As the silence stretched – broken only by the soft whispering of Tony and his children – Mr. Kofi Bediako chuckled and shook his head dazedly.
“Coincidence, yes, that’s what it is, coincidence, and nothing else,” he said as he held up his phone, flipped it open, and pressed a speed dial.
“What are you doing, Mr. Bediako?” Judge Ivy asked carefully.
“Calling the chairman of our Board of Directors, Mr. Godisable Donotbeafraid Torgbor!” Mr. Bediako said. “He knows our Director, and he can clear this up for us.”
“Oh, don’t be silly, Kofi!” said a hoarse voice from the crowd, and a distinguished elderly man in a heavy, white cloth, felt hat, and holding a stick stood. “I’m right here! And what was that thing with mentioning all my names? G. D. Torgbor is how you know me, and that would have sufficed. What’s with the long mention?”
Kofi Bediako turned and looked at the elderly man whose beard was grey and thick.
“Oh, Mr. Torgbor, excuse me, sir, didn’t know you were present!”
“Eii!” Junior cried excitedly and waved. “Uncle Torgbor! Is that you? Eiiii! Is that your real name? Mr. God Is Afraid Torgbor?”
And Tony laughed.
It was a deep, rumbling, infectious laugh that bubbled out of his chest beautifully, making most people break into laughter too, and then Kofi Bediako’s face became sickly as he looked at his boss, and then at the little boy and Tony.
“Junior, don’t be a rascal like your father!” Mr. Torgbor said with a playful scowl.
“Dad, is that Uncle’s name?” Junior asked.
Ceci put her hands on Tony’s cheeks and pressed them.
“Dadiiiieeesh, stap lafing! Junors ask queshon!” she said stridently.
“No, my boy,” Tony said as he took a deep breath. “He’s Godisable Donotbeafraid Torgbor.”
“Eiiiii!” Junior shouted and put his balled fist across his mouth and started giggling. “He should add Amen or Hallelujah to it!”
Tony giggled again.
“Junior, you criminal!” Mr. Torgbor said.
“Sir!” Mr. Bediako began.
“Yes, Kofi, Waisynot Inc belongs to Tony,” Mr. Torgbor said. “He chose to work there as an IT expert, what he was educated with. He never gave me a reason, but I’ve known that boy my whole life, since I thought him at primary school. He’s always been like that. Silent, calculating, secretive. So, yes, he’s your boss.”
Mr. G. D. Torgbor sat down again, and left Kofi Bediako standing there with his mouth wide open with terror as he looked at Tony.
“Heerh!” Junior said with a giggle. “Flies will enter your mouth!”
“You choo flash!” Ceci shouted. “Shatamaf!”
Kofi Bediako shut his mouth, for real, and took faltering steps towards Tony Siaw with his expression tragic.
“Mr. Siaw,” he said in an unsteady voice.
“I sack you!” Junior shouted. “You wanted to sack Daddy! I sack you! Daddy says the company is for me! Daddy, didn’t you say it is for me?”
“It is, my boy, it is,” Tony said softly.
“Me too, me too!” Ceci said.
“Yes, you too, dear!”
“Please, sir, I didn’t know,” Mr. Bediako said, his voice filled with remorse. “I’m so sorry! Please forgive me!”
“I sack you!” Junior said with a giggle. “Right, Daddy? He wanted to sack you, so I sack him back!”
“Right, my boy, but he’s a good chief executive, and does his work well,” Tony said gently. “Forgive him. He didn’t know.”
Junior looked at his father’s face and smiled.
“Daddy, what is that thing Jesus said, that story you told us about Jesus and the bad woman who was going to be stoned?”
“I know, I know!” Ceci shouted and pointed a pudgy finger at her brother’s face. “Goshin no morsh!”
“Aha, yes!” Junior said and pointed his forefinger at Mr. Kofi Bediako.
“We forgive you!” he said with raised shoulders. “Go and sin no more!”
“Thank you, my son,” Mr. Bediako said with a shuddering smile, obviously aware of how close he had come to disaster. “Thank you, Ton… Mr. Tony Siaw, thank you very much!”
There was uproarious laughter this time which was still tinged with shock.
“My dear God!” Mrs. Sandra Baidoo whispered as she put trembling fingers to her lips.
“Jesus!” her husband said.
Grandmother Cecilia put her hand to her chin, and it was evident she was trembling.
Liz appeared to be carved from stone as she stared at her husband.
Judge Ivy Asante Darteh rapped her gavel down.
“Well, that’s enough, let silence reign in my court,” she said and looked at Tony Siaw.
“Mr. Tony Siaw,” she said and shook her head. “You’re quite some man. Indeed, I like how composed and gentle you have been since your children arrived. But, returning to matters of the court, I’ve just been made privy that you’re the owner of Waisynot Incorporated.”
“I am,” Tony said.
There was a gasp around the audience again.
“Mr. Siaw, Waisynot is a very prosperous company. It means you’re a wealthy man,” the judge said.
“I’ve always believed money is a poor representation of wealth,” he said gently. “But I’m financially comfortable, yes.”
“And I find that very, very disappointing, Mr. Siaw,” the judge said and leaned back with a puzzled look. “I know Waisynot has been around for quite some time, close to twenty years, if my memory serves me right.”
