Thursday, 17 April 2008

Ghetto Blues



I used to live in a really rough neighbourhood. I ended up there because i was desperate to move out of my mother's house (not for any bad reason, i was just ready to spread my wings), but wary of flat-sharing. The flat in this neighbourhood became available very suddenly and i had to act quickly. It was a one bedroom flat, and i figured that it wouldn't be so bad, as i'd come home each night, shut the door behind me and i'd be safe and sound in my nice, clean dwellings.

Dave Chappelle, the comedian, does a high-larious skit about his first trip into the 'hood in DC, where he encountered a crack-dealing baby. He could just as easily been describing this area of London that i lived in, though i never came across any crack dealers myself. The bit i'm referring to starts around the 4:56min mark or 7:00 to go straight to the baby part. (Warning: The language is 'fruity')



So i moved in and nothing untoward happened for quite awhile. I'm not saying things weren't going on all around me, as each morning, i'd walk to the bus stop only to behold yet another yellow police notice asking for witnesses to come forward for burgularies, assault, murder, you name it! Actually, in the first year, the only dodgy thing that did happen was that i once had a knock on the door. I wasn't expecting anyone so i spoke through the door asking who it was. A man replied that he was from the flat below and there's a leak in the ceiling which might have originated from my flat. I said it wasn't from here and he eventually left. So far, so good. The only problem with that story was that i was on the first floor and all the ground floor was either offices or the Tenant's Hall. There had also been a spate of burgularies whereby the thugs had gained access to people's homes by pretending to be on legitimate business.

Something noteworthy did happen eventually. I think i must have been there for a year or so. It was a Sunday morning and being in the choir, i had to be in church an hour before the service began. I was running late, and had just managed to gulp down some of my obligatory morning cup of tea, dump the mug in the sink, open the front door and step out, only to almost stumble over a Somali-looking man lying prone about 3 feet away from my door with a pool of blood around his head.

Once my heart had returned to as close to it's normal rhythm it was going to get, i gingerly inched towards the body because tragically, that's what it was. He was dead, his eyes wide open and glazed over. I whipped out my phone and was about to dial 999, when it occurred to me that i didn't want the police having my number. I locked my door, determined to call from a phone booth along the way to the bus stop, but somehow somehow, i found myself on the bus towards the tube station and that was that!

When i got back home that evening the body had gone and there was police tape around the place, so i guess someone else had discharged thier duty as a good citizen. Till this day, i'm not sure how i managed to literally step over the body of a dead man (okay, i exagerrate) and go about my business. I guess i feared the wrath of my choir master more than i felt any civil responsibility. I figured he was dead and there was nothing that was going to change that. I know that makes me sound like a cold-hearted witch, but i'm not. What would you have done?

So, life continued. Towards the end of my second year in the place though, things took a turn for the worse. On this particular day, i'd been on study leave and at college. I got home to find my kitchen window shattered and the front door, wide open. I gingerly made my way inside and it became obvious that i'd been burgled (durrr!). They had taken my work laptop, which i had brought home with me the previous day. I think that was all. I called the police and they subsequently sent round a CSI (not Gary Dourdan, unfortunately). He dusted for prints and all that stuff they do, but found nothing. Needless to say, i hardly slept a wink that night as the window was broken and wide open.

The landlord had the window boarded up temporarily whilst he made arrangements for it to be replaced, but the following weekend, i returned home from a wedding, only to find the board bashed in. Once again, they'd come and this time they took all my CDs and DVDs, some electronics and stuff like that. I was livid.

The window was finally replaced, but very soon, the little toe-rags (how do i know they were 'little'? Don't worry. I'll get to that soon) came back, smashed the glass and came in again. This time, they were really starting to take the mickey as they took my mini-stepper, and some new pots and pans (still in the packaging) that had been a birthday present from my Mum!

To cut a long story short, they came back one more time, after which i said 'enough is enough, I'm outta here'! So i got over my fear of living with strangers and found a flat share somewhere in North London.

The landlord found a new tenant who also happened to be a guy who worked shifts. You won't believe that they actually came again, smashed the window and climbed in. Or maybe they didn't. The tale gets a bit murky here. Basically, the man was in and asleep and the noise woke him. Imagine their shock! Turned out they were two boys in their early teens who had figured out that i was never in during the day so they'd decided to just help themselves to my possessions! I can't imagine what they thought they would get on the 5th 'visit'! Unbelievable!!! Thinking back, i can't remember if i took the moral high ground or if i cast some hot ijebu curses their way. Anyway, that's my experience of ghetto living. I was glad to get out, i can tell you that for nothing, but not everyone gets to do that...

