Free Pass

You might get a free pass that day when you show Him why you didn’t believe. With many brilliant theorems, arguments and proofs you might convince Him that He couldn’t have been.

I will never be in that place, capable of denying the wonders of His grace. I have seen Him work through my despair, rescue me and answer my prayers. He has touched my flesh and saved my soul, I would sooner deny myself than let that lie be told.

God is real, though our human minds may not have the range or receptors to seek Him out. But in my heart I know without a doubt, His love and mercy found my mouth. You might get a free pass that day but I must testify of what I know, God is real and good to me.

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Things The Book You Don’t Write Will Never Do

I don’t know
what the book you write will do
but I know the book you do not write
will never win a Man Booker, a Baileys, a Kirkus or a 9Mobile
will never top a list or close a list
will never be a book club rave
kindling debate and speculation the world over
will never have a sequel
never be a movie
or a series
or a franchise
It will make you no millions
earn you no fans
birth you no rivals
It will not make a reviewer shudder with delight
or squirm in pain
it will never be quoted
book-spine story stacked
photographed, venerated, or vilified
It will never gladden a heart or fill one with rage
It will cause no laughter, awe, anguish or shame
It won’t spark friendships between strangers
build bridges between daughter and father
create kinship between old and young
It will do none of these things
That I guarantee.

Forsaking All Others

 

“Some people can’t forgive infidelity, but you would wouldn’t you? I mean what is a little unfaithfulness between soul mates?”

I leaned back in the plush pillows savouring my seedless grapes as I admired Eka, my beautiful wife while waiting for her response. Standing by the windows of our honeymoon suite she was a picture of poise and perfection. Her honey coloured skin, generous figure and cherubic face turned heads everywhere we went. Everyday other men told me how lucky I was, as if I didn’t know that.

Her laughter was shrill, filled with amusement and certainty. “Akan, you will never cheat on me.” And with that she left the window to the her laptop where she shopped, blogged and chatted.

In my entire life, I had never been faithful to a woman. I had never loved a person in exclusion of others, sometimes I liked to think I was polyamorous. At other times I told myself the hard truth: I was a fickle, selfish man ruled by his desires, but such times were rare. I liked to settle for flings, have friends with benefits, be the side-guy to rich women whose husbands were inadequate, roles that offered all of the fun with none of the commitment.

Before Eka, I had just two real girlfriends: Aduke, who left me to marry an eighty year old Canadian man and Nneka whose wedding I stumbled on one Saturday while watching TV. And even during those relationships I had never said no to the occasional roll in the box, moan in the dark, kiss in the hallway.

As an estate manager, I had a lot of time on my hands. Time I spent overseeing housing projects for wealthy clients and chasing women. Most of the projects were successfully delivered but the women were another matter. I didn’t mind though, the game was the game.

When I met Eka, I thought it would be another sexcapade for the history books. She came to see how well her aunt’s house was going.

“You have made so much progress! Aunty Ima will be so pleased, at this rate she will be able to move in by Christmas,” she said walking through the rooms and inspecting the property. I listened and nodded while she went on about workmen and wiring, all I could think of was how good her hips would look, spread out on my bed.

I asked her on a date and she said yes. Soon we were talking and chatting like we knew each other all our lives. She refused to sleep with me, however. No matter how long or hard I begged. I gave up after a while, my side gigs were still on and I never liked sex with a reluctant partner. It reminded me of necrophillia.

Over time we settled into an easy rhythm of weekend dates, daily phone calls and a never-ending chat. When she proposed to me, I said yes.

We were married in a small intimate ceremony in a little church at Lekki. My parents were late and so were hers so there was no one to stampede our idea with an elaborate African reception party with a football stadium filled with guests.

My guys made fun of me and my new status. Gbenga, my best man, led the taunts; swirling his beer glass in front of his pot-belly, “Akan, you are finished, nothing nice for you,” he said, swaying slightly, “Okro soup, morning noon and night. Even Okro soup snacks.”

The rest of the groomsmen laughed at his vulgar humour but I was annoyed. “At least it is my own Okro soup, I have no fear of Jedi-Jedi and other diseases,” I answered frowning slightly. The retort was a low jab at Gbenga’s recent incurable Gonorreah scare. He’d caught the bug from a one night stand and it had only been susceptible to Imipenem, a crazily expensive antibiotic. My barb hit home and he glowered at me over his drink.

“Leave story!” Taiwo said with a smirk. “This one no fit last two weeks. One week and e go dey find tasting up and down.”

“Haba!” Said Ikenna, “You no try for my guy, this is a changed man, transformed by the power of love and the support of a good woman. I am sure he’ll be faithful for at least three hundred and sixty. Minutes.” And they all burst into fits of belly-shaking laughter.

Listening to laughter ringing in my head, realising how true it was, infuriated me, I left my drink on the centre table and went to find other guests to mingle with, useless groomsmen.

*

 

One of the things that had made me say yes was Eka’s job. She worked as a surveillance engineer for an international oil company on an oil rig. The job paid well and came with six weeks of annual paid vacation but those were asides. What mattered most was the intermittent nature of her job schedule: two weeks on, two weeks off. Fourteen whole days! Where I was free to jump, hop, skip and cartwheel anywhere and anyhow I pleased.

I saw this as a blessing, so when she said I would never cheat on her, I made up my mind to keep things as discrete as possible. I was flawed, no saint, but I didn’t want anyone miserable on my account. I did have a wandering eye but it didn’t mean I should have a callous heart. I also made up my mind to keep all my exploits safe: no rubber, no lover style.

Our honeymoon was a pleasant blur of plush hotels, great food and mediocre sex. Eka was inexperienced and unwilling to experiment. I cursed myself for buying the no premarital sex scam and counted the days to her resumption. Then, finally, it was over. Eka was gone for two weeks and I was free to frolick.

My immediate target was a young lady in the estate I managed who ran a small hair saloon in front and drinks/water business behind her flat. She had dropped out from a Diploma program when her parents could no longer afford fees. She was single, slender, not very pretty, but there was something about the way she greeted me that made me feel wanted, gave me hope. Her name was Peace and she was from Delta state. Not that it mattered really, she could have come from Zamfara, Cameroun even, it wouldn’t have changed much.

The first week, I drove by regularly and stopped to gist a little. I asked how business was doing, I helped with minor repairs around the flat. I bought drinks and let her keep the change.

The next week, I stopped at her place and bought drinks for her and her girl. I drew her outside and she smiled shyly while I asked how she was and what her plans were that evening. She would be going for choir practice, she said, but what about the weekend? Would I be free on Friday? There was a nice, new club she wanted to visit, would I like to come along? Of course I would. We talked a little more before we parted amicably, but not before I had given her some pocket money and she had given me a peck.

The countdown to Friday was on.

I spoke to Eka everyday. I told her how I missed her (this was true, our three-bedroom apartment was as lonely as a graveyard), how I couldn’t wait for her to come back (a lie, I could wait, I had a date), how my efforts to find her a tabby cat were going (pretty bad, there were Bull Dogs, German Shepherds, parrots even, but no cats).

When I got to Peace’s place on Friday she was waiting for me. I could barely recognise her in the skintight electric blue dress and party makeup she had on. She hopped into the passenger seat, handed me a chilled can of Orijin and we zoomed off.

The club was overflowing but we found our way in and got more drinks. We danced a bit and I whispered my plans for the rest of the evening into her ears. She nodded with a faint smile on her lips and I felt a jolt in my loins. Holding her hand, I made my way towards the door.

Halfway there, I heard someone shout “Where you dey carry my woman? Ufuoma, who is this?” Looking up, I saw a muscular man at least half a foot taller than I was blocking the exit. I was still wondering who he was talking to when he grabbed my shirt and lifted me off the ground.

“Abel, stop this now, wetin dey worry you?” Ufuoma/ Peace said clutching the man’s shirt.

“Just shut up! Ufuoma, so this is the man you left me for? I fit just waste am here.” Abel said glaring at me with red eyes.

“Ab, relax, abeg,” Ufuoma said and Abel let go of my shirt. With that he turned around and hoisted Ufuoma on his shoulder, he wanted to march past me, I blocked his path, “Guy, you dey craze?” I asked him.

I woke up spluttering outside in a pool of water with some teenage boys fanning me and dousing me with water. The story came in trickles. Peace’s Uroboho name was Ufuoma, she translated it to the English version when she came to Lagos. Abel and her had left the village together to seek a better future in Lagos. They had been going steady for years, on and off, mostly because Ufuoma wanted him to stop drinking and get a steady job and he wouldn’t hear of it. Ufuoma was eager to move on but Abel wouldn’t let go, he swore she would either marry him stay or single. I was lucky to have fainted after the first punch he gave me. That had satisfied him and he left me alone. The last guy he saw with Ufuoma hadn’t been so fortunate, he lost two teeth and a finger.

Somehow, I made my way home and buried my head in an ice-pack. Two days later, Eka was back.

She took one look at my swollen face and made a clucking sound, “these terrible area boys, sorry my love, let me fix you some peppersoup.” I surrendered myself to her ministrations. Somehow, I got Ufuoma out of my mind. Somehow, two weeks passed and it was time for Eka’s crew change again.

On her way out, she walked up to me, looked at me for a minute, gave me a peck, and made for the door.

“Won’t you ask me to be a good boy?” I said, making a lame attempt at some morbid humour.

Again she laughed, “You can never cheat on me honey, I need to go so I don’t miss my flight.” And with that she walked out of the door.

Since Operation Peace had been a colossal flop, I decided to go for something more straightforward. Picking a girl off the street seemed extreme so I decided to look for a runs girl instead. Someone who traded her pleasures on the side while holding a day job or pursuing an education, they were said to be pricier but worth the effort. A few discrete enquiries and I was given a name and a number

Stella picked once the phone rang. She was happy to hear from me and what do you know, she stayed in Lekki too. We made a date for Wednesday and I ended the call smiling. On Wednesday she called to say she had to cancel, could we move it to Saturday evening? I was upset but I played cool, of course we could. We agreed to meet at a the Prime hotel bar by 6pm. I was seated by 5:30pm.

Nothing prepared me for Stella, she was funny and sexy and intelligent too. She smelled of flowers, vanilla and dreams come true. Her pink shorts showed off her lovely legs in the most lustful way. I began to wonder if I had settled into marriage too soon. I began to wonder if I could ever truly settle for one person at all.

We shared drinks and talked about sports, books and music. She told me she was into business but she wouldn’t say more. I told her I was a farmer and we both laughed.

Soon we found our way upstairs to a small but cosy single room. I began to kiss her and she responded eagerly. We undressed each other quickly and pulled of my boxers. Stella took one look at me and let out a scream. I was shocked and confused, her screams were still ringing in my ears as she hastily pulled on her clothes, grabbed her bag and left me in the room naked.

That is when I look down at myself. There on my pubic region were clusters of large angry-looking boils. I stared at them in disbelief. I had my bath before coming and there had it been a trace of them then. My erection disappeared and I slowly wore my clothes. My head was aching. The boils were beginning to hurt.

At the clinic, the doctor listened to my story with a smirk. “Mr Akan James, I have run this clinic for ten years and while I wont say you are lying, the history you have given is highly unlikely. I am placing you on medication for a week. Make sure you abstain during that period. Bring your partners for counselling and testing. Be more careful.” And with that Dr Dosumu saw me out of his office.

Over the next one week the boils cleared. Eka came back and I was in prison again. I served my time with honour: cooking my share of the meals, dressing up for silly parties here and there, reading the books Eka bought for me. I could sense she wanted me to make some amorous moves towards her but I just couldn’t, she was more of a sister to me at that point but I didn’t want to rock the boat or spoil anything. Sisters are forever, right?

One week into her time off she was called to cover for a colleague. I feigned annoyance while I threw a mini-tantrum, “how dare they call you up after just one week? Don’t they know you have a family? When are we meant to have time together? How are we meant to have a baby?! I yelled at the top of my lungs and threw my shirt on the rug.

Eka picked it up and walked over to rub my shoulders, “it is okay. It is just for a week honey, I’ll be back in no time.”

I pretended to fuss and fume while she did all she could to placate me. Riding on all the drama we managed to have sex that night but it was still boring and wooden.

When I woke up the next morning Eka was gone. On the fridge was a note:

 

Honey,

Couldn’t wake you, you were so cute asleep.

Your favourite soup is in the freezer.

I’ll call once I arrive.

Love,

Eka

 

Ps: Please don’t try any of that again, for your own safety, I love you.

 

My stomach sank, I say slowly on the nearest chair and read the note again. Eka knew. Or did she? What was that? And why didn’t she bring it up throughout her stay?

Anger, fear and disbelief swirled in me like a boiling stew. Determined to brush it all aside I tore up the note and made myself a cup of coffee, as hot as hell and as black as midnight and sat back to plan my next move.

Since Eka was due back in a week I didn’t have much time to plan or plot anything elaborate. Girls in the estate were out as were any strange women. Our people say that old firewood burns fast, keeping this in mind, I called one of my previous partners, Halima.

Halima was married but I had often warmed her bed when I was single and her rich husband was away on business trips. Usually, I just had to flash, once she saw my called ID– The Tailor– she would find a way to reach me when all was clear.

I called and waited. Two days no reply from her. Three days, no word still. On the fourth day she called and picked quickly, giddy with gladness. I froze when I heard a man’s voice, ” Don’t ever call this number again or I will make your balls into testicle suya, your eyes and internal organs into assorted peppersoup. You have been warned.” I dropped the phone gently and tried to quell the shiver in my bones.

