So, I wrote a short story today! I’m not even sure what to tittle it and might need your help with that.
Chief Akin Ojuogun sat before the medical doctor. He folded his hands over his chest and tried to show restraint although clearly discomforted about what the test results would reveal.
“I’m sorry we took much of your time, Sir. The results usually take a while because of the kind of tests we were running on you.”
That was not his concern. “So what is wrong with me?”
The middle age doctor stared down over the paper on his desk and started to fidget with his pen.
It was Chief Akin’s pride that stopped him from snatching the paper and reading the results himself.
“Chief Ojuogun you mean.” He eyed the younger man.
“Sorry Sir.” The doctor cleared his throat. “I would first of all like to ask if you have any family members around you- ”
“-Mr Doctor man” his tone was spiteful. “What is wrong with me?” He didn’t have time to beat about the bush.
“I would be direct-”
“-then please be.”
The doctor cleared his throat again. “Sir, what I’m about to tell you-”
“-I get that you are not my family doctor if not you would know that I like to hear things as they are. Please just get to the point so that I can go.”
“But this is serious.”
“I’ve gotten that by now so can you just tell me what it is!” He was losing patience.
“You have cancer. It wasn’t discovered in time so you’re in stage three. ”
“Thank you, I guessed as much.” Chief Akin cursed under his breath.
“So can you please send these results to my family doctor and prescribe medication for me.”
“You do not have that long to live”
“Everyone is going to die someday.”
“You don’t seem bothered.”
Chief akin was quiet for a while. Not sure whether to lash his tongue at this unsuspecting doctor or just walk away.
“Please forward my results.”
He got up and walked out. He heard the young doctor calling out to him but ignored and headed straight for the exit. The air outside the hospital was fresh compared to the smell of germicide mopped floors and disinfected sheets.
Chief Akin robbed his forehead. It was probably his bad attitude that gave him cancer in the first place. He laughed. He kept laughing. He couldn’t stop. He was going to die. That was probably the best news he had heard in a while.
The driver pulled up in front of him. He must have been spotted the moment he stepped out and of course Tobi, the driver, knew he didn’t like to be kept waiting.
He was still laughing. Tobi was confused.
“Chief is everything okay?”
He stopped and frowned into the rear mirror. Eyes locking with Tobi’s. The driver looked away instantly.
“Shut up and take me home.”
Chief Akin was not sure where his mind had wondered to or if he had fallen asleep but the sound of the car horn brought him back to consciousness and he realized he was back at his mansion.
Everything looked different today. It looked unimportant. He just realized he didn’t even ask how long he had left but that was also unimportant. He was going to die anyway.
He walked on a cloud into the house, completely unaware of everything around him. He walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. Then he walked to the cabinet and pulled out a glass. Then he popped the cap and filled the glass and drank the water.
His stereotyped movement amazed him and he would have started another episode of sarcastic laughter except that he was not alone in the room.
There was a stranger in the room. He should have been scared but he wasn’t. Normally, he was always fearful. Afraid that someone would shoot him. Afraid that someone would poison him. Afraid that someone would leave him. Afraid that he would lose his fortune. Well all this was about to happen because he was going to die.
“Who are you?” He eyed the young skinny looking woman in the corner of the room.
She looked uncomfortable and confused. She bent her knees to greet him.
“Good morning Sir. I greeted you before but you didn’t answer me.”
He hated people that didn’t get straight to the point.
“I said who- are- you?”
“Mama Alake’s daughter.”
He rolled his eyes. “So you are Alake.”
“Where is your mother?”
“She was not feeling well so she asked me to come. I have cleaned the house and prepared your food.”
He looked around.
“It’s on the dinning table.” She said as if reading his thoughts.
He nodded and walked away. He went to the dinning table and saw the cloth covered bowls. He sat down. He was not used to many hands preparing his food but today he did not care and why? Because he was going to die. If anyone was going to poison him, all they would be doing is speeding up the death process and easing his pain because he ached all over.
Alake rushed out from the kitchen.
“Sir, your phone is ringing.”
He waved her away but she did not get what he meant so she stood there with the phone in her hand. He ignored her.
He removed the cloth. Opened the bowls. Pulled out a plate and dished himself a spoon of brown rice, vegetables and fish. Was eating healthy important anymore? He shrugged.
He put a spoon in his mouth and chewed in silence. But his phone started ringing again.
He waved her away again but she stood there and he ignored her.
He stared at his 6 sitter dining table. The seats were carved from wood and had gold lining on the back and arm rests. It cost him a lot of money. His wealth didn’t leave him after all but he was going to leave it. He would probably bury himself with some of his gold chains.
He would bury himself? A dead man burying himself.
He laughed again- the sarcastic laugh and chocked on a grain of rice.
Alake rushed to the kitchen and brought out a glass of water and handed it to him. He would have shouted at her if it was a “normal day”. Why didn’t she think to bring water to the table before he started eating instead of standing there like a zombie with his phone in her hand.
He took the water and drank it. He was grateful but he was not going to thank her because she brought the water at the wrong time.
He wiped his mouth. Alake stood there.
“Sir, are you sure you are okay?”
Alake’s mother had told her not to talk to the Chief but she was not at peace. Something was wrong with this fifty something year old man and she wanted to know what it was even if he fired her.
Chief looked at her and then back at his plate.
“Do you want to join me?”
“Sir?” Alake was stunned.
“I’m actually not fine. Please come and join me.”
Alake was not sure if she was hearing right.
“You heard me.” His tone was a bit commanding. She was afraid to comply and also afraid to turn him down. She sat down.
“The chair is comfortable? I’m sure you sit on it when I’m not at home.”
Alake felt insulted but refused to show it. Did he expect her to sit on the floor. She never even sat on the house chairs in the first place. She remained quiet.
