A story written by INEGBENOISE OSEODION OSAGIE. (07068221839, 08093828575, [email protected])
Lauren helped her dad with his briefcase. The gardener shouldered the bag of rice from the trunk and strode into the house, his muscles swelling and zigzag veins bulging out. Her dad picked up the remaining cartons of foodstuffs and closed the trunk.
“Hope your day wasn’t too boring,” he said. “I wonder what it’s like living in this house alone. You stayed indoors all day?”
“I watched the TV. It helped in cutting the boredom.”
“You don’t have friends around to go visit?” dad said as they entered the sitting room. “Or you’ve still not well adapted. I never knew you for adapting slowly.” He positioned the cartons beside the wall.
“I didn’t say I was bored. How was work?” she asked, only to stop him from talking further.
“Work gets finer by the day.” He settled on a sofa.
Why wouldn’t it be finer when it was competition free? Lauren thought, and wished her dad heard her thoughts.
She set the briefcase on an armchair and started for the kitchen.
The gardener carried the cartons of foodstuffs into the kitchen and marched out.
She was opening the microwave oven when her dad’s voice rang from the sitting room. A lecturer just called that Newfield’s lectures had commenced. Her dad told her to pack up her things and return to school the next week. It was more of a command, the kind she couldn’t refuse.
“You bought a new book. What is this one about? It says ‘Tick, Tick.’”
“It’s a novel.”
“I know that. I was asking what the novel was about,” he said. “I thought only mom bought these for you. I never knew you also went to the bookshop to purchase for yourself.”
“I didn’t buy it. It was a gift.” She set the plates on a tray and headed to the dining table.
“A gift? Who gives a novel as a gift?” He laid the book on the sofa’s arm and looked to the dining table.
“Jide.” He hung his suit round the chair’s backrest and swaggered to the dining room. “Why would he give you a gift?”
“It is a birthday present.”
His eyes started from their sockets. “I thought you said no birthday celebration this year and no presents.”
“A Canadian doesn’t get presents from a black man every day. It would be rude refusing one.”
Dad blessed the food and dished the rice into a plate. “I never knew you and Mr Jide were so close he would think of giving you a birthday present.”
She sat adjacent to her dad. “I like the man.”
“What’s so special about him?” He mouthed in a spoonful and looked to her for an answer.
She shrugged. “He’s likeable.”
“You are right. He was very likeable, until I discovered he was friend to a criminal. And you know what is said about birdies of same wings.”
“Richard Fayemi is no criminal. I would say it as many times as I have to.”
Dad gulped down a glass of water. “His trial is near. You will hear what the judge has to say.”
“The judge might judge wrongly. A jury trial would probably see his innocence.”
“And if I happen to find myself among the jurors, he is either found guilty or the jury gets hung, even if it takes me to be the only opposition. The evidences are so glaring. I can’t vote for an acquittal with such evidences.”
She allowed some calm before voicing out. Her next words needed to sink into her dad’s brain. “If it were a jury trial, you wouldn’t be among the jurors. You’re white.” She rose. “I should go continue with my book.”
“I’m white, but I’m a citizen.”
It took more than that and her dad knew it. No one would appoint a white juror in a black man’s land when the defendant was not white.
“It’s whites that are known for racism, which is now at its very minimum,” her dad said, “and not the other way round.”
At this point, Lauren asked herself what was the actual definition of racism. Was it the love of one’s skin over the other? If that, then it was a disease that had sickened all humans, something that was etched in the physiology of every human and shouldn’t even be tagged a disease because it was a part of physiology, only that some people were privileged to exercise this liberty while others weren’t, and the unprivileged only wished it didn’t existed, and as such pretend to be the innocent and condemned its existence. “There are not so many whites here. You don’t expect the few to fill a position such as a juror. This is not our land.”
His face thinned and his cheekbones jutted out. “Don’t say that. It can be anyone’s land. I work here and you school here. Yes, we’re Canadians, but we’re no different from Nigerians.” The look on her dad’s face couldn’t be more forced, like one trying so hard to believe something that could never be true.
“We’re whites, dad. We were born whites, and it’s a good thing.” She fingered a speck off her nails. “It’s better than being black.”
Her dad fixed his gaze on her. “You’re taking this personal.”
“I’m not taking anything personal. I’m just revealing a truth. We’re Canadians in Nigeria. There is no way we can be seen like Nigerians. It’s either people look at us as aliens or they would just want to sneer and ask with a pretentious smile, ‘What are you doing in my country? You have a better one. You should be there.’ The only reason a black man is ever going to like you is because you’re white, and when I mean like, I don’t mean the kind that could lead to friendship, but a showy kind to gain something from you, something as worthless as the pride they place in having acquaintance with a foreigner.”
“You’re speaking from your own view.”
“No dad,” she said. “Everyone loves his skin more than the other. The world is full of a bunch of racists. No one is neutral. A white can’t be like everyone else in a black country. The only difference between we and them is that we whites are only privileged to exercise this thing you call racism.”
“You’re wrong, hon.”
“I’m not. How many black men would want to wed a white woman that isn’t a moneybag? It doesn’t happen because they can’t pretend to bear that false likeness for long, and believe me they won’t tell you. They say white women are pompous, impudent, territorial, name all sorts of words. Why? Because the women aren’t blacks. I hear it from people, from classmates and schoolmates.” She rose. “I should go continue with my novel.”
As she eased into the sitting room, a resentment of herself swept through her, her own voice telling her she was only a bloody racist in the search of a shield to defend herself; she was only someone looking for something to hate, or merely looking for an explanation for some things, and willing to accept any explanation that flings into her head, even the most abstract as racism. She stretched on the sofa and continued with her “Tick, Tick.”
“It’s everywhere, even in Canada,” her dad said from the dining. “Everyone surely loves his skin than the other. Or I should say majority because I’m an exception. I don’t see anything wrong in getting married to a black lady.”
“There are no exceptions.” She crossed legs and focused on her book, if that would make her dad quiet.
To Be Continued….