My instincts were right after all that today was going to be frustrating. From the moment I forgot my office files and had to take a cab back home to when I was stuck in the famous Lagos traffic for over two hours making me all the more angry with myself and finally to my boss staring at me expecting a “Yes Sir” to an impossible task.
I plastered a fake smile and mumbled his expected reply hoping he would leave my face for the meantime. I looked everywhere except his face, even tried typing a fake memo on the computer but he was still in all his ‘bossful’ glory before me. I could not even hold in my frustrated sigh as I got up to attend to the task immediately which was apparently what he wanted. It was just 1pm in the afternoon which meant I had four more hours to endure everything and everyone in the office and if the ride home was included, a whole six hours.
While carrying out my ‘impossible’ task, I mentally travelled back to my apartment. I went round my little apartment making sure I remember what to purchase before I arrive my destination. I had little ingredients for dinner and a left over apple in the fridge. Dinner looked settled. Suddenly, I remembered my lost knife and so I continued mentally searching the house for my missing knife. I could not find my knife when I wanted to cut a slice of fruit after breakfast. I had searched for a while but I was not patient enough to search properly. I must have dropped it on my cushion last night or somewhere I would least expect except an alien had come to steal it. I chuckled at my line of thoughts as I continued my task. Watching too many American movies had begun to take its toll on my thought life.
Looking up for the first time in some hours, I realized everyone seemed to be facing his or her task in their cubicle making the atmosphere so calm, it felt strange. I was beginning to enjoy it and wished it would last all day. Ofcourse, I knew my wish was an horse if I had not encountered Mr Tolani throughout the day. He was like a stubborn bug that did not understand the word ‘No’ as he never respected anyone’s mood. He was caring to a fault though and his joyful spirit was contagious. However today, I really hoped he would be too busy to come around. The buzz of my printer herald the entrance of Mr Tolani. I ignored him successfully for about two minutes before he started his train of questions which I answered monotonously. I was so sure he would get the hint that today was that bad day for me but unfortunately, he did not. He soon began talking about himself and I tuned him off. We all knew he was jilted about six months ago, we all knew she left him for a richer catch, we all knew he slaved himself to fend for her and we all knew he was yet to recover from the trauma. Occasionally, I included my ‘ahs and ohs’ to at least show my sympathy. My clock showed 4:30pm to my greatest relief. I just wanted to go home.
I was not too sure I said more than a word to everyone as I walked out of the office. If I could beat the traffic, I would be home in the next one hour. The security post looked like a finishing line I wanted to beat before every co-worker. My journey home began.
The bus stop was already full of waiting passengers and buses passing by were packed full already. Everyone in Lagos knew that this was an indication that we should get ready for smackdown as we will struggle to enter a bus at a ridiculous price. With my slippers already replacing my office heels and my bag so tight to my chest, I was ready to smack anyone down. Home was the goal. Immediately I heard my next destination, I edged closer to road and did not allow the bus to come to a final stop before pushing and pulling through. Shouts and curses charged the atmosphere with the conductor’s demand for everyone to enter with our ‘change’ which was the exact money for the transport. I laughed inwardly, getting ready to watch drama because I knew there would always be that one person that would not obey the conductor’s demand. There would always be one Judas. By this time, 6’o clock was knocking fast to my dismay. It seemed I would get home later than I thought. It was also edging to the time the rumored thieves would get ready to strike again.
I think my bad mood and over active imagination began since houses in my estate were burgled with even some tenants getting injured. It had been bad news since the beginning of the month making us all wonder what exactly we are paying for when we payed security bill. Well, we are in a country where everyone including the said security men are hiding under covers. No one wants to die early including me so I could not fault them at the moment. It was not like they had the right personal protection equipment or weapon to protect anyone. Every man for himself at this moment. Yet, it baffled me that the burglars could enter even the houses I never imagined could be that penetrable. Houses with dogs almost as big as my size, electric fence and CCTV cameras here and there. Like my neighbor lamented, if houses like that could be burgled, we were not going to be spared.
The conductor’s shouts interrupted my train of thought as he exchanged words with a passenger who intentionally entered the bus without the required ‘change’. Other passengers tried to calm him down but he paid deaf ears to them while calling on different thunders to strike the passenger and whosoever disobeyed his great command. A Lagos conductor who does not look know how to rain curses does not exist. At this point, everyone kept quiet and no one pleaded again and seeing he was not gaining attention, he grumbled and gave the passenger his left over money. We were gradually getting closer to our destination after beating traffic successfully. As soon as I alight, I would be home in the next 20 minutes. It was dusk already. Mentally going through my list again, I made note of what to buy before reaching home.
I finally got home and reached into my bag to get my house keys. I was fagged out, in need of a hot shower, a nice meal and my good bed. Soon, my thoughts stopped and my brain registered that I could not find my house keys. I put in my hand once again and searched properly yet no success. I poured every content in my bag on the floor and searched slowly, praying I was wrong and I did not leave my keys in the office or misplace them while bringing out my transport fare on my way home. Disappointment could not sum up my feelings. My day of frustration had not ended after all. I could not go back to the office neither could I break in. I was not a burglar. Quickly packing in the contents of my bag while I thought of another solution, I remembered my sister always insisting I keep a spare whenever she came to visit. I indulged her then and I was so glad I did.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I entered my apartment, dropped my bag and got a cup to drink water. I pushed myself to the room to undress and wash away the filth and frustration of the day. The first thing that gave me a pause was the condition of my windows. I had never left my window open no matter how tired, in a hurry or forgetful I could be. My senses became alive and all tiredness left. If the burglars were here to steal, they picked the wrong house. I had nothing worth stealing. Well, except my Apple Laptop which my sister bought as a birthday gift.
