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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My Precious ❤️

Oge_writes

I’m staring at my most recent picture of him. I took it months ago when we were to the bank to get some papers sorted out.
I remember being really mad at him that morning. My anger stemmed from impatience. I was in such a hurry to go out get the paperwork over and done with, he seemed to be taking his sweet, precious time talking to the guy next door. (If only I’d known in that moment how important that conversation was.)
But as we sat across from each other in the bank, I couldn’t help but think of how precious he was to me. How his very presence at that time assured me that all would be well, regardless of what the account officer had to say.
So while he typed away on his phone, I decided I wanted to capture that moment and save it forever. I…

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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.

Concealment Writing Contest!

BRILLIANT flash fiction

IMG_8799Prompt: CONCEALMENT
No Entry Fee
Word limit: 300 words, excluding title
Deadline: SEPTEMBER 15, 2017
Submissions: email to
brilliantflashfiction@gmail.com

Prizes:
50 euro first prize (or equivalent amount in your currency)
25 euro second prize
15 euro third prize
Judge: Charles Rammelkamp

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It Has To Do With Emilia: by Obinna Udenwe

I like the respect with which the writer handled his characters beliefs. This is how to write about religion whether you practice it or not. Read it for the great characters and nuanced story telling, share it cos it is that sweet and sad

AFREADA

The knock came once, tap . . . twice, tap . . . tap. Reluctantly, the man hurled himself from the bed. He had been working on some documents. His friend in Nairobi who worked with the AU Refugee Commission wanted him to look at them in return for some money for he was a man without a job who spent his days, for the last one year and counting, sleeping, reading newspapers and following the news on Al-Jazeera and TVC. He’d wondered who could be knocking so gently – had the knocks been loud, he would have thought it was his landlord or the landlord’s solicitor – he’d panicked until he opened the door . . . and yawned. Two ladies stood facing him. He yawned again, covering his open mouth with the back of his left palm.

‘Ehe?’

‘Kedu?’ they greeted.

‘Who are you?’

‘We are Jehovah’s…

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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