I stayed in my room, the whole morning, crying my eyes out. I cried for the innocent girl I used to be, and for the innocence that I have lost. I cried for girls like Eliza who are afraid to speak up; who are hiding behind smiles and hardworking masks. I cried for my mother who had carried that darkness within her for years and had been able to shower me with love despite it all. I cried for my father who had known all these but had treated Mama with all the respect he could muster. I wept for those out there like you; nameless and hidden; scared to sleep at night, scared to go out alone; I wept for we who had dared this world of cruel men. No one saw me cry, no one came to say it is alright.
In the afternoon, Uncle Jude came to my door and informed me that my grandfather wanted to see me. I walked with him back to grandfather’s room. I met an old, bent man and a beautiful lady in the room with the presence of my cousin, the ever present bodyguard and my Aunt Benedicta. As soon as I entered, Uncle Jude left us and Aunty Benedicta soon followed, frowning at me like I stole her jewelries or something.
The old man looked me over and turned back to grandfather.
Barrister Afoloyan: “at least she looks more like your blood than the other girls that had been brought here in the past.” he said softly.
Grandfather chuckled and turned to the pretty woman standing close by. He nodded his head and she turned to me;
Miss Yemisi: “I am your grandfather’s accountant; he has authorized me to open an account in your name with the balance of fifty million naira, which will be used in the upkeep of your mother until she recovers fully or until she dies.” She turned to my grandfather on saying the last word. Grandfather’s eyes were on me, I guess he was waiting to see my reaction. He sighed and nodded; “the account has as joint signatories; yourself and I. my presence as a joint signatory is to make sure that the money is used for its intended purpose.” She added. I remained quiet. “Also your mother will be removed from that hospital in Benin to a more private facility here in Lagos.” She concluded.
Princess: “I am okay with the money aspect but the move to Lagos; I have to think about that. A lot of your children are not so pleased to see me. I think it would be best to keep Mama as far away from them as possible.” I replied. My reason for refusing the transfer is quite different though; I trust Dr Eki to a certain level. Besides the deviousness expressed by my uncle Maximus seemed like child play to what I had seen expressed among these my wealthy family members.
Grandfather: “you have a week to do your thinking. You may go.” He said.
I stood still. I wanted to tell him about Eliza but his remark about Uncle Moses being a man being the reason why he chose him over Mama still hurt. “Will he choose differently this time? Will he see beyond the continuation of his lineage and realise that his first son is a beast?” I thought to myself. My phone rang and I decided to let it go. I looked at the caller id, it was Dr Eki. I excused myself and stepped out of the room.
Princess: “good morning ma.” I greeted into the phone as soon as I got to the stairs.
Dr Eki: “hello dear how are you?” she asked
Princess: “I am coping. Is Mama awake?” I asked, trying to shake off the depression I felt inside.
Dr Eki: “No o. there’s someone here who wants to speak with you.” she said.
Princess: “okay…” I thought it was Teddy.
Uncle Jonathan: “hello Princess…” he said
I froze within myself on hearing his voice.
Uncle Jonathan: “Princess I am sorry, i…” he was talking but I didn’t let him finish the call before I ended it.
I walked blindly into the kitchen and sat down. One of the kitchen maids came to ask me if I wanted anything; I declined and just sat there watching them prepare lunch. Some few minutes later, Amaju entered the kitchen with another of my cousin, whom he introduced as Kelvin. This one stared at me as if I was a grasshopper and never smiled. I sighed and turned away from them;
Princess: “what do you want Amaju?” I asked.
Amaju: “wanted to apologise for this morning. I had told father about it and he says he is going to find out the truth of the matter.” He replied.
Princess: “your father? That is very funny. Both of them will get along together. They can swap stories.” I replied sadly.
Amaju: “anyways, to make it up to you, I thought we hung out this Friday. All the grandchildren will be going to a party at a friend’s place down the road. It will be fun.” He said.
I nodded my head in agreement but my mind wasn’t really in it. My phone rang again and I saw that it was Dr Eki again. I picked it angrily;
Dr Eki: “I am so sorry; I didn’t know that he had done such a horrible thing to you. He has gone?” she said quickly.
Princess: “now you know why I left Kano. Did he get to see Mama?” I asked.
Dr Eki: “no he left immediately you ended the call. You needed to see him; he was so broken. He said he had lost his job and has nothing to fall back on. He is now living with Maximus until he can find his feet again.” She said.
Princess: “that is his problem; I don’t want him anywhere near my mother.” I replied.
Dr Eki: “Teddy misses you. He says no one is disturbing him in school anymore.” she said.
Princess: “I miss him too. Can you move to Lagos?” I asked out of the blue.
Dr Eki: “Lagos? Wao… that’s a long distance o. why do you ask?” she asked.
Then I told her about grandfather’s plans concerning Mama. She was quiet for some minutes;
Dr Eki: “I think your grandfather’s plan is a good one. First off, you get to see your mother anytime you want. Secondly, she will get quality care, her own nurse, a doctor who has all the time in the world unlike here where we are understaffed.” She said.
I bit my lower lip and thought on what she had said. At that moment, another girl, a cousin, whose name I didn’t know, ran into the kitchen screaming at the top of her lungs. Amaju and his brother who had drifted to another part of the kitchen came to the girl;
Girl: “Eliza… Eliza… is dead!” She said, out of breath.
The ground fell from under my feet. Before I realised myself, I was already out of the kitchen, running towards her room. Half the family was there and Aunty Benedicta, still in her work clothes was on the ground, holding the girl on the ground. Eliza’s wrists had dried blood on them like lips painted red. I fell to my knees. Once again I have killed.
Question: Do you think Uncle Jonathan is really sincere? If you were Princess, what will you do?”