The Trial Of The Beast…
THE TRIAL OF THE BEAST
It was raining hard.
Chief Inspector Boateng handed the release papers to Eduafo, who turned deftly signed documents to him, and then looked at Zak Twum with a smile on his face.
“You’re free now,” he said proudly. “But, then again, you’ve always been free, my brother.”
The boy smiled for the first time since they met.
“I was born free, and I’ll always be free,” Zak said, gazing at the rain with longing.
“Where will you go now?” Kuuku enquired.
“To the orphanage,” Zak said. “My friends are waiting for me. Hopefully, after what happened, a better life with a modicum of happiness will be theirs. A slice of happiness, that is all I’ve ever wanted for them.”
For a moment, silence reigned. Outside the reporters have defied the heavy downpour, and were waiting for the boy of the moment to be released.
Chief Inspector Boateng walked forward and took the small bag from Zak’s hand.
“It will be my pleasure to carry your bag,” he said softly. “I’ve done you bad. Please, if you ever need a home to rest, my doors are always open for you, anytime!”
Zak smiled again, this time broader.
“Glad to hear that, Chief,” he said. “I might just take you up on that soon.”
“It will be my greatest pleasure, sir,” the policeman said and then, involuntarily, gave Zak Twum a warm hug.
Zak smiled, and then took his bag back from the policeman.
“Don’t worry; I’ll walk in the rain.”
They watched him go with mixed feelings.
When he stepped into the rain reporters rushed at him. He stopped as cameras rolled in his face and microphones were thrust at him. He blinked as the flashlights blinded him.
“Do you mind if I enjoy this rain, please?” he asked with a smile. “I’m kinda done with talking right now, please. I just want to go home to my friends and, if the rain holds, play soccer in the rain with them. Has any of you ever tried that before? One of the pure joys of life, soccer in the rain.”
And he smiled so broadly, freely and happily that not one heart in the crowd remained untouched.
Solemnly, the choking crowd of reporters parted, and he walked through.
Just then a wagon came around the corner at top speed, and ground to a halt a few yards from Zak. The doors were flung open.
Tutu Kuntu and his wife got out, then Gyamaan came out with her father…and then an old lady dressed gorgeously also emerged. They all stood in the rain, facing the boy. He looked from one to the other, the joy died from his face slowly.
He took a deep breath with his lips compressed, and began to walk around them.
Tutu Kuntu ran through the rain, rounded his son, and fell down on his knees in the mud. As rain hammered him, he raised an agonised face to Zak, and his hands were clasped together in an abject supplicatory gesture.
“My son!” he cried tremulously. “I wronged you and your mother! You don’t know the tortured life I’ve led, not knowing what happened to your mother! I searched the whole of Accra for her. Later, I went to the village to look for her…but she was gone, as if with the wind! Oh, I was a fool, and a coward! I loved your mother so much-.”
“Don’t lie to me!” Zak cried, shying away from his outstretched arms, his face devoid of its pleasure a few minutes ago, and he now looked agonized and in distress. “Just leave me alone, please. I’ve survived this long without you, and as God is my shepherd, I will survive the rest of my days without you.”
“I’ll never lie to you, son!” Kuntu cried, his voice agonized. “Indeed, I regretted not standing up for her that same night she was thrown out. Yes, I searched the world for her! I can show you adverts I made on radio and television, even in newspapers! I could not trace her, and because of that I left home. And I never spoke to my folks again until my father died, and my poor mother begged me, just as I am begging you now! Please, son, forgive me! Give me a chance to make it up to you and to your mother!”
Still the boy hesitated.
He heard a sloshing sound behind him, and the old woman appeared. He knew at once that this was his grandmother, the woman who had driven his pregnant mother out into the cold of the wolves. Her face was a misery of pain. She could barely walk, but shockingly she bent and knelt beside her son. She took Zak’s trembling hand, and brought it to her calloused cheek.
