At Home…Greg’s Residence
It is a full house. The family—Mr and Mrs Smith, together with Andrew, Jane and Greg—are all in the living room watching a family program on TV, ‘Keeping Your Family Healthy’. a thirty-minute program on Sirius TV. Their eyes are glued to the TV until the program is over. Mr Smith stares at Mrs Smith, who stares back. Greg, Jane and Andrew sitting together on the long sofa, the last of all furniture in the living room, are reacting differently. Greg has his hands rested on his laps, Jane tries to get the citing remote control sensor to search for other exciting programs on TV while Andrew is checking is phone he picked from his pocket—if there were missed calls. Mr and Mrs Smith, both sitting on their seats, reserved for them to sit when they are around, are excited, having the notion that Greg is reaching the end of his career…He instructs Jane to momentarily switch off the TV. Jane does it reluctantly.
Mr Smith (full of life): Greg, it’s been three days you’ve been at home with us. Since you came back, you’ve only greeted us, nothing more, and nothing less. I know there have been a lot that has happened in the just-concluded semester.
Mrs Smith (Agrees): Yes, your dad is right, Greg. You’ve not opened up to us as to how the semester all went. Are you telling me you didn’t have fun? Didn’t you experience the ups, downs, enjoy the fun and bitterness in school? There are bound to be those! So, what we’re interested in is for you to tell us. We know your academic pursuit is a certainty—Your first-class grade points are evidence. But, I chose to put it this way, ‘There are different sides to a coin’. The long and short of what I’m saying is for you to tell us your experience this semester.
Andrew (jovial): Big brother, you know in a few years, I will be looking forward to gaining admission into your school, all other things been equal. So, I’d like to know what it is, what is feels to be a university student.
Jane (joins the chorus): Greg, mom and dad are right! Tell us so that I, your sister can learn. This would help me, what you will tell me, when I get my admission, hopefully next year.
Andrew (seeks relevance as he stares at her face): Jane, you acknowledged mom and dad were right but you left me out of it, despite my thoughts aligned with theirs
Jane (unapologetic): So what? Is it my business?
Andrew: You’re very funny!
Mr Smith (put to a stop the war of words between Jane and Andrew as Mrs Smith and Greg look at them): Stop it! Let’s hear from Greg. He’s the focus of our attention, not you!!!
There is calmness. But Greg feels the whole world is staring at him with all seriousness, awaiting to unravel that marrow-striking arrow. Greg tries to shift his pale look into a pseudo bright one. Jane, Andrew, Mr and Mrs Smith have their gaze at him.
Greg (looks at his picture hanged on the wall opposite him): I agree with you all. Mom was right what she told me the last time I spent the holiday: ‘Pass through the university and let the university pass through you’. In your passage and in the passage of passing through the university and the university passing through you, the good, bad and ugly would be inevitable. To begin with, mom and dad, I would like to take you back the last time I was here. I remembered saying that I wanted to see my friend, Harp. Jane, I did tell you
Mr Smith: Yes
Mrs Smith: I remember quite well
Jane (thinks through but faintly concurs): Hmmm….I think so
Greg (continues): When I came visiting, Harp’s parents, Mr and Mrs Daniels, during the course of our discussion, asked me who my parents are. I disclosed to them. Guess what? They claim they know you, mom and dad very well. In fact, they’ve known you two since school days…
Mr Smith (asks for clarity as he’s engulfed in surprise): Who are his parents?
Mrs Smith (feels the same way as her husband): Their names, please
Greg (indifferent): Mrs Daniels stated that before she got married to Harp’s father, she bore the maiden name, Miss Michelle Howard. She claimed you finished together at the University of Berth. As for you mom, his father claimed he knew you as well. He disclosed his names as Anthony Danielsandfinished from the same university, about the same time.
Shock waves permeate Mr and Mrs Smith. It is so obvious that Jane and Andrew are suspecting something fishy. The couple looks at Greg to see if he is aware of their ‘’little secret’’ but he’s indifferent outlook communicated there is nothing hidden under the sun.
