A small but oil-rich state in Lasegeria, Endassa, sits at the centre of the economic and financial strength of the entire Lasegeria, one of the top 25 wealthiest countries in the world. One would think that since they were making so much from oil, they would have a stable and flourishing economy, but this was not to be.
Its governor, Kulala Bodega, was vested in the growth and development of the state and its people, which attracted the love and respect of his people towards him, but how far can he go to withstand the powers that be and secure the interest of his people?
He had woken up one morning and prepared to go about his duties to his people but contrary to his usual demeanour, he seemed worried, nervous and shaken to the bones. Both his assistant, Akachi, and his wife, Awiti, noticed. Things got a lot more complicated when he cancelled all the meetings and arrangements he had planned for the day and instead met with his adviser, Hakana, in a secret meeting at his office without his assistant having the slightest knowledge as to what the meeting was about; which was unusual.
He would eventually come out of the meeting with his adviser all tensed before attending a lunch meeting with the Japanese; one that his assistant considered very important.
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They made another stop at the newly constructed hospital which was to be launched that day by him. The opening ceremony was grand as the people chanted and celebrated their well-meaning and outstanding leader.
The entire unclear emotions the governor portrayed that day would come to a crescendo when he commanded Akachi to go home without him as he needed to make a discreet stop at the dock, a place so unfit for the governor to be alone.
The greatest worry though was the governor requesting that Akachi do him the favour of watching over his family in the event that he doesn’t return. What could possibly be going on? Where was Kulala Bodega going?
Let’s find out:
Endassa was located right in the heart of Lasegeria, but this is not the reason for why it was considered to be an indispensable part on the map of the region, the primary incentive was its highest oil-producing assets. Ever since the prices of oil started touching the skies, Endassa grew in power and took more significant steps towards a more stable economy until it was the steadiest economy in the entire region making its governor Bodega one of the most influential people in the country.
Endassa was relatively smaller than the other states surrounding it, but its behemoth economy made it the big fish that it was. Some even called it the golden goose with all the oil reservoirs lusciously ripen and ready. As per the most recent World Bank report, Lasegeria stood firm in the top twenty-five wealthiest countries in the entire world for its oil reserves in Endassa, with a secure position in the financial industry in the continent.
Apart from the oil production, the governor was planning to promote tourism since the different ethnic groups, colorful heritage and beautiful forests and caverns surrounded by waterfall and beaches could be an excellent attraction for the tourists if show-cased wisely. The president had a special bonding with the governor, Bodega, for his dedication and love towards the nation. The respect Bodega earned came after a long journey of hard work and sacrifices on his end,
some he wasn’t even sure if he wanted to make. He practiced law before joining politics and as soon as he stepped into the public affairs and that of the state, he knew precisely why it was termed as a dirty business.
Despite of his feelings towards politics, Bodega was great at what he did. He was loved by commoners and the people involved in the affairs of the government equally, or at least it seemed that way. He was a leader, born to show people the light at the end of a tunnel; he had the courage it takes to achieve the impossible and he had a love for his homeland and his people that was what made him the nation’s hero.
It was a regular morning in the governor’s residence except for a slight change in the dynamic governor’s mood. Bodega was agitated and unsettled unlike his usual confident self for a reason his assistant Akachi could not decipher. As Akachi went through the details of how the governor’s day was further planned, he realized that Bodega was not quite ready to start his day at all which was surprising because he was always looking forward to parties and charity events.
“Maybe he is sick or something,” Akachi told himself as he looked at the slightly green shade on the governor’s face. Only if he knew what had been eating Bodega on the inside, Akachi would ask him to lock himself up in his room once again.
Bodega was sweating so much that his wife Awiti, who was eating breakfast with
their children at the dining table across the room, noticed it, too and approached them with a worried expression.
“What is it, lief? Are you alright?” She murmured as she touched his forehead.
“Ja, ja!! I am fine.” Bodega held her by the shoulders and pushed her away gently making sure he doesn’t look her in the eye. She was Awiti, the woman he loved, the woman who knew him inside out and he did not want to worry her by any means. He looked at his giggling daughters, so carefree and filled with innocence and he knew he had to do everything he could to protect his family.
“Akachi, what are we doing after the hospital dedication today? Bodega cleared his throat and asked, his voice not as weak as it sounded earlier.
“Sir, meeting with the advisor before lunch, the invitation for lunch has been accepted by the Japanese delegation and you are invited as the chief guest at the hospital dedication today.” Akachi started animatedly like a radio program.
