“I saw my neighbor, I saw her more than once, where she is headed, I don’t know yet.”
Lagos, the dream city of any girl born in a small town, I am what you will call an uptown girl born and raised in Akure,capital city of Ondo state, very peaceful and very quiet, a community where even your neighbor could discipline your child on your behalf and get a thank you from your parents. In other words, it was a town that had the communal spirit .
Akure was one town where it truly took a village to raise a child, do i miss those days? I honestly don’t know, some days are good and some days are just outrightly boring, but looking out my window, here in Lagos in our very quiet GRA, I remember and quietly reflect on how far i have strayed from home, how things that used to sound ridiculous in our Akure have somehow become the norms in the big city. Did I ever dream of living in Lagos? I can’t remember but even if I did, that is not the subject of this episode.
I SAW MY NEIGHBOR, I am not kidding, I really did see my neighbor. Let me start by telling you what my daily routine tastes like, I wake up at 4am to cook, my husband isn’t really big on breakfast but the kids still need their lunch packed and I like my family to wake up to the smell of clean air and freshly cooked food in the morning, maybe some air fresheners too so I get up early to put all those things in place. Afterall a perfect aroma sets the pace for a great and happy day. So, I’m the early riser, after school runs and the morning rush is over, I love to catch up on the sleep I lost before it is lunch time, I laid on the couch, hoping to keep flipping through channels and resting while I fall asleep, the combination of unknown voices, the humming of the fan and the gentle song the AC whistles make the perfect way to fall asleep, just when i was about dozing off, I heard it, it first sounded like it was coming from the TV, I looked but it was a comedy show that was on, I moved up a little and heard someone sobbing, I heard it loud and clear. Someone was crying and it was close by, I opened the door and there she was on the staircase, I saw my neighbor in her night clothes just sitting there, the door had startled her so she wiped her tears and managed a smile but yes I cant miss it, I know that face, the face and eyes of a crying woman are all too familiar to me, she turned around and looked at me, managing unconvincingly to smile through the tears, her eyes still wet as mist, we stood there for thirty seconds, no one moved a muscle, then she went back downstairs, I watched her leave yes I SAW MY NEIGHBOR AND SHE SAW ME, YES SHE DID.
That night when hubby came home after a long day, something told me to tell him what I saw but I dismissed it and I told myself, “housewives are known aprokos, dont fit the stereotype, break it, be the housewife that minds her business, make your husband proud.” I held him from behind and he smiles as he mumbled ” you missed me right?” I responded faintly “you know I do.” He turned to face me and as if it was on cue, his towel dropped and I have a very unbendable rule of engagement, “eye wey see must chop” So, he already knew that was an invitation to treat. Of course, I stepped up to the plate and addressed the matter in details, after having my fill, it was his turn and we came back to earth. There came a knock on the door, it was my six year old “mummy I want more” as he continued banging on the poor door, I yelled “I am coming.”
Realizing the irony of the situation my husband and I laughed out really loud. “Mummy are you laughing at me” she said. “No honey, your daddy did something funny” she shrugged “he is a clown, I know.” I opened the door, walked to the kitchen to give my baby more porridge while a party inside me is thanking my God for the happy day and happy ending I just had. As I stepped into the kitchen and gave her the food, I saw a shadow move swiftly behind my window, I asked my baby “is this enough?” , she replied “yes mummy thank you, you are the best.” “you are welcome” I said, she moved to the dinning while I waited a bit before I checked out the shadow.
I opened the door quietly this time and there she was again, this time on the phone just listening, tears running freely from her eyes, she was still, she didnt move as she was transfixed like a statue. Again, I saw my neighbor but this time around, she didnt see me. I felt the urge to reach out and ask her “hey whats going on? are you okay?” but the spirit came over me ” you might be a housewife but you are not an amebo, is that where your husband put you? go and mind your business and face your happy life.” Quietly, I turned around as the helpless figure found a balance behind me and broke into a run, she ran into her house like a car with brake failure, I thought to myself, her food must be burning as I closed my door to resume my family business.
It was bedtime, I tucked the kids in and went to our room, hubby was already dozing, i turned off the lights, got into bed and snuggled close to him. he held me as he beckoned in a low tone “are you okay baby?” Nervously, I responded ” I am great baby, I have you and the kids. That is all i ever wanted’ he nodded “good and I love you.” I added. ‘I love you too.” He said. Something told me to share with him the things I had seen and observed that day but I just couldn’t, I didnt want to be labelled an Amebo by the man I love, I already wear the lazy housewife label, I dont need anymore stigma especially from the man whose opinion means the world to me. So, I kept quiet as I romanced my inner thoughts into the dark night. My name is Kofoworola Brown and I saw my neighbor more than once… I SAW HER.
…To be continued