TIME AND CHANCE
by Samuel Emmanuel
I have always told my landlord that the race is not for the strong or swift but time and chance happens to all men. If it were for the strong we would have exchanged places. If it were for the swift, that rotund barrel of a landlord would have lived in the sewers. I told him this before my debt extended to six months. I even added “he who has never chewed water has no idea that water has bones.”
Our hide and seek game began on the first day of the sixth month when I dressed up for school.
“Emeka!” he shouted and banged on my door.
I quickly glanced at the door to make sure the bolts were engaged then
“Is somebody not in this house?” he screamed.
“Come and pay me o,” He warned, “or else I’ll take police and throw
you out of this house!”
“Emeka! Is it not your fellow government teachers that are driving cars, eh?” Bang! “And you’re telling me they’re owing you.”
After the noise, he left. I cursed looking at my watch. 10 O’clock. Everyone had gone to work and I had a curse of a landlord bawling outside my door. I walked to the door and listened for signs of his presence. Quiet. I disengaged the first bolt and strained my ears. Nothing except the beeping of a horn faraway. I slipped through the
door pulling it shut. The stupid door squeaked in betrayal.
“Emeka.” The landlord’s voice came from upstairs.
I raced off without looking back, my tie flapping around in the air. I had told the landlord that my parents would send me money from Enugu so he could stop pestering me. But his persistence and belittled that of Lucifer in leading Christians astray.
“Ewoo!” I exclaimed, remembering that I had forgotten my lesson note. I didn’t read last night. I needed the book. I sighed and turned back for the house. What if the wizard was still at home? I thought. I had never seen him go to work. He was always waiting for money from the house his late father bequeathed him.
I got into the compound. It seemed empty except for a hen challenging a waterproof blown by the wind. I walked in measured steps to my room, taking care not to stamp on the ground too much. That was when I heard it.
The sounds seemed to be coming from Chinonye’s room, the black beauty I wanted to ‘chyke’ when I’ve been paid. I really should have minded my business but maybe it was time and chance. I tiptoed to her window and peeped in. What I saw stunned me for some seconds before I remembered my phone had a camera.
The next day, I went early to work. On my way out I greeted my landlord and his wife. He responded warmly, even asked about my parents. Ah well, time and chance happeneth to all men.
– Samuel Ogechukwu Emmanuel
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