It was a sunny afternoon in the month of May. I sat by the door, belt strapped and fantasizing how my landlord would finally get served on his own draft board later in the evening, and then I look up and this gorgeous young woman approaches. She’s speaking into her phone and laughing with all her heart. I’m mesmerized, so before she asks I make room and hold the door open for her.
“Thanks” she says when she finally ends her call. I respond with a mock bow and she laughs again. So I plead with her to stop laughing so often telling her I have a weakness for beautiful girls laughing out loud when she asks why. We flirt all the way until she announces “I’m alighting at the next stop”. I hand my phone to her with a smile, she fiddles with it for a while and whispers in my ear: “I don’t give my number to strangers”.
I shrug off the disappointment of the pretty girl that got one over me as I walk into the compound. Landlord is home reading in his easy chair as usual. I am not his only tenant, but I am the one he treats like a son. I could not afford the rent and when he told me the amount, I broke down in tears. He asked and I told him my story, then he smiled and told me his. “What’s your name?” he asked and I replied “Tosin Jacob”. “You remind me a lot of myself” he said. “Pay what you have. One rule though, you may not touch the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.”
The day after, I’m having a flash of genius. A tune plays on repeat in my head so I pick my pen, and scribble “Baba L’abule”-my landlord’s story. There’s a knock on the door, I open and there she is. “Hey stranger!” she giggles, “are you going to invite me in or what?” she asks and lets herself in after I stand speechless for minutes. We gist like old friends; chemistry. In a brief moment of silence, I ask “How are you here?”, and she replies “it’s my father’s house blockhead. Give me your number” and hands her phone to me. We both laugh remembering our first meeting, and then I punch in 0813 966 8160 and she gets up to leave. “I’m sorry, we can’t be together.” The words tumble out of my mouth and I watch the smile disappear from her eyes. “Why?” she asks. “It’s complicated” was all I could say. She opens the door and steps out in tears, and that very moment, landlord returns from his evening stroll. He walks in and sees his daughter crying, it’s true: “blood is thicker than water”. She runs into their building, I am amazed at the agility with which he follows but more amazed at what follows. He resurfaces with a machete, heading straight for me. I run around the compound, through the gate, into the street, and he’s at my heels.
“Did I not tell you to leave her alone, after all I did for you, this is how you repay me!”
“I didn’t touch the tree!” I screamed.
“Bastard, ingrate!” he retorted.
“I didn’t eat the tree!” but he would have none of it.
He didn’t catch up, but I slept elsewhere until she convinced him I really stayed away from the forbidden fruit. Gratefully, Baba L’abule was a big hit, and the man who sought to chop off my head will soon be my father-in-law.
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