The Jailbird

THE JAILBIRD (Episode 91)

© Aaron A. A

There is a deadly silence in the room, and then Lois Bawa moves slowly towards Chris, her face suddenly furious even as tears fall down her face.

She pokes his chest with a stiff forefinger and glares at him.

You don’t speak to me like that, young man! You want to know the truth? Yes, I’m going to give you the truth!

She moves past him, and there is suddenly a look of fear on her husband’s face.

(shaking his head)
Lois! No! Please don’t! Not now!

Now, Brand, now! They’re right! It is time to let the truth out!

She turns to Stan and glares at him with hærd unforgiving eyes, and she turns the same furious gaze on Diana.

I’m sorry, Lois, but I can’t stand with you on that.

His wife does not seem to hear him.
The Reverend Bawa then walks out of the living-room.

Lois Bawa turns and fixes a devastated Chris with a passionate stare.

Yes, what Stan heard was partly true. There was a man I was in love with, and wanted to marry. Yes, his name was Chris Grant. We loved each other, but his parents wouldn’t accept me, because I was the daughter of their maid! They threw me out of their house, and sent him overseas just to take him away from me. They sold their house, and moved on. Those days were not like today where you have all your Internet stuff, and communications! Those days it was difficult to keep in touch, and I lost touch with him! When he came back several years later, I was already married to your father. Yes, I met Chris Grant in his hotel. His mother got to know Chris Grant had come looking for me, and she called your father. When your father got to the hotel room I was already leaving. He was quite angry, and he said very bitter and painful things to me in public despite the truth I told him. I told your father that nothing happened between Chris Grant and me. I told Chris Gant to move on, because I had moved on! We cried a little bit, Chris Grant and myself, and yes, we shared a k-ss! But that was all! When I met him I was pregnant with Chris, and after he was born your father doubted me, especially when I named him Chris! He had a fight with me, and that was the fight you overheard, Stan!
The Reverend Bawa now comes back to the living-room, and he is trembling a little as he walks up to Chris.

He is holding three sheets of paper which he extends to Chris.

He looks shame-faced, and he is trembling a little.

I hated you, my son. I just couldn’t get past my jealousies, and I realized I was ever getting closer to getting physical with you, of doing something to harm you. And so I took you to the hospital and did DNA tests.
The people in the room are stunned.
The reverend extends the sheets, and a dazed Effe takes them.

She notices from the dates on the sheets that the tests had been done when Chris was five, eight and ten years, all at different labs.

All three prove that Chris is the son of Reverend Brand Bawa.

What? You carried out DNA tests on Chris? Oh, Brand!

She comes forward and takes the sheets from Effe’s hands.

She glances at them, and then something in,side her just dies.

It seems as if a light within her soul has just been put out.

She looks at her husband, and her eyes are dead.

The man of God looks down, and there is shame on his face.

I’m sorry, darling. I’m very, very sorry!
The beautiful woman’s l-ips tremble, and she cannot speak for a moment.
Without a word she turns and walks up to Stan.

She throws the DNA test results at his chest, and there is no love on her face as she looks at him.

You want more truth, Stan? Are you sure you can stand the truth, baby boy?
Quickly Reverend Bawa follows his wife and takes her arm.

She shrugs free as if there is venom on his fingers.

Please, darling, please-
She glares at him with unrestrained resentment.

Don’t you dare darling me, Brand! DNA tests? You went too far there, Brand! You bloody well went too far, and because of that everyone present here deserves to know the truth!

She moves away from him, and comes back to Chris, whose face is awash with remorse.

I’m sorry, Mama. I bitterly regret my words. Never meant to hurt you.
The woman, broken and haggard, places both of her hands on his shoulders.

Marriage has been difficult for me, Chrissy. Yes, I named you after a man I once loved, and who is now dead. He never married, Chris. He just could not move on. He died on the day you were born, alone. In the end, his mother’s interference robbed him of all happiness, in spite of all his riches. And yes, because he died, I named you after him. You want to know why Roland loved you so much, Chrissy? It is simple, really. It is because he knew the truth. He knew that the two of you came from the same parents.
She stops.

Lois. Please. Don’t!
She turns and fixes her husband with a baleful look.

Stan is trembling as he walks on unsteady legs towards his mother. Diana too is standing up now, and her face is now suddenly scared.

What? What do you mean, mother? What do you mean by Roland and Chris came from the same parents?
Mrs. Lois Bawa smiles sadly, but she does not drop her gaze from Chris’ face.

Well, your father, who is now a man of God, was once a man with an insatiable thirst for the ladies. Roland was five years old when a woman came to our house one day with a baby girl. That woman was called Martha, and she was your father’s girlfriend.
Apparently, your father had a child with her, and she was not prepared to be an unmarried mother since a man wanted to marry her, but wasn’t interested in her child. So she brought the baby girl to me. That girl was just a year old. I had no option than to accept that baby girl as my child, although she was the daughter of your father’s girlfriend. We named that girl Diana.

Diana gasps with sudden shock, and she clutches her heart, and then she sits down slowly and bursts into sudden tears.
Kofi Dossah, her husband, takes her into his arms, but he cannot speak, because he is equally shocked by the turn of events.
The Reverend reaches for a chair and sits down, covering his face with his hands.

Mrs. Lois Bawa now walks towards a devastated Stan, and looks at him sadly.
Stan shakes his head and takes a step back, shaking his head numbly, his face twisted with passionate fear.

No, mother, no, no, no, don’t say it! Please don’t say I’m not your child too!
Mrs. Lois Bawa smiles, and it is not a very pleasant smile.

