On the television screen Elaine is walking forward again.
That was not the only atrocity Mr. Chris Bawa committed that night. Two hours earlier, before he smashed poor Adwoa into a tree, Mr. Chris Bawa had launched a senseless attack on his uncle, Mr. Ruben Essel. You all know Mr. Chris Bawa was an expert in the martial arts GojuFist, and had been training champions. He beat up that old man so terribly that the man spent months in hospital, and it’s a miracle that Mr. Essel is walking again.
Again, there are groans from the audience. Elaine walks forward and perches on the arm of a settee. She sighs sadly and looks horrified. Her voice drops several decibels lower.
Two policemen went to the accident scene to arrest Mr. Chris Bawa. He turned violent and busted the right eye of Chief Inspector Danso Cuger, who’s now blind in that eye. Mr. Bawa was taken to court, trialled and jailed for ten years. Now hold, on, wait for it. You just wouldn’t believe what just happened. The President granted pardons to some prisoners, and Mr. Chris Bawa was one of them. So, after just five years, that maniac, that brutal wicked man Chris Bawa, is back on our streets a free man!
This time there are angry murmuring from the crowd, and a few are seen getting to their feet and shaking their fists in anger. Elaine is now standing in the lane between two rows of spectators. She faces the camera once again, and her face looks shattered.
Tonight, like I said, we’re going to talk about jailbirds. Those hardened criminals who’re released back into our societies and the menace they bring to us. Let me first introduce you to one of our speakers tonight. He’s Mr. Stan Bawa, older brother of Mr. Chris Bawa!
The partition parts, and Stan emerges.
He is dressed in an impeccable black suit, and his face looks grim as he walks purposefully forward.
In her living-room Effe bolts upright with shock, staring at her television scream with stunned eyes.
Oh, no, Elly! What do you think you’re doing? Jesus! You know Stan hates Chris!
Elaine meets Stan halfway as the audience give loud applaud. She hugs Stan and shakes his hand.
Welcome to Girl Vibz, Mr. Bawa. Quickly, before I continue, are you happy your little brother is back from prison so soon?
Stan looks grim as the camera zooms in on him.
(in a furious voice)
I love this President very much. However, I must admit that in releasing Chris Bawa, he’s done more harm than good!
But he’s your brother!
Yes, he is, but I tell you Chris should’ve served his ten years. Seeing him again, it seems to me he hasn’t changed. Physically he has changed, sure, but his heart is still that of a criminal!
Wow. You take a seat. We shall come back to your reasons pretty shortly.
Stan bends and kisses Adwoa Timtim’s cheek, and then he sits down carefully.
Elaine faces the camera.
Some of you watching might be shocked that Mr. Stan Bawa feels so strongly about the release of his brother from prison. But I assure you, he has a very good reason. Chris is the son of world-renowned Evangelist, the Reverend Doctor Brand Bawa, founder and leader of Golgotha Heights International Church. He has three children now. Stan, Diana and Chris. But there used to be four of them. There was an older brother called Roland.
Effe stands up from her chair, horrified.
Oh no, no, no, no, Elly! Don’t! Please don’t!
Elaine’s face is now a portrait on the television screen.
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Roland was very much loved by everybody. He died many years ago, on his eighteenth birthday. Chris, our devil boy, was then twelve years old. Roland was the darling boy of the family. Even as a child he was inventing great things. When he was seventeen years old Roland won the African Young Scientist competition, and got a full scholarship to continue his studies abroad. I heard Roland loved his younger brother Chris very much, and they were seen everywhere together. But then, on Roland’s eighteenth birthday, calamity struck!
Elaine breaks off and walks back to the podium where she pours herself a glass of water and sips.
The enthralled audience gaped at her, waiting for her to continue.
Roland and three of his friends were in a tree house which he had built in the branches of an oak tree at the back of their house. Chris was with them. The tree house was made from dry wooden planks. Chris came out of the tree house and climbed down the tree because he was hungry and wanted to eat. That was what he said anyway. A few minutes after he got down, the tree house exploded into flames. Roland and his three friends were still inside.
There are gasps of horror from the audience. Steve and Afful are seen briefly shaking their heads with sadness. A couple of elderly women can be seen dabbing at their eyes with handkerchiefs.
Roland and his three friends perished in that fire. Everybody thought at first that it was an accident, but investigations revealed that the door of the tree house was locked from the outside and bolted. That was why the young men couldn’t get out of the house. Chris was the last to come out of that house, so it was suspected that he locked the house and set it on fire. Even at just twelve years Mr. Chris Bawa was jealous of his own brother.
Many women are crying openly now.
Chris was too young to be tried, so he was sent to a delinquent’s court and sentenced to two years in a youth institution. He came out traumatized, because he was feeling very guilty, no doubt, over Roland’s death. Things were never the same between him and his family from then on. He was always brawling, drinking, smoking, doing drugs and fornicating. He began learning GojuFist, which made him more violent. He had many altercations with his parents and siblings in public. Eventually he moved out of the house. And the rest is history. He was released from prison on pardon by the President. And today, he was arrested again, for attempted rape! He is a beast! We have beasts in our midst! Watch this!
On the television screen is the video footage Elaine had recorded of the police arresting Chris inside the Eden Hospital.
Luckily, it shows only the part where Chris is walking out of the room, his hands handcuffed behind him.
The audience is applauding. Some are shaking their fists. Some are cursing Chris loudly. Suddenly the television goes off. Effe whirls round, and sees Junior standing there, holding the television remote. He is wearing his pyjamas, and his face is awash with tears. Effe had not seen him come in. She had put him to bed a long time ago, and he usually slept deeply till morning. His body is racked by sobs, and he can barely breathe.
Is…i-is th-that …Da-Da-Daddy? W-why are y-you wa-wa-watching Daddy in…in…ha-ha-handcuffs?
Effe rushes to him. She takes him in her arms even though he struggles fiercely to free himself. After a while he calms down, and weeps pitifully against her shoulders.
I want to see Daddy tomorrow morning, Mama! Please, please, please!!!
Ok, my prince! Alright!
Effe whispers silently to herself.
Chris, Chris, Chris!! Why are you doing this to me, to your son?