This is the second installment of Chimezie Ihekuna’s play ‘The Success Story.’ Read the first part here.
At Harp’s Residence…
A bungalow painted blue at the exterior, well-fenced from all sides and beautified by the two grown trees oozing fresh air over a large expanse of land describe the modesty of Harp’s place of living. Greg has stayed at home for three weeks but feels he needs to pay Harp a visit. This is on a Saturday morning at about 9.00AM. Harp’s parents, Mr and Mrs Daniels, are at home to play Greg an august visitor. Greg comes into the house well-rugged, but with just two large-sized seats in the Living Room and a medium-sized dining table, surrounded by four identical foamy chairs to accommodate their siting positions when being served food.
There is a buffet—variety of foods—sizable quantity of prepared rice, prepared chicken flavours and other local and foreign dishes. They can each serve themselves their favourite varieties.
Greg is sited on one of the seats close to the door, watching as Harp and his parents are bringing in from the kitchen, closest to the dining table’s position, cutleries—pairs of fork and knives and fragile plates.
All is finally set…Mr Daniels takes the sitting position of the family head. His wife sits adjacent him while Harp sits opposite. There is an adjacent foamy chair reserved for Greg. Mr. Daniel signals Greg to come over.
Greg joins them… Harp serves himself some spoons of prepared rice, chicken flavours, stew, and juice drink poured into his used jugged-sized cup. Mrs Daniels serves herself the combination of fruit wine—a combination of lemon, water melon, pineapple, and her plate filled with strawberries and mashed potatoes. Mr Daniels is a copy-cat of his wife, when it comes to food preference.
Although Greg is yet to serve himself, Mr. Daniels begins the discussion (his wife and Harp are already eating)
Mr Daniels (Pretends not to know his name at first): What’s your name?
Greg (humbly answers): I go by the names Greg Smith
Mr Daniels: Oh! Are you the one my son talks about whenever he comes to spend the semester at home?
Greg (chuckles mildly): Yes
Mr Daniels: So, you’re that genius at the University of Perth taking everyone by surprise…My son has told me about your exploit—your success and popularity. I’m impressed. So, tell me, what’s your source of inspiration?
Greg: My inspiration has, is and will always….
Mrs Daniels (temporarily stops eating to interrupt the discussion): Mr Daniels, don’t you realize the young man is yet to serve himself. We’ll have more than enough time to interact with him when we’re done eating. Give him a break! He’s going to spend time with us.
(She pose a question to Greg, stares sternly at him) Won’t you?
Harp shakes his head but that doesn’t stop him from eating his food
Greg (looks frightened a bit): Yea, Yes
Mrs Daniels: You can see …we have the time to ourselves! Remember, rule of thumb, when eating…don’t talk when you are eating
Mr Daniels is quick to reply
Mr Daniels: Are they kids? They’re grown men! So, Mrs Teacher, learn to count your teeth!
Mrs Daniels plays a deaf ear to what’s said but encourages Greg to join them in eating. Harp takes a look at his dad, shakes his head again but returns to the business of eating.
Mrs Daniels: Go ahead, young man. Serve yourself. Feel free and call this ‘home away from home’
Greg, having at his disposal a pair of fork and spoon, fills his plates with moles of prepared cassava flakes, the popular pasty white Perth soup and one boiled chicken. He is good at using his cutleries.
Greg (joins the chorus of the eaters): Thank you
Mrs Daniels: You’re welcome.
Eating is taking place for the next thirty minutes. When done, they leave the dining table to where the seats are positioned in the living room, except for Mrs Daniels who is busy parking all what are being used for eating. Mr. Daniel takes the right seat, spacious enough to accommodate his wife while Harp and Greg take the left seat. They are waiting for The Woman Of The House—Mrs Daniels.
Mrs Daniels is done with activities in the kitchen—washing the plates and keeping it tidy. It takes her ten minutes to complete the task. She then joins them and sits closely to her husband, affording his right hand around her shoulders.
Mrs Daniels opens the floor of discussion…
Mrs Daniels: Did you enjoy the meal?
Greg: It was a mouth-watering and a sumptuous meal
Mrs Daniels: You all can see how good I am in cooking…
Mr Daniels (derogates, though not intentionally): So, what’s the big deal with your cooking? Greg simply enjoyed his time!
Harp shakes his head but wants to get into the purpose of Greg’s visit
Harp: Mom, dad, let’s get into the why he’s here…I told you all that Greg is one friend I would have for life! He has, in character and learning, proven it. I’d like you all to hear from the Horse’s Mouth!
