This story is in sequence with other stories I have posted on Tell’s 31day Writing Challenge. You might want to read the previous stories for better comprehension. Thanks.
“I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.”
A Poison Tree
“Have you seen your friend since you arrived?” Kayode’s mother asked her son during breakfast.
“Yeah. I saw him the day I came back and he told me you came to his house to demand my whereabout and that he release me from wherever he’s hiding…”
“No” she cut in “Not that stupid one jare. Are you even still friends with him?”
“I was going to tell you that before. Gigolo and I have grown apart since I met Tony”
“I was asking about Tony. Have you seen him since you returned”
Kayode fiddled with his akara (beans cake). “No mother”
“Are you planning to?”
He doesn’t know why his mother was asking questions about Tony that morning but the look on every member of his family’s face showed they were interested in his response.
“I am definitely not going to his house” He thought about Tony’s family, did they even know he is back. He thought he wasn’t ready to face any one of them, especially Tony’s mother.
“What if you bumped into him? It’s not unlikely you know” His mother wasn’t ready to stop with the questions. “What are you going to do when that happens?”
Kayode took a while before he answered. He sipped a spoon dipped in pap, then clumsily looked everyone in the face as if to check if they were going to agree with what he was about to say. “I don’t know.”
“You should ignore him. He’s not worthy to be called a friend.” 13-year old Tayo remarked.
“But Tayo, it’s not his fault. There was no way he could have helped your brother without his parent support.” Kayode’s father said.
“But still if his mother is so heartless I think it’s just wise for Kayode to stay away from him.” Kayode’s mother replied.
Kayode wasn’t thinking about whether he was going to stay away from Tony or not. He was never scared of his mother despite her rantings. He believed it was Tony he has business with not his family members and he thought Tony was matured enough to make decisions independent of his parent, so as long as he was ready to keep up with him then he saw no reason why he should worry about his family. Hitherto, he never saw how Tony’s mother animosity towards him could endanger his life as long as Tony stood up with him. Which is why he believed Tony must have chickened out along the way when he got back home. He thought he must have went back on his words when he returned. If he sees him, maybe that’s what he would have to confirm.
“You know what I think” Dele’s childish voice cut into his train of thought. Everyone looked at Dele “I think you should just practice social distancing when you see Uncle Tony. Corona is real.”
Everyone laughed. What a way of thinking.
“So Kayode how far about the job you said you’ve just found?” Kayode’s father changed the topic.
“Er… Yes, it’s at one of the quarantine centre at General hospital. I will be working there as a cleaner. The pay is good and it’s weakly. I believe it should sustain us quite well pending the time your work will be regulated.”
At first his mother disagree; stating that it’s too dangerous and that he couldn’t just got him back from kidnappers only to lose him to the virus. After much persuasion from Kayode and his father, and proving to his mother that there’s no other way; either that or they all die of starvation, she concurred and gave her blessings.
So Kayode began to work at the quarantine centre and each day was like every other day until one day, an hectic one, he has observed every protocol pertaining to closing for the day and was on his way out of the ward where he works, he bumped into someone. When he raised his head to apologize, it was Tony in his fine blue shirt and denim jean, with a white vest underneath.
Time stood still for both of them to gaze at each other. The look on Kayode’s facing was a questioning one; searching for something. He didn’t know what but he could see Tony’s look was trying to conceal it. So he kept gazing at him, searching for that thing, and he kept trying to conceal it, then he gave it away. That’s it; betrayal.
“You!” Kayode raged as he closed the distance between them and punched Tony in the face.
“No Kayode. It’s not what you think” Tony refused to fight back or defend himself. He took the whole beating until his white vest was stained with his own blood and he could taste his copperish blood.
“I fought for you. Protected you. Ready to die for you, loved you like my own brother. And I believed you. But you betrayed me.”
He expected him to say something but Tony just kept quiet. He wasn’t ready to defend himself.
“You know what?” He spat on him and remembered the words of his sister “You are not worthy to be called a friend”
Kayode walked out on him.
The next morning, incident of the previous day was still fresh in Kayode’s memory and he kept cutting quick arcs, looking around for Tony in the ward. He blamed himself for getting carried away with his rage and not asking why he was at the hospital. He was certain they will meet again anyway but he was trying to avoid bumping into him again.
Masked with a nose mask, wearing the hospital’s blue cleaners uniform and carrying a bucket with a mop, he entered the first ward he was cleaning for the day. He got to work straight away oblivious to the patient lying on the bed.
“Kayode, is that you?” a weak voice came from the bed. Kayode couldn’t believe his eyes when he looked at the frail woman on bed. It was the great impeccable Mrs Jacobs.
“Mrs Jacobs?” he demanded, not trusting his visions.
“Yes it’s me Kayode.”
He felt something was strange other than seeing Tony’s mom on a sick bed and it wasn’t long before he realized it was his name on her lips. He admitted that he has gotten used to her calling him a nonentity. No pleasantries, there was none to exchange. She explained to him, amidst series of coughs and sneezes, that she has been infected. She tested positive for her COVID-19 test.
“What about Hope? Is she infected too?” he has asked.
“No. I’m the only one”
Kayode let go a sigh of relief.
“You didn’t ask about Tony.”
“I saw him yesterday. He looks fine to me”
“Oh… You must have thought he betrayed you. He didn’t. He was zealous about getting you released. He stood against me and that’s something have never seen him do before. I must confessed that I have taken my ideologies too far. I should have seen the positive influence you had on him. You’ve changed him from a spoiled brat and brought the man out of him. Something I could not do or see. He saw it and he respected you. He loved you like his brother and he was ready to disown me to have you. That was something. Please don’t leave him”
Kayode’s leg were already weak where he stood, so many emotions were flushing through him. He heard a sniff and when he turned Tony was standing at the doorway, tears trickling down his cheeks.
He realized how hard the situation must have been for him; being on the verge of losing a mother and his best friend.
“Oh my” Kayode said as he walked up to him, ignoring the social distance rule, and gave him a brotherly hug.