“Nothing after that?” Bodega questioned him in a flat tone.
“Dinner with the…” Akachi began but was interrupted by the governor.
“Cancel everything lined up for the evening. I have to be somewhere else.” “But sir, what could be more important than dinner with the state officials?” Akachi started freaking out.
“Something that should not concern you, Akachi. Back off! And do as I told you to do.” Bodega seemed to be an entirely different person and Akachi knew exactly not to cross him with that mood.
Breakfast was a quick event, as Bodega looked as nervous as he had been throughout the family routine, with Awiti watching like with a worried expression. Once they were done, Bodega hugged and kissed his daughters Daliya and Layla who were twins and held them longer than he usually would. Then he turned to Awiti, kissing her forehead, he murmured,
“Liefling, do take care and be strong no matter what, okay?”
“And what does that mean? Stop scaring me like that Bodi, as if you are going somewhere or leaving us. Are you?” Awiti was now on the verge of crying.
“Awiti, hey! You are the strongest woman I have known, do not say like that. You are the one our girls look upto. Just be there for them even if I am not. Being a government official is not easy, who would know it better than you, gets crazy sometimes. “
“What are you so nervous about? Please tell me.” Awiti begged. She knew her husband was someone who always gave an air of confidence wherever he went, and it was so unlike him being so fidgety.
“Nah, it is nothing. It’s been a long time since we got to relax. I think we should plan a vacation.” Bodega tried to sound nonchalant.
“That’s it?” Awiti searched his eyes.
“Ja, my lief.” Now I should better be going, don’t want to be late. “And I might be late tonight. Do not wait for me, eat without me and go to bed.” He kissed her forehead again and left the room before he could crumble in front of his wife and daughters.
As he reached his office, he found his advisor waiting for him already looking as nervous and as green as Bodega himself. Without saying a word, he opened the door for Bodega and waited for him to get inside so he could follow, but Bodega stopped in his tracks.
“Akachi, you stay here. Also, we are not to be disturbed unless we come out.” Akachi was shocked once more but chose not to say anything.
Bodega and the advisor, Hakana, went into the office and locked the door behind them. Hours passed and Akachi grew restless as all he could think about was the meeting with the Japanese delegation. He didn’t want to be late or worst cancel it knowing that this meeting is crucial in developing a trade relationship with Japan. Before Akachi could knock the door, he saw them coming out of the room looking greener than before. What exactly could be so nerve-wrecking that these two do not want to share with him or anyone? He wondered.
Walking towards Akachi, Bodega took his handkerchief out and cleaned his forehead.
“Is it time for lunch already?” Bodega entreated him as if he was dreading that the day was passing too fast.
“Yes, sir!” Akachi gulped and nodded. “Are we ready to leave?”
“Can you get me a cold drink of water, please?” The governor’s voice was a little shaky too.
Akachi scrutinized him and went” Sir, are you okay? You are sweating bullets.” “Yes, yes, yes! Just get me some water please!” Bodega replied.
Akachi fetched him some water which he downed in one gulp and took some heavy breaths. “Let’s go, get those Japanese.” Bodega smiled awkwardly and they were ready to leave.
The lunch went pleasantly on the contrary to Akachi’s expectations. Bodega looked like his usual confident self again, like he was wearing a mask. There were talks of a huge deal coming up from the Japanese delegation that would make Endassa not only the most powerful state in Lasegeria but one of the most powerful states in the entire world and all the eyes were on that deal.
As calm and composed that Bodega was, there was something about him that worried Akachi. The calm demeanor was just on the surface; inside he was a burning man. Something was eating him up, something he was helpless about, something that he could not fight. Akachi had been with Bodega for years and he wished the governor would trust him enough to share what was bothering him, maybe he could help. Akachi would take a bullet for Bodega that much he was sure of, then why wouldn’t he tell him what was wrong?
After the lunch, they were to head straight for the hospital, which was constructed in the memory of the bomb blast victims that killed around 47 people in a remote area of Lasegeria. Bodega looked over each and every step of the making of the hospital personally, it was like his dream project, He had once told Akachi, “When I’d see sick children been treated in the hospital for free, I would know that I have made a difference.”
