Sitting outside savouring the cool evening breeze, I listen to my neighbour Mama Ofure, as she rains curses upon the poor creature again. She punctuates her stream of curses with slaps and claps, as her hands seek the mosquitoes that are our ever present tormentors in this compound. Unfortunately, her slaps often miss their targets, instead making painful contact with her skin. This worsens her already foul mood. I sigh, thinking that perhaps Mama Ofure is too hard on her, this creature that has been part of all our lives for so long. Instead I try to reflect on all the ways she has been useful to us, especially my husband and I, since the breakdown of our third and last generator.
When the romance in my marriage was starting to wane, she brought us closer. We had candlelit dinners, and long walks under the moonlight.
She taught us to eat healthier, consuming our food fresh from the stove, no freezing and reheating.
She also brought us closer to our neighbours, causing us to sit outside and socialize in the evenings. Who would have thought Oghogho next door was such a good singer? Or that Baba Segun could tell such interesting stories?
She has helped to sharpen our wits and our grammar, through frequent games of Ludo and Scrabble.
She has even helped me rediscover the joy in little things, like the evening breeze, the scent of the frangipani planted in our compound, or crossword puzzles in the daily papers.
And although I too may curse at her once in a while for her erratic behaviour and unbearable rudeness, I have grown to accept her as an inevitable part of our lives. Even when she changed her name; we still choose to refer to her by her original name, the one we have grown so fond of over the years. And though we are quick to rain curses and insults upon her, we are even quicker to commend her when she decides to grace us with her generosity and kindness. Our cheers can be heard through the whole neighbourhood; “Up Nepa!!!”