The Ehaekpen family walked out of the court house. They watched as Osaretin, Stephen and the two hoodlums were pushed into the police van and driven out of the premises. The hoodlums and Stephen were sentenced to ten years imprisonment, while Osaretin got five years as an accomplice.
“This is your entire fault,” Osarodion attacked his father.
Nosakhare turned to look at his first son.
“You are not excluded mum,” he glared at her.
“This is not the time or place to…” Osayuki rebuked him.
“Shut up!” he lashed out at her.
She stared back at her elder brother. What was wrong with him?
“This is equally your fault,” he pointed a finger at her.
She shook her head.
“Since the day you were born, they dotted on you like, like something that will break any minute.”
She moved closer to her parents. She didn’t like the fact that her brother’s outburst was drawing attention.
“He is right. It is your entire fault, Madam favourite child,” Osabohen chimed in.
She dropped her jaw and stared back at her younger sister. She exchanged glances with her parents. They were equally stunned.
He faced his parents, “Your constant progressive years of favouritism towards her led to Osaretin’s sick plan.”
“We could have settled this as a family, but, no, you threw your son into prison,” Osabohen added and glared at them.
Efe intervened. He led the elderly couple to their car and instructed the driver to take them home. Osayuki followed him into his car and broke down crying. He drove out of the parking lot and swerved the car into the road. An hour later, he parked the car and got out. He opened the side door and helped her out of the car. She looked around her and stared back at him.
“What are we doing here?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Good, then come with me.”
She took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. She held his hand and allowed him to lead her into Bar beach. She wasn’t comfortable. She didn’t understand why he brought her there.
“This place brought you a lot of pain and nightmares. I want to change the way you feel about coming to the beach by replacing your bad memories with happy ones.”
She raised an eyebrow. What was he up to?
“I have taken care of you for about eight, nine months and we’ve been good friends afterwards.”
“Yes and I am grateful.”
“I want more.”
Her eyes locked on his firm serious ones.
“I want to take care of you every single day and forever.”
She blinked. What was he saying?
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to grow old with you by my side.”
Her eyes smarted with tears. His words comforted and satisfied a yearning deep within her.
“I didn’t know when I started falling for you… it just dawned on me recently that you have taken over my whole heart. I want you to be mine and I want to be forever yours,” he reached out for her trembling hands.
Tears rolled down her face. In the midst of the challenges in her family, she couldn’t believe that something so beautiful was happening to her.
“I love you, will you marry me?”
She smiled, “Yes, yes, I will.”
He pulled her into his arms. She held unto him, finding comfort in the warmth of his arms. She closed her eyes and opened them. She saw a group of men afar off. They were cutting down the bamboo hut and ripping it apart. She sighed with relief. God had answered her prayers in more ways than she could count.
Osaretin sat in his cell which he shared with twenty others. His past actions beclouded his thoughts. He had allowed envy, jealousy and bitterness to take over his heart and lead him down a destructive path. If only he could turn back the hands of time. How was he going to survive five years locked up with all sort of criminals?
One of the Prison officers approached his cell and beckoned to him. He got up and walked up to the gate. He was informed that he had a visitor and was led out of the cell. He followed the officer to a corner. They were several benches arranged in the compact space. He saw some of the prisoners seated with their visitors. A few Prison officers stood on guard. He sat down and waited. He saw his younger sister the moment she walked in with the male nurse. He wished the ground would open and swallow him. They approached him and sat on an empty bench opposite him.
“You have just ten minutes,” the officer announced and stepped away.
She stared at her brother. He was in a green khaki shirt and shorts. His face was bushy with beard and he looked pale. He had also lost a lot of weight.
“How are you doing?”
He raised his head and looked back at her, “What are you doing here?”
She swallowed hard and glanced at Efe. He squeezed her hand in a gesture of support.
“I… I want to… I want you to know that… I have forgiven you.”
He blinked several times. Tears gathered in his eyes and there was a lump in his throat.
“You… you had your reasons for… but, I forgive you.”
He nodded and bowed his head. She has forgiven him. How could she? Was it possible? Did he deserve it?
“Can I come… to see you… sometimes?”
He looked up at her and nodded. The tears came.
“Efe and I are getting married.”
He smiled and nodded, he looked at the male nurse, “Take care of my sister.”
“I will,” Efe assured him.
The officer returned, “Your time is up.”
Efe helped his fiancée to her feet. They waved goodbye and walked out.
“You have another visitor,” the guard informed him.
He wiped his face with the back of his hand. He was in handcuffs. It made it difficult. His parents appeared and he sucked in breath. They settled on the bench opposite him.
“Look at my baby,” she began to cry.
He stilled his emotions and looked away.
“Please forgive us, we didn’t mean to love one of our children more than the rest,” his father pleaded.
“We got carried away,” she sobbed.
He turned his head and directed his gaze at them, “I am sorry too… I didn’t mean to… I was only trying to get your attention…” he started to cry.
The officer returned and pulled him up, “Your time is up.”
“I forgive you,” his voice cracked.
“Thank you,” they chorused and got to their feet. They watched as the officer led him away. He glanced back at them.
Osabohen unlocked the front door. She folded her arms across her chest when she saw her parents at the door.
“To what do I owe this grand visit?”
They exchanged glances.
It dawned on them that she wasn’t going to allow them in.
“Sabby… we… we made mistakes,” Etinosa stared back at her.
“Yes, you did, big time.”
“We are sorry,” they chorused.
“You are twenty eight years too late,” Osabohen stepped back into her apartment and tried to close the door.
Nosakhare stopped her, “Please forgive us.”
She eyed them. Their mistake had cost her brother five years imprisonment. It cannot be undone.
“We will make up for everything. No matter what it takes, no matter how long,” Etinosa assured her.
She hissed and allowed them in. They walked into the living room and sat on a settee while she sat opposite them.
“You stopped coming to work, you won’t even pick our calls… we haven’t seen you in eight weeks.”
“That is history mum. What is the way forward?”
The couple exchanged glances.
“We have gone to see your brother?” Nosakhare informed her.
“How is he?”
“I will talk to Osarodion. After all, you are still our parents.”
“Thank you,” they got up, “Someone else is here to see you.”
Her puzzled gaze locked on their calm ones, “Who?”
“Be patient,” they found their way out.
Osayuki and Efe came in.
“Oh my goodness,” she crossed her legs, “Here comes the favourite child and her nurse.”
They held hands.
“Don’t call me that! You have no right.”
She swallowed hard, “I didn’t ask to be favoured above my siblings.”
“I had no idea that it had such a negative effect on everyone.”
“I thought you were smart.”
“I am sorry. I am sorry for depriving you of the joy and privileges attached to being the last child in the family.”
She leaned back on the chair and eyed her.
“Our parents should have dotted on you… not me.”
“It is okay. The damage has been done already,” Osabohen looked away.
“Can we start over… as a family?” Osayuki asked.
“He is included.”
“He is in prison.”
“He is still part of us, howbeit from afar.”
“Okay… I will speak to Osarodion and let him know.”
“I will speak for myself,” he came out of his hiding place, “I concur with your plans. I think we can all start over as a family.”
She smiled and squeezed her fiancé by the hand.
“When is the wedding?” Osarodion faced Efe.
“It is in December.”
“That is six weeks away.”
“You can call me Sabby.”
They all started to laugh.
“Will you like to be my maid of honour?”
“Hope you don’t have a best man,” Osarodion addressed Efe.
“Tell him to take a rain check. I am your best man.”
They all started to laugh.
Osayuki was very happy that they had been able to sort out their issues and reconciled. God had indeed been faithful.