MAYDAY MIDNIGHT ESCAPE
The day was Tuesday, a public holiday celebrated in Nigeria as the worker’s day. I was in my cozy lil’ apartment in the estate. I was thoroughly enjoying my solitude, i am very comfortable in my own company because i read, write and reflect the most when am alone. The public holiday gave me the much needed sobriety and the ambience of the cool day so much set me at ease.
I did some chores which i had not done in a while cause the nature of my job did not afford me the opportunity and then, i am never there most weekends. So i was really grateful for the holiday. I was indoors connecting with the rest of the world on my blackberry, pinging away and reading stuffs on my laptop.
The day moved so fast and night time crept on me unaware. At work, the day always seemed to drag slowly that i would at times feel like turning the clock. It could be annoying at times after being busy, running from plant A to B and climbing staircase i would check the time and discovered it was still 11am in the morning.*eyes rolling*
Anyway, 11pm i was still pinging. I stopped chatting around quarter to twelve or thereabout and then i perceived a strange smell. Something like petrol gas. I thought it was coming from their ‘gen ’through my window because my landlady’s generator is not far from my apartment window. I heard muffled sounds as they came out and checked it. I thought it was leaking and they were making arrangement to clean it. They were opening and closing their apartment door, moving around and talking in low tones. They stopped the gen but then, the smell came on stronger.
I could not sleep. I moved from the bed to the tiled floor, dipped a face towel in water and placed it on my nose and mouth yet, i could still feel the smell strongly. Then, i stood up and started pacing my room. It was already past midnight. I didn’t know what to do. Where would i go in the middle of the night? There was no light again. Things were pretty bad.
Just then, i heard my buxom landlady shouting my name from outside, evidently she was coming towards my room. She knocked my door and asked if i didn’t perceive anything, i replied from inside that i did. I was in my nightwear and was still struggling to get into proper clothes when she said ‘come outside oo, we can’t sleep in the house this night.’ I was alarmed. For heaven’s sake, where is this goddamn skirt? I was frantically looking for what to wear. I picked a skirt and grabbed the nearest top and unlocked the door. The whole family was outside. They told me to come and take a look. Then, i saw it was NNPC pipeline that was leaking and fumes [gas] was coming out. We saw it from outside the fence.
It could lead to a fire outbreak very soon, they told me. So, go inside and pick your credentials, we are not staying in this house; she told me including her children and they all rushed back inside. I smiled and told her i didn’t have my credential in the house. To say it was the least thing i expected would be an understatement cause nobody had any premonition that such would happen. I had been in the entire building alone since morning. I didn’t know what to go and pick.
Then, i remembered my laptop and the many important stuffs on it. I quickly rushed inside and grabbed it. I have my World Bank certificate, resume, major write ups and all my blog stories etc on it. Even some of my certificates are on it in scanned forms. Then, i became relieved. I took my blackberry and left my old nokia phone on the bed. I made my way outside.
I saw each of them carry few belongings in a bag. I was the only one that carried only my laptop nothing else, not even some clothes. I deliberately left all behind. I strangely hoped and believed that nothing would happen to the house we were leaving behind.
We all went inside their car, i didn’t know where they were taking us to and i was too dazed to even care. Few minutes back, i was busy chatting and was about to settle for the night when everything just changed in the twinkling of an eye. Landlord drove, meandering his way through the sharp corners in the estate till we got to the gate. The security men were all asleep. He horned for close to ten minutes before one eventually came out from their sleeping place dressed like a masquerade covered from head to toe.
He drove through berger- secretariat –ikeja and i noticed that he entered an expansive building. It was their church. The boys came down[ their two sons, a guy lives with them and the houseboy, Sunday]. They moved into their Sienna already parked in the church. I occupied the back seat while landlord and landlady sat in front; the man at the wheel and his wife beside him. They told me to lie down or stretch on the seat but i was just comfortable in my sitting position. The man was obviously not comfortable in front with his bulky frame. Then he told his wife ‘this child is not lying down’. He asked me if i would come to sit in the front and i obliged him. He put on the a/c and i became quite discomfited cause my lean frame does not support much air. I was shivering in seconds then; i summoned courage and in a polite tone asked if he could reduce it. Then he put it off completely. I was happy.
Over the course of the night, he intermittently put it on and off cause he needed much air, lol. I could not really sleep. I was waiting for daybreak and constantly checked my time. Time dragged in moments like these. The night seemed so slow even though we got there around 1:30am.
We left in the morning and as he was parking the car, we saw other families as they came back too. So they all fled last night too, i mused to myself. I was anxious to see if the building had blown to pieces but it was standing intact. Only that my clothes smelled petrol for days after and we were asked not to cook with gas. Well, NNPC came and repaired it that day. I cooked with my cylinder gas that same night.
Landlady later disclosed the content of her bag to be two cloth materials[Aso- Ebi] she has had in the house. That was the only thing she remembered to pick from the house. Others didn’t disclose the content of their bag; credentials i guess, LMAO………..
Olasiyan Olanike Yetunde
Watch out for my house hunting experience and my first encounter with the landlady tomorrow.
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