Generators: the thin line between sanity and insanity

I had a rough weekend. Thanks to sleepless nights. I am a light sleeper and any little sound keeps me up. This time around, it wasn’t a little sound that kept me up but rather the generator noise from the house next to mine. I am silently praying that my neighbour’s generator gives up the ghost real soon!

A long time ago I wrote on generators and why I considered them evil but necessary. I have been meaning to write on the psychological effects of generators but then I got too busy and forgot completely when for about 6 weeks or thereabout after Buhari was declared president, NEPA (PHCN) was gracious enough to keep the power on and the need to use generators across Lagos died a temporary death.

Everyone thought the power misery was over. Most people knew, some felt it was the Buhari effect. My friends concluded that PHCN was scared of Buhari’s fire as he doesn’t stand for corruption and the likes and that many politicians were going to end up in jail. Really? Sweet!

In recent weeks however, NEPA (I just prefer calling them NEPA) has been really mean. When I first heard the phrase “I better pass my neighbour” (meaning I am better than my neighbour), I never really understood what it meant.

I am not sure if it is a common saying in Nigeria, but that is what my sister calls them little extremely noisy generators that people have on all night. Apparently, they are extremely cheap to run and most people use them to have power all night. I find that a horrible nightmare! My neighbours have many of them and my nights have been really bad of late and there is little I can do about it.

Ear plugs? I personally find them uncomfortable to use. Each time I have a bad night, all I can think of is sleep deprivation and what damage it is probably doing to me. Safety-wise I am ok for now. I don’t have a boss to answer to so I can afford to stay in bed and catch good sleep in the morning when those evil tiny generators around me have gone quiet except on rare occasions when I have an early meeting or appointment to keep. I found that some people can sleep even if there was war going on all around them so I am guessing many people are used to this noise by now and possibly sleep soundly. Me? Get used to them? Maybe in my next life.

The annoying part if it all is when the fuel is nearly gone, the generator suddenly starts screaming more and more for a few minutes before it dies. It is sad how that noise especially dying screaming noise stays in my head hours after the generator has gone off. I just kind of keep hearing the sound.

Ever noticed how after you turn off a loud radio or leave a concert you still think you can hear the music? If sound stays with you after listening to pleasant music that you love, then imagine how the sound of generators must feel in your head! Horrifying! Most nights when I am faced with this torture, I just lay in bed looking at the ceiling and truly begging God to send me some power (light). Sometimes amazingly, He answers. Sometimes He send me sleep instead. Most times I feel anger rise inside me – like why do I have to “suffer” so much for nothing?!

Do you know how bad this noise is for you? Without repeating myself, please read this post. Noise can lead to hearing loss – maybe not this kind noise but there are other hearing defects such as tinnitus that you can get from noise.

People who live in proper serviced apartments and in posh areas probably don’t know what I am on about. I have used the phrase “proper serviced apartments” because though my place claims to be serviced and we pay for it, the only thing we don’t suffer for is water.

We have it most of the time and only ask for it to be pumped when it suddenly seizes to flow out of the tap. When you ask for it to be pumped which happens when NEPA is at it again, the guards have to put on a generator to have the water pumped. Now this generator isn’t “I better pass my neighbour” but it is equally noisy and is always placed next to my window. This stays on for about an hour. An hour of hell!

When I newly moved in, I didn’t know the reason why the generator was even put on in the first place and why it was the guards putting it on – like why can’t they just have it close to their guardhouse?! So one day I called one of them and complained bitterly. His reply? “Aunty, na for pump water”. My heart broke that day. I knew I had to accept it after all we need water, right?

Now don’t get me wrong. I am equally guilty as I have a small gen (certainly not I better pass my neighbour) and it is also noisy (certainly not as noisy as I better pass my neighbour). I always shut my windows to keep the noise out. Sometimes I hear the noise, sometimes I successfully shut it out but I am always concerned that it is being a nuisance!

Clearly I am not committing any crime but for how long? How long do we continue to live like animals? The Government has always failed us – that is our main problem. They have oil marketer friends. They gave generator seller friends. They as a weird unholy trinity are truly dealing with Nigerians.

They have chosen profits over our Safety (generators I will always consider them unsafe no matter what the “experts” tell me), profits over our Health and profits over our Sanity. Make I no come craze one day o (meaning – Hope I don’t run mad on day). I am truly hoping and praying that with Buhari on the seat and with Oga Fashola as Minister of Power and 2 other things 😉 that we will begin to see huge changes (me feeling really optimistic).

Not forgetting the present fuel situation. Ogas do something o (refering to our leaders). I beg. (Now I think I am beginning to lose it! 🙂 )


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