I ran to shut my windows and quietly walked backwards towards my sitting room. I heard a sound from the kitchen and quickly turned towards its direction. My mother’s words came alive in my head. When I told her about the menace in our estate, she advised I hold a weapon whenever I sense they are around. Well, that was after giving me series of spiritual warfare activities to carry out including sprinkling anointing oil round the house. My house was supposed to be invisible to the burglars immediate after that. I must have overlooked a task as my house was not invisible after all. My hands found whatever was along their way which was one leg of my heels and a glass cup. This was the perfect time I needed my knife if only I knew where I left it last night or could get to it in the kitchen before the burglar.
I threw my heel inside the kitchen before barging in and meeting an empty kitchen. My windows were also opened and my heel in my sink. My mouth muttered prayers to God to remember the good I had done and the prayers of my poor mother. I could not deal with a burglar tonight. Not now, not ever. My eyes scanned the kitchen for anything else amiss and I didn’t see any so I went ahead to shut my windows but skidded to a stop when I saw my kitchen knife on my table. My kitchen knife was back but looked like it had red patches on it. No, it was not red patches, it was blood! I screamed and ran out. Out of the kitchen, out of my sitting room, out of my house. I kept running till I got to my neighbors house and knocked franticly till someone opened the door. My relief was great that it was my friend’s husband, Mr Oke. I stuttered, screamed some words but he finally got the needed news. My house was being burgled by a mad man or woman who planned on killing me. He calmed me down, called Tife, my friend while he picked his phone calling the security officers around. If the idiot was still in my house, today was going to be his or her last day. Mr Oke walked out of his house meeting the security officers that arrived and they all walked into my house with strategies in place to search the house.
We waited for a while before my curiosity got hold of me and I followed them in. They had searched my room, toilet, bathroom, laundry room and my kitchen but did not see any intruder. However, the knife on my table was the mystery weapon of confusion. My windows were still opened and my heel in my sink. The chief security officer ordered a re-search while he sat me down and began asking questions. I narrated every detail I could remember from my frustrated morning to searching for my knife while I ate breakfast, getting home and discovering my keys were missing and meeting almost every window open. I finally ended with the blood stained knife, my hysterical shout and my running to meet Mr Oke. He nodded and wrote details on his pad and we went over some again till he was satisfied. By this time, the search was over and they still came up empty. I was beyond frustrated and laid my head on the table. While they rounded up various information they noticed, I was advised to shut my windows and pack necessary items enough for the night. Mr Oke thought it was better I slept at their place should the intruder come back. I nodded my thanks to everyone that helped and quickly packed my belongings leaving the knife as instructed till the next day. Further search and questions will be done when I was well rested and not stuttering.
With my door securely locked, Mr Oke and I walked quietly to his house to meet his waiting wife who hugged me and led me to the kitchen. I was well beyond tired and my nerves here and there so I barely said a word while I sat and devoured the food set before me. I needed to sleep and needed it now. Tife arranged my bed and I could not thank her enough. Scriptures had been finally confirmed my grateful thoughts: A neighbor is better than a brother far away. Calling my mother at this time of the night was going to be a wrong move. Both my mother and I would eventually not sleep. Infact, everyone in my family of she had her way. Poor woman might even call her Pastor if left to her devices.
While on bed, I thought of how an intruder could get into my house despite my protective measures. I also thought of what could be missing in my apartment. Nothing was worth stealing except my laptop which I still saw. The trauma of the bloodstained knife kept haunting me. It was strange and terrifying at the same time. I resisted the urge to think of what the knife had been used for and of the victim survived. My mother’s prayers must have worked for me. As I turned over to shut my eyes, a thread of memory that escaped my scattered mind came back in a flash. While I was returning to pick my forgotten files, I remembered Tife’s little son met me with my borrowed knife. He was supposed to return it after they used it to kill chicken the night before. Usually, Tife lends my knife because of its sharp and curved surface. Tife’s son must have returned it un-washed! My files were my concern so I did not follow him to my kitchen. My knife had dried chicken blood and not an intruder’s wicked scheme after all. I laughed out loud for the first time throughout the day. With that settled, my windows remained the only mystery left. I finally shut my eyes while thanking God for protection now and always and not making me die of heart attack due to chicken blood. I could not wait to tell Tife that her son gave us a scare tonight due to my negligence though.
I must have dozed off for a while when the final solution startled me awake. I remembered opened all my windows the night before when I burnt my dinner. I wanted to air the house but slept off watching a movie. My morning was a rush so I forgot to shut them while I ate and even while I returned to pick up my files. I finally calmed down and slept. The security officers need not to bother, there was no intruder neither a victim. My mother’s prayers were still working and I needed to sleep fast before I began seeing spirits and make everyone search in vain again.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com