A beautiful hostel room for a young boy in his early 20s. A door on the right-hand side of the stage leads directly to the room. It is a well-arranged simple room with a room divider somewhere around the corner on the left side of the room, and a 14inches television which seems like it has never been used for decades. Close to the room divider is a shelf with several books. A small mattress big enough for two is on the floor behind the door and well dressed. In the fourth corner of the room is a stove with a small pot on it. STEVE, corporately dressed but with his tie half loose, barges into the room, sweating profusely as though the whole world is on his head. He throws the papers in his hand on the bed and starts pacing around the room. His phone rings.
STEVE: (Picks up the phone.) Hello Ben! You and I know that he won the election…yes! He cleared the whole of the faculties of Natural Sciences and Education… I was there!…and just when the ballot box got in and out of the security office it…..yes, it was counted! How they did it is what we can’t tell…Ben, this is not about the more you see, the less you understand; this is pure wickedness… Saw who? (Selects a book from the shelf.) Why would Lizy do that…holding each other firmly like a newly wedded couple…how ridiculous! Ok, I will see you soon. (Ends the call. A knock is heard on the door.)
STEVE: Who is there? Please, come back later I’m on my way out.
OLD MAN: (Behind the door.) Sorry I cannot take that from you. Open up, son!
STEVE: It is not a request. I just told you what would happen.
OLD MAN: (Keeps knocking.) Then I shall knock on this door until you…
STEVE: (Moves towards the door.) Sorry, the last time I checked, I paid for the room alone.
OLD MAN: Then you will have to check again because as far as I can remember you paid for two.
STEVE: (Raises his head to the statement.) Listen, I am not suffering from amnesia…
OLD MAN: …Then you should check again, it might have just started. You don’t expect a mad man to tell you he is mad, do you? Some fools take pride in being fools, you know.
STEVE: Are you saying, I am mad?
OLD MAN: Are you?
STEVE: Please, who are you?
OLD MAN: You have read a lot of books, that I respect, but right now I think you are being stupid!
STEVE: (Glances at his book shelf.) Stupid?
OLD MAN: Yes, stupid. With all the knowledge you have gathered, you should know that the best way to know someone is to meet him in person, others can only be known when one reads about them, but here I am, allowing you to know me and you are behind closed door asking (Mimics.) ‘’who are you’’ that is stupidity!
STEVE: You know the times we are in. I am simply being security conscious, or do you expect me to inscribe it on my doorpost? Just to let you know, I am not being stupid. Don’t I have a right to my room?
OLD MAN: You should be security conscious indeed, to talk of your hostel that is filled with unable bodied old men who should be resting at home, but no, here they are carrying long sticks in their arms as though they are waiting to kill a rat. (With more seriousness.) Old men who will count one to hundred before taking a step after another, those men should be made securities only when it is their kind that comes to steal. The management is not protecting your interest but of the old men.
STEVE: Don’t you ever infringe on the right of the old. As old as they are, they need that job to put food on their table.
OLD MAN: At the expense of your own life? See how exposed your hostel is. I hope it is no news to you that the herdsmen are currently taking a tour around the state grazing on both panes of grass and flesh. What do you think will happen if they landed here, in your school? I am sure your able-bodied security men will stand firmly with their hands interwoven like the Nigeria Labour Congress on a protest shouting (Sarcastically mimicking.) kai! Kai! Leave our students alone! I bet you, they will even die a rumour, not to talk of them facing the men directly.
STEVE: (Laughs.) Well, life has placed them there and there is nothing your scrutiny can do about it.
OLD MAN: Whichever road a man chooses in life, there is always a destination.
STEVE: How many minutes do you need, sir? As I told you earlier, I’m on my way out.
OLD MAN: I will take a minute or two, inasmuch as you are easygoing, but if you prove otherwise, I will stay for as long as it may take you to succumb.
STEVE: (Paused.) Succumb to what? The election has been rigged and thanks to you all.
(Goes to open the door. OLD MAN, dressed in a suit with a hat like a cowboy, in his right hand is a walking stick, enters. STEVE looks in awe, OLD MAN looks around the room with pride, then sits on the bed. STEVE looks at his wristwatch.)
OLD MAN: What election are you talking about? I am too old for student politics.
