The Lorry Driver
“It was not entirely my fault. Your mother was planning to kill me. I had to run for my life. She was evil. She wanted to kill me and take over my property with her boyfriend. I faked my death and ran. That was all I could do in the circumstance.” The lorry driver said to Ada who had summoned the courage to ask questions about what transpired before her father’s disappearance. They were now sitting at the veranda of the house. All of them, including the conductor wore mournful looks as if someone had just died.
“So you think it was the right thing to run away and leave your daughter to suffer? You abandoned your family. I was a child and you left me under the care of a woman who you said was evil. You think it was the right thing to do?” Ada asked the lorry driver.
“It was the best decision at the time. If I had died, it would have been worse for you. I know you won’t understand and I don’t blame you. Of a truth, you were a child. But it was best to run away, and to be alive for you today than for me to have stayed and died cheaply. They would have killed me and you wouldn’t have had a father to pay your university school fees today. You may not know it, but I have been secretly taking care of you. Even after I disappeared, I still secretly sent money to your mother’s account. I didn’t do it with my personal account, that’s why she never knew.” The lorry driver said. He was holding a bunch of keys and as he talked, he was using one of the keys to scratch his head.
“By the way, how did you fake your death? Because I was there when you were buried and even scooped sand and poured into your grave. Who was the person in the coffin if you were not the one? How were you able to pull it off? How did you fool the whole village to the extent that they buried a coffin without knowing what or who was in it?” Ada asked. The lorry driver demanded for water. Ada reluctantly went into the house and produced a cup of water for him. He gulped it and demanded for another one. He complained that the cup was too small. He also gulped the second cup like a dehydrated person.
“It was very easy for me to fake my death because I had trusted friends who were ready to help me carry out my plans. They also knew what I was going through in the hands of my wife, so they were ready to cooperate with me. The first thing we did was to announce in the village that I had a ghastly motor accident. My family was told that the accident was so bad that my body could not be recovered. What was in that coffin was never my body, it was a stone. My friends told you people that they just picked a stone at the scene of the accident because my body was nowhere to be found. They dropped a stone in the coffin and buried as tradition demanded.” The lorry driver said. Ada was stupefied by the story she just heard. She remembered that on the day her father was buried, the coffin was no opened. No one was allowed to see who was inside.
“I did it for you my daughter. Trust me, your mother was a bad woman and she wanted to destroy my life. I so much loved her. My love for her was such that I could not do anything to her even when I caught her with another man. But I had to act wisely to save my life when she and the man started planning to get rid of me. There was nothing else I could do. I wanted to stay alive and raise you. I had to run as far as I could.” The lorry driver said. The conductor hasn’t said a word since the conversation started. He listened silently.
After listening to her father, Ada’s memories were revived. She remembered a particular man who kept coming close to her mother after her father’s death was announced. She remembered how her mother started searching for the documents to her father’s properties after his supposed death. Everything now made sense.
She remembered that her mother had multiple boyfriends who her father did not even know about. She remembered that they took turns to visit with her mother each time the lorry driver went on a trip. Indeed, her mother was a lonely woman because the lorry driver was always on the road. He only came home once in a month and he only spent one weekend with his family. This made his wife to slide into loneliness and to start looking for ways to satisfy herself. Ada remembered how her mother used to be sad always. The men in her life made her happy in the absence of her husband.
“Father, I believe you. I remember clearly what happened after your death was announced. Even though it pains me that you were not present in my childhood, I’m still happy that you are alive.” Ada said after allowing her father to explain himself.
“But it was not entirely my mother’s fault. You were never present. You were only coming home once in a while. Even as a child, it took me a long while to realize that you were actually my father and not a visitor. You were always on the road driving. My mother was a human, not an angel. Much as I don’t defend what she did, I think she was a troubled woman. She was lonely because you were never by her side. You were an absentee husband and only very few women can live with that. I think you are also to blame. Imagine if it was your wife that was always absent, would you blame yourself if you looked for another woman? Put yourself in her shoes. She just wanted to be happy and you were not there to give her the happiness.” Ada said firmly.
“I think she is right. Your wife can’t take the blame alone. You were not physically present; she had to look for another man’s attention. But she went too far.” The conductor said. He was speaking for the first time since the beginning of the long conversation.
“I agree! I share the blame too. But the most important thing now is that I want to stay behind and take care of you my daughter. Now that we are together again, I promise never to leave your side. I will always stand by you.” The lorry driver said. Ada stood up and hugged her father. Both of them cried. Even the conductor joined them to shade tears. It was a sweet reunion. The lorry driver returned to the village and built a new house and started living with Ada.
Meanwhile, the conductor wanted to date Ada but she told him she was not interested.
“What happened between us in the lorry the other night was just a mistake. I don’t think we should be dating. We are better off as friends.” Ada told him and that was the end of the matter.