Jane (makes known her suspicion): From what I can draw out, mom, you dated the Anthony Daniels guy back in the day at school. Why express shock? It’s obvious you did! Dad, you also dated then Miss Michelle Howard. So, why being secretive in the first place? Your body language tells it all…
Mrs Smith (quick to reply): What do you know about dating? What makes you think I dated him?
Jane (chuckles): Mom, acknowledging his name alone is one pointer that gives the impression you did. You didn’t even deny such person in the first place….Hmmm…it means you really enjoyed his company.
Mrs Smith: What has come over you, Jane?
Mr Smith (his muteness becomes his presence): Hey! Stop this! Woman, learn to talk to her wisely!
Mrs Smith takes a standing position. She then squares up Mr Smith still sited
Mrs Smith: So, you can’t even support me…You’re supporting your daughter! Aha!
Mr Smith: Aha what?
Mrs Smith (not minding the shaking of heads of Greg, Jane and Andrew): Listen to what Jane is saying. You can’t shut up her mouth.
Mr Smith: Why should I? The young girl has every right to. Or do you want to stop her? She has every right to express her observations and, in her words, suspicion. It’s now our responsibility to wisely correct her if she’s wrong, or to admit it ourselves and let’s advise her to wisely learn from our past, if she’s right. You weren’t the only one mentioned. I was. I didn’t say a word because it was true. At times, in life, we, as parents have to admit our wrongs and let advise our children to learn from them so that don’t repeat the same thing we did growing up.
There is respite for Mrs Smith who returns to her siting position to listen to her well-sited husband. Greg, Jane and Andrew are happy and agreeing with their father is saying. Greg silently claps his hands, Jane strongly nods her head and Andrew mutters ‘you’re on point, dad’. Mr. Smith turns his attention to his daughter as he continues
Mr Smith: Jane, I’m happy having you as a daughter. Like me, you judge rightly what’s right from what’s wrong. I admit your mom was wrong with her approach but as your mother, and particularly for my sake, my little dad’s girl, just tell her ‘I’m sorry’. We’ll be fine.
Jane (surprised but Mr. Smith’s subtle words propelled her to do his bidding): I’m sorry, mom
Mrs Smith (shows remorse): Apology accepted!
Mr Smith (Jokes): we’re back to where we left…Greg, don’t mislead us!
Greg (chuckles): It won’t happen again
Andrew: On a more serious note, we’re back! Really wanting to hear from Big brother!
Greg remembers the envelope in his bag. He tells the whole house he is going to his room to bring in something for them to see
Greg: Sorry, I ought to bring something for us to see
Jane: What’s it?
Andrew: Let’s see what’s it…Do you have it with you?
Mr Smith: What do you think it is?
Mrs Smith: What’s that something you want to show us?
Greg: Guys, permit me to rush to the room and get it. I will be back in a jiffy
Mr Smith: Permission granted!
Greg: Thanks dad!
Greg gets off the sofa and quickly dashes to his room. There are incoherent voices heard in the living room, all pointing to what Greg is up to. Greg takes out the envelope from his bag and rushes back. He returns to his sitting position, to the left as Jane and Andrew occupy the middle and left sides respectively.
Greg: Sorry for the delay
Mr Smith: Apologies accepted
All gazes are at what the envelope is. Muteness comes as a result. Greg is given the room to air himself to their hearing.
Greg (now livelier): Mom, dad, Jane and Andrew, it’s been a long time coming what I’m about to tell you all. I have concealed this for more than six years. Like all other humans, I have to keep this secret for as long as I breathe life, looking forward to a time, if it would ever be, to unleash it. Fortunately, I thought it wise to unravel my can of worms, for the time is now. To move further, I’d like to present this envelope to dad and for him to read it out.
