‘I doubt it if you would ever amount to anything in life!’ Bode roared as his son stood before him with tear-stained face.
Tayo, wished he possessed half the measure of his father’s intelligence, yet a boiling resentment and detachment sprang up each time the older man treated him like a nonentity.
‘Shut up!’ the enraged Bode shouted him down, ‘like mother, like son. Your days in the US is numbered, we would all be headed back to Nigeria by next month.’
Tayo opened his mouth as though to utter a word, but the words froze. The awful thought of flying back to Nigeria caused a churning in his stomach. Notable in the few recollections about his home country, was the June 12 uprising in 1993 and the fright it conjured in his young mind back then as a five-year-old.
‘Daddy…I’m sorry…’ Tayo uttered. But regrettably, that act of contrition, altered nothing. Barrister Bode Akinfenwa’s mind was already mind up to relocate his family; not only because of his son’s juvenile delinquent practices, but for an intense inclination he has towards his beloved country.
Although Moyo Akinfenwa, the Barrister’s wife had been privy to the information about their exodus a year ago, yet the industrious owner of Moyo Chops & Chips, was yet to come to terms with the news. Moyo, had tried all to no avail to dissuade her husband from leaving their ‘comfort zone,’ but the adamant man would have none of her ‘tantrums,’ as he usually refers to her frequent pleading.
‘Que sera, sera,’ Moyo whispered to her son, ‘your daddy, knows best.’
We shall see to that! Tayo’s wet eyes seemed to communicate.
Tayo smiled as he lay on his bed that night. The perplexed Moyo found it difficult to decipher the reason behind her son’s sudden mood swing as she entered his room that night.
‘I’m imbibing your slogan, mum, ‘que sera, sera!’ he laughed hysterically dismissing any further suspicion.
‘Good night,’ she shut the door before her.
An hour later, Tayo’s phone vibrated; followed by a text message:
‘The die is cast, niggar!’
Still on his pyjamas, Tayo, tiptoed out of the room, walked past the sitting room and gently opened the main door.
Standing in front of his house, his eyes roved to and fro like the pendulum clock as he figured out his next line of action.
‘Smart move, niggar!’ a familiar voice jolted him from behind.
‘How did you get in here?’ Tayo’s eyes shone in bewilderment at the sight of a young man with a flash light.
‘No time for questions, niggar,’ the man laughed as he led Tayo to a portion of the fence that was broken.
‘Okay niggar; you just watch me and do as I…’
And while the man climbed the fence, he accidentally pressed a hidden alarm system on the wall.
‘Damn it!’ the man hurriedly jumped over the fence and fled immediately; while the perplexed Tayo watched helplessly.
‘You can’t be smarter than your papa!’ his father grabbed him from behind.
‘Daddy!’ Tayo cringed.
‘I pledge to Nigeria my country…’ Barrister Bode recited alongside with the voice which blared from a live radio broadcast to commemorate the fiftieth-year independence celebration of his beloved home country.
Seven years had passed since Barrister Bode and his family returned to Nigeria.
Serving his fatherland had been his burning desire and the major factor which brought him back in the first place.
Sipping a cup of coffee in his study room, listening to the goodwill independence speech by the president, he ran some quick statistics of his achievements in his legal profession within the seven years of his return. Plaques of the numerous laurels he received, beamed before him like a flashlight.
Notable amongst the laurels he received was the very controversial rape case of a teenage girl he handled.
At first, the case appeared very bleak because the victim could not produce a tangible evidence at the time of reporting her case! However, by the time Barrister Bode stepped in as the victim’s public defender; and going the extra mile in ensuring that justice was done, the outcome turned out positively, and even caught the attention of notable members of the international community…
‘Your food is ready,’ his wife intruded into his reverie.
‘The food can wait!’ he bellowed at her, ‘Moyo, have you ever taken time to ruminate over the happenings in this country since we came back?’
Moyo marveled at the patriotic flame her husband of over two decades exuded. If only the legal luminary could invest part of that same devotion into his family life…
Her gaze fell on the photograph of their only child, Tayo, in his infancy years.
