Grandfather: “you thought your stupid father didn’t know ehn? Please leave my room and take your prancing somewhere else. All of you leave; let me talk to this granddaughter of mine. She seems to have more spine in her than all of you put together.” He said.
Everybody left except the man in black. He remained silent, almost invisible behind grandfather’s bed.
Grandfather: “that’s your cousin, Timi; his job is to guard me from the thieves around me; maybe to kill me when the time comes, who knows.” He laughed, pointing at the man. “Do you have education?” he asked.
I was still reeling from finding out my eldest uncle had been the one molesting my mother for years. He could be the indirect cause of her mental state right now. I had thought my father’s people were bad but it seems I had left one nightmare for another and I had an old bedridden man as the only thing standing between me and doom.
Princess: “secondary school… you knew that your son was molesting my mother?” I asked, still in shock.
Grandfather: “I didn’t know until she ran away with Thomas. I sent for her but she refused me.” he replied.
Princess: “yet he is still here with you and you have not done anything about it.” I replied.
Grandfather: “his mother; God bless her soul, stood by me through thick and thin. She was the wife of my youth and it was on her back, that my wealth was raised. She made me promise to watch over the fool and fool that I was, I agreed. He is my first child and my first son. He is more to me than several girls could ever be.” He replied.
Princess: “that is why, she never came back. When it was time to choose, you chose him because of his gender. Do you really think he has stopped preying on small children?” I asked, getting irritated with the old man’s naivety by the minute.
Grandfather: “he is married with kids. What would he need little girls for?” he asked.
Princess: “you’d be surprised at the depravity of man, no matter how old they are sir.” I replied. I had a thought in my head that I intended to put to a test but first Mama. “My mother lies in the hospital, will you help me?” I asked.
Grandfather: “of course. She is my daughter, after all. Call Benedicta for me; she is probably hovering around the door, trying to listen in on issues that do not concern her.” he replied.
I went to the door and pulled it open and of course, Aunty Benedicta was there with my other uncles. I told her grandfather wanted her and we went inside again.
Grandfather: “Benedicta, I want to review my will and please get the accountant to come here first thing tomorrow morning. Also get the help to clean a room for your niece in the grandchildren wing… I think there are still some rooms left, ehn? One big happy family…” He said. Aunty Benedicta nodded without saying anything.
I left the room with Aunty Benedicta and I was suddenly in the midst of sharks. Uncle Moses grabbed me and squeezed my wrist, pushing me against the wall. Aunty Benedicta tried to speak but one of my other Uncles who had been quiet in grandfather’s room seized her and dragged her away.
Moses: “what did you and my father discuss? What lies did you tell him?” he asked.
Princess: “you are so crude. My uncle Maximus had more skill at manipulation than you and you are supposed to be the first son of a wealthy man. If this is what the family has turned to, then I pity the Erejuwas.” As I spoke I bent my left knee properly and aimed at his balls.
I hit the organ with all my strength, he screamed and collapsed in front of me, holding his balls in his hands.
Princess: “that is for thinking that I am a child that you can threaten. I am yet to deliver the injury for the crime of molesting my mother. And note that I always keep my promises.” I added as I dodged the grasping hand of my other uncle and ran away.
When I appeared in the sitting room, I met several children about my age and younger seated around pretending to be busy. I knew though, that they were all there because of me. I was a rare form of animal; a cousin they never knew about, who had an audience with a grandfather they probably see once a year and managed to cripple their big uncle. Yeah, I was a star but I didn’t feel like it. I wanted to lie down somewhere and sleep. I have been on my feet since I got down from the Uber taxi in what felt like several hours ago.
One of the children walked towards me; a boy with broad chest and the confidence of someone who always got what he wanted;
Amaju: “my name is Amaju. You injured my father.” He said.
Princess: “so, what are you going to do about it?”I asked. I was ready for a fight. He was probably going to make me eat sand but I was definitely going to make him bleed. He smiled and stretched his hands;
Amaju: “welcome to the family, cuz.” He said. I smiled back, relief filling me up. I really don’t like to be fighting. I don’t think I know how to hold back.
Princess: “please where is the grandchildren’s wing or better still where can I find Aunty Benedicta?” I asked.
Amaju turned to a girl wearing glasses, who had a novel covering her face and beckoned to her. She came and smiled shyly at me. Amaju told her to take me to Aunty Benedicta. As we left, I turned to Amaju;
Princess: “why is everybody here? Don’t you guys have homes of your own?” I asked.
Amaju: “oh not all of us are here; just the eldest children and we, their children. We are waiting for him to die.” He said, smiling.
We found Aunty Benedicta in another smaller parlour, drinking. She stood up instantly on seeing me then she sat back down. It seems everyone in the house was afraid of Uncle Moses. I walked up to her and sat down. My cousin whose name was Eliza disappeared as soon as she delivered me.
Princess: “grandfather said to find me a room.” I replied.
Aunty Benedicta: “you fool! Do you know what you have gotten yourself into? Father is going to change his will and that might affect all of us. You think you can just waltz into this house with your smart mouth and change what we have been working for years?”
Princess: “I had planned to leave immediately I had grandfather’s assurance that Mama will get better care but now I just can’t leave. There is a certain stink in this house; lies and secrets and I intend to get to the bottom of it.” I replied.
Aunty Benedicta: “if you stay I will not hand over the key to you.” she replied.
Princess: “what key?” I asked.
Aunty Benedicta: “some years ago, your mother sent me a key and a sealed box for you. I think it contains jewelries or something. If you don’t leave first thing tomorrow morning, you will never see that key or the box in your life.” she said, then fear entered her eyes. She was looking beyond me. I turned and Uncle Moses stood there;
Uncle Moses: “and if you don’t leave, I will kill you myself, and girl, I too do not make empty promises.” He said softly.
It was not his words that made me gasp in shock and in fear; it was the man behind me. The man who frowned at me then gasped in recognition.
Question: do you think Princess will obey her aunt’s and uncle’s orders to leave Lagos? Can you guess at the man standing behind Uncle Moses?