Posts Tagged ‘Prose’

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by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

I woke up this morning thinking of Nkem –that beautiful ebony girl with sleepy eyes and seductive smile. I woke up this morning thinking of her –the way she laughed, the softness of her voice when she said OK, and the awkward manner in which we ended our conversation last night. It is not just the silence that hovers annoyingly in our chat these days that worries me. It is not just the occasional “How are you” repeated over again to make up for the lack of something concrete to say. No, not that. It is this nagging feeling that our relationship has entered into that phase where conversations become clichéd –filled with the same hollow vowels and consonants and very little passion that are insufficient to justify two hundred, a hundred, fifty or ten naira credit spent in making the telephone conversation possible.

I woke up this morning arguing with myself whether I should call her or not. Perhaps, this is what idleness does to people, having been in this state for over a year, I must confess that I am a slow learner, because I’m still figuring it out.

The time was 9: 23 am and I was just waking up, though still rolling and turning on my bed wrapped in my bedspread. The sun rays were pouring into the room like columns of hungry ant in search of food. My shirt was soaked through with sweat –there have been no electricity for two days now. I staggered to my feet and reached for my blackberry. It was off. I had switched it off last night to conserve the battery. What can a poor man in Nigeria do? I forgot about Nkem, and my thought went to my Mom. I saw her in my mind sitting under the rain with an open umbrella in her hand, selling okpa on the street. “What would she have said about situations like this?” I thought to myself. “When the desirable becomes unavailable, the available becomes the desirable.” Yes, that was what Mother usually said whenever she found herself in an unpleasant situation that she could not change –like when my father took a second wife and stopped taking care of his kids, or when she fed me and my siblings only pap for breakfast, lunch and dinner due to lack of money to make a decent meal, or when she withdrew us from private school and put us in public school. Mother was a typical Nigerian –resigned to her fate, irredeemably optimistic, always religiously hopeful that I wouldn’t be surprised if she found a way to crack a joke if faced by a firing squad. I smiled dryly at this thought, and switched on my phone. I had 35 new emails, most of them facebook notifications. I skimmed through them, and finally went to the ones with job adverts.

An hour later, and with 3 job applications sent, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. My thought went back to Nkem, and every emotion, every fear and feeling gradually returned accompanied by the argument –should I just call her or should I not. It was now becoming a tug-of-war –a fight between my ego and that little gentle voice. I took some water and rinsed my mouth with it. Then I spitted out the water, and I looked long at the broken mirror on the bathroom wall. “When did it come to this –debating and looking for a reason to call her?” I asked the reflection on the mirror. “This is Nkem.” I thought to myself. I could still remember the time when we had something interesting to say, when our love burnt bright, and our chats were long and intimate, full of longing and love for each other. “What happened to us?” I thought out loudly to myself as I stood there at the mirror, looking at my reflection. My eyes were still pale from sleep, and two stretch marks ran through my face. My beard was bushy and needed shaving. I ran my hand on my hair and sighed. “I need to call her. I have to call her.” I said wearily to myself.

A knock on the door just then interrupted my thought. I came out of the bathroom, and opened the door. It was my landlord’s youngest son –a boy of nine. He was standing there at my door half asleep, completely unaware of the battle going on in my mind. He must have just woken up then. His hair was untidy and so was his clothe. He was also barefooted. He always has this disarming smile, and a hopelessly naïve outlook on life even for a 9 year old. I smiled when I opened the door.
“Arinze, how are you? How may I help you?” I said to him.
“Good morning Uncle Val.” He muttered with a forced smile hanging conspicuously on his face. “My daddy wants to know if we can borrow sugar from you.”

I scratched my head. My six day old St Louis sugar was almost finished from overuse. I bought it initially for my personal consumption, but it had since become a public property, serving me and a family of six. I just couldn’t refuse to share something as cheap as a packet of sugar, or salt, or my only belt, or the occasional two hundred to one thousand naira I borrow to them which are never paid back. I left the door, went into the kitchen and brought out the packet of sugar and handed it over to him. He smiled, thanked me and ran off to their side of the house.

I went back into the kitchen, washed the dishes from yesterday, warmed the leftover foods, and put the kettle with water in it on the stove. Tea and bread –that would be my breakfast. The water boiled and I poured some into a cup with Lipton in it. I searched for the sugar and remembered after few minutes of ransacking my cupboard that I had just given it out. So I ran over to my landlord’s place to retrieve whatever was left of it.

11: 07 am. I was sitting on my bed slowly sipping my tea, and going through my phone at the same time. I noticed a status on facebook that read: “How can something so sweet, suddenly becomes stale.” It was from Nkem. The time stamp said that it was posted about 11 hours ago, which was less than an hour after our last phone conversation. Guilt and anger both swept through me.
“I should have called immediately I woke up. I should call her.” I said loudly to myself. Still I made no effort to dial her number. Instead I sat there sipping my tea. “If the relationship was becoming stale, it was also her fault.” I thought, almost smiling to myself then like I just discovered a cure for Aids, “yes she should have called me this morning too instead of posting trash on facebook.”

I finished breakfast and tidied the room. Then I made use of the toilet, showered and dressed up. I checked the time after I put on my clothes, it was 12:52 pm. NEPA as Nigerians prefer to call electricity was still unavailable. I picked up a book to read but it was hot inside the room. I opened a window, the sun rays that flooded the room were so irritating to my skin that I quickly closed it and drew the curtain. The room — stuffy — sat in uncomfortable dullness. I decided to sit outside. I picked up my phone; the battery was already almost down. “I should at least text her and see how she was doing.” I thought to myself as I paced the room, searching for the right words, and the right way to put them in order not to sound too needy and less in charge. After about ten minutes of soul searching, or to put it more aptly vocabulary searching, I typed: “Hey babe, how is your day going? Hope all is well? Do have a nice day. Love you.”
I erased the last two words, then typed them back, then erased them again. I typed “missed you” in their place. I scratched my head and thought about it. “Love you. Miss you. Love you. Miss you.” I repeated the words to myself as if saying them over and over would deliver me from the sick feeling in my mind. I looked up at the ceiling. Besides the dilapidated and worn out plywood which leaked water during the rainy season, there was nothing there for me. “Just call her.” The little voice in my mind whispered gently to me, “Just call her.” I shook my head, switched off the phone without sending the message, and stepped out for a walk.

More than three hours later, I still haven’t called or sent the text. My phone had been switched off since then, so I didn’t know if anyone tried reaching me through it or not. I had initially intended to walk around my street and back, but on stepping out, I’d bumped into an old friend. We both had a lot of catching up to do, a little more strolling, and two bottles of beer to help water the garden of our friendship. I came home at around 4:22 pm. NEPA was still unavailable. I took a shower, changed my clothes and lay down on the bed. I switched on the phone, nine emails and one text message. The text message was from Nkem, and it read, “Hey Val, how are you? Hope all is well. We seriously need to talk about everything. Hear from you soon.”

Something jacked off in my brain. The stubbornness — those walls that I built — which had prevented me from calling her all day gave way and in its place; fear. “What exactly does she mean in the text message?” I thought to myself. I stood up and started pacing the room. My mind was racing and I was also biting my tongue. I dialled her number immediately. She didn’t pick up the first time. On the second try, she answered.
“Hey My love, how are you baby.” I said as gently and as lovingly as I could.
That was when my phone battery died.

