I have everything. Oh no, wait. I had everything. Although your definition of everything may very well differ from mine. But for the sake of clarity and context, we’ll settle with mine. Plus, I am expecting a friend soon, so I’d like to be done with this as soon as possible. My name is… my name I suppose. My name… my name… is… I… can’t honestly remember. I’ve been called by my surname as well as ‘Sir’, ‘boss’, ‘Mr. CEO’ and some other monikers like that for so long that I’ve forgotten my own name. It’s at the back of my mind somewhere, but it truly escapes me. Something with a J in it, I think. My mother, rest her soul, would remember. I think I shall start there, but pardon me as I get another glass of this scotch…whiskey…whatever I’m drinking.
My mother was an honest soul. She may not have won any Mother of the Year awards, but within the confines of our decrepit circumstances she found a way to push forward. My father was nonexistent, and after claiming all my riches I found out he had died of a drug overdose some years ago. Pity really, might have been able to help him out. Maybe that would have helped me on my search for myself. Or maybe not. He’s dead, my mother’s dead, I don’t know where my siblings are or if they are alive and I have half a dozen different medical conditions and still live.
I remember when my mother had kidney problems, and I had the money to pay for all the hospital bills. It was a bittersweet moment when I saw her after the surgery.
“You are always away, boy. You should stick around more and be with the family.”
“Did the family pay for the bills, or did I? If I was sticking around like my brothers and sisters, would you be alive to scold me about being around?”
I had seen the hurt on her face, like I had punched her stomach. But I had no time for family meetings and get-togethers. How I got my money is not important. What is important is that I got it. And sadly, the family never fully appreciated that I was dashing away my own happiness to see them dress nice, eat well and be fancy once in a while. A strong point was when we were all gathered in the huge living room of the new house I got for us and talks started rising up again of how I was never around to see anyone nor was I socializing enough. That night, I made a toast,
“All of you, relatives included, know how rough it was when we started out. I wasn’t born until much later but I know things were fair before everything crumbled down. We were living in shitholes, but we managed to survive,” they all murmured agreements.
“Now… Most of you relatives didn’t even show your faces or extend help and now here you are eating good and talking about family bonds and how I don’t keep in touch. I want you all to know that I do not give a crap,” this time there were gasps and bits of anger.
“Oh shut up!”
“Don’t you try to shush me! If it wasn’t for me, none of you would be here! You’d all be minding your own business telling each other ‘it is well’ instead of doing something! So here’s a toast to family, for being the biggest hypocrites of them all,” I downed my glass of champagne, calmly walked out and drove off. Suffice to say, I never attended anymore of the get-togethers. Excuse me, I think I need the damn bottle of that scotch thing. Five point two million naira for one bottle and I don’t even know what the hell I’m drinking.
Was I selfish? Possibly. Will I ever know if if I was? I doubt it. Everyone around me kisses my ass no matter how many times I tell them to stop. Money does make the world go round, the rotation of the earth is just natural phenomenon happening.
“My son, you should go out and find someone you can love. Family won’t be here always,” my mother advised me once.
“But isn’t family supposed to be around forever?” I asked my mother with naive innocence.
“Yes and no. We all die, son. It’s just what the world is.”
“So, what is the use of finding love? It’ll just die away as well. I’m fine the way I am.”
My mother never could really grasp what changed me neither could I but I didn’t care about it. Another time she tried to lecture me on balance and I told her bluntly just how imbalanced the world was. You could never find balance. You either favoured one side or condemned it. Sigh.
I hear my friend coming. It’s a sad tale. At the top of my office building is a penthouse, and I stare out through the ceiling to floor windows at the vanity of it all. How do you have six different medical conditions and still live? Shouldn’t I be gone already? Sigh. Is there a lesson to this? That is for you to decide.
“Hello, friend. Good to see you again,” Death said as he stepped in.
“Good to see you too. Were you in the neighbourhood and decided to drop by or is it finally time?”
A weak smile from Death. “Not your time yet my friend. I am just here for another game.”
“Very well, then.” I smiled back. “Chess or checkers?”
You see, in this world full of the living, the biggest irony ever is that Death is literally my one and only friend.
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