EXPENSIVE JOKE (SHORT STORY)

I went to my see my neighbour, Okwuchi, this morning, on my way back from work. She has been depressed lately because she lost her job and I like to check on her from time to time.

When I knocked, she refused to open the door, so I brought out my guitar from its case and started playing “There’s An Angel At Your Door” by Solise. (I play with the night band at RedRose Hotel.) When I got to the stanza that says, “Heaven came to meet you, ‘Cause you’re oh so so special …,” she came out and gave me a halfhearted smile.

We went into her room and I asked if she’d had breakfast. She said she wasn’t hungry. Knowing how much good food can help to cheer someone up, I begged to get her some and went back to my room for a small food flask. A lady by the corner down the road sells the best akara and pap you can imagine and for a hundred and fifty Naira, I bought ten balls of akara and some pap.

When I set the food on a tray in front of the mattress where she lay and sat on the rug beside her, Okwuchi protested that the akara was too much. I argued that it wasn’t but she insisted that I take some. Then I came up with this:

“I have a confession to make.”

“What?” Her curiosity pushed me on. My mission to cheer her up was succeeding, I told myself.

“I’ve wanted you to be mine for long, so I put some love potion in the food. If I join you to eat it, the potion will not be potent enough.”

By the time I finished, her look had changed.

Bia onye ara a,* get out of my room immediately, and take your stupid food with you.”

“Wait o, …”

She carried the tray outside and started calling the whole neighbourhood, claiming that I want to kill her.

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“See idiot and love! It’s Buhari I blame, not you! How will a dropout like you talk love to me if not that Buhari has destroyed this country?”

“I was only joking o! I don’t love you more than ‘Love thy nieighbour’ in the Bible.”

“Did the Bible say you should use charm on people?” She repeated what I’d told her to the women who had gathered.

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I told them I was playing with her but my explanations fell on deaf ears.

“No wonder he is in your room morning and night,” Mama Ngozi, our cantankerous landlady, said.

“I was only being a good neighbour.”

“Saint Paschal,” she sneered.

Although I’d eaten an early breakfast before returning from RedRose, I decided to eat the food in question to show them I meant no harm. Halfway through, Okwuchi went into her room, brought out my guitar and bolted the door. But the women stood there and insisted that I eat it all up. It was too much for me and I threw up towards the end.

The next thing I knew, my landlady called her son who was gambling at a nearby pool office to kick me out of the compound.

“You said you would eat the food but you vomitted it out because you know what you did.” By then I was too exhausted to counter the landlady.

One by one, my 10-spring foam, my stove, Ghana-Must-Go and other belongings were thrown outside and they changed the lock.

In all this commotion, Okwuchi did not come out or say a word.

The worst is that I don’t love the girl. I don’t even like her. She is too serious, no friend, no laughter; that’s why I tried to help her. Now see where it has landed me. Just one small joke that another person would have laughed at. Na waa oh!

If I can’t find a room by nightfall, I’ll be squatting with a friend and I hate that, just because of one tingiri joke.

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Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2019

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(Related: Help! My Wife Is A Guy! – Short Story)
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*Bia onye ara a is Igbo for “Come, you mad man”.
tingiri means tiny in Pidgin English

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

32 comments

  • Gracious

    Ah! This is serious oh I can’t stop laughing. That was very expensive indeed he should have waited for her to have at least eaten the food. Chai poor neighbor. This is a comic story🤣

  • Nwoye Chiamaka Favour

    I enjoyed every bit of this short story. Very funny. Some one cannot play with aunty Okwuchi again 😂😂 but there is a moral to this story. Every one should know who he can play certain types of pranks on if not, he could be embarrassed like this our brother.

  • Okoli Ezinne Juliet

    This really made my night, it’s really funny, simple joke that someone would just laugh at, but people differs.
    I really pity Paschal, who had just good intentions. Thanks ma for this wonderful piece

    • Edith Ohaja

      God bless you, Ezinne! Happy holiday!

      • Ezike Winifred udochukwu

        Lol😂😂🤣🤣🤣I feel like the girl should have known that it was just a joke na..it’s really funny ,maybe okwuchi is depressed or something because she according to the story it sounds like she is someone that’s hard to please ..and the landlady went to far she shouldn’t have sent him packing after all he paid his rent ..lol

  • This fiction is didactic indeed. There are jokes we make sometimes that are too expensive. It thereby necessitates that we should be careful on the kinds of jokes we make as some of them may land one into trouble.

  • Okere Jovita

    Na wa ooooh
    Okwuchi should have known is a joke…
    It made me laugh but am feeling so sorry for him because i don’t know how he will manage…..looking for an apartment is not an easy task and just because he wanted to help he ended up losing the shelter he had…too bad.

