His car seat was incredibly comfortable, very soft on the buttocks. The fragrance from the car scented like something that must have cost a fortune, it was not the usual air freshener we have in Nigeria.
While we drove on, I was filled with numerous thoughts. A lot of things ran marathons in my head. Kayode, of all people, had finally become a millionaire in the twinkle of an eye. I stylishly peeked at him and heaved a long sigh. He must have noticed but said nothing.
Nothing seemed to interest nor inspire my life anymore. I could not seem to bring myself to accept the fact that my mates were making it out there, just like Kayode, while I was still struggling to earn a living. I stared aimlessly at the side mirror and threw my head back to the headrest in shame.
“You have been quiet. Are you alright at all?” He asked as he veered left.
“I am fine.” I beamed.
He glanced at me, shook his head and smiled back.
“What’s so funny to you, anyway?” I asked.
He smiled to himself without letting a word out of his mouth. He threw his face to the dashboard and focused on his driving.
’’I want to know the reason you smiled,” I insisted.
“I had no reason. I just smiled,” he replied with another smile.
The Kayode I used to know back then in school used to be among the last positions in class. He came last in practically everything, particularly in school activities.
His transformation into a multimillionaire gave me enough reasons to know that riches are not all about what you know but by the favour of God. For if riches do come by education, I was sure Kayode would never be ranked top or seen as a rich man.
I took my mind off the thought and stared at his shoes. They were purely Italian-made. I bowed my head to the seat for the second time and prayed silently, “God, make me rich. Let me have money like Kayode so that my mother will be proud of what I have become. Please, Lord, help me.” I noticed a ring of tears whirling down my cheek and I immediately wiped it off. I was not going to disgrace myself in front of my friend.
“Collins, I don’t have anything doing at the moment. Why not let’s go to my house so that I could show you around and have some chitchats with you?” He requested.
I shrugged and said, “I have nothing doing at home either. So, I am free to ride anywhere with you.” I winked at him as he made a U-turn to only God knows where.
He drove to an avenue lined with mansions that must have cost a fortune. The mansions were all painted white and built in the same pattern.
We got to the gate of one of the mansions and he honked his car horn. Immediately, a man in a security uniform quickly came out and opened the gate. He stood at attention as he greeted Kayode.
Kayode nodded with a smile as he drove in. I sprang down from his car and marveled as my head turned around, admiring the beautifully designed edifice.
“This is my house, guy,” he declared as he widened his both hands, feeling at home.
“You mean this big house is yours?” I asked in shock. Honestly, I could not wrap my head around it.
He laughed and pointed to the fleets of cars parked in the compound. “And these are my toys,’’ he added.
“Kayode, you are a big man. You have made so much money that no one in this town can intimidate you.” I paused, walked towards the cars and continued. “I want to be like you, Kayode. I want to be like you. Employ me in your company, let me work for you so that I can make much money like you,” I implored him.
He laughed and walked into his house. I stood there, feeding my eyes with the exquisiteness of the environment. I could not count all the cars parked in his compound, for they were been lined up like a car stand.
“What are you waiting for, Collins? Come on inside,” he shouted from the entrance.
I quickly followed him behind as he led the way into his sitting room.
His sitting-room was well arranged and furnished to taste. Kayode had a beautifully designed bar, just by the corner of his sitting room. There were assorted expensive drinks properly arranged inside it in a sort of decorative manner.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he urged me. I sat down and fed my eyes to the glamour of his sitting room. I gazed aimlessly at his couches, no doubt, they were made of gold.
I can’t believe I am sitting on gold. How was Kayode able to afford all this expensive stuff for himself? I thought to myself.
Not quite long, he headed to the bar and brought a bottle of wine.
“This wine is purely processed in Italy. It’s worth 2.5 million naira,” he gloated.
I glimpsed at him and smiled to myself.
“Collins, I am serious I ordered it at 2.5 million naira, about two days ago.”
I chuckled and nodded in agreement, or what should I have done? I had already seen his house and beautiful cars, so, who was I to argue over the price of wine I knew nothing about?
I watched him open the bottle of wine and poured some into a glass cup. He stretched it towards me.
“Have a taste, it is one of the most expensive wines you can ever get in the world.” He smiled conceitedly.
I collected it and immediately downed it into my stomach without hesitation. He gazed surprisingly at me and shook his head.
“Is that how you drink wine? You drink it like a glass of water?” he teased.
I chuckled lightly and turned my face away in shyness.
“I have a question for you, Kayode.”
’’And what is the question? Go ahead and ask,” he retorted and poured more wine into my glass cup.
“I want to be like you,” I told him as soon as he dropped the bottle on a side stool.
“Was that the question you wanted to ask?”
’’Go straight to the point, Collins. You haven’t changed a bit, still behaving the same way back then in school.”
I glanced at him and exhaled deeply. “What do you do? I mean your type of work. I want to work with you, Kayode. I want to be like you. I want to have plenty of money, just like you.” I spoke to him, meaning every word I uttered.
