The television booms and bathes the dark living room in erratic bursts of light. Babatunde and Segun are alone, stiffly watching the night’s live football friendly between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Shifting sharply on his seat to get more comfortable, Babatunde steals a quick glance at his father on the big couch. A moment later, Segun sends his son a glance from the corner of his eye, looks away hastily and clears his throat, focusing a little too hard on the match now with strained eyes. When he knows his father has turned away, Tunde looks in his direction again, and promptly away. Just then, the Lions of Cameroon win a free kick. Poker faces glued to the television, they both watch on.
Cameroon scores. Tunde and Segun do a slow, synchronized lean back on their seats, and going for a peep at the same time, catch each other’s eyes. Hurriedly looking away, they fidget in their seats. Tunde gnaws at his thumbnail. Segun rubs his temple.
x—— ———– ——x
I really should be in my room thinking about how to write my essay. This is just a friendly match anyway. I only have the weekend to get it done. If I had a TV in my room, I could kill two birds. I don’t think a stone applies here. It doesn’t. I’ll just be doing two things at the same time or whatever, shey? But a TV in my room is never happening. Not under this guy over here’s watch. I have to sit here with him if we both need to watch TV. How does that help either of us?
Oh, don’t look this way. Buy me a TV and an X-Box One instead. Or, I don’t know, maybe bring mummy back? Maybe. Are you going to clear your throat this time? There you go! That’s really all I know about you, and I’m supposed to submit an essay about “my family” on Monday morning. Maybe I should write about an imaginary family. The cute brother and sister I never had, mummy, and a fun dad. That should beat writing about a father I know nothing about since I have to write a good essay or repeat JS 3. Junior WAEC in a few months. I can’t afford to repeat, but my other scores on English are bad right now. I really hate English. Hate Mrs Bankole. Why aren’t these stupid art classes like simple math? Why do I have to do any of them at all? Can’t wait to be done with all this and focus on the science sub– Fantastic. Free kick to Cameroon. Starting to think watching this match is a complete waste of my time.
Later that night, Tunde settles down at his desk in front of the computer in his bedroom. He has titled the otherwise blank word document “My Family”. He stares at this for a while, fingers hovering over the keyboard. Eventually, he types in “My father” but pauses again for a while. Sighing, he finishes the sentence with “clears his throat a lot.”, leaps off his chair, into his bed and shuts his eyes.
Written by Olutobi Odunubi