Clasped hands

It's one of life's greatest paradoxes, a breaking heart beats frantically. Mike Adigun is only 27, but if you could see his hands alone as they trembled right now, clasped to his face, you'd imagine him a septuagenarian. Fragile as they seemed though, his hands had built one of the city's most successful digital businesses in three years, but his pride may have destroyed something more beautiful.

Mike's pride is not the type you'd see everyday, it's not the type you'd find in rude conceited remarks aimed at proving superiority, nor is it the type that stems from narcissism. No, his pride was different because it was birthed out of shame- the kind of shame you'd feel when you're an only child with the history of failures he had. The kind of shame that's rooted in the desire to rid himself of the familiar tone of disappointment he heard in every conversation with his parents about his choice to start a company rather than get a job. They had every right to be disappointed, their sacrifices funded his many failures.

You see, Mike failed his way through childhood. It was common practice for Keith and Moyo, his parents, to visit his school teachers to discuss how he could move into the next class despite the fact that he had not made the grade. Expensive after-school home teachers made little difference to their son's grades- their only child seemed a destined failure. At university, Mike barely made it through, taking five years to complete a three year program in computer science- he was rather accustomed to failure, and had made peace with it.

Two significant things began in Mike's life three years ago that led him to tonight. Both started slowly and both were excruciating. The first was the birth of his company, the second was the death of the relationship he had with his parents. Self exile was the only escape from the indignity their voices made him feel; he wanted, no he needed to be left alone. But now, as Naomi, his fiance delivers the news of accident, his first response was not fear, but agony at the reality that alone is all he may ever have left. He unclasps his hands from his face, looks up to her with the hopeful uncertainty of a child and asks, 'Are they still alive'?

She pauses, her lips tightening as her eyelids became the dam that held back an overflow 'I don't know mike, no one knows'- the dam fails.

'They were making their way to your village house in Abeokuta, with your uncle and his wife driving behind them, when your dad steered off the road to avoid an Ox'... she pauses again, in another failing attempt at holding back tears... 'their car tumbled down the cliff into darkness and no one has been able to get through to them yet... Your uncle called while we were at the gala... '

Mike was familiar with the darkness Naomi spoke about. As a child on those yearly trips to the village with his parents, he would stare through the window of His dad's yellow Mercedes into what seemed like oblivion. The road to Abeokuta was terrible, filled with pot holes, riddled with bumps- and because it was very well lit with absolutely no street lights, the thick valley of forests that bounded it on either side always appeared to young Mike as dark velvet curtains draped from the skyline to the edge of the tarmac. He often wondered why they always drove to the village at night, but could never ask, as most times they would begin the trip right after they had picked him up from his last day of school with his report card in hand.

As the news settles in, he attempts to make his way out of the edge of his sofa, simultaneously unbuttoning his Tom Ford tux, unhinging his pitch black bow tie, and turning his sight to the framed picture of his parents hanging on the wall of his penthouse. Naomi watched as he gazed compassionately at their smiling faces, she could see his aching soul combing through the dark thickets in search for his folks. She sighs. The irony was palpable. Tonight had been the biggest night of Mike's life, having just received the UK's most prestigious Digital Entrepreneur of the year award, they had both imagined they'd cap the night by sharing a bottle of Chateau Latour , whilst priding his parents with substantial news of success, but Life had other plans... and Mike couldn't help but feel unprepared for what was to come next.

You’re made of the stuff of miracles

O.O.kukoyi