Click here to read Big Brother I
Thirty minutes later as they walked through the streets of the community, Kwasi tried to calm and assure Kwame that everything would be alright as he gently squeezed the trembling hands of his little brother who walked beside him. He also held him firm enough so he would not run to his fortress wherever it was located.
When they got to Mr. Adjei’s house, they met his security man who was seated in front of the gate which a bowl of hausa koko and koose in front of him. The young man who was in his thirties but already carried a sizable potbelly, took a bite of koose after every sip of the steaming porridge. The boys took in the amusing sight of the security man who simply ignored them. He was not pleased with their intrusion at all. So far, that was the only highlight for Kwame; he managed to smile.
“Good morning Sir, we are looking for Mr. Adjei,” Kwasi greeted politely.
“He’s at the workshop,” came the quick response.
“Ok, thank you.”
The security man refused to reply. He knew what his priorities were and he was not about to let two small boys steal that from him, not even a second.
On their way Kwasi saw his crush, Ama at her mother’s store which overlooked the garage. He waved and she returned his wave with a coy smile. Kwame was too agitated to see what was going on; other than that he would have flashed Kwasi a teasing smile. With every step, his fear grew.
The fitter’s shop was on one side of Santo park with a shack, for shade, and all kinds of scrap cars parked around it in a disorganized manner and left the other half for a football field. Among the community boys, Santo park was known as Santo Bernabéu. The park was named Santo because of its characteristic bare feature; no tree, no grass, no weeds, no shrub, no nothing as the assembly man would put it. The boys were already playing an intense match.
Mr. Adjei was talking to Zack, the mechanic. Kwasi looked around the shop and saw the Mercedes Benz E200 with a broken windshield. He shot Kwame a surprised look which screamed out, “Mr. Adjei’s treasured possession among all things??” He just could not understand his brother anymore.
“Good morning, Sir,” Kwasi greeted when they finally got close to Mr. Adjei. He got a grunt for a response. Rotund Mr. Adjei looked at Kwame who wished he would just vanished but since that was impossible, Kwame just fidgeted with his fingers as though he believed his magic spell would still work. “You look like a fish outside it’s habitat,” Mr. Adjei remarked solemnly.
“Please, my mother says we should come and see the extent of the damage caused,” Kwasi cut to the chase to which Mr. Adjei smiled and replied, “So you are the ones who broke the windshield. You just gave me the opportunity to strangle your father.” He feigned regret and let out a sinister laugh. “Charley, Zack write the boy’s name on the invoice wai. Shegelege! ” He roared with laughter again. “What!!”
The two boys just stood there watching the overjoyed man. They lived in a small community where everyone knew everyone and so Zack did not need to ask for Kwame’s name. Kwasi then beckoned Kwame to apologise. In response, Mr. Adjei said, “Naaaaah, chai! sorry den money no go do anything; like I marry ten women already. Kai Kai Kai, Zack, you get cane for there?” Mr. Adjei, a business man at age forty-five was still a bachelor and he always had a new reason why he could never stay with one lady for more than a month.
“Check like,” came the response.
Kwame’s heart melted and Mr. Adjei broke into a short dance. “Next time, your father will not make the mistake of sending you guys here.” He sang. Of course, Mr. Adjei knew better than to touch the sons of Mr. Cory Attakorah. Inasmuch as he tried to stand up to the elderly man, it was only due to his ego. Nothing more. He secretly revered the man but that would not make him allow this opportunity to pass him by.
Zack handed the cane and invoice to Mr. Adjei who was bubbling with excitement. Was he happy because he would not have to pay or because he was about to punish the little boy? He could not tell and it was none of his business. He simply walked away, totally ignoring the two sets of pleading eyes that watched his every move.