  • Lilian omeje

    Hahaha, the joke became a serious issue that would have tarnished his image. People should try and catch jokes sometimes and not take everything serious

  • Ugwoke Jennifer

    I really feel sorry for paschal but okwuchi should have known that he was only joking, okwuchi must be a mean fellow. We all ought to be careful the kind of pranks we play on people, because people differ. Happy Sunday Ma

  • Oshana Oyaku Endurance

    People don’t see things the same way, paschal just made a harmless joke and okwuchi took it really seriously because of how serious she is. Paschal should learn his lesson.

  • Ogbonnaya Noble Comfort

    Quite hilarious!
    Mind you, depressed people don’t enjoy such jokes, lol.

    Oga joker, steer clear of expensive jokes maka ndu gi.

  • Amaugo Stephanie Chidinma

    Joke gone wrong! 😂😂
    What a sad turn out…Chai! If he had known, he wouldn’t have even tried to make her happy. Quite hilarious

  • Abonyi chisom

    Lol ! So funny😁 I pity the poor boy who was just trying to help a strong hearted neighbor.so bad, his joke landed him to a big trouble.we should be careful the kind of jokes we make and the people we joke with.

  • Ejiofor Emmanuel

    Poor boy! Just because he wanted to cheer his neighbor up. One should be careful of who to crack a joke for. Some people take jokes seriously that they will even avoid you just because they think you meant it.

  • Anabude oluchi

    Nice one ma! eft me with smiles.
    We have to be careful of most joke even though you are familia with the person but know your limit not just joke alone but being careful with our words because it might cost you alot just as we saw in the case of the guy. Have a blessed day ma!

  • Anabude oluchi

    Is a pity! Most times things we think that does not matter actually matter to some people and there is every need to be careful with our words even though you are familia with the person because you may end of with regrets.

  • Ochei mkpulumma

    Ehya!!! I just pity that guy, his good intention has cost him his accommodation. In this life, we need to mind how we relate to everybody around us because its not everybody that sees joke as a joke. Some people normally see joke as an insult to them

  • It is very funny
    Is this how you used to do, some one cannot play with you…?
    Not every one should be joked with, some don’t know the difference between jokes and reality

  • Iwoba Añulika Lilian

    Na wah ooo… See trouble ooo untop small joke like that.
    Frustration can really rob people of common sense.
    Moral of the story: stay away from bitter and frustrated people.
    Any normal person could and should have seen the humour to the joke and not have taken it seriously.

  • Ikebudu juanita

    Lol😂…does love portion even exist, haba the girl cpuld have known that its a simple joke.

  • 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 ” Because of one tingiri joke”. This one is hilarious o. I pity Paschal , now he was sent packing because of a harmless joke.
    As usual ma, I learnt a lesson which is to be careful as to what we present as jokes.

  • Ozioko Glory Oluchi

    No be small thing, see frustration ooo🤣🤣. Okwuchi should have looked for a way to unleash her anger on Buhari who frustrated her, instead of transferring it to an innocent neighbour who is just trying to be nice. Nsogbu uwa is not only money

  • Richards Orighomisan Mercy

    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣😂 Chai it is well, one tingiri joke.
    🤣

  • Bob Charles Ngene

    Aunty Edith…why don’t you have a catalogue of best seller novels to your name yet??? This is amazing storytelling right here…I literally made a movie out of it in my head

    Thank you for this ma

  • Paschal Odigonma Victoria

    From small joke to big problem. Aunty Okwuchi did not try at all o… Haba😂. So this is how being nice cost such a kind neighbour, his lovely home.

  • Eze Chioma Uzoamaka

    This story has some relation with an incident that occurred in my lodge. Same expensive joke led to a heated argument because the other party just couldn’t detect a playful tone. Also, I feel you ought to know the kind of person you’re dealing with so you know how to play with them. It was already stated that the girl was serious and anti-social, I doubt such a person would take the joke at surface level.

  • Emelife Assumpta M

    Loolll…. Paschal don enter one chance be that. The truth is that we have to know the kind of people we joke with and prank on, especially if the person is passing through a trying time. Somebody losing his/her job is not funny so you won’t expect things to sound normal to the person. On the other hand, some people are too serious to a fault like Okwuchi, so you have to be very careful on words to throw as joke to them in order to avoid trouble. Also, know the words you use while joking, because people understand things in different ways. I also think that Okwuchi’s reaction to Patschal was just a transfer of anger. Indeed, it was an expensive joke.

  • Oshana Oyaku Endurance

    That was way too much, Okwuchi was too extreme. So what if he loves her? And he was always with her, trying to cheer her up, she couldn’t even take things easy and embarrassed him that way. Sighs! She’s way too serious for a human, biko.

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