The discordant choruses of Mrs Okafor’s cockerels at 5.30 each dawn has been my morning alarm for many years. As a matter of fact, the chief rooster led its choir of three cockerels and five hens of assorted feathers from the outer ledge of our rotting bedroom window every waking morning. I reached for my mobile phone to check what time of the day it was seeing the sun’s rays were beginning to spill into the room through the flimsy dayblind-cum-curtains screening the room from prying eyes. I took a second look at the screen of my mobile phone to confirm it was 6:50AM. Impossible!!! In as much as I found the morning crowing & clucking of the roosters annoying, they served me well. The rains last night were heavy and must have left the chickens too cold and lazy for their morning routine, I thought.
Gently, I rested my head again on my flat pillow to gather my thoughts as I rolled over to check on Deolu. He curled up like a baby underneath that sheet of old London wax fabric his mother gave me as a wedding present seven years ago; his face was expressionless. For a moment, I held my gaze on him as images of the open show of madness that happened two nights before reeled through my mind. Was I glad Deolu had finally come to his senses? Oh yes I was! As I basked in the euphoria of relocating, he suddenly twitched, and then he twitched some more. He began to get restless under the sheet as his face wrinkled up with tension. I could tell he was having a nightmare again and whatever horrible ‘thing’ he was seeing must be the face of Mrs. Okafor. Interrupting his nightmare this time was the last thing on my mind as mischief got the better part of me. After all, I am yet to hear of anyone dying of nightmares.
Like one being stifled, he muttered in what seemed like distant whispers, “drop it, stop it, don’t hit me, don’t hit me”. Compassion filled my heart for him though for some weird reasons, I was enjoying every moment of this. I buried my mouth in my palms to muffle my chuckles; I’d lost control over them. I thought to myself, this ‘punishment’ should suffice for his default on our ‘open-book’ policy. I caressed his right shoulder as I softly called him out of his nightmare; tiny beads of sweat masked his forehead as he fluttered his eyelids, waking to his environs. With a startling look he said to me, “Good morning, Caro!”. I smiled at him, wiping sweat beads off his brows and said, “Morning my darling, you must have had a nightmare again”, trying hard to disguise my mischievous smile. As soon as he realized what day it was, he sprung out of bed with a different swag.
It was Saturday, the D-day had finally come. Deolu, true to his words, had secured a 3-bedroom apartment in a nicer part of town. The look on his face the evening he walked in dangling the keys to our soon-to-be new home was priceless. I was ecstatic! All of our belongings were already boxed up; I spent all my waking hours the previous day seeing to that while Deolu was out and the kids were away at school. Another quick glance at my mobile phone and the time was 7:15 AM. We didn’t have the luxury of time; the moving van was scheduled to arrive at 10:00AM. Speedily, I got the children ready and fed the family cold cereal for breakfast. There was no way I could have cooked that morning; the cooking range had been boxed up as well. The prospect of relocation had left the kids in the land of Funtopia, you could tell they were on a different high. All things in order!
Without warning, the shrill voice of Mrs. Okafor filtered in from the rear of the apartment leaving Deolu and I startled. We stopped in our tracks , straining to make some sense out of her incessant hubbub; apparently ‘cool and the gang’ had been stolen – all three cockerels, five hens and the notorious chief rooster! Unfortunately for one of the culprits, Mrs. Okafor had managed to trail his path; a path that led her to Morufu’s side of the neighbourhood. Things weren’t about to get pretty. Clearly evident, Deolu couldn’t be bothered to broker peace that morning; he continued with the sealing of the remaining few boxes as he said to me, “Caro, are you sure we have everything packed? The van is almost here”. The time now was 9:45 AM.
As usual, the noise grew louder and drew nearer. I looked over at Deolu and all I could see was his vehemence; he was so determined not to get involved. The expected truck arrived on time, pulling up right in the middle of the tumult. Deolu motioned and we started loading the truck. Nathan, Uncle Bayo’s son had arrived that morning to help with the moving so Deolu instructed him to stand guard by the truck. “You know we can’t afford to be careless with our belongings as we take them into the truck with all this confusion going on outside. Those hoodlums could seize the opportunity to loot us o, so be on the lookout!”. “You are very right, sir”, Nathan replied.
I, on the other hand, was not finding the latest developments funny at all. I had spent the last few days perfecting my farewell speeches and song. I had even taken the liberty to change the lyrics of the song “So Long, Farewell” from the movie “Sound of Music” to suit my farewell symphony. Determined not to let Mrs. Okafor ruin my happy moment, I began to sing in the most sonorous voice I could muster:
♫ ♫”So long, farewell
The Palmers say goodbye
We’re glad to go and leave this awful sight
Pam-Parara-tarara-ta-tara; Pam-parara-tararaaaaaaa!” ♫ ♫
“Confirmed…you’re a nutter, Caro”, Deolu managed to utter as he nearly choked on his own giggles, walking off into the kitchen to grab the rest of our things. No sooner had he stepped into the Kitchen did I hear his yell of horror, “Caro! Caro!! Come, quickly”. I wondered what it was this time. As I stepped into the kitchen, I met Deolu transfixed with his index finger pointed at something behind the boxed cooking range. On taking a closer look, behold, it was the chief rooster lying half dead right there on my kitchen floor; I wondered how it got there! By this time, the noise was at our door step and with what sounded like missiles exploding, Mrs. Okafor’s fists rattled the half-opened door of our apartment.
“Where is my chicken o! Mrs. Palmer, bring out my chicken!! You bunch of rogues, sly conniving maggots – hell-bent on ruining me in this neighbourhood…Come out now with my chicken o!!! “, shouted Mrs. Okafor. Apparently, in their haste, one of the culprits had shoved the chief rooster into our kitchen through the steel bars on the window, breaking its neck in the process. Knowing that drama was about to ensue, I took the children into the emptied bedroom instructing them not to move an inch then quickly returned to join Deolu in the living room.
By the time I got there, he was already half way through the front door with Mrs. Okafor speedily inching away from him. In his right hand was the chief rooster and in his left, a glistening carving knife. Just as I had imagined David swinging his sling in the face of Goliath, so was my husband swinging the chief rooster in the face of Mrs. Okafor whilst he jabbed the knife into the airspace between him and her repeatedly, closing in on her. As bewildered as the sight left me, I was confident Deolu had this under control this time around for he had given me the winks before he did the unimaginable.
Unrehearsed, Deolu broke into a crazy dance like an idol worshiper before his deity; his every move intensifying as he chanted gibberish alongside. He beckoned at his ‘sworn enemy’ to come closer if she dared and he broke short evil smiles at the onlookers nearby. Suddenly, he charged at the crowd with his weapons in both hands; none needed forewarning seeing Mr. Palmer was resolved on warring. With the speed of light the crowd dispersed, each one running to seek sure refuge. What has come over Mr. Palmer was the question many asked from their hiding. I could see Mrs. Okafor from where I stood, the look on her face was priceless. Reason had prevailed in her case for she could tell Mr. Palmer meant mad business.
Deolu stood watch with both weapons still in his grips as we moved the last bits and bobs into the waiting truck. So much for farewell speeches; what an insane way to draw the final curtains on our theatrical seven years in this neighbourhood. In what seemed like an endless berserk moment, we were ready to leave for good. Unceremoniously, Deolu tossed the chief rooster at the feet of its owner who was still rooted in the same spot, gobsmacked. We cramped ourselves into his old Nissan sedan car and with the truck on our tail, off we drove into our new reality!
So long..farewell, number 9 Commotion Street!
Hello posh neighbourhood…or so I thought…