I pride myself in minding my business, and never prying or eavesdropping on other people’s conversations; I believe it is just all shades of wrong!
I went into a shop where I was a regular as I needed to buy materials for my craft. It was an unusual day because the owner/manager, fondly called Aunty Dupsy, made deliberate effort to find out how her customers were faring in business, ministry, school, relationships, home front, etc. She asked specific questions as it applied to everyone. I had just finished answering her questions about the profitability of my business and plans to secure investment when another regular customer walked in.
With more enthusiasm than usual, Aunty Dupsy greeted, “Mrs Banks, how are you ma? Se wa pa? (Hope you are good?)”
Mrs Banks replied with a smile, “Aunty Dupsy, I thank God oh! He is the one who has been keeping me in all these oh”.
Aunty Dupsy moved closer to the edge of her seat, “Ehen?! How do you mean? Did something else happen?!
“Ha! Hmm! It is my late husband’s people oh! Before his body even grew cold, they had already started fighting me over his properties. They have called their lawyers, they visited the house twice to threaten me and even gave me an ultimatum to pack out of the house my kids and I live in, within the month,” Mrs Banks retorted with a sigh.
I really don’t like to listen in on other people’s conversation but how can I not, when they were both talking so audibly? I couldn’t unhear what I had heard and I couldn’t help but empathise. As I moved to the pay point to check out my purchase, I wondered how educated people could still behave that way in 2018. I knew I had a sympathetic look on my face and I probably should have looked away but I couldn’t.
Although there was a smile on Mrs Banks’ face, there was an unmistakable pain in her voice. The shop had gone dead silent and no one was demanding things from the shop attendants anymore, but Mrs Banks didn’t seem to care. It seemed as though she considered Aunty Dupsy’s shop her safe haven, so she carried on.
“Do you know that my late husband’s younger siblings, who I considered my friends, are the ones causing me the most trouble? I have always been on such good terms with my husband’s family, their reaction right now is a total shock to me. Even my mum-in-law, who I spent so much time and money caring for while she was critically ill, is warring against me too?”
A lot of women at the craft shop mumbled their sympathies but I had been struck dumb; I couldn’t comprehend how Mrs Banks could still have a smile on her face, but she did. The pain I heard in her voice was no longer there now. I heard something else, I heard resignation. Still, she continued..
“The worst part is, they told me I dared not attend my husband’s funeral or they would deal with me.”
“Haaaaaaaaaa!” everyone in the craft shop chorused without restraint.
A lot of mumbled curses and commentary ensued as Aunty Dupsy asked, “I hope you didn’t go oh?”
Mrs Banks shook her head, “Ha! Who wan die? (Who wants to die?) No, I didn’t but it hurts that I couldn’t be at my husband’s funeral”.
Looking really bothered, Aunty Dupsy asked, “So, what are you going to do? Even if you couldn’t go to the burial, you know you can’t just give in to your in-laws and surrender all your husband’s properties, right? Especially since you are the next of kin on all the documents? There must be something to show for your education oh, Mrs Banks!”
Aunty Dupsy faced me, “That will be #12,000 please.”
I nodded and paid for my items. I took one last look at Mrs Banks, she seemed really lost in thought and my heart went out to her. I didn’t get to hear her response but I mumbled some prayers for her under my breath as I exited the craft shop.