Thirty years ago my father inherited our law firm and ancestral home in Warri, Puss the cat, and a secret instruction—never shut the window at the back of the kitchen.
Our father died intestate and our family heirlooms revived the rivalry between my younger brother and I. He was the favourite but I was the daughter who spent weekends at our Warri chambers while my brother played football. When our mother died, my brother was studying abroad while I was researching briefs and preparing meals for our father. After two decades of labour, my brother has returned home with his foreign degrees and accent, American wife and son, to inherit the food I prepared.
After eating the counsel of my uncles, he declared himself the sole heir. The Americanah was ignorant of the recent Supreme Court judgement but my uncles knew the highest court in Nigeria had upheld the rights of daughters to inherit property, irrespective of native law and customs. They threatened me with juju to prevent me from going to court.
If only they knew how our father made the sponsors of the Warri inter-tribal crisis pay for the properties we lost to arson. How our grandmother made the businessmen who dumped toxic waste in Koko pay for their crimes. Why the counsel of my husband could not convince me to forsake my birthright. They had forgotten what happened when war worried Warri.
Last night I was in the kitchen of our ancestral home when I heard the meows at the window. Puss purred as I stroked his white fur of feline justice. I followed Puss into my brother’s room and Warri worried war.
Amatesiro Dore (@Amatesiro_Dore) is a 2009 alumnus of the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop and 2015 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. He has been published and forthcoming in Kwani?, Farafina, YNaija, The ScoopNG, Vanguard Newspaper, Brittle Paper, Bakwa Magazine, The Kalahari Review, The Ofi Press, Expound Magazine, Omenana and Chimurenga. His work was the Most-Read piece published by Bakwa Magazine in 2015. And his writings may be followed on Twitter.
Related country: Nigeria