The Neighbor’s Son
Nicholas walked slowly along the road, trying hard to make out the features he thought he was seeing. He was in such melancholy he knew nothing could change his mood.
He didn’t want to go and face his wife and children whom he knew were waiting anxiously for him. He was a bitter, angry man. As he trudged along in the darkest night he had ever seen, his heavy heart felt like it was going to rip into two. He stumbled on something and bent down to see what it was. It was the roots of a tree that had extended to the road. He got up and had taken a few steps when he went back and started kicking the strong roots with venom that surprised even him. He continued kicking until his foot went numb and he knew without feeling it that he was bleeding.
He tried to walk and realized he could not. Suddenly all the frustration and failure of yester years came flooding in the form of tears. He’d never been this emotional and the enormity of it all overwhelmed him. He let the tears flow unchecked and sat down to ponder on his failed life.
As a kid, Nicholas had been the introvert obedient type. He never stood out in anything he did; he wasn’t good in any sport, he never talked in class and he wasn’t the brightest of kids. Unlike his two sisters who and his other brother who had the Midas touch, Nicholas was a flop, the kid nobody wanted to be associated with and even parents weren’t proud of.
As it stands not many kids top their class, but at least a kid has to have some talent somewhere even if it means just being a darling of the other kids, teachers, and grownups because of say, being that funny kid. Nicholas was no one’s darling. He had a horrible sense of humor and to make matters worse, the kid was a stammerer.
They say no love equals a mother’s love; that a mother’s love is unconditional love. Mary, Nicholas mother, has no compassion towards him. It’s not like the boy was bad or anything. It’s just that there was something about him, something unexplainable that pushed people away. He tried befriending a few people but his shyness and strange demeanor never got him far in that department.
Until he met Paul.
They were the exact opposite of each other; whereas Nicholas was an introvert, Paul was an extrovert. Paul was the local football star; Nicholas could not hit a ball that was a meter away from him without missing. Paul was bright in class, could act and could sing. Nicholas…well, he couldn’t play the role of a cat in a movie if his life depended on it. Nevertheless, they became the best of friends. They would go home together, spend the weekends together, and go hit on the local beauties together. Or rather, Nicholas would escort Paul in his escapades.
They stuck together and continued being friends even after they joined high school.
Then tragedy hit. One day as they were leaving the shopping centre Paul met one of the ladies he’d been eyeing for a while and signaled Nicholas to go on as he would catch up with him later. Without checking the road for any oncoming vehicles Nicholas began crossing the road. It so happened that a crazy, mad, or even both driver was coming at a break neck speed. Paul, seeing his friend on the verge of being hit raced to his rescue. He pushed his friend away and Nicholas rolled to the other side. Paul wasn’t as lucky though. The vehicle hit him hard; and sped away. The driver didn’t as much as glance back.
Paul died. On the spot.
Nicholas ran and tried holding on to his friend, trying hard to bring him back to life and hoping beyond hope that the only friend he had in the world wasn’t dead. People came running and tried to pull him from the now lifeless body of Paul. He stuck on to it like a leech. Wailing and wimping like a small kid.
Paul was dead, and people now had a new reason to hate on Nicholas. He was the boy who had caused the death of his friend. The reason behind the death of the brightest prospect the village ever had.
When he did his fourth form examination, Nicholas, as expected, flopped. However it was not the fact that he had failed that surprised people, but rather the manner in which he had done so. Out of the seven subjects he had sat for, he had acquired four E’S, two D’S and one D-. Overall mean grade, E.
His father chased him out of his compound and disowned him. He gave him a tiny piece of land far from his ancestral land and told him never to come back. Nobody raised a hand or voice to support him; not his sisters, his brother and not even his mother. They all gathered to watch him leave and none shed a tear.
Starting a new life in a strange land is not a mean feat. Nicholas was up to the task though, and he tried working hard hopping to one day surprise his family and prove the naysayers wrong.
So he tilled his piece of land and planted crops for sale.
He tried chicken rearing and the business did well for a time. He made some money and went on to buy dairy cows.
So far life was good and he was beginning to enjoy the fruits of his hard life when disaster struck again.