STEVE: But not old enough to allow a fifty-year old man to become the SUG president.
OLD MAN: (In awe.) Fifty years? By God, what is he still doing in school?
STEVE: Who knows, some say he works with the state government and needs the certificate for promotion. We have many of them in school like that.
OLD MAN: Then, they should focus on what brought them here and leave.
STEVE: Exactly! But no, here they are interfering. Ejiro won the election but they just won’t let him.
OLD MAN: And why do you think that is?
STEVE: Perhaps because he is young or maybe state agenda.
OLD MAN: You watch it so you don’t tie yourself up with your hands…being fifty does not stop him from being a student, is there any law or constitution against that?
STEVE: They call us leaders of tomorrow but they will not let us climb the rungs. We will not allow this to happen, we will fight, I will fight…someone has got to stop this.
OLD MAN: (Stares derogatorily.) And that someone is you?
STEVE: Who are you?
OLD MAN: (Scans the room.) You have done quite well with your life. (Goes to the table, picks a bottle of a soft drink and starts drinking.)
STEVE: (Astounded.) Sir…
OLD MAN: Yes, young man…
STEVE: With all due respect, age should teach you that you don’t just go to people’s rooms and start…
OLD MAN: (Picks a picture.) Should a man be timid in his domain? Is this not you twenty years ago?
STEVE: (Surprised. Grabs the picture from him.) Yes, how do you know that?
OLD MAN: How did you get here?
STEVE: If you are as wise as most old people are, then you should know that every living thing grows.
OLD MAN: Yes, outwardly and inwardly, but I am more concerned about the growth that takes place on the inside. The world is filled with people who focus on outward growth but have no regard for inward growth.
STEVE: I think we are just too busy to know that? (Starts cleaning his shoe.)
OLD MAN: I don’t understand you.
STEVE: Society has made it impossible for people to do better things with their lives. Go onto the street of Abuja, what will you see, one-third of our vibrant youth doing all kinds of job and have little or no time to identify their purpose not to talk of pursuing them. Isn’t purpose suppose to be the source of man’s wealth?
OLD MAN: Hold it right there! Hard work pays off, son.
STEVE: Yes, I suppose so, what about the barrow pusher who works all his life and yet cannot afford a common Paracetamol when headache strikes? What about the taxi driver who finds it hard to pay his child’s school fees? Hard work pays, no doubt, but where there is hard work and no purpose, frustration becomes the reward at the end…. Where is purpose? Buried in the soil of aimless activities, and all for what?
OLD MAN AND STEVE: Survival!
STEVE: So how do you expect men to think of the inward growth? They are all thinking of how to survive. That is why it doesn’t matter what they do.
OLD MAN: What would you have done if you are the society? Or rather why don’t you become a leader yourself?
STEVE: We all are not called to lead, even if we are, only at some levels. But we have people who are ready and born to lead, people with what it takes but these men keep rotating the table around them. Oh, Christ! Our votes don’t count anymore.
OLD MAN: Says you?
STEVE: I am just coming from school, remember? My friend’s election was rigged!
OLD MAN: Talking about that, did you vote for him because he is your friend?
STEVE: These people have been selling us out. The student union is no longer effective: we don’t have a say. Just in two sessions, our school fees have been increased! What about accommodation? We need someone who can stand for the students.
OLD MAN: Do you have food in the house; it seems we will be staying here for a longer time? (Goes to open the pot but STEVE intercepts him.)
STEVE: (Angrily.) Old man, I said I am going out, and I’ve got no time.
OLD MAN: (Cunningly.) Do you still remember how you got to this school?
STEVE: Yes! And I don’t want to talk about it. Just get out or I will call the security on you.
OLD MAN: (Laughs.) Which of the security? The ones I saw on my way in? (Laughs wildly.) Let’s talk about how you got to this environment and stop talking about the people who think their job is to stop students from chewing gum and carrying bags into the school.
STEVE: My friends are waiting for me, and I don’t want to talk about it.
OLD MAN: Why, because you are selfish? Oh, you are one of those who will succeed in life and hide the secret of their success from the world.
STEVE: Of what good is my story to you?
OLD MAN: Great men stand on the shoulders of greater men.
STEVE: My shoulders are too small for you to stand on.
OLD MAN: Tell me the story.
