THE RIDICULOUS RENT INCREASE THAT ENDED OUR RELATIONSHIP
by Debby Osa
‘Madam, Chief is around’, my secretary said on the intercom. I swore quietly. What did he want this time?
‘Ok, Shade. Let him come in. Thank you.’
There was a knock on the door, then it swung open. Chief came in, his massive stomach leading the way.
‘Chief, Chief!’ I hailed, a huge, fake smile plastered on my face.
‘Proprietress, Proprietress!’ he replied, his guffaws shaking his massive frame. He sank unto the chair opposite my desk, and I half-hoped it would collapse under his weight and injure him. But before I could ask what type of refreshment he would prefer, he began.
‘I can see your children’. He waved vaguely at the windows. ‘They are getting plentier and plentier’. His bad English was accompanied by a gleaming smile and a greedy glint in his eyes that I recognised all too well.
‘God is helping us’ I responded. It was true. The school was growing in leaps and bounds through God’s grace, sheer hardwork, and word of mouth. However, I knew Chief very well, so I quickly continued.
‘But this economy, ehn!’ I shook my head sorrowfully. ‘It is almost as if the small money one is making is nothing. There’s no difference between 20 children and 200 children.’
Chief wasn’t impressed. ‘Ehn, it’s true everything have cost.’ He paused. That’s why I am increase the rent.’ He paused again. ‘By six million naira.’
‘WHAT??!!’ I screamed. ‘Six million naira!!’
The words gushed out of me like hot lava. ‘Chief, we have been here for seven years, and since we moved here, you have increased the rent – almost double – every year! Even with all our begging and pleading! Where do you want me to get that kind of money from, ehn?! In one month?! Chief!! Chineke!’ My Queen’s English had flown out of the open windows.
‘Proprietress, calm down.’ His thick ‘nna’ accent coated each word. ‘You of all people should understand that everything have gone up in our country. And see…’ he waved again ‘plenty, plenty children. Increase their school fees na. I hear sef that your school fees is too small.’
I stared at him in unbelief, frustration, and boiling rage as he struggled to get up from the chair. He walked to the door, and then turned back.
‘Ahn-ahn, Proprietress,’ he said with a grin. ‘You didn’t even offer me drink.’
I kept mute because I didn’t trust what might come out of my mouth.
As soon as the door slammed, I picked up my phone and dialled. Before Lamide could say anything, I spoke.
Honey, enough is enough. We are going land-hunting tomorrow.’
– Debby Osa
You can also read other stories in this competition by clicking HERE