“Your grandfather died a sad man, my grandchild!” she cried in a wobbling voice. “We regretted the terrible way we treated your mother. I have a short time to live, Zak. Please, have mercy on an old woman and allow me to love and cherish you, and make right what I destroyed so many years ago!
You know the folly of being rich, the vanity of thinking we were untouchable! Perhaps, as a punishment, my son here was never able to get another child. As I grew, and knew God more, my soul has been in agony for the atrocity I committed, and my only prayer has been that God allow me to make an atonement of my wickedness before my last breath. Zak, my son, forgive an old fool, and let the rest of my days be peaceful, I beg of you.”
Great sobs racked her body, and the boy could not take it anymore because he had the heart of his mother, and his heart was always filled with goodness. He cried and dropped his bag, and then he held the old woman and drew her to her feet. His grandmother, weeping uncontrollably, wrapped her arms around her grandson.
Tutu Kuntu put his arms around them, and as they embraced a wild cheer went around the spectators. Mrs. Kuntu rushed forward, and she drew Zak against her breast.
“I have no children of my own,” she said kindly and with a broad happy smile. “And I know it is because God simply wanted me to be a mother to a Saint like you, Zak. Let me be your mother! Your friends Barima and Kwabena can come and stay with us. They’ll all be my sons. They shall be our children too!”
Zak gasped at that and looked at her with sudden delight and wonder.
“Really?” he whispered.
“Really,” she said. “The Kuntu Foundation has decided to take over the Sasam Orphanage and run it. Never again shall they know a day of misery!”
And then Zak Twum’s handsome face split into the broadest grin yet, and in that instant, he was no longer the calm, stoic old man he had been so far, but an innocent little teenager.
“Oh, that is grand!” he said with happiness. “That, indeed, is very grand.”
“My son,” Kuntu said, and there was real pride in his voice.
Zak found himself facing Gyamaan and her father. She could not look him in the eye. She looked so ashamed. After a moment she rushed against him and hugged him tightly.
“Oh, Zak!” she whispered tremulously. “How can I look at you? How you must hate me for leaving you to the sharks, Zakky. I’m so ashamed, and don’t deserve your friendship. But it was always going to be you, Zak, no matter what happened. You’ll always be the only man for me. Can you ever forgive me?”
She put her arms around his neck. For a moment he tensed, and in his eyes she saw his pain, his loneliness and his dejection because she had not stood for him, and it seared through her young heart so painfully that tears welled up in her eyes.
“Please, don’t push me out of your life, Zakky,” she whispered and kissed him on the side of the lips. “Maybe, this is what has forged me to become the only woman who will never leave your side for eternity.”
He chuckled and shook his head.
“Ei, you and azaa words,” he said softly.
Both of them burst into laughter, and as his arms went around her, and he held her close, she knew she was forgiven, and she knew that their hearts were fused, from now till eternity.
The retired Chief Justice clapped Zak on the shoulder.
“Welcome to the family, boy!” he said with a smile. “I’ll never have a better son-in-law than you in a million lifetimes. But be warned, you will remain chaste till your wedding day, you hear?”
Zak smiled at that.
“Then warn your daughter, old man,” Zak said. “She’s one impatient soul.”
They laughed again at that, and although he tried to pull back, Gyamaan would not let him, and the reporters kept flashing away with their cameras.
“Let’s go home, my son!” Kuntu said in a rush. “I’ve so much to show you.”
Zak looked at the sky. He wondered if his dear mother was somewhere up there; was she smiling now? Was there a happy look on her face now, that angel he had never known for real?
He hoped so.
He turned to his new family. For a moment he almost called Kuntu ‘Daddy’, but he stopped himself.
Not yet, he thought, not just yet. It would happen of course, in due time…but not yet.
That title had to be earned first!
We wish to thank Lawyer Kharissa Nyantie Agyemang for her invaluable help with providing legal advice in this stories and helping us get the legal framework and court scenes on par. Thank you very much.
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