Life In A Face Me I Face You: House No.27 by Martina Omorodion

Life In A Face Me I Face You: House No.27 by Martina Omorodion

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When I was a child growing up, back then in Surulere, house no 27 was the most popular on the street. It was a brown colored passage house with diverse tenants.

The kind of residential apartment popularly called face me I slap you (face me I face you) .  The main house had eight rooms on each side of the corridor making it sixteen. There was an extension of four rooms attached to the main building at the back and three separate rooms in the space designed to be the backyard. The side of the house also has ten other rooms and boast of three shops in front it. The only space without building was by the left, sharing a fence with house no.29. this small space was often called the backyard. The tenants often kept water drums, dustbins, broken furniture and other bits and odd stuff there.

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House no. 27, was a notorious hell hole.

The tenants in this face me I face you compound share one bathroom and two toilets.

There is no kitchen.

Cooking is done in front of the each person’s room along the corridor; a high-risk venture considering the number of children running around playing various games. There was always a long queue in front of the toilet and bathroom in the morning. To beat the rush, it is best to wake up as early as 4am to use the bathroom and the toilet. Sometimes, you are not so lucky, the toilet might be occupied.

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 No 27, is also called the National headquarters.

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In that same house, you have Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas, Edos, Ibibios, Calabars, Togolese, Ghanaians and even one Gambian. A constant feature with no.27 is the fights and quarrels among the housewives. These fights sometimes extend to the husbands and family. More enough than not, these fights are caused by little misunderstandings between the children.  Children with their innocent minds are quick to forget the reason for their squabbles but the mothers keep up the animosities and try to rope their children into it.

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My first experience with death came from this house.

That day, it had rained heavily and unlike PHCN, light remained during the storm. It was around 8pm when tragedy stuck. Amaka had finished cooking and taken the soup inside their one-room apartment. She lived with her aunt that was married with four children.

Amaka had gone to the back of the house to empty the buckets she had placed out to catch rainwater. It was important for her to take in the water that night else she would wake to find the water was gone and the bucket empty. It was a very usual act for neighbors to steal or tap water like they liked to call it.

Amaka successfully carried in the first bucket of water and went back for the next one. On her way out, Ebuka the youngest of her aunty’s child had asked for soup to eat his garri. He was not ready to wait for Amaka to finish fetching water before eating.

The rain had flooded the compound and Amaka was careful not to trip, as she lifted the second bucket the handle slip from her hand and she fell. She tried to steady herself to avoid falling into the dirty murky water.

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In the process, she reached for the television antenna pole and was electrocuted.

When Amaka fell, she was the only one at the backyard and nobody knew what was happening. Ebuka continued screaming and crying for Amaka to come and give him soup. His cries forced his elder brother to go check on Amaka at the backyard. He saw her on the ground and went to touch her.

The force of the current threw Obinna against a table and the loud noise attracted the neighbors.  An electrician was called to disconnect the power and the children were rushed to the hospital. The private hospitals they were taken to rejected the victims and they were referred to the Lagos Teaching Hospital (LUTH). Amaka died before getting to LUTH.

Obinna died the following day. It was a great tragedy that shook the street for a very long time.

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Although this incident happened about 17 years ago, it is sad to note that such tragedies still happen.

There is the need for better emergency response service. Provision of basic amenities such as pipe-borne water should not be too difficult for the government to provide. Private hospitals should be able to provide basic first aid to victims before referring them to tertiary hospitals.

Protection of life and the safety of its citizens should be the first interest of the government.

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WRITTEN BY: Martina Omorodion.

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What do you think can be done to avert such needless deaths in Nigeria? Drop your comments below.

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To get your write-ups or stories published on Unto the Matter, send an email to hello@untothematter.com

Orode

Tank driving, cheeky amazon from Warri Kingdom. Copywriter by day, blogger by night, foodie round the clock.

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1 Response

  1. Tuoyo Edward Arueyingho says:

    I think adequate safety education would help reduce this kind of sad events. Safety culture should be added to our curriculum.

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