I have cleaned every corner in this room, I have baked cakes, scones and cookies and even invented new recipes. I have even made the now famous dalgona coffee and felt intoxicated for a few hours that made me take a mandatory nap on the couch.
As I wake up, I hear noises in my son’s bedroom. I know the occupants in the room. It’s my twenty year old son, his seventeen year old sister and three cousins of around the same age gap; two girls and a boy who have stayed with us since this pandemic visited our country uninvited.
I am envious that they have each other’s company. All my friends are now with their families. My sisters too are heeding the stay-at-home exhortation with their husbands and children. We all need to.
My husband is glued on the computer for hours having a zoom meeting with his employees. He is very dejected today because he has to give his workers a one month notice before the end of their contract.
“We have no money for we have not been doing any business,” I hear his crestfallen voice. “One month from my own savings is all I can afford for you.” He continues. I hear one of them ask, “Until when boss?” I hear one of the zoomers asking. My husband sighs and is silent for a long time then he gives the answer they hoped would not be said “I don’t know. Maybe until this Corona is over.”
I cannot hear anymore. It puts tears in my eyes. My husband’s tone feels like the earth is ending. I am used to seeing him call the shots. Now he looks like he would use a hug. But I cannot provide that now, I gave more than a hug yesternight. I made him feel like the man he is. He did feel like a king for a moment but the moment came to end and the reality that he has to lay off his workers took over him again. I feigned sleep but I did not hear his loud snores. That man did not get a wink of sleep.
I stealthily tiptoe to my son’s bedroom. There are moments of silence and then murmurs, then gasps and laughter. I position my ear at the door and listen. They are playing a game. Seems like a question and answer game. It’s my son’s turn to speak.
“So Winny, truth or dare?”
Winny, his cousin chooses truth. Then my son poses the question that makes me gasp, though a silent gasp, careful not to be heard.
“No,” Winny answers. “I am not a V.” She goes on. Lucky for me, my son had asked the question in full, otherwise I would not have known what a V is. I am shocked that the innocent looking sixteen year old niece of mine has already had a sexual experience.
Then it’s her turn to pose a question. She mentions my daughter, Cherry. Cherry lets out an excited laugh, in anticipation of the question that will be thrown at her. I wait in anticipation too as I bend, my ear still stuck at the door.
“Cherry , ever given a bj?”
I don’t know what a bj is. I really want to know but I have a feeling that whatever this is, it is sexual.
“Eeew, yuck! Never! I would not suck anyone’s D even for a million dollars!” Cherry answers. Both her and I are disgusted. I am happy that my daughter has some respect for herself.
They start having an argument. My nephew tells her that if he were his boyfriend, he would not please her too.
“Fortunately, you are not my boyfriend.” She says. The rest have opinions too. The language is coded. I can barely keep up with what’s going on. Then Remy hushes them all. Remy is my youngest niece. She is fifteen.
“Shh, guys, aunty will hear us!”
“Nah, mum is now in her seventh dream. When she sleeps on that couch, a tsunami can happen around her and she will never notice! Cherry says of me. The rest laugh so hard that I almost knock on the door to announce that I am not asleep and I do not sleep that much. But my son reminds his sister that its her turn to ask or dare.
“Remy, to you now. Truth or dare?”
Remy chooses dare. Cherry dares her cousin to show one of her boobs. Boobs? As in breasts? No! I have to stop this. I am about to hold the knob when Remy speaks.
“On second thought, I choose truth. I would take the dare but I cannot when my brother is here. That would be incest.” She tells. Her brother replies that he will close his eyes. She is adamant that she cannot trust him. He offers to get out of the room. I tiptoe away quickly and hide at an open bedroom. He does not come out. I wait some more. Then it’s obvious he is not leaving the room.
My curiosity is at the cat-killing stage but I have thrown caution to the wind already. Besides, I am no cat. I move slowly to the door again. They are laughing so loudly. I missed something. Did Remy take the truth option? What was she asked and what did she say? It’s too late.
It’s Remy’s turn to truth or dare her brother. He chooses truth.
“Ok. Rocky, tell us. Do you have a crush on aunty?” The rest break into a mocking laughter. I cross my fingers, hoping that I am not the aunty they are talking about. Rocky has not given his answer yet.
“Wait Remy, are you asking him about my mom?” Cherry asks. Winny and Remy are in stitches. They just cannot control their laughter.
“So are we going to know if mum has a secret admirer?” Charlie my son asks. Oh My God! It’s me they are talking about.
“Yes.” Rocky says in a very low tone.
“Yes to what? You have a crush on mum?” Charlie continues to jab on his cousin.
“Yes. I have a crush on your mum!” My nephew confesses.
“Dude!” My son yells and laughs so loudly infecting the rest with his laugh. Remy reveals to them that her brother is always talking about me, that he hates to disappoint me that he even said at one time that his uncle(his father’s brother who is my husband) is lucky to have me as his wife.
I start to understand why only Rocky offers to help with the baking, why he is very polite to me and why he is so generous with compliments.
After they have heard a good laugh, Winny urges Rocky, the nineteen year old to direct his attention to my son. Charlie clears his throat and chooses truth. I can tell he is nervous. Probably because Rocky is the one asking and could be out to avenge his past embarrassment a few minutes ago. My son is the eldest of them all. A first year in university.
“Charlie, tell us why the other boys called you Big D in high school.” The silence that follows the question is too loud. I smell dangerous tension.
“Well, It’s truth or dare. You know the rules. Say the truth and nothing but the truth. After all, every one else here has said their truth.” Rocky speaks with a controlled thrill.
The three girls are silent. Then I hear a loud crash of broken glass. I open the door impulsively. I stare at each of them studiously. Only Rocky avoids my gaze. They are possibly wondering how much I have heard.
My glass jug of juice lies broken on the floor. The teenagers are now apprehensive. They steal glances at each other.
“What’s going on here?” I ask and notice Rocky is the most edgy.
“Nothing is going on mum, it’s just that the jug fell accidently.” Cherry answers as her cousins unconvincingly nod in agreement. Charlie’s eyes are red. He also avoids my stare now.
“Ok. I was just thinking. Your dad Cherry and Charlie who is your uncle Winny, Remy and Rocky is in low spirits today. Why don’t we try and make him feel better today by cooking his favourite meal?” I ask.
Rocky springs up quickly and the others reluctantly follow. I assign them various chores in the kitchen. Remy hates to cut onions for the vegetable salad so they exchange their duties with Charlie who I had assigned to wash the rice for the pilau.
I watch as they happily all mess up the kitchen I had vigorously cleaned up some few hours ago , forgetting the near war that almost was.
Covid 19 has taught me that these are not the little babies used to be spoon fed. I live with adults that know too much. I am a parent though, and am expected to help them sail through the journey of adulthood until they are out of my house to their own. My sleeves need rolling a bit higher. So help me God.