Disappointed and miffed, I decided to go hangout with my guys. Ikenna was out of town but Gbenga, Taiwo and some of the other groomsmen where around. They had already ordered the first round of drinks, I asked for a Heineken and took a seat. They were discussing the Nigerian police how corrupt they were, how useless the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) had become, how they beat up innocent citizens and targeted young men with beards and tattoos. I nursed my drink in silence, I didn’t have any personal experience with the Nigerian police. It all sounded kind of anecdotal to me. My dealings with the police didn’t go beyond giving them the N200 they asked for when I drove into the estate. Soft work.

The girl serving drinks came with the next round of orders. She smiled at me and winked. I looks away but I could feel myself respond. Gbenga had seen it too. “Ah! Mr A, that one like you oh! How far I know say be now you don even forget the vows, e no easy!” He exclaimed chucking into his glass.

“Gb, mind yourself,” I replied, my eyes subtly following the girls figure as she strutted across the grounds. There were possibilities there, I thought to myself. If only I could get some one alone…

My prayers were answered as Gbenga’s phone rang. An emergency in his office–he was needed right away– Taiwo had to follow him because he didn’t drive. After he left, the others began to leave as well, soon it was just I and free drinker at the table. I left in search of the girl.

She asked me to call her Pepe. And pepper she was, in the next four hours, she took me places I had never been and showed me things I had never seen. It was like being born in heaven, over and over again, like a feast of all your favourite foods cooked to perfection, like being made into a cup, filled to overflowing with pleasure.

After about the seventh round, I managed to find my way back into my car. It was almost midnight, I thought about spending the night with Pepe but mini- slum didn’t look too safe and home was just 15 minutes away. Basking in the euphoria of a successful evening, I pressed a little too hard on the accelerator, when noticed a motorbike crossing the street ahead, it was too late.

My Honda Baby Boy was totalled, the bike man was without a scratch. I broke my femur, I had bruises from head to toe but that was the least of it. I felt numb in my waist and later the doctors told me I might never have an erection again.

Eka took time off work and when she saw me in the hospital wrapped like a mummy she held me and whispered “Why honey? Why? Didn’t I tell you not to try?”

The Agbada That Shook The World

Some people say the Agbada only shook Lekki but I disagree.

Last weekend in a star-studded. celebrity-flooded wedding two Nollwood stars Banky W and Adesuwa tied the knot in a beautiful traditional marriage ceremony. Fans and friends were delighted and social media was filled with warm wishes for the two. One of the guests to the wedding was Ebuka Obi-Uchendo a writer, TV host, lawyer and compère; and he was the guest who wore The Agbada. Since then the Agbada has been called many names including AgbadaX, Ebuka’s Agbada and Agbada-Kimono. But more importantly it has brought a maelstrom of activity to both social and traditional media.

At first glance, it is hard to see what the rave is about, the garment was quite simple, not a glimmer of bling in sight, no flamboyant wings, no multicolour layers, no sequins or beads; but a combination of factors made this garment the talk of the world.

First of all, the AgbadaX was made from an exquisite fabric rumoured to have cost at least fifty thousand naira. It was a luxurious purple colour, reminiscent of royalty. To create a garment like that, the same fabric or something very close is necessary. Many wannabee owners of the AgbadaX are already trying to recreate the look without this vital component, the outcome? Disasters.

Secondly the AgbadaX was made by none other than the renowned fashion designer and trendsetter Ugo Monye. Sources say the AgbadaX was made for 280 thousand naira. Only. They also say Ugo has been making clothes for the very rich for close to two decades. It is clear that he brought his wealth of talent and experience into crafting this signature piece, anyone expecting similar results from a roadside tailor has booked a date with disappointment.

Thirdly, the garment was worn by Ebuka, a tall, dark, fit, handsome man with celebrity status and over 200 thousand Twitter followers. In a word, carriage, Ebuka brought carriage to the AgbadaX and transformed the garment from being just another asoebi to a true work of art.

And of course there were other factors, the excellent photograph by the yet unknown photographer who got just the right shit at just the right angle and  whose work has since gone viral, the dry cleaner( some one said the ironing was done in Malaysia 😂), and the Twitter influencers, On-Air-Personalities, Vloggers and Bloggers who have kept the hype raging for days. So many different factors coming together to create an effect that will not be duplicated soon.

In the wake of this iconic garment, there have sprung a flurry of responses, actions and reactions:

Ugo Monye’s Instagram followers hip has gone from four thousand to twenty-two thousand overnight.

A certain Yinka, a tailor has promised his client he can reproduce the garment. And bets are already being cast about the outcome.

A colleague of Ugo Monye’s, Seyi Vodi has advised against any form of copying or reproduction of the iconic piece calling it a “mind blowing piece of art.”

A feminist blogger has accused Ebuka of employing male privilege, trying to outshine the groom and some other patriarchy related offences.

A failed attempt at recreating the garment has already been posted and was thoroughly lambasted on Twitter.

The Agbada already has a Twitter handle and can be reached @EbukasAgbada

One can’t help but wonder what will happen next on the AgbadaX Diary but one thing is for sure, this is one Agbada that won’t be forgotten in a while.

Ex From Hell 1

I came back from work to meet my wife sitting on the verandah with her ex. Not just any ex, but Nathan. The one she couldn’t forget and always compared me to. The one that was taller, sexier and better hung; my nightmare.

They didn’t look up as I walked past.

The kids ran to me and I scooped them up and planted kisses on their cheeks. As I walk-hopped to the kitchen, they told me how their day went: Akan had an extra star for excellence in maths, Akem learnt a new stroke in swimming.

I microwaved yam porridge and chicken and ate it in bitter silence. I wanted to go to them and disrupt their little chit-chat. I wanted to call the police. But Nathan was taller than I was and probably stronger, the police would only laugh at me, extort me and add me to their stories- that- touch- the- heart files. Nah.

I put the children to bed and walked into my bedroom to find Nathan and my wife there.
“Hi Victor”
“Hi, get out of my house!”
“Easy,” Nathan said holding up his hands in mock surrender and in that moment I hated him more than I knew was possible. I wanted to make him scream and squirm in pain, I wanted to wipe his memory from the face of the earth in the cruelest, slowest possible way. I took deep breaths and gripped a chair to steady myself.

“Let’s take this outside, Nikki is asleep, she needs some rest.”

I scowled at him but left the room to the sitting room and slumped into a chair. Nathan walked up to the fridge and got himself a can of beer and tossed me one. I caught it and dropped it on the side stool in front of me, “I don’t drink.”

“Then why do you have them in the house?”

I ignored him.

He opened his, drank it all in one everlasting gulp and dumped the can on the floor. “So, Victor, I have come to take back Nikki.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, for starters, she is mine. Yes I loaned her to you for a while but I want her back. I need her back. She was the only woman I have ever loved and I have spent the last eight years looking for her in everyone, everywhere. When she was right here. I want her back and I am here to take her.”

“Get out of my house!”

“Please. You have said that already and it didn’t work. I am not leaving until I get what I came for, with your blessing of course. I ll give you some time to get used to the idea and say your goodbyes. Tidy up your accounts. Have some farewell sex. Whatever. But in three days I am leaving and taking Nikki with me.”

With that he got up and walked into my guest room and locked the door.

I ran upstairs and tiptoed in to the bedroom, Nikki was fast asleep. I got into the bed beside her and stared at the ceiling long into the night.
*

The next morning I woke up late. Nikki was gone and in her place was a brief note on rose coloured paper:

Good morning Love,
I am off to work. I have taken the kids to Mama. Food is in the warmer in the table.
Love you,
N

I jumped out of the bed and bounded down the steps two at a time, I was hungry and curious, was Nathan gone too?

Nathan was in the dining room, polishing off my breakfast. He belched noisily when he saw me. A volcanic rage began to bubble inside me.

“Morning Vic, I figured you could do with some intermittent fasting.” He laughed at his lame joke.

“What are you …”

“Oh this? Thanks man. Who would have known we were the same size in T-shirts. It is more of a singlet on me but whatever.”

“You will not wear my clothes and you will not eat my food!”

“Duh. Already done. But there is cornflakes if you care.”

I grabbed the cereal bowl and made a plate.

“I have been thinking, we need to find a gentleman’s solution to this problem. A mutually amicable way to let all parties leave the scene with some decorum.
Do you play chess?”

“No”

“Can you shoot?”

“Never held a gun in my life.”

“Table tennis?”

I stood up and banged the table sending a table mat flying. “Look, Nat or Rat or whatever you call yourself, I am a busy man with things to do and people to see. I don’t have time for this. Don’t have time for you. And if you don’t mind I would really appreciate you leaving my house, my life and my wife.

Nathan doubled over with laughter. He held his sides and panted for a while with tear streaming down his eyes.

“Listen, you aren’t going anywhere. I called your office to tell them you won’t be coming because you have monkey pox. I am not interested in your house or your life. But Nikki is mine, she promised me she would love me forever and I did the same. So, if you don’t mind, waddle back upstairs and get dressed. We have a long day ahead of us.”

A small chill ran down my back. My hands began to itch and as I scratched small pustules appeared.

“Oh, don’t worry about the rash, it is benign, just a a little reminder of who is boss here. Hurry up.”

I rushed a bath and watched in horror as the rash spread over my chest and back. My joints ached too and the anger I felt was now a stream running through my veins like lava. I hobbled downstairs where Nathan was waiting beside the TV.

 

“Good. Sit down. I want to tell you a story.”

I found a chair as far away from him as possible and wrapped myself under a blanket like a mummy.

“Once upon a time, there was a young man whose parents died before he was ten. He passed from uncle to uncle until he became fifteen and ran away from home. He found a job as a house boy for an old man who paid for his education. Then he met the sweetest, most beautiful lady ever…”

“Let me guess, Nikki.”

“Exactly, and they would have lived happily ever after if the boy didn’t bungle some things and have to disappear for a while but that is history.

Now the boy has a chance to live happily ever after with his princess and the only impediment to that blissful future is you. So what do we do about you?

At first, I thought of killing you, a nice clean shot on your way home and then slicing off your ears and balls to make it look like rituals. But I thought nah, this man is a gentleman, a reasonable man, he ain’t never done Nikki dirty. He has been good.

Then I considered a kidnap. Nice and quick. One day you are quarreling over how salty food is and the next day Poof! She is gone. But where is the beauty in that? Eh? Where is the class?

So now I come to you as a man. Let Nikki go and I will walk away and you will never see me again. What do you say?”

Asterisked

Idomo surveyed the list of humans he was assigned to destroy with a malevolent gleam in his eyes. It was a long list, six thousand, six hundred and sixty-six beings long. He had all kinds of deliciously wicked things planned for them: accidents, chronic sicknesses, retrenchment, heartbreak, disappointments, and massive crop failures; even a suicide or two. He enjoyed bringing doom on the human race, but nothing gave him as much pleasure as getting a saint to stumble. And no saint on his list had been harder to tackle that the one listed as number seven – Edima Usoro.

He snarled as he asterisked her name and his ugly face turned grotesque.
How he hated that woman. Sometimes the sheer force of his loathing would shrivel his toe-claws and make his insides froth with frustration. It was useless; he could do little to harm her. Her hedge of protection was impenetrable; there were no Bitterness holes or Hatred gutters to climb in through. Her company of angels were vigilant and alert; each morning she galvanized them with her prayers and confessions. He had been monitoring her for nineteen years and so far nothing he tried had worked. He had to discover a way to trip her before the grand assembly at the Bermuda Pyramid on Friday the 13th. If he didn’t, he would be demoted, made a mere messenger demon and sent to the Sahara desert, a homeless placeless nothingness. He cringed at the thought.

“No” he muttered under his breath.

With a sweep of his arm he summoned a translucent screen and typed in her name and number. Instantly, her entire dossier appeared. He lowered himself to sit on one of the giant branches of the Udara tree he was perched on and studied the dossier with a frown.

Edima Usoro was a thirty four year old spinster who taught Literature in Graceland Secondary school, Abak, Akwa Ibom State. She had lost both parents in an auto crash when she was nine and spent most of her teen years in domestic servitude. At fourteen she caught tuberculosis and was scheduled for termination in three days. A travelling evangelist sensed the hit and spent a week prayerfully looking for her. He found her huddled on a mat coughing up globules of blood. He had shared the good news with her and healed her of the disease. Things were never the same after that. He had estimated that she would be excited for a month or two before returning to lap up her vomit as many did. He was wrong. Nineteen years later she was still burning with love for The Maker and his people… Unforgivable.

Like every of these earthen treasure carriers, she had her struggles, weaknesses and mistakes. The problem was she never built a tent there. She was prompt to repent when she did or said anything incriminatory. She bore no grudges and even dared to forgive people in advance. Even when he got those hard to come by permits to throw a rough spot her way it did nothing. She merely prayed more, gave more and sang praises while she was at it.

He HATED this girl!

She made being a demon hard, hapless, harrowing work.

He had to find a way, he needed a break through. Time was running out faster than a flickering candle. He needed to devise a plan that would work. These were the most desperate of times and they called for the most devilish measures. There was just one thing he could think of. The one thing she still felt shame, guilt, confusion and fear about. The thing she had not soaked in prayers or saturated in daily confessions. The thing she scarcely understood, yet garbled with daily: her sexuality.