You wanted to know the truth, Stan. For years you’ve hated Chris, and done everything to destroy him. Well, you wanted to know why Roland loved him more. Well, the answer is simple really. I got pregnant again, you see, before Chris. I was taken to the hospital. On admission that day was a poor girl called Rosie. She was a pr-stitute who has gotten pregnant, and who hated the child she was about to give birth to so much. We were in the same maternity ward. She and I had a good talk. She didn’t even know who the father of her baby was, Stan, because she was a pr-stitute. I tried preaching to her, but she was just so shattered she wanted to get away. Well, I gave birth an hour before she did. Unfortunately, my baby, a girl, was stillborn. She died, yes. Rosie’s child was a boy, but as soon as she got to the ward she got up and walked out, never to be seen again. I came home, but a nurse from the hospital visited me. The baby had no mother, no father, a poor boy. They knew I had lost my baby, and they wondered if I could take care of the boy. I felt sorry for that baby, and yes, I decided to br-ast-feed him until other alternatives are decided.
All Diana knew was that I was pregnant and went to give birth, and a baby came home, but Roland knew he lost his real sister. Well, Mr. Brand Bawa, now a budding pastor with fire, decided to open his doors for this motherless, fatherless, lonely baby, and we adopted him. We gave Rosie the pr-stitute’s son a home, and a name. We named him Stan Bawa.
Stan collapses into a seat, and he begins to weep bitterly.

He is absolutely shattered, totally devastated, so much that he will not even allow his wife to hold him.

So you see, my dear Stan, at least Diana is the son of the Pastor. But you, the one who grew up to hate my son so much, we don’t even know who your father was. Roland resembled his father, and Chris looks a lot like me, and so yes, naturally he became my favourite. I know it’s wrong. I know I should’ve tried to hide it, and I admonish all parents here, Chris included, to make sure they treat all their children with the same love, because when siblings feel left out, it brings hatred. And that is the hatred that you allowed to breed in your heart, my dear Stan. You thought Chris was an outcast, a scourge that has come to taint your house, based on what you heard, and wasn’t man enough to ask. And so you hated Chris quite fiercely. The more you hated him the angrier I became, as a mother, and that is why things have turned out so horribly. I pray that we get over this painful period, so God help us.

She turns away, her heart breaking, and she flees towards the door.

She stops with her hand on the knob, and looks at Chris with passionate love.

Forgive your mother, Chrissy. I’ve never loved anybody more than I love you.
She goes out of the door.

Effe reaches up and brushes tears from Chris’ cheeks.

She looks at the shattered Diana, and the totally inconsolable Stan, and although she feels a modic-m of regret and pity for them, she just cannot hide that inner glow of happiness, especially at the wasted passion of Stan.

(tremulously) Can we leave now, my love?
Effe nods, and quietly leads him out.
They call Junior, and strap him in the backseat of the car.

Chris helps Effe into the front seat, and as he turns to get behind the wheel, he hears his name being called.

It is the Reverend Bawa.

He comes up to his son and looks up at Chris, and the look of love on his face is so profound that even Chris is knocked for six.

It is necessary for all that venom to come out, my boy. It is like scratching the surface off a festering sore and allowing it to heal properly.

Chris nods, and his jaw works tightly.

Yeah, Dad. I believe so.
Tears come to the man of God’s eyes.

I’ve been bad to you, my boy. I look at you, and it strikes me that maybe you’re so wonderful to Junior because I was so bad to you.

Chris cannot stop the tears that come to his eyes as he remembers the hærd times he had had with this man.

Yeah, Dad. I believe so.
The man of God draws nearer to Chris.

I was a stupid man. I allowed my insecurities to eat at my soul. I always knew your mother loved that Chris Grant more than she ever did me. But hey, I’m the one who holds her buttocks each night, so what’s my problem?

Effe chuckles to herself.

Why is Grandpa talking about Grandma’s buttocks? Eeeeeeeewwwww!!
Chris smiles into the tear-stained face of his father.

Yeah. You got it all, Dad.

We’re going to move on as a family, boy. I denied you of the joys of your childhood. But you’re the prince of my house, the love of my heart. In my old age I’m going to be the father you never had. Forgive me, my son. Please forgive me.

It’s okay, Dad. I never really held any grudge. I just wanted you to love me. That was all I ever wanted.

Oh, Chris! My boy! My son! I love you, boy, I love you with ALL of this very old heart!
They seem to move at the same time, and then they embrace fiercely, and their tears flow, sealing a bond that is going to last their lifetimes.

When they break apart, the man of God takes a shuddering breath.

Listen, boy. Tomorrow evening I want to go fishing.

Chris’ face lights up with sudden expectancy, transforming him into a little boy again, radiant and incredibly handsome.

Oh, boy! At the creek?
The man of God nods his head.

Yes, at the creek. I’ve missed that. You think you can come with me, maybe bring Junior too?

Oh yeaaaah! Yappity yappity yippeeee! You bet, Dad!

The man of God chuckles and rubs his son’s shoulders, and then he turns and walks away with a huge smile on his face and a spring in his step.

Chris gets behind the wheel.

Yappity yappity yippeeeee? That’s mine, Daddy. Make your own happy words!

Shut up, you too known weasel!
Effe and Junior laugh, and then she reaches across and puts her hand on his as it rests on the gear lever.

Everything is going to be just fine, Chris-Love.

Chris suddenly looks sad as he stares up into the sky.
I wish Roland were here, Ef. God, I really miss my brother.

Effe says nothing.
She just grips his hand.

Junior leans forward and plants a k-ss on his father’s cheek.

And Chris knows that indeed, everything is just going to be fine.

To be continued

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