He moves a bit from where he is sitting, stretches his hand for his dad to receive it. The envelope is the cynosure of all eyes. Mrs Smith is looking at him as she takes a look at the envelope. Mr Smith opens it, sees a written cheque but keeps it on the Centre Table, the separation between the longest sofa that has Greg, Andrew and Jane siting on and the two reserved seats for Mr and Mrs Smith. He looks at the cheque again but with little attention but places it under the grip of the base of a small monumental cup, only used for decorating the Centre Table. Mr Smith reads the letter:
From The office of The Vice Chancellor
University of Perth
12TH of June 2013
Through the President,
College of Engineering
University of Perth,
To the Head of Department
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Perth
Dear Greg Smith,
Approval of Release from Department and Conversion of Accrued Scholarship fund as Support for Your New Found Venture
After a thorough discussion with the Vice Chancellor, Professor James Allen, the president of the College of Engineering, Professor Smith peters and the Head of Department, Dr Tim Yale, we have decided to grant you your wish: the above-mentioned subject.
You stated categorically that you were not fulfilled pursuing your goal through Mechanical Engineering, even though it was no news you excelled among your peers. You explained to Dr Tim Yale logically and beyond every qualm the reason you wanted to venture into writing. Dr Tim tabled your matter on the desk by scheduling a time for us to meet three weeks for the commencement of the first semester examination. After a week of thorough deliberation and considering Dr Tim Yale’s integrity, accomplishments and relationship with us all through the years working together, we decided to give release you out of the university, wishing you all the best in your newly found career.
That was not all. We realized as well your character and excellence in your academics and we saw, based on how vivid the explanations of Dr Tim Yale were. The good reports about as told by your colleagues and other students were good reasons why we know you worth what we are about offering you: The conversion of the scholarship money as support to a newly found career.
The University of Perth is a learning ground where students are encouraged to pursue their dreams and does not withhold any concrete and cause-worthy decisions made by them. We do not discourage students, provided they know what they want in life. We do the best we can to support our students in their journey to becoming the success they aspire to be. And yours was beyond every reasonable doubt concrete and cause-worthy, THOUGH THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN THE UNIVERSITY OF PERTH THAT A STUDENT WITH A FIRST CLASS WOULD OPT OUT OF A COURSE IN PURSUANCE OF THE OTHER.
To this end, we are attaching a cheque of 20, 000 Talars. This can only be made effective if we all sign our signature. See Below. Your signature is your approval, a consent that you wish to leave the university for what you have long aspired to be.
We wish we had anything related to writing as a course. Alas, we are primarily a science and technology university. We hope in future we will have writing-related courses so that you will be called to lecture.
We wish you the best in your chosen endeavour as we look forward to seeing you be that you want to be!
Prof JA Prof Smith Peters Dr Tim Yale
Vice Chancellor President Head of Department
University of Perth College of Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering
Leaving Student of the Department of Mechanical Engineering
(For A Special Reason)
Mr Smith is dumfounded as he reads completely the letter. His wife looks at the soberly Greg and shakes her head. Jane and Andrew cannot believe their eyes.
Mrs Smith: What happened Greg?
Greg: It’s a long story, mom
Mrs Smith: What long story that can’t be told at length?
Mr Smith: Tell us the so-called long story of yours. You’ve really surprised me already
Greg (begins the story): I have been a shadow of myself since high school
Mr Smith (seeks clarification): What?! And how?!
Greg: It all started in my early senior class. I was moved by the trending slogan; ‘I want to be an engineer’. I enrolled for the sciences, rather than the arts, because I wanted to feel among the boys with the brains. Mom, dad, Andrew and Jane, I’ve been a writer since the get-go. That has always been my passion. I live, eat and sleep it. But ever since I became a science student, my life have been a secret bee-hive of bitterness. Yes, I would excel in all subjects, most times, better than my classmates, I wasn’t fulfilled because that wasn’t my calling.
Mr Smith (worried): Why didn’t you tell us since? I recall quite well when I asked you, in fact your mom and I asked you what class you would like to join. You said the sciences. We thought that was what you wanted. So, we supported you, based on your decision. But why this?
Greg: I never wanted to let you know how dissatisfied I was because I was excelling in all science subjects I took part in and praised by friends, teachers and classmates. I thought following the trend was the way to reaching my destiny. Till a few months back, to be candid, I never knew where I was going. In fact, I couldn’t tell if my competence would earn me a commensurate longevity if I joined the labour world.
