In Jadison’s car.
Mariam: Are you sure that father is still going to be in his office at this time?
Jady: Certainly. My instincts never lie…
Mariam: Hmmm…I am not so quite sure of that. I hope this is not one of your instincts that you once lived with woman before mother gave birth to you.
Jady: And I was right after all…Mum’s mother;our grandmother was that woman.
Mariam: Hahahaha…Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? ” …before you were born”, you said.
Jady: Mariam, this isn’t the right time to talk about that now. I have got a lot on my shoulders! Right now I need someone to share these problems with…Sadly, the person I thought was the right one has totally defeated my trust.
Mariam: ( She sighs) Whoever that is, you should appreciate the fact that you do have a sister who would be there whenever you’re in need.
Jady: And everyone preferred the idea of me being oblivious about everything! Sister, what is really going on in this family? Why does it seem like the happiness and warmth of love that we shared years back have been stolen by the cold hands of the haubeck of winter? I was barely out of the country for a year and all have seemed to have crashed and been buried in the bathymetrical seas?
Mariam: A lot has happened, big brother…A lot. No wonder grand mum always said; “The moment your brother finds another brother and your father finds another son, every man is driven to his own home…everyone bears his own name and that legacy that lingered in the confines of that unity becomes a shattered philogeny…” Then, this statement never made sense to me. It did seem like a nursery rhyme to me, for grand mum always sang it to our ears.
Jady: Hmmm…That doesn’t make sense! But is it really wrong to have another brother or a sister? And for father to have another child?
Mariam: Well, I can’t say. I will ponder on that statement later…It appears like a prophecy to me. For father now has a son elsewhere! And likewise, we now have another brother!
Jady: What? A son? Where?
Mariam: Dad is having an affair with another woman; his mistress. She gave birth to a son for dad three months ago. Dad built a house for her…And recently, he hardly comes home. He spends most of his time in his pled-a-terre with the woman. I don’t know why mum is so silent about it. She acts like she’s the one at fault! I just don’t understand!
Jady: No! No! No! This can’t be happening! And no one told me this? Oh damn it!
Mariam: Take it easy, Jady! You are driving! Oh that’s dad’s car…You were right indeed. But isn’t it strange for dad to be at the office at this time?
Jady: I don’t care…Stay in the car! I need to speak with this man in private!
Mariam: No…He’s my dad too. I need to speak with him!
( He enters his father’s office while Mariam walks forlornly at his back, like a dog which is scared of its master)
Mr Edem: Is that Jadison? Come my son! Welcome back! Have a seat.( Mr Edem, a man in his early fifties, the father of three; arches his back against the chair and retreats with a smile that was quite contagious. He looked older than he was some months ago, his youthful looks suddenly disappears into the thin air amassed by the stench of old age. He was quite surprised to see his son standing in front of him. He knew his son must have been engineered by his wife’s old wives’ tale already and had come to “apprehend” him like a security officer charged to detain him.)
Jadison: Good evening, father.
Mr Edem: How are you, my son? I am sorry I could not pick you from the airport today? It’s a monday syndrome…The sight of too many piled up files on my table isn’t a good one, is it? I had to attend to them. So how was your trip? I can see changes in you already! It is quite apparent that you had a great time there!
Jadison: Indeed…I did. I must confess that the changes are really overwhelming!
Mr Edem: I was planning on coming to the house this evening. But since the mountain has come to Mohammed, what’s the need? Huh? Rebecca! Rebecca! Serve my son the finest wine in this office!
Jadison: Thanks, sir. Urhhmmm…Mariam accompanied me here. But she is quite angry with you. I guess that explains why she is still at the reception.
Mr Edem: Hmmm…Women…They are indeed the most difficult species God ever created…Speaking of which, how is Nkem? I haven’t heard a word from her since you left…I hope she is doing alright.
Jadison: Hmmm…(He sighs deeply) Nkem? Hmmm…Nkem broke up with me.
Mr Edem: …Quite sad…Oh well! Easy come, easy go, huh? Don’t panic! Now that you are an established lawyer, women will flock around you!- but be wise, my son. It doesn’t pay to become a Casanova. Be a responsible man…Be humble, diligent and peaceful in your ways, and I bet you, life would offer to you, an angel as a wife. You are still young, my son. Very young…So you have ample time!
Jadison: (Scratches his head and then when he sees that his father was staring at him, he retreats and then nods as if he just heard what his father said.) uhmmm…speaking of wife…urhmmm what about mum? Are…are… Aren’t you two together anymore?
Mr Edem: Of course, we are. But there are things in this life that has to be done. I love children. And you know your mother can’t get pregnant anymore…So I had no other choice than to get a child somewhere else… I would introduce you to…the mother and my little son very soon…She has been so excited to see you!
