TEMPUS FUGIT

Tick tock.

The grandfather clock in his sitting room chimes on, almost a primal force in this dedication to its one duty- Counting the passage of time. The old man sits in his chair at the backyard, smoking a pipe. The smoke curls up and forms like a halo around his head.

He clears his throat. Flips a page on the newspaper in his hand. Sighing heavily, he settles deeper into his seat.
Tick tock. Somehow audible even from the backyard. Tick tock.

A sleek car purrs into the driveway. The dust from its arrival has not even began to settle when the car door flies open. A young man steps out of the car and takes a deep whiff of the dry cold harmattan air. He stretches and there is an audible pop as bones and muscles take their rightful places. It was quite a journey, you see. He smiles, rearranges the expensive suit he has on. Deep breath.

He walks into the house, crunching leaves underfoot with every step. He knocks. No answer. Then he retrieves the key from under a potted plant and unlocks the door. It swings open silently on well oiled hinges.
Quietly, reluctantly, he walks to the backyard. He can see the old man sitter in the chair, the smoke from his pipe drifting lazily upwards.

“Papa.” He says softly. “Papa I have returned.”

The old man turns slowly backwards. He blinks. Tick tock.
“You.” He says. “You brought disgrace to my name.”

“Papa I am your son. Will you not forgive me?”

“You are no son of mine!”  He is shaking with rage now. The pipe falls out of his mouth. “Leave my house!”

With tears in his eyes, the young man replies “It was eighteen years ago. Eighteen years papa.” An envelope falls out of his hand.
He leaves the house. Crying as he enters his car. It purrs to life and zooms off with it’s lone occupant.

On the road he is distracted. The tears in his eyes ensure that he does see the road clearly. As such he doesn’t notice when he swerves and beelines for the transformer. There’s a crash. He never stood a chance.

Back at the house, the old man eventually regains control of himself. He pours a shot of whiskey from the medicine cabinet and retrieves his pipe. Ignoring the fallen envelope, he returns to the chair, drinks the whiskey and resumes his reading and smoking. Soon, he sets the pipe aside and dozes off.

An hour later, there’s a phone call from inside the house. He struggles to his feet and makes his way to the telephone.
“Hello? Chief Olowolayemo’s residence.”

“Are you the father of a certain Mr Olatunji Olowolayemo?”

“Yes.” He snaps irritably. “What about him?”

“Well sir, your son was involved in a fatal motor accident.”

Tick tock. Tick tock.

“W-What did you just say? Fatal?”

“Yes sir. Fatal. He’s dead.” The phone falls from his hands. His eyes swerve straight to the fallen envelope. It is addressed to “Papa.”

He opens it. It is a wedding invitation. There is a small note also. He brings it out with trembling fingers and reads…

“Papa. I know what I did was foolish and wounded your reputation. And your pride. I was foolish. Please forgive me. You have disowned me as your son. But I am about to get married to the woman of my dreams. You are still my father. I want you to share this with me. Perhaps one day I’d bring your grandchildren after we have gotten them. They should know their grandpa.

Love always.
Olatunji.”

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