As Larry got down from the car; the tall building stood with grace in the centre of one of the biggest city in Nigeria; Lagos.
The building was a hospital that had a big reputation as one of the famous and high profile hospitals in Lagos State.
Larry was overwhelmed and intimidated by the massive edifice but he started to wonder why he was here.
“Why am I here? What am I doing here?” His thought pricked his motive and his actions.
As he was about heading for the airport to catch the flight to Lagos his phone buzzed. He picked the phone and he hesitated to pick the call because it was an unknown number. The phone stopped ringing and he dropped the phone back on the bed..
Some seconds later, the phone rang and when he picked up the phone he realized that it was the same number. He sighed and pressed the answer button uninterestingly.
Immediately he heard the voice, the urge to destroy the phone was so profound and strong. That hatred that he thought was dead and buried resurrected with so much life and strenght. It rose in its full compliment of harm and death.
‘What do you want Tunde?” He asked; the name tasting like bile in his mouth.
The voice at the other end was faint and weary. The voice was filled with fear and uncertainty.
Larry flashed back to that day in class as Senior Bolaji stared at Tunde. It was more of a glare. Tunde froze because he had nowhere of escape.
“Stand up”, Bolaji commanded.
The other prefects came around. Excitement getting the best of them.
“Finally the rogue has been caught”, one of the prefects said.
Bolaji just smiled.Tunde was expressionless. His backside refusing to leave the comfort of the seat as if the seat would provide him some sort of escape route.
Tunde found it so easy to pray. Something he always found hard to do.
“You are going to regret ever coming to this school, I promise you”, Bolaji said with so much venom and disgust although his face did not show it
Tunde was fidgeting inside but he was doing a good job at hiding it.
As he was been lead out of the class he was handled like a criminal.
“Senior Bolaji, its my fault”, Larry said as he came out from the class where he was.
They were all standing between jss one and jss two block. The whole students in both jss one and two became the audience. They marvelled at the audacity of this handsome looking boy. Larry looked like David confronting Goliath and his troops.
“Bolaji was puzzled. His eyebrow raised. What do you mean?” He asked. Arms folded on his chest, waiting for Larry to speak.
Larry held nothing back. He wasn’t scared and his boldness stunned the prefects, most especially Bolaji.
“I was the one who came up with the idea of eating your snacks so as to get back at you”.
Larry paused searching for proof that Senior Bolaji was believing what he was saying. When he was satisfied that he was, he then continued,
“So if you are going to punish him, punish me along with him”, Larry said bold face.
Bolaji was mute. His prefects said nothing They waited for him to act. To crush ant that stood in front of them. Bolaji hesitated He was unsure of his next action, but one thing was sure; Larry, unknowingly to himself, had succeeded on impressing Senior Bolaji without planning to do so.
Larry’s audacity and boldness pleased Bolaji.
Bolaji’s temporary state of dumbness vanished and he found his voice. The audience were expectant. They wanted to see what would happen next to Larry.
“Lemme ask you two questions”. Larry did not shift his gaze away from Bolaji’s. He was prepared.
“Did you join him in consuming both my drink and snack?”
“Yes”, Larry answered promptly. Without any inhibition or barrier
The way he answered shocked his friend Tunde, who all this while was temporarily free from his impending doom, had forgotten he had not been left off the hook.
“Finally, is he your friend?” He said and pointed to Tunde.
Tunde looked at Larry and he was unsure what answer Larry was going to give because the truth was that they were not in anywhere friends. And at first, that fact didn’t bother him but the more he thought about it, “What if the right answer to that question was going to let him off the hook?” At the same time he had no idea what the right answer was.
The spot light was on Larry and he was handling it all with so much maturity, self assuredness and confidence
Larry looked up at Senior Bolaji, then he looked at Tunde and he smiled and then back at Senior Bolaji;
“Yes he is not just my friend but my best friend”.
Tunde was waiting to see if that answer was the answer that totally sealed his fate or set him free.
Senior Bolaji smiled and the smile was so childish and free natured. Tunde got his answer to his question.
Larry became the school son of the Head Boy and Tunde’s punishment was simply to buy a bottle of soft drink and snacks every break time for one term which wasn’t in any way simple. Tunde had wished that he was beaten or punished because he barely brought enough money to school for his lunch, most times he didn’t come to school with any money. But Tunde made sure he had no problem purchasing the items for the rest of the term.
“Larry-Larry-Larry, are you there?” Tunde quipped over the phone. Larry returned back fron his reverie. He sniffed his nose. Tears welling up in his eyes. His emotions was threatening to over come him.
“I am here”, he managed to say.
“This might be too much for me to ask after what I did to you but please I need to see you?” Tunde said pleadingly.
Larry was silent. His breathing was heavy. He was trying to make up his mind. He was trying to think but he couldn’t. Inspite of the hate that he felt for Tunde he still had so much love for him.
He remembered that period when he was sick and admitted into the hospital for almost two months. Tunde was the one who covered up for him in his test, assignments, signing his attendance and paid up for things that needed to be paid for or else Larry would have carried over the courses of that semester to the next semester. Tunde was a loyal friend; he was almost family.
“Larry, please… I don’t know how much time I have left before I leave this world”, Tunde said.
Concern decorated Larry’s face and he didn’t want to feel concern or pity for his disloyal friend.
“What is wrong with you?” Larry asked masking his concern and fear.
“I have Prostrate cancer. Its been for almost three years now”, he said.
Tears started to flow down Larry’s lovely and cherubic face.
Tunde kept on talking but Larry was not listening. He was lostin thought.
His mind flashed back to that period when Tunde lost his dad. He was in two hundred level then when it happened. That period was a trying time for Tunde’s family, most especially his mother who automatically became the bread winner of the family. Tunde was the only child left; he lost his junior brother a year earlier before the death of his father to Polio. Tunde felt sorry for his mother.After all the suffering that they had been through together. Tunde was scared and worried that his mother would not be able to handle the lonliness. During that time he always made sure he came home whenever there was any form of break or holiday.
“Where are you right now?” Larry asked.
As Larry stepped into the hospital,he was filled with dread as to what he would say when he saw Tunde.
One thing was sure he had alot of questions that needed answers and today was the day that the Lord had made for this to happen.
As he left the reception after been directed to the ward that Tunde was he started to hum a song by late Whitney Houston, “I look to you”.