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My lawyer, Tope was in my house with me to choose my new tenants. Two weeks ago, my friends and I had pasted the vacancy at the various notice boards in LASU, Ojo campus.
We had fixed a single day for the various applicants to come and check the ‘hostel’. It was a bright Saturday and by 3pm, Tope and I had started doubting if anyone was going to show up. We had swept and arranged the apartment like we have never done before. I even sprayed some of Hanatu’s perfume on the curtains.
On my hand was a paper containing a list of rules guiding us on the selection of the ideal tenant.
1. Must be a single tenant, no family.
2. Must be a student of a higher institution.
3. Must be between ages 18 and 30.
4. Last and definitely not least, must recognise Fifi as the landlord and Tope as the lawyer.
Tope was drinking garri and kulikuli when the first applicant breezed into the apartment. He was a chubby guy that called himself Ezenwa.
“How much be the rent?” he asked, sitting down on the plastic chair we had rented from Mama Joshua, I wondered if the chair would survive his weight.
“50k per year, agency 5k, commission 5k, damages 5k”, Tope said.
“Nna meeeeeeen, just for one room?”
“You na go collect 40k, na wetin dey my hand be that”
“We are sorry Sir, but that is not enough,” I said.
After a while of arguing, he left. He must have opened up a flood gate because many more applicants started arriving but they didn’t want to pay the said rent, the others that were ready didn’t pass our criteria.
That was before Ezekiel came in.
He was dressed in a funny looking shirt and trousers. The shirt was quite larger than he was, so also the pant. I wondered if he had money for food, talk less of rent.
Tope didn’t waste time in telling him about the rent and how we were not ready to bulge.
“Are you a Christian?” he asked me
“What does that have to do with the rent?” I asked him.
“Everything, brother Fifi. Are you a Christian, my brother?”
“Yes, sir”, I replied.
He became ecstatic. The hatred I had for religious bigots made me dislike him. I wondered if I was a muslim, he would have walked out.
“Let us pray brother Fifi and Tope”.
I had heard enough and wanted to walk him out; Tope stopped me with a wink.
He told us to hold hands, I scornfully obeyed.
“Father Lord, you brought all of us here for a reason, please lord, and fulfil your purpose in this assembly. Show me a sign that I should get this room, in Jesus name”.
While we opened our eyes, he still closed his. A frown was spreading across his lips until he broke into laughter.
“Father Lord, I hear you, I hear you clearly”, he screamed.
Tope tried to stop himself from laughing, but he let out spits of giggle.
“Fifi, God has said should get the apartment”, he said looking at me happily.
“God is good”, I replied.
“Do you believe in God , brother Fifi?”
“That is good. He said I should tell you to just collect 50k and forget about all the other fees”.
Tope laughed so hard, tears were streaming down his eyes.
“Why are you laughing, brother Tope?”
“God works in mysterious ways, sir. While he was telling you to just pay 50k, he was busy telling me to insist that your pay everything with two years rent. God is wonderful Mr Ezekiel”.
Ezekiel frowned at the statement; he turned back his attention to me.
“What do you say, Brother Fifi, listen to God or man?”
“I will listen to my lawyer”, I replied.
He stood up immediately and started singing songs of praise. I was glad he did because of his bad breathe. He stopped after a couple of songs, after which he reached into his withered briefcase, brought out some money and gave it to Tope.
After counting it and confirming that it was 65k, he was giving a roughly drafted agreement form by Tope to fill. I gave him a key to his room and one to the door of the flat.
He promised to relocate into the apartment within the month, we shook hands and he left. We didn’t have much progress with the remaining applicants; it looked like we were going to have to paste more vacancies for the spare room.
I thanked Tope for his assistance; he rejected the 5k I gave him for the agency fee, saying that we were all doing it for Hanatu. After bidding him goodnight, I settled into my bed. Hanatu was with Oge, she was spending more time with her and I had no power to stop her. Since the last incidence with Oge, I had been avoiding her like a plague.
I was listing all my regrets in my head when I heard a knock on the door. I wondered if Tope had forgotten something in the apartment or Hanatu wanted to come home after all. I wondered if she came with Oge, I didn’t mind seeing Oge before I slept, if just for a second before I flee.
Opening the door, I saw someone I had never seen before. She was a girl dressed stylishly like a model. It was dark but she still had dark shades on.
“I am sorry that I am late, traffic issues. Is the room still vacant?”
I wanted to tell her to come back around in the morning. I also wanted to just shut the door on her and go back to sleep but I couldn’t.
“Yes”, I replied.
“Are you the Landlord?” she asked.
“My name is Kiki, can I see the room?”
She took a tour of the apartment, spending more time in the kitchen and toilet.
“You live alone?”
“Nope, my younger sister stays here. She is with a neighbour now.”
She removed the shades and I saw the most beautiful brown eyes.
“What of your parents?”
“Oh my God”, she dropped her hand bag on the plastic chair that Ezenwa almost destroyed with his big yansh. She embraced me like a lost family member. She smelled great, her hair was inches away from my nostrils…I was in a garden of roses.
“It’s been a while, not a big deal anymore”. I still enjoyed the hug.
“Can I pay now?” she asked.
“You will have to come tomorrow, my friend that serves as my lawyer will have to be around”.
“Oh, you have a lawyer. That’s nice”.
“He is not really a lawyer yet, not even in a university yet”.
We both laughed.
“Sorry for disturbing so late, will come around tomorrow”.
“Please reserve the room for me”.
“For a thousand years”.
“Awww, thats so cute, thanks. What’s your name?”
“I am Kiki, you are Fifi. We are like twinnies”
“I might be a bit older, but we would still be twinnies”.
I extended my hand to tell her goodnight. She brushed it off and hugged me instead.
“We would be the best flat mates ever”.
That night as I slept, I would rather have dreamt of Kiki but I dreamt of Ezekiel. In the dream, he was moving into the apartment with about a hundred bibles. I kept throwing them back out, but it was like they were duplicating themselves. When I woke up, it was Sunday and Hanatu was already in the apartment. She was making bread and fried eggs for breakfast.
“Hello mama, how was your night?”
“Fine bro, did you get any tenant?” she asked.
“Yes” I replied.
“Who are they?”
“One is a son of God”
“And the other?”
“Daughter of Eve”.
To Be Continued