THE END

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

by Tim Nwaobilo

I woke up, for the 2nd time that day, one cold Saturday afternoon feeling lazy. It’s those kind of Saturdays that you don’t feel like doing anything. Well, maybe not like doing anything exactly, but you don’t feel like doing anything that will stress you or make you leave your bed. Actually, I had hardly left my bed all morning. The cold was a bit numbing here. The cold always started from 7:00 pm on an average day and lasted till around 12:00pm the next day. That’s the Nigerian harmattan season. My uncle who I chatted with by 9:00 am that morning while still lying on my bed informed me that it was just 23^C there in “The State of Osun”, that was the way the APC governor of “State of Osun” instructed everyone to called it; State of Osun, and not “Osun state”. Just like he preferred his name being prefixed with “Ogbeni” instead of just “Gomino Rauf Aregbesola”. Ogbeni means “Mr” in yoruba language. One could be jailed for failing to properly address His Excellency.

Why this was the first thought to cross my mind immediately after waking up, I still wonder. Ok…honestly it must have been the 2nd or 3rd thing that crossed my mind post-sleep, after the Football Manager 14 game I was playing on my smart phone before I dozed off; and definitely after the fact that I had possessed intentions to go and pray to my God somewhere quiet earlier in the day. Maybe it was because everywhere I looked all I saw was Jonathan and Buhari posters and billboards, telling me why I should vote for Jonathan or why I should vote for Buhari, Or that everywhere I listened, all that people were discussing was how evil Buhari used to be, or how Jonathan could have been a “nicer” president, or how Buhari was the better of the two evils or how Jonathan …and so on and so forth (you see what I mean already?) I woke up thinking WHERE IS THE GEJA I USED TO HEAR ABOUT?

You must be wondering what GEJA means and what it has to do with anything. In 2011, during the Presidential campaigns in Nigeria, some people came up with the acronym GEJA—Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Azikiwe. Adding Azikiwe to Goodluck Jonathan’s name was to sort of idolise him, and to portray him with this saviour-like personae that was normally attributed to the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president. I do not know if they realized that reconstructing GEJA could also give JEGA. Professor Attahiru Jega was the chairman of the INEC, the electoral body. If GEJA=JEGA, I think the deeper interpretation is best left to your imagination.

So, where is the GEJA I used to hear about? After years of military rule, 8 years of a controversially democratic Obasanjo aka OBJ rule, and 4 years of an OBJ proxy-rule, Nigerians sought for some deliverance, someone who would wipe away their tears. They wanted change. They craved for a leader who would feel their shoe-pinch and live on their heart-beat. It’s no wonder then that the “shoeless” Jonathan fitted this mental picture and Nigerians were all too willing to fit him into the physical frame. The people I used to hear then promoting this, kept preaching at every available opportunity how poor he had been in his early life and how much of a commoner like us he was. If he didn’t have shoes in his childhood days, we surely could give him a chance to rule us, right? I don’t think many people asked how many pairs of shoes he now had.

Jonathan was from a much maligned tribe, so he might have been the voice to raise up a people that had potentials for greatness, but had remained buried. It’s apparent that in the past 4 years (make that 5), Jonathan has been the president of not-the-Ijaws but of Nigeria. After all, wasn’t that what he was elected to be? Southern Nigerians who were feeding on the fantasies of a president who would turn the South-South into a heaven must be chewing their fingers (or whatever is left of it) in regret and disappointment.

Where is the GEJA I used to hear about? Yes, the GEJA I used to “hear” about. I repeat for emphasis: HEAR about. What sweet tales did we not hear! Nigeria would become America if you waited for a meagre 4 years, we can wait right? After all, we have Patience as our first name…scratch that…first lady. We were told that Power supply would be so stable that it would be visible and tangible. GEJA, where are you? They said corruption was devilish and since we were electing an angel, corruption would naturally (I reckon supernaturally is more appropriate) die off. If you are a Nigerian or based in Nigeria, I suppose you know where we are on that. It is now obvious we were fed fat French-baked pies in the skies…hmmm, yummy! The name Boko Haram is now synonymous with Jonathan’s incompetency and lack of quality leadership. That is one of the most shameful blemishes of the Jonathan presidency.

I am not disappointed. No, I am not. I am not disappointed in GEJA. This is because I didn’t expect anything better from him, other than what OBJ or the OBJ-proxy had previously offered. I, for one, was of the notion that Jonathan was simply an appendage of the OBJ dynasty, and therefore of the conclusion that he wouldn’t offer more than OBJ had stuffed down our polluted throats for some years, except he was offering more in the negative order, which he actually seems to have contrived to achieve, arguably. If puppets were held on strings, Jonathan was probably held on bridge draw-strings, the kind used on the River Thames. It’s interesting to note however that he seems to have outgrown his master’s ropes and has imbibed a similar trait from him—stubbornness. I ensured I didn’t raise my expectations of his government so that in the case he couldn’t fully rise to the challenge, I wouldn’t be chewing my nails, like most of my compatriots are doing now.

I was on the election queue that day in April, 2011 when some people awaiting their turn to vote produced a newspaper. The paper was a complete derision of Jonathan’s main opponent. It had many people confused that day. I could see and hear from conversations that many people who hadn’t given Jonathan a thought previously were now doing so. If his main opponent was such a devil as seen in that particular paper, then Jonathan might as well be the lesser of two devils. In fact, some well enlightened members of my family who were with me that day advised me not to waste my vote by not voting for Jonathan. I was not moved, as I am up till now. Jonathan ended up winning that election and Nigerians have been reaping the dividends, haven’t we? However good or badly his government has performed is a matter for critical discourse and dissection, but the fact that Nigerians are now seeking for another change, the kind of change which they thought the Jonathan era was to introduce in 2011, says a whole lot about the present administration. If indeed Nigerians have found their saviour, would there be all the on-going tremor and anxiety? Wouldn’t the majority of Nigerians be clamouring for a continuity? Would they be willing to consider another “change” so soon? I doubt that.

GEJA no longer inspires the downtrodden like he used to do. GEJA no longer means god. GEJA is after all a human, not an angel. The GEJA camp no longer adds the ‘A’ to his acronym lest they be lynched in the burnt and deserted streets of Chibok! Where is the GEJA I used to hear about?

I calmly closed my laptop which I had been working with while lying on the bed, got up and prepared to step out to watch an English Premier League match with my guys. I think Chelsea was playing. I would rather give my support to and raise my expectations of Chelsea (like winning the UEFA Champions League this season) than expect anything good to come out of Nazareth-Otuoke. At least Chelsea is on top of the League.

Tim Nwaobilo is a Mechanical Engineer, writer, poet and programmer. He writes from Port Harcourt.

Liberty of Creativity

by David Coxson

1st Jan, 2015.

He remembers Kate. He gets his old diary, looks at the dates, and smiles. It had been rough, he thought to himself; quite rough. The new year will be different, he assures himself with the same sad smile upon his face.

2014.
April 15th.

He met Kate. It wasn’t the most romantic of ways. . .or perhaps it was. Kunfe had gone to Sweet Sensations to dig himself into some quick lunch, and Kate had been the girl at the counter. He’d thrown a jibes about phones hung around the breast region not ever having a good network reception afterwards. She had laughed coyly and somehow, he had got her number. It wasn’t a hard thing.

