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Our Father Whose Ass Is in Heaven || by Enit'ayanfe Ayosojumi Akinsanya

 

by Enit'ayanfe

A GOAT TWERKS ACROSS the road, very fast, before one yeye trailer will come and jam him. The ‘trailer’ this morning is Baba Onigedu’s white Peugeot 504 pickup. It is careening up the road, a wobbly monster, missing the roast corn umbrella spot by a staggering inch.

    “E ti ya were!” the roast corn woman yells after him. You’ve gone mad!

    Baba Onigedu does not look like he would argue that fact. He’s already arguing with his wives, all of them crammed in the back seat. They are on their way back from Awolowo Market for the holiday shopping, and each scream from the back jolts his hands on the wheel and his legs on the accelerator and brake pads.

    Aree!” He veers away from another accident. A united shriek from the back. The motorcyclist that would have been knocked into the slimy gutter sputters with curses. His passenger fumbles on the pillion, her basket of tomatoes sliding off her thigh. Baba Onigedu pants. He feels force-fed trowels of sand. He can barely see the throngs bellowing and honking their way through the late Christmas commerce. Everywhere, dust. He tried to moisten his lips, but he worries about ripping the brittle skin. The dryness of December is a whole new madness on its own, but hark the herald still.

    “You devils want to put me in gaol, eh?” he screams in Ijebu.

    “If you like, kill everyone in this Sagamu with your truck,” his fourth wife reminds him, “you are not bringing that Atutupoyoyo into our house!”

    A congress of women claps her words, interjects with: “Banwa!” “Exactly.” “Agba’ya!” “Shameless old man!”

  “She is my Christmas gift!” he pleads.

    The first wife pulls her nose taut. She is a feminist and had only allowed her husband to get Sallah Gift, Easter Gift, Ramadan Gift and Happy New Year Gift because she was tired of the domineering spirit of his penis. They have only just learnt from a loquacious market friend that a Christmas gift is coming, and she’s starting to take umbrage at the unassailable patriarchy of men’s organs.

    Who gave you a gift this time?” She is sneering.

    “Erm, erm,” Baba Onigedu scratches his occiput, “one of my colleagues at the rubber plantation, that elderly man with a Mahatma Gandhi sticker on his windshield, Baba Samson—do you remember him? He said his daughter just finished university in Amurika and she’s coming back home and he needs to put her in—erm, erm—safe hands!”

     “Christmas gift!” Happy New Year Gift looks ready to slap the back of his head. She is the fifth and favorite, and therefore the wife about to be deposed. She taps her immediate senior, Ramadan Gift, who blinks away with colourful vindictiveness, uninterested in a direct defense. Men have a whip they use on each wife; it is her turn so she should bare her buttocks and take it in grinning faith. Happy New Year Gift turns back to her husband, coiled like a serpent about to strike. “I have said don’t repeat that thing again!”

    Baba Onigedu ducks as if the slap has landed. “Let’s get home first, aree!”

    The wives wail.

    “You don’t even think of your children,” the second wife says, her low tone making others pause. She is Sallah gift. She speaks English. She’s a secretary at the local government in Ayepe and the most educated. “Your last born is in university, reading Law. How will she feel when she learns that her father wants to make her age mate his sixth wife?”

    Baba Onigedu nearly rams into a beggar boy limping along the pedestrian strip. The boy turns, mouth agape, and spreads out his palms to say “Waka.”

    “We don’t care whether you kill the whole of Sagamu today se.” Ramadan Gift again. “You are not bringing any Atutupoyoyo into our home!” Her nose points in her junior’s direction. “At least, let her be dark and plump unlike some people we know but we cannot mention.”

    “Are you insulting me?” Happy New Year Gift turns, braced for a bite.

    “Aree! I said, let’s get home first!”
 

~~~
     At home are shrieking children. Legs painted in dust, eyelashes cosmetic with nature’s grittiest powder. 
    Firecrackers boom in the air, like a small happy war. Blinking wires hang across the porch arch, in zigzag, tinkling with Christmas tunes. Baba Onigedu’s friends and neighbors had always wondered how a Muslim man could be so eager to not only participate in, but also actively demonstrate, the excitement of non-Moslem holiday parties. But he started retorting, “My Islam is a tag. I’m an adult man who can do whatsoever he pleases with his time and money!” Then he would round off his riposte with the axiom of the merry-hearted: “Eni odun ba ba l’áye, ko se e.” Let us celebrate every gay season while we are alive. And so his accusers took the hint and shut up.

    What his wives won’t shut up about, however, is his latest madness. About a minute after they offloaded the pickup, he burst into the open-air kitchen, each wife attending to the duty assigned to her, and asked them to return all the fowls and billy goats they’d tethered to the walls. Said his new wife ate horse meat, but since there were no horses here, he had to make do with a donkey. He said someone was bringing it.

    The children skipped around their flabbergasted mothers and argued that it was called “ass” not donkey.

    “Stop interrupting me with your noise!” he hollered at them.

    At present, the wives protest.

    “You are spending money you don't have,” Easter Gift tries to intervene.

    “Is it your money?”

    It's not her money, so she shut up.

