“How could you, what were you thinking?” Nnamdi Asogwa yelled at his wife. He couldn’t believe what she had just told him; that his wife of fifteen years could buy land, a whole five plots and keep it a secret for two years. He got up from the sofa on which he was sitting and went to stand by the window, staring out sight unseen. Lost in thoughts of this betrayal by his wife.
Nkechi recoiled from her husbands outburst, thankful their daughter was away in boarding school and nor present to witness this scene. She had expected him to be angry, she doubted there was a person alive who won’t be angry at the news she just gave him.
Two years ago, when she was laid off from her high-ranking bank job; she invested the money with which she was paid off in a supermarket and landed property. Conscious of the fact that she married an African man who might have collected the money from her, she didn’t disclose the full amount she was paid off with to him. Rather she disclosed to him an amount that tidily covered the cost of the supermarket she was planning to open. And had used the extra added with her savings to buy five plots of land in the Mowe area of Ogun state.
Her husband Nnamdi; worked for The African Development Bank and was doing very well. He provided for her and their only daughter so very well, she had no complaints. However, her husband’s siblings as well relied heavily on him financially, added to the fact that she had only a daughter for him she had felt the need to have something of her own, in her name. So should anything happen, she and her daughter will have something to fall back on.
But, what had really convinced her to begin keeping her finances a secret from him was when she discovered some official documents in which her husbands immediate younger brother was still listed as his next-of-kin.
She had confronted him about it and he said he had forgotten to change it after their wedding. That those forms had been filled before they got married and he had forgotten to change his next of kin. He promised to rectify the situation immediately, but from that day on, he kept all official documents away from her. She didn’t know what to make of it.
So, she bought the land through her step-brother Nnanna; a land agent, and for two years she kept this from her husband. She had only been alerted to a discrepancy recently when she heard the Ogun state government had begun a state-wide land verification process. She had alerted Nnanna to this news. Then the real drama began.
First; he said he had done the verification. She had been impressed and promised him a financial reward. She requested to see the verification documents, then he stalled. He said he was really busy pursuing a deal and will get back to her soon.
A week later he was still busy and started avoiding her calls. What really got her curious was; previously, when she mentioned a monetary reward he was willing to meet with her immediately. But when she requested to see the land documents he became avoidant. So, on a saturday morning, she surprise an caught him at home. Not wanting to display her anxiety, she lied she was in the neighbourhood to see a friend, but thought to see him and his family also. But while she was there, she might as well see the land documents.
Nnanna went into his bedroom, and returned five minutes later to say;
“Ehm sister, I just discovered I’ve not collected the complete land documents from my contact in Ogun state.”
More confused, Nkechi asked him to explain how that was possible since he had previously told her he had all the documents with him.
Sweating profusely, despite that it was a cool morning, he blamed the misinformation on confusion and distress brought on by a bout of malaria. He promised to get the papers to her within the following week. That was two months ago.
He had stopped picking her calls, and his wife and mother had both called her to ask and threaten her to leave Nnanna alone. That if she really bought land through Nnanna where was her proof?
That was when she knew she’d been totally duped. By family no less. She couldn’t believe Nnanna could do this to her, she paid him over and above his requested fee, all because they were family, and she stressed upon him the need to keep the purchase a secret from her husband. Little did she know Nnanna was going to dupe her. She had tried to get her father to wade into the matter, but he was old, and Nnanna was the son of the wife he married after Nkechi’s mother died giving birth to her younger brother, so he couldn’t put much pressure on him.
This whole matter had turned into one big nightmare and Nkechi knew she had to bring her husband into the matter if they were to salvage the situation.
“I wanted something of my own, a little insurance.” She replied as an explanation.
“Insurance? How? You wanted something of your own, what have you ever asked of me that I haven’t given you?” Nnamdi asked in confusion, turning to face her.
“Should anything happen to you (God forbid), my daughter and I would have something to fall back on.” She explained, trying to defend her actions.
“In case you haven’t noticed, our society has moved beyond that.” He exhaled loudly. “If you wanted to buy a land, why couldn’t you go about it through a legal means? Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked.
“It was after I found those documents with your brother as your next-of-kin, I didn’t want to….”
“That was an omission! I changed it immediately and double checked all other documents!” Nnamdi protested.
She didn’t know what else to say, how else to defend her actions. So she settled for; “I’m sorry.” She said quietly, hoping it will calm her husband.
“What’s even more mind-boggling is the fact that if it hadn’t blown up in your face, I wouldn’t know about it. What else are you keeping a secret; a house somewhere, more land?”
“I’m sorry.” She repeated.
“Yea right. What happened to; All my worldly goods I share with you?”
“I’ve said I’m sorry! Besides you know my mother’s story, all that added together, it just…”.
Her mother had a thriving commodity trading business, but when she died in childbirth, with Nkechi her oldest child still twelve years old, her father had re-married almost immediately and the new wife had taken over the business, and the rest as they say is history.
“For goodness sake Nk!” Nnamdi struggled for calm, and tried to pace. What his wife had done was terrible, but they had to find a way to salvage the situation. “You do know you’ve seriously damaged my trust in you?” He asked.
“I really am sorry.”
He sighed. “Tell me everything about this whole deal from the beginning. Did you pay cash, cheque, charge, did you see the land, everything.”
Nkechi re-narrated the story being careful not to leave any detail out.