‘Who doesn’t like money abeg?’ I shake my head comically at the obviousness of my wise saying.
‘That’s why you work for it. Not say that you have to marry a man who has money. That’s gold digging’. The fact that Yasmin says things like these and still feels like she is the smartest tot that roams the earth escapes my comprehension.
‘Mining my darling’ I correct her ‘Gold digging sounds stressful and illegal. When you mine, you are reaping the natural endowments of the person and showing him his potential by investing in you. Doesn’t mean I won’t make money, but my money is mine and his money is my mine. Note the difference?’. I cross my fingers that just finished gesticulating the mathematical structure of my definition to her and smile victoriously.
‘Mine and my mine’ Fafa says. ‘Good one’ She laughs in what might be a sarcastic or genuine laugh, I keep my smile on. Fafa might be annoying but she appreciates genius .
‘You still sound like a gold digger’ Yasmin says, her signature blank look smack on her face.
‘You sound like poverty mentality’ I roll my eyes.
‘You’ Fafa directs at me in between munching on chocolate chip cookies ‘sound like a wise sage to me’. See, Fafa has sense.
Yasmin’s sense of morality is warped. She believes she is a moral compass and world morality guide and in the same stride, believes the actions of Thanos can be justified. He just wanted to depopulate to save the future generation. Huh?!?!
I tell her so.
‘Thanos’s reasoning is logical. It isn’t moral’ she explains.
‘Okay so logic supersedes morality?’.
She thinks for a while before nodding. ‘Logic supersedes everything’.
‘Tell me better logic than securing one’s comfort in the future by marrying a rich person. And I’m being gender neutral here’.
‘The person can lose all that in the blink of an eye’.
‘Aaandd…’ I stress on the word for emphasis ‘the person might not. I am someone who has a hustler mentality, even though I don’t actually do the work’ I quickly add the second part while gazing directly at Fafa. Her head had shot up when I said I am a hustler at heart.
But I am. I am someone who sees potential everywhere; potential in people, in places and in ideas. The biggest enemy to actual implementation of my ideas is my fear of failing, of disappointing myself. It makes me unwilling to act.
‘Success is actually more important’. Yasmin presses on. I can see that she’s taking the discussion way more serious than it ought to be and no matter how smart she is, I don’t see myself arguing on and on with a 19 year old. She may know the books, but honestly, she’s yet to see the world in its truly elusive and whimsical form.
‘Yeah. You are right’ I say in all seriousness because I agreed. ‘Just make sure the success comes with money’.
She sighs but doesn’t say anything else. The finality in my voice has communicated that the conversation is dead for me.
I smile a bit as I scan through my phone. If only… if only my siblings know the real me. If only they know that the tough face I put up almost all the time is a facade, and I am not half as composed or confident as I may seem. And I don’t have my act together just because I am done with school with a good grade. And I am actually a big softie at heart.
If only Yasmin realises there are a dozen things I search for in a potential partner and finances doesn’t even rank top 5 on my list. Loyalty does, and trustworthiness and understanding, because I believe if that was a solid foundation in my parents marriage, then they would have weathered the storm heads-on. Wouldn’t they?
Money on the other hand, it destroyed everything.
But I have to be strong. For everyone. For my sisters who, no matter what, see me as a beacon and look up to me before taking actions. For my brother who is like a newly blinded man searching his way through a haunted maze.
For Mama whose hurt is still deep and whose regret has started surfacing.
For Baba and his new world, I have to show them we are strong to hold off our end.
For me though, all I want is for everything to get sorted out, for everything to go back to how it was so that I can stop pretending to be this happy, calm and sane person when anxiety and lack of confidence on what the future holds racks my every vein.
I feel a ball of tears sneak up my throat and I swallow it down. Things can never go back to the way they were. That I know. I just pray it can somehow get better.
That is why you need money Nana. You need to actually start seeking it. I have been racking my brain, trying to figure out what people may need during the lockdown, something to engage them and get their money at the same time.
A knock on the door makes me snap back to Earth.
‘Yasmin’ I say without raising my head from my phone and she immediately stands up to get the door.
‘Daddy is looking for you’ the messenger says before turning and leaving just as suddenly as she came.
I shake my head in despair, here goes.
He’s in his parlour entertaining the never ending troop of guests and political vultures. I perch on the dining chair, my head buried in my phone.
Fafa goes straight to the fridge and fishes out a tub of Häagen Dazs then sits down to dig in. Yasmin stands erect by the grand white show glass, her arms wrapped around her impatiently. She was doing something on her laptop when we were summoned and she is no doubt eager to go back to it.
We proceed to be granted an audience after the batch leaves. We are barely seated when Jamil comes in with Kamil in tow. Kamil’s eyes light up when he sees us and he immediately rushes to my side.
‘Nanaaaa!’ He exclaims and hugs my feet. I hug him back with a large grin.
‘Big boy! How are you?’. I pick him up and place him on my lap.
‘Fine. A mished you’ he says, his palms squishing my cheeks. I struggle to smile against the pressure of the tiny hand.
‘I missed you too. You are going to follow me today right?’.
‘I’ll get my clothes from my Mommy now. I’ll go to your house for 10 days ’I chuckle as he holds up three fingers. Then he slips off my lap and runs to his Mom.
Baba is smiling when I turn back to him. I immediately lose mine. He might have noticed, he might not have, but I rarely smile around him. He lost that privilege years ago.
Baba asked how everyone is and we answered in the affirmative of course, with probably only me doubting the sincerity behind his question.
After handing us our upkeep and allowance, he announced that he was giving us each capital to venture into something worthwhile since we weren’t neither in school nor working because COVID said so. It is almost like he had read my mind. My brain has already started reeling. What am I good at? What can I do to invest this money and turn it over?
The money was to be sent to our various accounts. Baba was worried about Yaya and how he was going to spend his. It is not unfounded, we all know he can spend all of that money in unnoble ways within a few days.
The painful clench to my heart is back and I have cycled back to blaming Baba for everything. Afterall, Yaya was perfectly fine before he broke us. But for how long can I blame him and avoid accountability. What happened had happened, no matter how much I’d like to hold Baba responsible for everything, we needed to take charge of our future.
Ayyyeee! See who is grown up. I listened to a podcast last night about forgiveness and letting go and apparently it’s doing small wonders. About time.