I was nine when my family moved to Oshodi. My father was promoted to a production supervisor at one of the factories that made the sweetest biscuits children in Nigeria enjoyed. Of course his salary tripled , so we had enough money to rent a new apartment - a two bedroom flat.
The apartment was located in a big compound, mundane and full of adults. The neighbourhood was neat and quiet, robberies were rare, the roads were tarred properly, and security was guaranteed if you needed one.
The landlord, Papa Bala was a jovial old man, the kind of landlord that preferred to take legal action rather than humiliate an owing tenant. The deal was done, my father and Papa Bala shook hands, and we packed into our beautiful new home. There was one detail the landlord didn't tell us, it was about the rats.
Like our residence, we changed the other parts of our living standard. On first Saturdays my mother and big sister visited the market to buy foodstuffs in bulk that when you saw them, you'd think we were starting a grocery.
We stored everything in the pantry, it was a lot of food.
It wasn't long when we began to hear footsteps and squeaking sounds from the ceiling. First we terrified, thinking robbers had invaded our home. By morning we wanted to have breakfast, when we found the pantry door broken! The bags of rice, beans, garri, even our breakfast cereal was not spared,it was eaten to the box. We investigated and found a huge hole on the ceiling,The mess was cleaned and the hole was covered, we had to buy another set of foodstuffs with a huge padlock for the pantry.
The next week, I heard footsteps in the ceiling again, thinking that it was a ghost I was too scared to leave my bed. Morning came, we checked the pantry, the padlock was broken and so the pantry was vulnerable for the mysterious thief.
Three weeks later after the thief had successfully raided our pantry and fridge four times. I was determined to catch the mysterious food thief and make a name for myself.
The footsteps started again, with my lantern and a club I tiptoed to the kitchen and there the culprit was, busy in the pantry.
It wasn't a human, nor a spirit, it was a rat. A giant grey rat as tall as my father. It was nibbling a dried fish. The rat looked at me with it's big black eyes, my skin turned white.
The rodent squeeked with it's tiny voice and scampered off.
My parents and everyone alerted from their sleep, they rushed to the kitchen to find me shivering in fear.
For some nights I had nightmares about the giant rat coming to eat me.
Human sized rats were popular in Oshodi, they caused a lot of damages like eating NEPA cables, these cost the government millions of naira . With all the money spent, my father couldn't afford to move the family away, like every household in Oshodi we had to buy a car sized rat trap.
WRITTEN BY RUK