I’ll start my own story with this old saying: “anyone who knows to do good should improve on being good and to him who delights in evil, he should not let anyone stop him from his evil pursuits because the reward for good or bad deeds will be handed over to everyone.” That is the main story here.
It’s the story of my father and his many wives. My father was a wealthy man; he lived rich but this burnt down ruins you see in this picture is how all his wealth fizzled out.
This compound housed four huge duplexes with three wives; each wife had one duplex and my father’s duplex sat at the centre, each of these were linked to one another.
Naturally, three wives mean plenty of children and when you have plenty of children, you will, many times, have plenty of problems.
The biggest problem started when Matunmi, who was my father’s second wife got herself a house help from Cotonou. Now, each of the wives had house helps. We also had cooks, drivers, gardeners, so really, the coming of this particular house help wasn’t anything new in the family.
You know how it gets when women become too familiar with their husbands and they can’t even be bothered with taking care of the man; like serving his food, running his bath, etc? Yeah, I know my own mother too was guilty of the same but this is not my mother’s story. Anyway, Matunmi would send Charity, her house help to do these things for her when it was her turn to serve daddy.
Soon, like you guessed, I think my father began to have sexual relations with the girl. She was about 19 or 20 years. Quite young, available and must have been treating the man like a king…something our three mothers had neglected to do over the years.
Let me say this, my father was not an easy man to live with; he was cantankerous, he was stingy, he was the man that was always having issues with his immediate family so I can understand why the wives just practically neglected him… still not an excuse.
At the time of his illness, daddy was in his late 60s, 68-years, when all of these began to happen. I was married and out of the house but I knew much of what was going on.
So, when he fell sick, he became even more difficult to be with, perhaps it was because he was in pain, perhaps it was because he was being fed with all kinds of nonsense, we will never know.
Suffice to say that the only person he allowed close to him was the house help. We called her Charity. Yes, that was her name.
Daddy’s illness was nothing unusual for a man his age, he was diabetic and had lived rough in his younger years, he also had high blood pressure and prostate enlargement, really nothing men his age weren’t suffering from.
He needed a special diet and needed someone to help monitor his drugs and all but because he was a man that belonged to all, our mothers agreed a sharing formula; somebody would ensure hospital visits, another would be in charge of food and another care, and they would rotate again…no one really wanted to take the full responsibility for everything, meanwhile if it has any of the mothers, their kids would immediately take up the responsibility, for men with many wives and kids, the responsibilities would be shared.
Daddy became ill and the man totally rejected the sharing formula his wives came up with, he wanted just one person and asked Charity to move in with him to the main house.
That was when our mothers knew they were in for a fourth wife because up until that time, we just thought Charity knew how to handle him with her “e pele, sir. No vex, daddy.”
She was uneducated but quite worldly, you know she was current though she wasn’t particularly fine-looking, but come to think of it, she had a big bum and full hips but we never thought our father would sleep with a girl younger than many of his children!
From then on, Charity became the one whose words Daddy listened to; she decided when he went out, how he dressed, what he ate…she was all he wanted and all he needed, none of us counted any more.
Over time, she became pregnant, ha, yes o, what else did you expect? She had become established as the fourth wife and we had no choice but to live with it; she had three children for my dad.
Along the line, my father changed his will, how a total stranger can influence a man like Daddy baffles me but, well, she did. We didn’t know about this until he passed on.
What he left for us? More like what he left for her-three solid houses and over N65 million in cash at various banks! Ooooohhh yeessss!
I kid you not!
Ok, so when he died, we were told virtually all his property belonged to Charity! Our mothers fought, we the children fought, we took the case to court…there was little we could do because Charity fought us back all the way with the lawyer my father had put on standby.
But karma is a bitch!
A few years after our father’s passing, Charity got herself a boyfriend. I don’t even know where that one came from; one jaiye jaiye boy like that. That one ran through all her inheritance like a locust. In a few years, she was not only broke, but she also began to sell the houses.
You know I began by saying, if you know to do good, do it well and if your thing is evil, continue with that practice because whether good or bad, you will earn a reward for it…even after she sold off all the houses and was left with the one she was living in, she just couldn’t keep the money.
Her children also suffered because it was one case of rape after another, one sickness today, another tomorrow and none could complete school. These things have a way of coming to bite you real hard where it hurts.
Let me cut my story short here; it wasn’t long before fire consumed the house she had left. Yes, the house got burnt to the ground. I think they said she went to a party and there was power surge and maybe they left an air conditioner on, it sparked fire and burnt everything down.
I bet my father is flipping in his grave now; his hard-earned money, all down the drain. The children he neglected in his old age, all doing well. The wives he turned his back on, all ageing gracefully. The man must be hurting now, if he can feel anything.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)