“I think I need a drink,” Aunty May said making her way to the kitchen. She has always been Aunty May since I was knee high to a mosquito. Her full name is Mary, but at some time in our not recent history someone decided ‘Mary’ was one syllable too long. I have a theory this happened at a time she was not sober enough to fight the aberration. I do not make it a habit to fight other people’s battles.
Our Sunday afternoon had been interrupted in a most unusual way. We have had interruptions in the past. But it was usually Mom declaring we would have prayers that would blind the evil women who had their eyes on her daughter who was ripe for marriage yet no church man was willing to pluck her, a.k.a me. This was supposed to be one of those days that after church and filling our belies with the mandatory Sunday rice and stew, we would all gather in the living room, watch something showing on TV and argue over whether Jesus would approve of a hemline above the knee.
Dad’s dazed look made me want to pinch him. But just as I decided to approach him to perform this noble act, his eyes swept from Kenny to the young lady whose name I did not catch to her mother who introduced herself as a member of church. Dad removed his glasses and placed it on the side stool right next to the empty glass of water I had served him a few minutes before the intrusion. He let out a cough, like most people do before they say something important, but he said nothing.
Surprisingly, Mom remained calm… so calm that it felt like, one, this was not the first time she heard the news and two, she welcomed the news. She was going to get a grandchild after all. Never mind that it was from the wrong child. Who would have expected that my baby brother would get a girl pregnant at 18? Well, technically he still had a few months before he turned 18 and judging from the size of the girl’s stomach, the deed was done some time ago.
Dad let out another cough coinciding with Aunty May’s return to the living room. She was carrying a glass half filled with what could be orange juice but it could also be at least forty percent alcohol. Our eyes met and she gives me the evil eye. We had never really seen eye to eye.
“This is sesiriousss,” Aunty May said. And then hiccupped. The hiccup sounded faked.
“Well, something has to be done and fast because I do not want people in church to start talking,” the girl’s mother said.
“I need to use the toilet,” Kenny said and hurried out.
I saw what looked like a drop of urine on the seat he just vacated and promptly covered it with a throw pillow.
“Well, there is nothing to do,” Dad finally said. There was no warning cough before this statement. “She is pregnant, she will have the baby.”
“My daughter will not have a baby out of wedlock.” The woman was quite emphatic.
I knew this was the best time to go in search of Kenny.
The toilet door was shut but I knocked anyway.
Against all expectations, I was invited in.
Kenny was leaning against the wall. I thought about how his body formed a triangle against the wall and how I was not expecting this. Kenny never even told me he had a love interest.
“How can she possibly be pregnant?”
He sounded like he was speaking to himself, so I decided not to answer.
“It was just once.” He pushed his glasses up his nose and I noticed how vulnerable he looked. Maybe this was what attracted the girls or this girl. I should have noticed when he started watching so much anime.
“Once is usually enough,” I said trying to remember which movie had used this line.
He sat on the toilet seat and propped his chin with both arms.
“It was just once,” he muttered repeatedly.
I had nothing else to say to him. He was going to be a father.
I walked back into the living room as Mom and the girl’s mother were talking about wedding colours. Dad was no longer on his favourite seat. I picked up my phone which had been charging beside the TV because the socket in my room was bad and opened Twitter.
“Wedding Bells,” I typed. Sent.
I knew people would think the tweet was about me but I didn’t mind deceiving them for a bit. After the tweet gathers retweets, I will let them know it’s for my brother.
“Winifred, come and get them something to drink,” Mom’s voice stopped me as I made to leave the room.
“What would you like to drink my daughter,” she asks the girl. I noticed she emphasized ‘daughter’ perhaps sending me a message. I kept a straight face.
“A malt will be fine,” she responded.
“Make that two malts,” her mother added. “And if you could add something to go with it.” She was looking at the bottle of chinchin Mom had bought on our way from church.
“Of course,” Mom said. “Winifred, bring an empty plate as you are coming.”
Aunty May was also missing from the living room.
I found her in the kitchen adding a shot of whisky into her glass of orange juice. I pretended I didn’t see what she was doing.
