THE MISSION HOUSE
The Reverend Brand Bawa enters the luxurious sitting-room of the Mission House. His wife and his two children are already in. Also present is a distinguished-looking elderly man in a three-piece corduroy suit standing by one of the windows. He is tall and lean, and bears a striking resemblance to Mrs. Lois Bawa. His name is RUBEN ESSEL. He is sixty-seven years old, and he is Lois Bawa’s older brother. His close-cropped hair is all white. Tiny spectacles are perched on his long aquiline nose. He is chatting to Stan when Brand Bawa enters.
Diana is sitting with her mother in the beautiful U-shaped leather seats. They all look at Brand, and he walks forward and puts his black attaché briefcase down. He takes off his coat and drapes it over the back of a chair, and then he takes off his clerical. He sits down gingerly and a little frown puckers his brow.
(with a deep sigh)
Diana, could you please fetch me a glass of water?
Diana leaves the room and enters the kitchen. Presently she comes back with a silver tray bearing a jug of cold water and a drinking glass. She pours a glassful of water for her father. The man of God takes the glass, murmurs his thanks, and drinks all the water. Diana pours more water for him. This time he takes a sip and then sits back, absentmindedly twirling the glass in his hand.
Ruben and Stan move from the window and sit down gingerly on the seat.
Heard things didn’t go so well in church today, Brand.
Brand smiles humourlessly, and his teeth grind together with obvious displeasure.
Yes, Rube. Chris decided to show up and cause a little unpleasant scene.
Little scene, Father? It was a storm, more like! That thing he did could have exploded and caused a major scandal if Mom hadn’t handled it well! You should’ve let me kick him out, Father!
The man of God turns cold eyes to his son, and he raises his eyebrows quizzically.
Kick him out? You forget, dear son, that your brother-
STAN (cutting in angrily)
HE’S NOT MY BROTHER!
MRS. LOIS (sharply)
Stan! Stop that this instant! What’s gotten into you?
You know Chris ceased to be our brother ever since Roland died, Mama.
REV BAWA (firmly)
Now stop that nonsense, both of you! You may not like him, but that does not make him a stranger. He’s still my son, and his weaknesses are my failure as a father.
Silence reigns for a moment.
Do you think he would come here? Reverend Bawa drains his glass and puts it down on the tray.
No, no, I don’t think Chris will come here. He just came to cause a scene.
MRS. LOIS (shakily)
He has changed a lot. All the fat is gone. He is all muscle now. These five years have been terrible on him. It just dawned on me, that none of us visited him in prison.
STAN (angrily) Visit him? Visit C. B? Come on, Mama! Have you forgotten who Chris is? Should I enumerate? He got drunk, he used cocaine, he came here and beat up Uncle Ruben so badly, for no offence, that Uncle spent three months in prison, and could have died. Chris, under the influence of drugs, knocked down a little girl and it cost her a leg! And you expected us to visit him?
Not forgetting the fact that Chris was responsible for the death of Roland, our beloved brother!
MR. RUBEN (sadly)
Don’t say he attacked me without any provocation, Stan. I tried to take his drugs away from him, and he went berserk.
Yes, I forgot that! Our superhero! He was a famous GojuFist executive, and he had money, and so he didn’t respect anybody! Dear Lord, how I hate that boy!
MRS. LOIS (sternly)
And those words of yours certainly does not befit a Christian, young man! Chris committed hideous crimes for which he has been to prison. He’s out now. His ex-wife is going to marry his best friend. We sold his house and dumped his possessions outside. He’s homeless and penniless now! We may not like his ways, but as Christians don’t you think it behoves on us to extend a hand of welcome to him, our flesh and blood?
Stan gets up angrily and stands staring down at his mother. When he speaks, his words eject like bullets, and his body shakes. His hands are clenched tightly at his sides, and his eyes blaze with fury.
He will receive no welcoming arms from me, Mom! Chris is rotten, and from the moment Roland died I’ve never stopped hating him. He will never be my brother, NEVER. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m taking my wife and children home! He turns round and leaves the room angrily. Diana gazes after him and also gets to her feet.
I’m sorry, Mom. I know just how much you love Chris. But he has done too much bad and evil things. He has hurt this family so much. Please don’t expect us to forget that easily simply because he has been to prison and we never visited him. Please, it will take some time to forgive him fully. She bends quickly, kisses her mother’s cheek, and murmurs her goodbyes to her father and Uncle, and then she turns and leaves. Tears glisten in Mrs. Lois’ eyes.
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MRS. LOIS (sadly)
I believe I’ve failed as a mother.
REV BAWA (calmly)
You’ve been the best mother, wife and brother to us, my dear. We’re all at our very low because none of us was expecting Chris to come out of prison now. Let’s get down to our knees in supplications to God. He will certainly make a way.
Ruben Essel gets to his feet slowly, and looks at his sister and brother-in-law.
MR. RuBEN (carefully)
Am I safe from Chris, Brand? He assaulted me five years ago and almost killed me. He still hates me for trying to take away his cocaine that day. Should I seek a legal restraining order against him?
MRS. LOIS (agitated)
Come on, Rube! I don’t think Chris is coming to attack you again. That day he did that he was drunk and had drugs in him. He was also hurt from the painful fight he had with Effe. Please, I know Chris is a bad boy, but don’t think of him as some uncontrollable criminal, please.
The man of God points a stern finger at his wife and shakes his head, and there is the beginnings of wrath in the depths of his eyes.
REV BAWA (coldly)
There, right there, is how Chris turned out so rotten, Lois. You made him into a favourite with your kaakyire kaakyire things. When he attacked Rube, I came in just in time otherwise he would probably have beaten your brother to death. He threatened, even as I was calling the police, to come back and beat Rube to death!
MRS. LOIS (equally coldly)
Love him, Brand! Maybe if your love has also been a little visible he might have turned out differently! He is your son too! Ever since we lost Roland you’ve never been able to forgive Chris!
The man of God gets to his feet, and his face is enraged. Veins stand out on his neck and on his forehead, and his voice is harsh and trembling with great fury.
REV BAWA (with fury)
Yes, yes, yes! I’ve tried, but I’ve never been able to forgive him for Roland’s death, so God help me! You love Chris more, I loved Roland more! Chris cut short a very promising future for Roland! You will deny this, I know, but Chris has always been irresponsible, spoilt, violent and evil, and I’m always appalled to call him my son!
Lois Bawa gives a strangled sob as tears fall down her eyes. She gets up and runs from the living-room. The man of God stands there, trembling with rage at his last son, and remorse for shouting at his wife. He sits down slowly and clamps a hand to his head. Ruben Essel gets up wordlessly and leaves the room.