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Life in Iso­la­tion, the Biggest Killer, Sto­ry of Me, My Friend and His Wife

When I was post­ed by my com­pa­ny to Kaduna, the first thing that came to my mind was to reach out to Clement who lived there. Clement and I were both class­mates in sec­ondary school. He went to the uni­ver­si­ty and grad­u­at­ed years before I gained admis­sion. I called him and he was glad to hear from me.

Eddy, abeg show for KD fast. You go enjoy this place pass that dirty smelling Lagos wey you dey.” He told me in a very jubi­lant man­ner. “When we go dey expect you?”

I told him I was com­ing in a few days and he was glad to hear that. I sold off most of the things I had in Lagos and off I went to Kaduna two weeks lat­er. Now, Clement had no idea what I was worth when I came to Kaduna because I nev­er showed him that I had any­thing. He had no idea that I had over thir­teen mil­lion naira in my bank account and because I was not the kind of per­son who was crazy about flam­boy­ant lifestyles, I did not let them know any­thing about my finan­cial sta­tus. Clement lived in a house he inher­it­ed from the father. He was mar­ried with two chil­dren. I told him I was going to spend a few days with them when I arrived.

Why few days Eddy?” he mum­bled as he led me into my room. “This is large enough a house to accom­mo­date you and us. At least save your salary for a few months before you think of rent­ing a house.”

His wife, Patri­cia was quite accom­mo­dat­ing too. She was a nurs­ing moth­er with two kids; the first a boy of four, while the sec­ond was a baby girl of about eight months old. I loved the recep­tion I got from her the first day. It was quite warm and pleas­ant. She pre­pared very deli­cious jollof rice which we all ate that night with con­sid­er­able appetite.

I was to resume work a week lat­er. So the next day, I decid­ed to take a walk round the neigh­bour­hood as my friend had gone to work. His wife was prepar­ing to go to the mar­ket when I strolled out of the house. Her son had gone to school.

Let me take a walk around the envi­ron­ment and feed my eyes.” I told her. “Okay then,” she winked at me. “You might not meet me. Just put your hand in the buck­et out­side and remove the key.”

It was while I was walk­ing out of the house that I noticed that the house beside theirs was for sale. I saw a phone num­ber on a sign post and decid­ed to call the agent.

That house na three mil­lion naira last.” The agent told me.
“Is there any­one in the house so I could have a look at it?” I asked.
The agent told me that a young man with his wife lived in the house.
“He will pack out if dem buy am,” the agent told me.

I went to check the house out and I real­ly liked it. My girl­friend, Fedo­ra was def­i­nite­ly going to like it too. She was in Ife for the NYSC scheme. The man who was liv­ing in the house and his wife were just ten­ants at will. I was made to under­stand that he was the painter that paint­ed the house. But for the benev­o­lence of the land­lord, they would have been thrown out long ago. So I was told. How­ev­er, they were a very nice cou­ple. I felt at home with them as they took me round the com­pound.

Thank you very much,” I thanked the painter as he and I exchanged hand­shakes where we both part­ed along the road.

That evening when I returned after my walk around town, I met my friend and his wife wear­ing long faces. Sud­den­ly, they became rather aloof.
It was at the din­ner table lat­er that night that I found out what had hap­pened.

My wife said she saw you talk­ing with our neigh­bour this morn­ing,”

Clement said break­ing the close to ten min­utes old silence that had ensued between us both.I was going to tell him why I had gone to see their neigh­bour but no soon­er had I opened my mouth than he quick­ly chal­lenged repul­sive­ly.

Eddy, you are new here and should ask ques­tions before you asso­ciate with some peo­ple. We are not in good terms with those peo­ple..”

My mouth opened wide in bewil­der­ment.

Why? Clement, what hap­pened to you? You used to asso­ciate with every­body..”
“That was then Eddy. I am a grown man now and I now know what is good for me.”

Lis­ten­ing to him that night made me sick. I want­ed to tell him about my deci­sion to buy the house but declined when he told me that only one amongst the eight hous­es around him was in good rela­tion­ship with them. Accord­ing to him, all the oth­er neigh­bours were rude and did not usu­al­ly greet his wife.
I told him that as his neigh­bours he must try to make peace with them.

Please try and eschew hatred and strife. Make peace with your neigh­bours because the only time you are in con­trol of is now. What hap­pens the next minute isn’t yours to han­dle. If we have no con­trol over the future, why then should we fight with peo­ple around us who could be use­ful to us tomor­row?”

He shook his head as I spoke;

Eddy, these neigh­bours are not the kind of neig­bours you have in Lagos. These ones are irre­deemable. Just avoid them as long as you live here.”