Technically she was a virgin but he knew she fantasized about sexual pleasure. She wanted a man. Not just any man though, but one that was strong, honest, intelligent, well to do, sexy and fun to be with. A godly man that would slay her dragons, father her children and treat her like a queen. Someone that would change diapers, take her to see the Obudu Cattle Ranch, give her foot rubs when she got home from the market , teach her a few things about love making and romance. She wanted a cultured man from around those parts who knew his way in the world but wasn’t trapped in it. She wanted a lover, brother, father and friend.

Idomo toggled over to her wants and a faint smile lit up his face. There was a chance after all. She wasn’t an angel, she was a woman. She had a crazy wish list but at least she wanted something. All he had to do was fan that desire and provide a suitable object for its expression. Luciferiously, Biology and Physiology were on his side, they had awakened parts of her she hadn’t even known existed. Her nesting instincts, her sexual impulses, and her desire to feel loved…. all of this was creating the perfect environment for his plan. All he had to do was find the man, one that was a good imitation of her outrageously impossible imagined man. He needed a man good enough to arouse her attention, but bad enough to do his bidding. The trouble was, there were few men like that in the entire South-south region. Most of such men were either working themselves to the bone in the major cities like Warri Uyo and Port Harcourt too busy to take up the demands of courtship, or serving un-noticed in some out of the way locations. They were caught up in the daily grind, slaving for the elusive naira, catering for aged parents, loving the wrong women, ending up jaded, bitter, broken….

Luckily, he had not left his fate to demographics. He had expected this sort of challenge with Edima and prepared accordingly. He knew just the man for the job: Marcus Ekanem Ekpe.

Marcus Ekpe was a forty year old Electrical engineer with a 200 mega watt smile and a natural way with words. The third born and only son in a family of five children he knew more about women than many knew about themselves. He worked for Vodacotel an international Telecommunications company with major operations in the Niger Delta as a Site Engineer. He was 5 ft 10 inches, coconut-shell brown, well built, good-looking in an under stated way and great company. He was a ladies’ man, serial monogamist and one time church boy. He loved the thrill of conquering women that played hard to get. He knew the routine and relished it. Marcus was a hunter who loved every part of the chase. His friends called him the Bullet, he scarcely missed his mark. They even liked to joke that an easy girl was like an antelope that willingly collapsed at a hunters feet; probably old and riddled with incurable disease.

Idomo clapped and his work screen vanished. He knew what had to be done. He had to get Marcus sent to set up the new Vodacotel Telecommunications mast at Abak. It had to be at the start of the long holidays around July 27th. Edima had to be in the middle of her cycle when her hormones were most volatile. Marcus had to have enough cash to fund his seductions so his arrears and upfront allowances had to be paid in full by August 1st. Eno his current babe had to be out of sight and out of touch, aha! NYSC posting to Birrin Kebbi would be just the thing.

One thing still bothered him though.

What if The Maker revealed his plans to her beforehand? How in creation was he going to stop that?

*

Republished with permission

The Making of an Overlord

You will begin by opening an account. There will be no ‘conventionally beautiful’ pictures in your gallery so you will use one of Tiger Woods. When the scandal breaks you will change this quickly to Chiwetel Ejiofor, who wan die?

You will try to think of usernames but everything you come up with will already be taken. You will look longingly at the three letter handles and snobbishly at those filled with numbers and symbols. Finally you ll settle on something with a few extra letters thrown in. Tundrrr isn’t your first pick but you can live with it.

Your handle will attract a modest following, but that is over stating things. You have ninety followers but you know that half are bots. You ll agree to all the follow suggestions, attaching yourself to the feeds of several celebrities. They won’t follow you back. Soon you ll have a sense of worthlessness.

You will consider closing the account. You will even close it briefly before resurrecting it just in time, nothing will change.

One day in a fit of existential boredom you will wander into your account settings and begin fiddling with possible name changes. No one knows your name or your face, you can be anyone.

You decide to be pretty young girl, unemployed and naive. You call yourself Tola and change your username to sexxxxygirl and find a black little known pornstar’s picture and affix it. Your header changes from a rural football field to a lush black and velvet boudir.

You unfollow all the celebrities and follow similar handles instead: bustyBerve, greedypunta, xxxxxfroreal, hotcreamyfun.

The first thing that stuns you is the decorum. In this dark end of the street, everyone is polite. Good morning tweets are replied with kisses. Everyone is boo, sweetie and baby. All bodies and indeed all booties matter and every one gets likes and share.

You are still trying to fathom this when a miracle happens.

You get followed. Not by bots and company reps but by real people all over the world. They compliment your hair, your nails, your smile. They want to meet you, chat with you, sit out and have drinks with you.

Over night they are 2000 strong and counting.

You don’t know what to do. You watch and wait. The numbers keep climbing, 3000, 4000, 7000! Your notifications are paragraphs filled with new handles, many you ll never know or acknowledge.

You decide to play along and see how far it can go: you make some flirting comments, you like some racy posts, you RT some things you shouldn’t have and the numbers just keep swelling.

No one is asking for follow backs, no one is asking you to turn on notifications. No one is asking you to follow and share to be be followed back. It looks too good to be true, but it is. You are a god by now, but you aren’t sure what to do about it.

The you ll meet Trix, or rather trixlickalot and she ll light up your rather dead DMs. She ll tell you all about herself while you equivocate between half truth and full disclosure. You are scared she ll run if she knows you are a guy, but you will keep the friendship going offering help, advice and sometimes money. Not a lot of money but enough to make her squeal and OMG and type thank yous filling your screen with emojis. You toy with telling her your name is Tunde and not Tola, that you are a 5″10 male not a 5″5 female but you send her memes instead.

One night, a post looking for influencers catches your eye and you know what you must do. You change your handle to Progress2019 and follow the political influencers of the day. You get a professional picture taken, properly airbrushed to show you at your most handsome. By noon your alert confirms that you have been paid your first installment of influencing fees.

Trix stumbles into your DMs full of questions hurt and betrayal. You are still composing some kind of explanation when you discover you  can no longer send direct messages to that user.

(She ll forgive you later but not after all kinds of middlemen, peacemakers and go-betweens are sent with entreaties.)

You ll sit back now and exhale. Congratulations, you are now an overlord.

Let Me Tell You About Africa

Shall I tell you of the monkeys and zebra? Which I (and most Africans) have only seen on TV? Perhaps I should tell you of the mud huts and trees which everyone believes we live in, but that would be injustice to my water and electricity bills.

Maybe I should tell you of dirty children with swollen stomaches, mouths covered by flies but that wouldn’t be fair to the ones watching cartoons and quibbling over ice-cream, playing video games on second hand phones.

Aha! I will tell you about the bushes! Dense forest and sprawling jungles, But my grandmother’s farms have made way for the highway and our forests have been felled for estates. All my life I have lived in the city, I couldn’t tell an Iroko tree from a Baobab. I eat cornflakes, bread and pancakes. I have never learned the making of my traditional foods: Asa iwa, ato mboro, atong.

I long to tell you about Africa’s rivers the Nile, Niger and Limpopo. Her ever clement weather, summer all year round! But even I have only seen these rivers in Geography textbooks  and National Geographic documentaries. And the deserts freeze as fast as the snow topped plateaus.

One thing I can tell you about Africa is that she has the most amazing people. People strong despite their troubles, cheerful in the midst affliction, resilient in storm.

In Africa people carry each other. People sing each other’s song. And we dance whenever we can, to the beat of a timeless gong. We brave all odds. We laugh in the face of Death. We are magic, miracle and everything in between.

Africa is her people and her people are her. Ancient as the sea, strong as the mountains, that is what I can tell you of Africa, the rest you must touch, taste and see.

The Nigerian god

The Nigerian god
Worshiped from east to west, revered from north to south, called upon by the believer and unbeliever,
as fickle as her followers, twisted and turned by their imagination, powerless to change hearts or create repentance,
Blind to the evils done in her name, quick to give vengeance,
without scruple, doctrine or creed,
Guardian of the thief,
Guide of the oppressor,
Giver of revenge,
Custodian of curses
Created in the image of her own, changing everyday, recreated in every breath,mirror of the masses,
sand, wind and ashes,
Thunder, fire, lightning upon our foes.

This Is How You Save Yourself

When you were 23 the suitors came in droves. Uko, the Americanah that wanted you to follow him to Huston. Anietie, the local one who owned a row of stores at the market and looked at you like he was inspecting a young nanny-goat. Michael, whose father tapped wine and lived in a small thatch house. Many others whose names you didn’t know because you never met them. They went straight to your father to ask for your hand. Each got the same response.

” Adiaha is still in school. I won’t receive any drinks from any suitors till she is through. Come back next year…”

And so the suitors left. Only they did not come back the next year. Or the next. Two years later your belly was swollen and your monthly flow was like a broken fountain, spurting, gushing, unending. The doctors diagnosed fibroids.

The gynaecologist’s twisted smirk crushed your aching heart.

“I’m sorry Joan. It’s a good girl’s scourge. The bad ones get abortions, the good ones get fibroids. Your womb may not be able to bear after this operation. We are sorry.”

You were tongue-tied, submerged in a pool of questions, doubts and fear. Food lost taste, soon you were going whole days without a meal. Your clothes began to sag then were entirely useless.

Your friends tried to console you. Amina came with her twins in tow and a belly so large it floated ahead of her.

“Joan, don’t let this get to you. You have so much to live for. A beautiful and intelligent girl like you will definitely find love. The doctors who said you won’t have babies are not God. Eat something, anything, please.”

You nodded and promised to try, but her visit just made you feel barren.

Pelumi brought you music, books and perfume but you couldn’t touch any of it, wouldn’t touch any of it. Was a song a man? Was a baby a book? Was the perfume something that made dreams come true?

Terwase cracked jokes at first, but when all he heard was his own hollow laughter he gave up. He sent you airtime instead; it piled up in your phone unused. The next thing you heard he was in England doing his Masters.

Soon the fainting attacks came. One minute you stood by the window watching the chicken strut past and the next you didn’t. You woke up to see your mother crying as she sponged your face and muttered prayers. Your father stood by the doorway with a worried look on his face, gripping his mug of coffee.

You thought of death. You imagined it to be a sweet release, an end to pain, shame and suffering. You traced your fingers over the fibroid op scars and wondered why you were still alive. Was this all? Was this worth it?

When your younger sister Peace brought  her fiancé home they were dressed in matching green kaftans. You smiled through out the introductory visit but already you felt like an old hag. The man never came back though and you as you listened to Peace scream out her pain, you realized it was time to heal. You realized that you had to save yourself, no super heroes would be rescuing you.

You took baby steps. First, you cut your hair and dyed it auburn. Then you began to jog. Your appetite improved and your cheeks filled out. Some old clothes began to fit again. You started yoga and liked it. You tried heavy lifting and hated it. You began to text back your friends.

When you saw the call for volunteer nurses you ignored it but it stayed in your head all day. You applied the next day and forgot all about it. Weeks passed with no reply. Then the email came. You were invited to spend two weeks in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at Malkohi, Adamawa state. You began to sweat and nearly backed out but you didn’t.

The twelve hour ride from Umuahia to Malkohi left you drained and dizzy but the next two weeks were some of the most fulfilling of your life. You made new friends in the make-shift clinic. You tried new foods. You saved lives. And you met Gbenga.

Gbenga worked with an NGO piloting the use of renewable energy in household fuels. He was an inch or two taller than you were, he made you laugh. He said you were the most beautiful person he had ever seen and you believed him.

When the project was over, you didn’t want to leave. You stayed in for one more week and let Gbenga count how many kissed it took to cover your back.

You followed him to Abuja, to his nice little two bedroom flat in Asokoro and his overweight cat called Max. When you visited home a month later your parents said you glowed.

Gbenga called everyday. He wanted you back. He didn’t want to lose you. He even found a job for you in a private hospital.

You were late that month, but you didn’t notice. It wasn’t possible, the doctors had said so. But when you went for a scan eight weeks later there was no mistaking the heart beating furiously on the screen.

You couldn’t tell anyone but you knew you were keeping the baby. You found a job in a clinic and moved to your own place. You weren’t ready when Gbenga showed up at your house one Saturday morning. You cried when he proposed.

You hugged yourself at night and willed time to standstill while Gbenga smiled in his sleep. You didn’t know what would happen next but you were content.

Monica, Money Maker

I wake before dawn and  quickly create the days content for my social media platforms: a short article on “Women Winning at Work” for my blog, some sponsored tweets on a new restaurant to be posted throughout the day, and a short video on “Caring For Your Beard” for my YouTube channel. I meditate for some minutes and recite my daily affirmations: I am loving, successful, healthy and gorgeous and today is going to be an excellent day.

Breakfast is fried egg, toasted bread and homemade orange juice arranged and photographed for my Instagram page where I advertise my cupcakes, other restaurants eateries and some food brands. I shower and dress ln a flash,soon I am standing by the school gates welcoming the preschool kids in.

I teach them songs, we sing, dance and clap. Then we scribble, colour and eat. I keep an extra eye on Ola, her parents pay me to make sure their only child wants nothing. When she wets her uniform, it is a chance for me to shine by cleaning her up and dressing her in my thoughtfully provided play clothes. I take a few pictures which I send to her mother with a short note. Ola looks lovely in the pink dress and I know her mom will be pleased. Soon, the bell rings and we say our goodbyes.

