The next morning, Chibuzo came out of the room that had been given to him. He stretched himself and washed his face. He set out to look for Ifechukwu or his sister. He was really hungry. They didn’t eat the night before because they were tired. He found them at the back of the house talking in hushed tones. He wondered what it was about and approached them. When they heard his footsteps, they stopped talking and stood up.
“Is everything alright?” Chibuzo asked looking from one person to another
“Erm….yes”Ifechukwu stammered. He looked uncomfortable lying to his friend
“You are lying to me. Something is wrong” Chibuzo insisted
“Well…you remember the question you asked me yesterday?” He asked
“Yes, I do. About your parents” Chibuzo replied
“Yes about that. I think its time you know about it” Ifechukwu said looking everywhere but at his friend.
“Ok,” Chibuzo said with uncertainty.
“Follow me,” Ifechukwu said and started walking out of the compound. Chibuzo didn’t need to be told twice and followed him. They went through the bush path, and Chibuzo wondered where they were going. Finally, they stopped at a place that looked vaguely familiar. He looked at Ifechukwu and asked
“Why did we stop here? And who lives here?”
“This is your house” Ifechukwu blurted out.
“My house?” Chibuzo asked
“Yes, my friend.”
“But how come no one is living here,” he asked
“You should know the answer,” Ifechukwu said turning to face him.
“What do you mean?” He asked also looking at his friend. They looked at each other. Each was daring the other to look away first. Finally Ifechukwu succumbed and said.
“Am afraid to say this, my friend, that all this is not real. You are sleeping.”
“What?” Chibuzo shouted.
“You are in a deep sleep. If you don’t go back soon, you will die” Ifechukwu said in a matter of factly.
“But how is that possible? Are you asleep too?” He asked looking at Ifechukwu.
“No am not. Am here because you put me here. This is not the real me.”
“No, I don’t believe you,” Chibuzo said shaking his head sideways.
“Don’t you wonder why you’ve not seen anybody here except my sister and I?” Chibuzo stepped back. He was right about that part. He had noticed but was busy having fun to ask. The whole village was deserted. Can he be telling me the truth? No! It is not logical. He told himself.
“Chubu, you have to go back. You’ve been gone for a long time. There are people who love you and are waiting for you in the real world. Go before the little one comes for you” Ifechukwu said.
“Which little one? Chibuzo asked and turned to face his friend. What he saw made him shout.
At the hospital, they heard him shout and rushed in. He was now shaking and breathing heavily. Hon. Igwe rushed to call the doctor. The doctor came running with some nurses. After examining him, he turned to them and said
“He has a cardiac arrest. You should go and wait in the waiting room while we stabilize him” that all went outside. After a while, he came out, and they all rallied near him
“We have him under control but am sorry the boy has a little while to live. His heartbeat is so faint. Am sorry, but you might want to spend time with him before he goes” they all rushed inside and true to his words, Chibuzo looked deathly. Thay all started weeping. Samuel looked at his grandfather, and he nodded at him.
“Mum, dad allow me to bring him back. I don’t want to lose him” he said crying.
“What are you talking about?” His father asked him. Before he could open his mouth to answer, his grandfather continued from where he stopped
“Son, your child is gifted. He can bring him back” he said daring him to refuse.
“Am sorry I never told you all this while honey but its true. I’ve known ever since he was a baby” his mother said wiping her eyes,
“You expect me to believe this?” He shouted.
“Dad, Chibuzo is dying. Let me help. If it doesn’t work, we have nothing to lose” Samuel said. His father nodded and went nearer so he could see everything. Samuel went to Chibuzo’s side and lay down. He closed his eyes and took Chibuzo’s hands.
“What is happening Ife?” Chibuzo asked.
“This is what I was telling you. Am here because you created me. Am fading now because you don’t trust me Anymore” he was now like a shadow.
“I still want you here. Stay with me forever” Chibuzo cried.
“No, I can’t my friend. Your life is at stake. I don’t want you to die. You promised me you’ll come back and I need you to keep it. Let me go” Ifechukwu pleaded.
“I can’t go back there. I don’t have anyone. I have been treated like a dog, beaten and nearly killed. I have gone hungry. I like this place. No one can hurt me here” he said smiling at his friend. By now Ifechukwu was coming back. He wasn’t a shadow anymore.
“You are not alone my brother” he heard behind him. He turned back and saw Samuel. How did he get here? He wondered.
“What are you doing here? He asked harshly.
“I came to take you home,” Samuel said. He could feel Chibuzo’s resentment towards him
“Am not going anywhere with you! You people will leave me again. Do you know how much I suffered? Go back while you still can” he bellowed
“No, am going with you,” Samuel said stepping back. He was now scared. Chibuzo looked threatening in this world he had created for himself. He looked like a rat beside him.
“Everyone leaves me. Why? What did I do?” He cried. He wanted to break something but there was nothing to break.
“It wasn’t our intention to leave you behind Chibu. We wanted to send for you but we couldn’t. Now we are back, and you left us. Do you remember that we are now brothers? We are family. I love you” Samuel said and broke down.
The three people beside the bed watched in fascination. The two boys were crying. This is the first time they were witnessing something like this. They just prayed that Samuel succeeded. It was taking long. Of course, Samuel didn’t tell his parents that he will be stuck if Chibuzo refused to come back. Only his grandfather knew, but he didn’t want to tell them.
‘I love you, I love you, I love you’ echoed in Chibuzo’s head. No one had told him that before not even his parents. They weren’t sentimental but here was his little brother telling him he loved him
“Really?” Chibuzo asked Samuel.
“Yes and so does mum, dad, and grandpa. Please come back to us. You will never be hurt again by anybody.” Samuel assured him.
Chibuzo looked around him and sighed inwardly. This place is boring, he thought. The people who love me are waiting for me. He rushed to Samuel and hugged him, and everything became dark.
Samuel opened his eyes, and his parents rushed and hugged him. It was midnight and they had gotten scared that something had happened to him down there. He disentangled himself from them and looked at Chibuzo. He was still motionless.
“Mum, dad, grandpa, am sorry but I tried my best” they rushed at Chibuzo’s side and felt for a pulse. There was none. Samuel’s mother started rolling on the ground crying. The others joined her. What went wrong? I had him. Samuel asked himself. Just then, they heard a gasp and looked at Chibuzo’s bed. His eyes were open and searching the place.