I wonder how some fathers enjoy being seen like gods in their families.

In Eugene’s three-bedroom bungalow, he demarcated his bedroom into two with a hard wooden board so that he and his wife could have their separate rooms. They began sleeping differently in their rooms, but for some terrific and glorious nights that they slept together. It was only during those special nights that Kate, his wife would rest on his broad hairy chest, and tell him the things they needed at home, which within his capacity, he would not hesitate to provide. The other bedrooms were the children's room and the guests' room. The guest room was converted to servants' room after Eugene started accommodating his apprentices. Each time they had a guest, the kids would leave their room for their mother’s, and they’d become sandwiched between the walls of her room – sleeping head-to-feet in the mattress on the floor. The kids only found time in interacting with Eugene during family gatherings, like morning devotions which Francis, his youngest child would often ask irrelevant questions to hear him speak more, and Rose, his daughter would create an anecdote, and wait to hear her father give a suggestion-like advice, and plethora of ideas on things that never happened, and most probably, would not happen. Although one could count how many words Eugene said to his kids per day, his solicitude for his kids was obvious. He had sent his male servant, John – an eighteen-year old whom was sent to him as an apprentice (he was meant to serve him for six years, after which he would give him cash to set up his own business) – in the first year, when he noticed that he often played Ayo and Swell on Sundays with his sixteen-year old daughters – Dahlia and Rose, and had always refused playing football with Francis. Kate had objected to his sending of John away, but he stressed that he was an adult. An adult!

Rose and Dahlia were fraternal twins, born on April 1, while Francis who came two years later was born on April 2. Due to their close birthdays, they usually celebrated it together every April 1 – a kind of quiet party in which only the household – everyone present in their house at that time – attended.  

For three consecutive birthdays, his children, with his wife had pranked him into doing something silly or unusual. The kids would then laugh hysterically, and the non-family members present there would give a subdued laughter, and enjoy watching others make fun of him. No matter how careful he had always been not to give in, they'd still device a way to trick him. If Eugene could, he would change his children’s birth month; at least, he wouldn’t be made jest of during a birthday party. It was after the previous year's April Fool’s Day that Eugene made up his mind that he'd be away for his kids’ next birthday, and perhaps, beyond. 

*          *           *

In a cloudy evening, Eugene was at his electronic shop perusing through record books, and balancing accounts when Kate called him on the phone that she didn’t feel so well. She told him to go the supermarket and get the red velvet cake she had already paid for because she didn’t feel so good, but ended up picking Kate’s step-brother who was in front of the store. Immediately Kenneth saw Eugene, he called Kate on the phone that he had seen him. He then walked up to Eugene. 

“Good evening, brother.” Kenneth greeted with a rising tone of “brother.”

Before Eugene could respond, his phone rang. It was Kate, who told him that Rose had collected the cake already. And Kenneth was the cake he was asked to bring.

“You know, he hasn’t been to our place before.” She chuckled.

He then realized that the store was only few metres away from the park where Kenneth had arrived.

“You’re just coming from school?” Eugene asked.

“Yes.” Kenneth had come to spend his first semester holiday at his step-sister's place. He wished that it was Kate who had come to get him; Eugene wasn’t much of a talker, and it was boring and uncomfortable staying with him. He couldn’t tell if Eugene was sad because of his visiting. He would feel better if Eugene didn’t care, or pretend that he never existed. After sometime, he relaxed; Eugene’s face became stolid and inexpressive. There was a quiet in the well air-conditioned 4runner until they arrived home.

During the kids' birthday in the evening, Francis mildly mixed a drink with spirit, and gave it to his father. When he finished the drink, he heard Dahlia say, “Daddy finally took alcohol.” He stood, and looked at them furiously. Simultaneously, he felt shock, dismay, then anger as it dawned on him that he had been pranked. He went to his room, leaving his family, houseboy, apprentice and brother-in-law to discuss what he didn’t care, laughing hysterically. Immediately, Rose, who pretended not to be happy at what Francis had done, cut a piece of cake, and followed him to his room. 

“At least, eat our birthday cake. You know, Francis jokes a lot.” Eugene gave a cosmetic smile, and collected it, took a bite, and shut the door. 

At midnight, Eugene unleashed the intermittent pang of anger he felt because of what had happened on his wife by thrusting her waist like he had never done before: it was rough and intense.

 Later, in the morning, Rose greeted him, “Daddy, did you enjoy the rum cake?” 

“Yes, he enjoyed the cake.” Kate cut in. “Obviously.” She ogled at him, between his thighs to remind him that the rum cake was the reason for his mind-blowing performance the previous night.

*          *           *

During Kate’s and Eugene’s after-sex conversation at night, Kate told him that she needed money for the kids' birthday which would take place in two days time – April 2 – the first time Kate chose the date. Subconsciously, Eugene thought that the next two days would be April 1 – as was the usual day for celebration. 

The sun had just begun to shine out of the clear azure sky in the morning when Eugene told his wife that he would travel to their hometown: the king had summoned him through Peter, his secretary for an early morning meeting the next day. Eugene was the President-General of his village, and had a pending project to be approved, he might also receive funds from the king for it, too.

After a four-hour frustrating drive from the annoying policemen’s searching-for-error-in-relevant-documents at the uncountable check points, and subsequently, taking bribe after any error that was spotted, absorbing toxic gases during heavy traffic, being too keen to avoid pot-holes, he reached his hometown. The grasses in the front entrance had grown for dangerous snakes to hide in them, and lizards and wall geckos now ran race across the walls. Even though he was missing the warmth of humans that he would have been having from the random talkative market people, he was happy because: he wouldn’t be tricked on April 1. Perhaps, he might receive funds from the king, too. He simply would’ve called the king to reschedule their meeting, but he didn’t because most importantly, he didn’t want to be with his family on April 1, and look stupid in front of everyone. And, if it happened, it would now be for four consecutive years.

The next morning when he and Peter were supposed to meet the king, Peter told him that there was no meeting, and he had fallen into his prank. He almost argued that he didn’t travel on April 1, but then realized that it was April 2 already. He then wondered why his wife chose to celebrate their kids’ birthdays on Francis's.

April 02, 2021 14:53

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