Having learnt to play the guitar at a tender age of seven, Prince’s right thumb on the six strings produced a tuneful key. Endowed with the ability to grasp quickly what he was taught, he would later gain a mastery of the rudiments in playing the instrument at age nine. Aside from that, his silky and soothing voice had the tendency to mesmerize patrons and admirers. He learned both singing and playing the guitar in Church. After Church Service, he’d always hang around and fidget with the church instruments until one of the instrumentalists decided to take the pain to groom him. Later, his mother would give him the needed support by allowing him to attend lessons with the guitarists every weekend. His determination to excel and fulfill his goals compelled him to be friends with punctuality.
Six years later, he had already joined the group of instrumentalists at church to entertain the congregation. For his brilliant performance, Rev Fr. Fredrick Kwabena Konto presented to him, a brand new guitar as a present on his fifteenth birthday. Rev Father Fredrick Kwabena Konto was the priest at St. Bakita Catholic Church where Prince and his family fellowshipped. On the day Prince was given the guitar, his happiness was limitless. The guitar never had a breathing space to enjoy the surrounding breeze. Deep into the night, Prince could wake up extemporaneously and played the guitar to the dissatisfaction of his elder brother, Solomon, whom he shared the same bedroom with but different beds adjacent to each other. That lifestyle of his became habitual. Sometimes, unable to bear the disturbance anymore, Solomon would pick up quarrels with Prince for putting his tired ears into a state of pandemonium. One Friday dawn at about half past four o’clock, Prince woke up and decided to fill the dead atmosphere with bird songs of love. Solomon woke up suddenly and told Prince to put his enjoyment on hold but the hot-headed boy wouldn’t listen. When the “unpleasant” sound began to punch holes in the eardrums of Solomon, he decided to cover his head with the biggest of all pillows he could find in the room. The sound continued to pierce his ears so Solomon had no option but to mount a strong confrontation against his brother.
“Can’t you put this guitar somewhere that you’re disturbing my peace?, Solomon complained pulling a long face.” You can’t tell me what to do okay, after all this is my guitar and if you think I’m disturbing your ears, kindly take your pillow and that your century old sleeping cloth and go and sleep in kitchen”, Prince replied in a rude tone.
Entangled by tentacles of rage, Solomon got up from his bed and punched Prince in the face. As Prince wouldn’t want to be teased by Solomon for the punch he had received from him in the near future, he made an effort to reply Solomon with a slap but their mother, Mrs Herty Oppong, who had heard a feint clamor from her boys’ room, rushed in to save the situation. With a mark of disappointment seen clearly on his forehead, Prince began to throw tantrums when his chance of hitting back at his brother failed due to their mother’s quick intervention. Their mother had to give a good scolding with much emphasis on Solomon being the elder one. Solomon thought his mother had been unfair to him so after she had left the room, he picked up his pillow and sleeping cloth and left for the couch. As Solomon left the room in fury, Prince stuck out his tongue behind him. Those two brothers were on good times. However, as teenager boys, intermittent conflict of interest was not uncommon in their cohabitation. They did everything together including sharing secrets. However, their fight was one of the usual events that visited them once in a blue moon.
It’s Monday morning. Solomon and Prince were preparing for school while Mr and Mrs Oppong prepared to depart for their various workplaces. Solomon was a second year student in one of the best single sex schools in the region while Prince was in a mixed school as a first year student. Initially, Mr Phillip Oppong had wanted Prince to join his brother in the boys’ school but he later on changed his mind for reasons best known to him. Mr. Phillip Oppong, a husband and father of the house, was a branch manager for the National Bank. His tight schedules at work was an impediment to spending time with his children. Sometimes, chains of meetings compelled him to stay away from home for three or more days especially when he was required to travel outside the country. The only moment he had with his two sons was holidays. Even at weekends, he would manage to keep himself busy either at his study in the house or his office. His infrequent visit to his sons’ respective schools had always been a jinx that was hard to break. He would leave home as early as 5am and arrive at night. Mrs Herty Oppong on the other hand, was a basic school teacher with one of the renowned public schools in the district. Though extremely exhausted when she arrived home, she tried her best to be a check on her sons as she believed that his growing boys were becoming recalcitrants. She gave her sons their heads to pour out their grievances but quick to reprimand them at the slightest error they made in their actions and utterances. Above all, she kept watch over Solomon and Prince under her eagle eyes in terms of proper hygiene. They encouraged their sons to always strive hard for success for their dreams and aspirations would thrive tremendously on their efforts. In about thirty minutes, the big house had been deserted.