~~~

    “Hello, daddy.”

    “Fufuuxaveuxwjgsh.”

    “Why are you breathing like this?”

    “It's your mothers.”

    “I have only one mother. What have they done again?”

    “Your mothers are the worst.”

    “I have only one mother!” Jedalo rubs his temple. Whoever said you must not snap at your father must have had no Nigerian father. He looks out through the glass wall to see if any of his in-bank colleagues has heard him. He sighs, leans against his curvy office desk and listens as his father talks about their mothers’ revolt, and how he wants him to call his siblings scattered everywhere to cancel all their plans and come home to see his new wife.

    “What?” Jedalo almost shouts.


~~~

    “I used to look forward to going home,” his maternal older brother, Leke, complains over the phone after Jedalo relayed their father’s message. “The joy of seeing new people from Lagos, making new friends, crushing on new boys. I don't know what’s wrong with me.”

    “You are now an army commander, a grownup,” Jedalo says, a quip, so they will laugh. Only he does. “Nothing is wrong with you, Egbon. Christmas is like church. You grow up and see that it's all not what it seemed.”

    “But let's go for our parents,” Leke says. “Let's honor our father.”

    “Okay o, mo ti gbo.”

    “Did you call Bori?”

    “No.”

    “I saw her WhatsApp status. She's traveling out with her boyfriend. A Christmas trip.”

    “All the best for them.”

    “Jedalo. She's your sister.”

    They’d distanced themselves from each other since the day he walked into her university room and remarked that it smelled of lesbian sex. She had called him “a phobic wanker”, which left him incensed because it wasn’t even true.

    “She's your sister,” Leke repeats. “Call her.”

    “I don't want her mother's wahala. She already reported that I was spying on her on campus and her mother called me to ask me to face my postgraduate studies or else.”
Leke laughs. It makes Jedalo smile. His brother had not laughed since Decembers ago when a hotel manager left him for his wife's buxom cousin.
     “I forgot, Egbon. He said we shouldn’t bring anything.”

    “Why’d we go home to see our parents without carrying anything? Can we sha buy stuff for our mothers?”

    “They said we’re eating a special meat. I'm afraid it's horse.”

    “Horse? What the fuck. Mine will not eat it. Does your mother eat horse?”

    “She doesn't, either. Two sane mothers out of five. What are the odds again?”

    “Oh, you mean six. We are eating ass because of our father’s newest wife.”
 

~~~
 
    Arrival. Bori’s face is a hideous scowl. Her little siblings had asked her to come and see their Father Christmas. She’d yelled at the youngest ones—“I'd kill to see a Mother Christmas”—so they cower now.

    The living room is delicate with unsaid cynicisms. “Your mother's chocolate is bigger than mine,” Ramadan Gift had pointed out maliciously after Jedalo placed a Snickers bar in her hand. When Leke asked his father why there were soldiers on the streets, so that he had had to flash his area command ID before they saluted and let him through, Baba Onigedu replied, “Thank Allah you brought your siblings in your car, or nobody would be here today. A boy has been killed by cultists and so soldiers are scattered on the street. No movement.”

    The pots bubble in the kitchen, in vain. The soup pots sit, empty. In the shaky silence, Baba Samson calls on Baba Onigeduʼs iTel and starts railing about how could Baba Onigedu have lied to him about his wives being dead. That his daughter has rained expletives on him for arranging marriage behind her back like she's some sort of ornament, and to a polygamous, big-belle illiterate, too!  

    “You said we are dead?” Easter Gift rises slowly. “You said we are dead? To attract a woman, you call another woman dead? That's where you failed! Times are no longer what they used to be.”

    One of her twin boys pulls at her wrapper.

    “Mama, I thought Coro has gone. Why can't we go to the market? I'm hungry.”

    “Coro has not gone, this child, let me be. But that's not why.” Then she blinks in her husband's direction; he glances skyward, hunched like a rain-whipped vulture. “We are waiting for your father's ass.”

    The twins begin to cry.

    Silence.

    Then a quiet, furious voice:

    “My own is, who picked up the phone and called me to cancel my holiday trip to Atlanta?”  

 MEET THE AUTHOR


Enit'ayanfe Ayosojumi Akinsanya was born in 1994, in Ijebu-Ife, and raised in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. The author of a short-story collection, "How to Catch a Story That Doesn't Exist", and a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, he bagged a House of Levite "The Ready Writers" Fellowship (2016) as an undergraduate. His full-length fiction was a finalist for the National GTB Dusty Manuscript Prize for Fiction (2018). His fictional works have appeared in 'The Shallow Tales Review' and 'Brittle Paper'. He is crazy about four items: family, books, ice-cream and Jesus. He lives in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

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