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Valerie left a huge hole in my heart. I never thought what we had would end the way it did. In all fairness, it was fun while it lasted, but I wanted more. My initial plan was to have a fling with her, being a twitter girl, but every moment I spent with her convinced me more that she was the right girl for me. I had no way to contact her; every social media link I had with her had been caught off, yet my heart wasn’t letting her go.
I love to spend my Saturdays visiting friends and hanging out with special people, but this weekend, I decided to go home to my parents and spend some quality time with them. Something I thought would keep the thoughts of Valerie away, albeit temporarily.
I arrived at my father’s house in Ikorodu at 11:05 in the morning. The compound was pretty deserted. A lot had changed over the years and it was evident that the house was now inhabited by old people. My mum is a strong woman, but at that age, she couldn’t possibly be strong to keep the whole compound clean, and she was against keeping too many servants at home. They had just the maid who did the cooking and washing. The rest of the house was usually cleaned by visitors like me who come once in a while to lend a hand of help. There is usually a coordinated general cleaning that comes up at Christmas too, when there is a family reunion.
Four reunions had been celebrated without my older brother, Jojo. His absence wasn’t felt for the initial two celebrations because he was an introvert who hardly mixed with people. But on the third celebration, eyebrows were raised and my father avoided every question about him, dismissing them with an uninterested wave of the hand. Mum avoided questions too by directing everyone to ask Daddy. No one bothered to ask me. I guess they felt I wasn’t going to be any different from my parents.
Since he left home unannounced, and to an unknown destination, there had been a few insane rumours flying around that Jojo had died, and we were trying to hide it from the rest of the family. I didn’t react to it, since my father didn’t. But deep inside us all, we knew Jojo was alive. Although we didn’t know his whereabouts, we missed him and hoped he would return soon.
Now more than ever, I desire to see Jojo. I need him to undo his curse, and let me have Valerie forever.
“Why are you standing there like a total stranger?” My father’s husky voice broke into my thought. I had been standing transfixed in front of the main entrance, lost in thought.
Chief Elijah Idonije, my proud father looked just as bright as ever, as he continued to defy age much to everyone’s surprise, including me. He seemed prepared for an outing, and not long after, his beautiful wife, Anne Idonije, appeared behind him.
“Greg, you didn’t tell us you will be here today.” My mum was visibly surprised but pleased to see me.
“Yes, I thought to surprise you. But apparently, I have come at a wrong time”
“You can never come at a wrong time to your father’s house. We were planning to attend a wedding of one of our friends at church. You can come along, we won’t be staying so long at the event” Father replied.
“I will wait at home. Go have fun.” I retorted and went inside.
I took a brief tour around the house after my parents left, and when I got into Joachim’s room, there was suddenly a lot to reminisce about. I really missed him and wished things had been different between us. I wished dad had been more loving to him, that mum had protected him more, and that I had been less of a bad brother. I was overwhelmed by the urge to put things right with my brother. But like Valerie, Joachim could not be reached.
The two most important people in my life at that moment had to be found. I began exploring different ways to find them when I fell into a long sleep.
I didn’t wake up until after five hours when my parents were back home, and my mum had found me lying asleep in my brother’s room with his portrait clutched to my chest.
She could see the traces of tears that had dried up on my face, and could not help but drop a tear too.
“I know you miss him, I miss him too” she said, controlling herself not to weep too much. “Your father is not ready to yield. He doesn’t want to even talk about him”
“But why Mum? What did Joachim really do to wrong him so much?”
“Greg, I wish I have answers to your questions, but I don’t. We will not stop praying that your brother returns someday” she pulled me close and patted me on the back.
“Joachim told me something before leaving” I announced.
“What did he tell you?”
“He said no one will ever truly love me, and I will be paid back in my own coin”
“What did he mean by that?” my mum was curious now.
“I didn’t take it serious until now. I have been having difficult times keeping a relationship. I just lost one lady I really love, and things are currently looking like Joachim’s curse is working.”
She released me quickly, as if what I had said was an abomination.
“Why didn’t you tell me this until now?”
“What did you do to Joachim that warranted such statements?
I explained myself as meticulously as I could and told her everything about the Jessica episode.
“Now it becomes necessary to go in search of your brother, whether your father likes it or not!” there was suddenly a renaissance between me and my mum, Joachim had to be found.
In all the twenty-one years of my life, I had never witnessed a car accident until today. It was the most gruesome experience I had ever encountered. I totally forgot what brought me to that spot and started seeking ways to save whoever was in that vehicle, stuck under the truck. I ran to a nearby hospital and within a few minutes, rescue work was being done to retrieve the unfortunate driver.
He was taken in an ambulance back to the hospital and straight to emergency ward. I followed the crowd to the hospital and stayed back after everyone had gone according to the advice of the doctor.
I waited at the hospital because it was safer there than under the wrath of Papa.
“Where are you coming from, Ese?” he had barked as soon as he saw me. “Your uncle told me you left Lagos before 7 in the morning. I have called your number all day but it was switched off. Where did you go?” he expected nothing but straight answers.
“Papa, I left Uncle Steve’s place at 7 truly, but the bus at the park didn’t fill up until around 10. Before we left Lagos, there was traffic and when we got to Sagamu, our bus developed a fault. We had to look for a mechanic to…”
“You are a bloody liar, Ese!” my father interrupted. His eyes red and ready to pounce on me. “I was at the park around 2pm, and I was told two buses had arrived from Lagos, and there was no report of a broken-down vehicle on the way. Tell me another lie.”
Of course, I have never been an expert at lying, especially when it had to do with my father. I feared him too much to lie to him, and since it seemed he had done his due diligence about my whereabouts, I had to find a way to corroborate my earlier lie to Uncle Steve in Lagos.
“Okay, Papa I will tell you the truth.”
“I went to see the Pastor that rescued me from the robbers in Lagos. I went to say show my gratitude…”
“Which Pastor are you talking about?” Papa questioned. “Your Uncle told me you went to see your boyfriend and you slept in his place”
I was shocked!
“Papa, that’s…not true.” I stammered, amidst shock and fear.
“What then is the truth? Who did you go to see, and why didn’t you return home till the next morning? And don’t tell me a nonsense lie about a non-existent pastor”
I didn’t prepare for this sudden act from Papa. I couldn’t immediately think of anything, so I decided to go radical about it and maintain my stand.
“Papa, you don’t have to know. It’s my personal business. All I can say is that I was robbed on my way back and the Pastor saved me. It is only proper that I go to say thank you to him the next mor….”
I didn’t finish my statement when Papa brought out a cutlass he had hidden behind his seat. I sped out of the house.
“Don’t return to this house until you are ready to tell me where you went” he screamed as I ran as far as I could.
I didn’t stop until I came face to face with a car, too confused to think, I flung myself to the right, and the driver veered to the left, but his speed was too much to control. In a twinkle of an eye, he was under a truck packed by the side of the road, as I laid on the floor watching the horror I had caused…or, I should say Papa had caused.
To be continued……..