Prince arrived at school early as usual. He entered his class and dropped his parachute-like bag on the dual desk he shared with his friend, Sarah Hudson. The seating arrangement of the class of forty-five students were arranged by their form master such that each dual desk must be occupied by two different sexes. Though Prince and Sarah worshipped in the same church, they were just acquaintances until they ended up in the same secondary school, found themselves in the same class and were paired as occupants of the dual desks. Their mothers became friends on the first day they met at the school for prospectus. No wonder Prince and Sarah had great admiration and affection for each another with no salacious intentions. Their common interest brought them together as best friends even though their mates mistook their relationship for the type that was ubiquitous among some pervert growing adolescents.Prince and Sarah were tagged “marriage couple” by their peers due to the fact that they did almost everything together except visiting the ladies or the gents but they were unperturbed.
“You’re almost late today”, Sarah protested as she gazed at her new wrist watch and put on her medicated spectacles. “It’s my dad. He asked me to wait so he drops me”, Prince answered with a broad smile.
“I understand. You look so cute today”, Sarah complimented with a heart warming smile and handed over a gum to him. “Thank you. You also look like Rapunzel or Cinderella”, Prince returned the compliment. Both looked at each other for seconds and exchanged a broad smile. Prince sat down as Sarah pulled out a science textbook for them to study preemptively because they had Science as their first lesson.
Sarah’s oval face, coupled with her dimples when her cheeks were at rest, made her look extremely beautiful. In her pensive mood, traces of smile could be seen from the corners of her purple lips. She was a tall slim girl with a curvy shape like the silhouette of an hourglass. When walking with Prince, some of the students referred to their friendship as “Mutt and Jeff” because she was taller than Prince. Prince on the other hand, though short but more fleshy than Sarah. They had the same complexion and both are emotionally fragile. Prince was six months older than Sarah.
Sometimes, some of the male students, especially the seniors often bombarded her with proposals of amorous relationships which she flatly turned down. Due to that, Prince became a target of their anger and disappointment. At one point, Prince had to engage in physical scuffles with the compound prefect and that landed him in quagmire. Despite the weeding punishment he received from the school’s disciplinary committee, he vowed to protect the interest of Sarah even if it meant fighting again. Later, Sarah had to go to Prince and apologize to him for causing such an embarrassment for him but Prince answered saying:
“Don’t worry. I could have even given him an uppercut to please you”, as he thrusted his right blow upwards. “Awww. Please don’t ever do that. It will break my heart seeing you under recurrent punishment. So please, don’t try that Again”, Sarah replied in her usual smile.
“See, I can die to protect you”, Prince said with sarcasm. “Hahaa…come on you’re not Jesus Christ”, Sarah jested. Both began laughing out loud until tears could be seen trickling down from the corner of Sarah’s eyes.
The fifteen week of the first academic year was vacation period. The school was preparing to vacate on the last school day of the final week. On such days, the school organized entertainment shows for its students with the inclusion of other students from sister schools. The assemble hall was filled with music and students danced vigorously to a popular song that had become a toast of the youth. Prince and Sarah stood at the corner close to the exit of the hall and made some dance moves. Though Prince was deficient in dancing, the pig-headed Sarah didn’t care about Prince’s expression of disinterest in the activity as she held his hands forcefully and swayed them from one side to another in a dance. Attention wasn’t on them as everybody was busily dancing to the music. Suddenly, Sarah ran and hugged a friend she had not seen in a very long time. Her old mate was from a different school and had come to take part in the entertainment.
“It’s been a while since I saw you. Where have you been?”, Sarah inquired happily. “I am a boarder now. I have not also seen you since you relocated to a different area. ” the visitor answered.
Sarah turned backwards to introduce her old friend to Prince but he had already left the scene. She asked those around and was told Prince just used the exit door. The old mate was Ebenezer Mensa, a primary school mate of Sarah. They had not seen each other for donkey years. Sarah asked Mensa to continue enjoying himself and that she would be with him soon.
Sarah kept searching until she decided to go to their classroom. She found Prince sitting down with her chin buried in his two palms. He looked very annoyed and disappointed.
“You left without telling me, why? Are you unwell?”, Sarah quizzed but Prince wouldn’t answer. “Please talk to me. You’re making me feel nervous. What’s wrong with you?”, Sarah asked again and this time around moved closer and held his hand.
