At the Reunion, I see Emeka for the first time in twenty-five years. We jam shoulders and pat each other’s backs.
“Man, you’re not doing badly,” Emeka playfully jabs the flab on my belly.
“Emeka na you biko! Nna men, you wear forty-six well!”
His clean shave reminds me that my beard is speckled grey.
“I do my best. Lola and the girls nko?”
“They are well.”
You still don’t have a boy right?” His chair scrapes the floor as he moves it to sit.
I take a long sip of my Gulder.
“No boy?” He leans forward in his chair.
I take another long sip of my Gulder. “Not yet.”
Emeka whistles. “Are you guys still trying?”
We exchanged emails about twelve years ago. I’d expressed frustration about not having a male child to carry on my name. Twelve years ago! What gives him the right to poknose now?
Emeka fiddles with his BlackBerry. I stare at nothing as I tap my feet to the beat of Fresh by Kool and the Gang. We have both done well in our careers, why is a male child an additional index of success? Emeka shows me photos of his wife, two sons, and daughter.
“My last son is ten.” He says it as if he won gold at the Olympics.
I shrink in my seat and hum, conversation is going round people talking ‘bout the girl—
“So, how do you keep in shape? You look really good.”
I look at his muscles rippling beneath his fitted t-shirt. I signal to the waiter for another bottle of Gulder.
Emeka pats my arm, “Lola is really taking care of you. She’s goo—”
“I run seven kilometres every weekend.” I brush lint off my shirt as if that’s the reason I’m annoyed. What’s the difference between three and half and seven?
“Really? Why don’t we run together this weekend?”
Four bottles of Gulder makes me say yes and give him the route in Victoria Island where I run.
I arrive early on Saturday and start my warm-up exercises. Emeka parks his Range Rover Sport under an ebelebo tree and promises the boys washing cars some money to look after his car.
“Nna, ke kwanu? Good day for running,” he says looking at the sky.
I mumble and nod.
He looks like Usain Bolt and starts like him. I think this showmanship unnecessary but keep my thoughts to myself.
After about 700 metres, Emeka picks up speed. “Come on!”
I match his pace.
“I know someone.”
“Someone who can help with your problem.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“No need for all this oyibo, na me Mekus, your man.”
“There’s this guy in Oworo. He has a powder—”
“Emeka, what in god’s name are you talking about?”
“To increase the Y chromosome na.”
When I was younger, my mother told me to be careful when I got angry because my yellow skin became red around my ears. “Remaining small and they will catch fire,” she would warn.
The fire spreads from my ears to my chest, and then down to my legs. I pick up speed.
“Man, slow down! Na so?”
The fire burning my legs gets hotter, but Emeka sails past me like a gazelle while his laughter stays behind to mock me. I feel more heat on my feet. Grunting, I overtake Emeka and try to maintain my pace. We pass the three-kilometre mark.
Emeka draws level. “I’m only trying to help because I care.”
He gives me a slap on the back that makes me lose balance. I steady myself and look ahead. Emeka resembles Leonardo Dicaprio in Catch Me if You Can.
“Sh*t!” I spit and the wind blows my saliva back on my face. The fire in my chest is hotter than the one in my legs. My mouth feels dry. I tuck in my head and draw from my reserves. Emeka’s yellow singlet is the prize.
Each time I near my goal, Emeka antelopes away.
“Oga small small o!”
I ignore the meiguard carrying jerry cans in his wheelbarrow. My honour is at stake. My legs begin to give first. I stretch my hand to catch Emeka. I touch something soft.
“L . . . Lola?”
“Sssh . . .”
“Ssssh . . .”
“I was only trying to help. There is no shame in this matter.” Emeka’s voice seems distant.
“He has always been stubborn,” Lola says shaking her head.
I struggle to sit up.
She laughs and places her hand on my head, “Lie down.”
She motions to someone. The meiguard looks down at me and smiles. Kola nut has stained his teeth like blood. I remember Dracula. He lifts his gourd. Someone tugs at the waistband of my tracksuit bottoms.
“Where am I?” my voice is weak.
“Oworo,” Lola whispers, “Stop fighting, let him apply the powder.”
“No o o o!”
“Wake up, wake up! Lower your voice. You’ll wake the children. You’re dreaming.”
The glow from Lola’s bedside lamp shows how rumpled our sheets are. I wipe my clammy forehead as I make out our beige curtains and mahogany chest of drawers in the corner. My heart pounds as I reach down to feel it. Her hand is there. I slap it away.
I sense her confusion as she reaches again and says, “What?”
“Traitor,” I mutter, grab my phone, and jump out of bed.
I check on the girls. The even rhythm of their breathing greets my ears. I go to my study and search for the reunion email. I type a few words and hit reply. I lean back on my chair; lift up my waistband, peek, and then pack. I close my eyes and vow never to attend a reunion until I die.
©Timi Yeseibo 2014
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48 thoughts on “The Battle of Testosterone”
Haha! Love it!
Thanks, that makes two of us 🙂
Thanks for your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it; you might be a great author. I will make certain to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage you to continue your great work, have a nice weekend!
I wonder what other continents besides Africa and Asia have clamored for boys over girls. Well, Europe…for the heirs to thrones and titles.
Food for thought. In Europe, queens have held sway and attitudes have changed . . . there is hope for the girl child in Africa and Asia. Thanks Diana for broadening the conversation.
LOL Interesting read. My heart skipped the moment i read ”at the reunion i see Emeka”.. Didn’t know you had this much sense of humor, Tim. That name Emeka don suffer sha.
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Lol Emeka! It’s nothing personal, just the business of story telling 😀
LOL. The battle of testosterone indeed. Actually even women engage in these pissing contests.