The more I tried to ratio­nal­ize why he had said that, the more dif­fi­cult it was for me. In the end, I decid­ed to let the sleep­ing dog lie. Three days lat­er, I paid for the house and began to ren­o­vate it with­out my friend know­ing about it. I want­ed it to come as a sur­prise. The agent got me an engi­neer and an inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tor. These two did a nice job as all I had to do was to pay them to make the house very com­fort­able and beau­ti­ful for me.Before the house was ready for me to move in, my com­pa­ny gave me a new car. When I brought it home, I was sur­prised at my friend’s reac­tion that night.

I work for a use­less com­pa­ny.” He said indig­nant­ly. This is my ninth year with them and they are wait­ing for me to remind them that I am due for pro­mo­tion and giv­en a car.”

I told him that one day it would come as a big sur­prise to him. How­ev­er, that night I began to think of buy­ing him a small car. He was my friend and need­ed to be as hap­py as I was. The next day, I called the agent to help me look for a fair­ly used car.

E get one of my cousin wey want to sell im own but he trav­el for him sis­ter wed­ding. Na clean car. You go like am.” The man replied.

I was glad to hear that the car was a Toy­ota Corol­la. I knew my friend was going to be sur­prised when I would give him the keys. That evening when I returned from work, I decid­ed to open up to them that I was the new own­er of the house next to them but was shocked to my bone mar­row at the lev­el of envy they open­ly dis­played.

Why did you not tell me that you want­ed to buy a house?” my friend flared up cross­ly. “Did you know how many years I have spent in this town? Any­way, con­grat­u­la­tions.”

I real­ly could not fath­om why Clement would behave in that man­ner towards me. It made me sick. This was not the Clement I used to know. Why would he let envy eat him up that way? That night as I packed my things all by myself and left to my build­ing, He and his wife could not help me move a pin or even come to see what the house looked like. I still did not feel bad about what they did. I just felt that when I sur­prised him with the car, he was going to change.

Two days lat­er, I bought the car and gave it to a mechan­ic to ser­vice it. I was going to give my friend the car the next day but I was sur­prised when I returned that evening and noticed that fire­wood, huge ones had been gath­ered at the spot where I used to pack my car. It was part of their land. My house had a small gate. I must widen it before I could dri­ve in. And since it was where I had already been park­ing my car, I found a spot near the fire­wood and parked there.

I went to knock on their door to know what hap­pened but the wife refused to open when she pulled the cur­tain and saw my face. She could not even respond to my greet­ings. I felt ter­ri­ble.

The next day when I returned from work and went to the mechan­ic, he told me that the radi­a­tor of the car was faulty and need­ed to be fixed. I real­ly want­ed to quick­ly hand it over to my friend to put smiles on his face. I gave him the mon­ey for repairs.

Oga, abeg make sure say the car ready tomor­row abeg,”
“E go ready sir,” the mechan­ic assured.

But at home, I got anoth­er shock­er. My friend and his wife had dug a pit at the exact spot where I had man­aged to park the pre­vi­ous day. Upon inquiry from peo­ple around, I was told that the pit was a soak away.

Soak-away?”

I was shocked because they had a big soak-away in the com­pound. Why the sud­den need for anoth­er? That night, I found some­where to park the car and after that I stopped both­er­ing myself about them. I did not go to the mechan­ic again even though he called to tell me that the car was ready.

Two weeks lat­er, I was hav­ing a bath when I looked through the win­dow and saw my friend’s son play­ing on top of the fire­wood gath­ered in front of the soak-away which was now half filled with dirty smelling water. Sud­den­ly, I saw the wood slack and the young lad went crash­ing into it.
With the speed of light, I ran out mad­ly with only a tow­el around my waist.

I did not know when I dived into the pit and dragged out the drown­ing young fel­low. A neigh­bour who was a nurse imme­di­ate­ly began to attend to the boy when I brought him out of the water. He was con­vuls­ing. My friend’s wife was cry­ing like a baby in my car as I sped to the hos­pi­tal min­utes lat­er. The nurse still fol­lowed us with her first aid box to the hos­pi­tal.

It took divine inter­ven­tion with three weeks at the hos­pi­tal to revive the child. That pit has now been cov­ered. My friend and his wife have gone round ask­ing neigh­bours for for­give­ness. I am still think­ing whether to still give him the car.

I have learnt a lot these few months. We are noth­ing with­out peo­ple. This is why we must not think we are just okay with our­selves and need nobody. We are all impor­tant. Some­times they peo­ple you think you don’t need might be the ones to res­cue you when you are in dan­ger.

It is for this rea­son that we must val­ue our peace­ful coex­is­tence irre­spec­tive of our tribe, creed or reli­gion. if peo­ple hold no grudge against you or do not mean you for evil, don’t fight them because you will be fight­ing God Him­self and you can nev­er emerge vic­to­ri­ous when you fight the God of the inno­cent.

THE NEIGHBOURS LAAF

(a true sto­ry)

I hope this inspires some­one (Abel Wealth)

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