Inside the prison, Alfred sat opposite a man that he had never known all his life. But seeing this man for the first time ever, he knew that, that was his father. The same oblong face and the same pointed nose. They stared at each other for about a minute before Andy said, “welcome son. I am glad to see you”.
“I have looked forward to this day so much that I can’t believe it is actually here”. Alfred said.
“Where are you coming from son?” Andy asked.
“And you dressed up like this, in a suit?” Andy asked him again.
“Yes, because I was coming to see my daddy and my hero”.
“Andy broke down. “Me, your hero?”
“Yes, you are my hero” Alfred said. “I know you didn’t do it.”
“Do what and how did you know?”
“I overheard Hayward and Lucy talk about it.”
They spent some time interacting and getting to know each other like fresh lovers would do.
“What is your favourite colour dad?”
“Because anytime I looked up into the sky and saw it blue, it gave me so much hope, it gave me so much peace, it’s like the blue sea. It only reminds me how powerful nature is and that no one can stop nature.”
“That’s profound” Alfred responded.
“Now what’s your favourite colour?” Andy asked.
Alfred was taken aback. He took some time before he blurted “dolphin.”
“Why if I may ask?”
“Because they are very intelligent animals. I have never heard of dolphins hurting people, instead, they help people, they help scientists in conducting experiments.”
“That’s a very clever response son.”
“What’s your fav animal dad?”
“Wow. Eagle? Why eagle?”
“They have tremendous eyesight. They have the ability to renew their strength. They fly at such high altitudes. They are very brave and courageous. They are great hunters. They only eat fresh kill.”
“Wow, that’s so insightful,” Alfred said. “I am so proud of you dad. Even though I have never met you but I knew you were a great guy.”
“I feel like a failure being in here and not being there to raise you.”
“I can understand how you feel. Initially I was bitter myself at your absence and how, Lucy, used to use your absence as a constant threat to me anytime I did something bad.”
“I can imagine. But she is your mum and you must respect her.”
“I do respect her as my mum but as a human being, I think she is horrible.”
“That’s your mum, it’s not nice to have bad thoughts towards people.”
“No dad. You didn’t hear what I said. I said I respect her as my mother but as a human being I abhor her and I have my reasons for that.”
“what are your reasons if I may ask?”
“For deceit, for the many lies she told me about you. She created a hatred between me and you. She told me you were in a bad place for something bad that you did. She painted this picture in my head and I believed her until one night by chance I stumbled across the truth in the kitchen”
The bell chimed, the time was up. How the time flew so quickly. It was with tears they said goodbye.
Andy laid on his bed that night recounting every single detail of his encounter with his son.
The most enjoybale part was each time he remembered being called ‘dad’. He has never been called dad in his entire life, even though he knew he was a father. “That was sweet” he remarked to himself. He smiled. “He is just like me, very bold, very smart. Now I can depart in peace.”
“How did it go?” Lucy asked Alfred.
“Great! Very well, thanks!”
“What did he tell you?” Lucy probed.
“Well, you know, father son stuff. We had a great time interacting and getting to know each other” Alfred replied with all amount of excitement.
Lucy was feeling a little jealous here and uncomfortable that Alfred was building a relationship with his father and may soon delve into sensitive information, if his dad trusted him.
Ms. Lynch advised Alfred not to share too much details of his visit with his father to Lucy. He should stick to ‘we are building a relationship’ script. Alfred brought books and materials to his father in the camp as his dad often referred to the place. One book that Alfred brought over to his dad was the Holy Book. He advised his father to read that book and let that book come alive to him. That was what Ms. Lynch did for Alfred. It was written somewhere in that Holy Book, The spirit of God is not of fear but of a sound mind. That did it for Alfred. Something struck him and resonated with him. He conquered fear. He has never been the same since he stumbled across that verse.
Alfred was a regular visitor to the camp to see his dad. Their relationship grew and blossomed. Some of the things they enjoyed talking about the most were the books that they both read. They had set up a challenge for themselves ‘read a book a week’ challenge. Alfred borrowed books from the library and shared the books with his father. During the next visit, they would talk about the books they had read. He gave his dad a new lease of life.
“Dad, you know I can’t wait for you to tell me what you think about Gabriel in Go Tell it on the Mountain.”
“You know son, that book has given me nightmares. I have to read it a second time because I find it quite fascinating?”
“What do you find fascinating?” Alfred quizzed his dad.
“Well, the preacher man Gabriel and his relationships with Ester, Deborah and Elizabeth.”
“Wow, I find that all those affiliations unholy” Alfred confessed. “I am even more disturbed with the relationship between John Grimes and Elisha” he concluded.
“You see that is the problem with religion as opposed to genuine spirituality” Andy started off.
“what do you refer to as genuine spirituality?”
That old bell chimed and they both knew time was up. Never has Alfred enjoyed his life like when he sat with his dad and bantered on scholarly matters. He knew that he was like his father.
He got to find out more about his dad’s family. His dad had immigrated to the UK from, Lebreville in Equatorial Guinea, EQ about twenty years ago. Andy was from a wealthy background in Lebreville. Andy’s story was not like the typical version of a person who left his homeland and came to the UK seeking greener pastures. His dad came to the UK to seek alternative means of livelihood. He wanted to learn English, he wanted to make the UK and EQ his home. He wanted to have a life where his children would be versed in English, Spanish and French languages. EQ was colonized by Spain and Spanish was the widely spoken language in EQ. Andy was from the Fang tribe and from a wealthy home. Andy’s father died when Andy was about fourteen years of age and Andy saw how his mother was denied of any inheritance because she was a woman. Andy was not happy with what he saw and knew that it was just a matter of time; he would be off to somewhere, where if he had daughters, they would inherit his fortune. Being the only male child in the family, his dad’s fortunes belonged to him.
On arriving England, with a substantial amount of money, Andy enrolled in a college and started his new life. Fate would play a twist on him when he met Lucy. They both attended the same college and were taking the same classes. That fateful night after classes, it was raining and Andy offered to drop Lucy off at her place. They started some friendship. In naivety and innocence, Andy told Lucy all about himself and Lucy planned with Hayward how they would frame Andy to scam him off his money. He didn’t understand the legal system and procedures in England at the time. His English wasn’t that superb. His folks back home in Libreville, did not know what had happened to him. He was sent to jail to languish away. The good thing that came out of the relationship was Alfred. Hayward never liked Alfred. One thing that Hayward could not achieve was to convince Lucy to abort the baby. She kept saying that this would be a memorial for the wealth that they would inherit afterwards.