Each new write-up for the hub is an adventure, this time around I explored an area I never thought I would visit. Summarizing my experience with my next-door neighbors turned out to be incredibly fun😆.
To my readers♥️, thank you for being fully supportive of my work and for not relenting to point out my shortcomings.
The atmosphere at my tranquil home is located in a busy city with imposing edifice. A very commercial part of Onitsha – where both coupling Aluminum for houses and fancy restaurants and Malls flourished. Three Churches were situated along the street, two big Catholic Church and a fuchsia coloured Pentecostal church which is the closest to my home. Our house, a fading mint coloured and ivory three story building had the best architectural touch of all the houses in the street. However, I know for a fact the beautiful building was never the spice keeping me or anyone else entertained every single day. When uncommon things happened: once a boy was wrongly accused and arrested by the police, we the neighbours gathered on our lawns, craning our necks to get a better view of the proceedings. Within seconds after they left, it was as if nothing had happened. The sun continued its ascent, Quiet was restored. And we all went behind closed doors to discuss what we had just witnessed. There was always something to talk about and like any other Africans, most of the neighbors wanted to know every single thing that has happened or will happen in our lives. And Typical Nigerian adults next-door always had one or two advices on how to dress decently, how to be a consistent church goer to make heaven, how to greet, who you should be seen with… etc.
There was Aunty Chinelo, a short woman with a lot of hair whose ripe mango color was beginning to fade. She always said an hour prayer before drinking any bottled water. Most times I do wonder if she’s really thirsty because one who truly is won’t waste the whole time in the world to have a drop.
I remember the sunny afternoon, I had gone to make my hair in her salon. She gave me a pamphlet that read “Beware of Idolatry”. She had insisted I went through it while she made my hair because somehow she believed I would dispose of it once I left her shop and I smiled, wondering how and when she knew me that well. So I started reading the pamphlet, the texts were coloured blue and the font style was ordinary: less attractive and scanty! The writer had misspelled a lot of words and some sentences were visible tautologies. I complained silently but she could hear me clearly, and because I didn’t want to get into a heated argument with her, I sat there and listened to the countless reasons why I should have focused on the affirmed truth of the message, ignoring the errors.
There was Yuriel. With the most beautiful sandalwood skin pigment I have ever seen. His eyes are almost grey that sometimes he believes he is not of this country because only seasoned intellectual breeds understood him, others including me thinks he’s crazy. He often prays the universe gives him the opportunity to make mulatto kids from a white British lass. I always felt he is unfortunate, being Nigerian. “You would have been very massive by now if you were white” I told him almost every day. On the other hand, he calls me a book dragon: a lover of history and vintage events. He knew I hated skirts. With psychology! LOL. And sometime in the month of August he sent me a video containing a fragment of 1964, where Wole Soyinka interviewed Chinua Achebe on his first novel – “Things Fall Apart”.
“I don’t read African novels. Thought I told you that? That particular day, he wanted to read a new book for a change and I recommended “The Hairdresser of Harare” by Tendai Huchu.
Then there was Lilian. I have never cared enough to ask if she had other names. To some people she is beautiful but most times I don’t see it. She falls into that percentage of humans blessed with too much flesh. Once I advised her to do squats every morning, she started off nicely but unfortunately she couldn’t keep up with the Kardashians. She is the type who sits at home, get fat, buy a full collection of dubbed indigenous Nigerian films and spend weeks watching it. In 2017, I successfully introduced her to world class foreign movies and she was glad. One day she asked me about marriage. I wasn’t sure why she did but I was certain it shouldn’t matter to her. Or was it supposed to matter? On another occasion, she asked about everything, the cloth I would wear to church the next Sunday, and the hairstyle I would love to make when I loose the old braids I’m wearing at the moment. The type of nails I’m going to fix at the salon and the paint I will use on it. To her, every detail was important. Later on I realized she felt she was in constant competition with me, so knowing my next step always gave her ideas and clues on what to do next.
The most important and positive girl on the block is Ginny. Always have been. Her fine-tuned sense of entitlement consistently graced me on the days when I felt numb and blank. I never asked her to tell her story from the very beginning, though snared she seem to have risen above taunts at a very young age. She understood me better than anyone else, I dare say she knows me better than my parents. Our minds are like the like-poles in physics, only this time, we attract. I felt comfortable and very much alive around her. And grateful to be part of every quality conversation like when we agreed to live quietly, doing everything we loved with someone worth loving, it sounded much better in 2017. The success of our ten year old friendship came not from our collective likeness for same things, which you will agree is prodigious, but rather from the way we both understood how to live for ourselves, our families and friends.
To be continued…
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