5th, May.

After a couple of dates and some breath-taking moments together with Kate, he had confided in Jane. Jane has been a very wonderful friend. She had told him to take it slow, and not to get hurt.
In her words; ”Guy meets girl. They overwhelm each other. Chat about everything and late into the night too. Gradually, chats become boring. Everything talk-able has been poured into the first few weeks. Then comes the late replies. Sometimes, there would be no replies. And the love starts, or appears to start dying. And someone gets hurt. So, Kunfe, don’t get hurt.”
He had promised he would not, and that Kate was different.

9th, July.

The first sign. Un-replied whatsapp messages. Last seen proved she kept coming online for two days. There should be no excuse for not replying him.

11th, July.

She replied. She had been very busy, and whenever she logged in; it was to check incoming messages. There was no time or chance to reply them. He had told her he understood.

20th, July.

Another un-replied message. She kept coming online but would not reply. Was he over-reacting or too sensitive? He had to calm down, he told himself. Message was replied 9hours later. A ”busy now” would have sufficed, he thought.

1st, August.

He intentionally didn’t send a happy new month message. By text, call or whatsapp. Why does she expect him to be the first to always do that? Disappointedly, she was too busy to do that too.

2nd, August.

”Happy new month, dear. Sorry it came late.” He had to do it.
She replied ‘Kk.’
It was unlike her. Until now, she had never abbreviated. He loathed it. The ‘ks’ and ‘kks.’ He sighed. It was coming.

4th, September.

For two months now, he had been the one calling her. She’d earlier beeped or sent a ”call me back”, and now, those have stopped. He was beginning to go crazy. He loved her. God knows he did.

22nd, September.

He had promised to never call or text her until she does. And he would stick to it. Good radiance to bad rubbish. Why is Kate never like Jane. Sweet Mary-jane; always understanding. Even the taunts and teases were soft on her. She could handle any joke in the world. But Kate? The slightest innocent word would be twisted to make him look like the devil. To allay his welled up anger and frustration, he whatsapped Mary-jane. As usual, they ended the chat with a laughing Kunfe.

October. . . November. . .

She’d simply whatsapped him for the important holidays, and family or friends’ events. He’d answered casually. End of chat. The love was gone. He was sure.

25th, December.

He waited till evening to wish her merry christmas. He knew she’d be waiting for him to do it first. That was always the problem. She always wanted him to do everything first. He hated it. He realised they haven’t seen or gone on a date with each other for two months now. She had been too busy.
She replied: ”Very early for you to do that. Merry Christmas anyway.”
They had a little chat. She had to do something.

1st January, 2015

Enough is enough. Never unearth what wishes to remain buried. He looks at his watch. It is 3:15pm and she still has not called or texted to wish him a happy new year. She will always claim she loves him. It is evident she doesn’t.
He tears out a sheet of paper. And begins to write:

1. Find a new love.

2. Take it slow with her.
Will not overwhelm her too soon.
Be mysterious as it fuels the love longer.

3. Would not open…

Phone rings. Hidden caller Id.
”Happy new year, Sweetheart. You mean the world to me and I’d never lose you for anything. I want you to know I really love you. I’ll be coming to see you tomorrow…”

He tears the paper before he realises it. He bit his lips tightly as he volleys the paper into the bin. He could never stop loving her, come what may.

Coxson David is an aspiring writer and a student of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. A member of Talesmen literature, and Da’Sacred Poetry.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Onugbolu Sinclair Chisom

Hands held tightly together with emanating smiles filled with radiance. The scene was in the serenity and ambience of a cool and calm neighbourhood in the zone 1 area of Abuja. Two lovers stood staring into each other’s eyes, speechless, with only body language left as the only means by which they communicated their undying love for each other.
Nothing else in the world mattered except for that moment of silent screams of love professed between these two love birds.
I knew he had fallen In love with Funke and even when I had tried countless times to make sense of my feelings, I still arrived at the same conclusion. It was time to stop fighting.
Going back to how it all started was a bother sometimes, as was with history and dates in general to me, but this was one story worth committing to memory. A lane down memory’s highway worth walking.

* * * *
‘I know you are still with them, you cheat! otherwise why do they call you as often as they do, aren’t they supposed to be your exes?’ Ifeyinwa shouted at the top of her voice as I looked on in complete awe.
It was always a problem when I get a call from a female, I was practically restricted from using social media, and it was usually verbal harassment from time to time.
She was the drama queen of queens, the executive producer of all things acting.
My friends would ask, ‘Emeka, how do you do it? I swear you dey try.’
‘Na God oh!’ I would always reply.
I wasn’t a player like she had made me out to be, she would always check my phone even though I locked with several codes and patterns, a feat even the prestigious CIA would find tedious. I still wonder how she did it, but trying to figure it out will only make me age faster.
We made up more times than models aspiring to be beauty queens, our countless fights and subsequent break-ups were too numerous to count, and also phenomenal each time. But on this faithful day our conversation ended thus, ‘F**k you, I don’t care what you do with this relationship anymore.’
It stuck in my mind, I had vowed not to continue with it, to forever end it and face whatever may follow. I decided also, to look no further as I was convinced love was not for me.
Ifeyinwa’s relationship was but a needle among other needles in a haystack. I’d had my fair share of bad relationships, some of my prior experiences terrible, others, not so much. . .and I had decided not to keep looking.

* * * *
‘Meet my Funke baby.’ My overly jovial friend in his usual happy mood said as he introduced me to a mermaid or a goddess whichever I believed her to be as I stared with arms outstretched, everything paused around me then.
I felt a rush of emotions so strong backed up with an overdose of adrenaline. My heart was racing and I began to feel hot inside. I wondered when I suddenly began to develop impromptu fever. Then I realized it was the effect of her skin against mine.
‘Hello.’ I said as I struggled for the right facial expression and the right words.
‘I’m funke. . .Emeka, nice to meet you, my pleasure.’ She said in a rather musically voice.
Right then I noticed the birds gathered on a nearby tree to listen to her voice. It was melodious, like a nightingale at the break of dawn. In her meticulous NYSC enforced white T-shirt and shorts, she looked like an angel, and I felt like I had been touched by one. I did not have the words for her eyes as I struggled to look away from them. I was jolted back to reality by Patrick when I realized I still held her hands and muttered a quick apology.

* * * *
I had recited to myself “she is not yours to think about” countless times in my head anytime my mind threatened to go out of its boundaries. Besides I wasn’t going to be coerced into falling for anyone else just because the connection felt great.
Or wasn’t I? Secretly I yearned to see her again even though I made sure my actions or words betrayed no such emotions.
I would sometimes ask Patrick, ‘How is your Funke baby? Omo that your chic makes so much sense oh you know bah?’
And he would glow like a thousand watt bulb with an ear-to-ear-smile and say ‘Funke fa? I know oh, she’s so fine but na God oh my brother.’
We would share a good laugh and I died after every one of those conversations.
Then came the cultural day, a day set out for the display of various cultures and traditions, guys and girls were adorned in various traditional attires, costumes and accessories depicting the vastness of the Nigerian culture.
Funke looked be-dazzling, dressed as a queen in Edo state, royalty was definitely befitting of one so lovely with her sedate walk and shiny spotless skin. She turned heads with her royal gait. I took a couple of pictures with her which I vowed to make multiple backup copies of. I was not about to lose such a digital relic.
The mandatory three weeks passed rather uneventful after that. Some people had anxiously waited to get their posting letters while others were confident about where they would be posted to.
I was among the anxious lot and my posting took me far away from any prospects of ever crossing paths with the graceful Funke. I tried not to think about it, but I had little control over my mind any time it veered towards thoughts of her.

