The Guest


Moisture covered everything – and just like the little beads of water running down the walls of the front room and the mildew forming dark spots on the carpet; it ran down my face into my mouth making me want to spit. My linen sleeveless blouse and jeans offered little protection and stuck against my skin

The door opened.

He wore a clean white vest and Sokoto; loose trousers made out of traditional cotton print. My father walked slowly now and was much thinner, his hair totally white but his eyes remained the same in that canvas stretched tight by living, his eyes youthful pools of light, searched mine for answers.

Your mother was dying…why didn’t you come?

“You look just like your mum.” He lowered himself onto a chair.

I had to swallow back another chunk of the past and felt it slide from my tongue into the pit of my stomach and I winced like a child after it had swallowed bitter medicine.

I knelt to greet him.   “Good afternoon, Father.”

“Welcome. How is your brother?” he held out a hand and I took it noting that his hands were hot and he was shaking as if he had a fever. Aunt Lizzy pressed a cool glass of water into my hands. We chatted about my work as a lawyer. We touched on the weather and the current state of the British Monarchy, which I knew he had keen interest in since his days as a student in England. Then I stopped, having run out of any more words to fill in the gap that years apart had widened.

I could hear the last words I had with him. Words oozed out of me like poison from a festering boil. He stood there with his new bride and told me to shut up but I had carried my mother’s burden for too long and now – all that needed to be said – had to be said and when I had finished, the room was silent except for my mother’s tears.

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