Akwaugo: Episode 1 - 70 : TOPSTER STORIES

Akwaugo – Episode 52

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The worse happened two years later.


Auntie Nneoma received a call to return to the United States (US) that night. She flew to Abuja and joined Amanze and Udo (Amanze’s brother) to the US. I was worried. They had been hush hush about uncle Emma’s health. Auntie Nneoma always told me to pray for him. When I spoke to him on the phone and asked about his health, he told me he was doing better and asked me to pray for him. There was a stigma about certain diseases which wasn’t necessary. It was Chiamaka that mentioned something about prostate and diabetes but I didn’t pry since he seemed to be having the best care.


A week after auntie Nneoma left for America, she called me and said,



“Akwaugo, listen to me carefully. The key to the cabinet in our room is under the old music set. Clear everything in those cabinets. Pack them into a travelling bag, pack my jewellery and all my expensive georges in my last wardrobe, pick everything of value, pack your things and Mesoma’s and leave the house. Take the documents to my friend Ojiugo’s house. A man will be there to pick them up from her. You can stay with her until I contact you again”


“Auntie Nneoma, what is going on. If you tell me, I could be able to help you”


“Akwa my dear, your uncle is in a critical condition now. He asked me to travel back and do these things but I can’t leave him. I trust you to handle it”

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“Why can’t it wait until you get back?”


“His family has gotten wind of the condition and are making serious trouble. Ehen, pack all the cheque books in the drawer and the sales books too. If your uncle to pass now, they plan to loot the house. Someone informed your uncle and he doesn’t want that to happen”


“I will remove the valuables as instructed but I won’t leave the house in your absence. What about the shop? I will go to the head of the market tomorrow and call you from there. If uncle can speak with them on the phone or even do a video call with them, then they will believe whatever he says. Same with your own shop. I am not leaving the house; I will beef up security and involve uncle’s friend that is a police officer. They wouldn’t be able to enter here. By the way, nothing will happen to uncle, he is in our prayers”


Auntie gave me permission to do all I had listed. I went to work immediately. I moved the valuables from the house that evening and on my way back, I stopped at uncle Emma’s friend (the police officer’s) house. I called auntie Nneoma while I was with him and she allowed him to speak with uncle Emma. I didn’t hear their conversation but I knew my suggestion worked.


The next morning, I was at the two markets to safeguard the shops and the goods in them worth so much. The market association leaders spoke with uncle Emma on a video call and he told them what he wanted. He sounded so weak. For the first time, I was worried.



The same day, I got a call from the bank. Amanze and I had been added as signatories to uncle’s company and personal accounts. Both of us were to sign on all transactions. I was shocked. I was told to quickly come with my passport, identification card and a utility bill. I went to drop them off and I was told to sign on a paper. I could see Amanze had signed.


I knew things were very bad so I called my parents to inform them. They called auntie Nneoma and asked to speak with Uncle Emma. They spoke with him and then the children. When I called back later, they told me not to worry, uncle Emma is putting his house in order in case his family decides to capitalize on his current situation.


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I fasted and prayed for uncle Emma. I begged God to preserve his life. I knew what would happen should he join his ancestors now; his siblings will eat auntie Nneoma raw. They were not good people and no matter the help he rendered to them; they never made any progress in their lives. I knew auntie Nneoma will be their target.


Early one morning, my phone rang. It was Amanze calling on WhatsApp. I picked the call and he said to me, “Activate action, my father just died and we want to inform his family”


“What? What did you say? It is a lie. Uncle Emma can’t die. He told me he was getting better. Diabetes that he has been managing for years can’t kill him just like that. What happened to him please” I was hysterical. I threw myself on the floor as I wailed.


“Take it easy Akwaugo, didn’t mother tell you? Father had prostate cancer. By the time it was discovered, it was late. Cancer had spread. He was taking treatment all this while and he was improving until he had a relapse recently. Cancer had spread even further. He wasn’t doing well with chemotherapy. He is resting now. He fought. He entrusted us with the responsibility to manage all he left behind especially his wife. He worried the most about her and what the family would do to her when he is gone. You have to stand and fight. You are my eye there. We are bringing back the body as soon as possible”



I wailed all day that I couldn’t go to work. How can some I looked up to as a father die just like that? Luckily, Amanze had contacted the police officer who had sent his men to take a position in front of the house. I couldn’t eat or sleep. Mesoma, my auntie’s help was oblivious of what was wrong and I didn’t want to tell her. I told uncle Chike and he was also very sad.


Late in the afternoon, there was drama outside the gate. The noise was so much that it attracted passersby. I rushed downstairs to see what was happening. Uncle Chike told me the lady and her two brothers tried to enter the compound by force saying they were uncle Emma’s family members and wanted to see auntie Nneoma.


I went outside to answer them. I met uncle Emma eldest sister. She grabbed me, “Where is that witch of your auntie? Why is she hiding? Let her come out. Why is she stopping us from coming in?”


“Ma, uncle Emma died in America in the presence of his wife and his four sons. If you know where America is you will know there is no way she would have arrived in Nigeria now. The sons and their mother are coming back with the body as soon as they can. Until then, there is nobody of interest here. There is nothing I can do for you here”


“So, we can’t enter our brother’s house? Is that what you are saying?”


“Your brother never allowed you to enter his house when he was alive; why should I allow you to enter the house now he is dead? He personally made arrangement for the police to guard his house after he has gone. You were the reason he did that. Once the family comes back, they will do the needful”


“Your auntie has trained you well in deceit. There is no problem. We will be back after Emma’s family comes back”


The people I met outside didn’t care if uncle Emma was alive or not. They came to take over. They came on a bus and I could see how disappointed they were when they left. I was scared. I was disappointed. I didn’t eat any food for days. I couldn’t stop crying. I wondered how auntie Nneoma was managing the loss. They were



very close. Even while she was in Nigeria and he was in the USA, they spoke almost ten times a day.


