Chapter 15

 

A FATHER’S CONFESSION TO HIS SON

 

     Chief Suleiman was not blind to the goings-on with his son. Indeed, after he released the first batch of fifty million dollars to Ade, he set up a high-powered secret monitoring team that followed on Ade and monitored where the money was going. He could not feel more proud of his son when the positive results of the espionage came tumbling in.Exactly six months to the date that he issued the first check for fifty million dollars to Ade, Chief Suleiman again asked Ade to come over to his office.

 

Ade, in the intensity of his business commitments, had even lost sight of the date of the promised amount. When he got his father’s invitation, he, indeed, almost felt like rejecting further assistance. In the first place, he felt that he was doing well enough not to need further buffering. More importantly, he felt some sense of guilt that the money he was about to receive might be money secured over the blood of some unlucky victim.

 

But he later convinced himself about the need to honor the invitation. First, the money is already there and may go to some dubious causes if not accepted by me for more worthy causes.

 

Second, courtesy demands that I honor the invitation from my father; I can make my case during the visit.

 

Third, the snatched Mercedes-Benz cars from where the money might have come, more often than not, belonged to some other thieves or embezzlers.

 

The reasons did not justify acceptance of the illicit money, but Ade felt that the opportunity of honoring the invitation could be utilized to initiate a reform.

 

As Ade entered his father’s office, Chief Suleiman, for the first time, ever got up and walked up to his son and embraced him. He then shook his hands and said, “Ade, my son, I feel proud of you.”

 

He then brought out from the drawer two checks which he had already prepared.

 

One of the checks was for fifty million dollars. The other was for one hundred million dollars. As he stretched out his hand to give the checks to Ade, the latter hesitated.

 

Chief Suleiman then, in a solemn and almost tearful voice reminiscent of the night that he encountered Ade in the Chambers meeting immediately said, “Ade, I fully understand. Accept these checks first. You have set up AMEND. I will make amends. My past and present greatly haunt me, Ade.

 

“Now I want you to help me. I want to reform. You have already reformed, and I am proud of that. I have waded so far in sin that, like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, going back for me is as difficult as going over. But I must reform. I must make amends. I want to start somewhere.”

 

As he still held out his hand with the checks, Ade, who himself had also started shedding tears, stretched out his hand and accepted the checks.

 

Chief Suleiman again moved over to his son and embraced him again and said, “I will reform. I will make amends. I am only making a start. I have treaded the path of infamy for nearly a generation. It will be difficult for me to dismantle it all in one go. It will be extremely dangerous to do so. Too many people are involved. Many more people than you can imagine. But I will reform. And I want to tell you this, my son, even if I get killed in this process of trying to reform, I want you to carry through the effort. I make this as a promise to you and to my God. I make this as a secret promise to my wife of twenty-four years, your mother, who, you must know, is ignorant of my roles, I will reform. And I will make amends.”

 

As he got back to his seat, he continued, “The first check for fifty million is a fulfillment of my earlier promise to you. Accept it even if you feel averse to it because of its source and even if you feel that you do not need it. Expand your business and redeploy your gains into more noble deeds than I did.

 

“The second check for one hundred million dollars, you will observe, is addressed to AMEND. Please use it to make amends on my behalf while I continue to wrestle with my conscience, hoping to find some peace. I will reform. I want you to continue to pray for me and, indeed, for the thousands of my collaborators nationwide. Not many of them will agree with me. Some of them will even call for my head for abandoning them. But there is no way that I will continue in this path of infamy and blood. I will, on my own part, retrace my steps. I will make amends.”

 

Chief Suleiman paused for a while and tried to look into the eyes of his son, whose head was bent and who appeared to have his gaze fixed on the table. Chief Suleiman could not look into his son’s eyes. He could not make out what he felt or how he felt. But he continued, “I may have disappointed your expectations as a pillar of moral rectitude. I may have, before you, preached one thing and done another. I was already enmeshed in evil even before I married your mother and had you. I tried to train you to be something which I was not, something which I would have wanted to be but which I found I could not be, a morally upright man with a good education and engaged in good and lawful business. But it was too late for me.

