“I am pretty sure they wanted to kill you”
“I do not know what you have done, but I think someone is after you. Someone wants your blood!”
I remembered some of the things Gbenga was narrating as he laid down with his bandages on my bed. I was scared and shaky as I fastened my seatbelt on the Airbus Boeing 737 Max 8 flying to Lagos, Nigeria.
“Mr Otedola, here is your customized bottle of non-alcoholic Michel Schneider Chardonnay white wine”, said an air hostess as she presented the bottle to me in a golden bucket filled with ice.
“What?! Who?! Where?!”, I asked confusedly as she interrupted my thoughts.
“It could be poison, Henry”, said Gbenga’s voice in my head. “They want to harm you, brotherly! Think about it.”
“It is just a complimentary bottle of wine from the Airline. We are glad that you trust us enough to work and fly with us”, said the air hostess with a smile. “When we arrive in Lagos, captain Philip would love to give a little tour of our new High-Tec aircraft”, she added.
“That would be awesome”, I said as I accepted the bucket and inspected the bottle of wine, then placed it the mini fridge at my corner of the business class.
“That would be awesome”, I repeated as I snoozed off.
Seven hours later, we were breathing the fresh air of Lagos city as we landed safely at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport. After the captain gave me a brief tour around the new aircraft, I got my bags from the baggage claim area then found my way to the arrival section of the airport.
“All my friends are ballers”, shouted Matthew from behind me. I turned around and saw him dancing as he kept on repeating “All my friends are ballers”. I dropped my bags, opened my arms wide and gave him a big hug. “I have missed you”, I said.
“Stupid boy! I thought I asked you never to come back”, said Gbenga as he appeared from nowhere. “Come here!”
“But, I … I…”, I was stammering.
“But you came home, brother”, said Gbenga as he hugged Matthew and I. “It’s great to have you back. I have missed you so much!”
“Okay now! Enough of all of this hugging”, said Gbenga as he cut loose. “Let us go and meet Timilehin. He is securing his car in the ‘No parking region’, where we parked.”
“Typical Lagosians”, I said. “You guys never obey rules and regulations!”
“You guys?”, asked Gbenga. “Have you forgotten you are also a Lagosian?”
“You better shut your mouth and move your behind before Gbenga gives you a whipping”, said Matthew sarcastically as he picked up one of my bags and walked towards the exit. Gbenga followed suit by dragging my other bag towards the exit, leaving me behind.
“Guys, wait for me! I was just kidding”, I shouted as I tried to catch up.
Thirty-five minutes later, we were seated inside Timilehin’s brand new 2019 Range Rover Sport and stuck in the airport’s traffic.
“So, how was your flight, Henry?”, asked Timilehin as he broke the silence in the vehicle.
“It was very relaxing! I slept like a baby”, I replied. “At first, I was terrified. I didn’t want to get on the plane because of what happened. You guys know when!”
“Oh, Henry! That was years ago. Let go of the past. Things have changed”, said Matthew. “Look at us! We have grown above that. Gbenga is no longer sitting in his wheelbarrow, sorry I mean, wheelchair!”
“And do not forget, our situations have changed. We are now successful and thanks to God, we are no longer struggling like in those days”, added Timilehin as he raised up his hands and the panoramic glass roof of the Range Rover slid open.
Gbenga asked Timilehin, “Show off much?”. He turned back from the front passenger seat and asked me, “Did you hear what your president said the other day?”
“What did he say?”, I asked confusedly.
“He called us LAZY YOUTHS”, answered Matthew. “It was all over the news and twitter!”
“That statement shook a lot of Nigerian youths nationwide”, said Timilehin. “Can you imagine? With all the things we face in this country, we still struggle to make ends meet and succeed. But our grandpa at the top said that we are lazy!”
“Sorry for bringing that up! Don’t let it spoil our moods at this moment”, said Timilehin. “Sister Victoria is surely waiting for us”, he continued as we arrived at a mansion with an ocean view.
“Oh my gosh! Nigerians are living large!”, I shouted as I was amazed by the majesty and beauty of the building. “The person that designed and built this hotel on Victorian Island is a genius!”
