January 23, 2014.
Imagine Lekki. Now imagine those square posh condos at the edge of town, just off the road not fifty feet from the towering billboards that say “welcome to Lekki”. Good. That’s not where we’re going.
Now, you know those places you can’t get to by taxi, on your way to which you have to stop a mile away and journey the rest of the red sea on foot; those places with the low price housing, high price taxing, great view of high-rise buildings, and those greedy landlords who somehow find ways to get their rugged vehicles into the bog you call home. I call home.
Lanre Ajagun, my landlord, is an apple that falls far from the tree; very far. No one ever gets in trouble with him, in fact, there hasn’t been an incident here since I moved in except for that one time the neighbor tried to hang himself from the roof and got entangled in the electric wires bringing down the entire condo’s electric supply.
No incident, until today. “What do you think will be preferable?” I had asked my sister earlier. “A phone call, a letter… Shall I go there in person?”
“Not unless you’re planning on committing suicide, you don’t! Don’t go near his condo until this is all resolved.” She had snapped. Then she softened a little, “I’m sorry, it’s just… I think a letter will do. A phone call will just irritate him and you dare not visit the landlord now.”
The landlord never let his children relate with any of the tenants, and for good reason too. The slums of Lagos are not really the first places to go looking for friends. But Lola and I hadn’t met at the compound. No. We met in school; the University of Lagos. Crossing paths again in her father’s building was just the splinter that rekindled the flame. We got involved. It’s been ten months since then.
Yesterday, landlord found out. How he did, I don’t know. He had called me to his condo. “You thought I wouldn’t know eh?” he had said breathing fumes of thick smoke.
“Know what, sir?” I had replied, the answer hitting me before the question finished rolling off my tongue.
“You’re sleeping with my daughter! In my house! Bastard.” He rose to his feet and strode to me before I could flinch.
“Sir, I confess we’ve been romantically involved, but we haven’t done anything intimate yet, and I love Lola, I really— — —”
“Nonsense!” He had gone on to warn me to stay away, even threatened to evict me.
So I sit here now, pen in hand, trying to figure out the best way to begin; the best way to tell my landlord I’m sorry when in fact I am not. The relationship with Lola had to end. Her father said so. She would have gone with me to the ends of the earth but that would break her. It would haunt her. I couldn’t let that happen. I can’t. I won’t!
I let out a sigh and put my pen to paper.
May 6, 2017.
It’s been more than three years. I no longer live in Lagos. There aren’t too many high-rises here. But if there were, I would be living among them and not in their shadow.
My apologies for I’ve given you a tale of love. But that’s what every story really is about, isn’t it? Love that works, love that doesn’t; it doesn’t really matter in the end, does it?