41 comments:

30+ said...

Gurl you have courage, must have been really desperate not wanting to share.

The dead guy would have done it for me, would not have been able to go back.

...that's as ghetto as it gets (4 times)

OluwaDee said...

U r brave o.

Would have moved out after a week, even if I had 2 share.

10k God u were never harmed.

J Adamthwaite said...

You are brave! I don't think I would ever have lasted that long. Suddenly it is clear how sheltered I am!

UndaCovaSista said...

@30+ - See, i just see (saw) it as getting on with things, and not being necessarily being courageous.


@oluwadee - Thank God o! I could paraphrase Ps91:7 to say 'one may fall outside you door, but it will not come nigh thee':)

@J - I really didn't think i was being brave, however, my rapidly dwindling possesions soon necessitated a move!

Jaycee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jaycee said...

Girl, u really have courage (as 30+ put it). Or I guess its because u had to. I'm just imagining if family and friends come for a sleep-over or somn, how will I protect them???

I'm so sorry for ur laptop, all ur CDs, and ur brand new pots and pans that those kids stole.

There's actually a study that was done that shows that people who grow up in the ghetto live a dangerous life (stealing, smoking, drinking liquor till stupor etc) because that's all they've ever known. Basically "some" (not all) grew up with fathers and uncles who were burglars, smoked crack, and owned heavy liquor stores down the street. So they easily adopted these habits.

UndaCovaSista said...

@Jaycee - You're right. It becomes a vicious cycle

Atutupoyoyo said...

First off. Big up on a yo to ma London crew. Living in tower block in ting you get nuffink but proper respek ya git me?


Second off them pussios would have got a proper licking if they wuz tryna tif from me. I fit give them nuff beatings if they pull that shit on me. Tcha blood. Respek sista.

UndaCovaSista said...

@atutupoyoyo - innit dough?! Prap! Prap!! Prap!!!

Free-flowing Florida said...

na wa o

u strong o

u waited till a 4th visit?????

Afrobabe said...

What???? You stepped over the body and went
off to church????? Babes I would have gone
back into the flat and packed enough clothes
for a month before stepping over the corpse!!!

After the second robbery I would have gone permanently...Dash the landlord the rest of the rent...

Afrobabe said...

Atutu don turn Jamo????

ghetto king..

UndaCovaSista said...

Ok, already! I am COURAGEOUS! I am STRONG! Zena, warrior princess ain't got nothing on me. I AM WOMAN! HEAR ME ROOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAARRR!!!

UndaCovaSista said...

@Florida - It all happened within less about a month. With hind sight, i guess a lesser mortal would have left sooner, but see comment above ;)

@Afrobabe - Haba! I didnt actually, literally step over the body now...As for packing my clothes...also see comment above. And yes, Atutu has apparently been hanging out with the 'hoodies' on the street corners. Lol!

Miss Iyabo Opeke said...

I always wonder why we are so fast to get away from our Mums?

Enuf respect 4 being able to stay over a year...the first incident would have made me run...

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

oh my goodness...please, where is this place so I stay very far away from it.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

na wetin una take give atutu drink? Atutu, alcoholism is a disease and when it causes you to reveal your hidden multiple personalities, it is time for a drastic intervention.

lol!

Jaycee said...

Atutupoyoyo don lose am! Atutu pls stop hanging out with those people...shuuu...(lol)

naijalines said...

Scary stuff. I think your reaction to the dead body is similar to how most people might react in that situation. Strange but true. It's called innercity apathy.

I once lived in a ghetto in London for several years and was glad when my suffering was finally over. When I go past there now, I can't believe I once lived there. But sometimes we have no choice. It's true we should thank God when we finally have a chance to get out.

UndaCovaSista said...

@miss opeke - Mothers (God bless them) just cant let go, so the best option is to reduce your level of contact based on what you are able to bear

@solomonsydelle - Lol! Leave Atutu, tho'. We like him that way..