My life-changing moment was I when I paid Harp a visit. I stumbled on a book, ‘Find Your Way Back’ by Tim Hal. In simple terms, what the first page read, I’m paraphrasing: ‘If you realize you’re traveling through the wrong road, it won’t be bad idea if you retrace your footsteps and start afresh. My conscience has, on countless occasions, spoken to meabout calling it quits with Mechanical Engineering and find my calling through writing. I know this is the very time for me to start. And I know for a fact that I will make it and be more fulfilled for life!
Mr Smith (lost for words and in as he folds his hand around his belly): Hmmm
Mrs Smith: Why this time Greg? Don’t you know that your siblings are looking up to you?
Jane and Andrew are listening but participates in the discussion.
Jane (agrees): You’ve always seen you as the Great Engineer
Andrew: Yes, Jane and I have disagrees most times. However, we get to reach the confluence point—where we disagree to agree. I agree with her. We look up to you, Greg! You’ve been an inspiration to us, big brother.
Greg takes away his attention from his parents to focus on his siblings
Greg: I appreciate your sincerity, Andrew and Jane. But you have to realize that it gets to a point in a man’s life where he has to stand tall above anything else. And standing tall would mean making drastic decisions that would either make or mar him for life. As for me, I strongly believe that my intellect, character and aura would take me there—to being a successful author. How would you feel if I got a well-paid job with a first class in Mechanical Engineering but at the end of it all, I got sacked because of lack of practical competence?
Greg (continues as he gazes at the eyes of his parents): As I speak to us, I ONLY know the theoretic of Mechanical Engineering, not even a simple practical activity I can participate in without calling for help. You know, dad and mom, I won’t make a good lecturer because I’m not gifted in lecturing.
Mrs Smith takes the letter placed on the Center Table. She sees the cheque gripped by the base of the monumental cup but keeps a blind eye to it. She reads in silence briefly
Mrs Smith (sees sense in what Greg’s statements): I see…For your Head of Department to know about your decision and approve of it, it shows you know what you’re doing… Dear, what do you think?
Mr Smith puts his hands at the back of his head and lies on his back on his sit, facing ceiling. He is lost in thought as he is not listening. Greg jovial stance neglects the sober state of his father as he continues. Jane and Andrew have their listening ears to the ground to pick every word coming from Greg’s mouth.
Greg: My HOD was so convinced that we worked everything all out on my behalf. I proved to him without a doubt why I desire the change. He said to me how related he was to the president, College of Engineering and how he could talk the Vice Chancellor into believing the reason behind authenticity of what I desired. To cut the long story short, the letter and the cheque was handed to me in an envelope.
Mrs Smith reaches for the cheque by taking away from the center table the grip of the base of cup. Her husband is still lost in thought, folding his hands around his belly. Mrs Smith reads the figure written on the cheque. Jane and Andrew are expecting to hear their mother disclose what’s written in the cheque
Mrs Smith: What? A sum of 20, 000 Talars?! Greg, what’s this for?
Jane and Andrew raise their eyebrows and open their mouth in awe. But Greg is not moved at all. But Mr Smith is still in the same lost-in-thought state.
Greg (looks at her eyes): Mom, this was the money meant for my scholarship meant for my schooling years. From my tuition fees to my accommodation, the money was meant to cover all the expenses.
Mrs Smith: Oh! I wished you continued, my boy!
Greg: Mom, such is life. Never late than never is the racer’s mentality
Mrs Smith: You’re right, Greg!
Jane: Mom, can I have a look at the cheque??
Mrs Smith: Not now. But you will, my dear
Andrew: That’s a huge sum, big brother
Greg: I know
Mrs Smith looks at it and checks its validity. She discovers there is still at least a week to cash it out. She is about to hand the cheque over to Jane when finds out how lost in thought is her husband.
Mrs Smith (Warns Jane): Handle it with care
Jane (receives it, allows Andrew to have a look): I will
As they are looking at it, while Greg looks as it’s being handled, Mrs Smith gently parts the shoulders of her husband three times to call his attention.
Mrs Smith: Are you okay, sweetheart?
