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FARTHER Chapter 5

For hours, alone in his room, Tunde can’t take his mind off what this woman who said she preferred to be called ‘Aunty Fade’ has told him, but he knows what he’s going to do about it. Segun had called her by her title and surname when introducing her to him, but Tunde forgot her surname almost immediately he heard it. Probably because there was something in the way his father said ‘Miss’. Segun had never introduced the women he was dating to Tunde as Miss anything to start with. Usually, he’d just introduce Tunde and scold him about not greeting the guest even though he hadn’t allowed him a fraction of a second for this greeting, and then the woman would introduce herself. That aside, there was a way his father had said ‘Miss’ that struck Tunde as different. Altogether, he isn’t surprised because she is obviously different. Not just different than the women his father had dated in the past; there is definitely something about her, but Tunde isn’t quite sure if he likes that fact or not yet.

Aunty Fade had said his father told her he didn’t want treatment. What did that mean? What does it mean? Tunde had been restless in his room the past several hours, not knowing whether to be sad or angry. What does his father want? Time? A miracle? A bouquet of flowers with a “Please, start treatment on Monday otherwise you’d die” card? What? Why is he doing this? Tunde still hasn’t written a word of his essay due Monday and Saturday is almost all gone. The entire reason for this is trudging along, looking the saddest he has ever looked, saying he didn’t want treatment for cancer and asking about the essay.

Tunde starts to think about how he has never seen his father cry. Not once. It’s not that he wants to, but it’s obvious the man has been crying since the news about his cancer. He’d seen his mother’s happy and sad tears and even saw tears when he couldn’t understand the reason behind them. Growing up, he sometimes witnessed his mum cry in front of the TV watching Secrets of the Sand or some other Mexican soap opera. He’d laugh at her and she’d laugh back and sometimes chase and tickle him. Sometimes, that was him asking if she was alright and her excusing his naivety while assuring him that she was fine.

She might have cried a little too much in hindsight, but she taught him it was okay to cry while his father seemed to do the opposite. Tunde can remember a few instances where he cried about something as little as a biscuit or as big as a fail in English and was comforted by his mother with so much love, it made all the difference. With his father, he didn’t get any comfort most times, and even when he did it was a painfully awkward process. His father’s words were evidently rehearsed, generic, banal and often even inaudible. Neither he, nor as he sensed, his father could wait for the process to be over and done with. Tunde knew Segun wanted to do it even as a child. He could sense that much. The problem was Segun never knew how to, and still doesn’t.

Maybe it’s a man’s or father’s thing to keep from crying or to cry in private, but it isn’t a man’s or father’s thing to refuse treatment for cancer and Segun wasn’t having it.

x——             ———–             ——x

Fade and Segun are seated quietly in the living room. Eyes swollen and red, Segun is slouched on the sofa, watching a documentary. Fade is reading a Bible, silently mouthing the words and occasionally glancing at Segun as if checking on him. Tunde walks in from the main corridor and looks straight at his dad. Segun makes to say something but is cut off by Tunde.

“Daddy, you asked about my essay and I will go back to my room to start it now but I will not turn it in on Monday unless you start treatment on Monday.”

Segun is dumbstruck as he watches his son turn and head back to his room. The farther he goes, the more difficult it seems for Segun to understand what just happened. He sits up and turns to Fade who shrugs and goes back to reading. A smile spreads across her face and even though she can still feel Segun’s eyes on her, she keeps hers on the Bible.

 

Written by Olutobi Odunubi

A fan of Farther? Start again from the very beginning with Chapter 1.

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