Dilemma Of An Ex-Landlord: Shall I Do A Samson? – By Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

 There is so much injustice in this world, I tell you, which is why I am seething with rage and my grey moustache is twitching most violently. My beautiful wife tells me to watch my blood pressure and make sure I don’t get too excited. She always reminds me I am not what I used to be, and by God, she is right-I have already seen a few wrinkles here and there. So what is my gripe? What makes me see stars in broad daylight and gets my goat so? Actually it simple and yet not so simple. Just get yourself a calabash, and if you have tears, prepare to shed them to fill it.

Many many moons ago, I built a grand house. It was with my own sweat and toil and blood. But then I was at the top of my game and commanded a lot of fear in the township, so nobody could say a word about my new house, even though the land was acquired by sheer force.  I built it my way. I determined the house rules and determined the rent. It was a big house with many self-contained apartments, but everyone knew I was the boss.

All the tenants knew I had the final say, and just like a proper landlord, I lived with my family in the top flat, from where I kept an eagle eye over the whole compound and by extension the town. There was order in my house, for my hand was made of iron. It was from this house that I put the fear of the Lord in a band of thieves who had built a squalid structure across town and who wanted to run the show. What pretenders!

Well, just as all good things must come to an end, there came a time when my dominance over the town had to be relaxed, but only formally. I still needed to keep an eye on the thieves, you see. So I went out into town for some scouting and came across this rather gentle soul who looked as if he wouldn’t hurt a fly.  He looked OK and meek.  So in my wisdom, I invited him back to my grand house, where I held an emergency meeting and announced that henceforth the new guy would be living in my flat upstairs and would run the house eventually. Of course, there were a few protests, but then nothing of consequence-would they dare? So my protégé moved in. It was a happy family affair and everybody was happy. Except of course the thieves across town, who sulked and kissed their teeth.

Well, eventually, my boy took over running the town, and that is where the problems began. Suddenly, my own keys to my flat were changed and I am not allowed to even see the new guy I brought in. The new guy hid behind some little children in the house whose mothers had not even reached puberty when I built my house.

Can you imagine the venom and the insults that these poorly brought up brats rained on me? They told me my time belonged in the Bronze Age of yesteryear, that I was irrelevant, the house was built by many and not just moi, and that I could go and build another house if I had a problem. All these they shouted from my own verandah and swanked about in my courtyard.

They called my wife-who is my soul mate, all sorts of unprintable names. The impudence of a cockroach!   Yet when I charge back, the people in the town say I am mad, and the thieves across town rub their hands in glee when they notice the family fight. These days I don’t even go out much-such is my shame. We are outsiders in our own house!

But the nonsense must stop. Right now, right here. I want my house back. Me, I am too tired to run the house, but my passion for facing those thieves across town remains undimmed. So my wife and I have agreed that she will collect rents, maintain discipline and run the house in a manner befitting its past glory.

Me, I will just sit on the veranda and smoke my pipe and tell my grandchildren long stories, whilst keeping a close eye on the house and offering sweet advice to my soul mate on how to run a proper house and township.  And of course, we will throw out all those uncouth tenants with mouths as big and as fetid as the Korle Lagoon. They should just wait till the new sherriff hits town.

But the tenants insist they prefer the new guy, who I hear lets them get away with  getting up to all sorts of things. A few of the boys in the house still want us, so there is a bit of tussle. Now the tenants say they want to decide by a vote who they want, me and my wife or the new guy. Can you imagine? Our own house? Jesus!

But we will play ball. My wife’s headgear is tied firmly and my old boots are laced up. If they want a battle they will get it.  We can’t have enough of the drama. We are simply loving this.

On second thoughts, should I just bring down the house out of spite if those silly tenants decide to cheat us of our birth right? Why not, even if it means the thieves from the other side of town benefit? I recall the biblical story of Samson, who brought down the whole hall and destroyed everyone and himself in the process. Now that’s a thought. After all, that way, we will all sleep outdoors on the on flimsy and threadbare mattresses. And when that happens, let’s see who will suffer most. Nonsense.

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