‘In my dream, I saw a mountainous man. People came from far just to hear him talk. All I wanted to do was try on his shoes. Though I jumped all night, my fingers couldn’t reach his shoe lace.’ Lanre turned to Bimbo. ‘Do you understand this dream?’
‘Could be your dad’s fame. But you shouldn’t worry. You’ve got what it takes to be a great man.’
‘Lanre’, he heard his mother call.
‘Ma,’ he hurried to the courtyard.
‘Where are you coming from?’
He was silent and avoided her eyes.
‘I’ve warned you to stop talking to that girl. Face your book. You have refused, abi? You want to disgrace me.’
‘We are just friends, Maami, nothing mor….’
‘Quiet!’ Mama snapped. ‘You have to excel in your final exams and proceed to read Law in England. Do not dare spoil that plan. Leave those girls alone, I’m warning you. Now get out of my sight!’
He slinked away. Lanre could not understand what talking to Bimbo had to do with his final exams or reading Law.
He was bent on beating his father’s records. Keeping away from friends was not going to help as far as he was concerned.
Lanre dusted his Law exams in Cambridge at age twenty-one. He needed a well deserved break before his call to bar. And home was the best place to let your hair down. He could not wait to share his experience with his friend Bimbo.
With an ‘O’ level distinction and a distinction in Law at twenty-one, he was already closing the gap with his famous dad.
‘Where is Bimbo?’ he whispered to his brother when they were finally alone.
He shrugged. Lanre glared at him but he ignored him. He sighed, put on his shorts and sneaked out through the back.
They were excited to see each other again. ‘It is great to see you again.’
‘Yes. You look really beautiful.’
‘You look great yourself,’ Bimbo said. ‘I heard you are to be married to Temi.’
‘Ssh! Rumours. Tell me what has happened since I left.’
‘What’s your arm doing around my waist? Please, don’t start what you can’t finish.’
He was no longer fifteen. He planned to choose his life partner. He would bring up the topic with his parents. They had introduced him to Temi, but he wanted to be his own man, and needed a woman after his own heart.
‘Who’s there? Remi, find out who is at the door.’
‘Well.., ‘ Baba looked questioningly at Remi.
‘Baami,’ Remi announced on her knees. ‘It is Bimbo and her parents.’
‘Excuse us, my dear. This is a domestic matter, ‘Baba apologised to Temi, the girl intended for Lanre. Turning to Remi, he said, ‘Take her to the library.’
Bimbo and her parents looked disturbed.
It turned to be a matter that required the presence of Lanre and his mother.
At last, with Lanre and his mother, Baba spoke.
‘Lanre, as brilliant as you are, you lack something important. Self-control is what makes me stand out from the crowd. And you lack it.’
‘Baami,’ he started.
‘Be quiet!’ Baba snapped. ‘You are not too old to be thoroughly flogged as punishment. How do I explain to Temi’s parents and our friends?’
Baba shook his head.
‘At least, you manned up.’ He sighed.
There was a moment of silence.
‘Your son,’ he gestured at Mama as he left the room.
Mama got up and slapped Lanre on his back.
‘I warned you not to kill me or ruin your future. But no! You are the only handsome man in the world.’
She hit him several times and stopped. Panting.
‘Bosita!!’ she shouted. ‘Your mates are looking for such opportunities as you have. You want to ruin everything.’
Nothing was ruined. Everybody was happy when Bimbo had their baby in London. In December, before Lanre returned home to work with Barrister Fashola.
‘There is this girl. I think she lives with that tailor,’ Lanre began.
‘She is his daughter,’ Kayode grumbled. ‘Be careful. I do not want my name mentioned again. My father flogged me during Bimbo’s episode just for being your messenger.’
‘Well, we are older now. Old enough, in fact.’
‘Now, you have a baby girl. And you’re asking about the tailor’s daughter. Leave me out of it.’
‘I am coming, ma!’ he shouted, going to the living room.
‘Hey! No one’s calling you. Come back here!’
‘I heard my name. Let me go.’
Mama put up in Ikoyi to be closer to Baba who was framed and imprisoned. Lanre stayed with her.
Lanre had a spot not far from the chambers where he worked.
‘Star or stout?’
‘Star is great, thanks.’
Jerome was an accountant. Lanre made friends easily. He loved people. They made him laugh. They had fun. He could discuss anything under the sun.
Some old friends joined them.
‘You don’t get to live twice,’ he said. ‘Be happy’.
They had many catch-ups and laughter about their days at King’s College and their many adventures with women which kept them at the bar till late at night.
A lady came in and sat beside Lanre.
‘Fast Lane,’ said Gbolahan, giving him a thumbs up.
‘She is just sharing a drink,’ he explained.
Meet my old school mates. Guys meet Sarah.’
They started an argument about Nigeria.
‘It is almost midnight,’ Ola announced. ‘Two more hours and we call it a day. Agreed?’
Next day, he had a lunch date at Rover Hotel in Ibadan with Temi.
After their meal, ‘I am sorry things are happening like this. I think we should both search in our hearts if we really want to be together.’
‘After all these years, Lanre. This is all you can say.’ Temi was close to tears.
‘I am sorry. The word will soon be out. It is better to be ahead of the hearsays. Someone else is pregnant for me.’
‘Please, take me home.’
She stood up. No scene.
‘Take me home,’ she repeated.
‘I will call you tomorrow, after my case in Ikeja.’
She was silent. They arrived at her gate. She disembarked. She did not look back.
‘Finally,’ he sighed. Then, he turned and drove to the hangout to meet with his crew.
‘Hey Dele, where are the others?’ Lanre asked as soon as he sat down at their usual table. ‘It my last night in Ibadan till the case is done and dusted.’
‘They must be on their way. Before they arrive. What do you think of the lady I want as wife?’
‘Only you can answer that question, because only you will live with her, my brother.’
Dele was disappointed.
‘Understand me. I am flattered, so honoured you can confide in me concerning such a delicate matter. But it’s up to you, really.’
They drank in silence for a bit, each lost in thought.
‘I’ll leave at first light. My sister told me Baba Saki, her driver, had arrived Ibadan. He’d be with me before seven so that we can get to Ikeja in time for the court proceedings.’
‘I am following the case on radio. Victory is sure.’
They both laughed.
‘I’ve got to go now. Seems our pals have other things to fry.’
‘Good night, Lanre. I’ll find out why they did not turn up. ‘
Dele walked him to the car. Soon, as the pair got to the park, two guys emerged from the shadows.
‘Baba o!’ they hailed in unison.
‘Who among us is a baba to you misfits? Scram! Security!’ Dele raised his voice.
‘Nothing too small, sir. Please, leave out security. A little something for the stomach is all we want.’
Lanre reached into his pocket, and gave each a pound note.
‘That is too much.’ protested Dele. ‘More will turn up.’
‘Not to worry. Giving is one good thing, I learnt from my dad. See you guys soon. We shall be drinking to my first major win. Every one of us must be together. Tell them.’
‘Sure.’ Dele waved.
Lanre perused the papers one more time before going to bed. He was well prepared and confident. ‘Baami will be so proud of me.’
Baba Saki showed up promptly as always.
‘Good man. I hope you have had breakfast?’
‘Thank you, sir. Madam Remi gave me the money you sent.’
Lanre smiled and gave a small bow. ‘When is your madam expecting you back? I do not want to be stranded.’
‘As soon as the court closes, sir’
‘Fair enough’ he said.
He opened a file. That was a signal not to be disturbed.
Suddenly, Lanre heard a loud bang. That was the last sound he ever heard.
The car was crushed by a truck with failed brakes.