My uncle used to say that everybody has their own side of a story. He said that “Even if it’s simply one story it’ll have many versions because the people there saw what happened at a different angle and told it at the angles they saw it from and thus the people who were told express it at the angles they understood it from. That’s why legends and myths are not hundred percent true.”
He said that once, and it stuck to my head for years and I never forgot that quote to this very day.
This is the story of Andrew Briggs. He is a brown-skinned Nigerian who spent his entire life in Canada. Anyone who looked at his world from afar would assume he’s living the life of his dreams. He had the perfect job, perfect car, perfect looks; everything about him was to die for. But what you see from afar might be a mirage.
“RRRIIIIIIINNNNNNNNGGGGGGGG”. My alarm goes off. I groan while getting up from the bed as my alarm wakes me up.
“Drew.” My mum calls as I get up from my bed
“I’m up, ma,” I answer. It’s sweet how my mum treats me like a child when I’m twenty-five years old.
I take my bath, put on a shirt and some trousers, and go downstairs.
“Good morning mum.” I kiss my mum on the cheek while she makes some custard.
“Good morning Drew.” She greets back while smiling. “And this is for my favourite doctor”. She says as she pours the custard on my plate.
“Thanks, mum.” I thank her. I gobble up my custard and bid my mum farewell because I’m going to the hospital.
On my way out, my eyes meet the large portrait of my father. A tear wants to stream down my cheek, but I hold it back. My dad is a well-known doctor in Canada. He moved to Canada from Nigeria with my mum five years after their marriage. They had my elder sister, Adanna Briggs, in Nigeria, and had me here in Canada. My dad was so well known that his death shook the entire country. My mum was so devastated when she heard about his death and I don’t think she has gotten over the death of my father till now.
Now I simply want to be there for the remaining part of my family, even if it means having to go through this crazy routine.
I get to Savier Medical Hospital, the hospital my dad left for me to run. I put on my white coat and stethoscope and head to my office. My job here is to supervise the work done here and sometimes attend to some patients. It’s the same thing I do every day.
“Good morning Doctor Briggs.” Everyone greets me as they pass.
“Mr. Briggs, someone is requesting to talk to you,” My personal assistant; a Dominican woman with dark hazel eyes and a smile that would assure you that everything will be okay, tells me with her handing over my cup of coffee and holding her tablet and some stationeries in her other hand as I’m about to enter my office.
“Who? And about what?” I ask her. I try not to groan because I wasn’t considering starting my day off with people complaining to me about the services of my hospital. The thing is that no matter how great you try to make something be people will always criticize it.
“I’m not sure because she didn’t say,” Lucia informs me.
“She? Lucia, I’m not ready to face another Karen today,” I tell her before I open the door.
I brace myself for what is behind my door, but a petite, light-skinned girl with dark brown eyes pulls me into a tight hug.
“Why are you here Adanna”. I ask and give Lucia an eye, telling her I will deal with her later for not telling me who actually was here.
“So I can’t stop by to see my little brother again?“. She asks, flipping her waist-length black braids with golden tips to the back.
“You disappear for a year telling no one where you went off to. You don’t call mum or me for a year and when you get back, you think I’ll act like everything is normal. Do you think I’ll just wave it off and hug you like everything is normal? Adanna, you need to stop this act, it’s very irresponsible. You give mum a heart attack every time. Do you realize you are tearing this family apart?” I ask her in a worried tone.
“Andrew, I didn’t come here for you to judge me. I just wanted to check up on you.” She shrugs.
“For Christ’s sake, Adanna, stop shrugging this off. You’re turning twenty-nine and you still act this irresponsible?”
“Listen, Andrew, I don’t have time for your words. Being responsible doesn’t mean that I have to fit into the future mum already planned for me. She planned for us both to be doctors and planned for me to get married to someone I don’t know when that doesn’t make me happy. Look, at you Andrew, you’re not happy with the life you are living, never have you for once done something for just you. You don’t want to be a doctor. Mom pressured you into this and you know it. Just look at you, the clothes don’t even fit you. Honestly, I just hope you don’t waste your entire life doing what someone else planned out. I may not be living big yet, but at least I’m happy. And I hope you discover yourself before it’s too late, little bro.” She tells me and later leaves.
I ponder over what she said. “Do I want to do this?” I reflect.
“What Adanna feels doesn’t matter at all.” I try to convince myself. “Yeah, I’m making mum happy and that’s all that matters. As long as I make mum happy I’m happy.” I convince myself once more.
“Lucia, come over to my office now,” I call through the Intercom on my desk and end the call.
“Sir, you called?” Lucia says as she walks in.
“I want to get out of here, I need some time to myself”
“But you just got here, sir. What’s wrong?” She asks with a worried expression.
“Just brief me on whatever happens,” I tell her, and she shuts up because she doesn’t want to get me angry any further than I am.