He gazed deeply and closely into my eyes. After a few moments, he laughed quietly and heaved a sigh before turning his face away.
A wave of silence engulfed the entire room. He became mute, his breath seized for a moment. Then, he exhaled heavily, observing the floor. It was then, I noticed how glittering the tiles were. I could see my face on them.
My attention was jolted back to him when he turned his gaze at me and something like tears formed around his eyes. While still trying to mull over that, I saw his countenance turn red. He looked like a volcano about to erupt.
“Are you okay? I didn’t mean to get you upset. I am sorry if my question irritated you.” Before I could finish, he suddenly got up and went out of the sitting room. I watched him storm out angrily without uttering a word to me.
Why is he upset and mad at me at the same time? Why the sudden change in attitude? I thought to myself and heaved a long sigh.
I waited for hours in his sitting room but he never returned. I got up from the sofa and went to the door and waited for another hour but he did not show up. I guessed I had overstayed my welcome, hence, I angrily dashed out of his house and straight to mine.
I sat on my bed with both hands on my head. I was seething within me. I regretted visiting his house in the first place. What if I did not even have enough money to take me home? Would that have been how I would beg unknown people for transport fare on the way?
A week later, I was on my bed, ramming my head over where to head in search of a job when my phone beeped. I glanced at it and discovered that it was a new number. I sighed and just let it ring through. I was not ready to pick any call. A few seconds later, it beeped again. This time, I decided to pick it.
“Brother, you need to come to the hospital. It is me, Elizabeth. Mummy has been sick for days and I don’t know what else to do. I have bought her drugs but none seemed to be effective. Brother, you have to come, so that we could know the next step to take. She is dying.” It was my sister’s voice.
“Is mum sick?” I inquired.
“Yes, she has been sick for days,” she replied. I could hear her sob.
“Why didn’t you tell me since? Why are you telling me now?”
“Brother, there’s no need for that now. Mummy is on admission; she is not talking. She is dying, brother. She is dying,” she cried out.
I tried to console her by saying, “No one is dying. I will be on my way immediately.”
“Which hospital is she admitted to, by the way?”
“Faithful Hospital,” she managed to reply.
Not quite long, I dropped the call and prayed silently. “God, please, don’t let my mother die.” I bent over and allowed my tears to pour out in torrents. My mum did not deserve to die after all she had been through in this life. I had not made any money and taken care of her. I had been looking forward to the day I would land a mouth-watering job and give her some treat. After weeping for some time, I took my mind off her case and wiped off my tears. I needed to be strong for my family.
I got to the hospital and saw my mother laid on the hospital bed, her face was wrinkled, her eyes were closed and her body was not moving.
’’Brother, you finally came,” declared my sister, Elizabeth.
“Yes, I have to,” I said almost inaudibly.
“I didn’t bother you because I thought I could do this alone but I failed. I am sorry for not letting you know in time,” she spoke in tears again.
My heart reached out to her. Looking at her, one could see that my mother’s condition had eaten deep into her. She was just a shadow of herself. “It’s alright, please. You need to be strong for mum, “I consoled her. “What did they say is wrong with her? Have they attended to her yet?” I asked.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with her. The doctor said we have to make some deposit before they can proceed with the treatment,” she mumbled. I could see that she was trying to be stable emotionally.
Just then the doctor walked in, he pointed right at me and asked, “Are you the eldest son?”
“Yes, I am,” I answered.
“We have been waiting for your arrival. Can I see you briefly in my office?” I yielded to his request and followed him.
“Have a seat,” he advised as we entered the office. I sat and patiently waited for what he had to say. He flipped some files on his office desk and glanced at me, then, heaved a long sigh.
I knew immediately that the situation was not a manageable one. I tried to steady my mind to hear whatever he had to say.
“I am going straight to the point, no need to beat around the bush.”
“Doctor, is she dead?”
“No, she is not.”
“Then, tell me what exactly is wrong with her. You are getting me nervous, doctor.” I thundered angrily.
“Be calm, sir. Your mother has breast cancer.”
“Breast what?!” I exclaimed in shock. I have heard of breast cancer and how it has killed thousands of people in the world, little did I know that my mum would one day become a victim. She never deserved that! “No! No! My mum can’t be suffering from cancer. How? When? That’s impossible!” I could not wrap my head around the whole thing.
“You have nothing to worry about, this is a hospital and we will do anything possible to get her treated. Her left breast is infected and the only way is to mutilate it through operation before it gets to the other one.”
“Mutilate it? What do you mean by that, sir?” I fearfully asked.
“It means we have to cut it off.”
“Doctor!” I exclaimed. “Is cutting it off the only solution? Don’t we have another alternative?” I probed.
“Sir, that’s the only solution and we have to do it as quickly as possible to avoid the tumor from spreading to the other part of her breast or any other part of her body. You will need to deposit some money so we could begin the process.”