My mother had two children; both of us are girls; my father of course had many wives; and as you know in most polygamous homes, the wives are often the ones who care for the children; the father is a father of all but each mother knows her own kids.
You would also imagine that because my mother had just two of us for my dad, my sister and I would be close?
My sister and I were once close but as we grew into our teenage years, we began to drift apart. There’s a five-year gap between us; she is the older. My mother used to dress us similarly and we looked alike though I never grew as tall as she is; she took that from my father, I am medium height.
We used to laugh together, like real sisters, share secrets, jokes, and she was my best friend but today we are sworn enemies.
How did this start? I really can’t tell. I just think it may be jealously. Believe me; things have always been easy for me; right from childhood; I was the one who didn’t make much effort over my studies, yet I excelled. I was the lazy one at home, yet my parents weren’t as hard on me as they were on my sister; even my father would single me out to do things he ordinarily won’t do for the other children and believe me, it wasn’t as if I told on my siblings, I think it might be because I went out of my way to do special things for them.
I waited up every evening for my dad for instance; he once told me the reasons he hurried home was because he knew I wouldn’t sleep; I just worried for the man who had many wives and no one in particular cared about him; as for my mum, I was the one who remember her debtors and reminded her to go after them or volunteered to do so for her.
I didn’t boast about the special way my parents treated me nor did I report my siblings to get them in to trouble; i was just being me plus I knew I didn’t have to do anything extra to achieve whatever it was that I wanted.
If I wanted to start something, say business, fr example, I would be good at it, like I said, things came easily to me. My mum was a business woman and she introduced us early on to business. When we finished school, my sister was delayed, though she had a five-year gap, I caught up with her real fast, we graduated university together.
After school, I got a job before her, was making good money and was ready to buy my first car, a Picanto, you know those small cars way back in the late 90s and early 2000? This was way before my sister got her first job and as for doing side business, she wasn’t good at it, my mother was always frustrated with her.
My mum had built three houses by herself way back by tge time we were in secondary school. She told me I was much like her in that, with little effort, I made good clean money; she often told me to put in more effort. At first I paid no attention but after a while, I saw that I was doing good; I would buy stuff and resell and people would buy and pay; I dealt in wigs, makeup, shoes, bags, damask, perfumes,wrist watches…
With me working, earning well, doing side business as well, I was ready to buy my first land at 25! But while I was busy making money, my sister had drifted away from me.
We didn’t move in the same circles, we didn’t have much in common apart from our parents. If I tried to talk to her, it always ended up in a big quarrel, so I avoided her. I couldn’t confide in her, she was just so bitter and maybe I should have been more sensitive, but I just couldn’t be bothered.
I used rtoo give her stuff but she always returned them, even money, she would say, I shouldn’t bother.
I woke up one day and was told by my our mother, that my sister had relocated abroad.
I didn’t get answers I wanted, apparently, she had warned them not to tell me. Ok, no troubles. I stayed away from her life. She got married, I found out a few months after; she had a baby, I was the last to know. After trying to get close to her and being rebuffed, I let her be. I had my own life, I got married too, I notified her, no response, I had my first baby, second, third, not one word of congrats from her.
Then our mother died and she had left the houses, land and her private stuff to my sister and I.
My sister came home for the burial. After the burial, she took me to court! As in, I got court summons for fraud! Me fraud? Against who? My own sister! She claimed I had taken over the land and buildings mummy left behind. She claimed I had taken my own share while she was abroad…in short she wanted to strip me of everything mummy left for both of us.
But why was I accused of fraud?
Our mother was very ill before she died. I was the one taking care of her; we had to sell a plot land and a few properties to care for her and since I was the one here, yes, I ensured it was properly sold and money used to take care of our mother. Mum herself insisted I sold and used proceeds to take care of her; she said “What is the use of acquiring property if it can’t serve you when you most need it?”
So, you can see that my sister didn’t really come home for any funeral because she came prepared with a mountain of documents as evidence against me.
Where did she get those from? She lived abroad, what were the documents for? I was shocked as I sat in court that first day. You know court is not one day, they kept adjourning the case.
Of course sister couldn’t stay back long enough to be attending court; but one day, the sitting judge told me to go and settle my quarrel with my sister outside the court. She was appalled that we were fighting over nonsensical things. She said both of us were old enough to be grannies and we were fighting over land and wardrobe of lace and shoes…mummy’s personal items she left behind.
Thankfully, my sister’s lawyer was there to hear the judge that day; I was so ashamed for both of us; see us washing our dirty linen in public.
Ny sister is doing well abroad, I am doing great here, our mother’s property isn’t what we need to survive, why fight over it?
Just the two of us for that matter!
The fact that she took me to court still angers me! We are still not on talking terms but I have told the lawyer she could have everything mummy left behind…it’s almost 10 years now!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)