By Uche Amunike
I was born into the famous Udeagha’s family in Umuezenneji kindred in Amaokwu, Umuezemazu Village, Urualla in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State. I am the third child of my parents. We are a large family. I have two sisters and five brothers. We grew up in love.
Our parents taught us very early in life about the value of family. They left us with the mindset that the most important gift they would leave us in life at the end of life’s race would be the gift of ourselves. It’s a legacy that is really priceless.
A remarkable legacy that I have also vowed to leave for my children. We began to understand the value of that legacy much later in life when we were much older and out of the house, pursuing our destinies and securing our futures. Today, we have all left. All eight of us, married and well settled.
At every point when either of us needed our hands held, we realized that our parents’ legacy of love was there all the time, illuminating our lives and holding us together unconditionally. We have kept on being there for each other as we watch each others’ backs and enjoy the sheer love that flows in the family.
I remember losing my dad in 1992 and we realized that his friends were not really there for us. It was a most trying time as most of us were not even done with school. As a matter of fact, his business partner, instead of finding ways of being a father to us at that time, started to fight my mother by trying to wrestle the properties my father left behind in a most wicked manner.
My mother had to go through hell and high-water to see that our late father’s dream of giving us a sound education was fulfilled, notwithstanding. She fought like a tigress and gave us so much. We were nurtured with all the love she possessed. We knew love, shared loved and lived in love.
In my family, I happen to be the one who is on ground at all times because most of my siblings reside outside the shores of Nigeria. I guess that was the reason why I seemed to be the one to run almost all the errands whenever we had family events.
These were things I never took as a big deal because I can take a bullet for each and every one of my siblings. They are like incomplete parts of me. They are like my backbones. And heck! I love them to the moon and back. That is why we always make use of every opportunity to either hang out together, just gisting and catching up on old times or partying whenever life presents the opportunity, especially as we live worlds apart.
Either way, our bond is unique and most admirable. Sometimes, I think the greatest thing we enjoy when we’re together is laughter. We are a bunch of funny and lively people and always make use of every opportunity to enjoy each moment.
That was what helped us more than anything, to survive the loss of the late Nkechi Udeagha who was married to my younger brother, Obi. It was the strong bond we had with one another that made that pain bearable. It’s a vacuum that we will probably never be able to fill, but yet again, love takes care of everything.
With every pain, emptiness and sense of loss we have felt since she left us, our hands are held so tight in love and friendship and her two children have enjoyed untold love even till date. This is something that’s not about changing as long as we breathe. Love truly is the message and family is everything.
I think I’ve been the most favored in the family. Adducing the reason for that might not be easy, but I won’t be wrong if I say that at every point in time, I bask in the euphoria of their unending love for me. I live at Onitsha and it is very cumbersome making it to work on a daily basis all the way to Awka.
For three years, I suffered that ordeal by boarding public transportation to and from Awka. One day, exactly three years ago, my little sister that is resident in the United States gave me a huge surprise on my birthday. She bought me a beautiful red Toyota Matrix.
I cried my heart out when the car was delivered to me. I shed tears of joy. When I called her, all she said was, ‘Uche, you take care of everyone. I can’t watch you jump buses everyday to work. Please enjoy your car’. Just like that. Just yesterday, another remarkable thing happened in my life and that was what led to me write about ‘FAMILY’ this edition.
I received a humongous surprise gift from my brother, Nnamdi. He is the baby of the family. My mother’s last child. This amazing young man bought me a brand new car and had it delivered to my office, here in Fides. I completely had no idea that anything like that would happen on that fateful day.
You know the way it is when you wake up in the morning and get ready to face your day, just like you always do. Most times you do not foresee the blessings planned by the Almighty and lying in wait for you. How was I to know that my life was about being made better on that fateful Wednesday as I dressed up for work? My big sister called me two days prior to tell me she would be travelling to Enugu on Wednesday but wouldn’t be able to stop over and see me in Awka.