He dropped his spoon and clasped his hands “What I am about to tell you now, you must tell nobody.”
Alake was scared. Was this man going to tell her he was a ritualist? He acted like one. She would not be surprised. She watched as he dished a plate of food for her. She made the food, so she was sure she did not poison it but suddenly she was scared to eat it. Or did he think she poisoned his food and wanted to test her? Well, she was not going to eat either way.
Chief Akin was not sure what he was doing. This was a stranger- his maid’s daughter and he was about to expose his deepest anguish to her. But she was a stranger and she was probably afraid of him so that would keep her quiet.
“You can eat.”
She didn’t. He did not care.
“I found out today that I’m going to die.”
“But I knew. Don’t worry I don’t have Lasser Fever.”
He said that like it was going to make her relax. She didn’t. Was he really making a joke out of his shocking comment.
“I have cancer.”
“Have you told your family?” That was the first thing out of her mouth and Alake would have bitten herself for interrupting.
” Well, it depends on if I have family. Well I have family members but not an actually family.”
He paused like he was waiting for a reply but when he didn’t get one he continued.
“I’m wealthy in debt.”
He saw her eyes twitch and knew she did not understand.
” I mean I’m rich and I have lots of money but I also owe a lot of people money. If they find out that I am going to die they may start praying for me so that I would pay them back. But I don’t have money.”
“But you just said that you are rich.”
“I’m rich because of the borrowed money I have.”
That’s sad. Alake thought it but she did not say it.
“What does that have to do with your family?”
“Well, my wife left me and took my two children. When she remarried, my son came back. But when he moved to the university in England he just never came back and never called. I see my daughter sometimes because she is a lawyer and she persecutes me most of the time so that is funny.”
“She works for the people that are against you?”
“Yes. I think she does it intentionally”
“Um, I don’t have friends. With the kind of person I am and what I do, you don’t really have friends. It is always a competition. People are with you for money or fame. My doctor is probably my only friend”
That is sad. Alake thought again but did not comment.
“So what are you going to do?
“What do think I should do?”
Be less nasty. Tell your family. Pray! But she kept it in her gut.
“I don’t know yet Sir. But why did you tell me?”
“Because you are a stranger. And you won’t tell anybody.”
Alake squinted at him.
“Do you think it has anything to do with your pompous attitude.” She was not angry.
“So you think I’m pompous?”
“I think you are pompous and lonely and maybe bitter.” She looked around.”You have such a big house and you do not have a single person living with you. Even with the few people you have around, you don’t treat them well-”
“Is that what your mother told you?”
Alake panicked for fear of getting her mother fired “No!” She became silent.
“So I am pompous,lonely and maybe bitter.”
“Mr- I mean Chief Akin that’s not what I meant.”
“That’s what you meant.”
“Okay yes, but I did not mean to be so direct.”
“I like direct.”
They were silent.
“You need to let someone know. You need your family, if not you’ll be depressed”
“I’m always depressed and that’s why I’m telling you.”
“But I’m not your family?”
Alake did not get why this man was so nonchalant.
“What are you afraid of?”
Chief Akin crossed his arm over his chest. “I’ve told you already. I’m afraid….”
“You will die alone?”
“I’m already dying alone.”
“Then what are you afraid of?”
“I was going to answer before your interrupted me.”
“I’m afraid that my misery would continue after I die. I would still be a debtor and I would still be alone and worse I’ll have to pay for all the wrong decisions I made in the my miserable life”
They were silent again.
“But God can give you a fresh start.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before. But my problems are too many to be solved in the little time I have left.
“How long is that?”
Chief Akin remembered again that he forgot to ask how long he had.
“I don’t know. Not long.”
“Nothing is too hard for God. You should start my asking God for forgiveness. Then sell everything you own and pay your debt. Then go and look for your family. It’s that simple.”
Chief Akin laughed his sarcastic laugh again.
Alake was not laughing.
“You are serious?”
“Yes Sir, I am”
Chief Akin looked in deep thought.
“But why should God forgive me and if I sell everything I own what would I have?”
” A mans life does not consist in the things he owns- go and live with your daughter.”
He laughed again. Alake did not laugh.
“Are are serious?”
“Yes sir. Nothing is too hard for God.”
Chief akin sighed.
“But won’t God ask me why I had to wait till I was about to die.”
“Don’t overlook the obvious here, Sir. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”
“Correctly put, Sir.”
Chief Akin laughed ” I can’t remember the last time I prayed.”
“Now isn’t too late, Sir.”
Chief Akin stared into space for a long time then got up and walked into the kitchen. Alake remained glued to her seat, not sure if she should have followed him. But she felt at peace. He probably needed time. She took the opportunity to pray for him and she was too grateful that she had a relationship with God.
After what felt like thirty minutes the older man emerged from the kitchen, eyes swollen but with a smile on his face.
“I wish I had done that a long time ago”
He laughed allowing a tear slide down his left check. He sat down at the head of the table again.
Alake smiled. Holding back her own tears.
“Most people feel that way too. Some don’t even get to make that decision till it’s too late.”
” I guess I have something to be grateful for then.”
“That God sent me a stranger.”
” Hmm, not exactly. I’ve been to this house about three times but you never notice me.”
“But it’s fine. I guess it was about right timing.”
They both chuckled.
“And the food is cold…”
Chief Akin stared down at his plate.
“I can warm that for you Sir”
Without waiting for a reply, Alake scooped up the tray and disappeared into the kitchen.
He found himself shouting thank you to her back. Something he hardly ever did. He smiled. He was more than thankful, not just for the food but for her presence and more thankful to God for giving him the small sense to converse with the daughter of his maid who now for all he knew is the only friend he has.