Mother dearest was posted to Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria just as I became a senior in secondary school and I was left with my Aunt in the house in Lagos. I was only home from school during the holidays so it wasn’t too bad. Truth be told, I loved it. Fun and games all the way!
There was a wardrobe in my mother’s bedroom that always spoke to my soul.
‘Open me!’ it would cry out.
I never could resist it. In it lay an assortment of treasures; bottles of perfume, gold earrings, bracelets, watches, money et al. After losing quite a few of my mother’s earrings, she banned me from touching her jewellery. I don’t blame her. Had I stopped to consider how much money I was throwing away, I would have banned me too.
Ban or no ban, I needed to glam myself up. I took to unlawfully helping myself to the contents of her wardrobe. There was no point asking her permission. When God told her that her yes must be yes and her no, no, she listened well. I always returned her jewellery though so she never knew the difference.
The one thing I couldn’t return was her money.
One half term holiday I was home in Lagos and bored out of my head. I decided to stock up on some novels. At the time, I could go through three in a day so I needed a sizeable stash. There was only one problem…I had no money.
I visited the talking wardrobe to see what I could find. Opening it, the first thing I saw was a bundle of 50Naira notes. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I pulled out a few notes to buy some books and then pulled out a few more for munchies. What’s a good book without a few tins of Pringles and cartons of Berry Blast?!
Just as I was leaving the house, the phone rang. It was my friend Tee, the cause of many of my problems as a teenager. I loved her plenty but she had a way of always getting me in trouble. There was a party that night and apparently, it was going to be ‘tew mad!’ Only problem was we didn’t have any way of getting there. We decided to hire a car for four hours and split the cost.
Back to the wardrobe I went to pull out a few more notes.
The party was a blast! We rocked till our feet ached and our sweat glands dried up. Satisfied, we called it a night. Our four hours had expired anyway.
A couple of days later, it was time to head back to school and I needed pocket money and provisions. I called my mother in Abuja to find out what the plan was.
‘Oh yes,’ she said, ‘I left some money for you in that wardrobe. If you open it, there’s a bundle of 50Naira notes on the middle shelf. Use it to buy what you need. I’ll bring you your pocket money when I come and see you next week.’
The next time I thought about stealing from that wardrobe, I didn’t.