Secrets have a funny way of always coming out when you least expect them. And when they do, they turn your world around until you don’t know what’s what and you cannot tell the difference between enemy and family. It’s the betrayal that stays with you like a permanent scar. No amount of apologies can rub it off.
It is even worse when that betrayal comes from a parent.
My father – he who sold our family home so that he and his mistress can live comfortably – is sick! (I don’t know if you remember but he spent some time in hospital last year – due to cancer.) Now, he’s lost weight and is – excuse the cliché – a shadow of his former self. But, that’s not the worst. The worst is that, now that he’s broke and can’t work because of his health issues, his mistress has discarded him. And now he’s moved in with us.
I don’t know how mom does it, this thing of having a heart that forgive so easily… because I can’t. I can’t pretend that he never left and that everything has always been cool. I can’t sit on the table, across him and pretend to be having a decent conversation with my dad whereas I know that he’s been missing in my life for four years. So, I have spent the past four days in my room and I have refused to speak to him. Mom – his new lawyer – was here, she says I should forgive him, but I can’t.
The moment she left the room I started packing my clothes back into their suitcases. I’m leaving this place. What she doesn’t know is that I, too, have been keeping a secret from her. Just like her, I wanted to talk to her face to face, but we haven’t really had the time to sit down and catch up. My home is now like a war zone, tense and not much laughter going on. This is why I’m leaving. The packing is done hurriedly, I don’t even bother to pack the clothes nicely and I only stop when I have to wipe the tears running down my face with the back of my hand.
“What do you think you are doing, Zinzi,” it’s my mom, standing by the door. I didn’t hear her coming down the passage.
“I’m packing. I’m leaving,” I say without looking at her.
“You can’t do that, Zinzi,” she says.
“I can, mama.” I say, “And, as you can see, I’m doing it,”
She looks at me, her eyes spell disbelief. “You can’t just up and leave. We are family…”
“Family, right?” I cut her off, “Don’t you think he should’ve thought of that too? Before he left?” It’s not a question and she knows it. She just looks at me. Her eyes are begging me not to leave. Tears fall from her eyes. A part of me wants to stand up and walk towards her and hold her…but I don’t. Instead, when I do stand up, I go to the wardrobe to check if there’s anything I have left behind.
“So, where are you going?” she says, snivelling and wiping her tears
“I don’t know yet. Maybe crash with Noxy for a few days and think about my next move, but…” I stop to think about it, how to phrase it right. This is my moment. My secret. “I got accepted to study Media Law in Germany, so that’s where I think life is leading to, eventually.”
“What?” The anguish in her voice breaks my heart. “You can’t do that, Zinzi.”
“Because… because…” She’s looking for the right words to say. “Because you can’t,” she says finally.
“Stop saying that! I’m not sixteen anymore. This is my life – I will live it how I want to,”
“What will running away solve?”
“I’m not running away. I’m tired of the lies.” I say, zipping the suitcase. This proves to be quite a task. My whole life packed in a suitcase. “Would you, please, help with zipping this?”
At first, she looks at me then she reluctantly moves towards me. I sit on top of the suitcase and she zips it. Unlike suitcases and clothes, secrets can’t be zipped away forever, eventually they come out to haunt you.