By 2pm I am back home for my 20 minute power nap. The alarm rings and I am up filling orders for cupcakes: red velvet, vanilla, chocolate, coconut, banana and strawberry. Midway I run out of gas and the first batch flops. Daniel, my assistant, arrives on time to go for a refill. We work frantically over the next few hours and I can feel my heart thudding in my chest. What if we don’t make it? What if the cakes are late? Daniel helps with packaging and delivery. He is works fast and in silence with a small frown on his dark face. Soon we are done, he is off, and I start to breathe well again. Five dozen cupcakes sealed and delivered. Five credit alerts received and rejoiced over. It is gym time, so I change, whip up a smoothie and sail through the door.

On my way to the gym I sip my pre workout smoothie and look through my messages and emails. It is junk mostly, but there is a call for upcoming artists I note and pass to my followers. The women’s holistic fitness class I teach is waiting. We stretch and begin. when we are done two hours later, sweat is dripping from my brow but I am smiling and fulfilled. At home, I spend the next two hours making liquid soap and bottling beard oil. Before I sleep, I drink a cup of green tea. I fall asleep dreaming of a private island with dancing children, bearded men, happy women and coconut cupcakes.

ATM Rendevous Part 1

 

In her shimmering sheath dress and blue stilettos she is eye candy for tired eyes. I watch as she flicks her braids and fiddles with her phone waiting on the crooked ATM queue. I rack my brain for good pick-up lines but I keep drawing blanks. “Hello girl , I wanna talk” crosses my mind and I want to slap myself. It’s hard to think straight when you’ve spent 12 hours in a tiny cubicle preparing briefs for your boss at a private law firm.

I inched closer to Favour, my second hand Mercedes and survey my reflection in the glass. The medium height, honey brown man looking back at me is well dressed, clean shaven and attractive. I bite my lips and exhale. You can do this man, I tell myself.

She is just in front of me. The lights are in my favour. I take my time savouring the view. She is taller than I am but I’m sure it’s her shoes. Her burnt red braids cascade down her back to nuzzle a generous backside. A few inches down , the shimmering gown stops to show a long stretch of skin the colour of bitter cola shells that tappers down to dainty ankles and electric blue high heels. The left ankle glitters in a silver anklet and the right is etched with a floral tattoo. A kick in my boxers jolts me, I exhale and look away.

It’s not a long line. In front of her , there’s a teen with a grey knapsack wearing earphones and nodding like an Agama lizard.

In front of him, there is a middle-aged woman wearing an I-was-white blouse over a bright yellow flair skirt and rainbow bathroom slippers. The smell of rotten beans and stale cabbage wafts past. Someone has farted, I am certain she’s the one.

A tall bespectacled man in a brown safari suit is next. He stands still with his hands folded, and his head tilted upwards. He is greying at the temples and it gives him a distinguished look. Beneath his arm, there’s a book called The History And Philosophy Of Traditional African Religions. Ah! Definitely, a lecturer.

At the booth there’s a nurse with two school aged kids. I know because she has her uniform underneath a checkered overcoat. The kids, two girls, are dressed in bright purple tops and matching denim skirts. It’s a noveau riche sign that says ‘we aren’t wearing hand me downs, each of us have our wardrobes.’ The woman is paid and the queue keeps shrinking. Soon it’s just Blue shoes and I.

I am happy– we are the only ones at the ATM machine now. No one will witness my humiliation if things go wrong. I allow myself a smile, the scales were tipping in my favour.
She spends longer at the booth than expected and I begin to worry. As I attempt to intervene, she turns. Her shoulders sag and her face looks pinched at the lips. I know even before she says anything.

“It is not paying” she says and it sounds like child that’s about to cry.

In a flash my casanova mode kicks in and begins permutations at the speed of thought. It might be a ploy. After all this is Nigeria. Anyone can feign anything in a blink.

***

 

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Training Partner

She swung her arms as fast as she could and moved her legs to a silent beat. The sun was dipping in the horizon but she had to walk one more block before she went home. She ignored the bemused stares most bystanders gave her and focused on a tree about a hundred feet away. She was almost there when she heard a voice behind her say, “impressive”.

Annoyed, she turned around to meet crinkled grey eyes staring into hers; she ignored them and bent over panting for breathe. She could see his legs: large feet in shiny black canvas, sparkling white socks with black lines, faded denim shorts. She wondered what he wanted but decided not to ask. She had been hoping for a training partner, praying even. He sounded pleasant enough, she guessed he had a degree at least. His clothes were clean and he smelled of a woody aftershave. Who knows? Maybe this was answered prayer.

She missed Ekaette her last training partner. She had been good company and committed to their daily routine. She had been sure they would be together for the next year at least.That was before Ekaette got promoted and transferred to Tokyo.

“I am Mike,” he said, offering her a tanned muscled hand.

She shook it and straightened. “Kara,” she replied, resuming her brisk pace.

They walked in silence for some time. Above them, the skies began to darken, the sun disappeared and large dark clouds hurtled across the plains.

“It looks like it is going to rain,” Mike said. “I think we should start back.”

They had barely turned around when the heavens burst open. They had to run the last couple meters to take shelter under a bus stop.

They weren’t alone: a homeless woman had her things propped up in one corner and eyed them angrily as they stomped into the shed, a teenage boy was dozing, huddled in a corner with a tray of bananas and groundnuts, a group of students were in the center arguing and laughing in the care free manner of young adults .

They found space to stand and she tried to catch her breath. The rain worsened with jagged lightening flashing through the sky followed by thunder that threatened to make the sky fall.

She clasped her hands on her ears to shield herself from the worst of it and soon found that she was shivering.

“Here, have my jacket, you look cold.”

“Thank you,” she said slipping the oversized denim jacket over her shoulders. It was warm and smelt of peppermint.

“So, how long have you been walking?” He asked, studying his nails.

Kara hesitated. She wasn’t sure what answer to give him: the detailed one covering all her starts and stops or the neat simple one. “A month,” she said after a while.

“Nice. I have walked on and off for the past year. I started when I stopped smoking. It helped me keep my weight down and stay focused.I hope I can walk for at least six months straight this time. I hate that, to keep starting and stopping.”

“Me too,” Kara heard herself say.

Soon they were talking like old friends. He was visiting Eket from Lagos. The telecoms company he worked for had laid him off. He needed time to plan his set of moves so when his sister invited him down he took the next plane over.

His sister worked in ExxonMobil. She was widowed five years ago and hadn’t remarried. She was glad to have him around now that all her kids had left for school.

Kara told him about her job as a administrator in the civil service and her one year old cat named Phillip. She didn’t tell him about her struggles with bulimia or the boxes of worthless weight pills and potions in her room. She didn’t tell him about her five year old daughter Sara or her ex- husband Chinedu.

When the rain stopped, he walked her home.

“Same time tomorrow, then?” he asked with a smile.

“Sure,” Kara replied shrugging off his black jacket.

They walked together all week. Kara found that with Mike she didn’t need to say much. She could just nod and listen as he told her about his former colleagues or his future plans. She got used it: the companionship, the stories, the sound of matching footsteps following her own.

One evening Mike didn’t show up. Kara thought he might be ill or out of town. She had never asked for his number and she had never offered hers. That evening she only went half as far as she usually did; the walk wasn’t the same alone.

After three days without any sign of Mike she got genuinely worried. “He has gone the way he came,” she thought sadly, making her way home after another solo walk. Maybe she should look for him, check on him, she thought. But where would she start? She knew he stayed nearby but she didn’t know the address. She wished she had asked him more questions, about his sister’s name or his house address.

The next day, she started off but she couldn’t take her mind off Mike. What if he was sick or worse…? She took a turn off her regular route toward the general direction she had seen him walk when he wasn’t seeing her to her door. The neighbourhood was noisier and the road bumpier. Tricycles and cars jostled along the narrow road. Pedestrians and hawkers thronged the fringes. She was beginning to feel foolish about the whole venture when she saw a small crowd gathered round a white house.

A police van was parked in front of it and three policemen where hauling a handcuffed figure into an open van she walked up to the van and saw Mike; or what was left of him.

His clothes were dirty and torn. His face was swollen and one eye was the size of an egg.

“Officer, what has he done? Why are you beating an innocent man like this?” Kara demanded.

“Madam, I suggest you stay out of this. This man is wanted in connection with the kidnap and murder of three women in Lagos.” A wiry police man in plain clothes replied as the van zoomed off.

Kara was stunned. She opened her mouth and closed it again. She tried to breathe but her chest felt like a burst balloon.

Over the next few days she would gather that his name was Cosmos not Mike. She would read with sick fascination of his alledged victims and their tragic fate. She would find that he had no sister in Eket, never worked in telecoms and smoked a pack a day.

She went to the police station to see him; part of her still couldn’t believe any of it. There had to be a mistake, the whole thing had to be mistake. She took him food and water, a T-shirt, a newspaper and a Bible.

The police station was located at the border of the town. She drove there in her white Toyota; anxiety bubbled in her belly like boiling oil. She filled all the papers and handed over the items she had brought for inspection. She couldn’t help noticing the blood smears on the walls were mosquitoes had once been or the sweat-soaked stench the place gave off. She was offered a chair but she declined and stood instead. After a while, a portly police officer beckoned to her and she followed him into a small office.

The office was a study in paradox. Several files lay on a polished table and even more files lay on the floor. Cheap blue curtains adorned the windows. An expensive air-conditioned unit hummed on the wall. Shiny new chairs contrasted with dull blue painted walls. The police man sat and asked her to do same. She sat and thanked him.

Cosmos had been transferred to Lagos. The orders had come a few days ago and he was sent via black Maria yesterday.
Kara rose and thanked him once again. She walked out of the station and down the road in the sunshine. A few blocks away she remembered her Toyota and walked back to get it.

She drove home and tried to banish thoughts of Mike Cosmos from her mind but every time it rained her mind went back to that evening at the bus stop and to the black denim jacket that smelled of peppermint.

Five Things I Bet You Didn’t Know You Could Do In Lagos

The Lagos is a cliche, a concrete jungle, overpopulated with people busy as bees, working their socks off, queuing for BRTs and sleeping in traffic. But that’s not all true. I may understand if you have that view, but I am here to correct the impression. Lagos is home to some of the most fun loving people on the planet, from small gatherings of friends in bars and restaurants, to large gatherings in wedding receptions, clubs and street themed parties, just because we can, you can see the beaming smiles and hear roaring laughter of a people who know how to actively seek and create fun. While you may be familiar with some of the fun things into do around the city, it could get boring eventually when it gets quite repetitive. How about these fun things you could do if you are tired of cinema going, paintballing, owambe parties, clubbing, and arcade gaming with the friends, park walking or mall hopping.
Here are some of the amazing fun things to do in Lagos that are different from the regular. If you have grown bored of your hangout spots in Lagos and you want to dive into a new set of adventure, you should absolutely try these out.

Kayak across the Lagoon
This activity which involves propelling oneself in a small narrow boat is increasingly becoming popular in Lagos where people book in groups or individually to experience the thrill of becoming one with the water craft and paddling across the Lagoon from one end to the other. Participants are advised to have medium to advanced swimming skills but there are life guards on hand to keep the fun seekers safe.
Surf Like a Pro
Yes, you too can be part of the hippie, pop culture inspiring set of cool kids who are part time dare devils of the sea. The GP Surfing School in Tarkwa Bay offers surfing lessons for people looking to learn to surf the waves. With each session cost N7000, we aren’t quite sure how many sessions it would require before you start riding the waves, but hopefully if you are a fast learner you could become a god of the seas pretty soon.
See an Outdoor Movie
I don’t know about you, but going to the mall for movies is one of the most cliché of fun things to do in Lagos. But when you switch the presentation, it doesn’t sound as boring as it sounds. This is pretty much where groups like MovieNic and Secret Cinema come in. A picnic is thrown into the mix as well which makes it an ideal setting for a cozy, romantic outing. If the movie doesn’t do much for you, you can look at the stars and toe wrestle with your partner. If you are particularly keen on finding new fun places on Lagos Mainland, this is one you should try out.
Explore Nature
Don’t Laugh. Lagos isn’t all about being the home to financial institutions and big corporate buildings and sprawling bridges. The Lekki Conservation center is a 78 hectare reserved area of forest along with animals who have made it its natural home. With it, Eco-tourists and lovers of nature have certainly found a place to call their own in Lagos where they can watch birds, enjoy the lush green vegetation of the conservation center
Join a Cycling Club
If you are looking for a recreational place in Lagos, this is going to be great for you especially as it combines the outdoors, sporting activity and social bonding. Cyclotron is a cycling club based in Lagos that aims to promote cycling as a recreational activity and they are open to receiving new members at all times. They have designated routes where they cycle and they help members with tips on how to keep their bikes in the best conditions possible, as well as how to engage with other motorists and pedestrians using the cycling routes as well.
Don’t let this be another moment where you wonder – what are the things to do in Lagos this weekend? Explore these exciting new places to visit in Lagos, Nigeria. Free safety tip, whatever fun thing you are doing, if you are out late and you are struggling to get a ride home, it is always better to check yourself into a nearby hotel room and stay in till morning. Cheap hotel accommodations in Lagos are easy to come by and there would be certainly one near or around you at every point in time. All you have to do is search, find, choose, book and stay.