* * * *
Months passed and it seemed like I had successfully been able to suppress any proactive feeling once nurtured towards her. I hadn’t gotten her phone number just her blackberry pin as was the trend then; as such I had to make do with a once-in-a-while chat with her. I hardly knew what to say to her in all of conversations then, until I found out she is a dedicated fan of the arsenal football club like I am. This was match-made in heaven. I genuinely enjoyed her virtual company each time we would chat and suddenly we lost contact again.
It was actually my fault as I had become a technology/gadget prostitute. I jumped from phone to phone and device after device I was insatiable and as such communication was unsteady.
Several months had gone by yet again, before I felt I was settled with a device. I had gotten tired of the emotional instability as well, and as such I decided once and for all to approach her. But I would do it with caution while gently preparing my platform from which to launch my already prepared manifesto. I was ready for Funke, I was powered and ready to go.

* * * *
‘Area one, Berger, Wuse, Area one, Berger, Wuse. . .’ The conductors continued to chant at the top of their voices amidst other park sounds as we drove slowly pas the park.
I attempted to blot out the noise so I could effectively think of my approach. Staring at her picture seemed to do the trick as I had begun to filter, the voices became clearer in my head and without warning, I typed on my phone “give me your number.” This might not have passed as a pick up line or any kind of line anywhere in the world, but it was the genesis of a revelation and the end of the beginning.
I had broken the ice and my speech was going to be verbally delivered. She needed to listen to the sincerity and urgency of my profession of this love which had been at first sight. I was in the “Ghen-Ghen” mode as we often referred to “readiness” when we were kids.
For where? I didn’t profess any love to her, as soon as I heard her voice I started talking about irrelevant things after we had exchanged pleasantries. Things like the Barclays English Premiership, and life after service in general, among others, were what we talked about and as the saying goes, “my liver failed me.” I urged death to do as it would. This was the last straw after the long nights of practising and researching, I failed to convey my heart’s message in words and comprehensive sentences.
“wetin concern Ox-lade chamberlain with matter wey I wan reason Barbina?” I asked myself countless times as I wiped the sweat off my face.
I don’t know if it was the intense heat or the apprehension from the call that made me break into sweat. Either way I realized I was sweating profusely.
Days passed and I had gotten into a rhythm. I began to pour my heart’s contents in bits, and carefully measured bits they were too. Calculated in such a way as not to drive her away and also to drive home my point.
I was almost certain it sounded like a joke to her at first, ridiculous even. But as nights turned into days she had begun to see the seriousness of my efforts.
“What is it you want exactly?” She asked.
In what I decided was the “prime” conversation and without mincing words, I told her “I want to be him.”
That to me was the highlight of it all. After subsequent chats she asked that I be patient until we were able to arrange a physical meeting. The virtual communique had to be halted. She needed to see me to ascertain my sincerity and probably reaffirm my looks. I laughed as the thought entered my head.
“She won’t want to be with a monkey.” I said to myself.
And even when it was supposed to be on a lighter note, I was apprehensive and anxious within.
We met over lunch; at least that’s what it was meant to be even though we ended up not eating, we were carried away by the magic of it all. The day hadn’t started on a good note. I was extraordinarily late because I couldn’t find what I termed “the perfect spot” for our meeting. I was frustrated and tired but all that as I found out was not to matter. She picked our spot and it was perfect. We talked for hours on end, I still remember her bright smile that opened to reveal a perfect set of dentition. . .could anyone be more perfect? I thought to myself as I allowed myself get carried away by her eyes. I was often caught staring. I loved her.
I chose not to be given an answer there and then for fear of not being able to contain whatever feelings that may have burst forth from an already anxious soul. I wouldn’t have been able to contain myself, whatever the answer may have been whether it was a “yes” or a “no”, this was worse than a proposal. I couldn’t get my mind off her throughout the ride home as I struggled to maintain sanity. I sat in silence and thought.
I remembered how I spat lines like I was constantly in a music studio booth only for her to repel each time for fear of being betrayed. It was tiring, the journey so far had made me to reflect; she wasn’t playing “hard-to-get,” she was only guarding her heart, her exes had made things very difficult for her future that was to be “ME”.
My phone rang later that day, or was it night? And when I saw the caller ID “Funke” I ran out of oxygen. It was like asphyxiation. I finally picked and the only thing I could remember was, “I really like you and all, and I want to see where this goes so, yes I will go out with you” or was that the way she said it? Either way Funke was officially my girl.

* * * *
Time has passed and the magic of that day still continues till this very moment. Funke is still my “general wahala prescribed drug” from heaven. The angel that abandoned immortality for me, my better half and my companion. I often tell myself if she was Eve I would eat a basket of the apples. I understand the plight of Adam, and I am no longer angry at how the creation story turned out.
I am forced to bring my recount to an end, because time will never be enough and forever is too short in the long run to let Funke know how much I adore, care and love her.

* * * * * * * * * * *THE END* * * * * * * * * * *

Onugbolu Sinclair Chisom is a mathematician and computer scientist. A graduate of Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria. A founding member of Lyriversity. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria. You may reach him on twitter: @vaischancellor

Onugbolu Sinclair Chisom, Photo courtesy of Facebook Onugbolu Sinclair's image

Onugbolu Sinclair Chisom, Photo courtesy of Facebook Onugbolu Sinclair’s image

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

CISTERN. . .an excerpt (Prose)

Posted: October 12, 2014 in PROSE
Tags: ,

by Oluwatosin Lion Oni

Alex spied through the window sill in the library, he could see clouds forming horse shapes and wingless cherubs, many of which take recognition in his imagination only. Nigrescent nimbi lower, the prequelling lightning uncracking and cracking like slavetrader’s whips, preface to the rain to pour at large. He walked away, towards the egress. But not away enough. Like a conspiracy expressed in rain, the sluice-gates of the skies, whose iron clang and bang was earlier heard in the jarring baritones of thunder, opened wide and rain, appendix to the peroration gush out in thick fingers of water that they obscure everywhere; eyes could not see more than an inch into the distance. He could return upstairs, for now he was already downstairs, to the company of the birthday celebrant or enter into the rain and soak the ego of his starch-stiff shirt. No longer reckoned with, those who profess nephology, for the clouds have disowned their habits of revealing their menu. In consequence, people always carry along their umbrella for impromptu cloud-crybabying.
Alex heard footfalls, of, many, people, all, from, diverse reading-rooms in the library, all rushing to towards him where he stood gazing at the energetic ranting rain, all with their umbrellas unfurled, ready to daunt the rain and run towards their car. Alex, on your own, on your own.
Bintu, in her economy of strides finally came out of the library, but without an umbrella like Alex. An EOD sat in the open. It could be hers, he thought. Spoilt brats in capitals ride far better horses than this. And what is their sin? They keep their fingernails unbroken.
They waited under the architrave, for an hour, of silence that has deep evenings. Silence except the continuous rant of the heranguing rain, the implacable tantrum of the thunder, the unveiled langour of lightning. It was silence, silence uncontaminated with the impurities of words. And words are holy, these equal words folly. Some nods of consent finally agree to shush the rain and put the clouds in chains. Bintu moved towards the car. Ah ha! It was hers after all, he thought. She sped away in full speed.
The clouds burst again, heavier. The rain wad not even about him, but in silence and noise so mingled together like mixed metaphors, people take magnified meanings in innocuous happenstances. He stared at his wrist, spying at time, the warder of existence, and the hand of the warder said a quarter past five. If he could make it to Arinkerindo bus stop, he would get a car his street-bound.
Ten minutes later, he saw it not, the car, black in complexion, just three weeks old, Cinderella by name, Bintu’s. That could not be her voice, because they cut through the heavy thunderstroked rain. Thunder spoke, ‘Get in’, and who can say no in thunder.
The drive was snail- sluggish; lesser rains than this have mutated landscapes, displaced houses and spoilt lives, it has soaked both merchandise and dreams beyond caulking. Familiarly, Bintu navigated through the thick of water already lording it over the tarmac: each car pointed at each other its full light, the necessary provocation in a rain-drenched noon verging on evening. . .

