Everything that has a beginning has an end and so like all stories, this one I am afraid has outlived its lifeline. In all honesty, I don’t know what inspired this story because I have not had any compound house experiences. I was in bed one evening ready to hop aboard the dreamland express when I thought of writing a series based on a landlady. There are times I had absolutely no ideas for an episode but I started typing away and at the end of the day it all made sense. Interesting enough, I had the final episode all sorted out even before I started writing the first episode. Yeah, that is one of my writing techniques. I write from the end, not the beginning. A million thanks to you all for walking with me on this journey full of drama. I hope it was entertaining and insightful. For the last time, sit back, relax and enjoy No. 654 Brow street. I hope you enjoy the finale as much as I did when I wrote it.
They found Aunt Patricia slumped in her favorite chair. It was a brown office chair she usually used for her indoor readings and it looked slightly worn out from frequent use. On her lap was a book on nutrition for the aged. Aunt Patricia had her reading glasses on and at a first glance, one would think she was simply lost in deep sleep. The only problem was that, she was unresponsive. Kwaku shook her vigorously in an attempt to wake her up but his efforts proved futile. It didn’t take long for them to come to the conclusion that she had passed out and while Kwaku rushed out to start the car, Edem and Joojo tried to revive her by drenching her face with water. Veronica, Adjakie and Ohenewaa looked at one another with quizzical glares, trying to make sense of what was happening. One would imagine she had just fallen asleep while reading but upon closer inspection, the old lady was not breathing. The woman was as light as a feather and with one swoop, Edem carried her out of the house and into Kwaku’s car. They rushed her to the hospital while the tenants left behind started Serwaa’s inquisition.
All the poor girl did was cry. She didn’t understand what was happening either. She had woken up to do her household chores when she found her in the chair. She greeted her, but there was no response and she thought it was unusual. It was only when she got closer that she discovered that Aunt Patricia was unconscious, that’s when she started wailing and screaming.
Needless to say, none of the tenants felt sleepy anymore. The urge to sleep had been overtaken by their concern for the landlady’s health.
“Do you think it is a stroke”? Ohenewaa asked
“Maybe it is a heart attack”. Veronica replied
“I would be surprised if it was either one of those things because Aunt Patricia is the most healthy old woman I know. She eats well, exercises regularly – she is always on the move.
“I hope it is nothing serious”
“At this point that is all we can do, hope”.
Meanwhile back at the hospital, the old woman was put on a stretcher and transported to the emergency unit. The nurses on duty asked questions and they answered to the best of their knowledge. It wasn’t long till the doctor called them to her office. She was fresh out of medical school but the pair of glasses she wore made her look much older than she actually was.
“Please sit down gentlemen.”
“So what is wrong with her?.”
“Are you her children?”
Joojo replied. “No, we are her tenants. She has one daughter and she lives abroad”.
“You can tell us what is wrong with her. We are not strangers after all. We live with her”. Kwaku chipped in.
Under normal circumstances, such information is only disclosed to relatives but, given the extraordinary circumstances, I will regard you as her next of kin. She sighed and continued. There was not much we could do. She was dead for at least 5 hours before you brought her in. I am deeply sorry for your loss.
“Eh? Aunt Patricia?” Edem exclaimed.
Kwaku was glued to his seat, unable to speak and Joojo kept shaking his head in disbelief. The doctor informed them that from all indications, she had suffered a heart attack. It was one of those things no one saw coming, those sudden deaths that just happen within the twinkle of an eye.
Upon their arrival home, they broke the news to the others and that is when the wailing began. Serwaa was more distraught than the rest of them and rightly so. She had lived with her for years and she was the one who discovered the body. She rolled all over on the ground and Kwaku tried to calm her down. She was inconsolable. Everyone was bewildered and young Nana Esi shed tears as well when she heard the news. The landlady was not her favorite person but she didn’t want her to die. Serwaa was so traumatized she refused to take a step into the house. She spent the rest of the day In Kwaku’s room while the others thought of a way to break the news to her daughter. Joojo was the oldest amongst them so they suggested that he deliver the bitter pill.
They found the landlady’s phone on her bedroom dresser and Joojo made the call. It was the hardest thing he had ever said to someone and as expected, her daughter didn’t take the news well. She screamed and sobbed, asking how and what happened. At a point, her husband took the phone from her and wrapped things up with Joojo. He told him that they would be on the first flight to Ghana and assured him that they would take care of the bills upon their arrival.
*3 weeks later*
It was a lovely ceremony if a funeral could ever be described as lovely. They didn’t know the landlady had so many friends and loved ones. Apparently, she had impacted more lives than the tenants could ever know. It was interesting that despite the fact that some had known her for years, months and lived with her on the same compound, it was the day she died that they got to know who she truly was. With every tribute, they came to understand that the mean old lady was not as bad as they thought, that deep down she had a beautiful soul. Aunt Patricia financially supported students whose parents could not afford to pay their tuition. She was also a member of 3 charity organizations and made generous contributions as often as possible. Her daughter spoke about how she struggled to take care of her when her father passed and by the time the tribute reading was over, Kwaku surprised himself by shedding a few tears. He didn’t know he cared so much about the woman who locked him out and took delight in tormenting him. He resented himself for all the times he said vile things about her behind her back. Even in death, Aunt Patricia looked fierce. She had that no-nonsense look that many people associated with her yet behind that fierceness, she looked at peace.
It had been 3 months since she passed and they all missed her in one way or another. Nana Esi always sat with her legs closed as though Aunt Patrica was watching from afar, waiting to call her out. Adjakie had become accustomed to the landlady’s sweeping technique and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t go back to her old sweeping method. Sometimes, they would all sit outside and reminisce about some funny encounters they had experienced with the landlady and that was their way of keeping her memory alive. Serwaa’s status had also changed because Aunt Patricia’s daughter, Vanessa had made her the new landlady. She was to keep a percentage of the rent and wire the rest of it to Vanessa’s foreign account. The arrangement suited all of them well mostly because Serwaa was not a stickler for rules and made their lives less complicated.Kwaku missed being mad at her, having petty arguments with her and being locked out from time to time. The landlady’s death had made him discover two things about himself he didn’t know. The first was that he had always loved the stubborn old woman, despite the fact that she made his life unbearable sometimes. The second was that, for some strange reason he couldn’t explain, he had started developing feelings for Serwaa. Maybe it was because of the short time she spent in his apartment when she was still obsessed over the land lady’s ghost. It had caused him to look beyond her physical appearance and appreciate her for other qualities. Serwaa had observed that Kwaku’s attitude towards her had changed and she was certain he was interested in her. She was excited at the thought that he liked her, but she was also worried because she remembered Aunt Patricia’s advice about how men like him never change their ways.
He gave her a bright smile and winked at her on his way to work one morning. She was standing upstairs enjoying the view and she smiled back as he drove off onto the brown dusty road.
“Maybe he has really changed”. She thought to herself. At that instant, she felt a cold wind blow over her giving her goosebumps. With the wind she could have sworn she heard Aunt Patricia say “yes he has”. She turned around sharply and calmed herself down. Serwaa went inside, closed the door and hoped that with time, she would overcome her fear of Aunt Patricia’s non-existent ghost.