Good Things Come In Threes

 

Tunde never planned to have a side chick. He was by himself, minding his business, when she fell on his lap. It had been a long day at the office, battling with multiple complaints about the internet services in the agency he worked for. Usually he left most of the footwork to Oghale but Oghale had resigned last week to join his 70year old bride in Britain and the agency hadn’t found his replacement yet. He had just sold his Toyota Camry and couldn’t decide if he wanted a Benz or a BMW next so for the mean time he settled for the company bus.

He sat by the aisle and popped his earphones in, closed his eyes and waited for the bus to fill. He felt the bus move then break suddenly and something hit him on his thighs. His eyes flew open and he saw the prettiest bum in a skin tight purple skirt rise from his laps. He removed his earphones in time to hear her profuse apologies and to hear the whole bus berate the driver for his carelessness. He eased her to the window seat while trying not to make his appraisal obvious.

Her tag stated she was an intern. She looked young, early twenties most likely. Her hair was done in simple cornrows and her glasses gave her a bookish look. He looked away and was about to resume his Asa album when she thrust her arm towards him.
“Hi, I am Ima Brown.”
“Tunde Taylor”
“Again, I am so sorry for falling on you like that.”
“Don’t be, it was the driver’s fault.”
With that he smiled and wore his earphones but something had changed.

He got home an hour later, microwaved some spaghetti and chicken and had a bath. He was about to sleep when his phone rang. It was Osuchi, his fiancée, he smiled as he picked the call.
“Hello baby, what’s up?”
“Tunde love, how are you?
How was your day? Did you miss me?”
“Of course I missed you, I miss you every minute of every hour and yeah my day was CRAZY. But I am alive so, I guess that’s all that matters. How are you? Did you ace the test? Are the results out?”
“Nah, they aren’t. We hope for the best. I am so sad to hear you had a rough day. Stay strong baby.”

And they talked about the movies they wanted to watch and the books they were reading; Osuchi just finished Anansi Boys by Neil Gailman while Tunde was trying to finish Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo.  They talked about the weather in Canada where Osuchi was doing her masters and the rot in Abuja where the streetlights couldn’t stay on. They talked about the babies they would have: two lovely girls, Ola and Lola. They were joking about how long it had been since they last kissed when the line died.
— Sorry darl, looks like me airtime is gone
–Not to worry, I ll call you tomorrow
–I love you
— I love you too.

Tunde slept smiling that night, he had no idea what the future had in store.
***

Over the next few days he saw Ima everywhere. She was behind him at the cafeteria. She was waving at him across the hall. Every evening she sat beside him on their way home. They liked the same football club Manchester United, they hated boiled groundnut and semo, they were ardent fans of the Game of Thrones series. One Friday she followed him home.

While he made her rice and chicken casserole, she told him about her childhood and her dreams for the future. It wasn’t long before they were spending entire weekends together. He told her he had a fiancée but she just laughed and rode him harder. Weeks became months and soon Osuchi would be back. He had to find a way to end things gently. Ima was lovely and everything but Osuchi was his life.

He tried to make the break up as gentle as possible . He held Ima in his arms and told her how much he loves her and how he wished he had met her first, she would always be in his heart but they had to stop seeing each other. Ima didn’t say a word, she picked her things and left but Tunde could hear her sniffing back her tearsas she closed the door. Relief flooded him like a river. He had to be more careful next time, he had to make sure there wouldn’t be a next time. He slept thinking of his honeymoon.

He found himself on a beach. Before he could rise the waves embraced him and drew him underwater . He couldn’t breathe. His lungs were about to explode when he discovered he was in a bubble. He took quick breaths while trying to wonder where he was. He was traveling underwater. He could see fish, manatee and octopus as he drifted past. Strange music filled his ears as he was hurled on dry land. Two rows of women in grotesque red and yellow masks carrying spears were waiting for him. One of them dragged him to his feet and they marched him forward chanting and hitting their spears. He was frightened now but mostly he was curious.
Why was he here?
What was this?
Where was he?

Abruptly he was pushed to the floor and he hands were bound behind his back. A blindfold was wrapped around his face and he was lifted to a mat and dragged the rest of the way.

“Tunde, welcome to Zimora,” a warm sonorous voice said, “Our daughter’s tears have summoned you here. You used her and crushed her. Was that fair? Was that right? You had nothing to offer her but your manhood,in return, you broke her and trampled her heart underfoot. Our daughter has demanded vengeance. And vengeance she shall have. Henceforth you shall lie no more with any woman nor with any man. Your seed shall be ours as penance. Your heart shall be tossed as a leaf in the rain. Your days shall be long and loveless. This is our decree.”

He was speechless till he felt a searing pain on his left arm and couldn’t hold back the scream. He woke up drenched in sweat and panting. The room was dark and eerily still. He sat up and tried to breathe normally. It was just a dream. The lights came back on then and to his horror the letter Z was boldly tattooed on his left shoulder.learning-to-smoke-0308-lg.jpg

The Hangman’s Dream 1

 

 

 

I was looking for the best spot to hang myself when Alex called. She wanted to know if I could manage working as a driver with a local government chairman. I almost laughed. I would have grabbed any job: feeding pigs, washing corpses, packing shit, anything. Seven long, hard unemployed years had robbed me of all the pride, choice and hope I ever had. All I wanted was to end it; purge the world of my parasitic self, make myself more useful as fly food and manure. Then Alex called.

The interview was the next day and I didn’t have anything to wear. All my clothes were at least eight years old and most looked eighteen. The interview was meant to be just a formality but I couldn’t go looking like a loser. Alex had worked that out. She brought me a new jacket and a pair of black jeans.

“Hon Sam can be picky, so you want to put your best foot forward. Smile when you talk. Try to maintain eye contact. And for grief’s sake stop grinding your teeth!” She said rolling her eyes. I blinked away tears and tried to swallow the pebble in my throat. I was still looking for the words to thank her when she drove away.

The jacket fit perfectly but the jeans were loose at the waist. A sad smile flitted across my face; she was shopping for the old me. The one that played football, weighed 90kg and dreamt of owning a hotel chain not the underweight shell I had become. I looked into the mirror and a wave of panic hit me. What if Hon. Sam didn’t like me? What if he changed his mind? What if this was just another can of dashed hope? My blood froze at the thought. I couldn’t –wouldn’t imagine what that would be like. Before I left the house, I put the rope in my pocket and switched off my phone. If this was another of Fate’s twisted jokes, I didn’t want to be unprepared.

I left my house three hours to the interview but with unexpected traffic and a sudden rainstorm I found myself racing against time. To make it to Hon Sam’s house, I ran the last hundred meters under a relentless drizzle. His compound was massive, the size of three football fields. Its ten feet high, barb wire capped concrete walls loomed ahead of me. A kennel of dogs barked as I approached and a stone faced policeman looked me over before letting me in. I clenched my teeth to stop myself from shivering and tried to relax. I was cold, wet and scared.
A smiling young man led me to an outdoor bar to wait. We passed rows of cars in black covers. Part of me wondered which one I would drive, a Lexus? A Mercedes? A Porsche? The other part snickered: get the job first. Dreamer.

The young man gave me a seat at the bar and asked me what I wanted to drink. I wanted black tea, in a giant mug, served hot with plenty of sugar and cream but I smiled and said I was fine, while I struggled not to grind my teeth.

Proposal By Proxy

Kasara didn’t feel betrothed. It was like a film, something happening to someone else while she watched and laughed. Her mother was showing her new wrappers to a crowd of cooing friends while her father was puffing on his pipe. Her fiance was an enlarged photograph showing a rotund man with small wrinkled eyes.

It was settled, she would go to Lisbon to join him next week. Some of her classmats came to say goodbye, but they didn’t stay long. Kasara wanted to cling to them, to shout and scream and make a big scene, but she sat still instead and received their cold congratulations with a frozen smile.

News came. He couldn’t receive her immeadiately, a minor matter no doubt. She had to stay with her parents a little longer. Kasara didn’t mind. It was still hard for her to see herself married to the man in the picture.

News came again. A change of plans, he no longer wished to marry her. Would she mind marrying his cousin instead? Of course they could keep the bridal gifts. No one mentioned that his cousin was fatter and older than he was, or that he already had two wives and eight children.

Her brothers were incensed. They smashed the framed potrait and wanted to burn the wedding gifts. A family meeting was called and the elders tried to talk sense into them.

Kasara raided her mothers box and found enough money to travel south. She ran away to her Aunt Jemima’s place. Years passed but no one else asked her to marry them. And when she closed her eyes she could still see the round face in the enlarged photogragh and its small, wrinked eyes.

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Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

CUT! Changing The Stories That Limit You.

Stories can build us. Stories can also break us. No stories are as strong as the ones we tell ourselves. Coming in second are the ones we heard from our guardians growing up: a mother who said you’ll never cook well, a teacher who said you were dumb, a father who just didn’t care….

I have found that we can change the stories we tell ourselves. We can arise like the mythical lion and tell the story of how the hunter wet his pants the first time he heard us roar. We can reclaim the narratives and tell stories that build us up and challenge us to be better and do better.

One of the stories that limited me growing up was the family tale of my carelessness. My mother said it, my father said it. Everyone believed it. Truth be told, I did misplace my fair share of items, but that was something I did, not who I was.

I began to take better care of my things as I grew up but the story wouldn’t change. It got to the point where each time I asked for anything, my Mom or Dad would say, “Here, I know you’ll loose it.”

I would take the said item and guard it with my life. But alas, the story would come to pass and soon the item would vanish into thin air. This kept happening, then one day I had enough.

I asked for a ring boiler and my Mom said the usual words, “Here, I know you’ll loose it.”

I replied,”No Mom, I won’t loose it. I will take good care of it and use it for as long as I want to.”

I had that ring boiler for six years.
.

.

Another story that tied me in knots as a writer was the story of rejection. Every one gets rejected, the story said. You will have to get used to getting rejected over and over again. Hey, look, Marlon James, the Man Booker 2015 Prize Winner, his first novel got rejected 78 times, by 78 publishers before it finally got a home.
So-and-So (insert name of big shot) got rejected 66 times.

The more I listened to the rejection story, the more my belly turned to stone. The thing is, I can’t stand rejection. It is bad enough that writing doesn’t pay much and is so darned hard to do, but the least I want at the end of the day is a little applause.

I want a clap on the back and a handshake. I can stomach some nicely worded affirmation padded constructive critique, but to think of someone thrashing my hard work is unthinkable.

So for months, I didn’t submit anything. I self published on my blog. I got pieces accepted through recommendations. I stayed away from the rejection story and it stayed way from me.

Until I realized it wasn’t helping my writing.

Like it or not, writing is a highly subjective business. If you don’t “put your self out there,” you’ll miss many opportunities to be seen. You have to risk the fire to get the gold.

But how do you do that without being rejected?

You change the story. This is the story I tell myself now:

Rejection in writing doesn’t exist.

Simple.

There could be a match, meaning, well written story meets right publisher/audience at right time. Or a non-match, meaning either the story isn’t well written or the audience/publisher is wrong or the timing is wrong or all three.

Writing a good story is my duty, but the rest is out of my hands.

It is like donating blood. You don’t weep and wail if a patient’s blood type doesn’t match yours. You are the donor, they need you, they are the ones to wail. You just keep giving and some patient somewhere, thanks God above, and lives another day because you did.

So I am going to start working on my stories, polishing them and making them the best they can be. Then I will send them out knowing they are can’t be rejected, they are already accepted; by me and by many other people. All they need is a place to call home. I won’t worry about those non-matches, I won’t wail if it is something out of my hands. I will just keep going because to someone out there, they’ll be the sun and the sea.

Those are some of the stories that limited me and how I changed them. How about you? What stories do/did you need to change?

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How Papa Left

We were having dinner when the lights went out. Ma put on candles and our gaunt shadows seemed like gargoyles on the wall. Pa put his fork down and stomped away from the table. Soon we saw him by the door.
“Marcus, where are you going?” Ma asked.
“Out,” he replied. And before anyone could say more he was gone.

Days turned to weeks but there was no word of my father. Ma made calls, attended prayer vigils, asked everyone but Pa had disappeared.

“Let’s tell the police,” Uncle Makkel said. And so they went to the station the next day. When they were told how much they had to pay in bribes for the investigation to start. They came back sad.

Ma began to sell her wrappers and earrings. Uncle Makkel mortgaged one of his farms. We tried to raise money from our friends but all we got were excuses and had-I-knowns.

In a month, the money was ready and Ma wrapped it in an old newspaper and took it to the station. The police promised Pa would be back soon. Soon dragged on for weeks.

People told us stories of seeing Pa: on a canoe seventy kilometers away, in the market, at the bank, in a church. Ma began to check mortuaries for abandoned bodies.

Then Pa was brought home. He had been hit by a truck and was unconcious for weeks. He couldn’t remember my name and he often forgot what he wanted to say. We didn’t mind . It was just good to know the wait was over.

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Shameless Lover

It has been a year, or longer.
Your feet have not ceased to grace my door,
Your hands have not ceased to knock,
Your lips have not ceased to say my name.

I have been a bad one yes,
but my heart bore always your weight,
my nose always sought your scent,
my eyes saw always your face, on the curtain of my eyelids.

I return, unsure, afraid,
Will you meet me with an embrace or submerge me in slaps?
Will your lips kiss, or pucker to spit on me? Will your nails scratch?

