My father. Everything I have achieved had been because of him; and for him too. That was what he did too, he sacrificed everything for me. He sacrificed the rest of his life so that I can be where I am today. That was why he meant everything to me. And today, I would be meeting him again after twenty years.
I was driving down to the prison where he’d been incarcerated for the past years, when I was assaulted by the memories of those years. Like a movie, the events of that horrible day flashed in my mind…
We sat on the park bench, holding glasses half-filled with the dark brown liquid—whisky. Before us, on the small stool we usually brought whenever we came here (which was like every week), was the bottle of whisky. There was nothing left in it. It was full when we came here, but we’ve finished it, competing with ourselves to know who would take the last drop.
In the end, he had won, laughing and coughing as he downed the last portion. I laughed too, wishing that the emptiness that would follow after this would wait a bit. But it didn’t, it came like a storm, washing over me and drowning me in bitterness.
Then dad spoke, letting me know the depth of his pain, of the pain we shared. “Amobi, she’s not coming back again, you know?”
Of course, she wasn’t. Mom was dead. Gone. Taken by something we were powerless about. “Yes, dad. Mom is really dead,” I said, wiping the sweat mixed with the tears from my cheeks.
“To think that she died when we’d gotten the money for her surgery. I feel like strangling cancer if I can ever see the bastard,” he said again, the sorrow in his heart nearly choking him.
I wanted to laugh at the silliness of the statement, but I ended up sobbing. It was so unfair. Mother had uterine cancer and for thirteen months, we fought to keep her alive. We sold everything in order to raise the money needed for her surgery. But we were too late.
On the day she died, dad had rushed into the hospital, waving the cheque he had gotten from a benevolent man who had listened to his numerous online pleas for help. Thirty minutes before he came in, I held mother as she breathed her last, my howls of pain and anger reverberated throughout the room she was kept in.
Immediately dad saw me, he slumped. When he came to minutes later, I knew that he was lost, the vestiges of strength I had seen in his eyes were nowhere to be found. Both of us were plunged into the abyss of never-ending sorrow.
Two months down the line, we became drinking buddies, constantly enjoying each other’s company as we allowed ourselves to be drowned in whisky, instead of the sorrow we shared (which never worked anyways).
After we were done drinking, we dozed off on the bench, using each other for support. About an hour later, I groggily stood up and dragged him with me towards our car. I dumped him on the passenger seat and staggered towards the driver’s side, got in and started the car.
I knew that in my drunken state I would not be able to handle driving on the highway, so I took a short-cut, hoping to get home early and sleep before it was time for school the next day. As I drove, I was intermittently dozing and waking up, and that was how I rammed into the man walking home.
I stopped the car immediately, jumped out of the car and went to investigate. By then, my eyes had cleared and I was terrified of what I’d done. I called my dad immediately and as he came out, the people who owned stalls along the road also rushed to us. One of them checked the man’s pulse and he was confirmed dead.
Even if we’d wanted to escape, we couldn’t have because the people around surrounded us as one of them called the police immediately. The police arrived earlier than expected and that was when my dad made the ultimate sacrifice for me.
“I was the person who drove the car,” he lied, “I killed him. It wasn’t intentional.”
I was too shocked to speak, and so were the people there. No one expected him to make such a move. Immediately, he was cuffed and taken to the police station.
The events of the next few weeks went in a blur. We learnt that man that I killed was the chairman of the traders in the area and his family sued for my father to be executed as well. The state lawyer assigned to told us to plead guilty to manslaughter, which we did. Then in a court case that didn’t last up to a month, my father was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment with hard labour. The judge had been annoyed that we were drunk while driving.
As my father was led away, I had promised him the best life when he came out of prison. He had told me that the reason he took the blame for the accident was because I had a bright future, and he wouldn’t allow me to waste away behind bars…
So there you have it. Now, twenty years later, I was the owner of the biggest agrotech firm in the Eastern part of Nigeria, at the age of thirty-five.
I arrived at prison and saw my dad waving at me. I flew into his arms as we locked ourselves in a tight embrace. When we disengaged one minute later, we had tears of joy in our eyes. We held hands, and laughed as we went to the car.
We exchanged stories as I drove towards my house. He told me funny prison stories and I told him of my journey towards wealth. He looked at me with unrestrained pride and I nearly cried again.
When we got home, I drove into the compound and as the gate man was about to lock the gate, a man rushed in with a pistol in his hand. He pointed the gun at my dad, commanding him to stay put. Then he ordered the gate man to lock gate and join us where we were standing.
Then he told us who he was. According to him, he was the son of the man I’d killed many years ago. He’d come to right the wrongs of the past.
“After you killed my father,” he began, still pointing the gun at us, “there was no way we could cope. My mother was a housewife and she didn’t have anything she was doing. Two months after my father’s death, she took her own life. I would have joined them if not for the fact that I’ve spent the last twenty years waiting for the perfect moment to avenge their death. And today’s the day.”
I looked at him and saw the reckless determination in his eyes. There was no joke about what he was about to do. As I looked, he pulled the trigger. At the same moment, I flew, towards my dad. I arrived just in time to push my dad away. Then something like a sledgehammer slammed into me, making me fall immediately. The bullet had hit me instead.
My dad rushed towards me, he held my head as I coughed out blood. I wanted to speak, to tell him that I was sorry for everything, that I was sorry that he couldn’t prevent me from taking my punishment, but he shushed me, asking me to stay with him.
The assailant laughed, flailing his hands as his laughter echoed in the compound. “I think this is the perfect revenge. You will be alive and watch your son die. That is way better.” He raised the gun again. “Now, it’s time to join my parents.” Then he blew his brains out.
I saw mother extending her hands to me, and I couldn’t say no. The last thing I thought of was, the sins of the son will always come back to him.