STEVE: No! I hate it, and I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want it to interfere with my future.
OLD MAN: The past never gets to the future; it is always stuck with the present. Besides, someone once said that the past made us who we are.
STEVE: But that does not mean we should dwell in it.
OLD MAN: I am glad you know that.
(STEVE’s phone rings.)
OLD MAN: Your friends again?
(STEVE checks the phone then turns to look at the OLD MAN in surprise. Picks the call.)
STEVE: Hello guys, how far, where una dey naw? Dem don come? I know, una don try… just a few minute abeg. (Ends call.) What are you old man, some kind of a seer?
OLD MAN: I am you and you are me. I have tried to talk to you but you weren’t paying attention so I have decided to come and meet you.
STEVE: I don’t understand you. I have never seen you nor heard you speak before.
OLD MAN: (Digressing shrewdly.) So where would you start from? I remember the argument that broke out between you and your father that night – it was not a good one!
STEVE: That is not why I came to school; I came to school because I needed to be in school.
OLD MAN: No…. you are here because you wanted to prove your father wrong. He never believed you’d make it here. He always wanted you to get a job like your peers. And just like your friend Tony, who left home because he got tired of his father bringing women home in the middle of the night and chasing him and his younger brother out in the cold, you left home…
STEVE: That’s enough! Who are you and how come you know so much. I left home because I know what I wanted in life. I had and still have a dream, a vision, and a mission.
OLD MAN: I was not happy with what your father did, but you must not blame him. Life, sometimes, places us where we must learn to fly. If not for the discomfort back home, we wouldn’t be here. (Looking around.) And I need no clairvoyant to tell me you are doing quite well.
STEVE: (Calmly.) His nagging made me want to prove him wrong…
OLD MAN: Yes, I knew it and you were always fighting it.
STEVE: I went out one day to seek a job only but to please him.
OLD MAN: Yes and you got it.
STEVE: I got one in a restaurant where my interview was to pound a hip of akpu in a mutter. I tried but could not hit the bottom.
OLD MAN: (Laughs.) I remember how you sneaked out of that restaurant.
STEVE: Please shut up!
OLD MAN: Oh great (Holds his lips mockingly.)
STEVE: I had to. The woman wanted to punish me. It was obvious she knew I couldn’t pound. From there, I became a scavenger. I would gather unwanted and rusted irons. I sold them and sent the money to my friend who was already in school. He got me an IJMB form and months later, I gained admission to study in this school.
OLD MAN: And that was the first step in taking responsibility for your life.
(Phone rings. STEVE picks.)
STEVE: Hello, I…don’t think I will be joining you guys any moment soon, just go without me… (Looks at OLD MAN.) wait I’ll be there. (Ends call.) Why am I even talking to you?
OLD MAN: Because I asked you to…when will you ever learn to be you?
STEVE: I can’t let my friends down.
OLD MAN: Where?
STEVE: Someone snatched my friend’s girl and we have to fight to get her back.
OLD MAN: Fight? I expect you to differ. What gives a man his uniqueness is when he thinks in a different direction when the whole world is thinking in the other direction. You will go nowhere. (Carries a chair and sits by the door.)
STEVE: Sorry sir, you can’t stop me. (Picks a book from his shelf.) I am going out and there is nothing you can do about it. That guy has been there for me in the rain and the sun and this is my chance to at least stand with him. (Tries to open the door.)
OLD MAN: Then I shall wait here for your return. (Goes to lay on the mattress.)
STEVE: What do you want?
OLD MAN: Someone to talk to!
STEVE: And that person happens to be me?
OLD MAN: Yes!
STEVE: Okay… (Sits.) round up.
OLD MAN: (Sits up. Smiles.) I was there when you packed your bags, she was there too. Do you remember the first time you ever kissed a girl?
STEVE: No! Get out… (He is shy.)
OLD MAN: (Laughs.) Wow! What an experience! We were just licking her mouth…
OLD MAN: I mean you, that was when I knew that not all sleepless nights were borne out of hard work. That night you couldn’t sleep. Her saliva dominated your sense of taste throughout that day and you kept brushing and brushing. What was that her name again?
STEVE: Miriam. I thought she was an amateur in the affairs of mouth licking. I left my lips in hers and she was busy pouring her saliva into my mouth.
