My floorboards were sagging, the plaster walls as a result of excessive cold and heavy absorption of water were cracking and crumbling off, the room perpetually had the stench of stale bread regardless of how many containers of air-freshners I sprayed in it, the toilet wouldn’t flush until I poured a bucket of water myself, huge rats and cockroaches fought all around the house and worst of all, when there was light, we never had- and that was because we had no electric pole- and that was because the PHCN officials claimed they never received any pay.
I was a young man who had previously nursed big dreams. I never intended to start life this way, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to tolerate the nonsense I was witnessing here. I had given my hard-earned cash to stay in a comfortable house. Right now, I was living in a hovel. I wasn’t going to have any more of that. If my illiterate neighbours had decided to adapt to the poor circumstances and get comfortable, well, I as a law graduate and a Human Rights wannabe wasn’t. Donning my cap and jacket, I strode out. I wasn’t going through any stupid agent. I was going straight to the landlord.
In a little less than thrirty minutes, I was at his place. He was middle-aged, heavily-built, bare-chested and had the concentrated expression of a hungry wolf. Several beer bottles stood before him, a thum-sized stick of marijuana was clenched between his darkened lips and a shiny pistol lay on his lap. He was truly a king slumlord.
I was convinced I made a mistake coming here.
He turned to me. “Na you dey find me, abi?” His voice was a nightmare.
I eyed the pistol and stammered, “Yes…sssiirr.”
I caught my breath and began to speak slowly and delicately about the situation of things. I assumed he’d throw me out if my tone went any higher.
I watched his eyes go red and his muscles clench. I felt he’d shoot me. Suddenly, he exploded, “And the bastard agent no even tell me?” He turned to me. “Make we go see the place.”
We went and he was shocked. It turned out he never knew because his agent never even bothered to tell him…and we too, had assumed he didn’t care.
That same day, pistol in hand, he made calls to about six workmen. That same day, they came. And better still, he waited to supervise every single thing, occasionally asking us if we were satisfied.
Of course, we were. When he got home, he called every single one of us.
That day, apart from learning a lesson of never functioning on assumptions, it also turned out to be the very best experience I’d had with my landlord.
AUTHOR: Christopher Akintola