Jadison: Sir, this isn’t right. You are totally hurting my mother’s feelings. And I am quite aware that you are hardly ever around! If you want to have another wife, I can’t force you not to! But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the family you have at home! This isn’t fair!
Mr Edem: I have been with your mother half of my life here on earth! I have always been with my children! Don’t you think it’s fair to do the same with my baby mother and my son too?
Jadison: Then you’d have to consider balancing the equation! You signed up for this! So you have to bear the burden alone! If you still are our father and my mother’s husband, then you’d have to be with us as much as you are with your mistress!
( Rebecca, Mr Edem’s secretary enters his office with a bottle of wine and two glass cups. She serves the wine and leaves immediately.)
Mr Edem: (He picks up his cup and sips the wine into his mouth) Won’t you drink? This is a toast to celebrate your arrival!
Jadison: I can’t drink while my mother and sister wallow in pain! This is certainly a plot to dissuade from the topic of discussion! We were talking about something, dad! I want to hear your response…With due respect, sir, I really need your response. I am the eldest son, I think I am quite mature for this.
Mr Edem: Hmmm…Indeed, I am nothing but astonished! You now challenge my actions…Well, I am surprised. You are a well trained lawyer! (He smiles) I will take heed to what you said. I will consider coming home every weekend. And perhaps leave every tuesday huh? Like it? ( Jadison nods). I had actually given a thought to that before you came….So…why the melancholic mood? Cheer up! (They share a toast and Jadison asks the secretary to call Mariam in.) Ahem! Before I forget, I was told yesterday that you are the lawyer handling Chief Fuego Aruaga’s case. Is that true? For I found it hard to believe.
Jady: It’s true, dad. Barrister Emodia, the principal at the chambers where i work delegated that case
to me and a senior lawyer there. And Grottini’s bank has so much faith in me. I have no idea why…
Mr Edem: Of course, you are one of the finest lawyers in town. You graduated with a first class…and you have won so many awards. Don’t you know that I am so proud of you? The first case had was a supreme court case and you had a remarkable win! Every eye in this country is on you! Even your principal at the chamber respects you! You should carry yourself with much pride and vehement esteem…But…but…that doesn’t mean you should handle that case…
Jady: Come on dad! It’s an open-and-shut case! It’s about money laundering and…what exactly are you scared of? I am not Chief Fuego Aruaga’s lawyer! I am the bank’s lawyer.
Mr Edem: And that’s the point. Chief Aruaga is a notorious man! He is a murderer! I heard he has thugs under him that execute crimes for him. He kills anyone who steps in his way! Of course, the law
is an ass. It has to be convinced with admissible evidence before it can prosecute this salient murderer! He is so shrewd that no one knows how he gets his things done. He kills and wipes off every evidence! I wonder how he even became the bank manager of Gruttoni’s bank!
Jady: And the law shall have its pound of flesh soon. I am very confident of myself. And I am scared of no one! I will win this case and Chief Aruaga shall go to jail for money laundering. As I speak now, the police are investigating every activity he has engaged in. He belongs to a very notorious gang. When they discover their hide-outs, his thugs will be arrested and be prosecuted. These thugs are topping the police search list. They have deprived this town of it’s peaceful existence! They kill, kidnap and are involved in several other crimes! They are all cultists and must be prosecuted! Especially Chief Aruaga! He can’t just loot the sum of 49 billion naira and go scot free!
Mr Edem: I understand…But your life is also at stake! What if Chief Aruaga harms you? You are against him! You and his bank are his prosecutors! Haven’t you seen cases of how the counsels of critical cases have been murdered and the government seem to pay a deaf ear to that? Soon, you’d be 25 years old, you still have no idea of the gravity of the issue at stake! You are putting your life at risk! Haven’t you wondered why Barrister Emodia, your principal delegated that case to you? Of course the man is scared of his life!
Jady: I believe I was given the case because the bank and my principal are aware of my academic dexterity! At 24, I won a case at the supreme court! Who can disprove that fact? And now in three weeks time, I shall be 25! And I am already a fully accomplished young man! (As he sounds that boisterously, his sister comes in and they switch their focus and dispense it on a young, beautiful girl; barely 20 but is known to have the brain of a thirty year old…)
Holy Heart’s Hospital.
(Tosin runs breathlessly to the emergency ward. He captures the sight of his mother and with the speed of light, he beholds her presence.)
Tosin: Where is uncle Banjo?(Almost out of his breath)
Mrs Ajayi: (Her eyes were already swollen) They took him to room 109. They said the bullets affected
his bone…I don’t know…I don’t know what to do…
Tosin: What really happened? Talk to me, mother! Who shot my uncle?
Mrs Ajayi: Ah…Ah…I don’t know…Your uncle went out to get something off the street and he was shot right there! According to an eye witness, the person who shot him came out of a car with a gun and was wearing a black hat. The man said he had a big scar on his forehead.
