Short Prose: “Who is The Fool?” By Joshua Oyenigbehin
My son was celebrating his 20th birthday today, while I was celebrating my foolishness. My wife’s energetic laughter with her silly friends makes it feel as though I am a source of a hilarious jest. Her laughter had a lot of coloration attached to it, the shades of the glee were calling my attention to my distrust. I hate that I loved her, I hated the fact that she invited my brother. I hated that my friends and family saw me dance naked on the street like a lunatic, but instead of covering my shame, they turned up the music.
“Darling, I am pregnant” I remembered her whispering into my ears in such romantic glare 21 years back. I remember the feeling of being confused. I felt like I was a victim of a terrible prank; a dead joke. I carefully gazed around to be sure that there are no cameras capturing my silly astonishment. I didn’t know if to push her away with the hatred of a victim of infidelity or to pull her close, kiss her passionately and shout my thanksgiving prayers with the theatrics of a Nollywood actor, and praise her deeply with the slyness of a pretender.
After some seconds of contemplating, I keyed into the mood of the moment, I hugged her deeply, I caressed her. A lot of thoughts flooded my mind, but I concluded that It was miracle. Miracles happen right! I said to myself, may be, God had heard our prayers. “God has answered our prayers” my wife whispered again.
A day after my wife broke this news to me, my personal doctor, Doctor Shokunbi, sat opposite me, the stunning surprise that was written on his face was like that which Adam had on when Eve was introduced to him. “The test result states that, that you are 99 percent infertile. The possibility of you having a child is extremely slim.” I remember him say these words to me last year. He said it with the frankness of a genuine friend and a compassionate medical practitioner.
“How can your wife possibly be pregnant? I don’t know how your wife got pregnant. Really, I’m surprised” he continued. He looked at me for a while, a look that subtlety said there is more to this; “off course, miracle happens. Well, congratulations” he said with a shrug after he sensed that I have half gotten the irony in his words.
I had tried to console myself with the mental opium of the whole situation being miraculous, however, I knew I was in God’s bad books. I am far from being righteous. Nemesis seems to mock me, I have done a lot of bad stuff when I was in my bubbling-youthful days, I have broken fragile hearts, I made promises of love I did not keep. The weight of the memory of me getting two girls pregnant and insisting they abort it depresses me, I would have being a grandpa by now if I had just kept my commitment to these ladies and taken up the responsibility. My wife changed me, she punctured my inflated pride, she tied me down with her love. I once believed she was faithful. However, the phenomenon of a miracle was standing on a cliff in my mind; it fell off the cliff in no time.
21 years ago, I paid Dr. Shokunbi to falsify a medical report to prove to my wife that I was a real man, one who can make triplet in a single round. She was desperate, she swallowed the conjured report bait, hook and sinker. Her doctors had confirmed that she had no problem also, I didn’t raise any question, because I didn’t want to answer any either. But we still could not conceive.
I thought of asking questions, I wanted to know if her pregnancy was by me, I wanted to be sure, however, I knew that if I ask just one question, I will be made to answer two or more. If I wanted equity, I would have to come with clean and sanitized hands. I would have to tell her how I was more or less a castrated dog, who could flirt and gyrate, but cannot make babies. My conspiracy with Dr. Shokunbi would also be out in public. I don’t want that, so I played along. Three years later our purported second son came along. My testimony of how God made us have children after a delay of five years was an inspiration to couples with fertility issues. My friends called me a man, because I was a proud father of two sons, most times I see sarcasm line the contour of their words when they praise me for my fatherly role.
“Your sons look more like your younger brother than they take after you” one of my close friends had said, while we were jesting as to who was more good-looking. I remember that the facial expression that invaded my wife’s face made the scales on my eyes fall. This possibility never crossed my mind. I knew certainly that I could not be the father of these boys. I was quite different from these my so-called sons, who appear to be hyperactive. They had flat faces just like my younger brother, they were basically carbon copies of my younger brother.
I noticed my brother, Shola, has been unusually close to the children, he would always to take the children out every weekend. My wife would shrink like a worm that comes in contact with salt. I felt she disliked him for being so irresponsible, his wife left him with their son, he never made any attempt to get her back. Now I can see clearly, he is a parasite who was building a future and in fact a family on the misfortune of mine. He was secretly lurking behind the dark to rid of me; he is waiting to take my place.
I have had to bottle in the threat that my younger brother poses, my pride was still important to me. I didn’t want to look less than a man. For this reason, I could not get myself to stand up like a lion to confront this hyena, who is my brother. I was a wounded lion, I had some iota of pride which I intend to preserve. The world must not know that my fatherhood was a fluke or a monumental lie.
I have fathered these boys for twenty years now, I do not want to be deposed as the father of this promising young folks. Every night, I have had to contend with the nightmare of my sons disowning me as their father. I cry in my dreams while Shola continues to laugh like an intoxicated henna at my stupidity. There is a psychological war raging between us, and I felt that he is winning.
I seat at a corner, watching like a silent observer, my wife has fooled me for too long, but I have fooled myself even more. I have thrown into the ocean all the lifeline for my redemption. I lied to her, I lied to myself.
This piece was initially published on our maiden website www.stationofthought.wordpress.com