I saw her on the sixth day. I was still living under the illusion of being ‘introverted' and actively ignoring everyone around. I used to be so caught up with life that I never really cared about my living surroundings or little everyday things like my neighbors. Then Covid happened, and I found myself trapped in a place where I knew no one. Turns out staying indoors and alone is all good and fine when it's a personal choice—but when it is mandated, the mask falls off. You can only watch so much on Netflix and God of War actually has a final stage. Within six days I was fed up. I put on a pair of shorts and decided to take a walk. That's when I saw her, sitting by the veranda and playing cards with a group. I muttered a greeting that invited no further conversation and they responded in kind. That brief encounter had made me realize I had pretty neighbors—or a pretty neighbor at the very least. The next day, I stole a peek through my window and was rewarded with a view of her skipping outside. I had regularly heard the sound ‘tap-tap-tap' previously but paid no mind to it. I watched her, unseen, and found more satisfaction in that preview than my TV had offered in days. 3 days later, I stepped out and openly resumed my viewership. “Do you have a spare?” I called out and was rewarded with a misstep and an end to her skipping. “Nah.” “Wish I could buy one now. Your constant workout is now looking like a direct reprimand to my lazy self.” She laughed to that. “Why not jog instead?” I asked her. She shrugged. “I see no reason why it can't be both.” She really did have a well-toned body. “I see your fine body isn't a fluke,” She smiled and said, “We can go on a roadwork tomorrow by, say, 5am?” Tempting but… “Ah,” I lamented, “I'm a night-crawler; I usually sleep around 2-3 thereabout. There's no way I can get up by 5.” “I see,” she nodded. “I never joke with my sleep. You'll be hard pressed to find me awake by 8pm. I like my sleep that much.” “I'm Paul," I said. “Chichi.” “Are you new here?” She laughed heartily. “No one is new here, Paul.” “What?” “The houses were built and fully leased out 6 months ago. There have been no ins and outs since then.” “Wow.” It was news to me. I almost died from exhaustion the next day when I joined her on her roadwork. But earning her company in my house later that day was worth the sacrifice.. We were two interesting individuals who had been thrown indoors by a mandated lock-down and were pleasantly delighted to have each other's company. We traversed through all plausible topics. At some point I asked her about her music taste, and she said she loved hip-hop. “Ah, so team Cardi B or team Nicki?” I asked. “I'm a fan of good music,” she replied with a shrug. “I see no reason why it can't be both.” “True,” I agreed. “We always try to make factions and rivalries where there need not be any. Some people need to just learn to enjoy talents. Like Ronaldo and Messi or Davido and Wizkid.” We discussed and argued over opinionated topics. We bantered each other and laughed and I found myself getting more and more fond of her voice and her presence. We played cards and she trashed me vehemently, so I suggested we play soccer on my PS console and there I trashed her shamelessly. I eventually suggested drinks. Not really knowing if her definition of ‘drinks' was the same as mine, I brought two cups and two options: juice and vodka. “So, which is it going to be?” I asked pointing to the drinks. She seemed to deliberate inwards whether drinking vodka in a new acquaintance's house was wise. So, I answered for her. “No reason why it can't be both?” She smiled and nodded. We watched a movie while drinking juice and vodka. The movie was horrible. A bad movie can be a good thing—anything, as I came to realize, can be a good thing—in the right company. We made fun of the movie and had lengthy discussions criticizing all the failed plot points and loopholes. Finally, Chichi yawned. “My bed is calling me,” she announced, standing. “I had a great day, Paul. I really did” “So did I.” I had never been more sincere. We stepped out to a beautifully lit night aided by a full moon and the way the estate's lights lit the cobblestones. I wasn't quite sure if it had always been like this or if I was starting to see things differently. I walked her to her door and, for the first time that day, we were both silent. “Goodnight neighbor Paul,” she cooed sweetly. “Actually,” I spared a glance at my watch, “It's 10 minutes past 1. It's morning now.” “Wow! Past one?” She was quite surprised. “Can't remember when last I stayed up this late.” “I know. You did say you like your sleep too much,” I smiled. “Does this mean you've met something or someone you may like more?” She smiled. I wondered if that was an affirmation or just a simple expression. But then again, I saw no reason why it couldn't be both.


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