“I can explain.” Rotimi began. “Believe me, it’s not what you think.”
“Do you know how much you changed my life?”
“It’s not what you think!”
Just then, Kayinsola joined them. “Good afternoon ma.”
“Good afternoon.” Olasunbo said and walked away.
Kayinsola looked enquiringly back at her husband. “Did I interrupt something?”
Rotimi couldn’t say anything, his body was shaking.
“Rotimi, what’s going on?”
“Nothing? And you’re shaking all over?”
Rotimi was thinking. Should he have just let her go? What if she went straight to the police? Shouldn’t he have explained? He suddenly ran after her.
Kayinsola stood momentarily stunned and confused. Where was he running off to and what was going on?
“Madam!” Rotimi called out.
“What do you want?”
“Let me explain…”
“Explain what? I saw you running away!” she yelled and a few people stared their way.
Rotimi held her firmly by the elbows. “Please keep your voice down. Just let me explain. Let me tell you what happened.”
Olasunbo was furious but she was curious about his explanation.
Rotimi led her to a corner. “I didn’t mean to kill him. In fact, I didn’t plan to.”
Dr Adesanmi was a popular man. He was generous to everybody and the community loved him. He was the pianist and choir director of his church, was married to a sweet lady who made the most delicious jollof rice and cake and had the most pleasant children. He was a role model for many of the youths in church who were encouraged to face their studies so they could be like him.
But the good doctor had a secret. One year after he got married, he discovered that his ex-girlfriend (whom he had jilted in order to marry his educated wife) had given birth to a son for him. Dr Adesanmi was frantic. Why would this illiterate come and disrupt his perfect life? Bisi, Rotimi’s mother had been thrown out of his office and asked never to return.
The rejected woman had done exactly as he had asked and raised her son all by herself, suffering the ridicule of being a single mother and without no assistance from the father of her child. She began to sell roasted fish, corn and plantain and from the proceeds, she had sent her son to primary and secondary school.
The trouble began when Rotimi needed to write his exams to proceed to the university. As much as she tried, Bisi couldn’t raise the funds for the exam fee. As a last resort, Bisi finally told her son who and where his father was.
From all that he had heard, Rotimi knew that his father might not be so welcoming but he reasoned that his father would be proud of him when he saw how much progress he had made and how brilliant he was.
“Good evening sir.” He said cheerfully when Dr Adesanmi opened the door that fateful evening.
“Yes young man, how can I help you?”
“I’m… I’m your son… sir.”
Dr Adesanmi stared at Rotimi for a long time before opening the door wider. “Come in.”
Rotimi was happy, he knew coming here would pay off. The house was beautiful, there was a colored television that was on and the smell of fried chicken filled the house.
“Yes, what did you say again?”
“I’m your son sir. My mother is Olabisi.”
“So she sent you to me? For what?”
Rotimi frowned, things were not going as he had imagined. “I just want to see you sir and ask for your help…”
“Do you know what my wife would do if she saw you here? Do you know what will happen to my reputation if anyone finds you here or even knows of your existence? How did you find me?”
“Has always been a wretched human being. Indecent and useless! When others were going to school, she was busy spreading her legs for all the area boys on the street and she has the audacity to send you to me as my son?”
Rotimi’s eyes stung with tears, his mother was everything to him. She was the best person she knew, morally upright and uncompromising. She had only told Rotimi of his father’s whereabouts because it was important to her to send her son to school and give him the opportunity she never had.
“My mother is a good woman.” Rotimi said with teary eyes.
“Your mother is a slut who gave birth to a rascal. Now get out of here and don’t let me ever see you again.”
“Please sir, I just need money for my exams.”
Dr Adesanmi laughed. “So that’s why you came. To beg! I have no money to give a street urchin. So go back to your slut of a mother and tell her that her plan has failed again.”
Rotimi was furious. “My mother is not a slut!” He yelled.
The doctor lapped him and looked up at the stairs. “Keep your voice down! Now get out!”