“Thank you! Thank you”, said Matthew as he alighted from the car. “I am very glad you like it”, he added as we walked towards the entrance and some of the staffs moved the bags from the car into the building.
“What do you mean?”, I asked curiously.
“I am an Architect, remember?”, said Matthew. “I used the money that you sent to me for my business, I got some huge contracts and made a lot of profit. So, I decided to invest in real estate. I designed and built the hotel and some other buildings around this area”.
“I am really proud of you”, I said as we were all inside the elevator heading to the penthouse.
“This is your own wing of the penthouse”, said Matthew as he gave me a black card with my name written on it. “You should go in and relax. We will join you later”, he continued as he, Timilehin and Gbenga went into another wing of the penthouse.
“All of these seem to be a dream”, I said to myself as I walked towards the door of my apartment with a door which had my name inscribed on it.
I turned on the light.
For a second, my life flashed before my eyes. After that one second, my Calvin Klein pants felt like I had been in the rain.
I was shocked, my jaw dropped open and I could no longer move.
Members of my family came out of their hiding. My mother approached me with her arms wide open and gave me a big hug. She held my arms and shook me back to life. “Henry!! Welcome back home!”
Tears started to flow down my cheeks. “I have missed you all so much”, I said as I placed my arm on my mother’s shoulder and walked towards the others.
My little cousins running around in the living room, the rest of the family sitting and eating on the balcony. Enjoying the ocean view.
“Wow! How life has turned around for good. Who would have thought that we would ever be able to afford this kind of lifestyle?”, I asked myself as I knelt down in my bedroom to thank God after taking a warm shower and changing into some clean, comfortable house-outfit.
“Prophet – Evangelist – Pastor – Doctor Henry, everyone is waiting for you outside”, said Gbenga as he entered my bedroom without knocking. I got up from my knees and walked towards Gbenga who was standing by the door. I held the door and pointed outside. “Ladies first, Gbenga”, I said with a smile on my face as I followed him out of the bedroom into the living room.
Time flew by so fast as I was busy catching up with friends and family. There was a lot to talk about and a lot of things that I had missed out on. Before I knew what was happening, everyone was gone, the apartment was empty and I was alone with my thoughts. I sat on a dark brown leather couch facing the balcony. Two minutes into processing my thoughts, I found myself swimming in dreamland.
“Henry! We are almost there”, said Timilehin as he tried to wake me up. I had been sleeping all night and all morning. I could not even remember entering the car.
“Where are we? What time is it?”, I asked because I was confused and trying to orientate myself.
“We are almost in the village. Remember, you started a foundation which I manage for you?”, asked Timilehin as if he was talking to a little boy. “This foundation offers free health care to people in rural areas.”
“Oh, yeah?”, I said jokingly. “Of course, I can remember. I am just so tired”, I added as I yawned and stretched my arms. “I cannot even remember leaving my room this morning”.
Timilehin laughed. “I guess, you were on autopilot this morning. I woke you up, you stood up, walked into the bathroom without saying anything, came back out wearing only boxer shorts and with toothpaste stains on your shirt and told me that you were ready!”
“Oh, my bad! I feel so embarrassed!”, I said. “Sorry bro, I was just really tired and haven’t gotten enough sleep.”
“It’s all good. What are we friends for?”, he said. “Moreover, you would not have liked it, if we cancelled the trip. I know how much you have invested in your foundation and I understand that this is the only time you have to see us in action before you travel back”, he added as pulled up by a health centre.
“Is this the place?”, I asked as I was almost drawn to tears. It was a very huge building fenced with beautiful flowers and barbed-wires.
“Yes, it is”, answered Timilehin as we drove into the health centre premises.
There were about five ambulances on standby and there were a lot of people queuing to enter the health centre. The name of my foundation was printed everywhere. We entered into the building through a private door from the garage and headed straight to where the offices are located. Timilehin introduced me to all the working staffs. The doctor-in-charge gave me a tour around the facilities, we discussed my vision for the foundation and how it should guide them in their daily operations. I finally assisted in attending to patients and administering treatments as well as medications.
