After my mother passed on years ago, my step mum stepped into her shoes.
She was not like your regular step mum. She was a good mother to us; me and my two brothers from my mum. We called her mum, not aunty or mama so and so. We called her mummy.
When she gave birth to her own children, we never saw them as different from us. They were simply our younger brothers and sister.
My father ensured that his household was one; you know. You could never come into our home and think for one second that my step mother was not our real mum or that the younger children were hers, we were that united.
I remember the many times she would scold me, just like a mother would, whenever I was naughty and she would threaten to report me to my dad, just to make sure I behaved. She did same to her own children. So there was never any kind of discrimination. I never hid stuff from her because she wasn’t my biological mum, I treated her like she was my real mum.
Then when I finished university, before my service year, I got a call from mummy that our dad was in the hospital and that he had sent for me as per his first child. Mummy was crying, telling me she was very afraid.
My father died that night and everything changed for us.
Before daddy died, he told me he had a safe in his room, in a wardrobe and told me the combination. He told me I should be in charge of the content of that safe. I didn’t ask him why he told me. I assumed maybe because he didn’t want mummy to be bothered about it.
That very night, after daddy’s body was deposited at the hospital’s morgue and we went home to tell the rest of the family, I was too devastated to even begin to look for a safe or do anything. I was too overcome by grief for my father’s passing.
After the burial, mummy became a new person. She had a coterie of friends who were shuffling from room to room, whispering among themselves.
Soon, mummy began to separate us from her own children; saying “my husband’s children and my children..”
I didn’t even know what to make of that.
She appropriated everything my father left to herself and her children. Me and my two brothers are the first set of children, then her own set of three, making us all 6.
I was at first surprised because, there was no will. My father left no will and so she made herself the administrator of his estate.
I may not have done anything about it but for the fact that when I went to get the safe my father told me about, it was missing from his room.
When I asked mummy, she said she had taken it and the contents.
This was wrong. My father gave specific instructions, which I told her but she told me the content of the safe were not important and that she had discarded a few papers!
I told my uncles about this and that was when the family began to tear apart. Her new found wealth just made her into someone we couldn’t even recognise!
My uncles accused her of being behind my father’s death. To be honest, I don’t think she killed my dad. But her behavior after daddy’s passing leaves much room for that kind of suspicion.
Mummy was on a buying spree; she changed her cars, she refurbished the house, bought jewelry and generally splurged! in fact, she’s been on two cruises, so far!
Then she sent my siblings and I away from the house saying we should go and live in the other property my father left behind!
I mean, this was all so disconcerting. We had all lived in our house in ikeja for years, why kick us out?
Again, family came in and there was so much noise, so much anger, that I wished I had just packed my things quietly and left instead of all the fire and brimstone my uncles and aunties were threatening mummy with.
To cut a long story short, we are in court. So I really can’t say too much other than the fact that, death changed my mother. It showed her to be greedy, calculative and evil. I never knew she could end up being my worst nightmare.
Was she pretending all these years?
I remember when she would visit me at school and how she would cry as I returned to boarding house, saying she would miss me, were those lies?
When she hid me from my dad’s anger years back when I was being stubborn, were those lies, too?
Now, she doesn’t even want to see me or my siblings!
She fooled us all. How come we didn’t see all these traits in her before daddy died?
(Series written an edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)