It’s good to know that you are here again. I have a new series for you today, I’ve titled it The Brotherhood, as you can already imagine, it’s the story of three men and the personal struggles that predispose them to peculiar situations.
For the purpose of clarity, this is not a FREE story please. As usual, I will post some parts here and then sell the rest and the entire book for a token. I have been accused of leading people on, hence this reiteration. Please be guided.
So, here it is. Enjoy it, please leave a comment and share the link with someone.
Ben Okorie leaned against his beat-up black Toyota Carina and stared at the oncoming cars impatiently. the last time he’d checked the time, it was a quarter to ten and he knew he must have spent at least thirty minutes pacing between the bonnet and the driver’s side, wondering what he could do about the vehicle that would not start. He had heard too many horrid stories about the Third Mainland Bridge to be standing idly by the roadside.
Cars wheezed past him, no one bothered to stop to help a haggard looking man in an oversized t-shirt, worn out jeans and old tennis shoes. Ben hissed impatiently, wondering where the mechanic was and if he was coming at all. His phone vibrated against his thighs and he reached for it. It was Faith, his girlfriend.
“Hello?” he answered gruffly.
“Hi… Ben, where are you?”
“I’m on Third Mainland Bridge o.”
“Third mainland bridge? At this time?”
“I’m stranded, my car…”
“Stopped moving again?” He heard her sigh in frustration. “Ben, how long are you going to continue like this?”
“Faith, please, this is not the time for this. You’ve not even asked me how I’m going to leave this place…”
“Sorry, what do you plan to do?”
“I called Mr Udo but I’m yet to see him…”
Now he heard her laugh. “You think he’ll come? At this time of the day?”
“So what do you suggest I do? Leave the car on the bridge…?”
“What car? You better leave that place before those street thugs mug you.”
“Thank you for your support.”
She sighed again. “Okay, I’m sorry for being too hard on you, I just don’t understand why you won’t let that car go.”
He gave a gruff response and ended the call. Realizing that she was right, he grabbed his backpack and stuffed his books, canvasses and can of brushes, into a plastic bag he found lying behind the driver’s seat. It took another thirty minutes before a Good Samaritan gave him a ride.
Ben walked down Alhaji Kareem Adepoju Street, past the suya seller with his loud radio, the provision store with the little black gate, past the Excellent G barbershop, the pleasant woman who fried akara and yam by the maternity home, the wooden kiosk outside Pa Adio’s grey house where his youngest wife sold gin and beer, and turned the corner into his own street. There was power and he was glad for that, he would be able to get some work done before he went to bed.
He stopped in front of the third house on the left, and pushed the rusting red pedestrian gate but it wouldn’t budge. He frowned and tried again, still it wouldn’t open. Confused, he set down the load in his arms and pushed the gate, still it remained shut. He checked the time and saw that it was almost eleven, and realized that the landlord must have locked the gate. Hissing in frustration, he dialed his umber, but just as he did, the phone blacked out. His battery was dead. Overwhelmed with weariness and defeat, he picked up a rock and began to hit the gate with it.
“Who is that mad person?” He heard the shrill voice of the landlord from the balcony of the flat upstairs.
“Good evening sir, it is me Ben!”
“I said, who is that unfortunate person who is disturbing my sleep?”
He inhaled and exhaled. “It is me sir, Ben.”
“Ben? What are you doing out at this time of the day?”
Ben wasn’t sure how to respond to the question.
“My car broke down sir.”
“Do you have a car? Oh you do! That’s right.”
“Can you please open the gate sir?”
“How do I know you’re not standing outside with thieves?”
He opened his mouth in amazement, shook his head in confusion and said, “Sir?!”
“I said how do I know that you’re not standing outside with thieves?”
“Why would I do that sir?”
“I don’t know. Why will any responsible young man be outside of the house at this time of the day?”
Ben had had enough. “Sir, please open the gate! It’s late.”
“I can’t open the gate for you. I’ve told all of you that the gate closes by ten-thirty.”
“Sir! I have been on the road since morning, and I explained to you that my car broke down. Please open the gate!”
“Are you shouting at me? Can you shout at your father like that?”
Ben wanted to scream and pound the gate but he knew that it would get him nowhere. The landlord would gladly leave him standing outside the gate. He breathed in and out and reminded himself that the most important thing was getting inside his house tonight.
“Sir, I am sorry for coming late. Please, can you open the gate?”
“Don’t repeat it again.” then he heard him call for his eldest son.
“Bros,” the young man said as he opened the gate.
“Yeah, Yinka how far?” he mumbled, not waiting for a response.
He walked past the duplex towards the self-contained white house popularly known as boys’ quarters. He opened the door, dumped his load on the brown carpet and walked towards the small kitchen where he discovered that the stew that Faith had cooked for him had a thin layer of white mold on one side of the pot. He had forgotten to heat it up before going out in the morning. He pinched the bridge of his nose in weariness and then turned on the stove, hoping that it would still be edible.
