Adelaide teaches music in an elementary school. When she doesn’t do that, she spends her leisure daytime busking, and also works as a nightclub DJ. Her life simply is music. Laide grew up in Port Isaac, a small fishing village. Growing up with a guitarist mother and a father who is a fisherman helped Laide in developing great finance management skills. Although Laide loved her parents as much as she loved Port Isaac, it was pretty certain that her future was not seeded in her hometown.
At the age of 19, Laide moved to Birmingham where she furthers her education, making music her major. Coming from a family with a very low income, Laide learns to labour for everything she had by washing public toilets, playing the mandolin at tiny Italian restaurants, and picking up all sort of shifts during her free time. She is a hard worker.
Laide had a roommate in college. Malia became her best and only friend. Malia laid quietly on her bed as Laide walked into the bedroom. Without looking up, Malia said to Laide, “come check this out”. She sauntered towards Malia and knelt beside her bed while staring at her screen. It was a webpage giving details about an upcoming instrumental music concert. Without giving it much thought, Laide replied Malia while heading to her bed before collapsing on it dramatically, “Not interested”.
“Why?”, Malia asked, her voice going up a notch.
“Because I don’t like performing on stage. It sucks”
“I am sure you have done that a couple of times in your lectures! Why would you major in music and learn how to play ten musical instruments if you are never going to be interested in performing?”
“I don’t have to be a performer to show my love for music. I have always wanted to teach kids how to play instruments. I think it would make me happy” Laide said as if lost in thought. At that moment, Malia and Laide knew it was a blatant lie. That was not the truth. Not for Laide.
After a lot of persuasion and pep talks, Laide decided to go for the audition. With candidate number 287 neatly clipped on her crisply ironed white shirt, she sat patiently for a long time until ten minutes to her own auditioning time. After excusing herself to the restroom, Laide walked out of the studio with wobbly legs and trembling hands. Never to come back.
Three years after graduating from college, Laide still struggles to make ends meet. After her dad passed away from CTE two years ago, she asked her mom to come live with her in Birmingham. It seemed like the right decision to make then. Not so much now.
At 2 PM, Laide is still at the school with a bunch of third graders going a bit out of her control when she receives a call from yet another unknown number.
“Hello”, Laide says. The caller replies briskly, “Hi. Am I speaking to Adelaide Smith?”
“Yes, you are. How can I help?”
“We have Jaya Smith at the city hospital. You have been contacted as it seems that you are her legal……” Laide finds it hard to hear the words of the caller as she loses every train of thought and switches into a full panic mode.
“Is it anything serious?” Laide asks as she mutters a prayer under her breath
“I’m afraid I can’t reveal any information to you, without confirming your relationship with her.” This seems to jolt Laide to a stop as she calms herself before replying the caller.
“Right. I’ll be there in twenty. Thanks” She hangs up as she heads to the HR. Five minutes later, Laide is cleared for the day.
Laide has terrible memories of hospitals. She was previously in the hospital, looking after her dad before his demise. She was also admitted in the hospital, back when she was fourteen. Both her parents looked after her then. Back here she was again, for her mother this time. After a dreadful fifteen minutes with the receptionist, Laide is allowed to see Jaya.
Laide knew, due to her pessimistic mindset that this was going to be horrendous. However, she was not expecting this terrifying sight of her mother. Her head is thoroughly bandaged, leaving a few of her facial features to view. She is attached to an IV, with both her legs in a cast.
“What happened?” Laide asks the doctor with nametag Mr Khan in a whisper as she faintly seats on the closest armchair to her.
The doctor briefs her on how an intruder broke into their apartment and engaged in a fight with her mom which resulted in her getting strangled. He reveals that she has multiple head injuries due to the intruder who repetitively bangs her head on presumably different harmful surfaces in the apartment.
“You should be hopeful though. She is actively responding to treatment and should be awake but groggy in a few hours.”
The doctor kept talking and going through her mom’s injuries with but she just could not seem to focus. “Why would anyone want to harm my mom?”, Laide thought.
“What did the intruder want?” She asks the doctor who looks a bit confused
“You would have to ask the police officer in charge”
The police officer comes a few hours after the doctor’s departure for questioning. Jaya is still not awake yet so instead, she fills Laide in with more information about the crime which has taken place in her apartment.
“We have him in our custody although he still needs to be in the hospital for a few days” Jaya had hit the intruder, in her defence, on the head with an umbrella which caused him a concussion. Smart woman.
The police officer continues, “We have also been able to identify that this intruder was arrested for a crime reported by your parents.”
At that moment, Laide’s whole world stops. The anxiety, worry and fear that has been buried for eleven years in her seem to slowly unfold.
“What’s the name of the criminal?”, Laide asks, unable to hide her shaky voice. The woman goes through the files that she has with her before looking up to answer. “Elijah Thomas. Ring a bell?”
Immediately, Laide’s demeanour changes as she processes this information, and tries to slow down her trembling hands. Elijah was one of the regular friend of a friend’s son Laide’s dad taught how to fish. He was supposed to live with Laide and her parents for the time he spent in Port Isaac while learning how to fish. At the tender age of fourteen, Elijah constantly raped and assaulted Laide until she was vocal enough to tell her parents who took necessary legal measures.
