I was tempted to stop by at Ibadan and see the Adegokes’ on my way home to Ekiti but I was not in a good mood so I brooded on my misfortunes in the bus until I got to the Motor Park at Ado Ekiti. I trekked to the mini park where our Village Cabs parked and boarded a cab. I entered the Cab and there was my friend Akin with his wife and a new born baby already in the cab. He was surprised to see me
Eniyan nie tabi ebora? He asked if I was dead or alive with obvious uneasiness as he shifted in his seat away from me
Kilode? Ebora bi bawo? I asked.
We thought you were dead! He said.
Dead? Who told you guys that? I asked
Are you really alive Bolaji? He asked as he felt my flesh with his hands.
I am alive Akin! I said. I had some issues sha! But I survived it! Meanwhile who told you guys that I was dead?
Baba landlord! He went to Owerri to look for you, he located the Hotel where you worked and he was told that the Police had shot and killed you accidentally, he asked for your Corpse and he was told it is government’s property still under investigation. He planned to go there again after the New Year celebration to bring your corpse home for proper burial.
Wow! Well, I survived it. But why did he go to Owerri to look for me? I asked.
Hmm, BJ, a lot has happened since you left o! But thank God you are back, hale and hearty! How far with your NYSC programme? Where were you posted to? He asked.
I have not gone! I will follow the next batch in January, I said. My wife! How are you and the baby? I greeted the wife who had been stealing glances at me as I discussed with Akin.
We are doing well sir! Welcome sir! She said.
Is that my baby? Can I have him? I asked
He is your name sake! We named him after you. Akin said.
Wow! I am flattered! I said. Give me BJ junior please!
Madam handed over the chubby little Lad to me and my heart melted. Akin my age mate is already a father at twenty eight. The child looked brand new.
How old is he? I asked.
Three months yesterday! We went to the hospital for vaccination. Wow BJ! I am so glad to see you o! You must stay in my house tonight! There is a lot to talk!
No wahala! Wow see how cute this baby is! He looks like em, who does he look like? You or Iyawo?
Omo daddy ni o! The wife said. Carbon copy of his father!
Ehen? I have never been privileged to be with kids so it was difficult for me to imagine how this lovely baby could look like Akin with his fat nose.
But his nose is not big nah? I said.
Akin laughed; the nose will grow with time! He is my split image!
Ehen? I asked
Hen! Akin replied.
I held the smiling baby close to my chest as the Cab lurched forward.
We stopped at the front of Akins’s Shop in the Village, the shop was at the front of his father’s compound facing the express road that ran through our Village, and they call the Area “Sharp Corner” because the express road is a sharp bend at that point.
Akin was doing very well in his Cocoa business. Within a year that I gave him money for the business he had grown it over five hundred percent. He had fifteen dried bags of cocoa seeds in his store and while I was there, people were still bringing Cocoa seeds to him to buy. He weighs the seeds on a scale and pays per kilogram. He said his boys had taken some bags to Akure City to deliver to his Client Company that produces beverages, he will be taking another twenty bags there tomorrow. He said he supplies an average of eighty bags per week to different Customers in Akure and Ibadan cities. Sometimes the Customers send their Vans to pick up their supplies from his shop in Ijan Ekiti because the capacity of his Peugeot 404 pick-up van can only carry eight full bags per trip.
Akin had already started the foundation of his personal house in the Village. He said cocoa business is like drug business and advised that I should invest in it. I told him I would think it over.
We discussed over a keg of soured palm wine, which was the best we could get at that time of the day while the wife hurriedly prepared hot pounded yam and egusi soup with bush meat for us. I felt at home, home is home.
There was a lot to gist about as we talked into the night. He told me a lot of things that had happened in the Village since I left in January. He was still talking when I fell asleep, he later woke me up and directed me to a room prepared for me.
The next morning, after I had taken my bath and eaten, I was ready to leave for my house. Akin told me to sit down for a discussion.
Bolaji, there is something I must tell you before you get to your house! He said.
Kilo tu de o! I exclaimed. What has happened again! Who died? Is Tunde okay?
Your boy is doing great, he comes around to work for me at times and gets his pay.
So what is it? I asked. What of Baba landlord?
Hmm, BJ please calm down! Your mother is back! He said.
What? I asked. My what?
Your mother! He repeated; and that’s not all!
What again? I was on my feet covered with goose pimples
Baba Landlord is your father! Your biological father! He said
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Jesu Christi o! I exclaimed and sat down quietly.
Calm down BJ, Baba Landlord went to Owerri to look for you when your mother arrived some months ago. He traced you to that hotel you told us about and he was told that you have been killed by the Police, they told him you were a cultist and you killed someone or so, so the police arrested you and shot you accidentally when you were trying to escape. We did not believe that story about you being a cultist but we believed you were killed by the police mistakenly, and that was what Baba landlord told everyone in the village except me. He came back home broken-hearted and he has not been well since then, remember he had no son except for Tunde his grandson, so your discovery and loss was like the gods were playing with his head!
I have been taking care of him in your absence. He told me he had a brief affair with your mother while he was serving in Lagos some years back but was suddenly redeployed back to the north, his wife had died by then. They lost contact. He said he had been trying to tell you about his relationship with your mother when you came home last time but you were not interested in anything about your mother and he was not very sure if you would like to hear that he dated your mother. He said he was suspicious of the fact that you could be his son because you were conceived about the same period he was with your mother in Lagos but who would he tell? They would think his desire to have a son has derailed him.
Baba Landlord is my biological father! Ha! Olorun o! Jesu o! So I have a father after all? So I am not a bastard? Ha! Akin! I jumped up. So I am not a bastard after all? And I have been drinking palm wine and eating bush meat with my father without knowing he is my father? Those that taunted me where are you now? I have a father! I am not a bastard! I have a surname! My surname is Oguntola! My name is Mobolaji Oguntola! Not Mobolaji Fadipe! Fadipe is my mother’s sur name. I am an indigene of this town! I broke down and cried, I did not know if I was crying for joy or out of frustration at the world. Akin! I called; so I will call someone Daddy in this life? I will call someone mummy also? Hen Akin?
Yes my friend! Akin said as he stood up and hugged me.
Please what does my mother look like? I asked.
Your mother is very beautiful sir, you took her looks! Akins wife who had joined us in the sitting offered. She is dark, tall and slim. She said.
But she is sick! Akin said.
Sick? What is she sick of? I asked
No one answered me, husband and wife looked at each other, silence.
Is it HIV aids or Cancer? I asked.
Akin nodded his head. Yes BJ they say it is HIV aids.
Well, if it took HIV aids to bring her back to me after almost twenty-eight years, then I thank the disease, it is better to see her alive than dead, at least she will be able to answer many of the questions I had stored up for her.
I lifted my nap sack and hugged Akin: you are a man Akin! Thank you! Let me go and see my Parents! It sounded somehow to my ear, “my parents” I never used that word in my almost twenty years of existence.
I am coming with you BJ. I need to give Baba landlord, sorry, I mean your father some drugs I bought from Ado.
To be continued