By Victoria B. Willie:
“Let’s play ‘Mummy and Daddy'”, he heard his 8-year old son, Armani, say to the other kids around and immediately, the alarm in his head beeped.
“Nobody plays ‘Mummy and Daddy’ in this house”, he ordered, making the excitement on the faces of the children turn into a gurn.
“Why, daddy?” Mira, his 5-year old daughter asked.
“But daddy, Lily’s daddy lets us play ‘Mummy and Daddy’ at his place. Isn’t that so, Lily?” Armani parried, nudging Lily who nodded in corroboration.
Daddy swallowed. “‘Mummy and Daddy’ is for adults and not for children”.
“No!” Armani wasn’t giving up. “Adults can’t play ‘Mummy and daddy’ because they are already mummy and daddy”.
The obstinacy in Armani’s tone reminded him of how he used to act as ‘daddy’ back then when he played the game with other kids in the barracks. It was the play of ‘mummy and daddy’ that introduced him to the art of kissing. Bisola was always the mummy while he, the daddy and Adamma, their child. In their game of make-believe, he would go to work and return with stones wrapped in old newspaper —since they couldn’t afford to buy real suya —and Adamma would rush to hug him while Bisola would welcome him with her mother’s big spoon in her hand to show she was cooking. He’d scold Adamma for not reading her books and Bisola would return to the empty containers of tin tomatoes filled with sand, water and grass which she would leave in the sun to cook.
Their night scenes usually were the fun of it. When Adamma lay to sleep after bidding mummy and daddy goodnight, he would lay atop Bisola, dropping kisses on her face while fondling her undeveloped breasts. Some ‘nights’, he would just cuddle Bisola and whisper into her ears how much he loved her and their daughter and they would sleep for five minutes to wake up at ‘dawn’ to prepare for work and take Adamma to school.
“Daddy, please let us play ‘mummy and daddy’. You can watch us play if you want”, Mira tugged at his shirt and he smiled at her but more in retrospection.
How would he explain to his kids that ‘mummy and daddy’ wasn’t just a game of make-believe or a parody of adulthood but also a game of sexuality; a puerile avocation where kids mimicked the lives they watched their parents live, act it out —every aspect of it —and through that, learn new things like the art of kissing.
“Let’s play ‘mummy and daddy'”, he said to their glee. “Armani can be daddy, Lily will be Mummy. I will be grandpa and grandpa lives with you all”.
The kids jumped in ecstasy. The excitement in their expression drowned him in a sense of guilt for truly, their innocent minds could not see the insecurity in daddy’s heart.