BEYOND EVERY REPROACH
Kunle Edwards readjusted himself on the bed as though fighting an enemy. He kept moving from one part of his king sized water bed to the other. He was obviously in need of more sleep but his aids, rightly put, his father’s aids weren’t letting him. It was another Monday morning, time to meet his lustrous father in his office for a continuation of his “one month drill” on the do’s and don’ts of his father’s promising company. Being the only child of Chief Edwards and a fresh graduate of business administration from Standford, the lot fell on him to take over the running of his father’s company.
It was not an especially happy moment for the young Kunle who had just returned to Nigeria a few days back. He was even yet to restore his cycardian rhythm and aclimatize with the new weather. Being extremely fair skinned, it was easier for him to mingle with his colleagues while in college (University). Well, as expected, the reverse was the case here in Nigeria. People where intimidated by his “Oyibo look” and travelling experience and always gave him cold shoulders as a result. Everything was happening so fast that he found it difficult to breadth. Its only been a few days and he was loosing his mind. He had always lived in affluence and enjoyed being the only child of Chief Edwards but recent events were beginning to make him think otherwise. The feeling bottled up in his heart was that of a person being rubbed off his freedom. He lived in paradise yet, fought for freedom.
Growing up wasn’t exactly difficult, he had everything he needed. He was allowed to spend any amount of money he wanted without of course having any physical contact with his father’s company. He lived like a king, though a lonely one. His dad was barely home, always busy with business meetings, and his mum, well, he wasn’t so sure. He had never set his eyes on her. The few times he tried asking his dad about her, he got no reasonable response and the last time he had tried stressing on the topic, he was warned never to bring it up again. He wasn’t even as much as given the privilege of knowing his mother’s name. Judging from his complexion and hair tone, he needed no sooth Sayer to tell him that he was a mixed blood. “Could it be that I am a product of one of dad’s sexual escapades during one of his long travels?” Lots of thoughts flashed through his mind. With the way Mr Edwards drilled him, he was beginning to think he was adopted.
Kunle wasn’t the people’s person, the only friends he had known growing up were his aids and the children of his maids. He had his personal chaffeaur who always dropped and picked him up from school everyday, leaving no room for socialization with his fellow children. He soon became accustomed to staying alone and doing everything by himself that he saw no need to make friends. If only he had known how wrong he was! A lot of things were beginning to change around him. It seemed there was always a new discovery to be made about himself every single day. For someone who had always wanted to study business administration to take over his dad’s company later in life, he had just realized how much he didn’t want to be anywhere around the company.
“Man, are you alright?” Came a voice Kunle could swear on his life that he had never heard before. He was both jerked to the present and scared at the same time. He had earlier instructed his driver to take the car home, that he would head back in a taxi whenever he was done with what he was doing. It was his first time out on the streets of Lagos, all by himself and he couldn’t control the series of thoughts that rushed through his mind that moment. He was scared of what the young man would do to him. “Kunle, what were you thinking sitting casually by the streets of Lagos unaccompanied?” He asked himself. As though reading the handwriting on the wall, the young man interceded. “You don’t have to be scared, I only wanted to know if you were okay since you have been sitted at this spot for the past one hour.” “I’m alright, it’s just work stress” Kunle replied, looking pitiful.
Kunle felt so good talking to “a friend” that he lost track of time. They had chatted for hours yet, it felt like minutes. He was happy, he felt a sense of relief yet, the concept of friendship still sounded Greek to him. It was in the course of their discussion that he discovered that Ben was military. He had just come into town for his usual one week leave and was touring the streets of Lagos, a means for a breadth of fresh air. The thought of being a soldier had never crossed Kunle’s mind but at this moment, he wanted anything but spending more time with his dad in their family business. He was soon interested and began asking questions about how the Nigerian military department operated.
Kunle and Ben hung out every other day that Ben was in town. With that as a pressure reliever, work was becoming less and less stressful. Kunle went to work every day, thinking of how best to present the case to his dad and convince him to let him join the army. On a fateful Friday evening, he finally summoned up the courage and presented his case. He intentionally chose a time devoid of business transactions because he knew what would follow. His dad was mad. At first, he thought it was all a joke until he discovered just how serious his son was. He was so angry that he rained abuses on Kunle, ending his statement with:”I shouldn’t be surprised, you are the son of your mother after all, like mother like son!”. It was the first time he ever mentioned Kunle’s mother and Kunle couldn’t help but wonder what would have gone wrong between the duo.
Days span by and Kunle begged his dad, he made every single promise he could think of to help convince his dad, all to no avail. It was another phase of loneliness. With Ben out of town, Kunle got fraustrated. Whenever he wasn’t at work, he busied himself with drinking and smoking, during the day and soaked his pillow with tears at night. He was hit with a phase of life he never thought existed. His dad on the other hand was too busy to notice what was going on. The little hours he spent at home was hell for Kunle, he always made sure of that. Since that unfatefull day Kunle opted out of the family business, Chief Edwards had treated him like one of his aids. To him, that was the day he ceased to mean anything to him. The only thing connecting them being just the blood tie, the family business and the house they shared.
Kunle soon wallowed into depression. All he did was go to work, drink, smoke and hang around with different women. He established a relationship with some group of guys with whom he always streamed the streets of Lagos. Being the rich and only member of the group that owned a car, he paid for their every expenses and drove them to their every destination. To him, it was fun as he found a way to keep himself occupied. He had far learnt how to control his tears. It’s been months and he had learnt the hard way that his dad was never going to change his mind. He had always known him to be someone who never went back on his words but he just didn’t think he would be that cruel to him. Kunle could still remember his exact words: “over my dead body will I let you opt out of your responsibilities in this family business”.
Kunle’s addiction to womanizing, smoking and drinking was climaxing. He was beginning to drink and smoke more than the guys who introduced him to the lifestyle. He was at this point bringing his friends home, throwing parties every now and then. One fateful afternoon, while hosting a party at home as usual, his house was a beehive of activities, bustling with men and women of different rank and class. It was the first party he was hosting with such number of people in attendance. He was so happy that he kept drinking and drinking….the rest was story. His dad came home the next morning to meet the lifeless body of his only child, lying at the middle of the corridor close to his room, with no human in sight. None of his aids nor maids could explain what happened. Chief Edwards wept like a baby, blaming himself for not letting Kunle chase his dreams. He blamed himself for living a life beyond every reproach!