Rotimi stood still, he was angry. His mother was no liar and he could see his traits in the man’s face. All he needed was some money to write his exams, why did he have to treat him so shabbily? His mother had slaved for years to feed, clothe and take care of him, why was it so difficult for him to do this one thing?
“I said get out!”
“No! I won’t go except you give me money for my exams.”
“You won’t go? And what will happen if I don’t give you? Will you kill me?”
Rotimi stood still staring angrily at the man.
The doctor suddenly unbuckled his belt and began to beat him with the buckle. In a fit of pure rage, Rotimi grabbed the bottle of wine the doctor had been drinking and smashed it against his head. The doctor had slumped immediately, bleeding from the gash on his head. As he panted, shocked at what he had done Olasunbo had come down the stairs and seen him for a brief moment when he contemplated explaining himself.
When he was done, Rotimi was crying. He had never told anyone, apart from his mother, what had happened that night.
“I am so sorry. It was the biggest mistake of my life…”
“You were my father’s child.” Olasunbo said morosely.
“So you killed your own father?”
Rotimi looked at her.
“Then I guess you’re already serving your punishment, because I can’t imagine anyone who killed his father having peace.”
Olasunbo walked away but found Kayinsola standing in shock as she came out of the corner. “Oh, you didn’t know he killed his own father! Better pray your children don’t kill him. You know what they say about sowing what you reap?” Olasunbo smiled sarcastically and walked towards her car.
As she drove away, she cried out loud.
“You killed your father…”
“It was a mistake!” Rotimi cried.
Kayinsola turned away.
“I feel so betrayed. How could Leke do such a thing? Pastor why didn’t you say anything?”
The Pastor smiled. “It’s not my duty to be a busybody. My duty is to tell you what the word of God says and give you sound counsel. Didn’t I encourage you to talk to him? To ask about his job, his investments, know as much as you can?”
“Yes you did. But you still should have given me a hint! Something…”
“And how could I have known that you weren’t in support of him? You specifically said, “Leke is the one, I know it and nothing can change it.” You said you had prayed about it, should I have said you didn’t?”
Titi bowed her head and realized he was right.
“So what should I do now?”
“Start by doing what you can to help him.”
He looked haggard. There were bite marks all over his body, evidence of the heavy presence of mosquitoes, his eyes were bloodshot, a stubble had grown on his cheeks, his singlet was brown and his right cheek was swollen. And he smelled.
“How are you?” Titi said to her husband.
Leke’s head was bowed, he was too ashamed to look at her. He shrugged in response.
“I brought you something to eat.”
At this Leke’s head shot up.
“It’s rice and plantain.” She brought out the food from the nylon bag.
“How did you…?”
“Don’t worry about that, just eat.”
Leke dived for the food and ate it voraciously. Titi’s heart broke at the sight of what her husband had been reduced to. Why had he done it? She wondered yet again. When he was quite satisfied, he looked up at her again.
“What happened to your mouth?”
“I hit it against something.”
Titi sighed, she knew he was lying. Whatever had happened, he wasn’t willing to discuss it.
“They’ve taken the house and everything in it.”
Leke’s appetite immediately vanished.
“But they allowed me to take a few things. Thank God I got there just as they were about to lock up the gate.”
Leke stared at his wife. “I’m really sorry Titi, I’m sorry I got you into this mess.”
Titi started to cry. “I hate you for what you’ve done. I don’t even know why I’m here!” she placed her elbows on the table and held her head in her hands. “How could you mess up our lives like this? You should have heard how those men mocked me. They said you stole because of me, that I was just a gold digger. Me!”
“I’m so sorry…”
“Did I put you under pressure? Did I say you must explore every means to be rich? Because I don’t get it!”
Leke pushed his food around in the plate and kept his head bowed.
Titi saw that badgering him wasn’t doing any good. She wiped her face and sat up. “I’m talking to my dad. He should be able you get out of here.”
Titi’s father was a friend of the chairman of the board of Leke’s company and he had grudgingly accepted to do whatever he could for his disgraceful son-in-law. Leke knew he would owe the man probably for the rest of his life but it was better than being incarcerated for years. Better to be bound outside the prison walls than within.