My brother and I were the only children my mother had for my father; we came from a polygamous home.
My father had seven wives and my mum was the fifth. However, my brother and I loved each other because we were all we had.
Today would have been my brother’s 35th birthday. You see, he was so young when he passed on three years ago.
What happened to him?
He fell in love!
He met a girl and his life changed then took a turn for the worst.
He met the girl, Maria at a club; actually, I won’t even call it a night club, it was an open bar, the one where they sell Nkwobi and point and kill by open fire places. Yes, they still call it club…
Our people say, the woman you met at a club will leave you one day for the club; women like that don’t stay with good men; my brother learned the hard way.
First you need to know a little about my younger brother; his name was Lati. He was a hardworking man; a mechanic by trade who after serving under a boss for five years, was quick to start his own mechanic workshop and quickly acquired customers because he was good at what he did. He knew cars, he knew engines; if he “heard” any car engine, he would tell you the year and make of car…
The first time I saw Maria, I told my brother he had carried a woman that was bigger than him; she would either leave him dry or drive him to his grave.
My sister, I didn’t know how prophetic my words would be until later.
Maria was a wild thing. She was a smoked and drank and wore the shortest dresses I have ever seen on a woman. She demanded for money like no man’s business but my brother was always ecstatic with her. It must have been the sex, abi? I can’t imagine what else it would be.
I tried to reason with Lati, “These types of girls are not wife material, a girl that smokes igbo and is comfortable in short dresses, this is no wife material.” But he wouldn’t listen. He told me she loved him and he would die for her.
Well, die, he did.
All Maria wanted was for them to go to the club to eat point and kill! She never cooked, never went to the market, always wanted Suya, Shawamah, that flat bread they sell at Domino…you know it? Always. She wanted the good life and the money Lati made, funded these.
It wasn’t long before Maria came to tell him she was pregnant. I must confess that I was kind of surprised because girls like Maria never got pregnant for anybody; pregnancy spoils their market, but she was pregnant!
The next thing I heard, Lati wanted to marry her! I said over my dead body, collect the child and send her away, was my advice, because, if you saw this Maria girl you would marvel. She claimed to have finished university somewhere, who knows? I asked her one day, ‘So what are you doing with a mechanic who can hardly write one good line of English, if not that his money is good?’
Is she a graduate?
How am I to know? She spoke sprispri English but we are mostly illiterates here, so we can’t tell whether she was speaking good grammar or not.
And Lati, like the fly, doomed to be buried with the corpse did not hear me. He took Maria in with the pregnancy. She gave birth to a baby girl, we named her Latifat and even did naming ceremony at Lati’s house. After that, he became a changed man; he lived for that child even though unsurprisingly, Maria now began to show her true colours.
You know character is like a smoke, it can’t stay hidden for long. Lati saw this and it was always fight between the two. Many times, neighbors would call me to come and talk to my brother and I would hurry over because he lived close on the same street.
I was the one who helped him find his two-bedroom apartment. I heard there was a vacant flat on my street and that’s how come we both lived on the same street.
Usually, the quarrels were over how careless Maria was with the child; she wouldn’t cook but would go buying food from bukas… Lati would get so upset that on one occasion, he almost strangled her.
I told him I would not visit him in prison if he killed another man’s daughter, it was best he sent her away.
Ok, so the child was about 8 months or maybe the child was already a year old, I am not too sure but the child had started crawling, when Maria disappeared from the house with her!
She left a voice note on WhatsApp for Lati, telling him the baby did not belong to him, that the owner of the baby had come for his child!
Can you imagine? The baby we had been calling by Lati’s name was not his own? We had been calling Lati, Baba Latifat, Baba Latifat.
By the time Lati rushed home, he met an empty house.
We eventually located Maria; and indeed, when we saw the man she said was Latifat’s father, it was as if he spat the child out of his mouth, carbon copy!
Even Lati himself did not fight, too much. He was just crying, Latifat is my child, give me my child…I told him, ‘This one is not yours o.’ Everyone of us who saw the child knew, we thought the child looked like her mother but seeing the ‘father,’ we had to leave.
Lati did not recover from the blow; the fact that the baby he loved so much was not his, the fact that Maria deceived him, that she even went with another man…
Two weeks later, in the workshop, Lati drank poison. I don’t think it was sniper but maybe it was, his dead body was discovered the following day in the workshop where they kept spare parts; he locked himself in and died on the bench with foam in his mouth.
But you see, my brother did not commit suicide. He died of a broken heart, that is what killed him.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)