“Sorry. I can’t talk to you right now”, Prince answered in a low tone. “But why”?, Sarah asked in a more worrying tone.
“Go to your boyfriend and spend time with him. I can’t talk to you right now.”Prince yelled at her this time around, picked up his bag and dashed out of the classroom with rage.
Sarah stood there speechless. Prince was green with jealousy that his heart had broken upon seeing Sarah hug Mensa. Sarah found it hard to understand that Prince could be very obsessive with her.
Prince lost appetite for food when he arrived home. He looked moody and disappointed. His mother tried in vain to know what was wrong with her son. He went straight to the bedroom and threw himself on the bed. Mrs. Oppong was busily preparing to attend the women’s fellowship of the church so couldn’t spend much time to know what’s going on with Prince. That night, Prince shed tears of jealousy as he lay on the bed with his head stuck in the pillow. Solomon went closer to him to satisfy his curiosity but was given a cold shoulder. Sensing what may have caused Prince’s emotional outburst, Solomon began to tease him in his own crafted lyrics in a song. Sleeplessness became a foil to Prince’s peaceful sleep that night.
Saturday had replaced Friday. The morning was still cold with a cloud of fog in the air. The crow of a cock could be heard at a far distance. Mr Oppong had gone out of the house after sipping some scoffee he made for himself. Solomon was already in the dining hall with Mrs Oppong. Several attempts had been made by Solomon to get Prince to join them for breakfast but he wasn’t interested. Mrs Oppong would later go to the room and talk to him after Solomon had denied knowledge of what was wrong with Prince. Whatever secret shared by Solomon and Prince stayed within the confines of their bedroom. Therefore, Solomon could not afford to be disloyal to his brother.
“My boy, talk to me. I am your mother.Don’t hide things from me. I shall always be a friend to you”, Mrs Oppong admonished him but Prince wouldn’t talk because he knew how his mother reacted to sensitive issues and so decided to be tongue-tied.
Upon further persuasions, Prince gathered the courage to speak. Just as he was about speaking, there was a knock on the door. It opened and Sarah appeared. Mrs Oppong welcomed her wholeheartedly. She knew the friendship between her son and Sarah was a normal one so she never minded the several visits Sarah paid to the family. Mrs Oppong left the room for the two with the reason that maybe Sarah’s presence could change the situation.
“What are you doing here?”, Prince asked angrily as he turned to face the opened window pretending to be watching the birds that had perched on the window panel. “You were jealous yesterday right? Sarah quizzed with a straight face. She continued “I’m sorry. I didn’t know that would hurt you. Mensa is just an old mate and nothing else.” Prince turned and sat on the bed. Sarah knelt before him as tears began to well up her eyes but she swiftly soaked the tears with the hanging edges of her handkerchief. Prince got up from the bed, held her arms and helped her get up on her feet. He then said,”My affection for you is not an optical illusion. My heart was torn into shreds when I saw you hug him with so much passion. Forgive me but I couldn’t stand it. So I had to leave the scene.” Looking straight into his eyes like a stoic, Sarah hugged him passionately and said softly into his ears, “I love you.” Incidentally, Solomon bumped into them and made a croaky sound with his voice but closed the door immediately and went back.
“Hurry. Let’s go. I’m told you refused to take your breakfast, let’s go downstairs,” Sarah said. She held Prince’s hand as they headed for the dining hall. Solomon had gossiped to Sarah over his brother’s refusal to eat. Mrs Oppong’s fondness for Sarah grew exponentially for bringing Prince back to his normal mood.
That day, with permission from Mrs Oppong, Prince and Sarah decided to go out and have some fun. After all school had vacated the previous day and could have more leisure hours for themselves. Prince carried along his guitar as they headed for Legon Botanical Gardens. On arrival at the garden, they decided to tour around to catch a glimpse of the picturesque view of the garden that comprised all kinds of beautiful flowery trees, species of birds and butterflies and a grassy ground. They rested under a shady tree after walking around for almost forty-five minutes. Prince brought out his guitar and began to pull the strings while Sarah accompanied the harmonious sound with a favorite song. Their activity soon attracted the birds of the air to settle on the tree under which Sarah and Prince sat. Soon, the birds chirped to support the beautiful voice and the pleasant sound of the six strings. The atmosphere was soon filled with bird songs and flutters of white doves as the emerald, hibiscus, rose, and damask flowers tossed their stalks in a gentle dance. Having spent a long time singing, they fell asleep in each other’s arms. Prince woke up and looked at his watch. It was quarter past six o’clock in the evening. He tapped Sarah’s shoulder gently reminding her night was falling. As they moved some few steps away from where they had rested, there was a violent lightening in the sky. The cloud had gathered already and showers of rain began to drop on the earth. Soon, the showers turned into torrent. Prince and Sarah ran through the rain as they held each other’s hand. Both were completely drenched in the rain as they ran. Prince made sure Sarah had entered her home before proceeding with his journey home.
