Say your best friend is eighteen years older than you are. He’s a lot older, but he’s very relatable. The truth? You see yourself in him; becoming him. You met him at an ICAN conference twenty-four years ago and it’s been bliss. Being the president, he had requested that you see him after your one hour presentation at the conference. Till today, you can’t fathom why your presentation was selected for special attention despite all the other presentations which you feel were better than yours.
But that’s all history.
Say sixteen years ago you slept with your best friends’ wife. Yes, you had sex with her, and in their home too. Hell, you even did it on their bed.
Your best friend left the country the previous day. He had an argument with his wife the morning he did. You show up that evening to drop off his own copy of the survey of the land the two of you just acquired. You knew the couple had quarreled the day before. You saw it on your best friends face when you drove him to the airport. You don’t know the reason for the argument. Anyway, she’s moody and she’s alone. They have no children. She offers to bring you juice. You say you’ll fix yourself a drink, after all, you’re like family here. It rains. It’s cold out. You pick up your keys, it’s time to go home. She hugs you at the door as you say good night. You can’t explain it but you love the feeling; She likes the feeling. It’s a rainy night after all. So you say you’ll just stay over. You pretend to watch TV downstairs when she tells you she’s off to bed. “I’ll retire later”, you say. You know the house well; you’ve passed many nights here. It’s 12:23am. You know this because you’re still awake even though it’s been two hours since you tucked yourself in. There’s loud thundering. She screams from her room with fear. The scream is sustained. You have to protect her, comfort her. You rush towards her room. Like the scriptures you read before you left home, things are working together for your good. You open the door to discover she has recently acquired the new habit of sleeping naked when her husband is away. Things happen. Things have a way of happening.
Your best friend is away for four months. His wife is four months pregnant when he gets back. You don’t fret much, his wife assured you they had sex the night prior to his leaving. His joy is boundless, they’d expected for so long. For a moment, you convince yourself you’ve done a good thing. What good is a friend if they cannot cause joy for one another?
It’s a girl. She looks like her mother. Once again, you’re saved. Past the merriment, you demand a paternity test from your best friends’ wife. It reveals you’re the father. There’s happiness in your gut because your wife cannot conceive and you won’t take another. You love her too much. You agree to keep quiet. It’s more of a suggestion than an agreement really.
But that’s all history.
Say you’ve kept this secret all the while and it’s been sixteen years. The kid is fifteen and is going to have to make the choice of which university to attend. The kid likes you, but not a lot. She often wonders why you always have something to say when there’s a decision to be made about her and even wonders more often why her father obliges you. She likes you all the same because you buy her expensive gifts and you say yes when her father has said no.
Occasionally your best friend refers to her as ‘your daughter’ when he’s reporting her to you. Your heart leaps each time. You’re reassured by the innocent smile that follows.
Say your best friend agrees on her suggestion to send her to a private university. You intervene and argue brilliantly that a federal university is better, that she could even rent an apartment outside campus with her friend if she doesn’t like the housing facilities on campus. You suggest your alma mater. Your best friend agrees. All this happens right in front of the kid. She storms out and stomps her feet all the way up to her room. She’s muttering. You listen well enough to hear her say, “If he had his own children, he’ll know how it feels”. You’re hurt. You’re hurt deeply. You look at you best friends’ wife. She looks at you too and then her eyes meet the floor. Your best friend is too busy analyzing the just concluded football match to notice. A moment or two passes.
Your best friend is sixty, you’re eighteen years shy of that. You know you have to wait till he’s gone to assume paternity. You value your friendship. You love him. It’s worth it.
But that’s your own story.
Say you were a randy teenager. You got a girl knocked up when you were just seventeen. You denied it. She died in child birth. Her single mother raised the kid.
You leave the country on scholarship; you’re as brilliant as you’re randy. You return to the country a Christian accountant; you try to right your wrongs. You run into an old girlfriend; you try to apologize. She’s having none of it. She’s says she cannot have kids because of an abortion you cajoled her into having; she’s still very bitter. You try some more to apologize but you begin to feel pain. She has you by the balls and she’s bearing down. She squeezes, you scream. The doctor says you can’t have kids anymore; there’s too much damage. You take this suffering in good faith; you’re paying for past sins.
Say you move on with life, you fall in love, you get married. You can’t have kids though, but your wife doesn’t know. When she frets, you tell her it doesn’t matter to you, and indeed it doesn’t. You’re good husband, the best actually.
Say you are finally able to track down the kid you’d denied. He’s a young man now and he’s doing well. Graduated youngest and top in his class. Like you, he’s a chartered accountant. He looks like his mother. You’re reminded of your past sins.
Say you use your influence as president of the society to get him to present at the annual conference against recommendations from the planning committee. It goes well and you ask him to join you for dinner afterwards. He’s your son, but you don’t let him know. You make sure you become best friends to guarantee your presence in his life. You become very fond of him. You see your young self in him.
Say you leave the country for four months and your wife is pregnant by the time you’re back. You know he did it because you can’t get a woman pregnant and you pressured the gateman into snitching. You’re not sad. You’re not angry. Now you have a grandkid. A granddaughter. She’s beautiful, like her mother. You allow your best friend have input in decisions concerning her. She’s after all his daughter. Sometimes you say no, just so he can say yes.
You’re sixty years old. The young girl is about to go off to university. You agree with your best friend on what school to send her to. She’s annoyed and says some hurtful words. Your best friend is hurt. You pretend not to notice and continue analyzing the just finished football match. You’ll soon be gone, and he’ll finally be able to father his child.
Life’s not so bad.
Say it’s been twenty one years since you last attended the ICAN conference. The last time you did, you were the chairman of the planning committee. The president had imposed a speaker on you. You had refused. He got angry; you got angry. There was name calling and exchange of words. You make up your mind to never attend a conference again. You’re a man of words.
Say you see in the papers today that he passed on. He was a brilliant man; you finally forgive him.
It’s now in the past.
Say your best friend passed on three years ago. He had a terminal illness he never told anyone about. Testicular cancer. Even his widow did not know. It’s been three years and you’re finally able to open up to your best friends’ supposed daughter with the help of her mother that you’re actually her father. She’s upset. She’s angry. She’s enraged. She hates you. She hates her mother more.
You’ll be forty eight years old in a month. You reflect on your life. You never knew your mother; you only saw her in pictures. She died in childbirth. You never knew your father; he has no identity, he fled at your conception. The daughter you fathered has rejected your paternal claims. Your best friends’ widow assures you she’s young and will eventually come around. You know it’s a lie but you hope to God that you’re wrong so you…
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