My neighbour, the thief – Peju Akande

My neighbour, the thief – Peju Akande

We often hear of stories of people getting robbed as they drive in or as soon as they drive out of their gates.

 

As a typical Lagosian, I try as much as possible to be invisible…if that is ever possible.

 

So there was this day, I was pressed after being in traffic for ages. As I hurriedly drove through the gates opened by the security guys employed by the estate I live in, I saw from my rear view mirror, a man surreptitiously walk past the security guards.

 

One of the guards was not looking to see who just passed him; he was busy fondling with the gate; the other guard, had hurried off as soon as I drove in, to pick up a bowl of food he had been eating before I came in; the others were not in sight.

 

Now, the security guards we employ around here are just gate openers as far as I am concerned but talk about this is for another day.

 

Anyway, the man walked to the back of one of the block of flats and disappeared.

 

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I got down from the car and asked the security guys who the man was; they were clueless.

 

‘Who entered?’ One of them repeated my question

 

‘Nobody, Ma’. The other replied.

 

‘I must have seen a ghost then.’ I told them.

 

They looked around and saw no one. I concluded the man must be a visitor who knew what flat he was headed and because I was madly pressed, I hurriedly packed my bags and headed upstairs.

 

I had gone a few flights when I felt someone pounding after me.

 

 

 

Huh?

 

I paused and listened and the person stopped as well. I strained across the banister to see below, I could only see a man’s hand, the rest of him was shielded by a flight of steps.

 

Immediately, the different stories of robbers following residents into their homes came flooding through my mind.

 

I knew fear.

 

Why did he stop? Is he a thief? Kidnapper? Rapist? Who?

 

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What if he had been lurking around the gate, waiting for someone to drive in as most intruders are wont to, then saw an opportunity with our careless guards and…

 

What will happen to me?

 

The way the estate is built, once an intruder gains entry into a flat, no one would know for hours and this estate is often so deserted…

 

What do I do?

 

Hurry into your flat and lock up!

 

I began to fumble in my bag for my keys as I continued up the flight of steps, yet again he pounded up some more.

 

I stopped, he stopped too; unfortunately, I still hadn’t found my house keys (usually I would get to my doorstep before fumbling for my keys deep inside my bag…which would take a few seconds to minutes to retrieve, something I had been warned against severally by my friend.)

 

My fear increased as every key I dug up from my bag was not the house keys! I don’t even know why I carry so many keys; actually, I have spare keys to my daughter’s locker, my former house, my…I carry keys…

 

I hurried up the staircase, I was telling myself that by the time I get to my flat, I would have found my keys, I would quickly open the door, fling myself in and lock up in a snap before the ‘intruder’ got to me.

 

It didn’t happen that way.

 

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I missed a step and all my worldly goods came tumbling down the stairway and scattered in a million places…

 

I carry plenty of items in my bag; old coins, tissues, keys, sanitary towels, plastic mug, more keys, dud phone, sanitizer, more keys, chewing gum, sweets, slippers for when those stilettos pinch a portion of my brain and leave me in pain, unzipped makeup bag with different shades of lipstick, eye brow pencils, eye shadows, perfumes, roll-on,  used recharge cards, even though I mostly load online…everything rolled out in different directions, spilling way down the staircase.

 

At this point, my heart was cracking my ribs.

 

So I sat there and waited for the ‘intruder’ to come meet me on the staircase because, you see, I didn’t plan on leading him to my flat; my eyes were wild and wide.

 

Soon, he came by.

 

He was of slight build, (I figured I could wriggle out of his grasp, should there be a need to) he looked surprised to see me, (what was he expecting? That I would be cowering in the corner?)

 

Then he spoke, ‘Are you looking for someone?’

 

Huh?

 

If I said ‘yes,’ he could force me to lead him to the flat, if I said ‘no,’ I would be forced to lead him to mine, so I kept staring at him acting dumb, I wasn’t sure how that would work out for me but I wouldn’t talk.

 

Since I wouldn’t talk, he skipped the stairs I sat on and continued upstairs.

 

I found my voice, got up and asked him, Are you looking for someone?’

 

‘No,’ he said, ‘I live here.’

 

‘You live here? Since when?’

 

‘In the last eight months!’

 

I heard him open the flat upstairs, just a floor above mine and slam the door shut!

 

What? He’s my neighbor! He may not be a thief but he is not nice.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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