“Which of you wanted to chop mango no?” he waved the cane. Immediately, Kwame stepped behind Kwasi while tears streamed down his cheeks. He knew he would not go free but he also feared the cane more than anything else. He should have listened to mommy. Now he would have to be punished by wicked and unreasonable Mr. Adjei and his father. He would literally be dead but the time his father is done with him. “Don’t waste my time, come here boy.” Mr. Adjei flexed the cane.
Kwasi felt the hot tears at his back as his little brother sought refuge behind him. He was totally moved. What could he do to be a big brother like Mommy had requested? He turned and looked in the direction of the football game, then to Ama. He heaved a deep sigh and stepped forward. No sooner had he stepped forward than Mr. Adjei grabbed him and went on to lash him mercilessly. This created a scene. All the boys stopped playing football, gathered and began to mock Kwasi. Kwasi was a good boy; he was the only boy who had never crossed the path of Mr. Adjei. Every adult spoke well of him so this scene pleased the bad boys. Kwame stood dumbfounded, at a loss as to what he should do. It was because of him his brother would apparently lose his dignity.
After the lashes, Kwasi quickly pulled himself away from Mr. Adjei and stretched his hand behind him to rub his itching back. This made the boys even laugh louder and mock harder. Kwasi silently collected the invoice from Mr. Adjei who had a smug on his face and as tears stung his eyes, walked away with his brother. He turned to see if Ama had seen everything. She did and worse of all, had pity in her eyes. His ego was crushed.
The boys entered the house to meet a furious daddy and an unsettled mommy.
“Why do you have tears streaming down your cheeks?” Daddy asked. Kwasi was not one to cry but he was really broken that he allowed the tears to flow freely, even in public, to his shame.
To make matters worse he overheard a conversation on his way home. “Whoever thought Kwasi cried?” One boy had asked. “Whatever! He is a man and should have kept his tears to himself,” the companion replied.
“If that man touched you, he’s really got a thing coming and you Kwame, just kneel down where you are before I draw closer.” Daddy demanded angrily.
“No, daddy. He does not need to do that,” Kwasi sniffed
“What?” Daddy was ready to put Kwasi in his place.
“All I am saying is I took his place and so logically that will be enough.”
Daddy looked at his tearful little boy, Kwame, whose clasped little fingers were on his lips; poor, disobedient child. Daddy turned to look at the older boy; a brave and caring brother. Daddy really wanted to punish Kwame but Kwasi made all that desire disappear. Daddy nodded.
“Give me the invoice, Kwame,” He demanded again. Kwame collected the inovice from Kwasi and walked over to Daddy.
Daddy simply tore the invoice, crumpled it and tossed it into the bin. Daddy knelt down and looked straight into Kwame’s eyes, “I’ll transfer the money to him and that should end eveverything, ok?” Kwame nodded and he continued, “What you do next is totally up to you but I do hope you will take the obedient path or else,” Daddy tilted his head for emphasis. “…and as for me nothing can ever separate you from my love, you understand?” Daddy did not have to tell Kwame twice. His mind was made up. He would be an obedient child from then on…just like big brother.
Mommy who had been silent all this while could not believe all that was going on. “Thank you, God. Thank you. I’m so grateful,” she whispered a prayer.
Her eyes fell upon the big, black bible, with a big golden cross embroidered on its covers, which laid on the center table. “Come around boys, it’s been centuries since we had our family devotion. I suggest we read the family verse and then I will cook our favourite dish for lunch,” she broke the silence.
Everyone settled. Mommy could not help but smile at the sight of Kwame climbing Daddy’s laps and the content look on Kwasi’s face. Her family was still intact and the bond had grown stronger. She read out, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, HCSB).” Mommy’s eyes twinkled because the joy within welled up within her and broke the dam. Any moment from then, tears would stream down her cheeks, pass through the valley of her dimple, congregate at her chin and drop on the red, black and white pages of the bible.
Hausa Koko:- A local porridge made from millet.
Koose:- An accompaniment for Hausa koko made from beans.
Kai:- An expression in the Akan language