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Monday, September 9, 2019

Noisy Neighbor

People have often wondered why I decided to buy a dog. I sometimes told them that if I had my way, for the sake of my children, I would buy a gun instead. This is because we live in a crazy society and we all need to be very careful most of the time.

Before I bought Faro, my Alsatian dog, something rather strange happened. It it something that I'll never forget. I can still remember vividly how I almost turned into a mad man that day.

My wife was going for a meeting that morning when she tapped me gently. I had to worked into the dead hours of the night the previous day. My eye were thick with nature's grip on them. I really needed rest. "TRD is today," she said winking and walking. I didn't know what TRD meant but if she was going to attend, then it must be important. "You know I am the financial secretary".

I nodded and heaved a sigh. A loud yawn and stretching of my tired body followed. "When will you be back? I asked still yawning. 5 O'clock I guess, my eyes widened in total bewilderment." 5 O'what?.

."There are issues we need to trash out. Please try and understand, I looked at her the way you would look at a favorite child who'd just spilled the egg you're going to fry for her. Okay what do you want me to do.?

Please cook rice and stew for us. That was a bit tasking but who was I to say. 'No' to such a request? She had cooked for me a countless number of times, what was a day cooking compared to all those countless ones.

Soon she was gone. I heaved a sigh. It was certainly going to be a very busy day. I arose and prayed a short prayer. Then I went into the kitchen and assessee what was happening there. She never mentioned that I was going to go to the market but it was now very certain that I had to. I was brushing my teeth when I heard the splashing of water in the children's bathroom. Who could they be? I thought and dashed into the room.

"Good morning Daddy? My daughter greeted in a most polite manner. Her eyes were swollen. Had she been crying
Why are you not in school? She pointed at her eyes. Mum gave me some medications and advised I stay at home today, I said I understood.

Can you manage to boil the rice while I rush to the market to buy some condiments? She said she could. Minutes later I was in the traffic like hundreds of other motorists heading to the market.

The meat seller was attending to me when my phone rang. "Hello, it was one of the neighbours. I had always thought of her to be nosy. She was always poking her nose into other people's affairs, what was it that she wanted now? I thought, how did she even get my mobile number? Oga, hurry come house o your daughter is inside screaming.

My heart drooped like a baby with dysentery. My daughter, screaming? What was she screaming about? Was there a fire? I tried to ask but the phone died in my ear.

I dialed the number again but it was not answering at the other end. What could be wrong with her? I called the children's number and remembered that I had seized the phone from them the other day and threw it into my wardrobe. No response came from the other end.

Like a lunatic, I dashed back into the car ignoring the meat seller's call. The engine wheeze and hooted when I turn on the ignition. The car was faulty again! This car! It wouldn't kill me before my time.

When I tried the ignition again and it breathed like a dying old witch who'd just confess to many a sin, I knew I had to just abandoned it in the market and run home at once. God, dear God, let nothing happen to my daughter. As I dashed out of the car, the phone rang again.
It was the nosy neighbor.
Is like a fire I screamed like a defeated wrestler into the machine.
No, she said from the other end.
She's screaming 'No, no, no don't rape me!
What! My heart fell again like a shooting star into my intestine.
Rape! My eight years old daughter!
No! Let me just die and faint! And die and faint again! Who could that be? 2hi could have gone into my house in my absence? Who could not take off his eyes from a child of eight? Who the he'll was that beast? For the first time in my entire life, I wished I had a gun.

I took a dying look at my useless car. A car 2hich could not take its own master home on a day of emergency is nothing but a heap of debris.

Did I not lock the gate when I drove out of the house? I thought as I ran in the traffic as if I was going to win a gold medal, a medal that all my life depends on. My palpitations amplified as I remembered that in my haste to rush to the market, I had forgotten to lock the gate. The intruder couldn't have scaled the fence in the afternoon. It must have been someone that was known to us. Who could that be?

God! I cried as I remembered my appointment with the painter! That old man of fifty-seven who had often called my daughter his wife in a very playful way, that dirty man told me once that he could stay for days without a bath! And he told me once that he wished he was much younger so he could marry my daughter.

If that baba touched my daughter l'll kill him. I'll kill him ten times and kill the judge who would condemn me for the crime. I remembered how the 2ord or Buchi Emechata, that fantastic writer who said if parents didn't have children, the pain of not having them could kill the parents. And if they did, the pain of losing the could kill them also.

A commercial motorcyclist hurtled towards me, i didn't know when I climbed unto it. I was mad. I was a keg of gun powder. No! No! I was more than atomic bombs put together. The motorcycle rider God bless him as he was racing like a bullet shot out of an angry gun. Every vehicle that came into view disappeared behind us like solid air.

In no time I was home. The gates were locked. This house was mine. I watched from the foundation of it how every brick was laid. I could scale the fence and nothing would happen. Nothing, my angry hands were on the wall in a split of a second. My girth and feet shot into the air and flung me into the compound in three seconds.

My daughter was indeed screaming!
"please I beg you in the name of God, don't rape me. Don't do this. Please!
Breathing like a tired stallion, I jammed my right foot on the door when the handle failed me. That door had cost me forty-two thousand naira. It was a shadow of its former self by the time my foot kicked it twice.

My infuriated body was in the house  in no time. I ran like a junkie in a mad quest for a Crack, I followed the direction of my daughter's voice into her room.

She was there! My daughter was there alone with a piece of paper in her hand she was screaming the same words still holding unto the paper. She was improvising. I suddenly felt a deep sense of regret relief when I remembered that she had told me about the drama days before. She was participating in it playing the role of a little child who was a victim of rape.

"Daddy, she looked at me." You're sweating like a fish.
"Yes, I heaved and turned away thinking about my damaged door. When I tried fixing the door and couldn't, I sent for a carpenter. The nosy neighbor, a woman of about thirty years old was standing at my gate mopping.

What happened sir? She echoed.
I was angry with her but I didn't want to show it. Smiling, I said my daughter was only acting out a line in her school drama script.
"Okay, she nodded. I thought it was something serious.
" No, I forced a smile again thinking  almost aloud that she had made me to break my door. Nothing serious MA. You can go now and attend to your domestic affairs.

I heaved a sigh when I saw that the carpenter had arrived. In no time, the door was fixed but it now had a scar.

When all was set, I returned back to the market where the meat seller and others had been wondering what had happened to me and why I had left my car in the market. I told them I had to attend to an emergency at home.

The butcher handed me the meat and I went round to buy other things needed to prepare the stew. When I returned to the car and tried to start again, it came alive after the first attempt. I was surprised. What then could have gone wrong initially?

As the car moved, I saw a few men standing along the road with dogs they had a few Alsatian puppies for sale. Oh yes, I need a dog. I thought aloud to myself. If I had a dog, I would have bothered less about what the nosy neighbor had told me on the phone that afternoon. By the time my car halted in front of the dog vendors, two men rush to meet me. They held out three lively and healthy puppies in front of my car.

"How much? I whine down the pane and stared at the brown puppy, fifty thousand naira sir. The man said, it's Alsatian sir.
He said it as if Alsatian dogs were the extinct species of dogs.

We dragged the bargain for a few minutes and when the price was settled, I did a transfer to his account.

My joy knew no bound as I took the dog home. All that I kept thinking was that children sometimes don't know half of the sacrifices that their parents make on their behalf. I bought an Alsatian dog because  I didn't want a repeat of that drama ever again.

The End

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