Even the agonizing worry could not fade Bodega’s excitement for the hospital inauguration. As soon as they reached the hospital venue, they were pounced on by the paparazzi. Bodega was the beloved of the nation, and these reporters would never skip an opportunity to click him in public. The speech he was to make in the ceremony was much anticipated as everyone wanted to know how the deal with Japan would help their economy rise higher. The surrounding area of the venue was brimful with the commoners gathered there just to have a glimpse of their leader. The people of Lasegeria were filled with gratitude for his services to the
nation. Bodega waved at the people with a huge grin plastered on his face, each pore of him radiating love for the nation.
As they reached the internal entrance, they saw how the hospital team had put a massive poster of Bodega and the whole place was covered with flowers. Everyone waited till Bodega waved to the people once again and took the scissors from Akachi so that he could cut the ribbon. As the ribbon was cut, there was a massive cheering from the people around them. Bodega’s eyes were filled with the tears of joy as he knew his dream had finally come true.
They were shown around all the wards and emergency rooms, including the vicinity where the students learning to become doctors would live, that was the space Bodega had most hopes for. The more doctors come out of it; the more sick people would get treatment and care. Bodega had a vision for a more prosper Lasegeria where every child has a belly full and has proper access to education.
Not just Endassa but the whole country must have these basic needs, was his motto and that’s what he was loved for. After the tour and the inspection, they were all rushed into the big conference room where all the elites of the society were gathered to hear what Bodega had to share about the deal. There was another
enormous poster of Bodega’s smiling face etched near the stage, which he looked at smiling the same way, knowing it was his people’s love for him. As he walked
up to the dais and stood in front of the podium, the crowd suddenly went silent. Bodega began, “My dear people, we are gathered here today to pay our tribute to the scared lives lost in the heinous blast. We can not bring them back or make things right for the mourning families, but we can make sure that incidents like that never happen again. Never will any family mourn their loved ones again. Every life is sacred and should be treated as such, and therefore, we planned to establish this medical facility for the sick and the ones battling for their lives. I request you all to support causes of the like so that in the war with the darkness, humanity wins. Also, I promise you all a better tomorrow, as we are in the middle of finalizing a deal with Japan that would take Endassa to the heights it has never seen before. Good times are coming, where each one of my people would be prosperous and happy, all I ask you for in these times is your prayers and support. Together, we shall all touch the sky.”
The thunder of applause was so loud that nobody could hear anything else. People knew that their governor was the man of his word and if he is making a promise, he will make sure he lived it. The walk back to the car was strenuous, as everyone wanted to shake hands or give flowers to Bodega, who suddenly looked nervous again after looking at his watch. Akachi walked faster than ever so that they dodge the erupting crowd, but Bodega was literally dragging his feet which was making it harder to do so.
After what felt like forever, they were finally in the car and the driver drove off as soon as they were in.
“Sir! Where exactly do we go now?” Akachi turned to look at Bodega who was in the seat behind.
“Nowhere.” Sighed Bodega and pulled out his wallet where he had a picture of his happy family. The girls giggling as usual and Awiti as radiant as the sun. They
were his lifelines and they were keeping him going. “I want you to drive me to the dock and leave. I shall go further on my own.”
Akachi gaped at him, “But, sir the dock at this time is not safe for you. Please let me accompany you.”
“Akachi, I don’t want to hear anything. Do as you are told.” Bodega said firmly and looked outside the window, his heart pounding hard in his chest as he replayed the phone-call he received last night about the meeting he was about to attend. He knew he couldn’t escape it even when he wanted to, and he had to face it. For Awiti, for his daughters and for his people who he loved dearly. He had no choice but to be strong and face his fears. “Isn’t it so funny, Akachi? People think I am so powerful, the mighty Bodega who has everything? Money and power and what not?”
“You are the mighty Bodega, sir” Akachi pressed. “Leaders like you do not happen often. Endassa is extremely lucky to have you.”
Bodega laughed a bitter laughter, “Even the mightiest of the mighties have fears. Fears that crawl on to their spines when they are alone and when they are with people.”
The driver pulled the car at the dock and Bodega asked them both to leave. Akachi seemed a bit reluctant but had to get out of the car too.
“Akachi, will you take care of my family if I am gone? Promise me?” Bodega pulled the glass down and threw the scary words at him.
“Sir..” Akachi’s eyes widened.
“Tell me. Promise me” Bodega insisted
“Why would you say so? Is everything alright?” Akachi questioned anxiously
“Yes, maybe” Bodega shrugged “Just take care of them for me, no matter what.” “Don’t say like that, sir. I…” before Akachi could complete his sentence, Bodega had driven off.”