Eliza was buried two weeks after her death. Before the burial, Aunty Benedicta came to me and handed over the key and the box without a word. Her personality had undergone a transformation after Eliza’s death. She was almost like a ghost in the house, haunting every quiet corner and the chapel; especially the chapel. She was to be seen at all odd hours, seated alone inside or kneeling in prayer. Why do we wait to find God only when we are broken and lost? We never seem to bother ourselves so much about him when everything is fine.
I had inserted the key into the keyhole on the corner of the box and twisted it. When I opened it I found a piece of paper with numbers in them and a letter addressed to me; it was a letter from Mama. I will not bother, reading it out for you now, I don’t have my glasses here but what it said was that she had sold Papa’s properties and added the money to my school money and with it she had invested in several properties in and around Delta State. She informed me that every of the property was bought in my name and that she had done so because she worried about my father’s siblings’ intention towards her and i. she also said, she was afraid that she was losing her mind and she wanted to settle her affairs before she would have no control over herself. I suddenly felt so much love for my mother at that moment. She had thought of everything. No wonder she had not made any complaints about the shops even when they were deteriorating. She directed me to a firm of estate surveyors and real estate agents who have been managing the properties on my behalf. The numbers were the codes to my account. I had replaced the letter into the box then I had called Dr Eki informing her that I will take her advice and move Mama to Lagos.
I had also gone to see grandfather to inform him of my intention to accept his offer. I had met him on the bed the same as always. His eyes had been sharp and hard as usual. When he had seen me, he had smiled
Grandfather: “you don’t come to visit as often as I would have liked, little girl.” He had said. Then he had started coughing.
Princess: “you have been told of Eliza’s death?” I had asked. He had nodded his head, accepting a sip of water from a cup held by his bodyguard. He had turned from the cup to me;
Grandfather: “I want to give you a charge. I was and I am still a bad man. I have lived my life uncaring about who I stepped on, who I removed from my path and who I destroyed in my search for wealth. I have found that this wealth comes with a price. My children, they lack the morals to make something out of what I left behind. I need you to help me. I need you to bring the family together; to make this family better than it is now. I need you to help it heal.” He had said.
Princess: “I will do the best I can but I am just a child and girl for that matter. I doubt if my uncles and aunties will take me serious or listen to me.” I had replied.
Grandfather: “they will have no choice. My mistake was to think that my sons are of more value than my daughters but I can see now that people will be good or bad, great or small no matter their gender or status.” He had said.
I thought about all these as I stood before the graveside and watched my cousin’s casket lower into the grave. The grandchildren and friends were the only ones present at the funeral. After we were done, I headed back to my room. I felt tired and weary. My time in Lagos had been more difficult than I had expected but I was grateful for the lessons and the opportunity for me to find that I had the strength inside me.
After the funeral, we all went to our rooms while my uncles and aunties sat with Aunty Benedicta in her quarters. I had changed into my other clothes when Amaju came knocking. He had a frown on his face when he entered and informed me that his father wanted to see me. I followed him to his father’s part of the house. His father, as the first son, lived in the main house with grandfather. His part of the house was even bigger and more richly furnished than grandfather’s own.
I entered the parlour and sat down. Uncle Moses came to join me and sat opposite me;
Uncle Moses: “whatever you may think of me, whatever lies your mother may have said about me, I did not touch Eliza. I was there when she was born for God’s sake. I watched her grow.” He said.
Princess: “was that why you called me here?” I asked standing up. He raised his hand
Uncle Moses: “I sense that there is a plot or agreement of sorts between you and grandfather. He is not a man to be trusted. He might seem weak and old but that man is as devious as a cat in a rose bush. I know what I am saying; I grew up with him before the wealth. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” he replied.
Princess: “you really need to meet my uncle Maximus for lessons on manipulation. You are so poorly equipped. Whatever business I have with my grandfather is mine and mine alone. There is evil in this house, that is for sure and I am standing in front of it.” I replied. Amaju chuckled and his father frowned.
Uncle Moses: “you fool, if you stand in my way I will crush you. You are just a little girl with a huge sense of self importance; I will break you.” he said, his eyes hard with anger.
Princess: “that is better. Let it all out. Don’t hide the anger and hate behind lies and fake smiles. I am a girl abi, so I am only fit to lie on my back and open my legs abi? We will see.” I replied, as I got up and left the room.
As I got to the corridor, Amaju caught up with me laughing.
Amaju: “it is official. You are father’s enemy as of today. I have never seen him so angry. It was so funny.” He said. I just smiled. “Look, we and the guys are hanging out later in the evening, you want to come?” he asked.
I have been mostly indoors since I came to Lagos except for the little shopping I did once in a while. I nodded my head. I needed to get away from the depressed atmosphere in the house, clear my head, sing and dance a little.
The club we went to was a groovy place some distance from home. I had on jeans and a midriff top with sneakers on my feet. We took like three cars loaded with Erejuwas of the third generation. We soon occupied the VIP lounge and ordered drinks. My cousins had come prepared; they were throwing money about like there was a mint back home. Amaju came to me with a glass of vodka but I rejected it and asked for a bottle of coca cola. He rolled his eyes and called me spoilsport then left to get my drink.
We drank and danced through the night. I excused myself and went to the ladies room. After urinating and cleaning up, I came out of the ladies room and that was the last thing I remembered as I passed out.
When I woke up again, I was on a bed naked except for my pant. My hands and legs were tied to the four corners of the bed. a clothe was tied about my eyes so I could not see anything and my mouth was also covered. I struggled to free myself but the knots were too tight.
Visions of Osazee and his friends popped in my head and I began to panic.”no… not again! God please… not again. I will do anything, I will give anything please God!” I immediately began praying. Why do we wait until we are in difficulties before we remember God?
The door opened on its well oiled hinges and footsteps stepped into the room and I could hear heavy breathing close to my ears; then a voice whispered
Man: “Ha Princess… now we get to finish what we started a long time ago.” He said.
I tried to struggle, I tried to scream, even as his evil laughter filled the room, but it was useless; once again I was a fool.
Question: Trouble for our Princess o! World People o! Who has captured Princess? Do you think Princess will be able to fulfill her grandfather’s wishes?