Written by: Admin_SheEvo
House-hunting in Nigeria as a lady has to be the most daunting, physically and mentally draining experience ever. This is simply because most landlords do not like renting their houses to women, and all their reasons are annoying and awfully too generalised. However, my housing agent, Kola, says I should not blame these landlords because they have had their fair share of experiences with ladies.
The last two months have been quite challenging for me. The most common question I got was “What of your husband?”. Although the first time a landlady asked me that question, I thought she was merely concerned and naive, me went: “Oh, I’m not married yet, I still need to work some more” I didn’t add that I needed to run my master’s degree program, and so I need money, and to get the money I have to work.
I remember she showed me the small stall in front of the house that belonged to her while saying something about working-class women intimidating prospective suitors. She also mentioned that I might be unable to keep up with the rent payment, so I needed a man to help me. So Shocking! Wow! I remembered leaving the house, unsuccessfully renting the apartment, as I tried to think of which man was in my life and wondered if I had made a mistake by rejecting guys who had previously asked to be my boyfriend or marry me.
“You haven’t seen anything yet, “my colleague at the factory, Tina, said after I recounted my previous experience to her. Kola called me yesterday after work to check out an apartment in the boys’ quarter of a Chief. When he told me the Chief was my tribesman, I felt he would be happy to have me as his tenant. Some people tend to favour others because they are from the same tribe. So I quickly left work, asking Tina to cover up for me. I got there to meet Chief, the landlord and Kola whispered to me that Chief’s wife was a stout-looking woman with too much makeup on her face in a corner of the house. She did not join our conversation with her husband. I was shown the boys’ quarter, and I liked it so much that I offered to make a transfer at that moment. Trust my tribespeople, the Chief wanted cash. I promised to bring it the following day. I was so elated that I dashed Kola’s two thousand naira note. Suddenly on my way home, a car parked very near me and the stout-looking woman I met at Chief’s place came down to speak with me. Her English was incorrect, and because she mixed Igbo with it, I could pick out the point in what she said. Chief said he was no longer giving the apartment to me as someone else had paid for it. And when I asked why, she muttered some incoherent words, “Ashawo…. snatching my husband….” on and on she went till she drove off. I was so shocked. She called me Ashawo, a prostitute who wanted to snatch her husband.” I felt my cheeks wet with tears right on the road.
“Obviously, her husband never sent her. She just never wanted you.” I agree with Tina. The woman practically dragged the “women supporting women” statement in the mud. I did not bother to plead with the Chief. I knew if I eventually stayed in that house, I would face trouble from Chief’s wife every day, and at the end of it all, I was somewhat grateful.
I badly wanted to stop staying at the staff quarters in the factory. Some old baldies (my work supervisors) at the factory would not let me be. They assumed that every lady who stayed alone should be ready to have multiple relationships, and because I did not want to get into trouble with any of them, I wanted to leave the quarters.
A prayer was answered when I found a one-room apartment in a face-me-I-face-you house. It was not the kind of house you’d be proud to bring your work friends to, nor was it a place where you could peacefully nap in the afternoon. The only thing I was grateful for was that the old landlady did not ask to see my husband, but I got a long list of uncomfortable rules and regulations that I had to keep while staying in the house. I also had to put up with sharing a bathroom and toilet with six other people, mostly married women and their children. It felt better.
Story by Abiodun Ayomide
Facebook: Abiodun Olayinka
I can totally relate too