Family? What sounds more harmonic than the thought of an ethereal bond keeping different minds, persons and thoughts together? Even a stench in a millennium can’t stand the sweet aroma of unity that abounds in a home…of a mother and a child…a father and his daughters..a man and his son…a sister and her sister…and indeed a brother and a brother…The notch of love heals a broken home nevertheless…and indeed albeit a scramble for distance launches a pirouette at their feet, earmarking a circle of love…and unity once more.)
Dreams’ estate, Blossom city.
Mrs Ajayi: Tosin! Tosin! ( To herself) I wonder why this child can’t get these headphones off his head!
Tosin: Mother! (Takes off his headphones) But that shouldn’t warrant you to yell my name so loudly! Indeed, the walls have gone nauseous of that name!
Mrs Ajayi: (She gets annoyed) Tosin, you were a lot nicer than this when you were younger. I am disappointed at the fact that you lack manners! I am your mother! And I deserve some respect! A mind ravaged by scorns can never be successful.
Tosin: Oh, I’m sorry! Can we now get this over with? I have some cool songs on my playlist waiting to be played. So please…Mrs Ajayi, let the show begin!
Mrs Ajayi: Uncle Banjo, my younger brother just arrived. He got to Blossom city some hours ago. He’d soon be here. And I don’t want him to appear like a total stranger to you. If I could remember quite vividly, he came here five years ago…When you were just nineteen.
Tosin: Cut to the chase, mum. I know uncle Banjo! What’s this all about?
Mrs Ajayi: Well…There are always thoughts and deeds that purge the mind of its paucity. We err as men…But what makes us unique is what we do to correct them….and also how we get them done. We all have something to confess about…This is the reason your uncle has been behind covers for twenty four years! He has been hiding from the claws of Chief Benson all these years…Before your father died, Chief Benson gave us a loan of 3,000,000 naira. With the loan, your father was treated and my collapsed business was resurrected. Ignorant as we were by the veil of poverty, we signed our eternal allegiance to that vicious snake- Chief Benson Aguiyo! Our debt…our debt was more than the money itself…It surmounted the promise of a payback…It surpassed mere financial transactions! Our debt…Our debt was Tunde, your brother!
Tosin: I don’t understand you. Is this a gag or what? Is this a plot to truncate the gaiety of a good day like this? Which brother? God knows that I am your only child…that’s what you told me years ago. So what’s this all about?
Mrs Ajayi: Hmmm…(She sobs) You had a brother, my son. Your father was diagnosed with cancer. We spent all our earnings on drugs…and…and…
Tosin: Why are you just telling me? Huh? Has this become a dreaded heirloom that should be locked in the minds of my family “members” just for no reason? ( He finagled his way out of his mother’s grip. He walks to an extent and then stops…Seeing the sorrowful look on his mother’s face, his heart grew heavy. In masculinity, he walks back to the couch, sniffed his nose like a child who was holding back his tears; then he sits on the couch again .) Tell me this isn’t true, mum.
Mrs Ajayi: I am sorry, son. Your uncle and I made a promise…To keep this as a secret till you become mature enough to bear it. Now that you have become a grown adult, I cannot but reveal this to you…(She pauses) …We could hardly feed. Your father was bed ridden. We were devoid of choices other than a bid to strike a deal with Chief Benson. He was a wealthy business man..and was your father’s childhood friend. Never did I know a man could be that heinous. He compelled us to make a promise to pay the debt in 6 months or we would give one of our sons to him.
Mrs Ajayi: Yes…Our sons. (She starts to sob) My sons were just three months old then. You had a twin brother. His name was Tunde. You two were my only children. Chief Benson threatened to wipe out our entire family if we failed to redeem our promise. It was a tough decision…but…I had no other choice. Your father was dying. I could not raise my twins alone. Your father needed to stay alive. Your father aligned with my choice…and we collected the loan . We retched the loan on your father’s treatment. But fate was indeed the serenade of doom. Despite the treatment, your father died four months later. Then it seemed like all hope was lost. Six months elapsed and I could only raise a hundred thousand naira. Oh, Chief Benson slapped it in my face. My tears washed his hideous feet…That was the least they could do…Chief Benson was envious of your father despite his riches and the regality of his wealth. He had everything a man would wish for…except a child. I tried to escape with you and your brother but I was apprehended on the way. And he took your brother…your only brother away! I lived for months and weeks without food. I lived in melancholy for days…I even volunteered to pay in installments but he refused! He wanted the full sum! “Pacta sunt servada” He said. (Agreement must be respected) A heart of stone, he had; my son. He ejected me out of his house and that was the last time I set my eyes on your brother…before…before he died.