Oni Oluwatosin Joseph. Photo Courtesy of Facebook, Oni Oluwatosin's Image

Oni Oluwatosin Joseph. Photo Courtesy of Facebook, Oni Oluwatosin’s Image

Oni Oluwatosin Joseph, a poet and word acrobat, writes poetry and prose and play; he is working on a novel, The Half Circle and the Full Drums, and a collection of short stories, Going to Gambia.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Tonye Willie-Pepple

The drive to No 2 Walter Carrington Street on Victoria Island is not too cumbersome, the appointment letter from the US Consulate General’s office reads 20th March 2006, 11am, since you left early enough from the hotel on Lekki Phase 1, it won’t be long before you arrived their gate.
In the time you spend on traffic, you notice, movements of passersby heading for the day’s work, some standing on bus stops, waiting for the Obalende route, others stationed there, selling either bean cake or unripe plantain chips.

Faintly, you over-hear bus conductors screaming, beckoning on passengers to board,
“Balende, Balende” one echoes in a very discordant tone and another continues with,
“Semes, Balende, Balende Semes”
You chuckle because he calls it “Semes” instead of “CMS” you remember the last time you were in Lagos from school on an adventure trip.

The driver then, a scruffy looking elderly man with gray hairs on the sides of his ears,swore to you and Elohor, that his bus was heading your way from Oshodi, only to realize a bit later from the sign posts around the approaching neighbourhood that you had been re-routed to Yaba as against FESTAC, venue of Tunde Ade’s party, which was what you went to Lagos for.
“Oga, No be Yaba we say we dey go now” Elohor protested loudly.
She was not one to be toyed around with, that girl, she spoke her mind anytime, anywhere and anyhow, sometimes it irritated you but other times it came out necessary, like then.
“Ahhhh, wis kind nonsense you de talk?” the old driver yelled trying to intimidate,
“Nor be Osodi to Akoka you hear me de shout when we dey for Osodi?” He continued.
“You de craze well, well, liar like you” Elohor exploded.
You had to try and calm her down because you knew she could cause a serious scene right there, not like you really cared if she lost her mind for you had witnessed that part of her several time, but your concern was more about an uncle or aunt not spotting you in Lagos, all the way from school in Owerri.
“Come down abegi, Ashewo, na so una dey waka without control” The old man had added, spitting his irritation in the air as he pulled over, and came down to open the bus for you, because he alone had the technical know how to open it.

For a moment you prayed he wouldn’t spit again, especially since he was close to you, such saliva could infect one with ringworm, you thought, with a smirk on your face, and you may well have just lost some decorum and shown him how much of Elohor’s character you had imbibed if it did touch you.

* * *
That was in 1998 when you were still young undergraduates at the Imo State University, Owerri, when all you could think about was Tunde Ade and his gangster ways. You wonder why you ever liked the boy that much to even think of going to Lagos where he eventually became the first man to feel the moistness between your thighs.
Maybe it was the voyeuristic tendencies that lurked beneath his playfulness, his rakish behaviours, you wanted to save him from being a bad boy, and you ended up being the bad girl. Or maybe it was you trying to make Elohor feel you were a big girl like her and enjoying the camaraderie that came with dating the roughest and the toughest on campus.
Whatever it was, maturity had made it disappear like ‘the puff of summer wind’.

* * *
Now in 2005 you were with Kamsi, you had known the dignity of being a woman because he treated you like his queen.
You turn your gaze away from the window towards Kamsi, you can’t believe you are finally married to him.
After four years of waiting for him to propose, to be a man, not that he was a woman, but from the south where you both came from, you Ijaw, he Igbo, a man was considered a man when if he could fend for his household from the strength of his arms.

You remember how Elohor had pointed her middle finger to her head and asked
“Are you mad?”
Her eyeballs shinning and rolling at the same time.
“A guy who cannot even afford to send you money to join your friends for shopping in Dubai, shopping that will help him in the end when you make profit from your sales” She had said.
When she yelled, trying hard to sink a point into your head even if it meant surgically putting them in there, she resembled Nneka the pretty serpent, a spiritually possessed but beautiful character in one of the early Nollywood movies.
“Elohor I am not mad but madly in love with Kamsi, he may not have enough to give me now, but he’s got prospects and last time I checked my family still cared” You replied her then, unconsciously admiring her make-up and how well it fitted her fair oval face. “I hear you, soon you will tell me about his plans to own a shipping line and bring goods from Spain, dem nor dey use vex buy ship ooo, na money.” She mocked.

* * *
“Honey we are almost at the consulate”Kamsi says turning to see you lost in him.
He smiles shyly and asks “Why are you staring at me?”
“Nobody said it was a crime to stare at my own husband” You reply and he says
“I’ll stare back my turn when we’re in a room in Hawaii” biting his lower lip mischievously.
You laugh at the naughtiness of his words, and you look forward to being in his arms,leaning your bosoms on his hairy chest.

This was the Kamsi you believed in. The Kamsi you finally married against all odds, and yes, you looked forward to announcing to the world that your Kamsi was taking you to America for honeymoon from his shipping profits.
You can’t wait to see Elohor’s face when you mention it to her, you imagine her rejoicing with same energy she had used to advice you against him. You imagine her say “Ahh, baby girl it was good you didn’t take my advice oo.” Yes, she could say it. She was good like that, which was why you called her Angel, sometimes.

* * *
“Mr. and Mrs. Ugonna?”
The voice from the low tuned public address system calls out, you walk down to the office which has a tag on the door written “VISAS”.
You remember all the stories you’ve heard of people who were refused visas. From their narratives, it was never a pleasant experience, but somehow you knew you’d get the visa, were you not the wife of Kamsi Ugonna again? The shipping magnate who travelled abroad like it was the next bus stop.
A few questions and a ticking on a paper after each, the stern African American lady gives you a smile of “You may now leave”.
“Please pick up your visas tomorrow” she says as if it was never a big deal after all.
You smile,at the same time feeling the sweat of joyful anxiety from your pores, you are finally going to America for your honeymoon, you had wish-fully talked about it with friends in school but now it was going to be a reality.
Kamsi squeezes your hands softly and leads you towards the lobby.

