Vincent rushed into the shabby one room apartment he shares with Chinaza, his obnoxious younger brother. He looked at the wall clock across the room “Ah, thank God” he muttered when he saw it was one minute past nine am. He made straight for the portable transistor radio resting precariously on a broken down Panasonic television set, but was halted in his stride when his big toe got entangled with a loose thread from the thread bare rug carpet. He winced and hopped the rest of the way to the radio. He pressed the ‘On’ button and a blast of static filled the room, he battled valiantly to tune the dial to 100.5 Fm “… ladies and gentlemen please receive Muyiwa Afolabi, your practical career success coach, enjoy…” came faintly from the speakers of the radio. There was a bit of static and the radio went dead.
“Damn!” Vincent mouthed. Feverishly, he turned the radio on its back to check the state of the batteries. He took them out and saw that one of the three batteries was soggy with rust brown liquid, indicating the end of the battery functionality. “Ah! And I don’t have money for battery now oh” he soliloquized. He dropped the soggy battery on the centre table, took the dirty table napkin and wiped the battery cavity on the radio. He inserted the other two manageable batteries and went to the window sill to inspect five other used batteries he kept there for such a time as this.
He found one that wasn’t covered in whitish soot like the others. He made a mental note to dispose of the batteries later while inserting the salvageable one in the radio. He pressed the ‘On’ button again. “Good morning my friends, how are you doing this morning? Hope your night went well?” came the cheery, if somewhat distorted voice of Muyiwa Afolabi from the radio. Vincent tweaked the antenna as he moved around the room to get a clearer reception. “This morning I want to talk about seasons; Seasons in life and seasons in careers. To achieve outstanding success in life, there is a need to understand seasons. This morning let’s talk about understanding your seasons. I’ll tell you a story…” the voice from the radio trailed off.
Vincent frowned at the radio trying very hard not to miss a word as a French speaking station from a neighboring West African country intrudes on the 100.5 Fm frequencies. This often happen during the harmattan season. He took himself and the radio glued to his right ear to the open window to get a better reception. “… dear friends, can I say this to you? You need to stop blaming your Parents, the Government and your background for your lack of achievements or good fortune. Frankly speaking, you are solely responsible for where you are right now. You see, there is a time and season for everything; you need to recognize your season and make the best use of it. So may I charge you dear friends, to accept responsibilities, take charge of your life…” Vincent nodded vigorously with conviction, oblivious to the fact that Chinaza had just stepped into the room.
Chinaza stood at the door looking at his elder brother with contempt. Chinaza is the complete antithesis of Vincent. While Vincent stood at five feet ten inches, fair skinned, slight of built with grasshopper arms tapering into artistic feminine fingers, Chinaza, on the other hand stood at five feet six inches, charcoal black in complexion, stout and incredibly strong. Chinaza is a gym rat and a bouncer in one of the struggling nite clubs on the Mainland. Chinaza is twenty eight years of age. He used to beat up Vincent when they were kids for the simple reasons that Vincent was smarter, more intelligent, and delicate and their parents’ favorite. And when Vincent eventually got admission into the University that simply adds to the long list of Vincent’s unforgiveable sins in Chinaza’s book.
Now look at the wimp, clutching a goddam radio as if that is what will keep Iya Tawa from breathing down our necks. With all his University education, I am the one housing and feeding him now. If truth be told, Chinaza in his calmer moment couldn’t explain his irrational jealousy and hatred for his only brother and sibling. He had always hated Vincent; as a matter of fact he hated his father and his mother even more. He couldn’t shake off this feeling that his mother, in her desperation to have more children must have slept with another man to give birth to him (Chinaza) or how else can one explain the fact that he (Chinaza) looked nothing like the rest of the family; neither in beauty nor brain.
When Vincent put a call through to Chinaza eighteen months ago to inform him (Chinaza) that he (Vincent) had lost his job and the company had given him seventy two hours to vacate the company’s staff quarters and if Chinaza could accommodate him in the meantime. Chinaza was happy that ‘the mighty had fallen’ and needed his help. When Vincent turned up at Chinaza’s door step two days after the call, Chinaza didn’t cut him any slack; Each will take care for his own feeding, the house rent and the utility bills will be shared ‘fifty fifty’. Vincent wasn’t bothered he knew he would be out of Chinaza’s hair six months tops or so he thought.
Chinaza shook his head pityingly now, eye balling his brother insolently, with his large mouth (which Vincent privately referred to as ponmo mouth) turned all the way down he advanced towards Vincent. “…. Read your season well and be true to yourself……” the voice continued from the radio as Chinaza tapped Vincent on the shoulder. Vincent almost jumped out of his skin, so engrossed was he with the motivational talk. He turned to see his younger brother extends his right hand, palm upwards “The house rent” Chinaza demanded succinctly. Vincent frowned disapprovingly at his younger brother “Not now, later” he said in a stage whisper, dismissing his brother out of hand and turning his back on him, which was a grave mistake.
Chinaza last restraint flew out of the nearby window as he angrily spun his elder brother round. Startled, Vincent’s grip on the radio loosen and it fell on the cushion chair beside the window, the radio bounced once then settled on its face as the muffled recorded voice of Muyiwa Afolabi continues to spew words of encouragement. “You agreed to pay half of the rent when you moved in with me and this is the eighteenth month and you have not paid a dime” Chinaza fumed “And you have the nerve to tell me later. All you have done this past year is to listen to someone making his own money over the radio telling you what to do. Are you not a man like him eh? Go out there and get a job. Even Ekene, the compound’s imbecile knows that to survive in Lagos, you need a paying job, a paying job senior pangolo” Chinaza said jeeringly.
Vincent stood somberly looking at his brother, his face expressionless. This lack of emotion only got Chinaza in knots. Vincent made to pick up the radio from the cushion; he wasn’t going to respond to Chinaza’s aggravation. Chinaza poked him hard on the shoulder, stopping Vincent from picking up the radio “Are you going to get your half of the rent or you are going to move out so that I can have my peace?” Chinaza demanded, spittle flying out of his fleshy lips. Vincent’s face displayed an uncharacteristic annoyance “What is your problem?” he shouted, shoving Chinaza hard on the chest with both hands “If you want me to leave your stinking hell hole, just say so!” Chinaza took two staggering steps back, regained his balance and came at Vincent with all the childhood and adolescent hatred he could muster “You call my house a stinking hole, after I have accommodated you for the pass eighteen months?” he queried furious, clenching and unclenching his fists.
“Accommodate me? Ah!” Vincent scoffed “You just wanted an opportunity to gloat and show me how much you despised me. I must have been out of my mind to think you might have changed. Grow up Chinaza, grow up and drag yourself out of that emotional gutter you have been living” Vincent finished breathing hard. He had never liked confrontations of any kind. “Wha…what?” Chinaza spluttered, beside himself with rage “In my own house? You have the nerve to insult me in my own house?” his itchy right fist shot out like lightening and connected fair and square with Vincent’s jaw. “… Enjoy your day” Muyiwa Afolabi mumbled from the radio on the cushion chair as Vincent crumbled onto the thread bare rug in a dead faint.