Catch up on the preceding parts HERE
My grandfather taught me ABC, my hand writing looks a lot like his because he taught me to write too in his neat cursive that looks like the beautiful Arabic texts in his Quran that he bought when he went for Hajj. Mine isn’t as beautiful but it still beats the chicken scrawls that my generation calls handwriting, well thank God for computers right?
I finally found the paper and biro in my room and I ran back to my grandfather’s room to meet my parents sitting on the brown and green sofa by the window.
“Why is Biliki holding paper and biro? What do you want to tell her that you cannot tell your own son?”
“Zainubu take it easy, you know that Baba and Biliki have always been close.” My father countered.
“I have already told you that I have no property apart from the house in Ilesha which my father left for me and I have left it to your husband”.
“Aaah!” I gasped.
“Yes Biliki, your grandfather has sold this house to someone to render you and your siblings homeless.”
“Zainubu! He told us that he made a contract with the buyer to allow the children stay here without paying money for the next twelve years when Jamiu would have grown up”. My father ever the peacemaker piped in
“The only person I want to see here is Habiba, both of you should leave.”
“Leave nibo? I must stay here and hear all you want to tell her”.
“Maami please leave”
There was no way my mother could win a starring contest between us, she wasn’t adept at the kind of warfare that involved stealth. Just she opened her mouth to talk, my father dragged her out of the room.
“Habiba I did not sell the house, I told your parents that so that they wouldn’t sell it the minute my body enters the earth”.
I exhaled slowly, I had exceeded my shock quota for the day and my head felt like it was packed full with cotton wool.
“My friend Adekunle will pose as the buyer- don’t worry your parents don’t know him, both of you will take care of the house until Ibrahim kekere is old enough to live on his own then you can do what you like to the house.”
“Baba are you saying that I own the house now?”
“Bee ni omo mi”
“What about Rukayat or aunty Islamiat? Aren’t they more qualified than me?”
“They are not strong enough for this task, besides they will too busy with their own families. Islamiat is getting married next month, she has brought the man to me already”.
“Alhamdulillah!” I praised almighty Allah at the news that my aunt was finally getting married, she was so gentle and kind, the mockery she received at my mother’s hands for being single was beyond terrible.
My grandfather laughed but the laughter soon became a coughing spell and I patted his bony chest and wept in my heart at what cancer had reduced my larger than life grandfather to.
“The documents of this house and my house in Omo’nile estate in Abeokuta are in my post office box at the Munshin post office and the key is in the pocket of my red dashiki, it is wrapped in a piece of paper that has the box number written on it.”
I gingerly walked to his wardrobe and found the key and paper in the red dashiki as promised and put them in the false bottom of my bag, the same place I had kept almost two hundred thousand naira.
“As for the house rents, the rent collector will continue to collect it and he will still deposit it in my account. I have given instructions to the bank that you will continue to run my account, go to Union bank with Barrister Adewale.”
I started sobbing, quiet sobs and not the loud lusty cries that fitted my breaking heart. My grandfather wouldn’t want me to cry for him.
“Don’t cry Habiba, I am going to paradise.”
“I want you here with me, to be my wisdom, to intimidate my future husband and to be a loving great grandfather to my children as you are to Rukayat’s children.”
“I wish I could stay but we cannot question Allah, if there was such a thing as reincarnation I would have come back to you.”
Persistent knocks on the door startled us but my mother’s voice broke the spell.
“Open the door, I brought Alfa Jubril to pray for Baba Ibrahim.” She shouted.
“That woman must have been sent to this world by shaytan to tempt me”
“Iro ni Baba, she was sent to tempt us all. I don’t know my father stands her.” I sighed.
“It is love that blinds him omo mi, she is good to him and for him though. Let the Alfa come in, I am ready to go.”
I wanted to sit in that room forever, standing up and walking to that door were the hardest things I had ever done and I still wonder how I did not start bawling when I opened the door. Instead I was dry eyed as the Alfa prayed for Baba and when his hand went limb, I was the one who covered his body with his favourite wrapper- the one with a brown fish scale pattern.
I was the one who paid the young men who came to take his body for burial, I was the one who paid for his burial plot. My parents swore that they didn’t have any kobo on them and asked me to pay instead, didn’t I have a fancy job in a place that only rich people go to? They said. I still had to pay for the arrangements for the eighth and the fortieth day fidau prayers. Baba had believed that such prayers had no basis in Islam but I knew that if I wanted relative peace, I’d give in to my mother’s demand even though she wasn’t contributing one naira for anything.
I thank God for my sister Rukayat, she had already cooked several pots of rice by the time Baba’s body was taken out. Visitors marched to our house like ants after sugar and my mother insisted on serving them food that she knew nothing about. I felt too raw to watch my mother play hostess and to answer inane questions from people and respond to their stupid platitudes.
I wanted to scream until my voice shattered in a million places but because I didn’t want to end up at a certain hospital at the left side of Yaba, I went to Rukayat instead and squeezed some of the one thousand naira notes into her right hand. Her look of gratitude almost made me lose my composure. I went to my room, shut the door and fell on my bed. I was asleep in two minutes.