I hate family reunions!
I honestly, really do. I believe it is just a charade; members of the family like to keep up with just because they believe they have to. Some of us don’t even like each other, some fight throughout the reunion, some don’t call each other all year long until it is time for reunion in December; for me it is all a big fat joke! Yet we all sit down in the same room and act like we are happy to be there. Well I don’t. I don’t act like I’m happy and I am most certainly not attending any family reunion after this one.
I pull my recently purchased Chanel bag closer and dragging my suitcase along with me, I sashay into my maternal Grandma’s big duplex – the house that has served as the venue of our family reunion since I was a little girl and the house that has been the stage for many family fights.
I immediately dart towards my room or let me rephrase, my mother’s former room, silently thanking God it is the room downstairs not any of those upstairs. I know I’m probably the last to arrive but I just want to be alone now, I need at least an hour to work on my plastic smile. The one I would be plastering on my face for the next one week.
I am unpleasantly shocked by who I meet in the room.
“If it isn’t my skanky cousin” Mobola says with a half smile as she turns to look at me.
Skanky? Mo ro pe ori e ti daru I curse inwardly in Yoruba.
“Hi Mobola” my fake smile hasn’t been rehearsed just yet so I settle for a wide grin that I know makes me look foolish.
She runs across the room and holds me tightly in an unwelcome embrace. I don’t hug her back. How can I? She’s not even allowing me to breathe, moving my hands are as impossible as fuck!
As if that’s not enough, she plants wet kisses all over my face and I wonder, is she a puppy? When did we become this close? I haven’t even seen her in two years or more. Can she just get out of my mom’s room turned mine? I roll my eyes inwardly. See why I hate reunions?
She turns me around after she’s done licking my face and smiles.
“You have added weight o. I thought you lost your baby fat? This your hair ehn – Is this Peruvian or Malaysian? It doesn’t suit you sha!” Then she looks up at my face and frowns. “And your face is so rough. Don’t they sell scrub in Lagos? Don’t you visit spas there?” She touches my bag and as if feeling the authenticity with her fingers says “is this original Chanel?”
Then she answers her ridiculous questions herself “I know I should have bought you some facial things from jand. And maybe a real Chanel bag. Next time sha!”
Just get out of my room bitch! I scream inside but outside I still have my foolish grin.
“I would see you later!” She says and heads out of the room. Only then do I relieve myself from the grin, my bag and of course finally breathe. Whoa, that girl needs a good beating from Isale Eko boys or maybe better, Molete boys. I hiss and step into the bathroom, checking myself in the large mirror above the sink; I decide that I am going to need a longer time in here than I thought.
Mobola’s mom, my maternal uncle and each of their spoilt kids are probably with my Grandma. Truth be told, I miss my grandmother but that’s about it. She’s the only one I miss. The others …bunch of ugly ass hypocrites. I only do this because my mom thinks that’s the right thing to do. What children of God do when they truly forgive!
I look around the bathroom and realise it had been scrubbed and cleaned; nodding with satisfaction, I decide I need a thorough bath.
But of course they won’t let me; someone knocks and without an answer bursts in. It is Mobola’s mother – the worst aunt anybody can ever have.
“Ah omo mi, why didn’t you come upstairs to say hi to us first?” She says with a forced British …wait, American …okay, truth be told, this woman has the weirdest accent ever. I can’t even point out which she’s speaking. Then she assesses me like her daughter after which she spits “o se wa doti bayi?”
What? The woman just asked me why I’m so dirty! That’s it!
With my ridiculous grin, I gently shove her towards the door “I’d see you soon Aunty Labake” I don’t mind doing that. It is kuku my last family reunion here. I can do what I like.
Aunty Labake is shocked that I’m pushing her like an unwanted guest and even through her forced smile, she can’t hide that.
“Mommy London” she corrects as I finally shove her out of the door.
“Bye ma. See you soon” I roll my eyes as I lock the door with a key. Mommy London ko, mommy Ukraine ni.
I soon have a soothing bath and dress quickly. By the time the family’s called for dinner, I have greeted my grandmother, seen my uncle and all of my cousins. I emerge last for dinner. Everyone’s gaze is fixed on me but I can’t be bothered honestly. It is my last family reunion here. I know my grandmother got lonely since she lost my grandfather to cancer and she always wants us close but I honestly can’t stand my extended family and the hypocrisy they so devoutly believe in.
As I grab a chair, I realise they aren’t looking at me anymore, at least Aunty Labake aka mommy london isn’t. Then I look in the direction they are all looking and standing there in flesh and blood and fine, well tailored (and what I assume is) designer suit is Olukunle Davies. My jaw drops as I take my time to assess him from head to toe. Here’s a friend or better still a kid we all grew up together with, standing here in person making my insides churn, he is now a man. A tall, fine looking, head turning man! I haven’t seen him since I was 15 and he was 17 that is what, 13 years ago?
Mobola jolts me out of my jaw dropping moment as she runs to him and holds him in a tight hug. I chuckle, I have been a recipient of one of those hugs and I know right now he can’t breathe.
Kunle settles in a chair after greeting everyone including me.
“Please pray for us Morenikeji” my grandmother calls and I frown at her…why me?
“Close your eyes everyone” if you will.
Then like a three year old I pray “Bless this food oh Lord for Christ’s sake” then without waiting for amen, I dig into my food.
Kunle chuckles. I look up at him, the boy or rather man is a great distraction from good food! “You haven’t changed much Morenike”
“No I haven’t” I say and reluctantly return to my food. I wouldn’t want to be caught staring like an idiot at a family dinner now, would I? I am very aware that he is still staring at me though. I think Mobola is too, because she says…
“Renny, have you stopped breastfeeding?”
For the second time that night, my jaw drops. And this time in sheer embarrassment!