If you live in Lagos, or anywhere else for that matter, it is very unlikely that you would not have neighbours at some point in your life. If you are old enough and have been around a bit, then you must have seen it all – the good, the bad, the ugly, the worrisome and even the ridiculous. In the few years I have spent in Lagos, these are some of the types I have come across.
- The Busybody
The Busybody is the neighbour who knows everything about everyone. They are like what church folks in this clime call monitoring spirits. Always snooping around, investigating everyone and everything, with no information passing them by. These ones will knock at your door, under the false pretense of love, to say that they heard your husband yelling and wanted to make sure everything was alright. Rest assured that people from three houses away will hear about every gory detail that this neighbour finds out about you.
- The prayer warrior
These neighbours seldom sleep and do a fine job making sure that others do not sleep as well. They stay up most of the night casting out invisible demons and issuing orders at the devil. They practically kill the devil every night, but unfortunately, he somehow manages to resurrect in the morning and so they have to kill him again the next night.
- The Oversabi
This is the know-it-all neighbour, the type that my friend nicknames ‘Sabinus’ From politics, to religion, to marital counseling, to law, this neighbour would put an encyclopedia to shame. Oversabi has all the answers and knows the solution to everybody’s problems. He questions every utility bill that comes, speaks first and most at the Saturday morning neighbourhood meeting and fearlessly challenges contrary opinions. If there is one neighbour who can bully others into doing his will, it is the oversabi neighbour.
- The night crawler
It’s 3am in the morning. The compound is dead quiet and the lights are out in most of the flats. People are entering the REM stage of sleep and dreaming about fat contracts and fancy weddings. Just when it is all going so well, the night crawler comes home, banging the gate and shouting “Musa! Musa! Come open this gate now!” Everyone is rattled out of sleep, wide awake and angry as hell.
“When will you report this guy to the landlord?” says Iya Bose to Baba Bose.
“Must I be the one to report? What is wrong with your own mouth?” replies an irritated Baba Bose, who then picks up his pillow and goes to the sitting room to see if he can catch some more sleep before the dreaded 4am. There will be no such luck today because the clock strikes 4 in no time. The night crawler has done it again!
- The Landlord
This is the house owner or caretaker who lives next door and also happens to be elderly. She has a long list of rules and regulations, most of them contradictory. A new rule is added daily, as the situation demands. Anyone who complains or asks too many questions is threatened with eviction, whether their rent has expired or not. When she is home, the children cannot play in the compound freely because they are too noisy. You are forced to learn patience and self-control because you live in the same building with her. She doesn’t care for your love or hate and she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
- The tireless borrower
This neighbour is almost always female and is forever out of supply for basic cooking ingredients. With her, there are no holds barred when it comes to borrowing. Salt today, pepper tomorrow, maggi the day after, palm oil, big pot, the list is endless. You can only hope she doesn’t show up at some point to ask you for something bizzare like your clean underwear.
- The noise factory
This neighbour’s apartment is the transit place for all his relatives who are just graduating from the university, finishing NYSC or coming to Lagos from the village for the first time. His housemates are never out of fresh gist or something to argue about. They laugh very loudly too. Their faces look hard and scary, so you cannot caution them. You are left with no choice but to suffer in silence.
- The unrepentant alcoholic
This one drinks like a fish and always comes home drunk. If his wife dares to question him, he turns his sitting room into a boxing ring and her into a punching bag. He has been arrested four times because some concerned neighbours have reported him to the police but he somehow manages to get away. You wonder why his wife endures his abuse, but this is Lagos, so you mind your own business.
- The enigmatic neigbour
This is the one that no one knows anything about. He stays away from trouble, pays every bill on time and never complains about anything. He smiles alright, but you are never quite sure if it is because he likes your jokes or just wants you to finish talking already and leave him in peace. His children never come out to play and his wife always waves at other neighbours with a nice smile from a safe distance.
- The Fighters
These neighbours are couples who may or may not be married. They are hotheads who would not tolerate nonsense from one another. During their fighting bouts, they are completely blasé about who might be listening to them air their dirty laundry. You have to give it to them though, because they usually have their own internal conflict resolution mechanism which almost always turns a meddling third party into the enemy.
This is by no means an exhausting exposé on neighbours, so feel free to share some other types you know