After a few months in court, the case was dismissed on the note that there was not enough evidence even though there were scan results that showed the aggressive sexual assault imposed on Laide.
“Are you ok?” Jaya’s crooked, almost inaudible voice filled the prolonging silence, which prevented Laide from having to answer the officer’s question. Ringing the bell to request for a nurse, Laide shifted closer to her mom as she directed the question back at her.
As the police officer waits to question Jaya who thinks she is well enough to answer her questions against Laide’s opinion, the nurse comes in to check her injuries and offer her medications and necessary care before exiting the room.
“How did he break-in?” The officer starts to ask Jaya questions Laide accurately predicted answers to.
Jaya answering all the questions recounted the event to Laide which created a vivid image that accurately painted the disaster that had taken place in her house.
Jaya gets better after a few weeks in the hospital and is later discharged to go home. A trial is set up for the appearance of Elijah in court. Being in court triggers a lot of memories Laide would have rather flung under the bed if it was left to her. The feeling of hope, which was later replaced with hurt and anger in which Laide felt in a courtroom similar to the one she presently is in eleven years ago seems to slowly resurface again. What if this erratic behaviour of Elijah finally gets him convicted for all the unjust he has done? What if he is given a life imprisonment sentence? One wouldn’t be given such a sentence for burglary now, would they? He did more than that though. There is even an eyewitness this time who saw Elijah trying to break in and also took a picture of him in the process.
Millions of what-ifs keep flying through Laide’s train of thought till the Judge commences the trial. “Shall we begin?”
After two hours of a constant back and forth defence between the prosecutor and defendant, the trial is dismissed for the day till the next month.
“I think we did well for this first round?” Jaya says, with a hint of hope.
Elijah had the guts to plead “not guilty”. Laide remembers how the prosecutor repeatedly slammed evidence in the defendant’s face. Still, that does not make her feel any better. There was a lot of evidence to slam at Elijah eleven years ago.
Months later, after constant appearances in the courtroom, Laide finally got the Jury’s verdict. Elijah was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was wanted for another case of rape. Why would a wanted person do something so reckless? forever locked up till the end of time. How brutal does that sound? Brutal to everyone who hears but Laide. To her, life has just finally begun! She feels free and liberated.
Due to the constant appearances in court over the month, Laide has had to constantly take time off work which made Laide’s private life become not so private. Most of her colleagues knew about the break-in her mom’s assault and snippets about her family’s previous connection with Elijah Thomas. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire. Laide decides to move away from Birmingham to Manchester with her mom. Starting afresh has always been easy for Laide. She has nothing to lose. Not yet, anyway. The difference that prevails this time of all the times she has decided to start afresh is the absence of fear. It’s a liberating feeling. This absence of fear.
In Manchester, Laide finds a job as a DJ in a club close to where she lives which seems like an excellent part-time for her at the moment. After months of DJing in the club, one of the managers reaches out to Laide, informing her of an audition for DJs for the Afropunk festival of the year. Excitedly, Laide goes for the audition which surprisingly went exceedingly well for her. Maybe this is the beginning of a better life, Laide thought. A week after the audition, Laide gets a mail from the festival coordinators. With confidence, she opens the mail.
I hope you are doing well.
Thank you for your amazing contribution to the Afropunk auditioning. We were very pleased to have you. Unfortunately, we would not be able to have you as our main DJ this year. However, we are willing to offer you a place as the replacement DJ for this term. You also get a free ticket to attend the festival just in case you won’t be needed for the performances. Thank you for your time and we hope to hear from you very soon.
Afropunk Audition Manager
“Are you alright, love?” Jaya says from the door, looking sceptically at the sight of a devastated Laide.
Jaya walks in, takes a seat beside her and reads the mail Laide is staring at without emotion.
“You should not be sad about this. An opportunity will always be a chance to prove yourself” Jaya says
“What if I’m never given the chance?” Laide says, turning towards her mother
“It’s not the time for what-ifs. It’s the time to give it your all’”
That does not reassure Laide at all. Her mom was never the one for pep talks. She has been giving her all forever.
Jaya continues, “we don’t always get what we want at the time we deserve it. Every downfall is a layout for great success. You are going to go to that festival and give all you have to offer as a replacement. Take advantage of every opportunity and milk it as much as you can.”
Jaya’s last sentence makes Laide smirk. All that sticks with her is the layout for success. This wasn’t exactly a downfall, was it? It’s not that she was going to give up on music and not go to the festival. It’s just the disappointment that comes in replacement of great expectations that seems to overwhelm her at the moment. A little bit of disappointment was not going to make her backslide from the approaching breakthrough.
Being backstage when you can be on the stage is a devastating feeling. Everything was going well. The main DJ is here. Every member of the crew is here, except the main guitarist of the opening band. There was no replacement in place for the main guitarist and everything that has been carefully planned seems to go downhill. Right now, all Laide wants to do is to run away from the opportunity she knows she has, but why should she? There’s no reason to run anymore. She is the only one without a solid role but has attended every single rehearsal. She knows no one is going to offer her the role to play, even backstage. Damn! No one is even thinking of her at the moment. It’s a role she cannot dream of getting unless she taps into it by herself. “Take advantage of every opportunity and milk it as much as you can.”
Laide knows what to do.