Back home, Mr Isaac Hudson, the father of Sarah was extremely furious and worried over her daughter’s absence and was blaming it on his wife, Mrs Abigail Hudson. If Mr Hudson was around, he wouldn’t have allowed Sarah to go. Sarah entered the hall and saw her father with grim a face pacing carpet.
“Where are you coming from”, Mr Hudson asked impatiently. “I…. I went out with my friend”,Sarah stuttered in a fearful tone. “Is that how I raised you!? What do you want the society to think of you and the family? That we don’t bring you up in a proper manner? See don’t push me to the wall do you hear me” Mr Hudson spoke aggressively. Sarah stood there and watched as his father vented his spleen on her. “Do you hear what I am telling you”?Mr Hudson asked pointing his index finger at Sarah. Sarah nodded reluctantly. Mr Hudson continued, “Now, choose between my orders and your association with that nincompoop useless boy”? When Sarah made no attempt to answer, Mr Hudson raised his hand in an attempt to slap her when Mrs Hudson came in to pull Sarah away. Sarah suddenly cried and ran into her room. Mr Hudson then turned his anger on Mrs Hudson as both engaged in heated verbal exchange.
That night in the home of the Oppong’s, Prince’s mind was filled with emotional fantasy as he sat at the edge of his bed reminiscing the good time he had had with Sarah. Solomon was talking to him but Prince was so engrossed in his world imagination that he couldn’t hear.
“Hey what are you thinking about ? Solomon teased and giggled.” “Erm.. erm nothing.” Prince responded sharply. “Hahah I got you boy. You’re thinking about Sarah. Aren’t you? Tell me what’s going on.”Solomon continued to tease him. Prince looked at his brother sternly and refusing to jaw together with him, pulled the sleeping cloth over his entire body, leaving Solomon to talk to himself.” I’ll get you”, Solomon said vaguely.
As Seconds ran into minutes and minutes into hours, a new twenty hour period was ushered in to guide the activities of mankind. The Oppongs were already in Church for the second service at St. Bakita Catholic Church. Prince’s attention was still on Sarah and once in a while craned his neck to check whether she was in the auditorium. Sitting closer to the organist, he could see every member that danced and came closer to the offering bowl but neither Sarah nor her parents had come around the offering bowl that day. He began to be worried. After the service, he combed around to find Sarah but to no avail. Standing in front of the grotto after losing hope in finding her, his father, who had seen him at a distance blew the car horn to get him on board. As he headed for the car, he kept looking sideways whether he could find Sarah. Solomon had already noticed what his brother had up his sleeves and started teasing him in the car with a funny song but Prince paid no heed to the mischief.
As soon as they got home, Prince went and dropped his Bible and sneaked out of the house to look for Sarah in her house since she didn’t live far from him. When he opened the gate and entered the house, a hoarse voice commanded him to stop. He turned and there stood the stern looking Mr Hudson.
“Whom are you after, young man”? Mr Hudson quizzed. “I’m looking for Sarah. She didn’t come to church and I am here to check on her”. Prince answered shivering.
“Hey look here young man, I don’t want to see you near my daughter or this house again. You’re a bad influence on her. For your information, I have sent her to my sister in Kumasi to continue her schooling there before you infect her with the virus of immortality. Now leave my house”, Mr Hudson ordered as he pointed his index finger at the exit.
Prince was stunned and speechless unable to move. Mr Hudson got closer and pushed him from behind. While the event was taking place, Mrs Hudson watched them from the hall helpless. Prince finally got out of the house as Mr Hudson banged the gate behind him. Walking on the main road sadly and effortlessly, there was an articulated truck coming from behind at top speed. The driver of the vehicle blew the loud horn simultaneously but none could penetrate through the ears of Prince. The driver then tried to apply his brakes but realized that the brake was failing him.
To be continued