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Lol. So are you going to write about the battle of oestrogen? 😀
That’s such a horrible title. If I write, it’ll be about the war of nail polishes or some such.
That’s one of the sad truths about life. Sometimes it puts a person in a tpitiful position–regardless of what he is or has achieved. And I ask, is it really destiny or bad timing?
Destiny or bad timing? Hmmm . . . that’s what the powder is for abi? 😉
When we were kids, my friends and I debated the number of kids we would like to have and the sex. Even as adults, we do this. But the outcome is not entirely up to us. Yes, this story is looking at cultural attitudes surrounding having or not having a male child in Nigeria. Thanks Uzoma, for deepening the conversation.
Aaaaargh!!! Reunion on my mind….
Seriously though, this male-child syndrome is something else. I once dared to ask a close friend when she would stop trying for a boy, and focus on the lovely girls she had… her reply? ‘My dear sister, you won’t understand. You had a boy first!’
I’ve kept my mouth shut since. 🙂
Hey Ansa, there are some dynamics in this story that point to what you mention like Lola encouraging him to get the ‘powder’ treatment at Oworo, so, when he wakes up, he calls her traitor and then goes to check on his girls . . .
As Lyrical Treasure mentioned below, the pressure to produce a male child has been placed on women’s shoulders for so long. I am not proud of this, but I remember when I had my son, I heaved a sigh of relief, and it wasn’t just because labour was finally over . . .
See you at The Reunion? 😉
Nice one Timi. I enjoyed it!
Thank you Laboye. Me too! Meanwhile, I have a reunion coming up . . . 🙂
As hazy as a dream. I laughed out so loud when I read this on Sunday. This raised the bar a few steps higher in the humour department… “her hand is there. I slap it away” LOL!
I can’t but wonder how you manage to sleep at night having these stories in your head. When I do comic stories, I go for days laughing at the possibilies on the road, in the bath or just on the bed.
Well done on this again!
Lol@ her hand 😀
Writing humourous posts, constrained by word count, while trying to address social issues can be tough for me. But it’s a challenge I enjoy. Any time an idea pops, I stop and write. The real laughter begins when I read the comments readers leave behind. So, thank you for putting a big smile on my face!
Hahaha!! I’m finished!. Most people have that Emeka-esque friend – who just likes to rub it in
. . . maybe because that Emeka-esque friend has feelings of inadequacy that move him to put others down? Emeka claims, “I was only trying to help. There is no shame in this matter.” 🙂
True that, very true!
Lol! Nice one babe 😀
Hahahahaha… “Stop fighting, let him apply the powder.” I can only imagine. 🙂 🙂
You will be surprised by how often we run around trying to be a second rate version of other people.
Timi, the no male child stigma still exists where I come from. Talk about carrying on the family name. The only difference in this case is that the powder would be applied to the woman. Reproductive issues here seem to always be a woman’s problem.
This post reads like a prologue to an interesting story. Keep doing this! 🙂
“Reproductive issues here seem to always be a woman’s problem.” True. Women have been at the receiving end for years. But the people in the story are ‘educated’ 😉
@male child stigma, I see attitudes changing slowly, very very very slowly . . .
Seun, nice to have you here 😀
Now I’m afraid of The Powder! I expect nightmares tonight…
To quote David Bowie from the song “Queen Bitch”: It could have been me. Oh yes, it could have been me.
Lol Eric, what can I say to make it better? Sweet dreams? 😉
I managed to make it through the night.
Still… that powder…
Yeah, that powder . . . 😀 Sleep with one eye open tonight 😉
This could start a book, Timi! You had me confused until the ending but I could not help analyzing this and thinking about my upcoming 40th reunion in September. I have had a few dreams about this but never as a man! Smiles, Robin
Lol Robin, a book where we chronicle our anxieties about upcoming reunions? That’ll be great. I hope you have nothing but good dreams about your reunion.
Sorry to hear this was confusing. Well, at least you figured it out by the end.
I’ve had a few dreams myself of late… 😉
Lol! I hope your reunion isn’t coming up soon 😉
Thankfully reunions aren’t part of my routine! 🙂
I enjoyed reading it. And to know that there really isn’t a boy in real life. Lol, remains me of a movie ” cheaper by the dozen 2″. Most times that person we are beating ourself about also admires us.
Timi, well written, great humour. Couldn’t help but laugh out loud. 😃😃
So while we’re trying to be like someone else, they’re trying to be like us 🙂
Attitudes about having/not having a male child in that neck of the woods, haven’t really changed or have they? Busola, I laughed out loud too. Thanks for reading.
Well done, Timi. Humor with a twist and a message. Great job of capturing testosterone in action. 🙂 –Curt
Thanks Curt. Humour makes any message easier to swallow. The feedback I’ve received has opened my eyes to messages I didn’t realize were in the post!
We tend to read in what we want to. LOL
True, we read through different filters, that’s why I like comments. They broaden my limited perspective.
Not too limited, I think. 🙂
LOOOOOOOOOOL, it was just a dream?? I imagine him ‘binding the devil’ at some point.
You never fail to give me a good laugh. “Stop fighting, let him apply the powder.”
I dont even have words atm. Its so good.
I’ve enjoyed reading this.
What a dream huh? So glad you enjoyed it.
“Stop fighting, let him apply the powder.” Beyond the laughter, we see women also caught up in the male-child-mania! 🙂
Beautiful write, Timi. It is amusing all the ways we find to compare ourselves with others and beat ourselves up for “falling short” of the (imaginary) bar.”
Ha ha, there’s usually someone out there who’s better! It’s wise to know when not to take the bait.
Thanks Nancy, I enjoyed writing this.