On my fear, I don my strength
this is no time for trembling,
what must be done
must be done

So here I am
Before you,
Stone me or
Else
Bid me welcome.

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The Unravelling

They sat in silence. They’d dreaded this moment. She more than he.

“Do you really have to do this? Isn’t there anything I can say to stop you?”

“Honey, please, let’s not go over that again. The arrangements have been made. The bus will be here in an hour.”

“But why Dan? Have I been such a bad wife to you? Is there anything I haven’t given you? How can you just throw your life away like this? Like rotten fish?”

Her words slapped him, and something in him shifted.

“Like rotten fish ehn? Thank you for the compliment. I better walk up the road. Take care of Ade and Wana. Bye Shade.”

He left with the sound of her sobs drumming on his ears. Wana and Ade were asleep. He hated to imagine how it would have looked if they weren’t.

He loved Shade. She was the only other woman he had ever cared about enough to change. To sacrifice. For her he had stopped smoking. He had learnt cooking. He had even started going to church twice a month. No other woman had been able to keep his attention for this long. Six years and she still stirred him as much as she had on their first date.

Except at moments like this…

The sky was aglow with the colours of the setting sun. A gentle breeze played with the dry leaves, scattering them on the street like confetti. The evening was so beautiful, he was so miserable.

He remembered something he heard the pastor say last month.

“Anger lies in the bosom of fools.”

It was true. He wasn’t being reasonable right now. Any woman would be worried under the circumstances. Shade was just worried. Worried and scared. Why wouldn’t she be? People were giving their souls to run away from Liberia and here he was leaving for the same place as a volunteer. She probably thought he was mad.

The worse thing was that he hadn’t found words to tell her everything. He couldn’t express how excited he felt when he was offered the opportunity. He couldn’t tell her how the moment he read the email, life suddenly seemed ten times nicer, livelier.

The past two weeks had been like reliving his childhood. He was the toughest police chief on the playground, eliminating the thieves. He was him.

Now he had a chance to do it again. In real life, with a real thief called Ebola. He had a chance to do work that really mattered. Not the dead brain routines of Malaria, Typhoid and Diabetes. A real time Emerging Disease Epidemic Response, a real war. He couldn’t stay away for the world.

But.

He could go gently. He could hold Shade and rock her till the bus came. He could remind her of how much he loved her and the kids. He could go over the instructions for his memorial( there would be no burial, just ash in an urn). He could kiss her brows one more time.

So he went home and did so.

It would be 8 months before he returned, not in a stainless steel urn, but in the flesh.

Shade wouldn’t be at the airport to welcome him, neither would the kids.

He would spend the next two years looking for them and failing to find them.

He would discover that she had sold the house and the cars and the land he bought at Lekki.

He would fall into a bottomless depression. And pick up smoking again. And try weed, and like it. And over do it.

He would want to die and pray to do so before morning.

One day, he would get a call from Wana. She was fine, her mother had placed her in a Catholic boarding school in Kenya, she even spent holidays there. Ade was with mother somewhere in Europe. She missed him. She had tried to reach him but mom said she shouldn’t dare. Was he OK?

“Yes, I am fine.” Dan said. And for the first time in three years, he almost believed it.

He travelled to Kenya to see her. As he stood beneath the pine trees waiting, he remembered another place, another evening. Then she was running into his arms, quick as a bullet, and he felt the broken things inside him melding.

It would be a long fight. A long wait. But six years later Wana would be back home in Makurdi with him. He would not marry again. Stop smoking again. Start jogging again.

He would travel the world lecturing on Emerging Disease Response. He would receive more honours than the four walls of his study could hold.

He would forgive Shade (but they would never be friends again).

He would live to eighty-nine. And from time to time he would think over things. He would imagine how things would have been if he stayed. Then he would laugh and mutter to himself.

“There’s no way I was going to let that Bastard get away.”

* * * * *

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Paradise Dreamt

I held her in my arms today,

Pressed her wet warmth to my cold dryness,

Her innocent heart beat against my burning skin,

Felt her bounteous curves imprint my frame,

Inhaled the rose, mint, myrrh of her skin,

Closed my eyes with her head on my chest,

My dreams came true,

She loved me as madly as I have always loved her,

We married and eloped to Zanzibar,

She had twins and I was a stay-at-home dad,

We watched stars from our rooftop,

Sipped nectar from green coconuts,

I held her today,

Felt her fragile fear, saw her naked need,

Had her in my arms, possessed her in my world,

It might have been a dream,

Her, ever being with me,

But I held her in my arms today,

Until he came to take her away.

***

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Paradise Dreamt

I held her in my arms today,
Pressed her wet warmth to my cold dry skin,
Felt her bounteous curves imprint my frame,
Inhaled the rose, mint, myrrh of her skin,
Closed my eyes with her head on my chest and,
My dreams came true,
She loved me as madly as I have always loved her,
We married and eloped to Zanzibar,
She had twins and I was a stay-at-home dad,
We watched stars from our rooftop,
Sipped nectar from green coconut cups
I held her today,
Felt her fragile fear, saw her naked need,
Had her in my arms, possessed her in my world,
It might have been a dream,
Her, ever being with me,
But I held her in my arms today,
Until he came and took her away.

The Ultimatum

~Hymar David

A LETTER TO MR.OCCUPANT.

Yesterday, I did you a good turn and you repaid me by almost breaking my head. Well done.

You see, I was ill yesterday, I think you must have slipped something into that morsel of bread you threw into my corner. I got sick, yet I knew enough not to nibble on the bread you bought and left on the table. Because I didn’t want to give you my sickness. And what did I get? You chanced upon me suddenly and grabbed a broom. And I was telling Rachy that you are a decent person and not like the former occupant of the room. So much for that idea.

Our former occupant, what’s his name again? Ah, yes, Satan. That’s the name Rachy believes fits him best. The man was so evil, he planted a whooping nine traps in this tiny room. Nine traps! Just because we were so hungry we chewed a hole in his tennis shoes. How is it our fault the fool is broke and stingy? Even when he eats rice, there isn’t a single grain left on the plate, he cooks soup and cleans the china with his tongue. Once, he was eating biscuits in the presence of two friends, one of them a woman, he dropped a piece on the floor. Rachy was already jubilant because she thought the presence of his friends would deter him from picking it. But as she steeled herself for one mad dash to grab-and-run, Satan picked the piece, blew dirt off it and popped it into his mouth with a laugh.

That was when we declared war on him.

And by God, we gave him war.

We tore the room to shreds; we nibbled everything we could get our teeth on. Bedspreads? Check. Books? Check. Toothpaste? Check(not that he always had, the poverty of this man almost always saw him brush his teeth with salt and water). We called our friends in the other rooms of this face-me-i-face-you and wrecked total havoc. That huge and fearless Canine even gnawed at his toes at night and shat in his bathing water that he usually fetched and kept in a bucket in a corner of the room.

After two weeks, Satan got tired of turning the house upside down, hunting for us. He got tired of setting and resetting the traps which we had learned to navigate around. He packed his things and left.

That night, we had a victory dance in the empty room.

Dear new occupant, I am not trying to scare you, I just don’t want you to say one day that nobody told you.

I have as much right to this room as you do. I was born here. My mother’s blood has stained a trap, my father’s has stained the head of a pestle. I don’t know how my own would be but that is not my worry now. All I ask is be nice to me and I will be nice to you. After all, I eat the cockroaches you so detest. Wasn’t it yesterday your girlfriend came and got hysterical just because a cockroach crawled across the hem of her dress?

Here is a list of my conditions for peace to reign between us:

– Don’t throw away leftover food, keep it in a plate in the corner for Rachy and me. If you are too proud to feed ‘common rats’ just pack it in a nylon bag and leave it untied in the dustbin.

– If you attempt to poison us, we will know. Like my father used to tell us, ‘You know the onion by smell.’

– Keep your traps away, we are not like our cousins in the forest, if you are not eating us, stop hunting us down, I beg you.

– When you see us, don’t immediately reach for a broom or the pestle your girlfriend uses to pound yams when she is around. We are not the enemy, we are not threats. Relax, let us go our way. it is not like we sleep on your bed.

– Picking biscuits and groundnut from the floor is a sin against us. DO NOT do it.

I repeat, I am not threatening you. I just want you to know like I once heard Satan say, ‘no be by size.’ We have our way of dealing with people we don’t like. And we like you. You don’t have to like us back, just let us live in peace and feed off what you don’t want.

How is that too much to ask?

Your comrade,
Rattie

I obtained Mr David’s permission to post this here. I enjoyed reading it and would love to read your response too . Please tell us what you think in the comments. Thank you.

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The Dinner

Do you like reading flash fiction? I do. And I try to write it because it is fun to write and a great way to fight off writer’s block and stay in touch with my muse. Today’s offering was borne out of an experience I had two weeks ago. Please read and share and comment. And maybe write some flash fiction of your own in the comments.

The Dinner

We talked and laughed, he promised everything would be okay. We were his guests after all and they existed for us. Our rooms would be cleaned, the Wi-fi would work, the cockroaches killed, the staff would start being polite.

We ate his delicious three course meal with light banter and glasses of red wine.

Then we danced and cheered. And all the while, knowing nothing would change.

And for a week, we endured: late assignments, cockroaches in shoes, rude staff and more.

Then we’d had enough. And this time we didn’t talk. We packed our bags and by midday we were gone.

Have I told You I Love You?

Have I told you?
How much you mean to me?
Your presence is the tonic for my well being,
Your smile is the sun that chases my clouds away,
Your voice is the balm that turns my night to day,
You, rhythm in my pulse,
You, spring in my step,
You, smile that dances on my lips at night,
You, the safe place my dreams are kept.

Runaway Dad

Was I Madara Brook? they asked. Yes, I was, I said. Then sign here, they said and I did.

I picked the parcel with trembling fingers and stumbled to the nearest chair. My chest hurt, it was hard to breathe, so I opened the windows. Outside, the sun was bathing the sky in a canvas of colour, inside fear was swallowing me whole.

It had been thirty years. Thirty years of wondering if I still had a father, if he still remembered me, if we would look alike, if he would like my beef stews. I searched everywhere, interviewing my mother millions of times. Did he tell her what part of London he was from? Was Thomas his real name? Was she sure I was his?

Mom wasn’t sure. She had been broke at the time and miserable. Their affair lasted less than a month. And there were others, but she believed I was his. Believed. Like I was a sacrament.

I tore open the brown envelope, a lawyer called a week before to say he would be sending me what Jonathan Rivers had left me as his only living child. I left the phone slip through my hands and scatter into a dozen pieces.
I dragged out the computer first, then I assembled the smaller items on it: a butterfly knife, a toy car, a seashell, many other odd items and a letter.

My beloved daughter, it said, I know you are hurt and angry with me. I am sorry. I have followed your progress the past thirty years with great pride. Since my private detectives found you, I have spent the few pain free moments of my life reading about you on the internet.

I would have reached you while alive but it seemed selfish to burden you with my suffering. I was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago and given eight months to live. I knew my end was nigh. By the time you read this I will be gone, I want you to have these,souvenirs from a father you never knew.

I folded the letter and put it back in the brown box, then I dumped the ‘souvenirs’ in as well. Then I went to the back and made a fire and flung everything in it. Everything except the cheque he sent. I cashed that and bought a new house with a lake behind it, lots of red wine and a long black dress.

The Annals Of An Invisible People

Guy Scott is their Obama,
Adichie is their Emily Bronte,
Dangote is their Bill Gates

Garri is their bread,
Palm wine is their beer,
Gin is their vodka,

Lagos, is their New York,
Abidjan, their Paris,

The war in Mali? France’s Afganistan
The uprising in Burkina Faso? their Arab Spring,
Ebola, the ISIS of their infectious diseases,

Thomas Sankara is their Che Guevara,
Mo Abudu is their Oprah,
Mandela is their Ghandi,

These are in part,
The annals of the world’s invisible people.

We Shave Our Memories

We shave our memories off,
lock by lock,
they fall to the cold floor,
we rise,
stronger than before,
Snip goes our trip to Dakar,
Snip, our quarrel over babies
Snip, the surgery for a wrist swelling,
Snip, the ways we failed to keep our promises,
We shave our memories off,
Lock by lock,
We leave our essence in
And continue,
Our love walk.

Red and Black Helmets

They have ripped our tongues from us,
we are silent–
guns pushed down our throats, mirrors,pipes and bracelets
pushed into our father’s hands
grants,fame and dollars in ours,
our past is erased, they now airbrush our present,
we can not speak of yesterday’s horror,

we can not count the bodies, name the rapes, photograph the starving children,paint the naked women, mourn the nations past.

We can not speak of our now, they do not want to hear songs of hunger, read books of cockroaches in our pillows, and goat shit in our plates,
water from pits, beds in the bush.

No one wants to hear about our wars,

“You are rising!” they tell us

Prostrate, we nod, purple and red lizards stoned.

Tongues gone, they want our fingertips,
Buy our words, and the wrists that conjure them.

Wrists gone, they want our minds, so we must wear our helmets,
red hats, black bandanas,
we must cover our heads, shield our souls from attack,
that when heads roll, there will be signposts,

red and black skulls, speaking for us, like we never dared to try.

A Rainbow Of Tears

My mother had me for their security guard when she was nineteen. Grandpa would have chopped my dad into small pieces and dumped him in the lagoon but the neighbours called the police in time.