Tosin: He died? Oh my goodness! But…but…How?
Mrs Ajayi: Your uncle had a plan. Although he never told me…He had a plan to set Chief Benson’s house ablaze and then rescue Tunde. He and his notorious gang then implanted a bomb in the house. Unfortunately, your uncle was unable to save Tunde. Everyone died in the house except Chief Benson who was outside the country at that time. I dreaded your uncle for years. His foolishness killed my son! He was a mere gardener working in Chief Benson’s estate. It seemed like a good plan though. Only an insider like him could strike a deathly blow. But he failed! He failed!
Tosin: This is outrageous! How did he escape? Didn’t he know he was going to take my brother with him too?
Mrs Ajayi: He said the room where your brother was…was locked. Time eluded him…and…I really don’t know. But he’s my brother. I know he only wanted to protect my interest. And I have forgiven him. He doesn’t deserve it…But his action proved that he did. Chief Benson was arrested three weeks later…in connection with the murder of a famous politician. As I speak now, he is still rotting in jail . This is as well his punishment! Blood must have blood! And of course, they all know uncle Banjo is the culprit; Benson and his thugs. So even now that he is rotting in jail, his thugs are out there in search for your uncle! They raded my house in search for him on several occasions. It even served as a menace to my life and that of yours. So I had to evacuate that city. I think we’d be safe here. And as for your uncle, I am not so sure. He is here for a reason. And that reason is certainly inauspicious. But I do hope that God keeps him alive, for death is not an august visitor…Rather, he lurks in no distance…I can still feel it.
Tosin: If my uncle hadn’t bombed that house, perhaps Tunde would have still been alive! Curse him!
Mrs Ajayi: That’s enough! It is but a serendipitous discovery that it happened. Oh of course I am being ironic! Time is indeed bel espirit of our actions. Time will heal our broken wounds, son. Time will satisfy the ravenous hunger of this family…Love is all we need. Love will keep us one. This is the reason I want you to become a successful and responsible man in life . Get rid of the company you keep. They are not responsible! You can’t hang around with touts, drop outs and thieves and become successful. I love you, my son. You are my only child. And I want you to become better than your father. Tell Chief Benson in the face that you are better than his whole life achievements! But I no longer understand you…You graduated from the university a year ago and you’ve been wasting away at home! What is really your problem? Isn’t engineering a professional course? What hinders you from seeking a job other than to walk about in the streets…idle and dreamless!
Tosin: This isn’t the appropriate time for those probing questions! It’s my life…and I wanna live it how I please! My friends are no better than I am! I will not abandon them! They are my family! I am not dreamless. I just don’t want to work for anyone. I want to be an entrepreneur!
Mrs Ajayi: Then work towards it! You can’t become one by listening to music all day…or by moving around with touts…or by laying around with that slut, Mirabel!
Tosin: You know what? I don’t buy this anymore! Mirabel is no slut! And I won’t tolerate such insult from you! Why do you always bother me? Huh? You foolishly gave your son away to a devil and now you wanna give me away too? Come on! You can’t ruin my life like you have ruined other people’s lives! You , that beast you call Mercy…-Benson! ( He feigned a puzzled face to give his mother no clue that he actually knew Chief Benson.) Or whatever you call him, can’t ruin my life just like you ruined that of my innocent brother! You exchanged your own son for money! Why didn’t you let dad just die If he was gonna die anyway? You let your son die in the hands of Banjo! Heartless people! You and Banjo! (He hisses…Mrs Ajayi while still trying to bear all that horrible statements made by her son, Mr Banjo runs in, hardly without breath, as he gasped for more air)
To be continued…