Rudolf Okonkwo: The day I borrowed my neighbour’s wife

I have a neighbour who constantly needs a prompt before she throws Udoka’s ball back into our backyard. It is not just a prompt; the woman wants a thank you each time she does that. And that could be a lot of times in one weekend alone. I don’t really blame her. The white picket fence separating our yard from hers is not high enough for Udoka’s basketball to stop flying over whenever he plays outside.
For a long while, this woman’s propensities troubled me. I am a quiet and calm person, but somehow I feel irritated. In “Quiet

Night Thought,” Li Bai wrote, “We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.” I did not want that to be my faith. Each time I contemplated what to do, I hear Jalal al-Dim Rumi say in Masnavi-ye Ma’navi (Spiritual Verses), “Raise your words, not your voice. It is the rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
Over the years, I have done well with neighbours but not with this woman. Pablo Neruda wrote, “to feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.” The opposite is a nightmare that dims our dreams. Once in that situation, the only thing to do is a reversal. And that was what I faced. I was at the precipice of the people T.S. Eliot called “The Hollow Men.” With this woman, I was confronting the shadow.

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