Her nude dress gave off a brilliant glow under the bright lights. Lights that seemed to highlight ever curve on her body. Large hips on a petite size frame. Full breasts. Dark beads glittering on her neckline. She stood directly under the large chandelier which dropped low like glass rain drops. Her skin. So dark. Something writers would describe as native, exotic, – depending on where they were writing from- dark chocolate, black coffee. Her dark spotless face was so expressionless it would take your breathe away. Strange.
She would reek of cigarettes if you went close enough. Like she sprayed on dark smoke. Bright eyes twinkling. It might have been the chandelier.
The crowd fell silent as she held the microphone. Ronke. Second child of the Aregbesola family. 25. Probably soon to be married. Managing director in her father’s enterprise. Highly intelligent.
No one had ever seen her suitor. Strange waste of beauty.
“Good evening” her smile seemed to make the noise in the hall drop a pitch. Her smile. Her pearly white teeth.
“I hope everyone isn’t too drunk yet, to listen to my speech” she turned her head to the direction of her family table “especially my great father”. A wink.
She looked round the grand hall, right through the large pictures of her father erected at all the exits, he wasn’t smiling. He had a severe expression. Strong as men should be. On the projector to her left, a different picture. You would swear he was a different man. His wide smile. Wrinkled eyes. A genuine smile. Me Aregbesola. Tall dark man. Swollen belly. The projector behind her had the words “Daddy is 60” in bold gold italics. The chair covers and table clothes laid in white and wrapped with gold. The cold, bright hall shone like the expert it was in hosting extravagant occasions and bourgeoisie meetings.
When she started to speak, she didn’t take her eyes off the projector.
“It’s hard to even string sentences together during emotional festivity. Many have spoken before me and made toasts to our great Daddy. I feel I have no words to rival those of my predecessors so I’ve decided to give fragile truths” the silence at the family table became uneasy.
Ronke was the family expert at fragile truths, the time she told father off about his mistress still floated around their subconscious. One of the family events no one ever recalled. One of those secrets never acknowledged. There was physical violence. Ronke in the ER.
“I’m the second child of the Aregbesola family, and I’ve been away in the corner all through the occasion as you all know daddy is a busy man. So I’ve thought to my self why not take this opportunity to get across to him” she paused, shook her head and then continued.
“Forgive my erratic composure, giving this speech isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world for me. How do you speak of a man you do not know so well, ” Bimpe, her older sister chucked loudly, her husband followed suit, the crowd chuckled too. Uneasily.
Ronke gave an exasperated laugh
“Bimpe spoke about a great father 40 minutes ago. I thrown into confusion by how easily Bimpe lied. A good father tough on the outside, really soft in the inside.” Another pause
“Like cocoa” she chuckled
“You weren’t a good father. You shouldn’t live your life comfortably thinking you’ve done right. You could have done everything better.” There was a stillness in her eyes “you don’t know your own family. We’re all strangers. You’ve grown too old to be surrounded by flatterers. I came to give the honest alcohol induced truth, because I would treasure the same when I’m sixty”. Bimpe stood up from her table, Her husband held her back to sit.
“I honestly wouldn’t say I have a father”
The silence in the hall was broken by shuffling feet. Uneasy guests making their way to the exits. Loud murmurs. Confusion.
The elderly man on the table behind her, Dr Godwin, her fathers close friend stared at her with utter disdain. Minister Bukola walked out, later that night while turned to the left side of his mahogany king sized bed. Away from his wife. While texting his mistress, he would exclaim “our children’s generation has degenerated! They no longer value respect”.
“Happy Birthday Daddy” Ronke’s voice was loud as thunder. She raised her glass and drank alone.