By Serah Iyare
The knocks on her door got her attention. She reduced the volume of her TV set, pulled her weight up and sauntered to the door. Her heart did a summersault when she opened the door and saw the landlord. The man and his family, his pretty wife, three teenage children, and two of his nieces, lived in the duplex in front of the boys’ quarters she resided in. Her rent had recently expired and she had promised to credit the man’s account that week, but things didn’t work out the way she expected.
She resumed job hunting the week after her birthday, but, everywhere she went, she was told that there was no vacancy. Many times, she called her ex-boyfriend and tried to convince him to retain her at the law firm, even if they were no longer romantically involved, but, he wouldn’t hear of it. His father had also gotten her phone number from only God knows where and had tried to persuade her to meet with his friends for a weekend getaway. She ended up blocking his number. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
She needed a job desperately. Aside from her rent, she was also owing security, waste, and a few other monthly bills. She was running out of cash, she had no foodstuff in her kitchen and had gotten into the habit of eating at the Pastor’s house. Where else was she supposed to go?
“Miss Imasogie, what is causing the delay?” the man who was in his late forties frowned at her “You promised to credit my account some days ago. Why are you tossing this issue to and fro? Do I have to come down here to remind you? We are civilized people for heavens sake’s.” The fair young lady looked around, uncomfortable at the high pitch of his voice. She would have preferred if he spoke in a low tone.
“I am so sorry sir. Things didn’t work out the way I planned…”
“To hell with your plans! What’s my business? When I gave you this apartment, what did I tell you?” he bellowed, looking at her up and down like an insect.
She folded her arms across her bosom and sighed heavily. She remembered the days when she had different kinds of currencies in her bank accounts. She ate whatever she liked. She shopped every single day. She hopped from one exotic hotel to the other, catching her fun. She flew to wherever she desired, without breaking a sweat. Now, she had less than five thousand naira in her accounts. She was happy she wasn’t living that kind of life anymore, but, she didn’t contemplate that she would suffer greatly for choosing to live for God. When was her breakthrough going to manifest? How long does she have to wait?
“I told you that I don’t like debtors. If you cannot pay for the apartment, move out! How much is the rent anyway? Three hundred and fifty thousand naira for a one-bedroom apartment in such a prestigious estate. Do you know how much other landlords are collecting in this estate?” Edua bowed her head in shame. She was at least two inches taller than the man, who was a little above five feet seven inches, but, all of a sudden, she felt very small.
“Our neighour’s tenants pay him four hundred thousand naira yearly. The house in front of us, they pay half a million yearly, for the same one-bedroom apartment. How much am I collecting from you?”
“Sir, I paid you completely when I moved in. There is just two months delay this time around, I will pay. Relax please.”
“God punish you!”
They heard his wife’s voice. She joined them outside the apartment, clad in a jeans and a red sleeveless blouse.
“Who do you think that you are talking to?” the plump, dark skinned, average height woman screamed at her.
Edua looked from the husband to the wife. They reminded her of the wild dogs she had seen in the documentary on the geographical channel she watched two days ago.
“Look here, whatever they call you, if you cannot pay, pack out. We have a list of new tenants who will pay double for the apartment you are occupying.”
“Sir, Madam, I just lost my job recently. Please give me a little time…” The woman started to laugh.
“Who cares? I don’t care what you do for a living. I want my money,” the man eyed her.
“I told you honey, all these jobless girls roaming around this vicinity are pests with a capital ‘P’. If I was around the day she solicited for the apartment, I wouldn’t have allowed her to step into this compound,” the woman glared at her.
“You have three days. If you do not pay, I will personally throw your things out,” the man hissed and walked away.
“I don’t want the likes of you in this compound. The earlier you move out, the better,” the woman eyed her and followed her husband.
Edua closed her eyes and opened it. Three days? Where was she supposed to get three hundred and fifty thousand naira from? It was a Saturday, it was weekend, not even a week day. Who could she call? Her old friends were hopeless. They did terrible things for a living. If she asked them to help her out, they would also insist she joined them for an outing with men who were ready to pay through their noses for a nice time with them. The very lifestyle she had abandoned. There was no going back for her. She doesn’t have new friends except the few people she spoke with in church. She doubted if it would be wise to request for loans from them. She caught a glimpse of her neighbor at her window, as she backed into the apartment and bolted the door. The woman must have heard and seen the falling-out she had with the landlord and his wife.
She changed into a jean and a long sleeve white blouse, grabbed her purse and headed out. She got into her car and drove out of the compound. She parked in front of Jesus’ Lovers International Ministry, killed the engine and climbed out of the car. She strode into the church building and went straight to the Pastor’s office. She met a long queue outside the man’s door. She requested for a form from his personal assistant, filled it and sat down amongst three other ladies on a long iron chair. She brought out her phone from her purse and texted the pastor. She informed him that the landlord and his wife were planning to throw her out if she doesn’t come up with her rent by Monday.
She leaned against the chair and tried to watch the program on the television screen in the reception area. She heard the message tone of her phone. She glanced at it quickly and smiled when she saw that it was from the pastor. She read it quickly. Pastor Victory informed her that the church had a lot of financial commitment that week and they won’t be able to pay her rent. He assured her that if the situation got worse, she could move in back into his home till she was ready to move into another apartment.