A strange disease came knocking one day and next thing he knew, he was checking out his chicken one morning and none of them was on its feet. He tried calling a vet but all the vet did was fleece him off his money and by evening all of his chicken were dead.
300 broilers and layers gone. Just like that. coccidiosis, the disease every poultry farmer dreaded.
When tragedy comes, it doesn’t come singularly.
That night his two dairy cows were stolen; they were never recovered.
Picking the pieces was never going to be easy and he knew it. So he decided to marry a nice lady to help him along the way.
Beatrice wasn’t a very beautiful lady; in fact she wasn’t even an average looking female. If anything, Beatrice was downright ugly. But she had a big heart and a motherly figure and that was all that Nicholas needed. They married after six months.
There’s was a marriage made in heaven; until he found her with their neighbor in his bed, and forgave her. Because in all honesty, what else could he have done? He wasn’t very good with women and he had gotten truly fond of his wife. She on the other hand, cried and begged and asked for forgiveness in such a pitiful manner that even Nicholas dint have the heart to disown her. She became a good wife and did him favors she wasn’t doing before. #smiles#
Life went back to normal. They got two kids together.
One day, his uncle from his mother’s side came calling and told him he wanted him to work for him in his new company. It was an offer he could not say no to. He and his young family packed and headed for the city.
Everything went smoothly and the young man worked extremely hard to prove his worth. His uncle was pleased, his wife was pleased, he was pleased with himself and everyone was now happy.
Until the now familiar foe came knocking. A huge amount of money disappeared from the company’s account. Money was being embezzled and nobody knew who was doing it. A private investigator was brought in. the investigator was given a hefty amount by the perpetrators to keep his mouth shut and fix it on Nicholas, seeing as he was the CEO’S nephew and nothing much would be done to him. His uncle doubted this twist of events a lot, but there was no way he could prove otherwise.
Nicholas retained his job but from there onwards things went haywire. His uncle could no longer trust him and everyday a new conflict came up. It was issue after issue and he began suspecting that his uncle was looking for an excuse to sack him.
Which is eventually what happened. After two years of selfless dedication and loyally working his ass off, Nicholas was relieved off his duty. It was back to square one at the village.
He began patching his life back together and things weren’t as hard as he had thought they would be.
One day, as he was working out on his farm he had a slight headache and begun feeling dizzy. Next thing he knew, he was at the hospital and was later informed by his wife that he had fainted at. When his wife left to go and make him some food, the doctor informed him that a HIV test carried out on him had turned out positive.
Nicholas was speechless and totally mesmerized. Of all the hardships he had experienced, this was the one he had least expected. He head went round like a whir will and he thought he would puke.
How? He asked himself. He had always been faithful, had never cheated on his wife. Actually, Beatrice had been the first woman in his life and would probably have been the last. He hated himself. He told the doctor these facts and the doctor shrugged and looked away, telling him he could not answer those questions either. The doctor probably cared less, but there was some compassion in his grey cold eyes.
He sat back and thought of his wife, of what a fool he’d been played for.
For the first time in his life, he considered murder.
He thought the better of it though. When the doctor left, he casually slipped out his bed and sneaked out of the hospital.
He hadn’t been home since then. Two weeks now and nobody knew where he was.
He revived himself from his thoughts and decided he had to go on with his official plan. He sniffed, blew his nose on his hands and slowly removed the heavy rope from his pockets.
Twenty minutes later, he was on top of the tree. His hands were trembling and he told himself off for being a coward. Why was this becoming difficult than he thought? He muttered to himself and cursed loudly in his mother tongue. A vulgar curse that had been his father’s favorite line, and he smiled at the irony despite himself. He pulled on the rope and put his head in the loop, in the process letting go of his body.
The rope pulled at him mercilessly and he jerked at the sharp pain, hating himself for doing this. He groped at the rope frantically and thought he heard the sound of a vehicle from afar.
His legs were kicking wildly and he thought he heard various voices. Or maybe it was the effect the whole thing was having on him, he thought.
He was slipping and he knew it.
It was at that moment, at that very moment, that the search team stumbled on him.
His wife let out a scream that could have awakened the dead.
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