“Yeah,” Tony said. “I found out I was really good with stock figures when I was young, and I began working on investments as a hobby when I turned sixteen years, and I built it up from there.”
“And all this while, through these years, you never let your wife know you were a rich man? That you are perhaps richer than her family?”
“She knew,” Tony said.
“No, that’s a lie!” Liz said, but her voice came through the microphone filled with shock and still stunned. “That’s a lie, Tony! Oh, Tony! How could you do this to me?”
“Mrs. Liz Siaw, next time do not interrupt me until I give you the go ahead,” the judge said. “Mr. Siaw, she says you never told her you own a wealthy company.”
“I told her I had an inheritance,” Tony said.
“Booooored!” Ceci shouted suddenly. “Leggo hoooome! Daddish, leggo home! I wan sleeeeep!”
Tony smiled, lifted her, and put her across his shoulder. The girl put her head in the crook of his shoulder and then draped her arms around his neck as he rubbed her back gently.
“An inheritance?” the judge said, her voice disappointed. “You married this woman and have two great children with her! You’ve spent at least ten, twelve years together, and you couldn’t tell her you owned a company? What kind of husband are you, Mr. Siaw?”
“Well, I understand your ire,” Tony said gently. “I told you I came from a broken home. My father used to have money, and then he became poor, and my mother left him. I knew Liz came from a rich background, and before our marriage, I was a bit sceptical about their lavish spending, especially her mother. Well, I decided to surprise her with the news on our honeymoon.”
“And did you?” the judge asked. “To the best of my knowledge, she doesn’t know! You kept it from her!”
“I had my reasons, Your Honour.”
“What reasons?” she asked, and she sounded angry now. “What on earth could possess a man not to divulge his full worth to his wife?”
“I told you they came to me and made a proposal,” Tony said softly. “They made me agree to a prenup. Liz asked me to agree to their terms just to make us get married, and then after marriage it would be alright. So, I agreed. They refused to give the building they built for her to us and I was okay with that. And then they told me that every month I would be contributing to their F.U.F. Fact was, I should agree to that, or there would be no marriage. Again, Liz told me not to worry because after the wedding that would stop.”
The judge raised her eyebrows.
“F.U.F?” she asked. “What’s that?”
“It is a thing with that family,” Tony said gently. “The Family Upkeep Fund. The men in the family contribute to it every month, yes. The husbands of her sisters contribute to it, but her brothers and her father do not. It is the son-in-laws who contribute to it.”
“And you agreed to it?” the judge asked, aghast now.
“Yes, to marry the woman I loved so much,” Tony said. “So, we got married, and I decided not to tell Liz about the company and see how it would go. After the honeymoon, she came back and asked for money for the fund. I was shocked and asked her why, because she told me I would not contribute once we got married.”
There was silence in the courtroom as the judge turned a stunned expression to Liz.
“Is he telling me the truth now, Mrs. Siaw?”
Liz tried to speak, but then she looked down suddenly at her hands and nodded once.
“Goodness me!” the judge said and looked at Tony. “What did she say when you reminded her of her promise?”
“She said the husbands of her sisters were paying, and if I didn’t pay, it would be a disgrace for her,” Tony said. “She now wanted us to pay, and our contributions should be bigger. That would give her respect in her family, and after a few years, we would stop. She then asked about the inheritance I told her about. So, I told her cool, we would live off the inheritance and make the payments into her family fund.”
“And how much were you paying into this Family Upkeep Fund?” the judge asked with shock.
“I was giving her all the money I earned, supposedly, as an IT employee in my firm,” Tony said. “And later, when I asked her when we should stop paying that money, she told me since we still had the inheritance, we should continue paying. Around that time, I was then building some branches and expanding Waisynot. I was also building a house for us, and that was about a year into our business when Yoofi died.”
“Who’s Yoofi?” the judge asked.
“Yoofi Baiden, of Baiden Transports,” Tony said. “He was married to Liz’s elder sister, Lindsey! They drained him, and then she divorced him, and got married to her second husband now, Abdul. Yoofi was very close to me, and before he died, he warned me not to be a fool like him. You see, Grandmother Cecilia over there has been married three times! Mrs. Sandra has five children, two with her first husband, three with Mr. Jake Baidoo. Lindsey has married two times now. Stacy, as we speak, is divorcing her husband because he has hit hard times. Did you expect me to tell them I owned Waisynot? Do I look like a mad man to you, Your Honour?”
“No, I suppose not, Mr. Siaw.”
“Believe me, Your Honour, I so much wanted to tell her,” Tony said, his voice passionate now. “I did not relish keeping my true worth from her. I was simply waiting for her to stop relying on money, to know my true worth, to know the true worth of the wonderful family we have, to tell me that we have two kids so we should plan our own future, for us and for our children, but no. Do you know that she moved out of our home a full month prior to the divorce application?”
“Really?” the judge asked. “No, I didn’t. Why was that?”
“Tony!” Liz said miserably, and tears fell down her face slowly as she looked at him. “Don’t, please, don’t. The kids… please… Junior is here… not in front of him, please, I beg of you!”
Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, Divorcing Tony, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, Divorcing Tony, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, Divorcing Tony, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, Divorcing Tony, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, Divorcing Tony, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, Divorcing Tony