Grandma, she was stunned, speechless, so she just sat on the stairs and wailed till her tears turned to salt flakes.

Mom was already six months gone when they found out so an abortion was out of the options. Grandpa threw us out, so mom had to take me to the village to stay with Grandma’s mom.

Dad spent a couple of nights in police custody before Uncle Ahmed came to bail him. Mom thought he would come after us once he was free, but we didn’t see him again, for a very long time.

We found put later that he had many children from women he never married. The lady that told Grandma knew three. When Grandma heard this, she began to cry all over again.

Mother had me on a cold December night. It was the peak of Harmattan and I am told the thin roof of the health post shivered beneath the furious wind like a paper kite.

Since Grandpa had thrown us out, and Dad had run away, Mom had to find a way to support us. She would have loved to do that by modelling or hosting TV shows, but without a degree or any real contacts, that was fantasy.

She woke up by 4 am every morning to bake cakes in a large sand-filled pot. By 7am she swept and mopped floors in a nearby guest house. From 10 she did typing jobs for people that needed them. In between all this, she helped Daniel find tenants for the buildings his agency had been asked to manage. Anything to keep us from starving, anything to keep us from going back to beg Grandpa.

Sometimes Grandma would come to see us. She would bring plenty of food and clothes but she wouldn’t sit or smile or taste anything mom offered her. It felt like a video clip sometimes, one moment she was dragging bags of stuff in the house. The next, she was making small talk with mom and laughing a small stifled laugh, then she was gone. All that was left was my memory of her, with her eyes darting to either side of me while she spoke, like I was a flame, or a fire, something you couldn’t look at straight on.

Daniel started coming home to see Mom. I liked him because he always brought strawberry biscuits with him and he let me play with his phone.

One day he knelt down and offered mom something whispering some words to her. Mom shut her eyes tight and screamed at him. “Leave me alone!”

Daniel knelt there for sometime and my heart stopped in the silence. Then he walked out and banged our door shut.

Mom has been crying a lot of late. She keeps counting the days on the calender and shaking her head. The other night she bought something from the chemist and put pee on it. I know because I peeped.

One night I overheard her talking to someone on the phone. She said she was late and she didn’t know what to do and she wasn’t going to marry ‘him’. A river of ice surged through me then and felt myself break out in goose bumps.

The next morning Daniel came back and offered her something again. He didn’t kneel this time and mom didn’t scream. She collected it and put it on.
The ring sparkled in our little flat.

Its’ matter of fact brilliance brightened my mood. The sense of doom I had felt lifted and I could almost feel happy again. I wanted to freeze the moment, to be at that spot watching mom and Dan hug and seeing the light bounce off the ring in a rainbow of colours forever.

So I closed my eyes and soaked it in, for then and for afterwards.

The Fellowship of The Last Bus

For Nd

We had become a community– The Fellowship Of The Last Bus. Every night we sat in silence as the ancient 911 crawled through the capital to the outskirts where our homes were.

Seats were fixed. The slender middle aged nurse sat beside the driver. the nurse’s wife was from the driver’s village so they called themselves ‘In-law’ but watching them laugh and gist in low conspiratorial tones, heads thrown back to savour spontaneous laughter, they could pass for twins.

In the middle were the business women, over dressed in fitting skirts and jackets. They were often on the phone, bellowing at an unseen customer to pay up or be dealt with. Sometimes they called their parents to find out how they were, sometimes they just placed their heads on the seats in front of them and fell asleep.

I sat at the back, last seat on the left, from there I watched the goings-on in the bus or let my eyes wander, through the windows I watched men peddle fruit and cigarettes, women push wheel barrows full of sand, and little children shepherd cows across hills.

Sometimes I wore my ear phones and let music carry me away, but my eyes kept flipping open and I was at the back of the bus again.

Until she came.

She stood at the door for a second and everyone sort of paused. I saw the hesitation in her eyes and I wanted to smile at her or to beckon but I looked out of the window instead and counted tricycles.

“Is anyone beside you?”

I shook my head because no sounds were coming from my mouth. She smelled so good, like she just walked out of a scented shower and her pink toe nails looked coy against her cobalt blue sandals. I could hear my heart beating and I wasn’t sure why. Sweat trickled down my armpit and I felt a little cold inside.

She got off at the next stop and I realised I didn’t know her name so I got off some fifty meters later and took a tricycle to her stop.

We spent forty minutes driving in and out of side streets, but she was gone.

She didn’t show up the next day, or the one after that. We had a few other newbies– a nun, a middle aged man with a large brown enveloped tucked under his arm who had come from Awka to petition against deductions in his pension, a honeymooning couple who snuggled so close together I feared they would fuse. After a week, I stopped looking.

Then she showed up again, and walked to the back. I didn’t wait for her to ask. I moved over and said, “Hi girl, where have you been?”

“Around,” she said, with a cryptic smile on her lips.

“Good to see you here again.”

“Good to know. You’ll see plenty of me from now on. I got a job at MTN. Today was my first day at work.”

And that’s how I met Endie, Ndifreke Isangedighi. I didn’t know this then but we would stay friends for life, through jobs and transfers, through weddings and a divorce. We would quit the last bus community, buy cars and have drivers. But everytime a large corporate bus would drive past me after work hours, I would find myself in the bus again re-learning the simple art of making friends.

When I Am President Of The World

When I am president of the world
I will ban ‘they’.
All that will be is
You and I,
Us,
We will do something about our planet,
Respond to health needs in our world, wherever they occur,
We’ll learn to adore the brown, beige and popcorn of our skin,
We’ll taste each others names afresh and savour their sweetness on our tongues,
We’ll settle our differences, find ways to work around our dislikes,
When we are hungry, we will find food because what I so desperately need is what you are glutted with and now throw away.
In a world where there is no they, or them,
In a world where there is just you and me, us and we,
There will be no more pain.

Politically Incorrect Affair

There are no words for what we have
No terms to express
The tenderness
Specialness,
Sweetness
That is you and I,
So we hide
Pretend not to feel
Pretend not to care
Pretend not to smell each others hair,
We silence our hearts
Swallow ballads whole
Let our brown eyes flicker then dive to the floor,
Suffer without sound
As feelings well up and crash against our ribbed chests,
Living for stolen times
When our spirits meet
And like embraces like
Lips meet cheek
We commune in spirit
No need to speak.

God Seeker

Stop searching
For me in your test tubes
Stop groping for me in your equations
Stop straining your eyes against the stars to catch a glimpse of my existence.

Don’t stand
On the earth I created
And mouth blasphemy

Kneel
And accept you don’t know it all

Or else make your own planet and your moons

And venture into a galaxy
Of your own

Oh, but leave your earth suit behind
And the breath you borrowed from me.

Crescent and Cross

His hair,black short and curly
His eyes, large warm and doe-like
His voice and the way he says my name,
His hands and the way they wrap themselves around my frame,
A liaison most unlikely
A pact unapproved,
Can a crescent and a cross
Play as one?
Isn’t it strange
I travelled a thousand kilometres
To find him
A brother from another time
Sitting right next to me.

This Just Can’t Work

I watch her sashay past and rap on the door. She looks good in her ankle length gown, golden gele and bracelets that jingle like bells.

Oga opens the door and they share a kiss before he whisks her inside. Later that evening, they stroll out, whispering in each others ears. Oga tickles her, she laughs, a lilting soothing sound and I can’t remember hating anyone so much.

Soon they are back. Oga carries all the bags. They’ve bought rice, stew, salad and ice-cream. She is talking and twirling her hands in the air to make a point. That’s when I realise that something has to be done. If she goes on this way, she’ll be Mrs Ukwak by Saturday.

My options are limited. I am not bad as far as Mercedes Benz 190’s go but I am sure you can already see my difficulty. I can’t talk, at least not without giving Oga a heart attack and I can only influence things when they are close to me. But this is no time for excuses, it is a time for results, so deliver I must.

You must be wondering how my boss’ love interest is any of my business. What does a car stand to lose from a wedding? What loyal being wouldn’t want his owner happy, settled and fruitful? Definitely not me.

I want all that for my boss and more, only, not with Amara.

I know Amara from way back, I noticed her one day at the car wash when she came to see some guy called Carl. I was waiting my turn at the sponge and I couldn’t help over hearing the telephone conversation she was having.

“Oh Dani!”Amara squealed into the phone. “Of course I missed you. The thing is, I am not in town, I travelled to Kaduna for a retreat.”
“Sure, of course, I will. I love you too. You did? Thank you, the fifty thousand will go a long way. Thank you. Bye”

Her phone rang again.

“Wow! Emeka! Yeah, long time. I have missed you too. Aww, I couldn’t make it to Lagos anymore, but I’ll try to make it up to you. I promise. The money you sent is still in my account and once I get a break, you’ll be my first stop.” She was smiling at the phone and twirling her weave.

“Oh my goodness, you are in town? You should have told me baby, I am out in Jos on business. I told you I don’t do surprises. Anyone trying to surprise me only ends up surprising themselves.”

No kidding.

Before Carl came to pick her two other callers had been given three other stories, one of them was a even a woman. At some point, I had to read the sign boards around again to myself, I had to remind myself I was in Port Harcourt, not Jos, Kaduna, Dubai or Yenegoa.

Now here she was with Oga, playing the saint, I was having none of it.

I get my chance soon. The next morning they tumble in to rush her to work. She jumps out screaming. In the process, I rip her yellow silk blouse and smudge it with some grease.

“Ouch! Oh no, Jerry! That seat just burnt me! And look, my blouse is gone!”

Oga darts out and runs to her side. “What seat, Amara? Calm down. Let me see, it isn’t so bad. We can get a new one–”

“That seat,” she says, pointing at the front passenger seat. “That seat nearly peeled off my skin. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, it wrecked my best silk blouse too.” By now her voice has risen a few octaves and she looks like she is about to cry. I feel like pinching her to hurry things on but I am busy.

I am working over time to cool the seat heater. I make it just in time for Oga’s probing fingers.

He runs his palms over the black leather seat with a frown on his face. “It is normal,Amy, a little warm but definitely not bum-burning.”

“But it just burnt my bum. I sat on it and it was like sitting on a hot plate.”

“Come on, Amara, don’t be dramatic. Let’s go before I get late.”

“Oh. So I am being dramatic now?” She replies with a flip of her braids. “Your useless, archaic, malfunctioning car burns me and I am being dramatic? Well, you better get going then because I am not going anywhere with you. Sorry broke ass.”

She grabs her bag and storms away before Oga can say a word. When he recovers enough to ask her to wait, she is gone.

I smile inside. I am savouring this little victory. Oga ll probably go begging to bring her back and maybe he’ll succeed. But I have a plan for that.

For now, let’s enjoy the peace.

I Am With You

I am with you,
On the crowded streets littered with bloated bodies,
In the black of night when the bats flap their wings and shriek directions to their next cave,
When the sun is overhead, a silent yellow ball burning melanomas into unsuspecting skin,
When you jump in fright as the gunshots echo down the alley,
Through dreams where friends morph into monsters,
To the end of time.

LindaGate: OMG LindaIkeji’s ‘Blog Not Found’

The past four days have witnessed an escalation of hostilities between Ms Linda Ikeji and a man known as MrAydee over copyright violations.

Mr Aydee accused Ms Ikeji of taking pictures from his blog and using them on hers without attribution. He asked for the posts to be taken down but says Ms Ikeji ignored him, then blocked him on Twitter.

Thereafter, he reported her to Google who took down the posts and according to Ms Ikeji changed her Adsense settings.

Mr Aydee and some other Twitter users alerted other global blogs to Ms Ikeji’s use of their material without permission, blogs like Getty Images and Daily Mail.

Yesterday, Ms Ikeji replied with a robust response stating that she had used material without permission but that so did every other person. She accused Mr Aydee and Jeremy Weate of wanting to bring her down.

At the end of her response she stated that God was with her and no one was big enough to bring her down.

Ayo Sorungo wrote a rejoinder. addressed to Ms Ikeji titled Re: The Guys That Want To Take LIB Down. In his letter he said,

“To people like me, the moral right to be acknowledged as the writer is sufficient, and we do not care much about the economic rights—which is why I will never get to buy a Range Rover.”

And went on to advise Ikeji on business model changes that would prevent such trouble in future.

Naija Twitter (as the Nigerian arm of Twitter is called) was aflame with opinions, jokes, jibes, twitfights and even death threats.

Some writers used the opportunity to re-open Intellectual Property (IP) debate in earnest. Elnathan John, Jeremy Weate, Sugabelly, and many others wrote to express their displeasure with the current state of affairs–Bloggers lifting material with intrepidity.

Linda Ikeji Blog Readers–LIBers as they are called– jumped to Ms Ikeji’s defence.

Also in her defence was MrFixNigeria, and Chude writer of ‘Are We The Turning Point Generation’ (Cough,cough) and owner of YNaija.

This afternoon however, Ms Ikeji’s blog was declared ‘not found’.

Does this mean the demise of the ‘most popular blog’ in Nigeria?

Only Time will tell.

To Jeeps Jealous Of Words

You think it is about your ‘Jeep’
Four wheels already second-hand,
Or your yellow metals
Or fancy leather bags,
You think it’s easy to bleed onto a page,
Tumbled thoughts turned to joy, to pain, to light, to rage,
Wooden words made alive.

I suppose it is for you exist,
So you can raid my blog
And take your pick
Put your name to my sweat
Paste your greed to my work.