Mr Daniels (agrees): You’re right my dear son…I remember asking you Greg, or is that not your name?
Greg (expresses surprise): Yes sir
Mr Daniels (continues, sits with his left leg crossed over his right, leaning his body on his wife): Good. At the dining table, I asked the question who is the inspiration behind your exploits in school before being rudely interrupted by my wife
Mrs Daniels suddenly let loose her closeness to him and looks at him with an infuriated eye
Mrs Daniels: All I wanted was for us to adjust our priorities. First things first, I wanted Greg, our visitor, to feel comfortable and enjoy the meal he just admitted enjoying. But you became too jumpy to hit the conclusion button. What a pity!
Mr Daniels (shows his warning hands at her): You better watch what you say! You’re in their presence…They’re hearing all we’re saying
Mrs Daniels: There you go again!!! For goodness sake, let’s face the business of the day!
Mr Daniels: You’ve always been the chief cause of our argument!
Harp and Greg have their faces bow to Mother Earth but Harp shakes his head. Harp gets in the way of their ranting of words…
Harp: So, Greg, my mom and dad has been talking about you.
Mr Daniels quickly wears his thinking cap and switches rightly to the business of the day. Mrs Daniels understands the body language of Greg and her son. So, she keeps mute
Mr Daniels: My son is absolutely correct. Harp told us your excellence at school. Being the fact that you are at the same level with our son and the same department with him, I have no doubt that my son is telling me nothing but the truth. Now, I’d like to ask again, what’s the source of your inspiration that has ignited the blaze in your academic pursuit?
Greg: Well, I would say at this point my inspiration has its rooting in family. My family, my mom, dad and two younger siblings are understanding, corporative and supportive. They have been the motivation for my excelling at school
Mrs Daniels (acknowledges but takes a look at her husband from his head down to his leg) hmmm…You’re right, Greg. There’s nothing like family!
Mr Daniels (refuses to stare at her the same way but puts in gaze at Greg and Harp): Now, pardon me if I ask: who are your parents? Afterall, somebody, as a matter of fact, two agreed to bring you on earth.
Greg: My parents are Mr and Mrs Smith
Mr Daniels appears to know the name somewhere. He’s tasking his brain by hitting repeatedly his two hands on his head. Mrs Smith goes into thinking; she feels she’s has met with them before. He looks at Greg, who is wondering, as is Harp, for clarification.
Mr Daniels: Please, what are the full names? I mean tell me the full names of your dad and mom…
Greg (senses more to the questioning): My mom’s names are Angela Smith and Philip Smith are the names of my dad
Mr Daniels (exclaims): What!!! What a small world
Mrs Daniels (expresses the same state): Yes, it is…I see we’re at the same thought level
Greg and Harp are dumfounded. They stare at each other not comprehending what’s going on. They are waiting for the air to be cleared by them.
Mr Daniels: My dear, do you remember Angela Holmes, my ex-girlfriend, whom I mentioned left me because we’re not compatible and went ahead to marry Philip Smith, shortly before we graduated.
Mrs Daniels: Honey, I do. I remember. I was going out with Philip Smith before he met Angela Holmes. The rest is history
Mr Daniels is shocked. The wideness of mouth is obviously seen by Greg and Harp. Mrs Daniels is indifferent as she is looking at the door, as though she is not participating in the discussion
Mr Daniels: So, you never told me this all the while! You kept this away from me? You dated him and you could tell me…You felt, after over sixteen years of marriage, you have the impetus to say this to my face…Women and secrets…Only Goodness knows what else you still harbour in you
Mrs Daniels (Turns back her attention to him): What’s the big deal if I dated someone in the past and I am married faithfully to you? Man up, Mr Man! At times, you strike me as though you’re an over-grown baby boy!
Mr Daniels: Why say this in the presence?
Mrs Daniels: Don’t ask such a question again!
Harp is disappointed in the way they are interacting with each other. Greg can’t help but wonder what’s going on. All the while, he feels he is watching a movie. But Mrs Daniels once again, is unremorseful but her husband is…Nonetheless, Mr Daniels is poised to get some answers from Greg
Mr Daniels: Greg, don’t be surprised at what is going…You’re old enough to understand there is no perfect marriage. We disagree to agree. That’s by the way…But before I proceed, please ensure you greet your parents for me
Greg: I will
Mr Daniels (proceeds): How would you impact your world with the knowledge you have acquired?