Mr Smith (shows a ‘back-to-reality’ face as he wipes his face with his both hands): Yes
Mrs Smith (expresses doubt): I don’t think you are. All the while, we’ve been discussing about your son but at some point your listening mode switched off.
Mr Smith: I listened to all what you have said
Mrs Smith wants him to proof it. Their children wants to hear their father, to know if he is following or not.
Mrs Smith: What was the discussion?
Mr Smith: I’ll be brief. I saw you stretch your hand to get the cheque off the center table. And discussing with Greg what the money was for…
Mrs Smith: Why aren’t you contributing? Something is certainly giving you cause to worry. What’s it? Tell me! I’m your wife!
Mr Smith: Never Mind
Mr Smith comports himself and swiftly digresses from her question.
Mr Smith: Greg, why was the money given to you? I was thinking it was for your remaining academic years in school
Greg: Dad, my HOD told me it’s unusual for this to happen. But because of my proven academic capability, trusted character and popularity, he will breach all protocols to ensure I get the what-was-meant-for-school money to finance anything that has to do with my newly found writing career.
Mr Smith (shakes his head): I see
His reaction triggers the curiosity of Mrs Smith. The trio of Jane, Andrew and Greg in particular, are concerned
Mrs Smith: Why shake your head on this new development?
Mr Smith (Regretting; puts his index fingers within the grasp of his teeth): Had I known?
Mrs Smith (More curious): Known what?
Mr Smith: It’s a just a short but very significant story…
Mrs Smith: Say it. We’re all ears and we’re willing to learn
Andrew, Jane and Greg stretch their faces to hear clearly what their father is about saying
Mr Smith: It happened during my second year at the University of Berth. I was studying Automobile Engineering, though, I wasn’t happy with the course. But because of Miss Michelle Howard, I chose to study it. I would have obtained a transfer to the Faculty of Arts to continue, if not for her. Bui Inever wanted to lose Miss Michelle Howard. Alas, towards the end of our studies, she, being in the Faculty of Natural sciences, studying, Industrial Physics, met Mr. Daniels. Because of his wealth, she left me for him. I had to just finish up because I thought it was too late. I ended up graduating with a Second Class Lower. Though your mom was, is and will be an inspiration for me, I’m not fulfilled, career-wise. That’s the rise I had to leave the labour world.
Mrs Smith (bursts laughter): You funny…You Funny
Greg tries to hold his air of laughter. It is impossible for Jane and Andrew. They cannot help but to laugh. Mr Smith looks at them with contempt
Mr Smith: I told you the reason for my being worried. You just sit there and laugh at me. I won’t blame you!
The laughing session continues indistinctly. Mr Smith watches them laugh. Mrs Smith’s hands gently restson his right lap.
Mrs Smith (laughing but not as before): It’s funny. Just because of a woman. Well, to err is human but to forgive is really divine. At times, life could be co-incidental, you know. Your son’s case is similar but quite different in a sense. Yours was influenced by Michelle and you gave up because you thought time wasn’t on your side. Greg’s case is quite different. Greg is not affected by circumstance, choses to work out his new venture, not giving up and not looking at the years gone by.
Greg, Jane and Andrew are serious-minded; all paying rapt attention.
Mr Smith: I agree, though very painful it is. But as you said, such is life!
Mrs Smith: In life, we tend to be influenced by, in Greg’s words, ‘’what’s trending’’ rather than what we should run with. Unfortunately, we allow what’s trending decide our future professionally. Consequently, we become more and more dissatisfied with the work world as we become more and more busy. I am happy today that our son, Greg, is taking his destiny in his hands!
Mr Smith applauds her brief oratory. Jane and Andrew give their mother a ‘’thumbs-up’’. Greg nods his head slowly but repeatedly.
Mr Smith: Give your mom a laud of applause
They all clap their hands in excitement
Mr Smith: Your mom has almost said it all! All I would say is that Greg, considering what was written in the letter and the cheque presented to support him in his newly found writing career. Greg knows what he is looking for—especially at this time. One principle of nature I have come to understand is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can be changed from one form to the other. As is Greg’s case, Greg, going by his character and learning ability, can simply convert the energies towards being the successful author he has aspired to be. Just as Greg came out with First Class Grades, I believe he‘ll come up with first class books.