The next day you pick up your visas from another office where a rather cheerful lady wishes you a pleasant stay on the Islands of Aloha.
“What is that?” you ask Kamsi and he explains that it’s a slogan for Hawaii.
On your way out of the premises driven by the hotel cab guy who brought you, he busy bodily reverses without watching and hits a little boy down.

“Heeeyyyyy, e don die oooo, e don die ooo, hold am, hold am, ole, (Thief) e wan run” The voices shouting echoes and reverberates in your head, like a hypnotic feeling.

* * *
“Aunty, Aunty, wake up aunty” Chidiadi screams waking you up from a nightmare, you jump up, turning your head left and right to understand where it is that you are.
“Take him to the hospital, lets take him to the hospital”
You scream and Chidiadi replies
“Aunty we de for house”
“Blood dey your bed aunty” She adds looking sadly at your sheets, night dress and wrapper, all soaked.
Then, you realize it has happened again, another miscarriage;

“Where is Kamsi?” You ask.
“Uncle just comot wit dog now, go jog” She replies, “Na en say make I come help you clean the bed”
She adds walking into the bathroom, probably to get you a change of clothes and towel.
You look at the time, it’s past 6am,
“So he knew, the son of a bitch.”
You scream and burst into tears
“Sorry aunty, no cry, e go better.”
Chidiadi says coming in to see you in tears,
“Get out of here.” You order.
“Yes Ma.” she replied.

You know she didn’t deserve it but being considerate is the least thing on your mind and to think that she is one of the people Mama Kamsi brought from their God forsaken village to keep an eye on you, adds salt to injury.
You think of this because you remember the series of misfortunes you have had with pregnancies and Mama Kamsi’s response to each episode.

First it was the twin you lost three months after your return from Honeymoon, you didn’t know what to make of it, your doctor’s report proved you were very okay during the series of private tests you underwent after you said “Yes“ to Kamsi, because you were afraid the abortion you had many years back in school to remove Tunde’s baby had damaged you somehow, but Dr. Edozien certified you okay and only recommended an injection against development of antibodies in the event of a Rhesus factor incompatibility when you got married.
But your family’s Presbyterian Church had requested a full blown test on you and Kamsi, being a requirement of their Marriage Counselling for couples and the results showed you and your husband as Rhesus compatible.
So you were shocked when you aborted the twin you and Kamsi had so much started preparing for after the scan.

Mama Kamsi and a host of other family members came by to sympathize with you, some saying “Ndo” Sorry, others praying or singing from a hymn of comfort in trying times, while Mama Kamsi sat down legs crossed and arms folded, making a face like she was the worst hit by the misfortune.
Later she had called you to say “My daughter, Ndo ooo, Sorry, they will return, they only came to survey how and what the world looks like, they will return and others will follow whom they have gone now to call”
“Chim-ama-nda! My God cannot fail, he knows what is best.” She had said.
And as she walked away towards her bedroom, she waved her left hand thrice over her head in a fetish rejection of the evil she felt lurked around.

You had smiled at the contradiction of the Wrist Rosary on her right hand and her fetish gestures. And then sighing and murmuring a little prayer of thanks, you retired to your bedroom.
But what you did not know was that, that was the behaviour for first time miscarriages, everyone was so nice to you, expecting that a second would not occur.

* * *
The second time, it was not a miscarriage,; you were happy finally for the appearance of a light after the tunnel, Mama Kamsi reminded you she once said they would come back even when she was aware of the scan that said you were expecting just a boy.
Eventually he came out, still, after an excruciating labour pain which nearly saw you give up.
Then, something told you Kamsi was struggling between making you happy and being pissed off that you had not borne him a child, that was when you realised that sometimes education and exposure did not matter, when it came to an African man and his family in dire need for children.
You didn’t blame him instead you had wondered if he were your brother whose wife spontaneously aborted, you would not stop to think if she was spiritually okay.

* * *
Within months, you realized bitterly that intimacy with your husband was fast declining, most times he came back feigning tiredness and other times when perhaps he was tipsy from alcohol he freed himself inside of you as if you were a mere trash bin, going in and out of your gate without the least concern about how you felt.

“Kamsiyochukwu, our sex life is dwindling.” you had said, summoning all courage to tell him your mounting frustrations.
You were careful to call him by his full name mimicking his mother whenever she needed a favour or wanted to have a heart to heart talk with him, perhaps he would listen to you and try to improve if you called him that as well.

That marked the beginning of your series of endless talks on your dwindling intimacy which worsened by each passing day, until you realised, the reason for that was simply because he had been told by people like Mama Kamsi that you were a man like him and for that reason he left your right to emotional satisfaction, beneath the sheets of his mistresses’ bed.

* * *
So on this third episode, you decide not to take any chances, it is a spiritual matter and you must handle it as such.
You don’t want to hear Mama Kamsi call you “Amusu mbamiri” Riverine Witch behind your back when either speaking on the phone with Kamsi or talking to Veronica, the neighbour, who comes occasionally to greet Mama, though she wants all opportunities to be friends with you but you always refuse to oblige her.
To you she is another neighbour looking for the next gossip and hadn’t Mama Kamsi given her enough already?

“My Angel.” You say as Elohor picks up your call.
“Heyy, Kalanne baby.” she replies in her ever happy tone.
“You just forget me abi?” You attack jokingly.
“So you have also joined all the people who call me witch?” You accuse her playfully.
“Shoo, my baby girl, don’t talk so now, it is work that has tied me down, else I would have come to see you now.” She replies in her Warri accent.
You smile at this for a moment thankful for her friendship.
“E don happen again ooo.” you mutter in pidgin English after a deep sigh.
“The witch don eat anoda of my pikin oooo.” you continue, the tears pouring freely now.
“Ohh, God! My God why now? I’m so sorry baby girl, I nor even know wetin to use console you again. Ehn, I nor fit say make you nor cry sef, because I know as you go dey feel, but abeg no cry yourself to sickness now ehn, abeg.” Elohor replies slowly.
“I want to go with you to that ministry you told me about.” You say, tightening your face and wiping your tears with the other hand to affirm your new resolve.
“My sister, na now you come, ehen.” Elohor answers, ecstatic that you are close to your final solution.
“Dr. Christ go just touch all these katakata comot for your life, trust me.” She adds.
“If you can come over by the weekend, I’ll be grateful.” You reply and end with goodbye pleasantries.

* * *
It is a month since Elohor took you to Foundation of Miracle Ministry, Aka Solution Ground to meet with anointed Overseer, Dr. Christ, a stout looking middle aged man, whose white three piece suite seemed to be specially over-sized on request and whose pictorial cross dangled like a Tower clock’s minute hand.

He had prayed for you for three nights, anointing your insides with oil after pouring holy water on them chanting incantations which he and his believers, Elohor inclusive, called prayers.
You knew they were not prayers, you knew solution ground was a glorified black magic shrine but you didn’t care because while he performed his rituals; you imagined carrying your own child and Mama Kamsi’s Christian Women Organisation’s wrapper stained by his faeces for being upset that Kamsi had refused to take another wife in your place.

So on the night you manage to lure Kamsi, first to eating your cooked meal, because he rarely ate at home, and secondly to bed with you, wondering what the hell had attracted him since he was not high, his mobile phone rings while you are in heated passion and trying to turn it off it falls on the floor under the bed,where it remains till you are both done and panting.

