Rainy days were their greatest nightmare, the sound of rain drops on the roof was terrifying. They had a stack of rags to mop the floor for days after the rainfall, so long as it doesn’t rain again the day after, because it takes several days for water to stop gushing out from the water-logged land beneath. The place they call home was constructed on a reclaimed piece of land just by a mangrove with blocked canal. Toilets were constructed with zinc while the supposed toilet seats were made of cement in same boxed space with the bathroom – two in one. There was no septic tank for the toilet and bathroom, all wastes were flushed into the canal which was almost levelled with the land because it’s been blocked by must-be landlords of the mangrove.
There were days the rain started pouring down while he was in the roofless bathroom having his bath, his towel and boxers all get soaked, the rain showers bathed the bathroom and everything that hung around the bathroom. He cursorily runs out of the bathroom, not just because of the downpour but to distant himself from the pungent smell that oozes out from just behind the zinc wall of the bathroom as the rain beats hard on the solid human waste in the blocked canal.
Sometimes, his mind is taken aback to a similar experience where the house roof was leaking from more than seven different spots in a tiny kitchen-sized room, actually the defunct kitchen of the school where his mum teaches. They lived in the school premises. Imagine trying hard to catch some sleep in such a room with five buckets and plastic containers positioned at different corners to collect water dripping down from the ceiling. It wasn’t the kind of life he would ever have wished for, but that’s the life he found himself living up till his final year in the University.
Sometimes, he had to squat in the houses of friends and family relatives just to uphold his self-esteem. He would occasionally give himself treats in good spots around town, get himself some nice clothes. He never allowed himself to surrender to that standard of life but he appreciated each new day. His body lived in the slum, but his mind was far away from there.
As I stared out of the window in my office, watching the rain beat hard against the farm land just over the fence from my elevated office view, my mind drifted to my life experience of over ten years ago which I just narrated above. My thoughts were triggered by a good friend, brother and colleague Murphy Ebietuoma. He saw a recent BB display picture of mine and commented on a BB group we both belong to saying “why is Mr Maple always peeping out of windows in his photos?”, now you understand the reason behind the title for this short piece. I wish I could continue this write-up but I have to close from work and retire home.
Thank you for reading!