“Isn’t it a shame that a boy you gave ten years brought a baby home before you?”
I ignored her and walked out with the drinks. I then remembered the empty plate and went back to get it. Soon enough, the four were engrossed in conversation and merriment. I knew I was not welcome to join them. I just wanted some of the chinchin but that would have to wait.
I passed by the toilet on the way to my room. The door was open and Kenny was no longer in it. My phone buzzed and I checked it. Twitter DM. I settled into my bed to see how many good wishes I had received and from whom. I also expected comments from the Twitter aunties who did not rate me. But, I was distracted by the DM.
“Is Kenny really going to marry her?” asked @noseymeagan. I take it that is not their real name.
“And you are?” I typed. Best not to give anything away.
“Some1 hu nose the b!tch is lieing?”
I wondered if this is my cue to leave the conversation.
“Kenny did not even perform N it wos onli 1ce.”
I dropped my phone on the bed and went in search of Kenny. I needed to ask him some questions and I needed straight forward answers.
He was not in his room. I looked through his window and I could see he was not in the backyard. I passed by the living room as the discussion veered towards the number of guests expected. Someone suggested 500. I think it was the girl. I finally found Kenny’s foot peeking out through the door to my parent’s room. The rest of him was inside. It looked like he was keeping the door ajar to ensure a quick escape should things go awry in there.
I stuck my hand in and tapped his shoulder.
“Who is that?” Dad asked.
“Sister Winifred,” Kenny responded.
“What is it?” Dad asked.
“I wanted to ask Kenny something,” I responded.
“Come back later, we are talking.”
I passed by the living room again. The conversation had drifted to other matters cheerful. Mom assured the girl that she will be well taken care of. Her mother reached for the bottle of chinchin. I hurried into my room to a waiting DM.
“R u dere?”
I ignored it.
I was thinking out, plan D of Operation Rescue the Chinchin Bottle when I heard a tap on my door. It was Kenny. He looked so much smaller than he did earlier in the day, when he had dressed like a Yoruba Demon and begged me to take a picture with my iPhone for his gramm.
“Are you sure the baby is yours?”
He looked at me in wonder and pushed his glasses up his nose.
“I thought you said once was enough.”
“I know what I said…did you…”
Kenny waited for me to say the word but it is stuck in my throat. I managed to move it to my mouth, rolled it around for a bit but I was unable to spit it out. I am 28 but I still cannot say ‘sex’ out loud.
“Did you both undress and …you know…?”
“Oh, have sex?”
I nodded and looked away.
“Yeah, everything. We kissed…and she allowed me touch her breast.”
After gathering all the facts, I dashed into the living room, phone ready to capture the disgrace. The discussion had returned to wedding matters. Kenny was too ashamed to come out and admit he did not know how babies were made. I was happy to be his spokesperson. Dad walked out into the commotion. He kept looking from the girl to her mother. Aunty May said something about how greedily the mother had been eating the chinchin as she snatched the bottle out of the mother’s hand.
Mom remained calm, too calm, like she was expecting this.
After they left, Mom asked out loud how Kenny could have been so stupid. It sounded like she was angry he was so stupid that he did not how to get a girl pregnant. I tried to end the video. I realised I never hit record. Aunty May said something about young people needing guidance. Mom wondered if that was why I was still single.
“Is she still a virgin?” She asked Aunty May.
Aunty May said nothing.
I concentrated on fiddling with my phone.
Later that night, Dad decided to talk to us about the birds and the bees using a chart from Kenny’s biology textbook and euphemisms from The Songs of Solomon. I spent all the time asking Google the origins of the phrase “the birds and the bees”. Kenny spent the entire time watching an imaginary spider on the wall. Aunty May spent the entire time vacillating between sipping juice and snoring. Mom interjected with the nods and alleluias. Dad never said the word sex, not even once.
Just before lights out I saw a sheet of paper three quarter way through my bedroom door. It was a note from Kenny. “Thank you for saving my life. P.s You need to tell me how babies are made…There is this girl I like.”
I poured myself a handful of chinchin.