The guttural voice rang out. Bobbing up the seabed of sleep, doped by the searing heat of my matchbox room, my eyes struggled to acclimatise to the force of the piercing sun, determined to rid my wearied frame of the last embers of slumber. The voice stung my ears again, this time ferociously. I had gotten quite used to it now, I’ve been treated to the fake salutation and the scornful admiration laden into the one line, all lies greeting for almost a year. It was the voice of my landlord. I could perceive the burnt smell of rancid beans rising from the makeshift tattered tent which served as kitchen, assailing my nostrils with determination, carried on the wings of the wind. Whoever had the beans was not letting go so easily, rancid and burnt or not. I smiled and then the smile ebbed, slowly. For the umpteenth time I asked myself, how did I get to part with the enormous money this hellhole cost?
The voice bellowed again. This time I was sure, this was no customary greeting. My landlord had never ever ‘greeted’ me thrice in the space of five minutes. I dragged myself up, stretched for a second and carefully arranged a scowl on my face. I undid the bolt behind the ‘rock of Gibraltar’, the title my predecessor in the room gave what remained of the plywood fittings which served as door. I paused a second and reflected. My room was making a philosopher out of me. I wondered what kind of whack sense of humour could have driven my predecessor to name that door. Without the bolt, it was at the mercy of the wind. It was so light, I sometimes joked that I live in a room without a door.
As I opened the door, I discovered my landlord on the verge of knocking. I greeted him out of courtesy. An elderly man by my standards, not so elderly by his, he was in his late fifties. He started his usual rant on a million things about which I cared little on a Monday morning. I leaned on the wall, I dared not lean on Rock of Gibraltar else I would court disaster. As he belched the words I took in his frame all over again, listening but not listening. Then he said it. I heard them as one waking from sleep. He explained and apologised, there had been a mistake in calculation of due dates for rent but it was too late to rectify. Then he said, his speech and breath laboured:
“Prepare your room, new tenant moving in. Actually two of them. If you no like it, I give you two months’ rent, and you move out.”
Before the end of that day, two hefty guys moved into my 4 inches by 4 inches room. That day marked the beginning of the worst experience of my tenancy in Lagos.
AUTHOR: Omoolorun Kayode Samuel
Nice work Mr. K….nice write up, loved ur diction, sarcasm nd the chronological arrangement of events.
Who else could have written such a superb writeup? I sure voted for yhu!!
Thank you. Thank you very much.