Tosin: Oh no! That’s Olisa’s hitman,Raba!
Mrs Ajayi: Uhmmm…What did you say? Who?
Tosin: Never mind…Never mind…I said nothing!
(Some minutes later, a nurse comes out of Banjo’s room. She says some things to Tosin and he follows her into the room. His uncle is seen lying helplessly on the bed. The bullets have been removed. Everyone thought he died on the spot…But he did survive…only for a moment.)
Banjo: (He struggles to speak) Tosin, I am forever indebted to you and your mother.
Tosin: Uncle I know you think I hate you so much…
Banjo: No, you now do. I begged the nurse to let you come in…only you…or I’d die. If I don’t confess to you, then my death means nothing.
Tosin: Confession? But mother has told me all there is to know? Or is there something she omitted?
Banjo: Hmmm…Many years ago, I was involved in cultism. I belonged to the SKULLS. I guess they never told you that, brother.
Tosin: (Shocked, he could hardly keep his lips shut) How?…how…did you know I am also a brother? A member of SKULLS?
Banjo: Hmmm…That question should be skipped. I was aware of your membership right from the first day you pledged your allegiance. I even knew the reason why you joined. Life is such a circle. We both joined for the same reason! Poverty! I knew how you suffered and how your mother begged to feed you. I was aware of all these although I was away. My friend over here always told me about you. Now you have become a heartless beast! Just like I was…some years ago. This gang destroys your life gradually and turns you into nothing at the end. All because of the little money you get from this gang…all because of that! Now my life is nothing! I am not married. I have no children. And that is the path you are headed to…A wasted life blessed at the end with a slow and painful death! Now, I am going to die…with nothing! No achievements!
Tosin: (He hides his emotions so hard that he could feel a tumultuous pain inside of him. The tenets of the gang he had pledged his life to has turned him into a man who would never cry even when he’s told to kill his mother. He hides the migraine he felt as he watched his uncle struggle with death. As early as 18, he pledged his allegiance to the SKULLS. Life was a living hell at that time. He and his mother could hardly eat a bowl of meal a day. He had passed JAMB twice but was unable to go to school. Financial difficulties hindered his dreams of going to the university. He later engaged in menial jobs to keep body and soul together. But his mother’s petty trade was never enough to fund his university education and his job likewise. After being lured by his best friend, Zed, he became a member of the SKULLS. That seemed to have changed his life tremendously as he earned enough money to sponsor his education and his mother’s business. Was the SKULLS just a charity center? Of
course no! It was a dangerous cult where crime was their watchword. Every member got paid for a known and glorified term- “crime execution”! Tosin’s thoughts converged at his uncle again.)
If you knew about all these then, why didn’t you help us?
Banjo: I have been on the run all my life. I deceived your mother that I wanted to save your twin brother by plotting with my other gang members to bomb Chief Benson’s house! It was a big, fat lie! For 67 years, the SKULLS and THAZANS have been enemies. The leader of our gang then was Mr Thotes Enerjah. He was a very disciplined leader until Chief Benson wiped out his own family by plotting a plane crash! Our pay back was to bomb his house. And according to the instruction, I was told to implant the bomb in the kitchen. The bomb was designed to kill his whole family…including your brother, Tunde. But I had compassion on your brother, my nephew. I knew that if I had just taken him to your mother, I wouldn’t have lasted a day. So my friends and I executed the plan while I secretly hid your brother in Okusu’s village. That was my friend’s village. I always hid there whenever I wanted to reflect on my life. I knew an elderly woman who was so nice and caring to me. I remember saving her from two thieves who wanted to steal her farm produce whilst she was returning from her farm. Ever since that day, she asked me to ask her for a favour to recompense my kind gesture to her. But I always ignored. I was overwhelmed by her kindness to me. I always visited her whenever I was in that village. So on that fateful day, I had no choice than to give your brother, Tunde to her.
Twenty four years, 8 months ago.
Banjo: (He carried in his hands, baby Tunde who was crying loudly.) Please…Mother, I have no place to carry this baby to. He is my sister’s child and she died during child birth. Please help me. I don’t trust these orphanage homes. Please help me. I promise to come back for the child…
Mrs Attiz: But…but…What about the father? Why do you trust me so much as to deliver your sister’s child to me?
Banjo: The father is nowhere to be found…Please ma’am. Help me, please….Urhmm…what about the favour you promised to do for me?
BACK TO THE PRESENT.
Banjo: And with that, she agreed to take care of Tunde for me. I had to lie that he was dead so that your mother’s knowledge that her baby was alive would not any lay suspicions so as to endanger my life. For If Thotes knew that I spared a life, I would have been long dead. Hmmm…My life was even more complicated than I predicted, my life was threatened by Chief Benson’s gang. I failed to redeem
the promise I made to the widow that I would return in three months time. I never returned till after a year. I was hiding in Calabar. Then I eventually travelled to South Africa. Chief Benson could not get the police involved. For he was arrested almost immediately his house was bombed. (He starts to cough…His pulse was already getting slow.)