Greg (stares at both faces of Mr and Mrs Daniels): Being a mechanical engineering student, or better yet, a professional engineer in the making, I intend using the dynamics of my acquired knowledge towards empowerment, development and general ethics. In practical terms, I will create the enabling environment to help solve the challenges the people of my locality, Perth, are facing. Through the use of practicable principles of mechatronics, which involves the use of electronic and mechanical methods to invent an energy-free device that would enable free power supply for all and sundry. This is what I call development.
They say, ‘a tree can’t make a forest’. I won’t be able to achieve this aim if I were to do it all alone. To this end, I will need the helping hand of my good friend, Harp [looks at him briefly smiling, then maintained his gaze at their faces] and other like-minded individuals who, regardless of age, are young at heart to teach them the methodology—-the working principles behind the creation of the free-energy device that would help create what I call ‘’The No-Pay Forever power Supply or TNPFPS’’
It is also would involve maintaining the strength of character. Learning with no character, I was made to realize, is like a vehicle with no fuel. In this light, I will, based on discretion, choose those who I’d like to work with me on this task—The TNPFPS project. Of course, Harp is my number one team player! That’s what I call ‘’simply General Ethics’’
Mr and Mrs Daniels are lost in Greg’s intelligent response. They wish he continue. Mr Daniels realizes how brilliant and prospect-driven Greg is.
Mr Daniels: I must say that what my son had told me about you was an understatement of what you really carry. Indeed and of course, I mean, indeed, you’re a genius! At 100 level, you’re thinking like a PH.D student…It’s pretty amazing! By the way, do you intend working on this as your final year project?
Greg: Not really. I intend working on it after my two hundred level
Mrs Daniels (pours showers of encomiums on Greg): My intelligent young man! Good to know my friend choose the right person for a friend. Keep up the good work! More exploits from you the greatest genius on earth!
Greg: Thank you, ma
She withdraws to her listening mode by keeping mute and letting her husband continue the discussion. Harp is feeling on top of the world. His body language is all-revealing. Mr Daniels chuckles, then continues
Mr Daniels: Have you informed any of your lecturers about this?
Mr Daniels: Not even your course adviser nor your Head of Department?
Greg (maintains): No
Mr Daniels (shows satisfaction): Very good! It’s good a thing that none of your lecturers are aware of this. If you whisper a word relating to this awesome project, you’ll be on their Watch List. Do you know what that means?
Greg (curious): What does it mean?
Mr Daniels: They will do what they have to do to ensure that they bring you down. Your lecturers would tell all of their colleagues what you’re trying to do and I bet, most of them, if not all, would conspire to ensure you have deficits in your major courses. That would make you sit for their courses they purposely failed you, next semester or session as the case may be, thereby dropping your academic grade point.
Greg (stutters in disbelief): Y…ou s…aid my lectures…would…ensure…my deficits…
Mr Daniels (Certain): Yes they will. Do you know that some of them, if not most or even all, want you not to come out with a First Class grade? Why? Because they didn’t. And they want to vent their frustration on their students. So sad! So, Greg, whatever you want to do, like this project of yours, please keep it to yourself or if its enormity would pose difficulty for you to handle all by yourself…confide in those who believe in you and have your interest at heart. You mentioned Harp as one of those whom you’d like to work with on this project, right?
Mr Daniels: Any other?
Greg: For now, no one. I will look for five others to join in the project when the new session begins
Mr. Daniels: When will the new session begin?
Greg: The session will resume in a month-plus time.
Mr Daniels: Okay…I am interested in being a part of the project
Greg (happy): You’re welcome on board
Mrs Daniels (expresses hers): Count me in!
Harp: I’ve been there all the while…So, I am counted in already
Greg (chuckles in gladness): You are, of course!
Greg (happier): Of course, you are welcome, ma
Mr Daniels: Is Harp fully aware of this project?
Greg: He is and…
Harp (cuts in): He has told me already!
Mr Daniels: Oh……Ok. This is how I would come in. By the way, did your friend told you what I do for a living?
Greg (takes a look at Harp, the turns to Mr Daniels): Yes, he did. He told me you’re a business man.
Mr Daniels: I see…So, that’s all he had to say. He didn’t even mention my line of businesses to you…
Harp (sighs, tries to supress his anger): I was just trying to be simple, dad!
Mr Daniels: Simple? Harp, you’re very funny!
Mrs Daniels (Wades in): Mr, he’s just trying to be simple. Can’t you get it???
