‘You arrogant prick!’ Asif shouted standing up. He leaned forward, pointed a finger at his brother Tommy’s face & continued ‘You have always been an arrogant prick. Just because Abba loves you more doesn’t mean you get to take what is mine.’ He straightened up and briskly walked out of the conference room.
The room was filled with lawyers & paralegals on each side of the table. Asif’s legal team were lined on one side & Tommy’s were on the other. The morning sun illuminated the room, casting long shadows of each individual on the table. The silence ringed for a while before the lawyers looked at each other and decided that it would be a good time for a break. The room cleared out leaving Tommy to reflect on his own words that escalated the session out of control.
‘Well, I haven’t failed multiple companies into bankruptcy before.’ Tommy had said just before Asif burst a vein. Tommy knew better than anyone how much this has hurt Asif. It would be the last meeting before Tommy travelled to the other side of the world. Ali, the brothers’ father, suffers a cardiac arrest that night.
‘…the look on your face’ Ali continued to laugh, barely eating his dinner. Asif and Tommy sat on the table embarrassed by their dad.
‘Did you really have to tell that story again Abba?’ Asif asked in low voice. Ali laughed even more at his son’s embarrassment. Tommy shook his head with a shy smile on his face. The rest of the dinner continued with the trio reminiscing the years past. Finally, Ali started speaking about why he invited them for dinner.
‘I have decided to step down from the company, it is time for me to retire.’
Asif laughed for a second thinking of this as a joke but Ali only had a small smile for him. Tommy was the first one to sober up.
‘When do you expect to retire?’ Tommy asked earnestly.
‘I am thinking of six months. I need to do a lot of things before I can retire. Most prominently how should the company be run after I am gone’.
‘Abba!’ Asif tried to admonish his dad but Ali just smiled.
‘I love you both,’ Ali continued, ‘equally’. The last word was said with a pointed look at Asif. ‘I don’t want either of you to play second fiddle to each other. So, I have decided to split the company equally amongst you both.’
‘WHAT?!’ Asif & Tommy shouted together.
‘I understand it is a lot.’ Ali continued, his palms up in an attempt to placate his sons. ‘But I have been talking to my lawyer and he is drawing up plans to split the different aspects of the company into equal parts, so that each of you get an equal share.’
‘The companies would be siblings, hopefully working together…’ Ali stopped as Asif scoffed.
‘So, I worked with you for the last five years and now he gets to come in and take half?’ Asif accused. ‘That is how life has always been right? I do the hard-work, he gets to enjoy it.’ Asif got up & put his coat back on.
‘Wait. Let me explain things properly.’ Ali called out but Asif didn’t stop. He walked out of the restaurant without a glance back. Ali looked over at his other son to see Tommy putting on his jacket. ‘Not you too.’
‘It was good seeing you Abba.’ Tommy said. ‘I have told you that I don’t think Asif should be leading the company. He has failed enough number of times. Why do you have to keep bringing this up?’ With that, Tommy walked away.
Asif hasn’t moved away from Abba’s deathbed for a few minutes so Tommy came up to stand next to him. Asif blew air out of his nose when he noticed Tommy. He opened his mouth but didn’t say anything. They stood looking at their Abba for a few moments in silence.
‘I can still see the lines tears made on his face’ Asif muttered. Tommy didn’t see any but he nodded anyway.
‘He was waiting for you in the hospital. He was conscious for a while and he tried saying your name. He was sure you would show up.’ Asif accused. Tommy arrived at the hospital the night of the second & last surgery. Asif choked on his words and stopped talking. Tommy looked at his brother and saw he was crying.
‘He wanted was to see his sons together one last time.’ Tommy said & instantly regretted it. They both remembered the pain of words uttered last time they both were together. Tommy looked away. He wasn’t sure of what else to say & he expected anger from Asif. Asif continued sobbing as if he hadn’t heard Tommy at all.
‘He was in so much pain…he couldn’t speak, couldn’t eat or drink. I was wiping tears from his eyes on the first night.’
Tommy moved close to Asif to hug his brother but stopped. Slowly, as if Asif could be easily spooked, Tommy put his hand on Asif’s shoulder.
‘I am sorry…’ Tommy said with a tight throat. Asif’s knees buckled and Tommy caught him. The brothers wrapped their arms around each other and cried. They stayed together throughout the whole funeral, supporting each other & accepting condolences.