Since we moved into the neighborhood, I have noticed a certain creepiness about the long stretch of empty houses. Though decently lined up, one cannot but be mindful of the eerie silence that envelopes the street once night crawls in. It is not as if the day is any better but, it is certainly ominous that people would labor to build houses for ghosts to dwell.
The street is peaceful. That certainly made up for the quiet. With noisome neighbors come quarrel for no cause.
House 11 is particularly sore for its abandonment than for its friendliness. The far and in between times anyone occupied her were as empty as when it was empty. House 11 is a desolate place.
I learnt it belonged to a retired NNPC staff who had had his filthy hands in terrible unofficial duties and was constantly running away from shadowy tormentors.
House 11 changed and kicked to life suddenly when one innocuous Sunday morning the man’s 18 year old daughter moved in. She came on holiday from Kaduna where she was schooling.
Since she arrived, House 11 suddenly breezed to life. Music boomed from speakers no one knew existed in the house. The gates got opened and closed more often. The cleaners were busier than I’ve ever seen them. House 11 wore the shirt of home for once.
The Girl never spoke much. She neither greeted anyone nor responded when greeted. Her trademark Rayban eyepiece never left her face, even at night. Maybe, they were monochromic. Better still, they had night vision. We couldn’t tell.
I was not bothered. I couldn’t be bothered. I have serious issues to grapple with at work. A car was equally misbehaving. Damn. I need another car. But who buys cars as if you were buying handkerchiefs?
I stood at the terrace to think through my many worries when I looked down the roof and saw the pharmaceutical bottles. I counted.
They were 45 empty bottles. Codeine. I knew where they came from. Her room.
Awww gosh. Pity and anxiety came over me. I now understood why she was not talking much. Why she maintained a dignified distance. She was dealing with a debilitating sickness. She needed compassion and not scorn and derision. She needed love in such a trying time as this.
Her catarrh is of a very serious nature.
I noticed also she didn’t litter the rooftop with tissue papers. Poor considerate Girl. She didn’t want to overlabor the poor Baba whose duty it was to keep the compound squeaky clean; including the rooftops.
I ran downstairs to Emeka, the shop owner to purchase tissue papers for her. I was going to show her what friendly neighbourliness is all about.
Na wah o.
Emeka no longer sold household items since The Girl came.
Gone were Maggi, Alomo, rice, soaps and the like.
Market done change. Parade don enter second gear.
Emeka is wearing a white overall.
His store is full of things to seel.
He sells codeine and codeine and cough syrup and Tramadol and Ice and Revnol and Turare Na Hausawa.
Drugs kill. And Death merchants abound to hasten the process.