Since Halima’s husband died, she had faced one persecution or the other, it was the reason she left Lagos for Oshogbo. But still, they took her to court every other day, dragging the wealth her husband had left behind. Most times, she travelled to Lagos for court hearings, for this reason she put Cassandra in a boarding school and after her secondary education, she was sent to the United States for her higher education.
Ken had grown to be an upright child. He lived for his father’s approval, and did all the things boys his age did, and even more. He graduated from secondary school, top of his class, and was even the captain of his school’s football team. When his mother heard Cassandra had been sent to the United States to further her education, she also asked Gberan to send ken to the same school.
Ken meets up with Cassandra in America and they begin to date. Cassandra, though dating Ken, kept imagining what Dayo would look like now. Though everyone thought Dayo dead, she still believed Dayo was alive somewhere. She didn’t know how she came about that conclusion, but she just felt it in her heart that he was still alive. So, subconsciously, she withheld her heart from everyone, including Ken, waiting for the day that Dayo would come back into her life. So, ken always felt like her heart was not in the relationship and he always complained about it. Until he pushed Cassandra into having a relationship with somebody on the internet.
For his 18th birthday, Stone employs a tutor to tutor Dayo at home. He did this because, after watching the ground breaking of the orphanage established by Damilola, he could see the longing in Dayo’s eyes, and everyday afterwards, the boy got restless. Stone was afraid that he would abscond someday and rat them out. Also as a gift, he changed Dayo’s name officially to Robert with the help of a judge who was once his client. Dayo passed his examinations in flying colours and gained admission into the university of Osun, to study Medicine. He never forgot his mother’s dream, and everything he did, he did towards achieving his goal. Even joining the gang, was to preserve his life long enough to achieve his mother’s dreams. He had passed his Cambridge examinations and had applied to one of the Ivy league universities in America. Due to his high performance, he had been accepted into UCLA, but Stone had refused to let him go.
Stone: “The only way you can leave us is through death” he stated bluntly.
Dayo didn’t have any friends because, Stone did not allow him associate with anyone, for risk of being found out. So, Dayo found succour in the internet. This was a capital case of having all the things money could buy, and not being happy still. Stone gave him anything he wanted that money could buy, like clothes, phones, he could even drive any car he wanted in the compound, but his freedom he could not have.
One day, he was on social media when a girl sent him an instant message, he opened it and viewed her picture. He was shocked, it was Cassandra of his childhood. She had grown more beautiful and robust, but her face had not changed one bit. He made to type a long message to her, as a friend who had found his long-lost friend. But he remembered Stone had warned him about contacting anybody from his past. So, he refrained from gushing to her and only replied ‘hi’. However, that did not deter Cassandra, as she continued chatting him up.
Soon, they became close friends, and spent all their waking hours chatting. Cassandra told him about a childhood love whom she lost, and hoped to see again. But Dayo had no personal stories to tell her. He only told her about Stone, whom he lied was his father., and stories about his school and the course he was reading.
Cassandra: “So, you are going to be a doctor. I guess you can treat my mother, she is always sad”
Dayo: “Why” he asked, remembering the nice woman who rarely smiled, but had good eyes that reflected a good soul.
Cassandra: “Well, my father died, and willed everything to me and my mother. But my uncles and aunties are unhappy with that, it is the reason they have been after my mother. She goes to court every other day, it is the reason she sent me to the States” she texted back. She was surprised that she told this stranger, things she did not tell her boyfriend, Ken.
Dayo: “I am sorry about your father, he is probably in heaven smiling down on you” he said
Cassandra: “You believe that, are you a kid?” she teased, but Dayo didn’t find it funny because, these were the words of his daddy Gberan, and he held on to it through the years, hoping that his mother was in heaven smiling down on him.
Cassandra: “You never told me your name” she said one day and Dayo rushed to type his name, but held himself back when he remembered he was no longer Dayo.
Dayo: “I am called Robert”
Cassandra: “Rob, I am Cassandra”
They became so close that Dayo began to have feelings for Cassandra, but the fear that he was living a lie kept him from entertaining such feelings. What hope was there for him, when Stone had forbidden him from meeting with anyone from his past. How could he love someone whom he couldn’t even tell his real name?
Dayo kept a journal where he wrote down all his feelings which he couldn’t speak out. In the journal, he wrote about Stone and their love-hate relationship. He loved Stone because he had become a big brother figure to him, and he never involved him in the crimes they committed, since after he turned twelve and they became close. When they went for their operations, he took Dayo along, but always made him sit in the car with the driver, and he would always tell the driver that whenever there was incidence of police invasion, the driver should take Dayo away to a safe house. However, Dayo hated him also because, he had kept from living his life, it was like his life was paused. He had no friends, learnt nothing other than his school books and stuffs he found online. Things his age groups did, he could not do because he was a prisoner of Stone. Sometimes, he felt like Stone had grown too fond of him, that he was afraid of losing him. He had a tight hold on Dayo, that was choking him.
Inside the journal, he also wrote about meeting Cassandra again after so many years. He wrote about his feelings for her and how he was tempted to run away back to his family because then he would have a chance to pursue his feelings for Cassandra. One day, he had slept off while writing in the journal, and Stone had found it. He spent the night reading about Dayo’s thoughts which he had written in the book. He took Dayo’s phone and went to his Facebook messages, he saw the ones he exchanged with Cassandra, and then he typed one final message to Cassandra before blocking her. The message read “I am sorry but I have no use for your type, it was boring chatting with you, all you do is whine about your boyfriend. Do you even have a boyfriend, or you just want to make me ask you out? That is not happening because I have got a girlfriend and you are not in her league”
The next morning, Stone had the housekeeper make breakfast for them and then he called Dayo to the dining table. It was the first time they were eating together; the dining area was rarely used as everyone ate in their rooms. But today, he had something important to tell Dayo.
Stone: “I saw all you wrote in your journal” he said and watched Dayo’s face contort in anger.
Dayo: “That was personal, I do not invade your privacy, respect mine” he quipped.
Stone: “As long as you are in my house, you have no privacy” he said calmly, turning the pancake in his plate around, with his fork.
Dayo: “Then let me go” he fired back.
Stone: “After everything I have done for you, you have a future because of me. What chances would you have had doing Alabaru?”
Dayo: “I am sorry” he said contritely.
Stone: “You violated my instructions, I told you never to have contact with anyone from your past, but you did. Final warning, I don’t want to find out you have any contacts with Cassandra or any other person from your past” he said, this time his eyes were hard.
Dayo: “She did not know it was me, I am not doing anything to jeopardize your safety” he entreated, Cassandra was the only link to his past and he needed that, to be sure he had not lost himself.
Stone: “Our safety, remember that you are also a wanted person. Don’t forget” he replied and pushed the food away.
“The only thing I remember is my mother’s dream. You forced me, it was that or my life, I can still explain to the police. Now more than ever, I have to attempt an escape from Stone” He mused as he watched Stone go up the stairs.
Dayo settled down to his food, and ate slowly, enjoying every bite. Now, he had decided to escape, he felt free and peaceful. He realized that Cassandra had been the motivation to escape. Tomorrow he would attempt an escape from Stone. He had saved up some money, not knowing why he needed to, but now it would come handy. For the moment he left Stone’s grip, he was fleeing to Lagos and to the arms of his fathers, Gberan and Damilola. He had forgiven his father because it was the only way for him to be happy. He never judged people for their actions, only God had that right, his daddy Gberan had told him so.
Question: Would Dayo succeed in escaping the bondage of Stone and the gang, or would he be stopped?
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