My father is not the kind of terrorist you know. No. He is not a member of ISIS or Boko Haram. He is not that wicked. Not at all. In fact, one of his major prayer points is for God Almighty to bomb every terrorist organization in the world. But what he doesn’t know is that he is a terrorist too. A terrorist of metaphorical murders.
The bomb my father has is a bomb of words. My father’s use of English can kill a man. It has killed me a thousand times. My father should be the great grandfather of Jenifa in Jenifa’s Dairy, and she will walk like a British peacock if she hears my father’s English. The terrible thing is that my father can talk and talk and talk and talk and talk like talking is the surest way to heaven.
“Tobi, go and told ya mama dat di food don born de farya o” He said something like that one day, and it took me one thousand hours to gather my broken bones and battered body into my whole being, and follow his instruction of telling my mother about the burnt food. My younger sister, who sat a few metres away from him, shouted “Jesu!” And when he asked her what happened, she said she had been bitten by a black ant. That girl is one of the most honest persons I know; she is honest with her lies.
Recently, my father’s sentences have a lot of “eth” in them. He wants to become a pastor someday so he has read the King James Version of the Bible so much that he can recite every verse in the Bible without blinking his eyes. The only effect is that his verbs cannot do without “eth”: bringeth, speaketh, laugheth, dieth, marryth. Even words that don’t need “eth” taketh it by fire by force. Sometimes, I imagine his verbs, becoming humans, staring at him with rebellious red eyes, and saying “Mister Man, leave us alone! We don’t want your ‘eth’!”
It is not only bomb of words that my father drops, he also drops the Kalashnikov of spittle whenever he talks, most times. Phew phew phew, they go like missiles launched against an enemy. My younger sister calls it “bilabial baptism”. Anyway, have I informed you she suffers it the most? I haven’t? Oh, well, I have now.
“Siteth like a girl!”
“Joineth ya mama in the cooking room!”
“Sweepeth the floor, idiot!”
She gets more instructions from him than I do. This is one of the disadvantages of being a girl in my father’s house. In fact, I usually call her “Miss Errand”.
“But daddy, send Brother Tobi too na…” By the way, if she doesn’t add ‘brother’ before my name, the kind of slap she will receive must have been doing press-ups for forty years. And whenever she complains, a look from our father’s face is enough to make her eat her words and marry silence. I am very sure my sister cannot wait to leave this house and be independent.
Well, she is not alone. I bet I want to leave this house more than she wants to. Why? You still want to know why? Well, let me tell you one of the most embarrassing days of my life. It was a PTA meeting day. I hope you are not asking me what PTA meeting means. Anyway, in case you are a dullard, “it is an acronym for Parents Teacher Association,” according to Uncle Edward (aka Head of the World, because his head can become another tourist attraction like Olumo rock).
Anyway, my father attended the PTA meeting, and committed a strong sin: the sin of speaking.
“Good afternoon, my people. My names are Johnbull Orolabi, the father of Tobi Orolabi. I happyth to see all na faces. Well, he get one matter wey dey worryth my mind… The matter be sey my pikin always complaineth big time like sey heaven dey pay am salary to complain. And wetin the boy dey complaineth about… E talk sey im English teacher no sabi speak English at all… Imagine… simple English, he speaketh not…” As my father’s words filled the classroom, the attendees’ laughter filled the classroom too.
Although I wasn’t around for the PTA meeting, which was on a Saturday, I got to know about my father’s statement on Monday. Really, that day was like a walk of shame in hell. I asked the ground to open and swallow me as my classmates (especially that clownish Ayo) made jest of my father and me. But the ground was too dumb to hear me. The mockery lasted in school for a week, but will last till eternity in my head. I can’t wait to finish secondary school and get admission in a university far away from home.
Now, please note that this essay I have written is between us. My father, who is currently in the parlor watching his favorite football team, Arsenal, lose to Chelsea, must not see it. If he sees it, he will kill me. If he kills me, it is your fault, so my ghost will kill you. So please, let this be our little secret. Thank you for your understanding.