“What the hell is this?”
he yells holding the egg tied with a white cloth and placed on top a bible, after bending down to pick his phone from under the bed.
“I can explain” You start, wanting to tell him that the egg was only a symbol of the expected child tied by God’s white cloth of protection and standing on the word of God.
You want to tell him, you believe your children will live from then onward, but your mouth is shut with a thunderous slap and blows you have never imagined on your worst enemy.

You know from his reaction that you cannot sleep there that night, without waiting to think, you run out of the compound.

* * *
You had thought she would say: “Get out you fool,” when you rung her bell and waited for her to open, but she didn’t, instead Veronica looks at you, first with surprise and then with pity on seeing your bruised face.
She hugs you and brings you in as though she had long expected to be your Good Samaritan at that hour.
“I can imagine what you have been through, I do not blame you for seeking spiritual help, perhaps if I had been in your shoes, I would have done worse” She says after hearing you narrate your ordeal to her.
This elevates you, these kind words from a stranger you thought was an accomplice of Mama Kamsi, the devil.
“Kamsi should never have hit you, look how wounded you are now.”

She continues gently pressing hot towel on your face and for some moment you forget your pain and imagine living in her world of serenity, beauty, forgiveness and abundance until your eyes meets a photograph of her late husband who you know was buried in November of the previous year.
You feel sorry for her and tell yourself “everyone has their pains”.

You are surprised she never asks of your family in an inquisitive manner, instead says
“I’ll take you back to your husband tomorrow and talk to him.”
This is after you have spoken non stop for thirty minutes on how tired you are with the marriage and how you are going to file for a divorce.
At first you feel bad for over sharing with someone who didn’t care to listen, but then you berate yourself, remembering that if she didn’t care, she wouldn’t have let you in to stay over the night in the first place.

“How is your dog?” She asks setting a tray of tea, coffee and biscuits on the side stool which she draws forward in between your chair and hers.
“Coffee or tea?” She adds, not waiting to hear your reply about the dog.
“Coffee will be fine” You answer and she gestures to you to feel free and pour yourself a cup.

Her daughter Ngowari comes and leans on her legs, dressed in a pink Barbie night gown, the talcum on her body mixes with the coffee smell to give the air, a scent of innocence,of tranquillity.

“I see Kamsi jogging with the dog every morning on my way to work, he must be fond of it?” She says ignoring her daughter’s craving for biscuits.
“He loves dogs, if not for my headstrong rejection, Stacia would have had loads of company, the way he dotes on her, I’ve never seen.” you reply.
“He even made me so used to Stacia, she climbs the bed often, what I hate is the tongue licking part which seems to be her joy.” You add.
“Can I ask Kamsi tomorrow if he can allow Bruce mate with her? The dog is dying for a girlfriend.” She says to your amusement.
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll jump at the idea” You reply.

* * *
True to Veronica’s words, she talks to Kamsi about you the next day, he forgives you and also apologises for his outrage, but then he carries on like of old, ignoring you every now and then.
You resign your fate to that of a perpetual childless mother, shut out of social circles, even from Veronica, whom you all of a sudden resent again for bringing a truce between your husband and you till one morning, you get an SMS from Dr. Abba, your family physician asking you to see him as soon as possible for some news.

Wondering what news it could be, you meet with him at St. Catherine’s Clinic where he tells you that a certain Veterinary Doctor friend of his by the name, Veronica, who happens to be your neighbour, learnt he was your doctor and approached him after trying several times to meet with you to no avail.

“After conducting some tests on your dog, which she says she wanted to mate with hers, she got concerned about your miscarriages.” he says to your confusion.
“Your dog, she said was diagnosed of canine brucellosis, a certain disease in dogs which we refer to as zoonotic because its transmittable to humans from animals.” He explains sensing your confusion.
“Sooooo?”You inquire further.
“There are certain people referred to in medical practice as immuno-compromised, among these group are pregnant women.” he lands and your jaws drop in utmost surprise which turns into disgust.
“To ascertain if this has been your case, given the spontaneity of your abortions, we may have to run some tests.” he concludes reclining back on his chair.

* * *
Its two years since Dr. Abba’s shocking revelation, you are gathered with family and friends on your daughter’s first birthday, Kamsi’s friends and their families are around, drinking, eating, playing, Mama Kamsi with her wrist rosary dishes steaming hot goat meat pepper soup into bowls and orders Chidiadi to hurriedly bring plates for the rice.

You smile and look through the window at the backyard where Stacia’s cage used to be, it is no longer there, you were treated with antibiotics, and she was euthanized on Veronica’s professional advice, saying even if she were treated, there was a likelihood of a relapse.
Just then you wonder about Veronica, That, woman, the devil who saved your life, you hear Ngowari’s innocent voice
“Good evening aunty, Good evening Mama.” she says to you and Mama Kamsi.
“Good evening dear, how are you? Where is your Mummy?” You bend towards her asking, and then the voice whispers warmly into your ear
“Your mummy is here.” You scream joyfully, like a kin returning home.

You embrace her, and in that moment both your eyes meet the children playing with icing sugar, your baby is there as well, Then the tears begin to roll down, tears of Joy and of friendship.
At this moment, all, Your friend, Veronica can hear you say is

“Thank you.”

Tonye Willie Pepple, Photo courtesy of Facebook, Tonye Willie Pepple's image

Tonye Willie Pepple, Photo courtesy of Facebook, Tonye Willie Pepple’s image

Tonye Willie-Pepple; an Ijaw from Bonny Island in Rivers State, studied Computer Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. His works have appeared in Sentinel, Kalahari Review and the Poetry Foundation Ghana, in 2013 he won the PEN Nigeria/Saraba Prize for poetry, he lives in Port-Harcourt with his family. You may reach him on twitter: @tonwep.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Chris Tilewa

Adilike returned home one afternoon, when the town was yet to recover from a prurient occurrence that appeared to everyone as the remuneration of some angry god, because though they still wondered what the sin was. They consider it an horrible omen to have a man killed by a wall. A group of young men were found dead that morning in a collapsed building, one of them identified as the owner of the only barbershop in Ibinaboh street, another a son of a landlord. Nobody knows anything about the remaining two men. When Adilike arrived at his door and Dorcas; his wife, came to receive him she got frozen with disbelief, and tears in no time began to gather in her eyes at the twisted form he had become: a bony figure with a dwindled left eye. She held on a knack of the denial that it was her husband that stood before her, for a fleeting moment she wished that the man, this stranger, was only a passing beggar that would soon turn on his way, but the man was not just standing there as it were, he was waiting. Waiting to be received in by his forlorn wife. And he seemed indifferent to not only his wife’s obvious shock, but also to the curious stares of neighbours who watched from safe distance. His frame had shrunk and his mind numb from three years of deplorable ordeal. And that was how he would live the rest of his life, oblivious of everything but the warmth of the people he loved the most: his wife and his only child and daughter. His memory had been reduced to a selected chain of emotions because he had lost the capacity to remember anything on his own.

