Sunday, 11 September 2016

 Image result for slum

Imelda and I have a date tonight. She has been scheduling to come for her maiden sleepover in my house since last week. She said that she will leave work on time so that we can have an adequate amount of time to cook dinner, and have a moment of rapture in the kitchen after doing the dishes. She also said that she wants us to watch my choice of movie, and then read a section of the novel she bought before we finally take a nap.

What Imelda does not know is that I live in the axis of a heartbroken slum. The diagram that harbors my mysteries in the name of a house, is essentially an undersized single room with a collection of rotten iron sheets. I also have two notorious neighbors whose houses sandwich mine. One is a well known prostitute, and the other one traffics illegal drug.

It has never transpired to my mind that one day Imelda would insist on coming to sleep in my house. A house that has no bed, or electricity, or even a cooking stove.  I’m used to spending time with her in the fringes of the city. In the intestine of places where I won’t find the people I have robbed from before.

If I don’t apply a diversionary tactic tonight, there will be trouble. I have to persuade Imelda and take her elsewhere. And if she keeps on insisting that she wants to spend her night in my poor house, I will fake an emergency… I will tell her that my uncle is dead. The problem is that she will raise an eyebrow. She will go ahead and insist that she wants to accompany me to the mortuary. If I were friends with the mortuary attendant in our village morgue, we would have planned something. But it’s been long since I went to the village. The last time I was there, I almost got lynched to death.  I had stolen our neighbors’ cow. I then sold it at a throw away price in the market and used the money I got to start a new life in the city. If they see me in that village again they will tie me with a thick rope and wash me with paraffin and burn me in fire to pyre.  Faking my uncles’ death is definitely not going to be a good idea…

If Frank was around, I would have gone to request him to lend me his lavish house tonight. He lives in a neighboring estate. But he travelled without notice and I don’t think he’ll be back anytime soon. I’m totally stranded. I’m as stranded as a man who is climbing a tall tree thinking that he has run away from a hungry lion, only for him to meet an angry snake swirling down the tree with a shrill hiss.

What's worse is that Imelda knows that the car I picked her up with last week was mine. But truth be told. The car belongs to Frank. He in all probability locked it in his garage when he traveled. I definitely know that Imelda will wait for me to pick her up and drive her here when she leaves office later in the evening. I don’t know what I’ll say when she asks me about the car. Her friends will laugh at us and gossip if I go to pick her up on foot.

 I wish there was a better way of telling Imelda the truth. That I’m jobless. That I steal other people’s things for a living. That she will pass through a long line of horny men outside the half closed door of my neighbor when I take her to my house. That she will step on used condoms and flying toilets and see dead foetus on her way to my house. That she will see a throng of addicts flocking outside my other neighbors’ house. And that their red eyes and decomposing breath will give her a neurotic bother.

I wish there was a better way of telling Imelda that I’ve been living a lie.
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