I take a walk each morning, carrying a large stainless-steel cup that holds an entire pot of coffee. My husband carries gloves and puts them on to do burpees. Sometimes he sprints. My husband manages to turn a mild walk into a gruelling athletic experience. I would prefer to stroll but he enjoys urging me along as if I’m a cow driven into a slaughterhouse.
I sip my coffee and catch up to him whenever he races off. When we manage to maintain the same pace during our walk, we chat, share ideas, and discuss our children.
Recently a woman we know named Tolagbe walked past us as my husband was doing push-ups by a construction site. I was sitting on a ledge, seeing if the clouds held any interesting shapes. She looked from me to him, wagging a finger at us. “Shouldn’t you be doing what he’s doing?”
I studied my husband, horrified. “I can’t do that,” I said. Tolagbe is unaware that I am a delicate flower. My husband is rugged and athletic. If I tried to match my husband’s pace, I might as well run straight to the morgue.
A shared pleasure is seeing the odd bit of Lagos wildlife. During our walk, my husband and I have spotted crabs, snails, frogs, rats, hawks, goats, peacocks, doves, rams, cows, turkeys, dogs, chickens, and guinea fowl. It goes without saying that there are feral cats. We see them eating out of garbage bins, fishing from the gutters and winding their way through driveways where gatemen congregate.
No one feeds these cats but they thrive. They skulk and forage, evading dogs and birds of prey. My husband reminds me of an outdoor cat. He can survive anywhere. He is hardy and clever. I, however, am an indoor cat. I have no claws, so if you wrong me, rather than attacking, I’ll mewl. I’m accustomed to food being placed into my bowl, metaphorically speaking. I want to be petted and indulged and when my rich, eccentric owner dies, I expect to be willed the entire estate. Eventually, I will drop dead of cat obesity but then I will be resurrected since I have nine lives.
I don’t want to be this way, however. I want to be like my husband, someone with an affinity for the outdoors. But even before 2020, our house was where I worked and lazed while my kids were at school and my husband was at the office. I’ve always worked remotely, and the pandemic magnified my tendency to stay indoors.
This year, when Tannaz, the founder of Lost in Lagos, invited me along to restaurant tastings, my pre-pandemic favourite pastime, I always found an excuse.
Then came a new development. After years of pressure, my husband finally caved. He agreed to get the family a puppy. Then he agreed to a second puppy to keep the first puppy company.
It has been mad trying to raise two puppies into dog-hood. I am awake at the crack of the dawn yanked by two leashes, as two not very clever canines try to run in different directions. After a delicious kibble breakfast, the dogs and I sit in the backyard of our house for much of the day. I have never spent more time outside.
I always wanted to be someone with an easy mastery of the outdoors, and now, it’s happened. Here is the secret. My horror of animals pooping inside my home outweighs my displeasure at leaving my house. To go from being an indoor to an outdoor cat, just have a healthy distaste of faeces and adopt two very dumb dogs.
Mona Zutshi Opubor is an Indian-American and Nigerian short story author and memoirist. She is studying for her MSt in Literature and Arts at the University of Oxford.
Read more at www.monazutshiopubor.com
A victim of the 2020 lockdown, LiVE! Lounge had to delay its grand opening until restrictions...