By Peju Akande and edited by Olayemi Esan
Each life is a journey that takes us to places we either love, hate, or wish for something totally different. Too many people spend most of their lives comparing themselves to others and it is this comparison that can only serve to erode your own unique qualities and your inner fabric.
My aunty just passed on and all I can say is what goes around comes around.
She was in her mid-70s, and she died alone in her apartment. She had been dead for three full days before neighbours began to perceive a foul odour. That was when they noticed they hadn’t seen her around in the past few days and called police to break into her house. That was how they found my aunt; she was seated in front of her television. It looked like she must have had the remote in her hand when he breathed her last.
Her phone was on her lap and the tv was still on…
Ok, why did I start my story with what comes goes around comes around; first, let me not be accused of speaking ill of the dead but my aunty brought a lot of calamity on her own head. I am not saying she is solely responsible for what I am about to say, all I am saying is she didn’t help matters.
See, my aunty was the first born in her family; her mother had 8 of them…yeah I know, they had lots of children back in the day. My aunty and her siblings all schooled abroad, it was while they were abroad that their father died; he was said to have suffered a heart attack.
Everyone was surprised when aunty came back to Nigeria and began to accuse their mum of being their father’s killer. It was said that her father’s mum, her grandmother, poisoned my aunty’s heart against her own mother. That’s how the war began between mother and daughter. Aunty went on a rampage against her own mother, telling everyone who cared to listen that her own mother was a murderer, to the point of taking her mother to court to contest some of the property her father left behind!
She had the backing of most of her father’s relatives, all accusing her mother of killing her husband.
It was such a nasty fight that few people began to suspect maybe there was more to it; never before had we heard or seen a daughter wage such a dirty war against her own mother!
The mother, mama, was a business woman who had lots of properties, businesses, transportation, textiles…mama was rich! Aunty fought mama for each of her businesses, so much that it got to a point that family and friends stopped intervening in their matter.
Okay now, before mama died, my aunty’s mum, she had disinherited aunty, she also made the rest of her children promise not to give aunty any part of her properties…and mama had lots of landed properties all over Nigeria.
After mama died, aunty refused to go for the burial and when people pleaded with her, she walked them out of the house. Even after that, aunty still had reasons to take some of her siblings to court over their parent’s properties saying they all emanated from her father’s money!
Anyway, she won some and lost some.
In between these fights; my aunty had got married, had three kids and lost her marriage as well. She sent her kids abroad to study and since then, more than 30 years ago, since they left, they never looked back!
It’s as if someone cursed them and told them never to see their mother face to face; we had heard stories that they would come to Nigeria to see their father but they never went to visit their mum, my aunty!
But you see, for all of her troubles with her mum, aunty was a good mother to her children. How did I know?
I lived with her.
I practically helped to raise her children and she sent me to school as a reward for my labour.
I remember many days, nights that family members would come to plead with my aunty to back off from fighting her own mother, they would talk to her, plead with her, she would say, “ok, I have heard you, I will do as you say” but the following day, she would do the exact opposite!
Then of course things began to go bad between aunty and her husband. I was there when their quarrels would always be about how aunty was antagonizing her own mother, it didn’t seem ordinary. They would quarrel over it, then one day, her husband just left her and her three children and I in the house! That was the end of the marriage.
It was aunty who raised those children herself, she was a lawyer by the way. She was trained as a lawyer, maybe that’s why the courts were no issues for her, everything had to be settled in court!
Anyway, I know aunty sold many things to send her children abroad after their secondary school education here in Nigeria. She really suffered over these children and when they left, none of them looked back!
For all of her faults, I don’t think aunty deserved that from, of all people, her own children!
So you can understand my sadness, when I was told aunty had died, alone in her house, for three days, unbeknownst to everyone!
I was the one who kept calling my aunty to check on her especially during this #endsars lock down; I spoke to her on a Tuesday, then I called back on a Thursday, I didn’t get any response. I thought she might have gone to sleep or something. So I called on Friday, no response, not even a text message like she usually sends.
On Saturday, I called a lady who lived on the same street, she used to do my hair when I lived with aunty. She promised to go there for me to check. That’s how we found out aunty had probably died, watching tv that very evening I spoke to her.
By the time they broke down the door, she was already decomposing.
What killed her?
Heart ache for her children? She would often complain about how shabbily her kids were treating her.
Or was it regret over the years of quarrel with her mother? she had often told me she wished she had stopped early on from fighting her own mother
Estrangement from her siblings and family who felt she had gone too far? She claimed she was older than her siblings so they ought t be the one to visit her and not the other way round, but she caused the estrangements.
Who knows? I know she was neither sick nor had any disease. I have been about the only one who visits…
Her children have refused to come home. I mean, what would they come to see? They didn’t come when she was alive, is it when she is dead they want to come see her dead body? And with lockdowns in Europe again, they would not even come. See how this is coming round again?