In all my days as a writer, this article took me the longest time to complete. Might have been the hunger. All the same…
The job of an estate agent is not as easy and as funny as they make it look on Modern Family. I would switch places with Phil and show beautiful houses to freshly divorced hot women who would get all my terrible jokes and hit on me. But I can’t. I am not Phil. I am Bodunde. A young man who, together with an old man, has the burden of feigning enthusiasm while trying hard not to seem too eager to sell a house.
Things are hard. People are never satisfied. In fact, people would rather you lie to them than tell them the truth. And that’s exactly what I do.
‘Yes madam, the piping system is the best available’ (While the walls apparently show water marks)
‘Oh no, the woods would never get eaten by termite’ (Erm… yes, they would).
‘This? This is just a small architectural problem. It can be fixed. And cheaply. (I promise you, you’ll have to demolish this house to get that problem fixed).
‘Yes, new taps were installed when the last owner left’ (At all. The last owner was just a pig who hardly took his bath).
‘Yes. The railings of the balcony are strong. Just don’t rest on them. Just for safety. (I beg you ma, don’t let the devil lure you into thinking of resting on those railings).
‘The electricity in this area is fairly stable’ (Lool… There’s a reason why I never show you the house in the evening).
These and many more are the tricks to the trade.
One day, my old man boss got a call requesting his agency skills for a house at Ikoyi. The owner had requested that my boss help him sell the house and at a very cheap price (given the outrageous prices in that area).
This was going to be easy. My old man boss told me to go over and inspect the house. Ask for faults, repairs to be done, blah blah.
At first when I showed up at the house, the 60 year old –looking man looked surprised and somewhat sad to see me. But later on, I found out that he was very kind. He said stuff like ‘watch your steps’, ‘excuse me’, ‘would you like to rest?’, ‘would you like some water?’. He even laughed at my Phil Dunphy Un-funny jokes. I knew he was just being nice, but just for fun, I said jovially, ‘Sir, this one that you’re nice like this. Is there anything about the house that you’re not telling?’
He spun around, smiled and said ‘Not now but there would be.’ Then he paused and continued ‘I actually thought it was your boss who was going to come. I know you have a reputation for lying. But that’s the thing. Houses have history and I want the history of this one to live as long as it lives. I’ll need for you to agree to carry on the story of what happened in this house for as long as you can. And in case you have to transfer the agency to someone else, you must tell that person to do the same. I really need you to promise me that’.
I looked outside, the sun was already setting. I felt like this was not going to be good. He looked desperate and suddenly weird. I nodded and said ‘Okay. I would.’ He looked uncertain. I sighed and said ‘I’ll give full disclosure to whoever wants to buy the house. But you have to know that sometimes, the history of a house might affect a purchaser’s decision to buy the house. Negatively or positively. And with the way you’re sounding, I believe it would be the latter in this case.’ I paused. ‘That’s why I also want you to promise that if this house doesn’t get sold because of this story you’re about to tell me, you’ll not only indemnify me for all the recurrent spending I’ll have to do like maintenance, transport fare, security and so on, you’ll also compensate me for the wahala.’
He nodded and said ‘I would. I promise.’ He even went ahead and got a sheet of paper and pen and we wrote both agreements clearly stating the prices to be paid.
After we were done. He cleared his throat and smiled. I raised my brow and said ‘Okay?’ As far as I was concerned, even if nobody was going to buy this house I was still going to get my money.
The he said, ‘You promised full disclosure concerning anything that happened in this house’ I said ‘Yes, I did’. Then he stood up, brought out a gun from God knows where and said ‘Take this.’ I also stood up abruptly and collected the gun from him. I felt strange. Like I knew what I was doing but I didn’t.
I don’t believe in jazz or juju, but something had come over me and I could not control it. He said ‘When I say ‘go’, you’ll kill me. You shall include the fact that you killed me in your disclosure to the intending buyers. Hopefully, you won’t end up in jail. You see, this was supposed to be for your boss. He did something very terrible to me in the past. The details are not so important now. I guess if you get arrested, his business reputation would also be damaged. So… Go!’
I shot him. Just like that.
Immediately I did it, I came back to my senses. I started to fidget. Not only had I just killed a man, I had to tell everyone that wanted to buy the house that I did it. Then it struck me.
I immediately called my boss and told him I wanted to buy the house. He said ‘What? Bodunde, you know it’s against ethics. Conflict of interest’. I said ‘I’ll pay higher. That way, no conflict of interest’.
He mumbled some things and said ‘Fine. But you don’t have the money’. I said ‘I’ll get it. I love the house’.
So I loaned money from the bank. I got the house. I live in the house. I die every day in the house. I don’t go where it happened (in the kitchen). I don’t go anywhere but work. I wish I didn’t have to go to work. But I need to repay my loan. I wish I didn’t have to live in this house.
But I’ll do anything to keep this full disclosure to myself.