I don’t want to bother Lucia with my problems because she has her own problems as a single mother. And I notice being a single mother isn’t easy because I saw the pain it put my mum through.
Lucia kind of reminds me of my mum. She always has that smile that would assure you that everything will be okay. Though her husband left her with the two kids, she was determined to live with no one’s help. She would refuse gifts, money, and even the raise I wanted to give her when I heard about the unfortunate incident. The admirable thing about Lucia is that she didn’t like pity. She wanted to get to the top without people giving her chances because of what happened in her life. She was a fighter, one of those qualities I wish I had.
I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket as I arrive at the park, where I always come to clear my head. Others would go to pubs, bowling, bars or clubs to clear their head but I go to Westside field park. I find this place as a place to clear my head always because when I was a kid my dad used to take me to this very park and tell me about my heritage, teach me how to speak my native tongue, tell me stories about his childhood and play with me. One thing about my dad was that he always found time for us.
I take out my phone to check the text I received, and I found out it’s from my sister.
“I’m coming home today.” She texts. After reading this, I huff and try not to imagine the drama that will unfold between my mum and my sister when she comes home.
I text my best friend Salah to meet me in the park and luckily for me; he wasn’t busy, and he said he would be there in no time.
Salah is my brother, not my biological brother though, but he is my brother. I can’t even call him my best friend because he is more than that. He has stood by me thick and thin. I smile at the fact I have someone like him to always be there for me. He is a tan Egyptian with dark, full, curly hair and always has that mischievous and cocky smile and attitude. He has his own business firm.
“Boo” someone screams while I’m deep in thought and I fall off the wooden park bench where I sat alone.
“It’s not funny,” I scowl when I notice Salah and Miranda laughing their faces off.
“Admit, it was pretty funny,” Salah says, still laughing.
“Yeah dude, I can’t believe you were so scared,” Miranda says, laughing until I hit Salah and her.
“You asked me to come, and I was with Miranda so I figured why not bring her with me,” Salah says.
Miranda has been my best friend ever since my senior year in high school. She is Canadian. Miranda is a brunette with hazel-coloured eyes and has a unique personality that others would find very disrespectful because she is very blunt. She is so full of life. She is a fashion designer.
Tense silence begins as they both stare at me, expecting me to break the newfound silence.
“Adanna is back” I break the silence.
No one talks back, but they keep looking at me as if motioning for me to go on.
“She said something today about me not being happy with what I am and that I’m being pressurized to be a doctor. She said something about me finding myself and said she hopes it’s not too late before I do and just stormed off.” I go on.
They keep looking at me like I should keep on going on.
“I mean I have everything anyone could dream of, the perfect job with the perfect pay, my mom is happy, the perfect house, the perfect car.....”
“But compared to me, you don’t have the perfect looks,” He interrupts and smirks. “I mean, look at the face and the muscles,” He says, flexing his muscles.
“Would you shut up Salah!” Miranda tells him. “Andrew, are you happy with your life?” She asks.
“As long as my mom is happy, then I am happy,” I say.
“That was not the question IDIOT, she asked are you happy with what you are now? Do you feel fulfilled with what you are now?” Salah asks.
“And I said YES I AM HAPPY AS LONG AS MY MOM IS SAFE AND HAPPY,” I scream and start storming off.
“Andrew WAIT” Miranda calls
“WHAT? YOU GUYS DON’T GET IT. I WANT TO BE THERE FOR HER throughout. She suffered for me when my dad died and I want to pay her back. This is something she always wanted me to be, she wanted me her son to be a doctor and what better way to make her happy than to fulfill her dream of me being a doctor.”
“Listen, Andrew, to make your mom happy you don’t have to commit to a life that’s not meant for you. You can still be there for her, no matter where she is. I guess your sister is, kind of right. You realize I won’t sugarcoat this. I’ll just tell you the way it is. You need to at least be selfish for once,” she tells me. “When is she coming to the house?” She then asks.
“She’ll be here by dinner,” I answer
“Okay, but try to ease the tension,” She advises. “I would have come but I have an appointment with some clients on a launch of a new design…..oops I didn’t tell you”. She says covering her mouth with her hand and pouts to apologize for not telling me and I frown at her.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I guess I was busy or something,” She apologizes.
“Okay, I’m trying not to be angry, but we are celebrating you the moment you make that deal,” I say, fist-pumping her
“How do you know if I’ll make the deal?”
“Because it’s you. I mean, you can convince anyone about anything, so I know you will make the deal,” I assure her, smiling.
“Okay, I have to tell Salah I’m sorry for the outburst. I have to get going home it’s 3:50 and since my sister said she’ll be around for dinner I have to be there to make sure there’s no problem. So bye,” I tell her and hug her goodbye.
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