My next worry was the management of my uncle’s business. I knew auntie Nneoma would not be able to manage it well. She could barely manage hers. She needed help. The only person I believed could manage the businesses successfully was Amanze. He could combine his business with theirs and make something out of it.


The following weeks were filled with sorrow for me. I waited patiently for the family to return. When they did, I met my three other cousins I had never met before. I saw auntie Nneoma, she was a ghost of herself. I had never seen her this lean. She cried when I met her at the hospital and the body was deposited at the mortuary.


We all went to the village for planning for the burial. We stayed in uncle Emma’s house with police escorts. When the family members gathered for the meeting, uncle Emma’s elder sister insisted I shouldn’t be a part of the meeting. She said I wasn’t a member of the family. I stood up and left the meeting in order not to cause any form of controversy.


I slept with auntie Nneoma. Some other women in the village came to stay with her but I shared her room with her. She told me they had chosen date and all grievances will be attended to after the successful burial of Chief Emmanuel.


We went to work. I travelled back with Amanze to collect money for the burial and pay for some of the services itemized. I had to travel to Lagos to get the uniform that would be worn on that and the clothes the family would wear. I worked with Amanze on designing and printing the invitation cards, paying the caterers, the hearse and other services, the fresh flowers as their eldest son requested, decoration, cooling van and drinks. We made a list of those we needed to inform with an invitation and wine. We went about inviting people while the other brothers sorted out the other customs and traditions in the village.


The burial was very successful. All and sundry trooped into the compound to pay their last respect. Auntie Nneoma refused her sister-in-law from sitting with her at her designated place. Two of her widowed friends stayed with her there. All the



gifts given to the family were collected by the first son. I so much liked brother Ifeatu. He was soft-spoken and listened keenly to anyone who spoke to him. they felt he was not wise but he was wisdom personified. He acted like his father. After saying all you had to say, he will gently explain to you tasks were shared and someone was responsible of whatever you were complaining of and you should meet the person so you can get a solution. It was later they realized, he couldn’t be manipulated.


Ifeatu insisted his mother wouldn’t shave her hair as that was his father’s wish. It didn’t go down well with the woman especially his father’s relatives. He asked if there is a fine to be paid so his mother could escape the primitive treatment. They fined him N50,000. He gave them N200,000. They screamed and saluted him. The women’s silence had been bought. They couldn’t be used against auntie Nneoma anymore.


After the burial, a meeting was called. The family wanted a financial breakdown on what was received from the burial. The boys told them they didn’t make any financial contribution towards the burial and couldn’t expect to receive any information on what was received. They realized these children came prepared.


They said my auntie was to remain in the village for a year to mourn her husband. She was to be dressed in white during the period. This was what was practised. But her sons refused she would remain in the village for a year.


“She has businesses to manage therefore she cannot remain in the village for more than a month before she goes back”


“Businesses to manage? She doesn’t do any business while mourning. We know you are not rooted in our culture but the way it works is that she no longer runs our brother’s businesses. Since all of you are busy in your lives, we will run the businesses”


Amanze replied, “Who are you running the businesses for? Did you run them when our father was alive that you want to run them now? Our father prepared a will and it will be read soon. As per our mother, he stated what he wanted to happen to her after her death. He doesn’t care about your customs and traditions. He wants no harm to come upon his wife and children”



His eldest sister asked, “why do you invite this girl (pointing to me) to our meetings when she is not a member of the family. Your mother brought her brother’s only daughter to make your father train her. He trained her for his wife’s family. Hasn’t he done enough?”


“Auntie, father didn’t regard her as my mother’s niece but as his daughter. He believes so much in her and her capabilities. She has never given any of us cause for concern”


“Let me tell you why your mother brought this girl. Your mother didn’t want to lose her home to other girls so she brought her niece to help keep your father happy so he, in turn, will take care of her. She, your cousin, kept your father very happy and your father in return sponsored her in school”


“Auntie, if you had spoken about someone else, I would have believed but if you are talking about Akwaugo, then I can boldly say to you, you are wrong. My father was proud of her academic prowess and the fact she was very well brought up and never brought shame to the family”


“Didn’t she bring shame by dating her sister-in-law’s husband?”


“It has been proven to be a lie. The culprits have confessed to their evil deeds”


“So, you believe she is a saint? Ok o”


They were picking on me because they believed I was supporting auntie Nneoma. They were all unhappy the children came back and were not following their instructions but doing things their own way. They needed to have access to uncle Emma’s property so they tried to manipulate and instigate Ifeatu against his mother. They tried to convince him to make his mother shave her head. He told them he had paid the fine. If they wanted her to, they should return the N200,000.


The lawyer came to the village a week after the burial. He had uncle Emma’s will. The family gathered so could be a witness to the sharing of the will. The lawyer spoke.



“Chief Emmanuel paid for my visa to America to adjust his will. He was determined that everyone got what they deserved” he then read out some of the instructions. Then he read how Chief Emmanuel shared the properties he had to his wife and children. He handed the running of his personal business to Amanze and his phone should also be inherited by him to keep the relationship going. He gave his siblings N2,000,000 each and asked them to find what they would do with the money to improve themselves financially and they were not to harass his children for money no matter small. After reading what everybody got, the meeting was ended. The lawyer made to leave but was stopped. Ifeatu made everyone to sign an agreement that the contents of the will had been received in good faith. It was agreed. A date for them to receive their N2,000,000 each was agreed. I brought the bank draft of the monies to meet them while they were at the lawyer’s office.







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