Love Thy Neighbour, But Choose Your Neighbourhood
This choice of title you might find funny or somewhat introspective, but whatever the case, read and learn and imbibe the lessons herein.
A friend of mine decided to change his neighbourhood simply because his landlord suddenly ‘asked for more’ in a neighbourhood he has lived in for close to five years. This particular neighbourhood is ideal for raising-up his young children but having the money to pay for his landlord’s quest to enjoy the ‘good life’ would cost him extra one hundred and fifty thousand naira. This is a building that is over ten years old. Suddenly, his rent jumped from one hundred and fifty thousand naira per annum to three hundred thousand naira. Wow! This is not as a result of any renovation works carried out on this said property but simply because it has become the vogue for every other landlord on my friend’s former neighbourhood to be drinking tea in the morning by Thames River side. When the London bug hit the Landlords’ Association in their street, no one could completely ascertain it, but he told me this craze started when the children of one of the oldest landlords and his wife invited them over to the UK for the Christmas holidays and on their coming back, they came back with a four-wheel drive. Petty envy and sheer jealousness captured the hearts of other landlords who felt that with or without their children living in the Western world countries, that they can also afford such luxury.
Hence the bug hit their favorite pastime of envy which led them astray. On monthly basis, news and pictures of a landlord and his wife’s luxurious lifestyle in developed nations started coming back to their neighbourhood and street particularly.
Two years after this bug had hit his former neighbourhood, their landlord finally made up his mind to hike by hundred percent the rent of his tenants. My friend then decided to look for an alternative flat in a posh neighbourhood to continue to bring up his children the way he and his wife felt is ideal instead of paying three hundred thousand naira on a flat they have lived in for nearly five years when they know they can add a few thousands and end up in a posh neighbourhood that has been their dream for ages.
Luckily for them, their house agent found them their ideal taste of flat in such a posh neighbourhood.
Before the expiration of their quit notice was due, they had moved out of their old neighbourhood into this posh one that they felt was ideal for them as a family. The first brunt of this new found neighbourhood came from the pressure from their children who then were aged from 8 to 12. They have them three. Every child in their posh neighbourhood is riding a posh bicycle and it wouldn’t be nice for them to be left out. Their mother reasoned with them that daddy just finished making a huge expense on the flat that they have moved into. That was definitely for her village chief as that explanation fell on parched ground. The children then teamed up and went to their father and made their demands known to him. This is a man whose company was facing challenges of globalization with its attendant challenges for the working class. His salary was two months due but the hope of the salary being paid was alive in him. When this outstanding salary was later paid, due to the fact that he had promised his children whom he hates denying anything, he bought them two posh bicycles and bought a smaller bicycle for his youngest child. Of course the younger child raised some hell which he used another promise to parry off his pressure-weakened finances.
A month in their new and posh neighbourhood, armed robbers struck and came back the following week. Though his flat was not paid this shocking visit on both occasions, the arrow did hit the mark and their fear became palpable. That was when the Landlords’ Association of this their new and posh neighbourhood sent out a letter to every inhabitant of their exotic neighbourhood for a new security levy of fifty thousand naira. As if that was not enough, his children started harassing him for handsets as every friend of theirs in their neighbourhood is having one. Hmmm! Double wahala for a man who was bent on ruining his landlord’s new found taste for oyibo ways of life.
That was when his complaints doubled. He started borrowing money from friends who couldn’t reconcile his show of affluence with his kobolessness. He told me his former neighbours were wonderful people and even the neighbourhood where they lived for five years never witnessed evil visitations from the men of the underworld. Last time I had a chat with him on phone, he is seriously praying his two year-rent paid on his exotic flat in their posh neighbourhood should expire so he would run away with his family. That is if the armed robbers wouldn’t kill them first.
Now what do you think he has succeeded in doing?