The Lost Son

By Chris Benoit

Mr. and Mrs. Bagu had two children. Their first child’s name was Bora, and the second child’s name was Patrick. Bora was two years older than Patrick. Mr. and Mrs. Bagu were in their fifties. They were wealthy: they had made good investments and their businesses were successful. They were well-liked in the province of Kaluwa; whether rich or poor, people came to them for advice and wanted to work for them.

As wealthy parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bagu sent both of their children to study in the United States. Bora graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in business management at the age of twenty. When she graduated, Patrick was in his third year at Regis University. He was twenty-two when he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management with a major in public administration. Bora and Patrick each returned to Malawi immediately after finishing their studies. They both wanted to apply for jobs at local companies, but their parents told them not to look for work. They would find something for them to do.

One morning, Mr. and Mrs. Bagu called a family meeting. They gathered in the sitting room to discuss the children’s future. Mr. Bagu said, “My children, you are now old enough to lead your own lives and as good parents we want to give you each something special to prepare you for a bright future.” “My husband, stop beating around the bush,” Mrs. Bagu chimed in. “Tell them why we have called them here.” “Bora,” said Mr. Bagu, “you will be given one of our companies—either the filling station, the supermarket, or the family bank—to manage, and two houses will be placed in your possession. So mind you do not mess around with men, and don’t be misled by your friends or the people around you. Pay heed to our advice and make sure that the things that are now in your possession are well managed.”

“As for you, Patrick,” said Mr. Bagu. “You will be given a filling station and two houses as well. So take care of these things and make sure that you give purpose to your lives. You never know when the time will come for us to leave you.” Upon hearing this, Bora said, “Thank you so much, Mom and Dad, for entrusting me with such responsibility. I greatly appreciate it, and may the almighty God bless you.” Patrick said, “I don’t know how to thank you, my parents—only God knows. I am very thankful for all you have done for me and I promise to take care of these things and work hard to become successful like you.”

Mr. and Mrs. Bagu were excited to share their properties with their children since they loved them dearly and did not want them to struggle. Two weeks later, Mr. and Mrs. Bagu gave them the deeds to the properties. Bora and Patrick were delighted and thanked their parents again.

The exemplary behavior of these young adults was remarked on in the community; everyone wished they had such well-behaved offspring. Bora was appreciated for her kindness and sympathy, Patrick for showing care and generosity to others. Despite being born into a rich family, they were special and loving. I remember one day Bora gave all of her neighbors three kilograms of sugar each for their porridge. And she once took a man who had been injured in a car crash to the hospital and paid all of his bills. On another occasion, my friend and I ran into Patrick on our way back from school. He gave us a lift and took us to a supermarket where he bought us lots of groceries.

The following year Bora and Patrick worked hard to improve their lives. A year and a half later, Patrick started spending time with a friend who had been his classmate at Regis University. They started going out at night, frequenting restaurants and attending parties. Soon Patrick picked up his friend’s habit of drinking and visiting prostitutes. This went on for a while. One day Patrick’s parents called him up and advised him to stop hanging out with his friend. But Patrick did not listen.

Two years later, Patrick sold the two houses and spent all the money on women. He went through the rest of the money in his bank account shortly after. So he searched for a buyer for the filling station. He found one and sold the filling station, which was the only thing he had left. A week later, Patrick traveled to South Africa. There, he met a group of high-class ladies and they started enjoying themselves: drinking, attending nightclubs, visiting prostitutes. After Patrick had spent all the money he had, he begged the girls he was dating for help. Luckily for him, one of the girls gave him some money and he bought a plane ticket and left South Africa.

Upon arriving in Malawi, Patrick went to see Bora at her company and begged for forgiveness. When his sister saw him she was surprised at the way her brother had changed. He looked rough. Bora asked, “My brother Patrick, where have you been? We have searched everywhere for you. How come you look so unhealthy?” Patrick answered, “I went to South Africa to do some business, but it didn’t work out and now I am back.” “What?” Bora yelled. “How come you went there? Dad gave us more than enough assets to sustain ourselves.” “I was misled by a friend.” Patrick said. “I spent all the money I had and sold all the properties.” Shocked, Bora said, “We are going to tell our parents about this. Now.” Patrick pleaded, “Please assist me with a little money so I can at least buy some nice outfits before we go meet father and mother.” Bora gave him some money and told him to go to one of the local barbershops and to dress himself smartly.

In the evening, Patrick and Bora went to see their parents. When they arrived, their parents were stunned to see Patrick. They yelled at him. “My son,” Patrick’s father said. “What has happened to you? You look scrawny and distressed.” Bora immediately told them the whole story. After listening to her, Mr. Bagu said to Patrick, “I told you, but you would not listen to me. You see the state your life is in now. After squandering everything you had, you have come back to us.” Mrs. Bagu added, “It is deeply regrettable that you did not follow our advice.” Patrick said, “Father and Mother, please forgive me. I know that what I have done was not right. Please, I beg you to have mercy on me.” He knelt down and begged his parents for forgiveness for twenty minutes. His parents forgave him. Patrick’s father suggested he be given a position at Bora’s supermarket. Bora accepted her father’s suggestion, but she thought Patrick should first take three weeks off to rest and regain his health.

Three weeks later, Patrick started working at Bora’s supermarket as a manager. He proved himself a hard worker. They opened a second supermarket two years later at another location, in Kwatu. They had so many customers at this new location that Patrick had to hire an additional three employees. I have seen Patrick turn his life around. He has finally settled down. He got married and now has two children. His parents are very proud of him.

12 April, 2023