Doing just book reviews has made me very lazy because I don’t have to think too hard or create something new – I just expound on what has been written. So when Debo, my brother, hit me up about writing prompts, I almost felt like it was a shade – although a shade I was happy to stand under.
Guess who’s looking to be creative again! Me. Me. Me. Me!
So, we’re doing this 30 days writing challenge with prompts and all that. It’ll be fun!
Take us through a written walk down your street and to your favorite place through the eyes of somebody else.
She looked again at the sheet of paper in her hand. This was probably the 12th time she was doing that. Just three minutes ago, I had struggled with deciding whether to stand up and ask her for where she wanted to be exactly, or to just sit and mind my business. You can guess which won. All it took for me to glue my butt to my verandah chair was to remember the last time I had approached a fellow woman to ask if she was lost.
The woman was one of those people that dressed rich- wore all the right cloths and shoes and even scent. But you just knew that they did not have much. (I like to believe wealth is something you cannot wear. It’s not a brand or a place. It’s just… Wealth).
Anyway, I had approached this wealth-imposter lady and asked cheerfully, ‘Where are you trying to get to? I understand that my street is crazy.‘ She had squinted at me like I was talking backwards and then finally she said, ‘I’ve seen you looking at me from the verandah of your house. I am very aware of the crimes that go on in these climes. Do you think that if I was confused about where I was going, that I wouldn’t ask for directions? Do you think I’m one of those people you set up and strip off all their belongings. I think not.’ and she had scoffed.
I smiled and whispered, ‘You’re right‘, as I started walking away.
‘What was that?’ she said.
‘You’re right’ I replied returning to face her.
‘About what exactly?’
I laughed, ‘Oh, you said you think not. You actually don’t.’ And then I bounced away
Even though it felt like I won that exchange I was embarrassed and angry at myself for even trying.
So sitting here and watching this young lady look up, down, around and behind her shoulders, it was easy for me to silence the empathetic voice in me.
She would not find the place anyway. I knew she wasn’t bound to. No one finds where they are going on my street because my street isn’t like any street- I assure you that it isn’t like your street.
Your street is a simple road flanked by houses and stores and shops. There is probably a drainage system – good or bad. The houses are probably numbered – one side for odd numbers and the other side for even numbers. There’s a particularly big house or a better designed house, that stands out on your street. Your street has some drama sometimes. Your street probably has no drama at all. Your street is not the only street like your street.
But you see my street is way different than any street there is.
My street is called ‘Container Street’. Every single house here is made from steel containers used to ship things into Nigeria. I can imagine what people – like this young lady – see when they come into my street.
First, the road of my street is tarred quite alright but the entire span is covered with graffiti. Colors upon colors of artwork. The same way each family/person owns a piece of land upon which their container sits, we each have a portion of the street dedicated to our own graffiti work.
Second, no one is allowed to paint their house a color different from Mustard Yellow with green horizontal stripes.
If you walked some steps further from the entrance of my street , you will see a canteen called ‘Tin Can’. Argue with your taste buds but they serve the best food there.
Walk some steps even further and you’ll see a huge hair salon called ‘Brains and Beauty: Here and Hair.’ I am tempted to say that it’s my best place on the street but it isn’t. At B&B H&H, each hairdresser is given a topic to study on. This topic becomes the only point of conversation they are allowed to carry on with their customers as they make their hair. Hair making goes on in individual cubicles so there is no rowdiness in knowledge impartation. I have learned too much from the salon. From the power of smiling to the theory of drawing straight lines without rulers.
Now, here is why this young lady would not find the house easily: our houses are not numbered normally. On my street, everyone chooses how they want their houses numbered. The only rule is that it must not be the conventional, drab numbering.
This is the most interesting thing about my street.
On the wall of the first house (which should be No 1.) it says ‘I didn’t come here first but I got the privilege of being first’
On number 5 it says ‘Waka! Your Fada!’
On number 16 it says:
1111 1111 1111 1
On the number 18 it says: if Agu has 100 apples and he realizes that he cannot take it all to his house because he has no vehicle, so he walks all the way to Obi the bus driver. Obi agrees to transport Agu’s apples free of charge (by the way, my house number is 18), but tells Agu to pay him 100 apples. And Agu says ‘okay’. Who do you think is the bigger 419?
On number 25, it says: The age when it dawns on you that life is real. And you are real. And alone. And have responsibilities. And that you’re neither too young, nor too old.
And it goes on.
If this confused lady walks just a little bit further towards my house – maybe to ask me how to get to the container house scribbled on her paper. She’ll then see my best part of the street – MY HOUSE.
My house is number 88. And it says:
Because who mothered, fathered, or would gather the bastards who will try to make me conform to the rules on numbering?
Or do you not see my house number? It’s two hour glasses standing side by side.
I have more time than you can imagine. Just try me and see.’
Oh look… She’s finally coming to meet me. Let’s hope this one thinks.