I told her it wasn’t negotiable. Told her if she would be in Awka for any reason, she must definitely try and see me because it had been a while. Little did I know that she was just trying to pull my mind away from any suspicions I might have about her visit. In all truthfulness, I was worried at first because she will never ordinarily travel down east by road.
But the more I tried to ask why she was coming by road, the more she gave me really smart answers that left me confused. She mumbled something about air ticket being too costly. I found that strange, but was too excited that I would see her that I refused to be bothered. Wednesday afternoon, she arrived and rushed into my office.
She had called me earlier to say she was very hungry and would love to have lunch immediately she arrived. So, as she walked into my office and practically dragged me out, I tried to ask her if I should get my car keys and drive with her to Five Star Restaurant where I planned taking her for lunch, so as to make their journey to Enugu uninterrupted, so I could drive back to my office, she wouldn’t even listen.
She just kept moving to the car they came with. So, I decided to go with her to see what the whole rush was all about. You can imagine the shockwaves that went through my entire being when she told me these words,: ‘Uche, I lied to you. I am not going to Enugu. I have no business with Enugu. I just came to deliver a gift to you from Nnamdi. The gift of that car!’ She pointed to a glittering Toyota Camry.
I looked at the car. It was sparkling white with tinted glasses. The most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Here in Anambra , people call it ‘Spider’, but in Lagos, they call it ‘Muscle’. I screamed for joy. I was shaking like someone who saw a ghost. It is a most indescribable emotion. I was tricked all the while into believing that she was actually Enugu bound on an official visit.
How was I to know that she simply came to present the most beautiful car I had ever seen to me? The Fides Media family witnessed my display of shock. I practically had to race to Fr Martin Anusi’s office to drag him downstairs. Can’t believe I did that. Was I even thinking? I remember I kept on screaming for Fr Martin. When I realized nobody could call him downstairs, I had to rush to his office.
Was trying to catch my breath and was trying to be coordinated to explain what was going on to him at the same time. Can’t even remember what I blabbed out. I only know he said he would break his meeting for me. He ended his meeting with some of our staff members and I practically dragged him down the stairs and out to where the beautiful white car was gleaming in all its glory! I was in tears.
And my sister kept on talking. She told my director that I was selfless in the family and that I did so much for everyone at every point in time and that I always tell them I do not have money to give them, but that all I did in the family was priceless and valued above money. My dear readers, I could only stare open mouthed and in tears.
I could only keep wondering if it was all a dream or if it was real. I could only through my tears, say silent prayers for my brother, Nnamdi. I call him Nnam.
I prayed that God will bless him for all the times he has done things to elicit such emotions from me. For all the times he has elicited such emotions from my children at one point or the other, I thank him. For all the times he has done same thing for so many people in different hospitals by clearing their bills anonymously, I thank him. For all the lives he has touched without making noise about it, I thank him.
I remember the very day he was born. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we just returned from school and didn’t see my mum. We asked our caregiver back then and she said she had been delivered of a baby boy. We all screamed in joy. Afterwards, my mum’s driver was asked to bring us to the hospital.
We rushed into the ward at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital(LUTH) ,at Idi-Araba and saw him, so dark with curly hair and very chubby. He was really handsome. That was 35 years ago.
Today, he has grown into a handsome, good hearted, humble and godly gentleman full of love for humanity. A true son of his father! Agu Nnaya! Omekannaya!! Afu nwa Echeta Nna!!! Ozo Nwa!!! Obiajulu!!! Dikeora! Ugochinyelu!! Onwa! Egbe Eji Eje Ogu! Chai! I wish my father was alive to see this young guy flourish into such a good son. May the soul of Anthony Udeagha and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, Amen!
I will end this piece by praying that God continues to give my mother sound health and to continue to shelter us all under the shadow of His wings. May He bless my brother, Nnam abundantly for the gift of my beautiful car and replenish his pocket a thousand fold. If you’re reading this and you have a family, treasure it the much you can. Nurture it with love. It will yield fruits clothed with love when you least expect it. The most important thing in life is FAMILY! Daalunu!!!