Tosin: Uncle, It’s alright…Now where is Tunde? Is he dead or alive?
Banjo: I don’t know…I am not so sure. (Then he pauses.) So I returned after a year to Okusu’s village. I could not bear the sad news. Mrs Attiz was dead already. And your brother was nowhere to be found. I heard she gave him out. But I don’t know who she gave him to. So…so…but I kept going to that village, hoping to find your brother but there were all to no avail. I lost all hope on finding him. But I have always believed that he is alive…somewhere…and I know that you’d find him one day. After nineteen years, I was finally bold enough to return to your mother. At then, I was already aware of your membership in the SKULLS…Tosin, you have got to search for your brother. But before then, I want you to forgive me. I have done so many unspeakable things in the past. I am indeed very sorry. But I need you to remember this, despite the situation you come across in life, do not forget your brother. He is alive. I have that hope. And I failed as a brother to your mother. I neglected her a certain. Alas, I came here and risked my life and indeed, given up my life so you could learn one thing which is your blood. Never forget your blood. Find him, Tosin. And If you eventually find him, protect him. For he is your brother; your blood…and…and…(He coughs harder this time…Twenty minutes later, Tosin comes out of the room, his mother grips him with her hands frantic on his chest.)
Mrs Ajayi: What happened to my brother? Huh? What did he tell you? Huh? How is he?
Tosin: He’s dead…He’s dead, mum.(She collapsed at the sound of that. Tosin didn’t bother to hold his mother. He stared at her for a minute before his senses return and he grabbed his mother, trying to console her. )
Jady: Richards! I am so confused right now.
Richards: I sensed it. It’s quite strange to find you at the bar at this ungodly hour. Unlike me; a detective, It’s almost my job to stay here all night.
Jady: I am the bank’s counsel in Chief Aruaga’s case.
(Richards almost chokes on the drink he was sipping.)
Richards: Chief Aruaga? You’ve got to be kidding me!
Jady: (This time, he could not but expose his fear.) Why? Is it dangerous?
Richards: Of course! Now it’s my job to expose his gang. He and his gang have been getting away with crimes for a long time. It’s high time they got exposed. This is the reason I have been frequent in this bar. According to my sources, the SKULLS hang out here. And you know Chief Aruaga is the new leader now. That’s also what I gathered. But I have no proof here. But I do hope I find a bait here…to have my first strike!
Jady: Hmmm…This seems more interesting than I thought. If this man eventually gets charged for money laundering and then other criminal crimes, he’d be doomed for life.
Richards: And his gang members likewise. I was empowered to execute this investigation on a prerogative given by the ICPC. I assure you, the Police have reinforced. And the criminals disturbing the peace of this town shall all be accosted!
Jady: …Then I would need protection from the police likewise…
Zed: Tosin, you have got to be a man. Life is unfair. Accept my sympathy. But why did your uncle hide this information from you all these years?
Tosin: I don’t know, man! Oh come on! Screw them all! I can’t be sad!
Zed: And what about finding your twin brother If he is indeed alive?
Tosin: I don’t care, man! To hell with those crap! If I really have a twin brother, then he should come looking for me! I have no such time to search for anyone! This is no nollywood movie!
Zed: Hmmm…You have a point there. Just take it easy on the drink you’re taking, you have consumed more than a normal man would!
Tosin: (He drops the glass cup so hard on the table that it almost seemed like he was going to break it on purpose.) Mirabel called. She is on her way.
Zed: Oh nice…She needs to. So how were you able avoid the meeting today?
Tosin: I called the boss. And I told him what happened. He…he pardoned me.
Zed: Hmmm…Well, the main boss was present today. Chief Aruaga was really in a bad mood. He is in a tight situation now. He has been sued for money laundering.
Tosin: That’s tough, man. So what’s the plan?
Zed: Well…He said…
(Mirabel, a dark, young and beautiful girl enters the bar. She scans the bar with her beautiful eyes and then sights the man she came to see.)
Mirabel: Hey! Urhmmm…Wow! I anticipated a sad and weary look on your face and kmto ky bewilderment, you’re looking so “fresh” and even lighter this evening. Wow!
Jady: Uhmmm…Excuse me? Do I know you please?
Mirabel: Oh come on! Is this another game of yours? I thought your uncle died. What’s this all about?
Richards: Ermm…Young lady, there must have been a mix up somewhere. Ermmm…ermmm…
Mirabel: What’s going on here? Tosin!
Jady: Tosin? Whoa…Whoa…This…is…
TO BE CONTINUED…