Ken stood silhouetted against the setting sun. He was alone in the boat as the lagoon took on the color of the red sun, making the waters look almost metallic. He was contemplating paying his father a visit and suddenly he had become unsure. Questions needed to be answered. He could not hold back anymore and the one person who could give him some of the answers was a few meters away. His hands shook as he tried to calm his nerves.
There was a small sardonic smile playing across his lips. It was time to take a look at the wounds, time to come face to face with his ghosts and why he had left. Why he had promised himself he was never coming back. He needed to make peace with his father if not with himself. He remembered the bitter arguments, his sense of not being good enough for his father. He remembered Douglas and he felt some pain that no one had ever made any attempt to reach out to him.
It was a tough place to have dreams. He had wanted to further his education and he knew his father was not going to be able to cope with the payments. He had been grateful for the secondary education he got. He was not about to just sit down in the place, getting married, have babies, and be a fisherman. His whole soul had rebelled against such a future.
It was not therefore too surprising when he followed the boys to do some small oil bunkering. The first time he got paid he was stunned at making such easy money. He had instinctively kept that business from his father. But being a young man he could not resist buying a few things that was more than his income as a fisherman could fetch him.
His father had asked probing questions and he thought he had succeeded in deceiving him until one evening he came home to find his father in his room, a cold implacable look on his face, and his wad of currency in his hand. There was nothing left to do than to confess what he had been doing. He expected anger but not the blistering rage of the old man.
He still felt disbelief at the blazing words, stating that no son of his was going to be a coward and refuse to stand and fight.
“I can’t see much of any fight with you Papa,” he had taunted back. “No money, no food and I try to do business and you call me a thief.”
There had been the silence.
“Bravery has nothing to do with stealing oil from the creeks. A thief is a thief no matter in what clothes you dress it.”
He had yelled back in his own pain, “I have not stolen anything, just taken what belongs to me.”
“Who allocated stealing to you, Kenawari?”
“Get out; you have a smell I don’t want around here.”
He had yelled back that he was getting out and was never coming back, that he would make good and his father was going to regret calling him a thief. That was when he made contact with Elias and left the village a few days later. Papa never spoke to him from that night. He never went back to the business, for it had served the purpose he wanted. He never called home.
Ken had not seen Ebijor either or connected with her until the night of his return. He had kept her in his mind for years, knowing he needed to explain his abrupt departure. Knowing the culture of his people, he knew she would have been married off after a time. He wondered if she had resisted or simply accepted his apparent desertion and shrugged her shoulders and settled down to married bliss. He had wondered if she understood about love. He could not sleep at nights as he imagined her in someone’s arms and he was racked by jealousy. A dangerous jealousy he knew, for she belonged to another man. Someone the rest of the community would defend if he tried anything funny. He had also not known about Douglas. He had assumed the silence had been in obedience to their father. He needed time to take a look at that piece of information.
Ken had stalked the markets hoping to catch a glimpse of Ebijor, but she seemed to have suddenly voluntarily imprisoned herself. He was not about to ask anyone questions. Tonbra too had become invisible. He understood, believing she was remorseful about her big mouth and was keeping out of his way with respect. He sighed and started walking along the single plank walkway.
Ken walked past his father’s home deliberately and chose to stop at a point two houses away, because he had not being prepared to find his father sitting outside on an easy rocking chair. He was sure his father had seen him. Ken suddenly lost his nerve. He felt lonely too. That is my father, damn it! You don’t just walk back to fifteen years at the drop of a hat do you? You don’t just wipe out fifteen years of longing, pain, anger and confused thoughts do you? The fact that his father had never enquired after him still hurt, he acknowledged to himself.
Interested readers in Nigeria can now buy copies of BLOOD CONTRACT from thefollowing book retailers:
University of Ibadan
2. The Booksellers(Mosuro Books)
Ring road, Ibadan
3.The Kids Centre
Akure Mall, Akure
We will update youas more book retailers are added on