Fredrick got in the compound and looked around. It was a duplex. The compound was very neat and beautiful with trees and flowers everywhere. There were two cars parked, a Peugeot and a Mercedes Benz. Those two cars speak money or at least comfort. The gateman who let him in was looking at him strangely.
“May I speak with your madam?” he asked
He looked at Fredrick, dump-struck. “Oga Ikem, no be you?” he asked, looked around, obviously confused. “But, you comot now. I see you comot. How you come go come back like that?” he was walking around Fredrick, looking at him from head to toe.
Fredrick kept his cool. “May I speak with your madam?”
“Oga, who you be? Make I just go call my madam.”
“Please, sir. I really need to see her and I assure you she’ll want to see me too. Just say her son wants to see her.”
The gateman still stood back, apparently unsure what to do. “Please?”
He looked at Fredrick once more and walked towards the front door. He stopped, looked back for a few moments, shook his head and walked the rest of the way. He knocked.
The door opened and Fredrick could see the man gesticulating and pointing in his direction. He went on for a few moments and then the person he was talking to stepped into the light and Fredrick could see she was a woman. The gateman was still talking but she wasn’t listening anymore. She walked slowly towards Fredrick and he saw her face. This is definitely my mother, he thought.
She stopped after walking a few steps and just stared at him. Tears trickled down and she resumed walking until she got to him. No words were needed. It was very glaring who he was. She put her hand on his right cheek and stared into his eyes. Fredrick couldn’t hold back the tears.
“Mum?” he whispered
She nodded and pulled him in for a hug. They held each other tightly for a few moments. After a while, she withdrew, held his hand and led him into the house.
Few minutes later, they were seated comfortably in the living room. Fredrick’s dad had joined them and they all sat there staring at one another, totally lost for words. The twins looked like their mother; same eyes, same cheekbones and same mouth. It was unnerving for Fredrick sitting there looking at his parents after he had thought about it for many months. It was surreal.
Finally, his dad broke the silence. “How did you get to know about us?” he asked
Fredrick told them the same story he had told Ikem the other day. By the time he was finished, they were dumbfounded. His mother was crying while his father looked very furious.
“Those snakes. That stupid doctor!” he fumed. “How can they do that? That is inhuman and terrible. I’m going to prosecute them to the full extent of my power.”
Fredrick hung his head. He knew now was not the right time to plead on behalf of his adoptive parents. They had been as good to him as parents could be but what they had done was unforgiveable. He couldn’t bring himself to punish them though.
“No, Leonard. Let’s not pour petrol on this burning fire. What’s done is done. Let us just thank God our son is back home.” His mum said.
“Nkechi, how can you say that? Look at him, he’s a grown man. We missed twenty eight years of his life. And you ask me to forget it? How can I?”
“I know, dear. But we have the next forty years or so to make up for that. What is fighting going to solve? Please, let’s just be thankful we have our son back.”
Fredrick’s dad looked at his wife. She looked at him imploringly. He finally shook his head and looked down. Fredrick could tell he was not satisfied with his wife’s decision but he was going to respect it nonetheless. Fredrick was relieved.
His mum turned to him and smiled. “Come, my son. What’s your best food? Let me prepare it for you. Dear, can you bring out a bottle of wine? We need to celebrate.” She stood up and came to sit beside Fredrick. “Tell me, what food do you like best?”
He smiled. “I’m fine with anything you make, mum.” It felt good to say that word.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Okay then. Leonard, what are you still waiting for? The wine?”
“Oh yes.” He jumped up and went out of the room.
“Actually, mum I have a friend waiting outside for me. Could I bring her in?”
“Yes, of course. Why did you leave her outside all this while?”
“Let me go get her.”
Fredrick went out of the house. He felt elated and very happy. The reunion had gone a lot better than he had hoped for.
“Oga, well done o.” the gateman said as he stepped out. He was still scratching his head in confusion.
Fredrick smiled and went out. He saw Ugochi leaning on the side of her car. She had obviously gotten tired of sitting in. She walked towards him and a very big smile split his face.
“I take it it went well?”
“It went perfectly.” He took her hand and led her into the house.