@Jaycee - Don't worry, he'll soon have them reading shakespeare

@Naijalines - i experience the same emotions when i go past this area too. And i hear you on innercity apathy. It's what makes people in a tube carriage bury their noses deeper in their book or look away as a fellow passenger gets assaulted. God help us...Thanks for stopping by.

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Smaragd said...

OMG! i know u were courageous and all (according to everyone), but seriously Undercova, that was risky!

am glad u survived that episode.

UndaCovaSista said...

@smaragd - every activity in life is inherently risky. Despite my 'outburst'above, i still maintain that courage didnt have a lot to do with it. To completely eliminate risk would be to stop living...But i'm glad i survived too :)

TaureanMinx said...

I think I'd have passed out right beside the Somalian dude.

Morountodun said...

I heard that the Elephant Shopping centre will be demolished as well. I can't say I will miss it. That pink elephant has always been a bit of an enigma to me (I mean what was going through the head of the designer?)

For the love of me said...

Wow, you got courage. Thank God you are in a sane place now

UndaCovaSista said...

@taureanminx - Lol! you're not one of those fainting women, are you? Thanks for stoppping by..

@Morountodun - Both the designer and the people who approved the design were clearly on some kind of bad, drug-induced trip! Thanks for stopping by...

@for the love of me - Yep. thank God and thank YOU for stopping...

Naapali said...

I am sorry I broke in to your apartment but I kept hoping you would buy a Playstation so I kept coming back to check.

Meanwhile, how did you find the voice to sing on that fateful day?

guerreiranigeriana said...

lmao @ atutu...what in the world?!...i didn't think he was capable of such speak!!!...

...wow!!!...you are brave...i lived in an eclectic part of town in atlanta and once i started seeing too many homeless people, some cars were broken into and a kid was shot at midnight, i promptly called mumsie and told her i was moving home...and i did...my hat off to you...

UndaCovaSista said...

@Naapali - so you put me through all that trauma...and for what? A measly playstation?!

@Guerreira - Lol @ 'eclectic'

Kush said...

dead body! London seems to becoming more and more dangerous. I heard on the TV a couple of days ago that you are more likely to be mugged in London than New York now. imagine that.

Writefreak said...

Men..you have courage o! I'd have moved outa there long time! But how would you have been able to share the story.:)

soupasexy said...

chai! na real ghetto be that one...u were wrong for stepping over the body and not calling the cops....no mind me, i would have done like afro..pack my stuff and never come back again..its scary just thinking abt it.

Olamild said...

dave chappelle is hilarious

ladyguide said...

wao... u r one strong chic o,
thank God you left there unhurt

Queen of My Castle said...

OMG! I don't think I would have been able to move there in the first place. I am such a scared-y cat. LOL

I agree, you are a brave one!

Andy said...

You should have stooped over him and started CPR, maybe you would have brought the dead guy back sef! Abeg, just kidding oooh.
UC, you get liver...how you managed in the ghetto, I will never know or understand.

Carlang said...

Stepping over the body and heading to church?
Isnt there a Biblical tale along those lines.
The story of the good Samaritan or something?

lol.

My. I'm not sure how you managed to stay there as long as you did. You;re a lot stronger than i imagined...
and yes i have imagined you strong.

Yes i have imagined you.

lol.

Still..
Lovely writing. Did you submit anything to Atutu's project.

Cant wait for your version of the Samson and Delilah story...
WHy isnt Delilah with Samason?

UndaCovaSista said...

@kush - that wouldnt surprise me. so many random murders are being reported every single day now.

@writefreak - yes. How indeed? :)

@Soupasexy - Ghetto with a capital G it was..

@olamild -Thank you! You're the first person to comment on the video. Everyone else keeps banging on about courage, for crying out loud!!!! he is really hilarious tho :)

@ladyguide - i am indeed thankful for that

@Queeen - There you go with THAT word again :(

@Andy - CPR on a dead man? what kind of doctor are you again? Lol!

@Carlang - No you've got it twisted. the guy in that parable was still alive...see?
*smiles shyly*...i've imagined you too, baby. hehehehe

Thanks for the compliment. i havent submitted anything...i dont do fiction

Pink-satin said...

wow!!!!!!!i would have moved out that day!dead mans bodu onmy door step...lol at it was not Gary Dourdan!!you know he's hot like that!

Afrobabe said...

I came here to take first..

I can't take first if there is no update.

Update!!!!!!!