school relationships to realize that I’m not attracted to boys in that way.
It stirs unease in me. Plenty of ‘good Christian’ folk wouldn’t speak to such people, I suspect, accounting who and what they are. And who could blame them?  The prevailing view of church folks in Nigeria is that sexual difference defies the country’s rich culture, and the practice of it will cause the individual to be ostracized. It bothers me in the strange way things come outside you, and you have no words, just feel their rage in your fist and taste their thickness first. For many years, I’ve lived in the shadows with a troubled heart. I live a double life, safeguarding my true identity.
Today’s the day I tell my father. Dad has always been my best friend. We tell each other almost everything. It’s a wonder I’ve managed to keep this from him for so long, maybe I’m just scared of what could happen. I wouldn’t be his little girl anymore. He’s in the sitting room watching the morning news. I can feel my heart beat as I proceed to where he sat. I stand in the door way, contemplating running back to the comfort of my room. He eventually notices me and smiles warmly.
“Can’t you greet anymore?” he asks, half serious.
“Good morning Dad,” I responded weakly.
“Anything the matter?” he looks me over and senses the urgency in my composure.
“There’s something I need to tell you,”
“And what’s that?”
I take a seat right beside him on the sofa. With a deep breath, I turn to face him.
“I’m different Dad,” I say, point-blankly.
“Different?” he has a puzzled look on his face.
“I’m not attracted to boys in that way,” I say, staring down at the floor.
I never imagined this far. But now my palms are sweaty waiting for his response.
For a moment, he just stares blankly into space, and then he nods slowly. And he reaches out to embrace me.
“I still love you very much,” his voice was soothing.
I soon find myself sobbing uncontrollably into his shoulders. He comforts me, rocking me gently. Instead of rejection, I find encouragement and support in him. It’s as if his hate for those who were different has evaporated into thin air. He tells me that this is the beginning of a long road for us to travel, but that God will lead us.
We sit there pondering what lies ahead in the womb of time.
  • Ade

    wow, here i was, expecting a tsunami of rage, but being shocked by his acceptance in the face of uncertainty.
    wish more dads were like him

    • Same was my reaction, too. But I guess accepting our own is sometimes more easy than it is to accept others, a good start nevertheless.

  • Beautiful rendition.

    • Indeed. Thanks for reading us.