LIFE LESSONS: NO LAUGHTER UNTIL RENT IS PAID.

There are many reasons why I am not a huge fan of formal education. To start with, the most important and useful lessons in life are not taught in any classroom. Ironically, some of the lessons neglected are the ones which no one should ever have to learn by themselves. Anyway, I now find myself in dire need  of a tutor. I am on holiday for four months, probably longer, so why do I need a tutor? Well, I don’t know how to hide from my landlord. All the eighteen years I have been in different schools at different levels of learning, no single teacher saw it fit to give me a crash course on how to deal with my landlord. Matter of fact, I am so naive on this subject that I committed the cardinal sin of inviting friends over and proceeding to engage in boisterously loud conversation in the late evening when the landlord is around. No sooner had my visitors left than my landlord came  knocking at my door, a fake smile on her face. And, in a deceptively friendly way that only old people can pull off, said to me, “I am glad you are so happy. You remember you haven’t cleared with me this month; maybe you might want to make me a little happy too?” Damn! I wish someone had told me before that laughing inside a house whose rent is unpaid drives landlords mad. Now I know never to laugh until I have paid my rent.

After I finished with her, having bought myself more time to deliver her well deserved and wrongfully delayed rent, I realized that I was faced by another dilemma. It was time to prepare supper. Unfortunately, there was nothing in my house to eat with ugali but eggs. Even though no one had taught me this lesson either, common sense told me that the smell of eggs from my place would ruin her appetite for her sukuma wikis. There’s no telling what the resulting foul mood could make her do; she might decide to come claim my eggs as down payment. Anyway, I did not have the time or energy to go buy something less obtrusive to the senses. In other words, I was broke. Why else did you think I had not paid my rent already? Anyway, I managed to cook myself a nice meal without any further disturbances.

I suspect that she is also trying to set up a “Broke Tenants Anonymous” club where all the tenants who cannot afford rent can meet and share their frustrations. Each time she comes to collect rent, she first lets one know that they are not the only one who have not paid. She will apologetically tell you the names of all the others who have not paid rent, “Today is the 15th, and you, Baba Junior and Mama Pesh have not paid rent. I decided to come for it just in case you forgot.” I have no doubts that everyone in the building will know who has not paid rent by the end of the week. The landlord is adroit at slipping in such details even in the most casual of conversations. Maybe she reasons that embarrassment might push us into paying. Which reminds me that I really should go to church this Sunday and thank God for shutting down that area of my brain which would otherwise cause me to feel embarrassment. I will also speak to one prayer group and ask them to join me in praying and fasting for a memory reduction. If there is one thing I will never forget, it is paying rent or, in this case, the fact that I have not paid. My landlord, however, doubts my memory and sees it fit to keep reminding me. I wish my memory was that fickle, then I could be able to go through my day without dreading that awkward moment when I try to open my metallic door without making the tiniest of sounds. If she comes back before I have the money, I won’t know what to tell her. All the excuses I could think of are exhausted already. If you know anyone with experience in dodging their rent payments, please give them my number. I promise to give them an egg for each successful idea on how to avoid another run in with my landlord until I can finally pay the rent.

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