 

“I wanted to replicate those ideals in you. That was why I swore to myself that no matter what it would take that I must ensure that you had the best education so that there would be no reason and no need for you to engage in a business of crime.

 

“I have tried for twenty-four years to hide my real business from my family, and I am happy that I did. That way, I have been able to bear the cross of my sins alone without implicating any other member of my family. Now that you know or since you got to know the details but have eventually reversed your own course and taken to clean business, my soul can begin to prepare to rest in peace.

 

“My business associates will certainly not fold their arms and watch me renege. I know they will not. The stakes are too high. The stakes run into tens of billions of dollars dispersed all over the world and we took an oath of cooperation or death. But no matter what comes my way, I feel fulfilled. I now have a clear conscience that my only son is not going the way that I did, and I thank you and congratulate you.

 

“Finally, Ade, if in future you get to discover about me much more than you know now, I appeal to you not to curse the soul of your father. You may, for now, have known only about the car-snatching business. My investigations reveal that that is the much that you know for now. It is good that your young mind is spared the more dastardly aspects of the businesses that yielded the resources for which they gave me the title of Oshimiri, the tycoon, the sea that never dries.

 

“Even as I begin to wind down, to find my way out of the self-inflicted quagmire, I know that my conscience will continue to whip me until I atone for the hundreds of souls that, through my activities, might have perished this last-quarter century. It may not be possible for me to make full atonement, but I will not be deterred from making a start.

 

“Now that I know and I have evidence that you can, and have indeed started on a clean and sound path, this coming week, I will submit my notice to my group, indicating my intention to step down, not just from leadership of the organization nationwide but, indeed, to quit completely.

 

“Hundreds, indeed thousands, will call for my head because at the level to which I had risen to, one never quits. But I will quit even with the certain adverse reactions that my quitting will generate. Whichever way it turns out, whether they succeed or not in their certain call for my head, it will really not matter. It is almost too late in the day to quit. But it is better late than never.

 

“I have been a tycoon largely from injustice, murders, and plunder, but you must not toe my path. You can still become a tycoon from clean business and with a clear conscience, and I can see you on the path to making it.

 

“Whatever may happen to me in the coming weeks and months, do not be afraid. Remain true to your conscience and always abide by the golden rule to do unto others what you would want others to do unto you. That way, you can never go wrong.”

 

As Chief Suleiman spoke those last words, tears again filled his eyes. Again, like he did at the party in his honor in the regional headquarters of the Chambers, he reached for his handkerchief and wiped his tears. He suddenly appeared to look older than Ade had ever known him to be. His face wore a worried look, and he appeared heavily burdened in spirit. But he managed to force a smile as he asked his son whether he wanted some soda.

 

“I no longer take alcohol, you know, so I stock only soda” he told his son.

 

“I know,” Ade replied, trying also to force a smile.

 

After those somber words, father and son tried to find something more pleasant to talk about. “How do you find shuttling between Kuveri and Karuja?” Chief Suleiman asked Ade. “Not very pleasant, always having to be in the air,” Ade replied.

 

Chief Suleiman then added, “You may occasionally consider going by road. The problem is that the roads are so bad and it takes so long. It is a pity that the rail services were not further developed since the past sixty years. It would have been much easier to go by rail sometimes. And going by air is safe, but it is not always so very safe as casualties are almost 100 percent if anything happens. For instance, I will go to Kuveri this weekend, and sometimes, I feel quite apprehensive about these air travels.”

 

A few more discussions about acquisition of land and real estate followed. But the phone kept ringing from Chief Suleiman’s several lines. He had sent out his secretary during the discussions with his son. He now felt he should take some of the calls. “I now have to excuse myself. Some of my business associates are waiting”

 

Chief Suleiman told his son. It was Wednesday afternoon and father and son rescheduled another meeting for the following Wednesday. The scheduled meeting was not to hold.

 

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