I ignored the 5am alarm on my phone because it was a Saturday morning. With a long yawn I cuddled under my sheets and my new bouncy mattress tended to my aching body. The lack of cross ventilation makes my room stuffy when there is a power cut, but I had grown accustomed to it, so even with the heat, I gave my bed sheets a warm embrace to dishearten the roaming mosquitoes.
In the next 2 hours all that was gone because the knock on my door was forceful and so was the ensuing squawky voice of Mama Iyabo that jolted me out of bed. “Chinedu open door oh!”
I owed four months electricity bill. The first month I successfully played hide and seek with Mama Iyabo. The second month I lied that my mother was rushed to the hospital and that had drained my savings. The theatrical feigning of a typhoid illness could have won me an Oscar in the third month.
Several ideas about another lie flickered in my brain but when the next knock pounced on the already fragile wooden door, the fear of sleeping without a door that night forced out a shrill voice.
“Madam don’t get me torqued off, I would open up in a jiffy.” I spoke in more sophisticated language with the non-educated but intelligent Mama Iyabo when I knew I had to deal with issues bothering on money.
Daylight shined a plenty but my room was stark dark with no illumination. Almost feels like time never rotates in my room. I journeyed through the darkness, found my phone and I lit the torchlight. I reached for a combat short to cover up my worn boxers that have sagged to expose my groins.
I opened my door and Mama Iyabo stood hands akimbo, head tilted sideways, a sea of sweat siting on her forehead and her wide necked blouse exposed her stretched marked shoulders. Iyabo her daughter stood behind with a faint smile and a tattered white paper folded on her right hand ready to write new English words.
“Chinedu! Chinedu! Chinedu! How many time I call you?”
“3 intervals your royalty,” I answered with a straight face.
“E no matter if you talk all the grammar for this world, you go pay all the monies that you owing for NEPA oh.” Her plump body danced involuntarily as she spoke.
I could hear the squeaking hinges of doors. Neighbours peeped to catch the morning drama.
A blank stare sat on my face as she continued. “March, you owe one thousand naira , April you owe another one thousand naira and May your money don reach three thousand naira be that and today onigbese go stop.”
Just before I opened my mouth to speak there was a deafening shout. “Up NEPA!”
It was an unfailing euphoria that erupts each time power is restored. In the next seconds after the shouts Mama Iyabo screamed my name. “Chinedu!”
At first I thought she was going into another round of rant but her next words brought all the neighbours to my room.
“Make una come see oh,” she shoved me aside as she opened my door full swing to gain entrance into my room. She walked slow paced towards my fridge and as she bent down I realized darkness was golden at this time. She picked up the electric cooker that I have been using secretly and exclaimed, “Chinedu! This one na 4 points oh, your money that you owe for NEPA is five thousand naira!”