OLD MAN: Eew! It was like, she was meant to be yours forever.
STEVE: That was my first time. Isn’t it funny how at a moment you felt you had the best… just a few days later you started having a doubt? Then I thought she was the best girl on earth. But here I am today, loving another.
OLD MAN: That was how the world was programmed, a child will always appreciate being a child and an old man would always appreciate being old.
STEVE: Tell me, how does it feel like being old?
OLD MAN: The truth is I’m your age but since I control every aspect of your life, I have decided to come in this form so you could accord me some respect. Or isn’t that what Africans are known for, young ones putting on the garment of respect before their elders.
STEVE: You are right (Rushes to look at himself in the mirror.) but I can’t be your age, and you can never gain control over my life.
OLD MAN: (Laughs.) You were about going out when I came and my presence stopped you, isn’t that control? Kai! I can do and undo fa.
(STEVE gets up furiously to move out of the room.)
OLD MAN: Wait! You asked a question about old age and I have not answered. You are really scared of getting old, sit down and let me answer your question. (STEVE goes back to sit reluctantly. OLD MAN starts laughing) There is joy in being old.
STEVE: Most men at old age are angry and frustrated.
OLD MAN: Those who are frustrated are those who never took responsibility for themselves at youth. They wallowed in laxity and always blame others for their failures in life, and some men will keep failing even in their graves. Those kinds of people have no reason to celebrate.
STEVE: (Laughs.) Please tell me…who are you? And what is your name?
OLD MAN: (Reading a book.) I am the unseen part of you, the one that speaks but no one gets to see. Call me Mind.
STEVE: Mind, like the human mind? (Points his head and starts moving backward in fright.)
OLD MAN: Not just the human mind but your mind. I got tired of talking to you from within, so here I am. What are you doing? You are scared.
STEVE: (In fright.) Leave me alone… stay away from me, how can this be imagined, that I stand face to face with my mind?
OLD MAN: Even God at some point had to come down in human form to relate with his people. You have been asking a question and now here I am.
STEVE: No one will believe me if I tell them of this encounter.
OLD MAN: it is not for you to tell that I’ve come. You have made a lot of mistakes…
STEVE: Yes…the doing of the mind…
OLD MAN: Making a mistake isn’t the problem but making the wrong ones.
STEVE: Every mistake is wrong, old man!
OLD MAN: So you think.
STEVE: (Aggressively.) Yes, but now the mistake has been made!
OLD MAN: A mistake is sometimes corrected by doing the exact opposite of what led to the mistake.
STEVE: So why can’t the mind be stable and direct men right?
OLD MAN: Will. Well, I tried but you were not disciplined enough to do the things I advised.
STEVE: All because you were not stable!
OLD MAN: Everything has its nature. And if I am not stable, why didn’t you make me?
STEVE: Make you, how am I supposed to do that? Don’t blame me. You are the cause of it all…
OLD MAN: Now you are behaving just like them.
STEVE: Just like who?
OLD MAN: Those blaming others for their failures in life. I think what you want me to think, learn what you want me to learn and after processing it, I lay it bare before you; the original and the residue and leave you to make a choice.
STEVE: So why the confusion each time I want to make a decision? You process this information, you know the right from the wrong, so why don’t you just tell me what is the right thing to do it? Why the uncertainty?
OLD MAN: Everything has got nature and there is not a single thing in the world which does not have a desire. Whether you admit it or not, we all have been created in a way that we must keep desiring one thing or the other. Besides I am like a trader in the market who tells his customers here is “Made in Nigeria” and there is “Made in China” and allows them to make their choice. You have not even told me the full story of your adventure to this level and you are already apportioning blames. Look at your room… who could have believed that you came into this school with just three measures of garri, a trouser and your old secondary school textbooks, not knowing where to stay or what to eat.
STEVE: You know the story, so why bordering me? (Pauses for a while.) Where is a man without his mind?
OLD MAN: At least I led you into taking that risk; I thought you would be so stupid to sit at home until you’ve got everything before coming to school.
STEVE: Two years after my IJMB programme and I was not given admission, I had to wait a year before, I finally got the admission …but remedial sciences, I was told that my name is written in pencil. (Both laugh.)