Fat hairy lie.

You might have your jeeps
And bling,
You may have your temporary things,

I have something
You cannot steal,
A tower of salt you can only pinch
A sea you can merely spoon from
A canvas without sides.

And when Jeeps and bling and things are gone,
Words will remain.

I Am Coming

I
Am coming to you,
Heart beating like a crazy drum
Sweat on my palms
Black fear in my soul.

Will you welcome me?
Pull me close to your bosom
Let me bury my face in your hair
And inhale your peppermint smell,
Or will you turn away
From what I have become
From the rage that has marked my face making it a rough mask,
From the bullet wounds, now scars,
Can you embrace the man I have become?

Written in response to I Am Waiting, by @iamibiene on her lovely blog Sweet Nectar here here

The Things Between Our Legs

Young man,
I sit by the midwife’s couch
And wait for you to show me where your superiority was born.

I want to see when you became more equal,
to hold it and smell it.
To wrap it around myself.

I want to be taught the maths of worth.
How a human is made invisible, how a woman disappears,
how oppression evolves, how sacrifice is undone.

Could it be when I carried your father for inside me for nine long months?
Weathering Morning sickness, Malaria, Anaemia and HIV?

Or was it while I walked two kilometres without food or water through a pain that defies words to squat on this couch and push you out?

It can’t be while I nursed you at my breast,
Fed you from my body for twenty four.

Aha! It was when you became a man.

When you no longer needed a napkin change,

When you learnt how to blow your nose,

When my pots were empty and my grain had fed you fat,

When your muscles rippled as you walked,

When you were old enough to work, and you had discovered the thing between your legs could put urine in bottles,

And forgot the thing between mine had borne you.

No Black Bones

Look, let your eyes meet my soul
Come, let the harmonies unfold
Let lies die as truth is told.

Hold my hand, let our palms kiss
And our veins nuzzle,
Listen to the rhythm as our pulses blend,
Our heart beat a tune.

If all that differs is without, are we empty shells?
Drifting to powder and dust?

Can’t you see
We are the same?
Same blood, same buttocks, same bones?

Follow me to the skeleton pile,
Do you see any black men there?
I thought so, too.

Good People Don’t Die

I come to mourn you
To bathe my mind with
The pain of losing you,
The soak my thoughts
In things that now can not be.

My heart
Dangles in my chest
Like a bag of rubble,
Regret echoes
Pepper on my pain.

Then I hear a whisper–

“Good people don’t die.

They are not stopped by an idiot’s bullet,
They are not cowed by cancer’s cowardice,
They are not bent by a madman’s machete,
They are not silenced by the hangman’s noose.

They live on,
In the immortal words of their wisdom
They thrive in the permanence of deeds done,
They flourish in the hearts of those that love them.

Good people don’t die
They live
In me and you.”

Open Letters

For every word spoken, a dozen are swallowed,
A thousand killed for each written,
A million murdered for every one published.

It is not my fault.
It is the world we live in.

Even now I see the titles
They dance and sing
A Merry-Go-Round

An Open Letter To My Primary Three Bully.

An Open Letter To My First Crush.

An Open Letter To The First Doctor That Awed Me.

An Open Letter To The Makers Of Chewing Gum.

There’s also

An Open Letter To Nollywood Film Makers.

An Open Letter To Men That Go Outside Their Homes To Have Sons.

An Open Letter To Mr President.

An Open Letter To The Emerging Nigerian Writer.

An Open Letter To Content Poaching Big Blog Owners.

An Open Letter To Private Jet Haters.

Lest I forget,

An Open Letter To The People I Angered.

And

An Open Letter To The Person I Used To Be.

The Gender Conversation I

This is harder to write than I thought. My head says this topic is over-flogged. My heart disagrees.

Head: What do you think you are going to say that has not been said already?

Heart: Nothing. Really. But maybe I can help one more person look at things differently. Maybe I can help myself look at things differently.

Head: And that will achieve?

Heart: Nothing. But perhaps it will give someone hope. Perhaps it will help someone up.

Head: How?

Heart: By helping them see–

Head: See what

Heart: That gender equality is not something to be fought for.

Head( gasps and glares) : Tell me something.

Heart: That is what I am trying to do. I don’t see men fighting to be male or children fighting to be child-like. There is no inequality of genders. Why are we imagining one?

Humans are equal.
Genders are equal
Women, men, transgender, asexual, all are humans. All are equal

Head: How dare you say that? After all that the patriarchy has done to women?! Stopping them from voting, working, even driving? Just because they happened to possess a different set of genitals?

Heart: Yes, certain systems have oppressed women over the years but that does not change their worth. I am not less because I have been troubled or hunted or silenced or imprisoned. In fact, I am more.

No one bothers to oppress or repress what they are superior to.

When Caucasians oppressed and sold Africans, did that make us less than they were? I think not.

Oppression is not the basis of worth.

Head: But women can’t do the things men do. They can’t–

Heart: Pee in bottles?

Head: Not that, they can’t run as fast or jump as high or light as many kilograms.

Heart: Interesting. But neither can most men.

Or people with special needs.
Or people with injuries.
Does that make them less male? Or less human? If I took away some of your abilities would you become less human?

Are you a human being or a human doing?

Besides Serena Williams (and many other women) can run faster than many men, jump higher, lift more and earn more. Does that make her a Superman?

Head: Don’t be silly.

Heart: Silly? I am being reasonable, patient, tolerant and kind.

Head: How so?

Heart: I am painstakingly telling you things you have always known yet wilfully ignores just to make sure your wife serves you pounded yam every afternoon.

Head: Don’t you dare bring that up!

Heart: Why?

Head: Because that is what you F**** do. You disrupt homes, spin society on its head, dishonour authority. Be faraway from me!

Heart: Calm down. It is not that bad. Yes sometimes, we F****** overdo things. And sometimes we do them wrong. But those are mistakes not standards.

The standards are simple: let no human be discriminated against because of gender.

In fact, the standards are so universal we are planning a name change–

Head: A WHAT?!

Heart: A name change. Since F****** has become a taboo word, we formerly known as F****** now wish to be known and addressed as Humanists. (Broad smile)

Head(deep groan): How can you? Haven’t you caused enough trouble already? Must you create an anti- religion now?

Heart: Not really. The word has four meanings. Go with the fourth one.

Head: Which is?

Heart: marked by humanistic values and devotion to human welfare.

Head: That is confusing.

Heart: Yes it is. The entire spectrum of human oppression, sexism,racism, war, famine, and poverty is confusing.

But we can’t stop trying. We have to keep trying. Not to make sense of it, but to stop it. To contain it. To help free people that are suffering because of it.

We can’t look away and pretend it doesn’t exist. We can’t wish it away either. We must do what we can where we are to change the injustices we find around us.

Head: But what about families? What about wives? Would you have them disrespect their husbands? Or would you have women stay single? What is the way for these women empowering ideas to exist within the family structure?

Heart: It is easy. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Dress up, It is time for work.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of the Gender Conversation. I hope to continue it tomorrow. So please share and come back to read the next part. Many thanks!

The Equality Inquest

Who is afraid of her?
Who is terrified that she will take their place, play their games and usurp their names?

It can’t be a superior
Superiors delight in the glow of a lesser as it casts light up on them.

Not a peer
An equal finds pleasure in a sparring partner worthy of the encounter.

We know now
Who it is.

It is a being unsure of their identity,
A creature of fear.
A dread of what might indeed be,
A jealousy deeper than the Red Sea,
A loser’s war,

Forfeit
as she surges onward
Winning more
More,
More.

Guardian Angel

I told her not to marry him but it was like talking to an electric train. Her mind was made up, my words were a waste.

I listened in disbelief as my twenty-one year old sister begged me to remember her “biological clock was ticking.”

I marvelled as she bade me to reconsider, because “all her mates were married.”

I gasped when she declared that I should get used to it, she was marrying Leo with or without my blessing. Kponkwem.

As I listened to her, lava coursed through my veins. I was angry, livid even, but I wasn’t sure who my ire was for.

Part of it was for a society that made Diana think marriage was a trophy; a 50 metre sprint where the fastest women got medals and flowers instead of a gruelling marathon-relay where your partner’s skill and commitment was as important as endurance, focus and having fun.

Another part of my anger was for myself, I should have seen this coming. I should have stopped this from coming.

Maybe if I had worked hard enough on getting that government health centre renovation contract, and had the cash at hand to pay her bit for the partial Masters scholarship she had won at Emory.

Maybe if I had moved to Abuja at the beginning of the year as I had earlier planned…

Maybe, the eternal twin of perpetual regret.

I told Nkoyo that Diana wanted to get married and she was quiet. She was so quiet that the silence formed a cloud around my ears and began to ring like a bell.

We had been dating for three years and four months. She was twenty-seven and I was thirty. I knew we would be having “The Talk” soon and I wasn’t ready.

It wasn’t the money or anything. As a site engineer for a telecom outfit, I could afford a family. What I couldn’t afford was my well ordered life spinning on its heels. I liked the single life. Change was inevitable, I knew but I wasn’t in a hurry.

Hadn’t been in a hurry, until now.

I called a colleague on vacation in the US and asked him to help bring the platinum ring I ordered.

I shouldn’t have bothered, Nkoyo left me four days later.

“I am sorry, Mon. I don’t think this is what I want anymore.”

I thought she was joking.

It took two weeks of failed reunion attempts for me to get it.

I had been dumped.

Diana and Leo’s wedding held three months later, Diana was glowing like a giant fire-fly while Leo was a frowning frog.

Mom was so happy, I thought she would burst.

I hid my frustration and smiled for the cameras. But inside I was drowning in a bog.

The conversation we had at the doors of the church before I walked her up the aisle lingers…

“Monday”

“Yes, Diana”

“Be happy for me, OK? Please?”

“Diana, you know– alright. Don’t look at me like that. Look, everyone is waiting.”

“Let them wait. I need your blessing Mon, please.”

“God be with you little sis.”

“Amen.”

With that, she raised her head and straightened her back and we walked into the church. Behind her veil, tears shone in her eyes, and I began to wonder if it was real.

Could Leo be the love of Diana’s life?

Was I just being a miserable brother-in-law eating ogre?

After the wedding, Diana went back to her job teaching at a private university in Aba while Leo was in Calabar with me. He worked at a bank as a marketer, but we seldom met and never called.

A month later, Diana got a fabulous job in an international oil company in Port Harcourt. No matter how I teased she wouldn’t tell me how much she was earning.

“Mon, it is huge. Gosh! I can’t believe it.” She kept saying again and again.

Soon she called to say she was expecting. Twins. No, she didn’t know what sexes yet. Yes, she was fine. Very fine.

She had boys after ten hours of labour. Twinkle and Delight, Leo called them, like they were puppies or bear cubs. My dislike for him morphed into congealed contempt.

One weekend, I ran into him at a supermarket.

“Hey Mon, how are you doing?” Leo said.

“Good. Aren’t you supposed to be in
Port Harcourt with your family?

“I couldn’t make it man. I was tired, needed a rest.”

There was a pause. My sister was juggling twin boys, a new job, a strange town and this idiot was talking about rest?

Thoughts shifted in my head on cue, then all I saw was red, my fists burying themselves in his light skinned jowls, my knees kneading his balls in sharp succession, a tooth or two rolling on the cream tiles, and an immense sense of relief.

I smiled instead and walked away.

That weekend, I called in a few favours and by Monday, Leo was sacked.

When Diana called I sympathised. It was horrible, Leo being let off like that. Curse those horrid new generation banks.

The next time I saw her she was lying in a hospital bed with wires running out of every part of her.

“He didn’t mean to,” she croaked out of a broken jaw.

“Of course not, love. Shh don’t say a word.” I replied, crouched by her bed. That’s when everything became clear and I knew what had to be done.

The police booked it as a hit and run. Leo survived, making kids orphaned had never been my style. I was content to see him lose a leg. There wouldn’t be anymore beatings, or absenteeism.

Who knows? Maybe Diana would wake up someday and leave him. Yeah, I know, fat chance.

Gender Equations

Are men and women equal?
If no,
Who is the lesser?

The woman?
Because she has fewer muscles?

The man?
Because he does not bear a womb?

Are all humans equal?
Is the poor man equal to the rich?
Is the lame man equal to the athlete?
Is the illiterate equal to the prof?

Is human life a mere function of what one has, or does or owns?

Or is it more?

Is it the soul?

The unseen man
Not man made or man destroyed,
Keeper of conscience
Tender, seared or scoured?

Tell me, teacher
I need to know.

Tuesday Shorts: The Pigeon’s Nest – Sibongile Fisher

This story was written by an emerging award winning African writer, it is funny, smart, dark and deep. Read and share please.

Naane le Moya

My grandmother could bargain with death. She knew who was to die and it was always up to her to let them die or to trade their life for that of someone else. My turn came twice and both times she traded my aunt Mophi and my sister Limpho. Mophi was her least favourite child. She was not quiet and not shy but somehow unmemorable. Limpho on the other hand was sickly, she seemed the better one to die. When my grandmother found a dead pigeon on our doorstep she called for a family meeting. No one came— not even my mother—who lives two streets away. I don’t remember my mother’s face. She only contributes to my existence by showing up once every three years.

We are sitting under the apricot tree when the news of My Uncle Boy’s death came. He died digging for gold in an old mine…

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