The first night in a new house is always worth remembering. The feel of waking up to a new environment, then the sudden realization that you have a new home always feels like a rush of blood to the head. As opposed to hostel life, living off-campus had its perks, one of them being the warm feeling of solitude in the early hours of the morning. Back in his former abode, “Block C” as it was known; Samurai never really knew what it felt like to wake up happy. The morning always brought one new drama or escapade. Either it was the staccato rapid burst of early morning prayer (demon-killing, holy ghost fire style) from the room next door, or the rhythmic aggressive snoring emanating from the cubicle opposite him, or even worse the shrill scream of kids hawking A & B (Akara and Bread). To compound matters, the occupants of Block C were notorious for their music tastes. While “JJ Chopinson” in Room 6 was known to blast highlife music in the early hours of the morning, the “Man O War” brethren next door in Room 5 preferred the jazz tunes of Fela Kuti, throw in the random mix of Igbo gospel songs (“Akanchawa”) from the opposite wing and maybe a popular Westlife track and you’d get a perfect idea of what the early morning orchestra sounded like.
On the contrary, waking up in Paco for Samurai was almost like opening his eyes to see himself in heaven, except for the fact that Shimon was listening intently to BBC and there was no way the soundtrack in heaven was BBC. Now that was another little detail about Shimon, true to his diplomatic nature, he never missed listening to the news, CNN, BBC, Nigerian news, he was as current as a club DJ on the reigning club hits, a habit that eventually rubbed off on Samurai.
Anyway, back to that first morning, while Shimon was tuned to his radio, he and Samurai made plans on what to buy for the new apartment. The rug was already in place, deep blue with faint white patterns, the 14-inch TV glared back at them with pride (owning a TV back then was a gbogbo bigz boiz trend) and they even had a small fridge that hummed with satisfaction at the voltage it was receiving from NEPA. The room was lit by a china-made chandelier, artistic and simple, Shimon referred to it as the “hell fire light” bcos it only cast the room in soft suggestive glows.
After the morning dialogue and mini-debate over world politics and sports, they both decided to get the day started, it was a Saturday morning after all and there was still a lot of work to be done. The bathroom needed serious renovating and that was the first task of the day. Samurai jumped out of bed, took a few steps towards the door and froze.
“Ol boi wetin happen?” Shimon asked.
Samurai didn’t respond, rather he took a few extra steps and turned around to face Shimon, the first glimmer of panic spreading over his face like a primary school child struggling to remember the capital of Zambia.
“E be like say our house don flood. The rug is soaking wet” he responded.
Shimon scrambled frantically out of bed and rushed to where Samurai stood, each step bringing a squelch of water. Truly the rug was as soaked as a piece of bread dipped in a cup of tea.
“Which kain wahala be this sef”, he grumbled.
They traced the leak to the bathroom, it was worse than they had previously imagined, half of the room was soaked. Without wasting any further time, they got to work and started mopping the water from the rug. About 2 hours later, they were almost done, happy and tired with relief, they jokingly cursed Looney T and Cubana in hushed whispers, the inept landlord was responsible for the maintenance of the house after all and Cubana was simply the worst neighbor in the history of civilization.
Just as they were about finishing, a young lady walked in. She was still clad in her pyjamas, and had a curious smile on her face. Her hair was was cut low, Fantasia style, and framed her face perfectly. She was light skinned and slim, wearing blue bathroom slippers (a.k.a. flip flops) which showed off toes that were neatly painted and hinted excellent pedicure. All traces of fatigue immediately evaporated from Shimon and Samurai’s demeanor, a friendly neighbor at last, different from that idiot Cubana who nearly got Samurai killed.
“Hello”, she said, “do you have a leak somewhere?”
Her name was Eye-Kandi and she lived in the adjoining room to theirs. Kai, sweet neighbor, very thoughtful and considerate, Samurai thought to himself. Shimon happily explained that they had a leak in their bathroom and that it had flooded their room overnight. “But don’t worry, we have finally cleaned up everything”, he finished.
“Okay, no wonder. The leak from your bathroom flooded my whole room too”, Kandi responded.
Shimon being a true diplomat offered his and Samurai’s assistance immediately. “Don’t worry, we’ll help you clean up”, he said. Samurai could feel the tension growing in his stomach, he was tired and they had just spent almost 2 and a half hours cleaning their room and it was only half flooded, surely Kandi’s room couldn’t be that bad. Maybe, Kandi would even offer them breakfast when they were through with helping her, he smiled inwardly and nodded his head in agreement as they all chatted happily and made their way to Kandi’s room. She had Jill Scott’s album playing, the first step inside the room transformed the tension in Samurai’s stomach to sheer terror.
The WHOLE room was flooded; it felt like walking on water.
Kandi beamed a smile at the 2 panic-stricken young men and said, “where do you want to start?”
To be continued…