In his room he stripped to his boxers and threw himself on the bed. Remembering that his battery was dead, he made to get up when the power went out. Sighing he threw himself on the bed and dozed off.
The smell of burning food woke him up. He shot to his feet and dashed to the kitchen and saw that there was no fire under the pot. In the dark, he felt the countertop for a candle and a box of matches. Lighting it, he opened the pot and saw that it was black. He lifted the stove, it was empty of kerosene. He sighed, grateful yet miserable. He had no idea what time it was but he couldn’t hear the landlord’s generator, which meant it wasn’t five-thirty yet. He trudged back to his bed and fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of his car being towed.
Chidi lay on his bed glancing at the ceiling. Beside him, his wife, Oby was sleeping soundly. The humming of his neighbours’ generators muddled up his thoughts. What had the mechanic said about his wife’s car? Was it the engine or the radiator that was faulty? He had been too anxious to attend to the customers standing in front of him to understand him, they were glaring at him for daring to take a call while they waited on him.
His mind drifted to the conversation he’d had with his mother earlier in the day.
“Chidi, your brother will lose his admission if he does not do well. You need to be sending him something every month so he can concentrate on his studies.”
“But mummy, you know all the responsibilities I have to shoulder. Where do I get the money to send to him? Why can’t he work like everyone else?”
“You know your brother is not good at multitasking, he needs to focus on one thing at a time.”
“Then why did he go there? He’s not a small boy anymore.”
“My son, Please, your mother is begging you. I have no one else to ask.”
Oby turned and scratched her glowing cheek, and his eyes travelled down to her swollen stomach. They were expecting twins. Twins! Chidi still couldn’t get over the fact that two more children would be added to their two daughters.
“Try one more time,” his mother had said. “You need to have a son.”
His phone beeped and he picked it up, turning it away from his wife who was a light sleeper. It was a credit alert, two hundred and twenty four thousand naira. He sighed, knowing that he already had outstanding bills of one hundred and twenty three thousand naira. Several times, Chidi had asked himself what to do to increase his income and it all came down to two choices. Look for another job or start a business. The problem with getting a new job was that he was already thirty-six and had worked on the same job role as a customer service representative for five years, after three previous years as a cashier. He couldn’t think of any company that was willing to employ a thirty-six year old man with no qualifications apart from his bachelor’s degree. Starting a business would involve a lot of money, money that he didn’t have.
Chidi turned to face his wife and remembered how he had promised her six years ago that he would take care of her. He closed his eyes and felt himself sinking into the depths of helplessness.
Gbenga heard someone crying, he wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or if it was real. He opened his eyes reluctantly and turned towards the direction of the sound. It was his wife, Nife. Her back was against the dark brown mahogany bedrest and her arms were folded. He got up and moved close to her and immediately perceived the flowery fragrance of her perfume.
“Babe, what is it? Why’re you crying?”
She shot him a hurt look and continued to cry.
“What is the matter?” he touched her arm. “What is it? Is this about…?”
“Yes, it is! It’s been five years Gbenga! Five years! How long are we going to continue like this? I want my own children!”
“I know dear…”
“No, you don’t! You don’t. You’re so unconcerned about this, it’s almost as if you don’t even care. It really makes me wonder, if people are right…”
“Yes! You’re too comfortable Gbenga, it’s almost as if you…”
“As if I what?”
“As if you have a child out there.”
“What?” he exhaled. “Nife, I have told you countless times to stop listening to people.”
“Gbenga, if you break my heart, God will punish you!”
“If you break my heart Gbenga, if you beak my heart, I will never forgive you. Just know that!”
He raised one hand. “Okay, will you calm down and stop being irrational.”
She wiped her eyes. “You’re too comfortable about our situation Gbenga, you’re too comfortable…!”
He stared at her. “NIfe, what do you want me to do? What can I do that I haven’t already done? Are you expecting me to cry every night?”
“Show some concern is all I’m saying…!”
“What more concern do you want me to show? I don’t understand you this night, where is this coming from?”
She turned away from him and pulled the covers on her shoulders. Gbenga was dumfounded, had he made a mistake waking up to show his concern for his crying wife? He shook his head and got out of bed.
He walked to the kitchen, opened the fridge and brought out a chilled bottle of water. Then he walked to the window and stared out at the rooftops of the surrounding houses. Was he really guilty of being unsympathetic? What else did he need to do? He smiled cynically at his wife’s assumption, he wanted children much more than he let on. He’d always wanted two daughters and imagined, taking them shopping, taking them out on dates, telling them about boys, dancing with them on their wedding days. He wanted to raise independent girls, he wanted to demonstrate to them what true love was so that they wouldn’t make the same mistake that his sister Fumbi, had made. But he’d shelved those dreams aside to support his wife through their waiting period, someone had to be strong for them both. To be accused of insensitivity, when he had sacrificed his own right of expression to comfort her, was depressing.
He heard her footfalls before he heard her voice or felt her arms around his waist.
“I’m sorry Gbenga, I’m sorry…” she cried.
He sighed as she faced him and laid her head on his chest.