………“You failed again? Why are you doing this to me Taiye? Why can’t you make me happy for once? Why can’t you be like your brother?” Taiye’s father rants as he glances through his report sheet. While folding the report sheet in his hands, he shouted, “Funke! Funke! Wo, call your mother for me”, he said while pointing his shaky fingers at Taiye.

“Mommy, Daddy needs your attention,” Taiye summoned his mum.

Immediately, Taiye’s mother ran into the living room looking worried. “What is it again you people, you will not kill me in this house.” Taiye’s father stretched the folded report sheet towards her. She unraveled it and took a deep breath.

“Daddy, please don’t be angry, Taiye will change, please give him more time. He is working on his academics already.” Taiye’s mother replied as tears welled up in her eyes.

“See, you people know I have no time for this, I’m giving him till the end of next term. If there is no improvement in his academics, I will stop paying his school fees and beg Jide to enroll him at his workshop,” Taiye’s father insisted.

After hearing his father’s threat and knowing that he is capable of doing as he said, Taiye went into his room and shoved his face into his pillow. All along, Kehinde was in the room. He heard everything their father had said and felt sorry for his brother. Kehinde got up and moved closer to his brother, “Taiye, please don’t cry. You can do this.” Taiye looked up and replied, “Kenny, you know I’m good for nothing, and I might end up at that workshop.” Taiye buried his face in the pillow again. “No brother, you are not stupid, you are smart, intelligent, and I have always admired you.”  Moments later, Taiye stopped crying, raised his head and hugged his brother.

While Taiye was struggling with his academics, Kehinde was constantly bullied by a gang of boys in school. He had reported severally to his teachers but the bullying never stopped. One afternoon, he came home with a red eye and walked up to his father who was sitting on the couch reading a newspaper, “Daddy, I need to talk to you. Senior Segun and his friends have been bullying me for a long time now and the teachers are not doing anything about it.” His father raised his head and replied, “Just look at you, a man like you, crying because someone hit you. Can’t you fight back? Look, I’m really busy now and please tell your mother that I am hungry, I need my lunch.”

Weeks passed. Taiye started getting withdrawn in school and his friends noticed. One day, while sitting alone at the cafeteria, Taiye’s friends, Bode and Tunde walked up to him to find out why he was sitting alone. Taiye explained how he has been finding it hard to read and understand. Then, his friends promised to help him. In subsequent weeks, Taiye’s friends arranged tutorials after school and during lunch breaks to read and discuss their school work. On weekends, he visits his friend’s home so they can study together. By the middle of the term, Taiye’s test grades went up.

Meanwhile, Kehinde was still struggling with bullies at school. One day, after being beaten black and blue, Kehinde ran into the bathroom, crying. Few minutes later, someone knocked the bathroom door and asked, “Hey, why are you crying? Are you okay?” Kehinde came out of the bathroom and saw Dayo, holding a cigarette. Dayo is one of the notorious boys in school and he has been suspended several times. “You know you are not supposed to do that in the school premises.” Kehinde said. Dayo replied smiling, “I’m just unwinding. By the way, why are you crying?”

Kehinde explained all his encounters with bullies and how his teacher and parents have not done anything about it. Dayo replied, “You know what? I can make all this go away. But on one condition, you have to join my gang. Kehinde’s eyes lit up as he held Dayo’s hand, “I don’t mind please”. I have suffered enough.” Then, the boy passed the cigarette to Kehinde and he reluctantly accepted and smoked.

In the following months, Kehinde started skipping classes to meet up with his gang at the back of the school fence. They would stay outside for hours to smoke and play cards. He would return home late and when his parents question him, he would ignore them. He started performing poorly in his academics and everyone became concerned.

A year passed. Taiye and Kehinde are in their final year in secondary school and both wrote UTME. On announcing the release of the result, Taiye went to the nearest internet café to check the results. He got a score of 355 while his brother scored 125. He was happy and sad at the same time. While thinking about the scores, his phone rang and he picked up, “Taiye! You need to come to the general hospital now! Kehinde overdosed on tramadol and he is unconscious!

Getting to the clinic, Taiye met his mother at the gate crying bitterly that Kehinde died before the doctors could attend to him.

Several years later, Taiye became a business magnate and the convener of a NGO which help teens deal with peer pressure and drug abuse.

“……. And that was how I lost my brother. I wouldn’t be here today without peer pressure but it marred my brother’s life. At some point, everyone will encounter peer pressure; it is up to you to make the right decisions. Be yourself because those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” Taiye said as he concluded his lecture at a conference organized for teens by his NGO.

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