It is Monday, two days after the accident (I am still unable to write about this but I will, I promise), and we are still trying to recover. Kollins is home from work and he is not used to this. He says he feels restless, useless, and I say okay, please go and set yourself on fire. I was joking. Next thing I know, I smell burning hair and I race outside to see Kollins with my lighter against his wrist. Kollins is very hairy. I shake my head, tell him I was remiss in not allocating him a task, and ask him to mop the veranda. He decides he isn’t really bored after all.
I hear screaming, interspersed with excited chattering from the floor below. James enters the house and I hear him tell Kollins something. I hear ‘snake’ and that is when I should have issued the warning. . . nobody should come to my room with any stories about snakes. I didn’t. Five minutes later, Kollins strolls into my room, every trace of boredom obliterated, and informs me in a way that can only be described as gleeful, that a snake was found in my neighbour’s apartment.
With all my heart, I pray that he means the neighbour on the ground floor. Please God, may it NOT be the first floor. You see, we live on the second floor, and we have shrouded ourselves in a cloak of invulnerability, safe from the machinations of evil creeping things like millipedes, rodents, all crawly species—and dear God, snakes. I watch Kollins’ lips as they form the word. Demola. Demola is the neighbour on the first floor and his wife is the one doing the caterwauling.
Chills crawl up and down my spine, even as I face the realization that safety as I know it is over. I will never again feel safe in this house. Something has been irrevocably breached. If Demola on the first floor can have snakes, we on the second floor are no better-off. And along with snakes may come the other crawlies—the doors have been thrown open. It is a free-for-all.
I return to my room and try to begin the process of living with fear. Kollins is having none of it. He comes by every few minutes to assure me that only one snake was found, “it has to have a mother and siblings”; they live in our AC vent in the living room; they are hiding in every corner of the house; I need to tidy up my wardrobe and I need a flashlight to do this because he is sure the snakes are hiding among my clothes and sniffing my underwear. I beg him to stop, I am almost in tears. The curtain rustles and I jump. We know the snake could not have crawled upstairs through the staircase and we think we have identified the culprit, the means by which a snake could get into a first floor apartment. The almond tree.
Now, regard this almond tree growing beside the house, its topmost branches resting against the eaves. It is a thing of beauty, luscious green, provides shade, it is probably the reason the apartment is so breezy and cool. The wind rustling through its leaves is calming, and it watches over us with an affable mien, spreading over us, arms wide open, a benevolent god. Now in the space of a few minutes, this benign entity has metamorphosed into a malevolent form, intent on harming us. The lush greenness which we, hitherto much admired, now throbs with barely suppressed menace. Who would have thought that our beloved almond tree would, instead of huge, ripe, succulent fruits, yield snakes and spit them right into our homes.
Here is what you do when you suspect you have snakes in your home:
- Move to a friend’s house and sell your house with everything in it. Do not take anything with you. You don’t know where the snakes are hiding
- The house is not yours to sell. You work from home and cannot move so easily. Start crying
- Go downstairs and comfort Demola’s wife. Cry some more with her. Assure her that God is in control and no snakes fashioned against her will be able to prosper
- Come back upstairs and assure yourself that from what you could see of Demola’s house, the snakes have greater access, after all the branches virtually hug their veranda and touch their AC vents which are split units. You do a little dance in praise of the gods that were so kind as to not allow you be able to afford split units
- Pick all the pieces of fabrics lying around the house. Some of them may turn to snakes if you turn your back
- Proceed to tidy your wardrobe. Handle everything with care. These snakes are sly creatures. Kollins has hidden your gold belt to use and frighten you later. Ask him to give it back
- Call your boyfriend and ask him what to do. He tells you to cover yourself and all the members of your household with, not anointing oil or holy water, but kerosene. “Snakes hate kerosene” he says, sounding uncertain. You can also chew bitter kola he says. He knows you hate bitter kola and you think he is laughing at you
- Go and listen at the AC vent where Kollins says the snakes are hiding. You don’t hear anything but Kollins would not lie
- Enter the kitchen to prepare dinner. Avoid all possible snake hideouts. Always wear your flip-flops. You don’t know how this helps and are quite sure it doesn’t but hey, it makes you feel safe
- 10. Check your fridge, the top, underneath, even the freezer for snakes. They like cold places (I just had déjà vu right this minute-if that isn’t so cool)
- 11. NEPA takes light and you wonder why Kollins hasn’t put on the generator after thirty minutes. The moment you realize you are alone and Kollins said he was going out about two hours ago, you run screaming to the landing and turn on the generator. You suffuse the place with light and all the snakes slithering in the darkness beat a hasty retreat.
- 12. When the TV comes on, you jump a foot high because sometimes snakes sound like Amanpour, or maybe Joan Rivers
- 13. You plan a meeting of all the neighbours affected by the offending tree. The hell with green planet, this tree is going down!!!
- 14. You pull you mattress off the wall and flip it, look carefully in every corner. You keep the dark coloured blanket very far from the bed. The teddy bears, Fluffy and Fluffy, too. You need to control the situation and reduce the error margin.
- 15. Stay on Facebook and Twitter, Whatsapp and BBM, but whatever you do, DO NOT go to sleep until you are sure you will pass out like the dead. You must not wake up during the night for any reason
- 16. Drink enough vodka to anaesthetize a body for neurosurgery—remember that error margin
- 17. Wake up excited about the new day. Until you remember about the snakes
- 18. Throw away your skipping rope, it looks like a snake. Shake out your yoga mat, there could be a snake inside it. Keep your dumbbells close, you can use them to crush snakes
- 19. Check the house thoroughly in case anyone made it in through the night while wo(men) slept
- 20. Update your blog and ask for help. Maybe someone has something remotely sensible and most likely better than what you have done so far to suggest to you.
Here’s what i found
This girl here, my only question is does she have a boyfriend. . . or girlfriend.
And here for further reading-for fun