Mrs Smith: Yes, you’re right.
Mr Smith: All we need do as a family is to support Greg in his found venture: writing. By the way, Jade and Andrew, I want to ask you two the questions:
Jade, why do you wish to be a medical doctor?
Andrew, why do you want to be a business administrator?
Jade and Andrew are confident of what they want. Jade answers first
Jade: It’s always my passion seeing people healthy and my aspiration to resuscitate people in dying situations, as their health is their wealth.
Andrew: Dad, I have always liked money and the best way to going about it, especially in our today’s world, is the power of networking business. I want to build a business network that would center on activities that would benefit consumers.
Mr Smith: Andrew, like your brother, you have the savvy! Just fifteen and your sister, seventeen, you are indeed vision-oriented.
Mrs Smith: Happy having them as my children!
Mr Smith: You can’t agree with you more!
Mr Smith looks at the wall clock. He knows the time for his afternoon rest has come…
Mr Smith (rounds up his discussion): Greg, since you have chosen writing as your career path, how do you intend going about it?
Greg: Good question, dad. First, I will use the money to get a Super Highway and a Personal System. With this, I can access information concerning creative writing and have a better leads to my book ideas and easily submit my book manuscripts to various publishers I would access through it. Were or if necessary, I would be at various Writer’s Conferences at Perth, Berth and other places. I will be at home, pending when I get a major publishing deal. I can also support you and mom, Jane and Andrew as well. The rest would be history!
Andrew: That’d be great, big brother!
Jane: That’s very thoughtful of you, my brother.
Mrs Smith (Happy): Always happy for you
Mr Smith: Hmmm…you have a point! But do you have your manuscripts ready? Do you know how to operate the machines you mentioned about?
Greg (chuckles): I have scribed my ideas in my various notebooks. I intend developing them, using the machines. I can operate them very well.
Mr Smith: Good! Let’s begin everything on Monday. Let Jane accompany you to the bank to cash the money. There, you can buy those machines. The process can begin… Is it okay by you?
Greg (replies with no hesitation): Yes dad
Mr Smith (stands up and addresses them): I think it’s been an engaging moment of interaction with us. You know sleep is important for health. So, I’m moving to my room. Mrs Smith, I’m on way to bed! See you and all of you later.
Mrs Smith (still sited): I will join you in no time
Mr Smith: Okay. I’m leaving you all. Have a great time!
Mr Smith leaves the Living Room and heads to the bedroom.
Greg puts the letter and cheque in the envelope and presents it to his mother, as Jane and Andrew looks on.
Mrs Smith (receives the envelope): You will make us proud. That I know of.
Greg (childishly replies): Thank you, mom
Mrs Smith: I will have to join your hand in the bedroom. I need sleep too! Enjoy the rest of the day, my children!
Greg: You too!
Andrew: Same here!
Mrs Smith walks out of the Living Room to take a shower. Then, she joins he husband in the bedroom.
Andrew: Guys, I want to see a friend across the street. It won’t take long.
Greg: Okay. But make sure you come back home on time!
Andrew: I will
Andrew leaves the presence of Jane and Greg and the building to pay his friend a visit.
Jane: I want to watch Medic Hour. In the next ten minutes, the program would be airing.
Greg: Okay. Enjoy the comfort of the Living Room. I’m going to bed to sleep. Lock the door
Jane: I will
Greg steps out of her presence to his room. Jane locks the door. She takes the TV remote from the TV stand and lies on the sofa as she waits for the program.
He buys the Super Highway and the Personal System. Jane accompanies him to the electronics store, six streets way from theirs to get them. The Super Highway is a small-sized ware that, when attached to the Personal System, can access all that have to do with Perth, Berth and beyond. The Personal System is much bigger than the Super Highway but portable. Jane keeps the Super Highway device in her pocket while Greg carries in his bag the medium-sized personal system as soon as the purchase is made. They trekked home.