I found him. He was dead for hours. His body was hanging from the door post, neck broken by the rope he hung himself with. The stool he had stood on before he kicked it away was broken. His death must have been painful. Looks like he kicked it severally trying to find his footing but it was too late.
The house smell; Grant’s bowels had let loose in the process.
I was going to make that call when I saw the note folded on the table. I took it and threw it into my rag-sack before I called the police.
Three days later, we stood at the cemetery. We buried him, family crying and friends shaking their heads.
“Why would he do it?” they asked again and again. No one called him a coward. They all knew he could have been as charming as an angel or as cruel as the devil. I stood there, watching the coffin being buried, tears streaming down my face. I had seen him order the death of hundreds with the same ease one asked the house help for water. He has always been decisive, going all the way and never letting emotions get the better of him.
Our father would have been disappointed if he were alive. He would have shot him off the door frame and kicked him before throwing him down the river. But he was no more. He died the death that suited him; shooting at his enemies in a revenge raid. His enemies respected him even to death. They attended his funeral and called for a cease fire.
Grant had tried to fill the shoes and for a while he had. He was more ruthless than dad, or so I thought. Maybe he wasn’t half the man, I think as my mother puts her hand on my shoulder.
“I know it’s hard but you are going to have to be strong now,” she said. I looked at her, all dressed in black. She looked elegant even at this time. “You have to take over the company.” She said and walked into her car. I stood there, watching the spot where they put him until everyone had gone.
From my pocket, I removed the crumbled note and read it again.
I write this, tears streaming down my face, hands shaking and with the full knowledge that this might be the most selfish thing that I have ever done. But to do it, I feel I must. Over the last few years, I have felt that I do not belong. I have lived a life, one where I pretended to be happy, pretended that everything was going well in my life but the truth is that it has not been.
I have had secrets, kept things that burned the insides of me; things that I wanted to say but how could I say them? I was the pillar of the family you said, the one who held it together and yes I tried to do that. I held on to the company secrets, kept the things we did that forgiveness would never want to be part of all bottled in me. You enjoyed the money, I lived with the guilt. We made people homeless, divided families and broke people’s hearts, but who cared as long as the accounts were full?
You had drinking problems, infidelity and divorces. You stole from each other, lied to each other, drank and fornicated from Monday to Sunday. And when you couldn’t do that, you come into my office accusing each other of heinous crimes and I sat there with a smile and told you it would be okay.
I tackled every one of your problems, one after another but who tackled my problems. When it all went bad, everyone came to me. I was the logical one, the understanding one, the sympathetic one; never in my life did I seek to address my problems because I was too busy addressing yours.
I don’t know when it started but the sadness that has overwhelmed me has been there since the beginning of time. And every time I was sad, the sadder thing was no one understood. Everyone said I was a man of many thoughts, prone to be silent for long periods of time.
I am blaming all of you. I was busy living my life to better yours and you enjoyed that. I can no longer live this life. I am not strong, not brave and don’t care for anything anymore. I guess years of being your main pillar have brought that on me. When I am gone, maybe you will all change, shut the company and seek God.
And maybe where I go, I would find peace.
I returned the note to my pocket and closed my eyes. The family must go on. That is something that cannot be changed. I walked to my car, the driver opened the back seat and as he drove out of the cemetery, I remembered what grandfather used to say. “Once a mafia, always a mafia.”
I would head the family until my time is finished. I close my eyes as we drive into the city.