Her smile thinned away. She didn’t want to move in with the pastor. She was a grown woman used to her own space. Although the pastor’s wife enjoyed her company and had been trying to convince her to live with them, rather than living on her own. She wasn’t interested. She wanted her own privacy. The woman’s children were schooling abroad and they only come home once in a year. It was one of the main reasons why the woman wanted her around. The pastor’s wife claimed that she reminded her of her eldest daughter, though she was older than the nineteen-year-old girl.
Edua bowed her head. What was she going to do now? She had hoped that even if the church couldn’t pay her full rent, they might be able to give her half. She got to her feet and headed out. She returned to her car and felt like crying.
Oh God! What is the meaning of all this now? You said that you will always be there for me. I am feeling like an abandoned child right now. She heard her phone ringing. She wiped her wet face with the back of her hand, brought out the phone from the purse and picked the call without checking who it was.
“Beauty…” She recognized her mother’s voice.
“Mum, my name is Edua.”
“Fine, Edua.” She heard the woman hiss. “Mr. Bankole, one of my very good clients, he claimed that he was with you a couple of weeks ago.” She closed her eyes and placed her hand on her aching forehead. She had already barred the man’s numbers.
“Mr. Bankole and his friends are willing to pay a large sum of money if you agree to spend time with them.”
“Hear me out…” She cut in. “I am not going to collect any percentage from the payment. These are my old clients and they have not been patronizing me since you absconded.”
“Absconded?” she opened her eyes.
“You abandoned me when I needed you most.”
“Come on mother,” she hissed, highly irritated.
“You have been running this business for years. You do not need me.”
“Yes I do!”She heard the high pitched voice of her mother.
“Mum, please, let’s drop it.”
“It is a good thing you called. I have been thinking, maybe I can work for you in another way.”
“By running and managing your boutiques. Six of them.” There was a moment’s silence at the other end of the line.
“If you want to run my clothing business, then you must also be willing to attend to my clients.”
“No, I don’t sleep around anymore.”
“Everyone that work in my boutiques also attend to my male clients. Both businesses run together.”
“Then… then you have to separate it, constrain my job description.” She heard the woman laughing.
“Mum, I am serious.”
“So, am I. You might be my daughter, but, I cannot break my own rules just to suit or pamper your conscience.”
“This is unbelievable,” she chuckled in anger.
“I will be waiting for your call, whenever you are ready. Think of what we can achieve together. We used to rule this town back in the good old days.”
“Bye mother,” she cut the call and threw the phone on the passenger’s seat. She shouldn’t have been surprised at her mother’s response to her request. The woman had not changed at all. She was still the same old witch. She started the car and drove to the pastor’s house. She parked the car outside the compound and walked in through the opened gate. Pastor Mrs. Victoria allowed her in.
“I have been expecting you. I made lunch
already.” She followed the woman into the kitchen and met one of the Protocol department members seated at the kitchen table, swallowing lumps of semolina dipped in melon soup.
“Sister Edua, you came at the right time,” the young man waved at her.
“Brother Tosin, enjoyment minister, I can see you clearly,” she responded. The guy started to laugh.
“Should I dish your food?” Pastor Victoria asked her. She nodded quickly. She was already feeling hungry.
“My husband texted me earlier, he said your landlord is giving you problems.” Edua chuckled. The pastor doesn’t waste time at all. “You know you can move in with us,” the woman stared at her lovingly. She folded her arms across her chest.
“I know, but, I am used to having my own space.”
“Ehn… we have plenty space here. Five bedrooms to be exact.” She started to laugh.
“No. I want my own space.”
“I pray the landlord throw you out fast tomorrow, she eyed her.
“Ah! Pastor Mrs. What sort of prayer is that?”
“I have said my own,” she walked to the gas cooker and opened one of the pots. Edua shook her head and sat across from the young man.
“Where did you buy that your car?” Tosin said between mouthfuls.
“Who wants to know?”
“Me. Do you know if they sell second hand?”
“Why do you want a second hand car?” she observed him.
“I have been saving to get a good car, but, due to other financial responsibilities, I keep spending out of the money. I am afraid I might use up my entire savings without getting the car.”
“How much do you have now?”
“Seven-fifty.” She began to shake her head.
“I bought mine at triple the price you have just mentioned.” He paled,
“I know. I asked around.” A thought ran past her mind.
“But, I might be able to help you out.” He brightened.
“You need a car, and I need cash urgently.” The guy grinned from ear to ear. “If I collect your seven-fifty, how much are you willing to balance me?” He started to laugh, then cleared his throat.
“Since, your car is still very fresh, I can still give you like two-fifty, in the space of fifty thousand per month till I complete the payment.”
“Deal,” she stretched out her right hand. She smiled widely. She would be able to pay her rent and the other bills she was owing, stock her kitchen with foodstuff and still have enough to run around as she searched for a new job. She thanked God for creating the opportunity to foot her bills.
Tosin shook her hand with gratitude. He could imagine himself driving the car that very moment. One of his major prayer points had been answered