Deji was laughing at the so called plan Martins had while Martins stood, arms akimbo, a quizzical frown on his face.
“What’s funny about what I said?”
Deji tried to respond but only laughed out harder, annoying Martins who hissed and turned his gaze away from him in exasperation to the different happenings on the street.
It was a busy night, which was not unusual since PHCN had taken light again, forcing people to come out of the darkness and heat that assaulted them to the coolness of the evening breeze. There was a paraga joint where a couple of men sat, drinking and arguing loudly, two kids ran after each other, playing along the dirt road while their mothers chatted away, not mindful of their children, three girls walked one after the other into the compound directly opposite theirs, carrying buckets of water while various people patronized the open shops but the person with the greatest patronage didn’t have what one could call a shop. It was a stall with two benches and not too far from the benches, a fire blazed. On it was the hot groundnut oil used to prepare the fried yam, fish and plantain that had people queuing. Martins wondered if she wasn’t putting something else in her dundun, akara and dodo since he was also an addict. He had actually come out with Deji to get some before the discussion about his plans had come up. He moved towards the woman but was held back by Deji who had succeeded in controlling himself
“Guy free me joor!” Martins stated, upset
“Relax now, why you dey vex?”
“Why I no go vex? I dey tell you something important, you dey laugh like say I be clown”
“Okay no vex but there’s a reason I was laughing.”
The continuous sound of a horn hooting had Martins turning to look at the road. The little children had just run past the car and the driver had alighted, swearing angrily and insulting the mothers for not watching their children and risking their lives. The women were immediately defensive, returning curses for curses.
“E don do now!” Deji shouted, addressing the two parties. “Oga enter your car and go. Why you dey do like woman?!”
“Leave this people,” Martins stated. “Why were you laughing?”
Deji turned his attention back to Martins as the disagreement between the women and the man died down. “Your plan is funny?”
“No it’s not! It’s a brilliant plan!”
Deji scoffed. “Martins, you want to continue to stay in this house on the basis that landlord didn’t serve you a six months notice even though your rent will expire in a month and.…”
“That buys me time to plan myself,” Martins cut in
“…you think worse case, he will take you to court and you might end up not paying rent after the whole case.”
“Which is what makes it a brilliant plan!”
“Look around you,” Deji commanded. Martins was a bit taken aback at the instruction. “I’m serious, look around you.” He did! “Does this place look like a civilized area?” He asked, pausing a moment before answering his own question. “It’s not! It’s in civilized areas landlords give tenants notice. Here, they don’t! Rather than serve you a paper through their lawyer, they will serve you a beating through their thugs. If you think the case will end up in court, you are wrong! You will end up in the hospital and probably spend more money than you would have if you had just packed out!”
Martins stared at his friend, subdued. “`So what do you suggest I do?”
“Move out when your rent expires! You’ve always wanted to move out anyway!”
“And go where?” Martins shouted in frustration. “I don’t have any money! I just started working remember?!”
“Don’t worry, we’ll find a way,” Deji stated after a moment which made Martins give him a skeptical look. “We still have a month to figure out something, come on! Make we go buy wetin we wan chop”
Deji urged him and they walked towards the dundun woman to join the queue. For the rest of the night, Martins forgot about his housing problem but alone with his thoughts at night on the bed while Deji snored beside him, he couldn’t help but worry. Housing was a major issue in this part of the world and he couldn’t imagine joining the throng of people who lived on the streets. He had often heard stories of people living under the bridge and had never given it a second thought since it didn’t affect him. Now, faced with the possibility of joining such people, he wondered how they coped in harsh weather. The government really had to do something about the housing deficit and make it affordable for low income earners like him. Mortgage was a way of making that possible and for the first time, he wondered why the mortgage system wasn’t working. If it was working in other parts of the world, why couldn’t it work here? There was no light, no house, inadequate social amenities; nothing worked he thought in righteous indignation, blaming the government for his present condition. Why couldn’t they just make life easy for the common man?!
He sighed at the question, still angry as he changed position. Suddenly his nose is assaulted by the acrid smell of smoke as heard noises outside. He quickly gets to his feet, refusing to believe what he heard as he slaps Deji awake from his slumber
“Get up! Get up!”
“What is it?” Deji asked drowsily. “Wetin dey burn?” he asked as he sits up, frowing
Martins didn’t have to respond. The noise from the open door provided the answer
“Everyone go out, the house is burning!”
The BROUHAHA continues next week…
This series is sponsored by REALTY POINT LIMITED, the Sack Your Landlord people.