Leaving something better than you found it. This rings a bell to you, right?.No need to explain to you the boring details of what it means. I mean come on, you’re smarter than that! Anyway, it’s around 4Am and the loud rumbling of thunder and lightning plus the endless humming of the April rains suddenly cut off my beloved sleep. So I’m just there, staring at the darkness, the emptiness of the morning hours. My mind is now refreshing it’s memory trying to let go of the horrific dream I had about my home flooding and me being carried away by the ruthless flood waters. I scratch my head, twice, letting my hand slither through the locks on my head and suddenly boom! Something strikes my head. A brilliant something. I think about it for some few minutes and conclude it is worth trying it out. I reach out to my phone, which at that time seemed miles away and unplugged it from the charger.’Battery full’. No greater news in the morning that can beat that flashy headline on your phone’s screen as you wake up after a night plugged in the charger. I grab my phone, plus the headphones and return to formation: blanket covering upto my chest, phone on my hands while facing the roof. ‘Mad Over You’. There’something about this song :it just seems brand new every single time I play it.Always is and will be my all time favourite. The kind of song that gets your creative juices flowing through your tiny veins. It even makes you want to own a place somewhere in Naija.I put the song on repeat mode for I need the juices to flow endlessly till my thoughts are made readable by you people. And yes, that’s how I began writing this piece so let’s see if my sacrifice for sleep has paid off.
Now, about that sentence up top. Leave something better than you found it. I was just chilled at home one lazy Saturday afternoon. Lack of a siesta or something constructive to do made me sit under that coconut tree which is at the edge of the road, with some of my friends in the neighbourhood. There we were, storytelling like there’s no tomorrow. Literally. It was like an opportunity like no other. That was where we shared each of our very own experiences and secrets. The sun was blazing as if it had decided ‘Let there be no light-skinned African ‘. The person who was storytelling was sweating uncontrollably and we the listeners were not left out either. That heat was unbearable. We laughed and enjoyed the stories, not caring whether they were true or false as long as we kept our idle minds busy. Then we hear people shouting behind us. The kind of shouting between people who look like they are about to kill each other in a matter of seconds. Our stories come to an abrupt end as we all face behind where we were seated. It was them. Our neighbours, Jane and James. Not husband and wife by the way, they were siblings. We observed as James seemed to be angrily taking his belongings into his Toyota car while yelling at Jane. In a few minutes, his car is filled and aggressively, he opens the driver door wide open and gets in. Still yelling at Jane, he closes the door loudly and switches on the engine. He literally flies out of the compound. As in flying. At a very high speed, leaving a dusty trail behind him. “And good riddance,”Jane yells as she holds her nose and coughs after dust being blown to her by her brother. We all watch, no words to speak. She suddenly shifts her gaze towards us. Immediately, we looked the other way, pretending not to have witnessed anything but simply we were minding our own business. Jane was known by her talented skills of using abusive language. I’m telling you if you ever pick a verbal challenge with her, tsk tsk tsk! You were bound to cower. She holds the infamous title for being The Verbal Warrior .And her hatred for prying eyes. We could hear her quick footsteps rushing towards us. Furthermore, it was her moods that decided her behavior. And today was one of those bad ones. We knew the trash-talk she would unleash upon us. The endless attacks by her battalion of insults stored in that small voice box of hers. We were ready for it all. She reached where we were seated and came in front of us. ‘Hey guys,’she greeted us. We looked at her :confused. Did she just greet us? Her. Jane. Greet us.What the **** just happened? It was there and then that I realised things had overturned for her. If she had lowered her ego to that level of greeting us, things were bad. Really really bad. We greeted her back and she smiled at us. She even took a seat on of the plastic chairs around. She began narrating her story to us. How her loving husband died and she had no one to take care of their house for her since she had secured a job abroad. She eventually sought out her brother who agreed to come live in her house while she was away. She further went on and told us how she used to send money to his brother to renovate her house so that it doesn’t get worn out. For nine years while she was away, she believed her brother was doing some progressive work to her house. Only to come back and witness shocking details. Her house was no more. It was in a state of despair. Roofs leaking ,wall surrounding her house almost falling down. His brother was living with his wife, five children and his many friends in a house meant for three. She was just angry. She felt like dying instantly. She was just bitter for having wasted all that money. She had nothing else to do:except chase him the hell away from her house. And indeed he was chased like a dog. Judging from what we had earlier witnessed of course.We listened to her story in deep thoughts. It was her own brother. What if it was someone who was non-related. She was in deep regrets. And now she had to start from scratch. If only she had been coming atleast annually to check on the progress ,she would have been far by now. It was through her story that I was able to realise the most vital of things in life. Trust. One thing very hard to find. Another thing was jelousy. Not everyone ought to rejoice at your success. Although I had been hearing all these things everywhere, I finally got to witness it at first hand. Haters were real. And coming from the least expected people. Atleast I could say my day ended rather meditative. We finally came to realise why Jane was so protective of her own. Trust had gone missing in her life. And I hoped that such a thing would not happen to me before I realised it.