At eighteen Obiora could play virtually every instrument he could lay his hands on. He seemed naturally inclined to whatever thing or object that produced sound.
While Obiora was good at that, Obioma his immediate elder brother was a talented vocalist and music coordinator. His vocals could span diverse pitches without breaking; remarkably from the highest pitch to the lowest.
Together they were the spine that held their church band and choir; which was gradually growing stronger in repute within the neighbourhood.
Obiora and Obioma played and sang in small gospel concerts within the neighbourhood. In some cases, they were paid, in others they weren’t.
They were particularly not from a rich background; and were orphans whose talents were gradually beginning to garner success and breakthrough for them.
Ifeanyi, a close neighbor of theirs had just told them about an opportunity that had was around the corner. “A talent scout and agent is currently looking for young musical talents to develop and sign into a record label,” he said.
After short intense questioning from both Obioma and Obiora they became quite convinced that their breakthrough and opportunity had landed.
Since Ifeanyi was also an agent, he astutely acted as the middleman between both parties, conveying scurried messages from one end of the party to the other.
The last time he was asked by Obiora what he specifically does for a living, he said, “I’m into entertainment, business, politics … bro, in fact anything that puts food on the table is what I do. It’s all about making money for me. I just dey pray make God bless my hustle, I no one be poor man for life.” He sounded like the perfect middleman. He was very much older than the brothers, so they often looked up to him for brotherly advice as well as financial assistance. In fact, he was like a brother to them (they often called him “brother”).
In time, they got to find out a problem. “He said he can only pick one of you. He said he knows it is unfair and tricky considering the fact that you are brothers. He also said that since it is difficult for him to choose one of you, he would like to give both of you an equal chance. According to him, both of you would have to write a letter to him, convincing him why either of you feels he is more suited for the opportunity. He said you are to submit this through his mail and that he has stationed agents who would be watching your performances. He is going to get back to both of you through me,” Ifeanyi said. He knew such news would only bring about contempt and competition between both brothers. But he had no choice, he had to convey the message. Whenever issues of trust were raised by the brothers, Ifeanyi would find a way to quell their fears and doubts by showing them, pictures, messages and mails from him—the man (their unknown benefactor).
All had been said and done when Obioma received a call from an unknown number and an unfamiliar voice telling him that his brother was chosen over him. The unknown voice said, “Although you seem more experienced and mature, I’m not sure you quite fit into the kind of mainstream artiste I am looking for. Obiora’s talent is better suited to the kind of musical projects I’m affiliated to. I’m sorry.” He cut the call before Obioma could utter anything.
Obioma spoke to Ifeanyi about this incident.
“He must have been the one who called. Well he made his choice. You just have to wait for another opportunity,” Ifeanyi replied.
His words were sordid. The striking feeling of sadness was looming around him, as he somberly sat on a hard mattress which was on the floor, in his room. Perhaps if he’d known, he would have been a little less prudent and honest in his approach. Perhaps he could have fabricated good qualities about himself.
Then suddenly a thought struck him; he thought about what Obiora might have said against him in order to win the man’s favor. An idea came to him; he was going to do same—he was going to fabricate lies about Obiora. He was going to tell the man all the dirty little secrets he knew about Obiora as well. “There is no way I’m letting this opportunity pass me by. It’s either we both rise together or we sink together,” he said.
Obiora was elated that he had finally won the heart of this man. His joy was visibly written over his countenance. This heartfelt news had also upped his confidence and esteem. This was a life changing opportunity. Now all he need to do is make all the necessary preparations and follow all instructions dished out by this man. His papers and details were to be ready in a week. It was so surprising to him because everything seemed to be happening fast. Until he got struck by a second thought.
“This seems too good to be true. Perhaps there could be a catch here. How can I fully trust this man to be who he says he is? Although Ifeanyi seems to trust him so much, and has been our link and communicative piece. The whole thing still doesn’t add up. He claims to be a talent scout; affiliated to a recording company and production company, and has showed us pictures, internet references and even a website. But we hardly know him. I think I’m just going to let Obioma have this one; he is my elder brother after all. Whatever harm or misfortune that comes his way will be a lesson to me, and whatever fortune or good that comes from this would also be to my benefit. What I’m certain of is that we can’t let this opportunity pass us both. If there is a sacrifice to be made, he has to make it—whether good or bad.’’ He ended his musing with a devious and mischievous smile before heading straight to church. It was almost time for choir practice, and he was hardly a late comer.
Obioma sulked for a while, musing about his intentions for vengeance and scoring a point back at his brother. He felt a little bit betrayed and felt a slight distrust. Now seemed like the perfect time and opportunity to get back at his brother. “He has always gotten what he wanted, but this time will be different,” Obioma said.
But shortly afterward something queer and mysterious touched him. He asked himself, “Why all this vengeance and ill-mannered feelings towards him? Obiora is my brother, and whatever benefits him, benefits me by extension. But I shouldn’t let this happen. It’s an outright disrespect. Being his elder brother I deserve more. Perhaps I will sleep over this issue, let’s see where the spirit leads me.”
Ifeanyi was having a sleepless night; he thought about maximizing his cut as a middle man. He needed to think of something quickly to achieve his ploy.
At last an idea came to him. “I will just have to tell them they could both travel out together, then I’ll convince him to pick both brothers, that way no one would easily suspect anything.” He tried had to suppress the gush of mild devilish laughter that was trying to force its way out of his mouth. His ploy was already in play; he knew too well not to mess it up.