That week, Fredrick spent most of his time with his parents. It was a period of learning and getting to know one another. They had a lot of catching up to do so they found a way to get it done. They tried to stuff many years of absence into a little bit of time.
Nkechi called Ikem home for a family dinner the day after Fredrick came home. Ikem sent a message that he couldn’t make it. Nkechi was crushed and shared her concerns with Fredrick. It was then her told her about all the drama with Ugochi and everything that had happened between him and his twin. He left out the fact that Ikem was abusive though as he didn’t want that to come between a mother and her son. Their mother was very disappointed in Ikem but she didn’t give up. She kept inviting him until he gave in and decided to come almost a week after Fredrick came home.
Nkechi was very excited and told Fredrick about it. She decided to use the opportunity to introduce their newly found son to their family and friends. It was going to be a party like they’ve never had.
Fredrick knew it would be an opportunity to make amends with his twin. He didn’t want the animosity between them to fester until it becomes something that will be difficult to get beyond or to handle. He needed to clear the air with Ikem about Ugochi. He however, couldn’t get beyond the fact that Ikem felt it was okay to beat up a woman. He simply couldn’t wrap his head around the realization that his twin was abusive. He knew he had to deal with it if there was going to be any kind of relationship between Ikem and himself.
The day of the party arrived and Fredrick was feeling very conspicuous. He had thought of inviting Ugochi but he knew that would only add fuel to the fire that was already burning; he didn’t want it to become an inferno. Ugochi’s presence would have calmed him and made him feel less alone.
Family and friends started arriving and he was introduced to them all. He watched his parents talk about him to their friends with so much pride and he was humbled by how easily they accepted him into their family. Through the whirlwind of introductions and discussions though, he was on the look-out for only one person and he knew the exact time Ikem arrived.
A hush fell over the crowd and people started commenting on how alike both of them looked. There were murmurings and whispers all around. Fredrick was not fazed by all that. He waited for Ikem to finish his round of greetings before he approached him. As soon as he saw him move towards the bar, he went after him.
“Good to see you here Ikem.” Fredrick said, offering his hand for a handshake.
“I wish I could say the same.” Ikem eyed his outstretched hand carefully before clasping it. It was obvious he shook his twin because he wanted to avoid speculations from any onlooker.
“Can we go somewhere private and talk?”
“What about?” Ikem was still as deviant as ever.
“I think you’ll agree we have a lot to talk about?”
“Can’t it wait? I mean, I’m trying to enjoy a drink here.”
“No, it can’t and feel free to bring your drink along. I’m thinking the backyard will do?” Fredrick didn’t wait for his reply before walking away.
Ikem grudgingly followed him to the garden at the backyard. Fredrick was seated on a bench by the time he got there. Ikem sat beside him and put his head in his hands. There was no drink in sight. They sat quiet for a few moments, each lost in his own thoughts.
“Man, I’m sorry I’ve been acting all crazy. I don’t think you deserve that.” Ikem said, finally breaking the ice.
Fredrick was surprised. He hadn’t expected his twin to own up to his own stupidity. “It’s understandable, I think.”
“My head has just been so messed up. I was filled with so much jealousy I ended up treating you and Ugochi horrendously. You both didn’t deserve that. I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay Ikem. I really want us to move past this and try to be friends if not brothers. I’ll like a relationship with you.”
“I think we can work on that.”
“I’ll like to clear the air about Ugochi though. You deserve an explanation.”
Ikem nodded. “I’m listening.”
“I approached Ugochi because I thought it would be a lot easier to get in touch with you through her. I was able to track you through the information I got from that horrible doctor. He gave me the name of you and our parents. I found you on Facebook, saw all the posts about you and Ugochi, and connected with her. I had no designs on her and there has been nothing between us but friendship. I’m really sorry to have caused you any pain.”
Ikem was silent for a few seconds. He finally looked at Fredrick and smiled. “Don’t sweat it bro. I made a lot of mistakes myself. I should have trusted her more.”
“Yes, you should have. And you never should have laid your hands on her.”
“True. I regret that the most. I guess it’s too late now?” he looked at Fredrick.
Fredrick couldn’t answer. His chest suddenly felt constricted at the thought of Ugochi and Ikem back together. He turned and stared into the distance.