It was 9:15am on a Monday morning in August 2008. I was in the usual performance review meeting in the office and my elder sister's repeated phones calls would not let me concentrate in the meeting. It was unusual of her to have continued calling even when I had sent her a text that I would call her back; that, I was in a meeting. I suspected that something must have been wrong for her to keep calling despite my text. I had to excuse myself from the meeting to take her call. "Anayo, I have bad news for you", my sister started with a voice buried in a sob. "Jide obi gi aka and be a man", she said. I became very anxious. Someone so dear must have died, I concluded. "Who died?" I asked. "Nobody died but something like death happened", my sister said. She added, "unknown persons scaled the fence while we were gone for morning mass and set your house, our house on fire but nobody died." I was a bit relieved but was still confused. My sister was not done, "your own duplex wing was razed but the other two flats where we live were not affected; we were able to contain the fire from spreading", she ended in the midst of wailing. I travelled the next day to personally assess the situation myself. I engaged security and spiritual agents (don't ask me which type) and all concluded that it was an arson. A hole was bored on my living room's window and petrol poured through the hole unto the curtains; a lighter was used to set the house on fire through the hole. A cigarette lighter and a small jerrycan smelling of petrol were recovered from my compound. Also, the electric security wire on the fence behind was cut to enable the arsonists scale the wall in and out of the compound. Fingers were pointed but I didn't want to press charges. The individuals indicted were too close a relation to be put away. I didn't want them jailed. I rather decided to find out the arsonists' motivation or what made my relatives and their collaborators burn my house. Their action could be a symptom of a greater danger to come, I introspected. The result of my investigation was shocking. I caused my travails. I provoked the animal in my enemies. Some of my home-based friends and relatives were not happy with the way I had managed my success. They couldn't believe that I could isolate them so soon. They needed to bring me back to my senses before I went the way of those we all tagged "rich but tight-fisted" in our village. I needed to be taught a lesson. They believed that I had ignored them and spent my money only on my extended family, forgetting the camaraderie we had shared when we were growing up. We played, hunted for games and had done paid menial jobs together, fetched fire woods from the thick forests and journeyed to a distant stream to fetch drinking water. I seemed to have forgotten all that. Now, I would only wave at them sitting in my bank's chauffeur driven cars. My new found arrogance, for them was murder-inducing. I needed to be reset and to burn my house was the first phase of my sentence. It was a well organised action, I was to find out. Growing up in poverty, my old pals and I would decry the wickedness of our rich relations who minded their families alone. They believed that the poor were lazy and leprous. Many of them would not want us (deemed village urchins) to associate with their children. We were determined to be successful to shame those rich men and their pampered kids. We also pledged to be different. While many of us took to trading after our primary six, I was forced by my mum to further my education. I was initially annoyed but had to obey my mum as she threatened to die if I didn't. My dad had just died. Furthering my education and passing with good grades landed me a high-paying banking job. I was lucky to have quick promotions too. Bank PHB head-hunted me from Diamond Bank and gave me a two-level promotion. What a way to motivate a new hire! As a car, was ready to work on water. And I did. Working in Bank PHB was the best period of my working life as I earned double a manager's salary per month. The bank operated a performance induced pay and I was highly motivated to get the much I could by exceeding my monthly targets . Many of my village old buddies were slow in achieving their blissful dream of making much money. Some of those that went into trade apprenticeship, who couldn't shed our youthful rascality, misbehaved while learning trading and were sent back to the village by their masters. A handful of newly settled, after 5-7 years apprenticeship had returned to the village from the townships after squandering their capital. There were some who never went to the township nor furthered their education but chose to remain day labourers or menial workers. This group live from hand to mouth and would soak themselves in alcohol while ravishing in the elevated self importance, smoking marijuana offered. In the evening of the day I returned from Lagos, one day after my house was burnt, one of my old pals smelling of alcohol came to see me. He sympathised with me over my loss and advised that I "should use my tongue to count my teeth", that I should embrace charity for my greater security. I got the message. What a hard way to learn how to share! My life changed forever. To some of my old pals, I helped to build or renovate their homes, and to some others, I offered scholarships to their children up to university level. Also, sharing bags of rice and donating a life cow to kill and share during Christmas became an annual ritual. This earned me an ''Ogbuefi'' title. But for donating a cow consistently on annual basis to my people, I was upgraded an ''Ogbudaa''. I converted my people's draught playing arena and drinking joints to a discussion setting on scientific ways to start and manage business. To the enthusiastic ones, I provided seed capital for them to execute agreed business plans. My wife and I also set up a soft loan scheme at zero interest rate for the women payable within six months. The scheme's capital is increased annually. A bank account was opened for this purpose and three responsible persons amongst them were elected to manage the funds. They alone, are joint signatories to the account. In kindness and charity, I had secured my property, my life and that of the members of my family. Thank God that my house was burnt. I could still have been blind to the ordeals of my childhood friends and relatives. Who knows? By changing to become sensitive to my environment, I would have prevented the execution of the next stanza of my sentence, which would have been death. You don't need your house to be burnt before you share your wealth with the members of your community. The rich cannot sleep because the poor is hungry and is still awake. Neither can the wealthy enjoy his money in peace when the neighbouring have-nots are hungry. Success is a burden God placed on you for the benefit of people around you especially, those you may deem undesirable of your kindness due to their parents' wickedness or their direct transgressions against you. Share the little you have especially at this hard time. I have been happier sharing my average income even though I learnt the hard way. I want to make heaven too. Story by Anayo Nwosu.