I have a crush on my uncle. I have a silly crush on my uncle, and I don’t know what to do about it. His name is Charles Uchenna “Uche” Nwagu, but my siblings and I have called him uncle Charlie ever since he visited us for the first time that sunny afternoon many years ago when Aunty Kathy came to introduce him to mommy. He told us to simply call him “Charlie” that day. Mommy would definitely not have it, so she made us add “uncle” as a customary sign of respect. Did I mention that uncle Charles is married to Aunty Kathy – my mom’s youngest sibling?
Aunty Kathy and Uncle Charlie are alike in many ways; tiny wonder they stuck to each other like wood and glue. I remember how I used to admire her beautiful red-painted nails as a child; I used to secretly hope that I’d grow up one day and have nails as beautiful as that. I also admired her large eyes, and the way she would throw her head back –so carefreely, yet so elegantly– and laugh whenever she was intrigued; and even though mommy did not approve of her smoking, she did it anyway.
Aunty Kathy gave my brother, Nonso his first drink when he was 13; needless to say, it took mommy several years to get over that one. She met Uncle Charlie in one of those overpriced clubs in PH city during the oil boom. He had been living in the city for several years, working with one of the many oil companies exploring the region, while she had just relocated for her year-long paramilitary service. It was love at first dance.
Aunty Kathy fondly narrates how Uncle Charlie saved her from a drunk, horny catcaller by swooping in at the nick of time and pretending to be her boyfriend. He then offered to buy her a gin and tonic to calm her nerves, and by the time he took her to the dance floor, they already had this unfathomable vibe. She married him three months later and had Kene – their first child – after an additional six months.
Now, I knew that it takes nine months to make a baby before it’s born. I mean, that’s what Mrs. Adebanji had taught us in biology class. So, when I wondered why Kene was born just six months after aunty Kathy’s wedding, I childishly waved it off and assumed that she probably had some child-bearing superpower. It wasn’t until I eavesdropped on mommy and Aunty Nkechi, their oldest sibling, wringing their noses at Aunty Kathy and her liberal ways that I realized that she probably went home with Kene the night she met Uncle Charlie.
Aunty Kathy is still very much like her old self. She doesn’t smoke anymore, but she hosts the most exciting parties and still always has her nails painted the fieriest of reds. Uncle Uche takes some time for himself too. On a good day when he’s not tucked behind his large Oakwood desk, you can find him in his matte black AMG G-Class SUV, driving at 40 Kmph and blasting Osita Osadebe from his stereo, or at his favorite spot in Bonny having a drink with the boys.
But that isn’t even why I have developed this stupid crush.
Last Friday, I was sitting alone in the living room, halfway paying attention to the rerun of a cosmetic reality show, and halfway chatting with contacts on my messaging app. It was past 9 pm and Kene and Ada – my little cousins – were already in bed. So was aunty Kathy, who had already drunk a considerable amount of red wine.
“What?” she retorted when I shot her the stink eye, “it’s good for my heart.”
I heard keys rattle at the front door and I knew uncle Charles was home. I heard him step into the foyer before he came into full glare under the golden living room light.
He was dressed in a crisp black kaftan with a matching leather suitcase. The outfit sat majestically on his stockily built body, like an Igwe in his obi. He approached me, Arabian OUD wafting through the air.
“ Jane, you’re still awake?” he remarked as more of a statement than a question.
“Yes, uncle, I slept in the afternoon. Nno,” I greeted him. He responded and asked after everyone. I told him they had all retired to bed.
“And my wife?”
“Same,” I said.
He chuckled and shook his head, a perfect dimple resembling Kene’s digging into his left cheek as he smiled to reveal a set of level teeth; “I’m sure she drank a whole bottle of wine.”
To be continued…