The light showers had ceased and a warm sunshine had spread across the sky.
At first, when Indigo had told him that the only thing that needed changing in the sitting room was the walls, he wasn’t sure about it. He had expected her to change the chairs.
But the brightness of the colors added a new look and feeling to the whole house. He was really pleased with Indigo’s work, and he had Chalya to thank.
‘Good morning dad.’ She greeted and waited for him to take a seat.
Mr. Hajjo had been a bit worried about the secret he was keeping from his children, this was part of the reason he had stayed out late. He had gone to meet with a priest, whom he always confided in whenever something was bothering him.
He had met Father Duncan, when he had found out that the woman he had married was cheating on him with his brother. The priest had advised him to forgive her, and continue the marriage because God didn’t allow divorce.
Many years back, he still believed in Father Duncan’s counsel. He knew his secret would be revealed soon enough, but he wanted to tell his children first, before they heard it from someone else.
He had just started a new life with Phillip, a son that always hated him without cause. He couldn’t destroy their new relationship by lying to him.
Mr. Hajjo had made up his mind, he would do his confession this morning before they had breakfast.
‘Baby, where is your brother?’ He watched her face, noting a change in her mood. Chalya wasn’t happy. He could tell from the large dark patches underneath her eyes, which showed that she hadn’t slept much last night.
‘Are you okay?’ He leaned closer to the table and grabbed her hands.
Chalya almost pulled back. She wasn’t strong enough to resist her father’s penetrating gaze, and she knew she would break down before him any minute from now.
‘I’m fine.’ She stuttered.
Her words sounded unsure. Her lips said one thing, but her eyes conveyed another. Mr. Hajjo didn’t need a soothsayer to tell him that something had happened in his home while he had gone to see the priest.
‘Look, this isn’t the time for us to keep secrets from each other. Tell me, did something happen to Phillip?’ He let go of her hand and rose to his feet.
Just then, Phillip appeared in the dining hall. His heart was greatly troubled when he looked at his sister’s face. Chalya had been crying and it was his fault.
‘You’re here,’ Mr. Hajjo ran his eyes over Phillip to be sure everything was okay with him.
Phillip nodded and pulled a chair backwards, ‘Good morning father.’ He avoided Chalya’s inquisitive gaze, feeling ashamed of his actions.
‘From the look you two are giving each other, something happened in my absence. I would love to know what.’ Mr. Hajjo thought they had a fight.
Chalya didn’t want her father to know about Phillip’s drunken display. She wanted to shield the older man from the pain of knowing what Phillip was passing through.
‘Nothing,’ she said through clenched teeth.
Phillip tilted his head towards her side, and gave her a look which read: “It is okay, you don’t have to cover up for me,” which she readily understood.
Phillip was ready to pour out everything to his family, he wasn’t holding anything back now. He had carefully reflected on the decisions he had taken and those ones he planned to execute. He just realized that he had been treading on the wrong path.
‘I slept with Moremi.’ He drummed his fingers on the table.
Chalya’s eyes blazed, ‘What?’ She scoffed, not believing that her brother would have anything to do with that vermin.
‘I know she had it all planned, because she had been making passes at me but I wasn’t careful. Like most men, I thought I was powerful enough to resist her s£duct!on, but I fell into her arms helplessly and I am deeply ashamed.’ He confessed.
Chalya could feel the qualm that possessed his voice. It was starting to make sense now.
Phillip probably felt guilty because he had finally found Indigo, the girl he had been searching for all these weeks. Just when he converged with her, he fell into the arms of a strange woman.
‘Is that why you drank yourself to stupor?’ Chalya asked, to Mr. Hajjo’s utter shock. He had not seen Phillip drinking before.
‘Yes. I was deeply ashamed. I felt worse knowing that Indigo would be waiting for me. And I finally ruined everything, how am I supposed to face her again?’ Phillip winced as his head began to throb again. Obviously, this ache had defied the potency of the aspirin he had swallowed.
Phillip wasn’t done. He had a lot of things to say.
Chalya felt sorry for her brother, ‘I always warned you, but you will never listen to me. I told you I found that snake standing with Usman, maybe they are up to something.’ She rubbed her chin.
Phillip regretted not listening to his younger sister.
‘Forgive me for not listening to you, I have made up my mind about Moremi and Usman. I no longer want to work with them.’
Chalya sighed with relief, finally her brother had seen the light.
Phillip turned to his dad, it was time to clarify things.
‘Dad, you told me that the man that killed my mother was friends with uncle Usman and he was a foreigner? Can you recognize him if you see him?’ Phillip held his breath, hoping he was wrong.
Maybe the alcohol had some effect on his mind and had painted a picture of a man he had seen many years back.
Mr. Hajjo was stunned at this sudden inquiry. He wanted to ask Phillip why he was so curious but he refrained from doing so. His son was an adult, and had good reasons for asking. He was going to be honest with Phillip, he would tell him everything.
‘Yes. I don’t really remember his name but from the little findings of the police back then, he wasn’t Nigerian. I think I have an old picture of Usman with this man, give me a minute.’ The older man rose to his feet and trudged towards the shelf where he kept old family albums.
Phillip and Chalya exchanged glares while their father left for the search.
‘I am so proud of you brother. This shows that you really care about Indigo. I would do anything to convince her to come back to you.’ Chalya’s heart bubbled excitedly.