The taxi stops in front of a very beautiful two-storey building inside a private residential area in Madina.
Chris, sitting in the front passenger seat, sees that there are a lot of cars parked in front of the building.
The building is enclosed with high walls, and has electrified wire lines on them.
The walls have spaces in-between filled with marvellous grid metals.
Through the spaces Chris sees that it has a beautiful spacious lawn and yard, and there are some cars in there too.
The gates of the house are splendid gold and silver sliding metal, and next to the gates is a smaller gate and a security post. He sees two uniformed security men outside. There is music and laughter filtering from inside the house. Chris can see some adult guests and a lot of children moving around the yard, and he can hear excited voices coming from the pool area.
The taxi driver looks at Chris and speaks.
We’re here, boss. Twenty cedis, please.
Chris nods absentmindedly.
He reaches into his breast pocket and brings out a twenty-cedi note and pays the driver. He gets out of the car and remains standing as the taxi executes a U-turn and speeds away.
After a moment Chris crosses the street and heads for the gates where the security men are standing.
They regard him warily, and one of them moves to intercept him.
Hold up, Sir! What do you want, please?
Visiting. Can I go in?
Not without an invitation card, Sir. The birthday party is strictly by invitation, please.
I want to see the owner, Effe Bawa.
She’s not a Bawa, Sir. This is Madam Effe Kedem’s house. You must be lost.
The little gate opens just then, and a group of people come outside.
One of the men is holding an expensive-looking camera. He is dressed in a white designer trousers and shirt outfit. There are two other men and three women with him.
There is also a little boy of eight who is accompanied by some of his friends. The little boy is in black jeans and a very beautiful T-Shirt. He is holding unto the finger of one of the women. She is a very beautiful woman indeed. She is built like an angel. She is fair, with classic curves and a skin so perfect it seems to radiate its own inner glow. She is in a beautifully-designed white dress, and she is laughing with happiness.
She bends and kisses the little boy on the cheek, but the boy is no longer laughing. He is not even looking at his mother anymore. His eyes are gaping wide with a shock so profound that for a moment it appears as if he is carved from stone.
The woman looks at her son, suddenly appalled by his stillness, and then her eyes follow her son’s gaze, and she also sees Chris for the first time. The boy steps past his mother and walks with trembling legs towards Chris. He stops and gazes up at the tall handsome man with eyes still bulging, still filled with disbelief.
He and the man look exactly the same, and it is evident that they are blood-related, a father and a son.
He is CHRIS BAWA, JUNIOR. His father is Chris, and his mother is the amazingly beautiful woman, EFFE KEDEM.
(voice unsteady, trembling)
Chris looks down at his son whom he has not seen in five years. When he was taken to prison Junior was three.
That the boy has recognized him, after all these years, after all this time, when he had just been still a baby and could barely speak, hits Chris so hard that for a moment he cannot speak.
To hear the boy calling him ‘Daddy’ is more than his heart can take.
He looks down at the boy, and his face is overcome with emotions so strong it threatens to tear his heart apart.
Slowly he gets down on one knee. When he speaks his voice is a whisper.
You remember me, my Champ!
Tears suddenly bursts through the boy’s eyes like exploding waterfalls.
He is so overwhelmed that he begins to tremble uncontrollably, and then he steps forward and clamps his arms around the neck of his father.
Chris embraces his son and buries his face in his neck, and his huge frame trembles with the power of his emotions.
Still stunned, Effe walks forward slowly. The man with the camera steps beside her, his face also looking absolutely stunned. He is 35 years old, and his name is STEVE HOLLISON.
He puts his free arm across Effe’s shoulders as she steps forward.
Chris? Is that you? CHRIS!!
Chris slowly disengages his son’s arms and looks up at Effe.
Slowly he stands up, his eyes never leaving her face. His eyes are extremely sad as he looks at Steve’s arm across his wife’s shoulders.
(anger replacing her shock)
What the hell are you doing here, Chris? Did you escape from prison? Is that it? You dared to escape from prison?
Mommy stop! Mommy stop it, please! It is really really really Daddy!
Steve shakes his head and smiles, but there is still shock in the depths of his eyes.
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Jeez, Chris, man! You were sentenced to ten years, and you have done how many years, five? Don’t tell me you stupidly escaped prison because of Junior’s birthday, man!
When Chris looks at Steve there is no disguising the absolute disgust and fury he feels towards the man.
Steve, my best man at my wedding, now with my wife, wanting her as his wife. Well, that’s classic, isn’t it?
There is so much pain, so much misery, so much suffering in his soft voice that for a moment there is absolute silence.
It is Steve who gives a shaky little laugh and points a finger at Chris.
C’mon, man. Don’t blame anybody for your woes. You had your chance with Effe, and you messed up her life. And from the look of things you have messed up real bad again, because here comes the police. Seems to me you did escape from prison! Damn it, man, how stupid can you be?
Indeed a black police sedan with flashing lights and screaming siren has appeared down the street, and it is coming very fast towards them.
Junior grips his father’s hand desperately.
(voice agitated and anxious)
Come, Daddy! I will hide you! Please don’t let them take you away again!
Tears of anguish are falling down in torrents down the boy’s face again.
Many more guests have appeared from the house, and they are all watching now.
One of them is a tall, beautiful dark woman. She is 28 years old ELAINE BOATENG. She is Effe’s best friend, and had been her maid of honour at their wedding. She is a television programme hostess. She steps forward and looks at Chris with venom.
Jesus Christ, Chris! You never learn, do you? You choose today of all days to break out of prison and mess up your son’s birthday? Now you’re going to leave the poor boy distraught and heartbroken. You’re such a pig, Chris, and I damn detest you!
Aunt Elaine! Don’t you insult my Daddy!
Oh, Junior, I’m sorry, but-
Shut up, shut up, shutupshutupshutup!!
Tears come to Effe’s eyes.
She rushes to her son and gathers him into her arms even as he struggles to free himself from her arms.
(voice filled with pain)
It’s okay, my precious, it’s okay! Take it easy! Please, don’t do this! Don’t stress yourself up, prince!
Her angry eyes drive through Chris’ heart like hot daggers.
The police sedan comes to a halt and two burly policemen jump out with their guns drawn. They come towards Chris with very dark looks.
Police officer 1
Okay, Chris, raise those hands, gently. You’re coming with us.
No, no, no! Please don’t take my Daddy away!
Chris looks down at his son and smiles sadly.
It’s okay, Champ. It’s okay.
He turns and faces the policemen.
POLICE OFFICER 2
You heard the sergeant, Chris! Put your hands up. We’re taking you in. Don’t let this get nasty!
For what? I have done nothing wrong. It’s my son’s birthday, and I came to give him a gift!
POLICE OFFICER 2
(with a smirk)
Well, you see, that’s just the problem, dude. By being here, you’re breaking the law, and we enforce the law!
What law? Any law says I can’t visit my son?
POLICE OFFICER 1
(with a chuckle)
Yes, pal. You can’t visit your son. Your ex-wife took a restraining order against you. You can’t come within two hundred metres of them, and from where we’re standing, seems to us you’re less than two hundred metres away!
Chris turns stunned eyes to Effe.
(heart breaking with pain)
You took a restraining order against me? For what? I’ve never hit you, I’ve never put your life in any danger! Why? Why did you do a thing like that?
Effe’s face is tortured now.
Twice she tries to speak, and twice her voice fails her.
She sees his pain, and sees his torture. She sees his shoulders drop, and she sees the fight go out of him like a deflated ball, and suddenly her anger evaporates, and she feels only a great sense of guilt.