I don’t like my neighbour, Demola.
Some people coast through life on a royal yacht of ease and granted expectations. They never have to struggle or put in the extra effort like the rest of us. It’s not fair, and life shouldn’t be that easy for anybody.
Demola is one of such people and I don’t like him.
I don’t like Demola for many reasons. As a child, my dad taught me the value of hard work and I have followed it to the letter ever since. Nothing comes easy for anyone, he always said. However, I don’t think Demola ever worked a day in his life- let alone hard.
Several silver spoons clinked out of his mouth the moment he was born. It is like playing a game of snakes and ladders and getting a magical dice number that skyrockets you to the top- away from the snakes and pitfalls. Only this wasn’t a game, it was real life.
Was my dad wrong all that time? Did he work himself to death in the mines for nothing? Did I slave away in vain to get where I am today? I would hate to think so.
For starters, Demola went to the best Ivy League schools in England and the US. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and is a fellow at the London School of Economics. I know because I checked his LinkedIn page.
Upon graduation, Demola simply walked into his dad’s bank and became an Executive Director. How? Why couldn’t he just begin as a management trainee like everyone else?
We live in Lekki; in a gated estate. While my 4-bedroom duplex is somewhat quite satisfactory, Demola’s 5-bedroom edifice is at the corner curve; the last house in the row. Do you know what that means? It means he has a few extra yards of land more than anyone else. Life’s biased way of shining a little more light on Demola.
But that’s not all, the grass is indeed greener on his own side of the lawn. I know because I snipped a few clippings and compared it with mine when no one was looking. I think I once saw a rainbow end in front of Demola’s porch one rainy Sunday evening, but I am not sure.
Today, as I watch, Demola is tending to his apiary while his wife is pruning her lush red roses- a perfect metaphor for his rosy life. She is unarguably the prettiest woman in the estate. Another trophy haul for his already-crammed cabinet of achievements. Then again, when life is on your side, you can have anyone you want. But does it always have to be so?
There and then, from behind the shutters of my bedroom window, I decided that Demola would have to experience some pain at least. I would jinx his perfect rosy life as he knew it.
Starting with his wife’s beloved roses, I would cut all of them in a bunch and burn them. Next, I would steal his honey and disperse his bees. God would understand. Nobody was supposed to be that lucky. He had probably missed Demola while handing out life lessons. In fact, I was doing Him a favour- saving him one more judgment call.
It is night, the whole estate is asleep. Demola usually switches off his bedroom lights by 10:31pm. He does so by 11pm on nights he has sex with his wife, and around 12 midnight on his movie nights. Thankfully, this was neither of those nights. I gave him thirty extra minutes to fall asleep, then left my house by 11.05pm with a pair of shears, matches and lighter fluid in my pocket.
The first part was easy. I scaled the white picket fence separating both our gardens. It was no higher than my waist. Next, I moved over to the roses and proceeded to cut them. The cool night air was redolent with their sweet scent but I couldn’t be bothered. I snipped and snipped, watching with malevolent satisfaction as each petal fell in a beautiful blood-red heap by my feet. I felt like a villainous barber.
When I was done with the roses, I moved to the bee-hive. Only someone like Demola would have the luxury of keeping bees as a hobby in Lagos. He had offered me some honey once, but I told him I was allergic. I wasn’t. I just couldn’t bear the thought of taking something from Demola’s soiled, privileged hands.
Before tonight, I had done some homework on bees. They were usually asleep by this time, and if you smoked them, they would become dizzy- dizzy enough for you to scrape the honey without a bother. I got out a cigarette and lit it. I’m asthmatic, but I was ready to risk a few things to achieve my mission.
I blew the cigarette smoke through the tiny hexagonal holes in the beehive and grinned as I watched the winged creatures flutter aimlessly in their sleep. It was working. As I moved to blow more smoke in, I heard a low growl. I turned and saw a massive black creature coming for me at top speed.
How didn’t I know that Demola had a Rottweiler? It lunged at me and bit deeply into my side. I felt its teeth clash with my ribs and groaned. We knocked down the beehive and woke the worker bees. I was now fighting two adversaries; the Rott and the recovering bees. I tried to ward off the mad dog with one hand and the livid bees with the other. But I was outnumbered. I was a helpless man with too much exposed skin and too few hands to defend myself.
But things were about to get worse. Somehow, the lighter fluid in my pocket spilled out and came in contact with the burning cigarette. A thick red fire immediately flared up around my trousers. I didn’t realize the bloodcurdling scream I was hearing was mine because I was too busy running around the garden, trying to beat out my burning clothes to care. Even the dog retreated to watch my unfolding calamity.
I eventually ran into a tree and fainted.
When I came to in the hospital, it was several hours later. I found myself hooked up to an EKG, an ECG and other three-letter acronym machines you normally see on Grey’s Anatomy. Fortunately, I didn’t die, but I was a sorry mess. My neck was sprained, my skin was strewn with red welts from the bees’ stings and I was heavily wrapped in Band-Aids for the burns. Not to mention the massive dog bite in my side.
The doctor told me that Demola had heard me screaming and rushed out with a fire extinguisher. He prevented the fire from spreading, otherwise it could have been worse. He said it like I was supposed to be grateful to Demola. Fuck that.
I saw Demola and his pretty wife waiting outside the ER through the glass window. He had an anxious expression on his face. Why? Did he care? No, it couldn’t be. Guilt? Yes, it had to be. The estate had banned residents from keeping violent dogs and he had snuck his own inside.
I smiled despite my thick neck-brace and heavily bandaged limbs. I knew what I was going to do. I would sue Demola for breaching the estate rules. If he hadn’t kept that damn contraband dog, I wouldn’t be here. Yes, maybe I had one shred of hope to get back at him.
I don’t like my neighbour Demola and I’ll make sure he doesn’t win this one.
This story is purely fictional, adapted from my previous short originally titled; Karma is a Bee-tch and She Stings!