I’ve never been an angry man. My father was. He used to hit my mother when he came home drunk. I remember hearing her cries and feeling so helpless. All I wanted to do was protect her.
I vowed that I’d be everything that he wasn’t.
God blessed my wife and I with twins, a daughter, Asha, and a boy, Etuna. They were typical children and grew up into typical teens. Or so I thought. I can’t pinpoint a time when I realised that Etuna was different. As he got older, his friends started getting girlfriends. “He’s a late bloomer,” said my wife with a smile. “He’s focused on his schoolwork. Much too clever to be girl-obsessed like I was!” I’d laugh.
But as the years passed, so did the chuckles and smiles. “I want grandchildren one day” said his mother, almost daily, while organising dates with her friends’ daughters. But Etuna had wasn’t interested.
I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, why he didn’t want to be happy. Until I realised that he already was.
One day, his phone was on the kitchen table and it buzzed. It was a message from Ndulu, a boy from the next village who was the talk of every town. His parents died 4 years ago and suddenly he turned gay, because he had no one to steer him in the right direction. Why was my son talking to this shameful man who can’t find God? I opened the message: “I love you, Etuna”.
I threw my son’s bedroom door open, it rattled on its hinges as it smashed against the wall. “What is this?” I roared, pulling Etuna from his bed. “What is this!?” Etuna tried to shake himself awake to understand what was happening. Silas ran into the room and stood helpless by the door. “Etuna! Answer me! What is this? Why are you doing this? And Silas, have you known and kept this from me?! What kind of men have I raised?”
Time stood still.
“Father, I love him” whispered Etuna.
I grabbed him by the neck, pushed him against the wall and said “get out of my house”.
When people asked me where Etuna had gone, I told them that he was travelling to find a wife. But as time went on the secret became more and more difficult to keep. Side-glances become whispers. Whispers became murmurings. Murmurings became gossip.
Months later, I was walking with Asha to fetch water when I saw a couple from Church. I waved and shouted, “hello, neighbour!” He waved back briefly then muttered to his wife, “Poor man, his son is gay. He kicked him out but it didn’t work, he must be so disappointed. He must feel like such a failure. I wish we could help.”
Without a breath, Asha said, “My father doesn’t need your help or your sympathy! He raised us to love, to care, to be kind. He raised us to be people that he could be proud of. Just because my brother is a different kind of man, doesn’t make him less of a man!”
No one could move. Even the wind went silent. We all just stared at Asha. The couple in confusion. Me, with respect.
We walked home in silence. When we reached the front door, I looked towards my daughter and said, “Call your brother and tell him that it’s time to come home”.