Hello to you today. These days i’m mostly drawn to watching YouTube videos ranging from messages to DIY to music videos to speeches and interviews. On the issue of DIY, lest I forget, I bought bicarbonate of soda yesterday, it was really cheap, #110 to help whiten my teeth. I need the perfect smile y’know. I’ve always considered using braces and the only person I’ve told, my elder sister has repeatedly said no, I shouldn’t use it. I could pursue it further but I recently read a person’s account and she said she had it on for two and a half years. That’s quite a while guys😁. I always thought it was about a year. In any case, mind me not, it is such an half-hearted attempt otherwise I would have done my research. Today is a slow Saturday for me, I’m going out this evening for a program in commemoration of our youth anniversary in my church. In the meanwhile I thought I could Just paint a picture I nursed in my head in a few words. Come imagine with me.
I believe growing up in my world made me a slightly paranoid person. I sense every form of danger miles before it could happen. Truth is, I hate it. On days I am in the kitchen, and the electric bulb is switched on, I would feel uneasy about the kitchen window which faces the small unilluminated store at the back of the house. Anybody could hide in the store and be watching me. When I catch myself with such feeling, I would berate myself and feel awashed with a sense of inadequacy. The store is made up of net, wood and iron pan. Rats die and stink in there, then mummy would call the gate man and ask him to clean up the place.
There are empty bottles of fruit wine and old newspapers and big coolers for Christmas time and old cabinets that are still too good to be thrown away. The store holds close to everything and on the day thieves attacked our neighbours about three years earlier, Adamu, our former gateman had run into the store and gotten a cutlass with which he made a gash in the back of a fleeing robber as he scaled the fence. Daddy found a reason to pay him off the following week. Even though he did well, we weren’t comfortable with having someone with such temdency of violence.
When the landlords association decided to do something about the security situation in our neighbourhood, they hired vigilantees and made rules such as if you were to drive later than 10pm on the street you will present an ID card.
Daddy had complained tirelessly less than a month later of how the vigilantees only drank beer at night and kept Fuji songs booming from the radio. It was a waste of the associations money and he said so at another meeting where the vigilantees demand for an increase was raised. That meeting had been in our own house.
When mummy had first learnt of the meeting she had said “ah no. Not here o. We are busy now. How are we even sure we will be around on that day?”
“since we moved here we’ve not hosted any of the meetings it’s either one wedding or burial every other Saturday. We have to host it” He said, his tone low, neither rising nor falling.
“so you have now told them yes?” Mummy asked
” hmnnn” Daddy grunted, face buried in a newspaper.
That Saturday morning, mummy was quiet, not shouting at my brother to bring down his blanket to air it or to clean up his room. The woman who came fortnightly to do laundry was at the backyard switching from singing from one Tope Alabi song to the other.
I stood in the stufy kitchen shifting from end to end as my mother moved in perceived dignity to pick something everywhere. My phone constantly buzzed with notification from social media but staying around my mum that day I felt the need to be solemn. Most times she would yell at me telling me to “put that phone down” in rapid Yoruba. Or she would say “I don’t see to this carrying the phone around hot oil” “ehn ehn ehn don’t put my phone beside water. Don’t treat it like your own”
Before the landlords came, daddy called me and my younger ones together to the sitting room.
“you see, when someone has visitors, you don’t become too relaxed” eyan o kii n darale . “you must be security conscious because you don’t know who is who. That’s not the time to leave both doors to the house open. The kitchen door should be shut because if everyone is in the living room, you can never tell who will turn around to pass the back door into the house and all the while no one will know” he instructed and instructed and instructed, most of them, things we already knew. Things he often told us. As he spoke, the aroma of egusi soup kept wafting from the kitchen and my phone would not stop buzzing. I really wanted to tell my dad it was okay.
With my growing impatience, I remembered I learnt Bisi my technical drawing set-square last time she asked. I had an assignment due for Monday, there was no way I would turn it in that morning. I sighed inwardly, my nerves grated.
“Tobi, are you hearing me?” dad asked cupping his right ear with his palm
” yes sir” I said.
“you are the eldest. You are the example. Don’t let me catch you with ear piece plugged in so that you don’t even know what is going on and if we need your attention we have to run around the house. Are you hearing me? ”
” yes sir”
By the time I got back to the kitchen, the jollof rice had started to burn and mummy was making the semovita.