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My father once said to me, “Kunle, don’t ever allow the world drive your heart to hate. You will experience pain, betrayal, obstacles, and make certain mistakes. Do not let it change who you are, guard your heart else you will suffer more agony. It takes courage to forgive your enemies; it is only a coward that seeks retribution. Revenge is a battle that leaves your soul in shambles, the only way to win the war is not to go into it.”
That was after I had battered the face of my classmate for stoning me with a Mango seedling while I ate. I was so angry I left my meal and pursued him. When I finally caught up with him I demanded an apology but he was so adamant so I beat him up mercilessly. The principal called my father after his parents had created a scene in his office, threatening to withdraw their child if I wasn’t expelled. I was suspended for two weeks. While we walked home that day I engaged my mind with thoughts of how my father will punish me but he did and said nothing. On the contrary, my mother locked me up in our storeroom for a week with only breakfast every day and an empty paint bucket for me to excrete into, that was after she had given me series of abara – slaps on my back, thundering,
“I enrolled you in school to learn not fight. I will make sure you don’t see the light of every day that passes until your suspension is over.”
I spent my fifteenth birthday in total darkness. She let me out the following day at my father’s request. I had lost weight and was reeking of sweat and urine. My father sat me down and planted those words within me; he concluded that “revenge isn’t justice.”
Those words rang in my ears and brought me back to life. I opened my eyes to the blur sight of a nurse injecting the drip I was receiving. The beeping sound of the life support monitor screeched my ears, I felt sore in my buttocks and pain all over my body. I gasped as I drew breath from the nasal cannula that was placed inside my nostrils. I prompted the nurse by managing to shake my hand; she moved closer and told me to relax, “I will be with you in a minute. Let me get the doctor,” she said. She soon returned with the doctor who examined me and asked me questions to know if I was aware of my present environment; in turn I gave non-verbal responses like raising my hand, blinking my eyes and nodding my head.
“Most patients that have encountered similar incidents are greatly traumatized they don’t respond for days after regaining consciousness, they remain between a state of deep trance and unconsciousness, and that doesn’t hasten recovery. Mr. Kunle, it is good to have you back. You have been in comatose for over two days” explained the doctor who placed her stethoscope on my chest as she spoke, the tag on her long white coat read ‘Dr. Elizabeth’. She continued, “This isn’t the time to dwell on the regret of what happened to you, I really need you to focus on recovering first. Your girlfriend will be here soon, she has waited by your bed since you were brought here. She explained that she has an appearance in court today but promised to be back as soon as she is through. You need to rest now, hit that button if you need anything” she concluded, pointing to switch that hung around my bed. I nodded to affirm that I understood her.
I laid back and reminisce on how much misfortune I had encountered since I left Owena for a greener pasture, only two words made sense, ‘wasted efforts’. In two months I relegated from an unemployed youth who was frustrated to a devastated being. I relinquished to my fate of hardship. I eased into tears as I recounted the details of how I started a horrible day in a good way, a new job that reunited me with my past. The church meeting with Bade and Kike, and oh my God Tayo! I remembered how my uncle had called me to break the news and requested my imminent presence. I knew he would be bothered about me; I needed to let him know why I haven’t been home. I hit the switch the doctor had recommended and it didn’t take time before Dr. Elizabeth arrived. With a grieving heart and a vibrating voice I requested to use her phone and she accepted. I dialed his number offhand.
“Uncle, it is Kunle” I said after he picked and asked who was on the line.
“Thank God” I heard the relief in his voice, “I thought something had happened to you.”
“I was involved in an accident sir”
“Accident!” he exclaimed, “uncle what is wrong with my brother?” I heard Bisi ask on the background.
“Kunle, your sister wants to speak with you”
In a tearful voice Bisi enquired about my well-being and I assured her that I was recovering but I didn’t disclose details of the incident to her. I promised to come home as soon as I was healthy and share it with them. I knew within me that I might have to make up a story.
“Has Tayo been buried?” I mustered some courage to ask,
“Yes brother mi.”
“Okay dear, please stay alive for me. I need you; you are all I have left. Sogbo?” my voice was enveloped in tears.
“Yes sir.” I could hear her crying bitterly, “I even called Uncle Bade but he stopped picking after he hung up on me the first time. I thought something bad had happened to you.”
“All is well dear” I rounded off and ended the call after reassuring my uncle that I only suffered minor injuries.
“Thank you doctor” I expressed my gratitude and handed over the phone.
“You are welcome. I am sorry about your loss, I overhead you asking if someone has been buried.”
“Thank you. Tayo, he is my younger brother. He died of chronic typhoid.”
She sighed, “May his soul rest in peace.”
“Please call me Lizzy. I will be back in thirty minutes to give you your next dose of injection.”
Lizzy exited the ICU; I soon caught sight of Kike standing by the door. She appeared like she had been waiting for a while. Lizzy greeted as she walked past her and I noticed the grudging reply she gave. She walked towards me, kissed my lips and asked how I was faring. I managed to say “thanks, I am okay.” Then she went ahead to narrate how a Good Samaritan had found me and called her because her number was the most recent one on my call log. She went on but I didn’t pay attention to what she was saying, I simply listened. I wasn’t glad to see her, but she was there for me and I was grateful for that. At one point I drifted into the thoughts of how I intend to deal with Presido, to seek justice or avenge myself. As against my father’s words I felt hate for him, I desired in my heart for him to die a slow and painful death.
“Kunle, are you listening at all?” Kike’s voice sprung me to reality.
“I am sorry about your brother”
“What’s with the coldness and one word answers? Can’t you see how much I am trying to make up for the mess I created? I said I am sorry!” she raised her voice. I just remained mute, I didn’t have the strength to talk, and I obviously wasn’t interested in the type of conversation she was trying to initiate. She didn’t seem to care; she just wanted me to acknowledge the fact that she did everything for love.
“Okay, we are fine. Can we discuss this later?” I said reluctantly,
“Okay. By the way I have rented a new apartment for you.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
Silence enveloped the room for about ten seconds before she made a statement that angered me.
“I noticed the way that doctor was looking at you. I hope we won’t be having a problem. I can’t share you with anybody.”
I wanted to scream at her but I was only able to speak a little louder than before, “Kike there is no we! Your fiancé is my friend and that is it. Leave my life alone.” The life support monitor began to beep faster and Lizzy soon came rushing in. She ordered Kike to step outside but she refused; to my amazement she started shouting on top of her voice,
“If you think you can lay claim to his feelings then be prepared to battle it out with me,” Lizzy kept calm but Kike didn’t stop, “I will do anything to keep what is mine. I am in love with Kunle. He is mine and mine alone!”
My dilemma continued.
Written by Femi Fragile (Twitter – @fragiletimbzz)