I was having a heated argument with Lucy, my new girlfriend, about which goes first in the preparation of Oha soup: Ede or palm oil, when someone knocked on the door. I went for it, whilst regretting my break up with Uchechi. She knew how to cook.
“Uncle, I came to inform you that there’ll be an emergency meeting with the landlord by 7 pm.” Chude, Mama Virginia’s son said, looking past me into the living room.
“And it’s…” I looked at my wristwatch. “…6:55pm, and you’re just telling me now? I fumed.
“Sorry Uncle, but… I think your food is burning.” The kid sniffed.
“Gerout!” I shoved him away as I headed to the landlord’s apartment where the meeting was scheduled. “It’s only to smell people’s food, that’s all you know!”
Mama Virginia, Solo, Nathaniel and the other neighbours were packed tight on a couch like fish struggling for space in a sardine can. There was no other furniture in the room, so I stood.
We waited in silence for the Landlord to arrive, each of us conversing with our thoughts. Since the last meeting three months ago, we’d been detached from one another. During that forum, Oga Landlord had pleaded for assistance. His wife needed a caesarean operation and he was broke. None of the neighbours dropped a dime except me and it caused a clash. They insisted it was the landlord’s sole responsibility and not the tenants. However, the row escalated when the poor man’s wife lost the baby.
Ten minutes later, a portly man in a blue Chelsea jersey with a similar muffler wrapped around his neck strode into our midst and stood before us. He took in the condition of the room in a split second before flashing us a grin short of two teeth.
“I’m your new landlord.” He announced suddenly.
“God forbid!” Mama Virginia made a circle over her head with an arm then snapped two fingers.
“Why?” The Chelsea man asked, apparently hurt.
“Our landlord cannot die. The devil is a liar!”
Mr. Blues laughed long and hard.
“Your landlord is not dead, neither did I inherit this property. I won it.”
“What?” We all chorused, eyes popping.
“We placed a bet on the Champions League final. I staked my estate on Chelsea and he staked his house on Bayern Munich. We called a lawyer to witness it. See!”
He fished a paper from the file he’d brought and Solo rushed to examine it. He returned with his face turned ashen.
“We need our landlord to explain this to us.” I said. “Where is he?”
“His village, maybe.” The Chelsea man smirked. “By the way, any Chelsea fan here?”
Nathaniel slowly raised his hand.
“Up Sesi!” The new landlord pumped his fists.
“Yoruba man?” Mama Virginia gasped in shock. “Tufia! You will never become my landlord!”
Chelsea man hissed. “Well, no tenant too. Rara!”
“Is this a joke or something?” I was livid.
“Here.” The new landlord handed me a paper. “That’s a notice for you all to pack before the end of next month. Make a copy for every tenant.”
“I’ll get my lawyer!” I bellowed.
“Laye laye!” He laughed heartily as he made for the door, then he paused. “When you do, notify me, ehn?”
His confidence was intimidating. Obviously the man had money to boss around.
Two months later, I was squatting with Lucy and had to endure her cooking. Five months afterwards, I met an old man at Alaba International market telling every passer-by that he sold original blackberry chargers. It was our former Oga Landlord.
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