By Ekeoma Ajah
Ogemnabia stopped. They’d got the wrong house but the right name. How was that even possible? She turned to face the men again.
“Yes, that is my husband’s name,” she said. “But you must be mistaken. My husband owns this house.”
“Madam, I have with me a court order that authorizes me to re-possess this house today,” Office Man said, his face and tone impassive.
“That’s impossible,” Ogemnabia sneered. “Let me see that.”
She grabbed the sheet of paper from Office Man’s hand and skimmed it. With her own eyes she read her husband’s full name, the very address they were at – 13, Marigold Crescent, Lekki Phase One – saw the stamp and signature of a Lagos State Judge, read the name of the companies to take ownership of her home: A.A. Smart – her husband’s place of employment until about nine months ago – and Pinnacle Trust Bank. Ogemnabia felt light-headed and the words on the page seemed to swim before her eyes. Still, she could not believe them. There just had to be a mistake. She had to get Chike. He would know what to do, how to get these horrible men off her doorstep. Everything would be fine. She just had to go wake Chike so he could take care of this as he did with all the other money-related matters.
“Madam, we don’t have time to waste,” Office Man said. Ogemnabia blinked up at him as he took the sheet of paper from her numb fingers.
“I… I have to go get my husband,” she said. She turned to go in-side, attempting to close the door behind her. Office Man slipped a foot between the door and the frame.
“Sorry,” he said, his tone distinctly unapologetic, “but we cannot let you shut this door.”
Ogemnabia opened her mouth to protest but balked at the steely look in the men’s eyes. She fled up the stairs.
Chike was not pleased to wake up to his wife slapping him on the shoulders. He’d heard her phone ring earlier as though from a faraway place, and had settled back into sleep after she left the room, hoping not to be disturbed any further. Plagued in his waking hours by his many troubles, the only solace he found was in sleep.
“Chike… some men are at the door,” his wife said. He waited for her to continue but sighed when she left him to ask the obvious question.
“Ehen, what do they want?”
“They said they have come to repossess our house.
” Chike’s eyes flew open. “What?”
“I said it had to be a mistake,” Ogemnabia continued, wringing her hands, “but they had papers with your name and our address on it…”
Chike sat up, his back against the headboard. Heart pounding, he snuck a glance at his wife. Her face held the tension of pregnant clouds about to break into rain. He knew she was waiting on him, waiting for him to go out and handle it. She was right; there was a mistake. Only it wasn’t the mistake she thought. He put on a brave face, got out of bed and into his shorts and t-shirt from last night. He would fix the mistake and send those men on their way. Then he would come back and give Ogemnabia the news he’d lacked the courage to break these past months since he’d lost his job.
“Stay here, o,” he said as he left the room.
He got downstairs to find a group of men in his living room. The men in grey overalls were sizing up the room and arguing amongst themselves as to the fastest way to empty it.
“What’s all this?” he said, walking into their midst.
“Mr. Chike Benedict Anyanwu?” the one man in formal office clothes asked.
Chike frowned at him. “Yes?”
“I have with me a court order that authorizes me to repossess this property,” he said.