‘Termites’ in my ‘Safe House’- The Danger of Making Assumptions

Written by

Oyinkan Solanke

It’s Friday evening and for the first time in months, Ola is home before the 6pm news. Kevin drops her off and she waves goodbye in her usual friendly manner, he eagerly responds by wishing her a pleasant evening in return. She fumbles through her bag for the key to her flat, the Trudor’s live right beside her; from the side of her eyes, she can see Mrs Trudor sitting by the window with her children gathered around her like mother hen. Ola waves at her but she doesn’t acknowledge her, she waves again but Mrs Trudor sharply looks away. Ola makes no scene of it, after all, it wasn’t like her to arrive home early, and it’d take Mrs Trudor some time to get use to her getting home early. Ola gets into her flat and turns on some dancehall music to unwind, she dances into the night all by herself.

It’s Monday morning and the euphoria of the weekend comes to an abrupt end. Ola who is naturally full of energy in the mornings, rolls out of bed with a deep sigh, “not Monday again”! Six months ago, had a job in finance within the civil service, she got home by 5:30pm on most days, and if she wasn’t at the gym after work, she spent time with then boyfriend, Bryan. Bryan was loved by everyone especially Mrs Trudor, he could do no wrong in her eyes. He had the keys to Ola’s flat and so he would often go in to prepare a surprise meal before Ola got home from the gym. Ola lived a simple life, she thrived on routines, her job and mundane life suited her perfectly so it came as a surprise to everyone when Ola decided that she needed a change. At the time of her decision, Bryan was taking time out to explore Europe and had hoped that Ola would accompany him. Ola preferred the “familiar”, she wanted to purchase a house and nothing would come in the way of that goal and so when she declined Bryan’s offer, it didn’t surprise him or anyone else, they had many discussions leading to his travels and they had decided to take a break for good. Before Bryan left, he gave her a plaque which she proudly hung on her wall, it read “Go out there and be magical”. One day, those words spoke to her frustration and led her to quit her job.

While Ola was jobless and couldn’t decide what to do next, she spent a lot of time bonding with Mrs Trudor who she thought of as her unofficially mother. Ola’s mother, Airiya, lived very far away, she visited Ola as often as she could but it wasn’t enough for a mummy’s girl. When Ola initally quit her job, Airiya was sick with worry and on one of her visits, she officially entrusted Ola to the care of Mrs Trudor. Ola often felt that Mrs Trudor took this role a little too seriously and sometimes peered into her private life. Mrs Trudor often expressed her resentment for Ola not travelling with Brian”, she would often say: “what more could a woman want? “Ola they don’t make ‘em’ like Bryan no more, it not too late to change your mind” Ola met Mrs Trudor’s remarks with silence, she had made up her mind and there was no going back. Twenty years ago, Mrs Trudor made a decision to move abroad with her husband leaving the American dream behind, the move hadn’t lived up to her expectations, but she insists that Love is the most important thing.

After weeks of deciding what to do next, Ola finally took up a role in a leading Media startup, she knew it would be a big culture shift for her but she had convinced herself that she was open to new beginnings, her family including the Trudor’s were proud of her. Mrs Trudor thought of Ola as a role model to her son Sam who she describes as “having no job or steady income, sat on the computer and took pictures all day but somehow he calls himself an influencer”. Months into her new role, Ola was working hard to prove herself, She took up more tasks and even volunteered to attend after work events, which meant getting home in the early hours of the morning. Mrs Trudor was an active member of the community security alert group, so her flags were up when she noticed all the different cars arriving in front of her house. Sometimes, the sound of the engine would coincide with the sound of the door to Ola’s flat, this caused her to worry a lot. She instinctively reduced her contact with Ola whom she wasn’t seeing much of anyway.

Ola got home early one evening; she waved vicariously towards the car that dropped her, she signals a good bye and adds “see you again, maybe!” She proceeds to the Trudor’s house to say hello, she rang the bell a few times with no answer, Sam eventually opened the door and let her in. Ola was surprised to see all the in the living room as she walked in, she knew that the Trudor kids were not allowed to open the door to strangers, except, she wasn’t a stranger! She gave the children some of the goodies that she had brought from the conference that she had just attended, she didn’t need another chrome cast or wireless phone charger so she thought the kids might want them. She engages in a friendly chat with Sam and is happy to find that his YouTube channel is growing, Mrs Trudor walks in and the kids immediately drop the goodies and scramble away from the room.
Ola suddenly felt unsettled, but she reassured herself that everything was ok. Sam walks off in his usual casual manner as if he didn’t want to get in Mrs Trudor’s way. His mother gave Ola one sharp look and muttered passionately, “Bryan was a good man you know, all these other men”, before she could get a chance to complete the sentence, Ola added, “ARE UBER DRIVERS”!
All these other men are Uber drivers

Ola stormed out of the Trudor’s house, her safe place had turned out to be a house of judgement. Shakira Trudor moved to lock the door behind Ola, she shuffled slowly to her chair with Ola’s reply still ringing in her head. Still puzzled, she could hear her son mutter sarcastically in the background, “you should try other exercises that don’t involve jumping into conclusions mum”.
Shakira knew she had goofed big time!

Moral of the story: be careful when you make assumptions based on what you see. Assumption clouds your judgement and it is like termites in any relationship; it eats insidiously into the core foundation of any relationship without showing the damage until one day, the relationship falls.

Guest Writer.

A post graduate in Psychology; Oyinkan loves people and is an optimist, sometimes to the point of annoyance. The glass is half full period!

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