Six hectic hours later, we were back into the car and driving out of the health centre premises. “That was beyond what I imagined for the foundation. Thank you so much, Timilehin”, I said as we got to the highway. “The way we are providing people with high-quality health facilities and services has always been my dream since my days at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital”.
“That’s what friends are for, brotherly. You used your open doors to open doors for all your friends and family. Trusting me with your money is the least you can request from me”, said Timilehin as he adjusted the air conditioning of the car.
We were talking about life for about 12 minutes and 9 seconds before I dozed off. I woke up the very minute Timilehin parked the car in front of the hotel. “So, I will be visiting my parents at home tomorrow”, I said on the elevator ride to the penthouse. “I would love to spend some quality time with them for about five days”, I added.
“That’s perfect and well deserving. You should really take some time off to rest”, he said as we arrived at the penthouse. “But do not forget your big event coming up soon”, he added pointing at me as I was about to open the door to my apartment.
I spent the five days going down memory lane, visiting family members and old friends. It was rejuvenating. Finding time to connect back to my roots gave me the opportunity to reanalyse my life, how far I have progressed and all the things I still have to achieve in life.
After those five days, I had to drag myself back to Lagos. When I got to the hotel, everything was in full swing. Everyone was busy. There were people offloading goods from some trucks, some people were decorating the biggest event hall of the hotel and the security guard were busy performing security checks around the hotel.
“Henry, is that you?”, asked a female voice from behind me.
I turned around and was surprised by what I saw. “Miss Bittany!”, I shouted as she walked down the stairs to me. Miss Bittany from Bittany Couture in all of her glory, rocking a gorgeous blue gown from her latest collection, a Dior clutch bag and diamond studded Jimmy Choo high heels.
“The last time we saw each other was at the Paris Fashion Week”, I said as we hugged. “It is really nice to have you here. I really appreciate the fact that you could make time out of your busy schedule to present your summer collection here”, I added.
“Oh, come on! It’s a pleasure”, she said before her personal assistant approached us and told her that her attention is urgently needed inside. “We will catch up later”, she then said as she went with her assistant into the hotel.
I took my bag into my room, changed into something more comfortable and then went back to the ground floor to check out the progress. In more ways than one, I felt very confident and at peace because I was in good hands. I got in the event hall and was blown away by how much had already been done. The runway was already in place, the flowers already arranged and chairs were also clothed with pictures of the guests that were meant to occupy the seats.
I went to the backstage to make final touches to the order of events and my new collection. I was glad to see familiar faces. King F.O.A.N was busy organising his collections, Afrabba was talking to her assistants about some changes in her collection, Denola Grey was going through the event plan with the event planner as well as with Sir Taylor. Staffs from Shennel Confectioneries were making final touches to the cake and snacks. Yemi Alade was busy with stage and microphone checks. Someone whispered into my ear, “The Twinning C’s private jet just landed at the airport, but their collection was shipped in yesterday. We are going to bring in their packages. Is that okay?”
I nodded in affirmation.
I woke the next morning with a panic. I was scared that everything will not go on smoothly. There were big names on the guest list and I was scared that they might not turn up.
To my surprise, everything went as planned. All the celebrities were there. The biggest fashion designers exhibited their collections. It was like a festival filled with great music performances, bright colours, African art, culture and brilliance.
The moment came as Tope Alabi performed “Yes and Amen”. The huge veil was removed and the name of my African fashion line was revealed.
SON OF THE KING.
The models walked the runway as Tope Alabi continued to sing at the side of the runway. Everyone loved it. It was a huge success as every piece received a standing ovation.
In the end, with great relief and delight in my heart, I gave a closing speech about how SON OF THE KING is a fashion line for everyone. It symbolises the greatness of God in one’s life. It serves as an assurance that no matter what we are going through, the future is going to be great because we are children of the King. Princes and Princesses never suffer, therefore no matter what happens, joy is going to come in the morning. I also explained how the fashion line is going to help create employment for thousands of Nigerians and an international platform for African fashion.
There was a standing ovation. All the models and fashion designers walked the runway one more time then we all bowed as the crowd cheered.
The spotlights went out.
The cheering and applause got louder.