‘Our boy is exactly your carbon copy!’ she remarked as she pointed to the photograph which hung on the wall.
‘Yes, he is, but not in my intelligence,’ he replied with an air of pompousity.
Moyo was speechless; although she had grown used to hearing those callous remarks from her husband, yet that day, she felt very hurt. Deep within her, she had an unwavering conviction that the frequent negative remarks on Tayo was responsible for his fair academic performance.
The twenty-two-year-old undergraduate student of one of the universities in the south-west part of the country had not come home for over three months despite the ongoing nationwide strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
‘ASUU strike, my foot!’ Barrister Bode had fumed over the phone the day Tayo informed him of the strike action,‘I don’t want to see you at home; you just remain there; I would make sure your account is adequately funded. Do I make myself clear?’
‘Yes…yes, sir.’ The nervous boy had responded.
A police van blared into the vicinity and fired some gunshots into the air. Within a twinkling of an eye, the neighbourhood became deserted as several people scampered from every nook and cranny into hiding.
‘Oh, God, save us! ’a lady screamed as she ran into a nearby shop with her daughter.
‘Why is this always happening all the time?’ another voice cried out.
Few minutes later, an SUV drove recklessly along the way, also firing gunshots into the air as it drove. Unfortunately for the latter, the car boot was partially locked, and in the bid to leave the vicinity in a hurry, packs of naira notes fell along the road.
Peace later returned within the vicinity, but not without scores of traumatic experiences from several of the customers of the branch of the commercial bank, where the attack took place.
Within a twinkling of an eye, the frightened people who hitherto ran for safety came out from their shells to harvest from the ‘windfall’ that fell along the road; however, the emergence of the security officers of the bank, scared them away.
‘Hello,’ Moyo picked her phone at the first ring.
‘Hello, mummy,’ Tayo’s voice sounded flat on the phone, ‘Sorry, I missed your several calls.’
‘Tayo, my son,’ Moyo’s agitation soared, ‘I’ve called you severally, hope you’re okay?’
‘Yes, ma. Thanks for checking on me.’
‘God bless you, son. I just wanted to hear your voice that’s all.’
‘Oh, thanks ma. I’m fine.’
‘Same to you, ma. Please send my regards to dad, he should keep up with the good work he has been doing defending other people…’
Moyo was stunned at the manner he stressed the word, ‘Other people.’
‘Hello ma. Are you still there?’ he jarred her.
‘I’d call you back ma. Bye.’
Barrister Bode beamed with satisfaction as the MC showered numerous encomiums on him. Adorned in a cream-coloured suit, he sat in the company of his wife, at the Lekki Heights Hotel, to receive yet another award.
Nodding in ecstasy as the encomiums kept coming, he figured out that his role as a public defender had made him more popular than in his private practice.
Few minutes to the award, he stepped aside to answer a call at the hotel lobby.
‘Hello…’ he began.
‘Have you seen today’s paper?’ the caller asked.
‘No. why do you ask?’
‘Just check it.’
‘Okay…I would check online…thanks,’ he ended the call.
Bode quickly browsed through the website and the picture he saw shocked him.
Amongst the number of men paraded as suspects of a bank robbery was his son, Tayo!
He shook frantically like an epileptic patient. His tongue clung to the roof of his mouth. Beads of perspiration covered his brow even under the fully air-conditioned building.
‘Barrister Bayo Akinfenwa!’ he heard a voice behind him.
It was one of his junior colleagues.
‘Sir, your attention is needed at the auditorium…’
‘For what?’ came the hysterical and eccentric response.
‘Sir…it’s your award ceremony…’ the man paused as he studied the older man.
‘Sir… what’s the matter?’
‘Kolade, I’m a bunch of failure,’ he uttered with a tinge of agony.
‘How do you mean, sir?’
‘I’d received scores of awards…but, I’ve…I’ve failed in the greatest conquest.’
‘What conquest, sir?’
‘In the area of my child’s upbringing; I’m a failure.’
Final Remarks: Charity begins at home. The true victor is that man who conquers the battle within.
Until I come again your way next time, KEEP MOVING.