This morning I woke up for the third time to the sounds of people working outside my window. It sounded like shears and a broom, so I knew Mohammed was around. The rains have been quite selfless this year and the plants in my compound have enjoyed their growth much to my annoyance. For two weeks, I practically had bend down when going to the clothes lines, to avoid overgrown plants on both sides of the narrow path that leads to the backyard.
I went out of my room to say hi to Mohammed and his colleague only to find my porch littered with leaves and sand which I quietly swept away after exchanging pleasantries with Mo. Sweeping made me remember the first time I saw Mohammed. My landlord hadn’t mentioned to me that the gardener was coming. So I wasn’t expecting anyone to come banging on the gate of the former entrance we no longer used.
Picture this. I’m a corper in a strange land, living in the seemingly boy’s quarters of a huge house and I’m all alone in the compound. The banging on this gate roused me from sleep o. So I woke up sleepy-eyed to check out who my landlord was owing feeding money that wouldn’t let me enjoy my siesta in peace. Only for me to meet a Northern man (he has the northern face and accent so…) holding a pair of shears and a cutlass, beckoning on me to come to the gate. I’ll have you know that in the previous week, there was news of an old lady being raped and butchered by Fulani herdsmen in Ekpoma about 30 minutes from Uromi. So, of course I was not smiling.
I began to think about all the things I hadn’t yet done with my life. How my mother is expecting me to return home after NYSC. Asking God if this was the plan for me all along. It didn’t occur to me to even wonder what the man was saying. I was alone in this big empty compound and there was a Fulani herdsman at my back gate. I ignored his beckons and ran to the back of the compound.
I thought to call my mother. But I knew it would mean all my family members on conference call mobilising the Nigeria police, SSS and the Nigerian Army to save me, as well as some pastors for spiritual back up; so I decided to call my landlord. Landlord didn’t answer the call the first time, so I called again, by the second ring he answered (praise Jesus!)
Me: Hello Daddy. Good afternoon sir.
LL: Ehn Itoro, what is it?
Me: Sir there is an armed man at the back gate. I think he’s a Fulani herdsman. He has a cutlass, Sir, and shears.
LL: (laughs heartily) na Mohammed you dey call herdsman? Mohammed is my brother’s gardener. I sent him to trim the flowers.
Me: Sorry sir…
I went back to poor Mo who was still at the gate. “Bros, no vex. Dem no tell me say you dey come”, I began to say. ” I say make you bring broom come prom the tank prace por back “, he responded impatiently. Of course I went to the tank place at the back of the house to get the broom for Mohammed.
Till today, I don’t know why Mohammed didn’t just turn around to the front gate to get the broom by himself. He could have saved me the trauma of a near-death experience. Needless to say, my landlord and landlady made a spectacle of me for weeks.