It is a routine visit to see your parents. One you carry out once, sometimes twice a month. You spend two or three hours with them. You talk about everything but nothing. You help them fix anything that needs fixing around the house, but usually you help find a “missing” icon on the Ipad or other hand-held device.
You watch TV, the news is on. They give a running commentary on all the news items. This time it’s Brexit. There are over 500,000 people involved in an anti –Brexit protest march in London. You listen to your Dad, a Labour party supporter, bemoan the Conservative Government and confidently assert that a Labour Government would do a better job of the Brexit debacle.
You really don’t know what the fuss is about. Supposedly educated people exercised their democratic right and voted in majority to leave the EU, albeit based on a campaign led by very questionable characters peddling obviously flawed information with a dash of xenophobia. Now a few months to Brexit day, they have changed their minds and want another vote. Some would call it natural selection.
Somehow your Dad’s running commentary segues into the state of Nigerian politics. Your eyes glaze over. It’s time to leave. Your mother asks for a lift to the corner shop. This is a bit unusual. She normally prefers walking short distances to the shops to get some exercise. Doctor’s orders. The corner shop is a 2 min walk away.
Your Spidey senses are activated.
You say goodbye to your Dad and leave with your mum. You both get into the car and as she fastens her seat belt she drops her bombshell.
“I have told your father”
Spidey senses go into over drive
“Told him what?” You ask in befuddlement.
“About your lifestyle”
She can’t even say the word “gay”. It is that loathsome sin, greater than any other sin. And as far as she and most women her background are concerned it is a condition, which if remained unspoken and with powerful prayer , will be miraculously eradicated.
“You mean that I am gay. You told him I am gay?” You ask with incredulity in your voice.
Spidey senses are decommissioned.
Immediately you feel a sense of relief, not trepidation. Relief because your Dad is the only member of your nuclear family you have not come out to. You, your mum and siblings had kept it from him. And though it might sound a like a cliche, you never felt you were being as authentic as you could be with him and that was bothersome.
That said, you often debated telling him or not. And if you did how it would play out. And in all the scenarios – which were anywhere between an indignant Nollywood rejection to a mawkish Hollywood acceptance – that you played out in your imaginative mind, you were always present in every scene. Your mum and siblings maybe played supporting roles, but you were always the lead act breaking the news to him. A part of you feels something has been taken away from you and you should be angry, especially as your Mum was key with that indecision of whether your Dad should be told or not, because of the “health concerns attributable only to an 80-year-old Nigerian man”. But no, you are not angry, you are calm. Just a bit curious how the scene played out between them.
“I thought you said not to tell him, that it may have “a negative impact his health and well-being”. You said it would “devastate him leading to untold consequences” (Consequences your “nagging” failed to achieve in over 45 years of marital bliss” you wanted to add; But not today Satan) “What made you change your mind?”
“I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. It was worrying me.”
“You decided to share your “worry”, despite the possible outcomes you highlighted. When and how did you tell him and what did he say?
“About a month ago. It just came out and he hasn’t said anything about it since”
You remember you’ve spoken to your Dad, several times in the last month and you had seen him at least twice. In fact two weeks ago, you took him to see his cousin a good hour’s drive each way and he didn’t say a thing. Not a word. He did not betray any evidence whatsoever that he knew. He just kept a poker face. You feel like a fraud.
You wonder what’s been going through his mind ever since your Mother unburdened her soul. Had he always suspected? Did this confirm his suspicions? Was the news a surprise? Either he didn’t care that you are gay, or he isn’t sure how to broach the topic with you.
Just then your Mother’s quiet sniffling break through your thoughts. You hadn’t noticed she has been crying. She can snot cry on cue for Africa – Viola Davis has nothing on this one.
“So why are you crying? I thought you’d be happy now that you have told your husband and your “worry” has halved?”
“It is the whole situation. He hasn’t said anything to me about it. Your lifestyle it is not good, I am sure it is hurting him. You are my son and I love you unconditionally, but the Bible says your lifestyle is wrong…..”
“Thanks for your love, but have you considered giving up your religion, so that your unconditional love for me is without any limitation?”
She looks at you aghast, like someone just stabbed her in the chest. You know only too well that her coming to terms with your sexuality will take some time. After all it took you a few decades to accept yourself – it would be impractical to expect her to be comfortable with it within a year of you coming out her. To help her on the journey, you introduced her to a gay friend’s mother (Aunt M) who shares a similar background and is comfortable with her son’s sexuality. But your Mum remains unconvinced. Instead every time she visits Aunt M she tries to convince her to ask her son to change, by quoting Bible passages and making cultural references.
You speak before she collects herself and says something that would require going into therapy rest of your life.
“Anyway, this is not about you right now. We talked about this a few times already last year and I have introduced you to Aunt M. How you deal with it is your palava. It’s about Dad for now and I wouldn’t know how he really feels until I speak with him about it.”
You drop her at the corner shop.
You drive up to the top of the road.
You must decide which way to go.
Turn left and head home, plagued with the thoughts of what your Dad thinks about your sexuality and wondering when/if he would ever discuss it with you or indeed if you’d ever have the courage to bring it up; Or turn right and head back to your parents’ house deal with it now, satisfy your curiosity and start a new chapter of your relationship with your Dad.
You indicate to turn…..
To be continued