OLD MAN: And during that one year of waiting, we were…I mean you were doing what one of your friends would advise… “keep busy while waiting”.
STEVE: Yeah… “keep busy while waiting”. I was happy to have discovered my acting skills earlier.
OLD MAN: But you are in the sciences, so where is the connection?
STEVE: There is always a link between Science and Art and we have to find it. To be precise, where is Art without Science?
OLD MAN: Well said.
STEVE: If you are who you said you are, then you should know that I became a Science student out of pride because back then in school Science students were always regarded as the most intelligent, while Art or Social Science students were never allowed to head the students. So, in my quest for fame, I opted for Science. But in the end, I was made the Assistant Head Boy and not the Head Boy that I desire, and then I knew I was in the wrong discipline but I could not turn back owing to pride. I was left with no choice but to find the link. (Phone rings. STEVE moves to leave.) Hello, oh my God, I thought you guys have gone…please wait I’m on my way.
OLD MAN: You’ll only leave when I ask you to, boy.
STEVE: How dare you to tell me what to and what not to do?
OLD MAN: She loved you but you broke her heart.
STEVE: (Returns to his seat.) Who?
OLD MAN: That night, she cried. At first, it was so sweet, you loved her so much that you could even swear an oath that nothing on earth would make you leave her, but they were all lies.
STEVE: I never loved her.
OLD MAN: Who?
STEVE: You are talking about Mary I know it…
OLD MAN: Aha! Mary.
STEVE: She was just evidence of the experiment.
OLD MAN: An evidence of an experiment?
STEVE: A friend of mine gave me five steps to woo a lady, however beautiful, stubborn or unapproachable. I used all of it on her and she fell… how is that my fault?
OLD MAN: And how is that not your fault?
STEVE: I tried to love her but there was simply no connection.
OLD MAN: And you drew her into that ocean of confusion and hope, how many sincere young and handsome men must have tried to have her, but no, she was desperately waiting for you; the lab scientist in the affair of the matters of the heart.
STEVE: But I told her to…
OLD MAN: Told her what? This thing is more than words, it’s psychological. You deluded her and let her wallow in that illusion that you are for real.
STEVE: But at least she has moved on.
OLD MAN: Console yourself simply because you don’t know the damage you have caused, console yourself that you may feel justified.
STEVE: And now you want me to feel bad?
OLD MAN: Only the devil wants that.
STEVE: Hold on, old man?
OLD MAN: Hmmm!
STEVE: Why are you here?
OLD MAN: Now, you are talking. If there is always the ‘why’, there must always be an answer. In a land where there are so many wars and conflicts, all men should let go of their egotistical traits and take up a seat of dialogue. I have come to make peace.
STEVE: With who? I was never at war with you.
OLD MAN: You are but you don’t just know it, yet. If only men will realize that the worst conflict in life is that within a man, and settle that, there will be peace in the society. How many times have you let others controlled us? What happened when you made that decision to go for Science instead of Art? You listened to other people’s minds; don’t you know I am jealous?
STEVE: Jealous of what?
OLD MAN: You strained your ears to their deceitful voices, and ignored mine. Oh, how I hate it when others excise their authority over my domain!
STEVE: But I am my own man now and that has got me to where I am today.
OLD MAN: All of which happened briskly the little time you took charge. Now, you are about making the same mistake again.
STEVE: What mistake?
OLD MAN: (Soberly.) You love her more than you love me, can’t you see?
STEVE: Love who?
OLD MAN: Mabel, or is she evidence of failed experiment?
STEVE: No! Stupid old man!
OLD MAN: Me… stupid?
STEVE: Why should I love you? I am no gay!
OLD MAN: You can love me and still love someone else but not Mabel. And who is talking about gay, I am your mind!
STEVE: Why did you say that? I mean why can’t I love Mabel?
OLD MAN: You should not date a girl who does not see life from the same perspective as you.
STEVE: But opposites attract. It is called the law of attraction and you don’t expect everybody to see life with you from the same angle.
OLD MAN: Look at us, we were doing just fine, living our lives to our capacity but since she came into our lives, we are nothing but debtors. You are trying to impress her at the expense of your happiness. How many people do you owe because of her? See how we have lost authority over our domain!
STEVE: You are the most unstable entity I have ever met.
OLD MAN: How many people do you owe? Name them.
