As death comes knocking, your life begins to play before you like a movie. That was Tobi’s state as he kept downing shots after shots of whisky and staring at his gun. He remembered his parents.
His mother had died of cancer when he was in SS2. His father followed shortly after. The poor man couldn’t handle his grief and died of cardiac arrest. And in a space of two months, Tobi was an orphan.
The boy was too shocked to grieve. During his father’s lying in state, guests arrived to give their condolences. He merely nodded in acknowledgement and stared at his father’s immaculately dressed corpse. At a point, he couldn’t take it anymore and excused himself. as soon as he entered his room and closed the door, he began to hyperventilate, trying to stifle the chocking emotion in his heart. It didn’t work. His tears began to flow. All he could do was cover his mouth to prevent anyone from hearing him.
Then his uncle, Chief Oluwole Williams, had entered without knocking. “Tobi?”
Tobi had immediately wiped his tears and faced him. “Yes, uncle.”
His uncle hesitated at Tobi’s tear stained face. “I wanted to know if you’re alright.”
“I’m fine, uncle.”
His uncle sighed, not believing him. He sat and on the bed and invited Tobi to do the same which he did. “I know what you’re doing. Losing your parents is too much and you’re trying not to feel. So you bottle everything inside. It’s not healthy, Tobi. Look at what happened to your father, my only brother. He could have lived if he didn’t do what you’re trying to do now. Don’t be like him. Cry. Be angry. Let it all out. I’ll be here. And when you’re done, I’m going to take you home and take good care of you. I promise you will never lack anything.”
Tobi had succumbed to his grief, then. He had leaned heavily on his uncle’s shoulders and cried his eyes out.
After the funeral, his uncle had kept his promise. He had taken Tobi into his home and raised him like his son. Tobi had never lacked anything. His uncle tried his best to protect him from his wife and sons’ venom.
For the most part, it worked because his uncle’s family lived in USA and only visited Nigeria twice in a year. The man stayed in Nigeria to run his company. Severally, his uncle had begged his wife and kids to relocate to Nigeria and live with him. They had refused. They loved their lives in America and had no intention of ever living in “Africa.”
As a result, his family were strangers to him. He couldn’t relate with his sons, James and Jack. The worst part was the twins grew up terribly spoilt. They drank, smoked and womanized anyhow. They were constantly expelled from their schools due to one criminal activity or the other. And they spent their father’s money like there was no tomorrow.
Their father tried to talk to them. They didn’t listen. He tried to get their mother, Melinda to talk to them since they always listened to her, but she ignored him. In her opinion, they were just being boys and it was a free world. Tobi couldn’t remember a time when there wasn’t constant fighting and quarrel every time the family visit. And Melinda and the twins hated Tobi. In their minds, Tobi had poisoned their husband and father against them. they tried everything possible to make him feel unwelcome in their home. But they hadn’t succeeded. Tobi and his uncle had dreaded their visit because it turned the house into a war zone.
Eventually, his uncle had given up on them and transferred all his affection to Tobi, which fueled the hatred of his family against Tobi. But Chief Oluwole ignored them. Tobi was like a son he wished he had. In return, Tobi tried to please his uncle in every way possible… well, except where Anita was concerned. His uncle didn’t know about her. Tobi hid it well. In his uncle’s eyes, Tobi was perfect.
So, the day he received the news that his uncle had died in a plane crash was a huge shock. That day was the third blackest day in Tobi’s life. He was in his fourth year in the university at the time. After the funeral, Tobi went to his uncle’s mansion where they had lived before he passed on. He had avoided going there because he didn’t want to face Melinda and the twins.
They were there when he arrived. The family lawyer was also present. Just as he had predicted, he wasn’t welcome. In fact, Melinda, James and Jack raked him a scathing glare like he was the most disgusting creature on earth.
“What’s this oniranu doing here?” Melinda had asked harshly.
“I invited him.” The lawyer had replied.
“Because he’s supposed to be here for this meeting.” The lawyer had then turned to Tobi and gestured. “Please, sit.”
