The pain of joy (Part 2 of 2)

“Where’s that little bastard?” barked Monica’s father. “Tell me! Where is he?” Monica had never seen her father so riled in her entire life. For the second time in less than 24 hours, she was struggling to get words out of her mouth because of a man; only that this time it was in a less desirable situation. “You will tell me who that kid was one way or another! And you’re not leaving this house till I say so!” he shouted before banging the door behind him.

By the time Monica could muster enough strength to get out of bed to see if Tim had jumped through the window safely, he was in his room trembling. “What the fuck did I get myself into?” he mumbled as his fingers twitched trying to roll a blunt. He didn’t know whether to call Monica and or barricade himself inside his room. He opted for the latter.

“Where’s your mum?” asked Monica’s father after calming down. “Is this what she puts you through every time I’m gone?” Monica was torn between covering for her mum whom she had a close relationship with or try and salvage what was left of her parent’s marriage. “I asked you a question young lady!” asked her father, seemingly angry.

“I don’t know where she is. She left last night and said she’d be back but I guess she didn’t come back.” replied Monica in between tears. She could see the rage on her father’s face. He walked out of the room and she could hear him make a call from the other room. He walked back into the room and sat across her. “Get dressed.” She calmly walked to her room and prepared herself.

A short while later she was ready. All through the drive, she kept thinking to herself, “What have I done?” They pulled up to her campus. Without uttering a word, her dad walked out of the car and she followed suit, toe to toe to the Vice Chancellor’s office. She didn’t know whether her dad was getting her suspended for something that happened outside school or transferring her to another campus.

She sat pensively at the reception area as they waited for the Vice Chancellor. She couldn’t understand why her dad would go to the highest authority over such a petty issue. “Good morning Mr. Brown, sorry for the delay, I had to jump out of my window to get here,” joked the Vice Chancellor as he greeted Monica’s dad. They followed him to the office.

After sharing a few pleasantries and catching up over a cup of coffee, the Vice Chancellor turned to Monica, “I’ve heard of the little situation you had at home. What do you have to say for yourself?” She sat there crying unable to utter a word. “I know she’s not going to say a word!” retorted her dad. “I’m going to make this easy for her. Tell me who that bastard was and I’ll consider rescinding my request to have you transferred to another campus and banned from any school activities. That includes that goddamn play you’re in right now!”

All through her life, she’d never had to make such a decision. She would either have to rat out the guy she had feelings for and gave her a starring opportunity or lose the opportunity to launch her acting career. She knew her father was serious and she had to make a decision. It was between her current situation and her future. She chose her future. “His name is Tim. Tim Mavros.” She replied.

“You can leave now,” said the Vice Chancellor with a hint of disappointment in his voice. He knew Tim and held him in very high regard. Tim had just been awarded a full scholarship and his budget for a second play had been approved by the board. He couldn’t understand how such a bright prospect had got himself into such a situation.

“Mr. Brown, I know you’re pissed that this kid had the nerve to sleep with your daughter in your house,” he started in a soft voice. “As the board chairman I know you can convince other members to expel the kid or suspend him. But let’s approach this cautiously. The kid should at least get a chance to present his case. We don’t want a lawsuit which will bring unwanted attention to your family, would we?”

Monica’s father agreed to the Vice Chancellor’s request and left the office. The drive home was equally silent and nobody uttered a word. Not even a hello from the other side. By the time they got home, Monica’s mother was already home. Mr. Brown explained what had happened and pinned the blame on her for their daughter’s indiscretion.

“Can I come in?” asked Monica’s mom as she peeped through her bedroom door. Even before Monica could answer, she walked in and sat next to her. “I know this is a hard time for you. Just try to understand that your father is doing all this to make life better for you. I’m sorry I wasn’t here to help you get through that situation.”

She hugged her as Monica wept. They lay on Monica’s bed till she slept and her mother tucked her in. “Mike, that’s your daughter. You don’t need to be so hard on her. I’m used to it, but she isn’t,” said Monica’s mother as her husband walked into their bedroom.

“Too hard? Wouldn’t being pregnant as a teen be harder? I’ll sort this whole mess out tomorrow. If you were around more often maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” Retorted Mr. Brown as he switched off the lights and got into bed. Their marriage was good as dead at this specific point.

As other students headed to class two weeks later, Tim was seated outside the school boardroom. “What did you do boy?” He knew that voice and those exact words. It was his father. He remained silent as his father sat beside him. His father was in his mid-forties but amazingly quite fit for man his age and would pass off for a guy in his 30s. Dressed in rugged jeans, a denim shirt folded at the sleeves and tattoos on his forearm, he was nothing close to the boy seated next to him.

As they waited for the board to come Tim told him what had transpired two weeks before. Surprisingly, his father was very easy about it. “Listen here boy; your future has nothing to do with whatever happens in that meeting. You’re way smarter than any kid I’ve met and trust me, I’ve met plenty. Whatever happens your dad is here for you. Good decision with the window though, I’d have been caught or knocked out the guy.”

For the first time in a very long while, father and son shared a laugh. At half past 9, the board was already seated and Tim and the father were called in. Immediately they opened the door, Mr. Brown’s face turned grey. He dropped the glass he was holding. Tim’s father remained rooted to the ground with his mouth agape.

Mr. Brown couldn’t believe what he was facing. Twenty six years before this meeting, Mr. Brown had a fight with his brother over a woman. To get his way, he framed his brother for a robbery and his brother was sent to prison for 3 years. By the time his brother left prison after being acquitted for lack of evidence, Mr. Brown was already engaged to the woman.

During this period, the woman had bore his brother a son whom they willingly handed over when he left prison. The two brothers never saw eye to eye and for twenty six years and had never communicated. The whole room was tense and Tim was prodding his father trying to find out what was wrong.

“Could you kindly leave Tim’s father and I for a while please,” requested Mr. Brown as the board members shuffled their way out of the room trying to speculate the reason for what they had just witnessed. Tim’s father held on to his son as everyone left the room. This was the first time Tim had seen his father’s tears.

“I..I…..I…..I’m….I’m sorry Dean,” mumbled Mr. Brown as he rose from his seat. “I know there’s nothing I can do to atone for what I did but I’m asking for your forgiveness.” At this point Tim was very confused and didn’t know why his father was crying and the board chairman was asking for forgiveness. “Two years Mike. Two fucking years behind bars! For what? A woman? Are you happy now?” Posed Tim’s dad as Mr. Brown approached him.

Mr. Brown fell to his knees and Tim could see the regret in his eyes. His father stood there without uttering a word. “What’s going on dad? Why is Mr. Brown asking you for forgiveness?” asked Tim. His father tuned to him wiping tears from his eyes and said, “This is my brother Tim.”

 

 

 

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