STEVE: (Meditates.) Five…
OLD MAN: Why don’t you name them? And may your conscience be fair to you.
STEVE: Tony… five thousand, Daniel… ten, Aunty B… fifteen. (Angrily.) That is enough.
OLD MAN: Now that’s it! When was the last time she showed concern about what you do?
OLD MAN: Did she even believe in your dreams and aspirations?
STEVE: Not at all!
OLD MAN: Does she have patience?
STEVE: Only when she is in the toilet.
OLD MAN: Is she optimistic?
STEVE: She is a pessimist.
OLD MAN: Then why is she in your life?
STEVE: Her breast, her hips, and her beauty…
OLD MAN: And these are the things I got tired of processing day and night. You don’t read like you used to. You don’t have time to listen when I talk; all you think about is her breast, her waist, and that hip… and how to clear those debts! Now, that is my understanding of the law of attraction. You attract what you think about either opposite or otherwise.
STEVE: What am I suppose to do?
OLD MAN: Take charge and let her go! It is time to let go of those things that break you instead of building you. Some friends have to go too. Does she even listen to you?
STEVE: She has never! The last time I needed to talk to someone so badly, all I needed was for someone to listen and not to even proffer a solution and guess what she did, she put on her laptop and started watching a movie. She left me in her friend’s bunk like a baby waiting to be fed.
OLD MAN: So what would you do now?
STEVE: To hell with her! (Picks a phone and starts dialing.)
OLD MAN: That’s the spirit! What are you doing?
STEVE: I am calling her right away!
OLD MAN: Great! You have to be in command. Yes!
STEVE: (Pauses and starts pacing.) I need a bottle of beer to be able to do that, no, I think five bottles.
OLD MAN: C’mon boy, you need no beer to be able to do that, just be you.
STEVE: Hello Mabel!… Oh my gosh, baby are you ok? … That is the sweetest thing I have ever heard since the beginning of today, ooh I love you too dear… what? Just tell me what to do.
OLD MAN: What are you saying?
STEVE: Shhhh! Ok, I will call you back. [Ends call.] She is in trouble and I need to help her right now. (Tries to step out.)
OLD MAN: Hope you can still recall the number and the name of the persons you owe?
STEVE: But she needs help.
OLD MAN: Ask yourself, if you don’t help her, what will happen?
STEVE: She will probably…
OLD MAN: What does she even want?
STEVE: It’s her landlord. She is on the verge of being thrown out; her rent has expired.
OLD MAN: I thought she stays in the hostel.
STEVE: She moved out. She now stays off-campus.
OLD MAN: And you? In this rat hole! Do you have what it takes to help her out?
STEVE: I….I don’t.
OLD MAN: Oh! You intend to jump into another debt, right?
STEVE: She should not see me as being incapacitated or insolvent.
OLD MAN: And so, you want to…. You have to pick up that phone and call her.
STEVE: And tell her what?
OLD MAN: Tell her exactly what the situation is. It’s called being you. After eating bread and garri, you want to pay her rent. Call her now!
STEVE: (Dials a number.) … Mabel, wait! Let me talk… good… right now I don’t have anything to give you. I feel you can call someone else and at this point, I think we are done until you grow up. Bye. (Ends call in fear.) What did I just do?
OLD MAN: Bravo! Calm down.
STEVE: (Dialling again.) I am calling her back.
OLD MAN: You will do no such thing. (Grabs the phone.) Do you have coffee?
STEVE: Yes I do.
OLD MAN: I would want some. I am sleepy and I need to stay awake.
(Steve exits and returns with a cup of coffee.)
OLD MAN: So, from a guy with three measures of garri and a trouser, you have become a man with a single room to himself, at least for the moment.
STEVE: Yeah, it didn’t just happen. I paid the price. My ink dried, my eyes dimmed, and my bones cracked.
OLD MAN: Expatiate.
STEVE: That is what I say to people who would want to wake up in the morning and be where successful people are. I say to them, “Don’t ask the glory but find out their story.” Do you know one of the reasons I owe people that much was because I took to playing sport betting. The very first time I tried, I hit 5k with just a hundred naira and I thought, what a way to get rich quick and easy. But when bet started winning games against me I knew it wasn’t for me, so I stopped, though it wasn’t easy.