Tobi had complied and the lawyer began. “As you all know, Chief was a very wealthy man and he left a will stating how it should be shared among you, his family. We’re gathered here to read it.”
He had opened the file and began to read. “The last Will and Testament by Oluwole Jackson Williams…”
Melinda and the twins were given the mansion, some very valuable properties and a gigantic sum of money that would last them throughout their lifetime and beyond.
“Wait, what about the company?” Melinda asked curiously.
“To my nephew, Oluwatobi David Williams,” he lawyer had continued reading, “I leave my house in Lekki, the sum of ten million dollars and my company, Wills Pharmaceuticals.”
“What!” Melinda shouted in shock.
“While my wife and my sons will be part of the members of the board.” The lawyer finished.
“Bullshit!” James had shouted.
“What the fuck!” Jack added.
Tobi had just sat there, stunned beyond words. He, Oluwatobi Williams, was the new CEO of a multi million-dollar company. He couldn’t wrap his head around it.
Meanwhile, Melinda and the twins had glared at him with double the hatred they had for him. “You did this, didn’t you? What did you do to my husband that he ignored his own wife and children and gave you everything?”
“Nothing.” Tobi had stammered.
“He’s right, madam.” The lawyer had intervened. “Chief Williams was in perfect control of his mind and health before he wrote this will.”
“Shut up joor. Agbaya!” Melinda had snapped. “Wole was my husband. We had two beautiful sons together. I refuse to believe that he could bypass us and will the company to this filthy rat that can’t take care of himself not to talk of a prestigious company like Wills Pharmaceuticals. That company belongs to us. I’m going to fight you in court!”
“Madam, you’re free to file a suit.” The lawyer had replied calmly. “But let me warn you that it would be fruitless. The will is authentic and we have sufficient evidence to prove it. You’re going to lose.”
Knowing the lawyer was right, Melinda had pinned Tobi with all the hatred she could muster. “You think you’ve won. This is not the end. I will not rest until I take back my husband’s company.”
And that was what she had done now. With Anita’s help, she had not only taken the company, she had taken his life. Tobi downed another big shot of whisky in one gulp. It wasn’t as if he wanted the damn company in the first place. He could remember voicing his doubts to the lawyer when Melinda had thrown them out of the mansion.
“Sir, auntie Melinda is right. I can’t run the company. I don’t have any experience.”
The lawyer had patted his arm kindly. “Tobi, don’t underestimate yourself. Your uncle saw something in you. That was why he willed it to you. Why do you think he encouraged you to study pharmacy and be involved in the company’s activities? He was preparing you for this position. You know Mrs. Williams. You know your cousins. Do you really think they’re capable of running Wills Pharmaceuticals? Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”
And so, everything was settled. The lawyer and other board members ran the company until Tobi finished his studies and was ready to take his position as CEO. The first day he arrived, the lawyer had introduced him to the board and they had toasted in his honor. After they had left, the lawyer had taken him to his new office.
“So, this is it. You’re officially the CEO of Wills Pharmaceuticals.”
Tobi looked around the opulent office in awe. The lawyer smiled at his speechlessness. “I know this is overwhelming for you. You’ll get used to it. I believe in you. Your uncle believed in you. Please don’t disappoint him.”
Since then, Tobi had proved his uncle’s faith in his abilities. Under his leadership, Wills Pharmaceuticals had prospered even better than his predecessor’s leadership. He hadn’t disappointed his uncle.
Tobi took another shot and blinked, drunkenly. Maybe it was the whisky, but he could swear that his uncle was seated across the room and watching him.
Tobi cried shamefully. “I’m so sorry, uncle. I disappointed you. Please forgive me. I was a fool. And I’m paying for it now.”
He finished the rest of the whisky in one gulp and placed the gun on his head to end his life. Suddenly, his phone began to ring. Cursing, he switched it off and threw it on the bed, away from him.
“Hello, Daddy?” Lara’s voice rang from the phone.
Tobi froze. Shit! He didn’t switch off the phone after all.
Episode 10 will come out on Monday. Please don’t forget to drop your comments on the website and share.