Frank is a private detective. He is the kind of a person who sniffs a crime even before it is done and devises a mechanism to stop it. And if it has already occurred, and there’s a puzzle of who’s the culprit, Frank will fill the Sudoku for you. He had stayed without a job for a long time. And for all that while they (his family) depended on his girlfriend’s (now wife) income from her small scale saloon.
But recently after they moved together- following the birth of their firstborn (and the second of the family), the luck struck on his side; he got a job with one of the leading investigation firms in town as a private detective. And just like anybody else (while new to an organization), Frank was determined to create trust with his employers. He had decided to do all that it takes to make sure that his employers would not start doubting their choice on him.
He has really been busy with his newly found job. He is always travelling. And when he is around, he is the first one to wake up, the first one to leave the house and the last one to come home. He leaves at around 5 am before the morning rush hours (when the fare hikes) in order to save and in the evening if he is not out of town, he is in the office until 9 pm- this also helps him to pay less since at that time the bus fare drops. He always finds his wife and children already asleep.
As we sat down for a cup of coffee and Frank looked if not confused, fatigued. Even someone who hadn’t seen him before could tell something was not right with him. We had been friends for the whole of our campus life before we parted ways on the day of our graduation. We met during the first days on campus. We shared a course and since we would meet almost each and every day during classes, we ended up knowing each other more and later became friends. I can’t tell what attracted us to each other, we just found ourselves being friends. Maybe if one of us was a girl, we would be talking of true love now. I wonder would we be gays, how the story would be like? Destiny? Fate?… Who knows?
We were real friends. Good friends. We were just like brothers. No one would sleep hungry while the other one had something. We shared almost everything. In fact, what we didn’t share were underwear and his girlfriend (I never had one.)
After graduation, we parted ways and everyone got busy with life. Each went away trying to figure out the next dot of life. Frank went for masters in forensic investigation and me into the insurance industry as an insurance investigator. I have been that guy who determines whether an insurance claim is payable or not. I also do investigations on lost goods and vehicles- movable properties. We, therefore, lost contact until we once again after the whole five years stumbled on each other at the Parklands police station where we were following up on the same case- theft of a motor vehicle. The only difference was that I was working for the insurance, trying to establish whether the insured (owner of the stolen vehicle) could be compensated or not and on the other hand he was enforcing the law- trying to find the culprit to bring him/her to books. We, therefore, rekindled our friendship and thus fixed a date for re-bonding.
We had ordered our coffee and not after too long, it was brought. Therefore, as I took a sip, we had become too silent- I decided to break the silence;
‘So mmm… Frank. Frank. Frank…”
“Ooh, sorry. Yes, man.”
“Are you really okay bro,” I asked frank who seemed absent-minded. I had called him about two times without a response.
“Yeah, everything is fine. Am good. I am just…”
“I doubt, this is not the Frank I know. Just what..?” I had interpolated before he could complete what he was saying.
“Just enjoying my coffee.” He raised his mug. He continued, “It’s very sweet. Nothing has changed only that I am now officially married.” He answered.
“Yes, two. What about you- wife? Girlfriend? Kids?”
“In fact none,” I said in a low tone. We were in a public café so I didn’t want anybody who might have been eavesdropping us to hear that.
“Why, you need to have somebody bro.”
“I haven’t yet met her.” I wanted to say that there are no good girls left- that those who are available are in an internship with ‘sponsors’ as the cliche goes nowadays. But I didn’t.
“You just need to be faithful. And prayerful. And don’t lose hope. There is always a person for everybody. She must be there waiting for you. But you must be a good person first before you meet a good wife.” Frank advised.
“Yeah. Amen.” I said. “Tell me about your wife- how is she? What does it feel to be a father?”
“Mine is hell bro- it’s like I rushed with my decisions.”
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
“She seems not to understand me and the nature of my work. She is always complaining that I don’t have time for her.”
“And is it not true?” I asked him.
“She is right but I think she is not using the right path to pass her message.”
“What has she done?”
“We are not in good terms now. Yesterday I tried to come home early because on the previous day she had complained. I found her feeding the kids and can you imagine what she did?”
“What?” I asked inquisitively.
“When they saw me and as our daughter ran toward me, as I cuddled her, she started hauling insults and calling me names imagine (there) in front of the kids. And by the way, I didn’t tell you before we married, she still had the kid-that girl. And so instead of letting me create a good relationship with the girl, she was saying how I am a bad father- who’s ever not there for the children. I have always dreamed of being a good father. And so when she ‘undressed’ me in front of the kids, I felt so bad and I ended beating her up.”
‘What! You really made a big mistake bro.”
“I know, but were it you, what would you have done?’” he asked helplessly.
“Although it is not an African style of being a husband, would I have been in your position, I wouldn’t have fought her. Yes, African men, we are programmed to be the kings of the house but we are not taught that there are many ways we can affect that without violence. Few understand nonviolent methods also works even in situations like that. It is true Women’s fire easily burns and though sometimes it can get out of control, it is easy for a wise man to put it off. I know you are wise. I would have let her slap me and then walk to the bedroom. I will stay there quietly for about five minutes and then politely call her as nothing has happened. Once she gets in, I will apologize. I will try to show her that whatever I am doing (always being busy with my work) is all because of her and our family- for a better future. And if she is really a good wife, she will too apologize. And after that harmoniously you will take care of the other issues. Women only need to be shown love and you will see their good selves.” I advised.
But how could an unmarried man advise a married man who is already a father of two even not one? I wondered what was going through his mind at the moment.
“Wow, that’s wonderful but is it practical! You are not dreaming, right?” he curtly asked.
“Yes, it’s very practical. You only need to face that kind of a situation soberly bearing in mind that the family is only yours and you didn’t start it to fail.”
“But I think it’s too late to do all that,” Frank said.
“No. it’s not. It’s never too late to make peace.” I assured him.
“Okay, let me now go home.”
“Good. And don’t forget to buy a flower I know everything will be alright.”
“Good point. Thanks.”
“What?” He cut me short.
“Thereafter, please, don’t be too busy at the expense of your family. Look for a way out- try to balance work and family. No situation is permanent and even when everything else turns against you, it’s your family that will stand by you. They need your time. Michael J Fox once said, ‘your family is not the important thing. It’s everything.’ And also it is not how big the house is, it is how happy the home is. Therefore, go home and make peace with your family. I wish you all the best bro.”
“Thank you. And I pray God to give you that somebody that will give you a chance to practically apply that knowledge.” He said jokingly.
“Amen,” I answered as we stood up ready to go.