OLD MAN: It was like hell indeed.
STEVE: I got into doing different things at the same time; going for lectures and then rehearsals but God has always been faithful, sometimes I’ll have to walk on foot and you know the distance I am talking about. I am done talking about myself. (A knock is heard.) That must be her…
OLD MAN: Must be who?
STEVE: Mabel… she has come to finish me. (Thinking and pacing.) What do I tell her now? I will tell her I did not mean what I said to her…or you led me to it. (Tries to open the door.)
OLD MAN: (Stops him.) Wait. Would you rather prefer she came and blasted you or left when she is tired? You should seek my counsel, you know!
STEVE: As what?
OLD MAN: Your mind! Introspect to know if you truly love her or not. Think of how you went about loving because of the succulent nature of a breast, a well-structured hip….
STEVE: That’s enough! Why do you always find a way of judging others, bringing back their worst moments in life?
OLD MAN: Are you out of your mind?
STEVE: Yes! Can’t you see? (Pushes OLD MAN of the way, opens the door, but finds no one there. OLD MAN laughs hysterically.) See what you’ve caused! Now she has left.
OLD MAN: Stop running after your shadow and it will come right after you. Let me ask you a question. You have gone through a lot to get to this point in your life, right?
STEVE: (Angrily.) Old man… I want you out of my room…
OLD MAN: (Frightened.) What are you doing?
STEVE: (Pointing towards the door.) I will beat you up blue-black, if you don’t leave.
OLD MAN: There will be no need for that. Hold your breath a little longer so you don’t trample on the great tradition of the real African child by beating an old man up. Just answer the question and I won’t bother you again.
STEVE: You have one minute!
OLD MAN: Good, are you satisfied with the level you are right now?
STEVE: (Calmly.) How can I be?…. I still have dreams too…
OLD MAN: Then go back into yourself and bring out those things that are in you for the greatness of every man who lives in him. (Opens the door.)
STEVE: Hold on! You have led others into making the wrong decision and into becoming who they are not, due to your uncertain nature. What have I done to deserve this kindness from you?
OLD MAN: Let’s just say I saw you yearning to be great and to be in charge of your life and I also saw another self trying to win you over. You are happy to have me on this site today for as you rightly said, I am the most unstable entity.
(STEVE sits and starts to meditate. Music starts to play. Then his phone rings.)
STEVE: Hello guy… Now listen, let me talk… must we fight to solve this? Why don’t we ask your babe, who she truly loves, if it’s the guy, fine, we let her go and if it is you…Oh! you won’t take that? Fine, then go and fight! (Ends call and throws the phone on the mattress. A knock is heard. He goes to open.) I told you guys that I am not… (Surprised to see MABEL) Mabel!
MABEL: Steve! (Hugs him.)
STEVE: Mabel, I told you I….can’t afford your rent.
MABEL: There is no rent to be paid; I was just toying with your soft spot but the moment you asked me to grow up, I checked and realized that I have not been a good friend. No one has ever found the courage to tell me about that part of me, but you.
(In the hit of this excitement, OLD MAN shakes his head, smiles and exits.)
STEVE: So, nothing more?
MABEL: So which play are we working on currently?
STEVE: (Surprised.) I just finished it and the public reading may be coming up soon.
MABEL: Wow! What’s the title? I will like to be a part of it.
STEVE: The diadem of gold… are you hungry? Why I am even asking? Let me go get us something to eat.
MABEL: How sweet! I’m coming with you.
(STEVE in excitement takes the lead while MABEL lags behind him.)
STEVE: Hold on, old man… (Realizes OLD MAN is gone, rushes to the door.)
MABEL: What’s it? What old man?
STEVE: It’s complicated.
(They exit, smiling like love birds.)
Abraham Omale is a playwright, actor and storyteller. He hails from Benue State, Nigeria and holds a BSc in Physics from the prestigious University of Jos. He founded Art Planet Africa in 2017 and co-founded Tales Afrik in 2019. He has written three plays which are yet to be published, “Diadem of Gold”, “Tears of a Million Bottles” and “A Place for Old Men” which was submitted for the BBC 2020 radio play competition. He holds his gratitude to Jos repertory theatre where his started his professional journey as a writer.
Photo by Spencer Selover from Pexels