Mr Daniels (laughs): Wonders shall never end
Mrs Daniels (stands up, then sits down): I agree with you, my husband.
Mr Daniels focuses his attention on Greg to continue the discussion. Mrs Daniels and Harp do the same. They are allwell sited.
Mr Daniels: In case you don’t know, I run a power company, Watt Energy Holdings. It’s one of my business investments. Though upcoming, I would like you to come head the company after you’re done with your studies. How about that?
Greg: That would be great!
Mr Daniels: Harp will be in charge of my other businesses and his mother’s fashion outfit, FIV Incorporated, which stands for Fashion Is Vivid. You would be able to begin your illustrious career by starting with my company, then launching forth to greater heights.
Again, inform your parents about this and don’t forget to greet them for me. First, ask them if they remembered one certain Anthony Daniels, their colleague, who graduated with them twenty five years ago from the University of Berth. I know they will remember, especially your mom.
Mrs Daniels: Greg, don’t forget too, to ask your dad who was the then Miss Michelle Howard, friend and colleague of his at the same university my husband mentioned and the same time. I’m quite sure he’ll remember…
Greg: I will
Mrs Daniels changes her siting position from wrapping her right hand around his shoulders while sitting on her sofa to siting on his laps, wrapping her left hand over his shoulders and her right, his chest. She stares at Greg and Harp whose shyness can’t withstand the Passionate Situation. Mr Daniel isn’t bothered by her last statement. He is avoiding her pulling of his legs.
Mrs Daniels (unmoved but drives home her point): I support my husband completely. Whatever he says, he endorse! Honey, I think we’ve had a great time with the boys. Let’s have some time for ourselves. Remember, let the boys, like men, do their thing—work out their plans. Afterall, when is the best time to plan if not now?
Mr Daniels: You’re right, my lady. Let’s move without further ado
They both leave the sofa. Mrs Daniels, covered with in a modest black blouse, takes the lead as Mr Daniels, dressed in a white T-shirt and plan black trouser, follows to their bedroom steps away from the sofa, where Greg and Harp are sitting. It is obvious they have both left for their bedroom. Greg confirms it. He lets Harp know his reaction.
Greg: Indeed, what a family you have here!
Harp (laughs): As though yours is any better than mine
Greg (makes a joke about it): Your parents are typical actors and we’re just lookers! They were, bro, acting out what they know how to do best
Harp (admits): That’s just the way they are…
Greg (looks serious): On a more serious note, there is something I’ve been wanting to tell you about…
Harp (not concerned at all): Can’t we talk about it when we’re in school? I don’t tend to deal with issues pertaining to me and any of friends that come visiting in this house. I came here to rest my head, not to entertain any issue.
Greg: Ok. I think I’d discuss it with you when we resume.
Harp: It’s alright! In the meantime, let me take you round the inside…
Harp takes Greg to the kitchen, three rooms, including his and the rest rooms. Greg and Harp spends the rest of the day in Harp’s cross-ventilated room. Lying down on Harp’s ten-inches- thick bed, he looks the length and breadth of the spacious, painted-in-yellow room, Harp’s favourite colour but sees on the side of the bed a book, titled, ‘Find Your Way Back’. Harp is setting up his music player and taking out some musicals to play. Greg asks for Harp’s permission to read the book.
Greg: Can I read this book?
Harp: What book?
Greg (reads the title): Find Your Way Back
Harp: Oh! I bought that book about a week ago. But reading through a few pages, I realize it wasn’t for me. Do you want it?
Greg (looking at Harp set up his music player): Yes
Harp: You can have it! It’s all yours!
Greg: Thanks. I don’t think I’ll be long here
Harp: Can’t you stay a little longer? Just listen to some of my favourite songs.
Greg: What do you mean? I have stayed here long enough. Remember, it’s a two-hour drive from Perth to Berth.
Harp: Ok! Ok!
Greg opens the book and reads the first page: ‘’When you have realized you’ve treaded the wrong path, retrace your footsteps for it will never be too late to start afresh’’. This sparks Greg’s age-long desire—to be an author.
Greg: Harp, I’ll have to take my leave
Harp: You can, but I wished you could stay to listen to my musicals…
Greg: I have to beat the traffic and get home on time. Perhaps, someday, I look forward to paying you a visit. I must say ‘I enjoyed my visit’
Harp walks Greg to the entrance. He waits till a taxi comes around. Greg enters the taxi and the taxi drives off. Harp returns to his room to enjoy his favourite songs. His parents are sleeping in their bedroom.