Adilike had not always been that way–grotesque and eccentric. He was an honourable illiterate who put great importance in family, and was of the belief that whatever height he was insufficient to reach in his own time, his children, in their time, will reach it and beyond, and he was ready to give everything to see that happen. Other men’s wives were caught back-biting that Adilike was a man who knows how to love a woman if only he had one final thing to his dear heart, –money. He wasn’t wretched however, neither was he slothful. After he was laid off together with hundreds of menial workers by a construction company because the Arabs who owned the company were returning home. All effort to get another job proved futile, so he took up farming on a piece of land not far from his home. His wife had consecutive miscarriages trying to give birth to another child which he had so much prayed would be a male, since the first they had was a female, but for fear of losing his wife to that pretext, he had decided they were going to put a stop to child-bearing. He made the solemn promise of providing for his only daughter, Nkechi, with the resources required to be all the male child he didn’t have could be. And things went well for them until life dealt him a blow that took everything.

It happened one quiet evening that Adilike rested on a wooden armchair at the corridor of his house reading the evening news when he heard sobs of a familiar voice. When he looked at the direction, it was Nkechi crawling home like a demented child, dragging herself on her side because her limbs, which were smeared with blood caked with a cluster of sand, had lost strength, and her anus burned. The sight left him struck he didn’t see her young breasts barely covered by a blouse that was torn on her, that her face that used to have all its features distinct- startling eyes, explicit nose that ran between two defiant cheekbones, and her well chiselled lips- had been beaten to a pulp. Only the compassion in her cry penetrated his devastation, and when he started to take notice of these things his own limbs began to tremble and he fell back into his chair, tears dropped from his wild eyes and trickled down his face in one lonely thread. But Dorcas who had also heard the sobs from the kitchen where she shelled melons ran outside and was also as crushed by what she saw as her husband, but she seemed to have a heart to take the blow; the renitent heart that women cultivate, perhaps, from the lonely, painful moment of childbirth. She charged towards her helpless child to grab her, and because she had grown too big to be picked up, she sat by her and held her head to her chest as she cried for heaven’s help. It reached the neighbours and they gathered to show their sympathy.

Rage burnt up Adilike’s heart and ate into his reasoning so much that it didn’t occur to him to do something in contribution to Nkiru’s convalescence. All that his blind anger stirred inside him was the instinct to get hold of whoever raped his daughter, to clutch at his throat and gash it a thousand times with a hatchet. On that same night of his daughter’s violation, he took to the streets, one after another, holding a cutlass, mad with rage, screaming:
‘That imbecile who did that to my daughter better show himself, or there shall be a mass burial in this town.’
The street was quiet and nobody dared shut him up, every household listened in their closed doors with pity and fear. The next morning the neighbourhood would wake up to the death of two boys, both of their heads split by gunshot. And everybody that heard of the deaths thought first of Adilike.

The community youth went on rampage, lamenting about the mysterious death. Armed with planks, machetes and palm-fronds as a sign of their angry protest which they made with songs of grief, they headed to Adilike’s house to rummage his house for the gun he must have used, and to make him account for his deed. But at the time, Adilike was already on his way out of town. He had heard the news of the murder early enough to flee before light. They searched fruitlessly for him. No one was in the house, even his wife, who though did not also flee, was not there; she had gone with her daughter where she had been taken for medical attention, far away from vilification. After the bedlam dissipated and enough air had passed to allow considerable investigations of the murder, doubts arose about whether Adilike did kill the boys. It was found that the mess made of them was by the discharge of a Mauser; an arm that even the police in that town did not have. This caused the people to begin to lose interest because it had lost element of saga.

Three years passed, other outrageous occurrences had happen and Adilike’s scandal had become only a fading blot in the memory of the people from whom life demanded too much to allow the luxury of distant recollection that didn’t hold any relevance or exigency. Adilike spent three years wandering, running from what had stop pursuing him.

His friend, Adeoti, a man in his late forties whose reason for still being a bachelor was something nobody bothered finding out, and who was also laid off by the construction company Adilike used to work for, took him in, and was prepared to have him as long as eternal. But Adilike suffered such great torment from the heartbreak of the unfortunate evening that it vitiated his hold of reality and rendered him useless for any communal good. He couldn’t sleep when others slept, he stayed up every night muttering unintelligible words. His insomnia began to eat up his memory, and the bitterness he nurtured inside grew enormously into a demon that took residence in his head, persuading him and whispering upsetting suggestions to him.

One of the few nights that he happened to sleep, his friend, Adeoti, awoke and saw him writhing as if he was being tortured in his dream. Adeoti contemplated on whether to wake him. His bad dream must be a result of the several days he had gone without sleep, he thought. But on a second thought, because the sight before him was becoming eerily unbearable he reached out an arm and gave Adilike a soft tap. Like lightening, before he could blink, Adilike snapped awake, madly gnashing on Adeoti’s index finger. When all effort to cut himself loose proved futile, Adeoti, amid seering pain and desperate instinct, began to scramble about, but like a divine intervention, something came down crashing on Adilike’s head, bathing him with wet soil. A huge, abandoned clay vase that sat on a ledge in a corner of the room had been toppled in their struggle together. Adilike went numb that instant and when he seemed to have gained enough strenght to look up, his eyes showed thick shadows moving, clearing out of it into the dying flickers of the kerosene lamp that lit the room. His eyes was an evidence, a window to a restive soul. So pronounced was the transfiguration that Adeoti lost sense of his own pain to his beffudlement. Through a pot of moistened soil, the man with a demon has been touched by God.
That morning, before day’s light, Adilike made a tranquil journey home.
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Chris Tilewa is a young Nigerian, a creative writer, social critic, and lover of aesthetics. He writes fictions, poetry and non fictions. You may wish to join him on Facebook: Chris Tilewa, or on Twitter @krislucid.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

THE CONCLAVE (A Short Story)

Posted: March 6, 2014 in PROSE
Tags: ,

by Obiukwu Chima

The room was pitch dark only a single lamp hanging low over the round brown mahogany table gave illumination to the room. It had been my first time inside “Room Zero”; a room in which the most secret meetings with the president’s most trusted associates took place in the presidential villa.
I was just an advisor on agriculture, it didn’t seem a reality that one of my pedigree could be seated amongst the most powerful in the country. I cogitated while peering into the darkness searching for a familiar face. The excitement and tension was unbearable, the silence was unnerving, my mind was at battle with itself; trying to figure why I was in this room. My palms were sweaty like it were a flowing faucet and my heart beat was as fast as Hussein Bolt on the race track.
The only thing I could make out in the darkness was the military uniform of the one seated opposite me. He was a general in the army, judging from the stars and medals on his green khaki shirt. He had a large husky silhouette, the shape of face resembled a large toad sitting on a toad stool.
His deep, drawling, fey voice shattered the silence in the room.
“First wave has commenced” he announced.
A familiar voice interrupted just as the general was about to continue, it was no mistake the president’s chief of staff – Mike. A slight relief filled me, I was somewhat more comfortable, I knew someone inside the room, I wasn’t all lost.
Mike demanded the president be present before the commencement of the meeting since he convened it. Still insisting that the meeting wouldn’t go on, Mike made to stand up, in a quick flash, there was a flash and a bang. He dropped on the table, hands spread out, his cold eyes staring straight at me. The eyes was not as troubling as the tiny 9mm hole on the middle of his forehead, from which droplets of blood spewed. My God! the president’s chief of staff had been shot right inside the presidential villa.
The general leaned forward into the light, his face was as black as soothe. General Nzonzi; leader of the supreme military council.
He cleared his voice, and with such calmness like nothing had happened said “he flinched”.
Others around the table leaned forward, one by one their faces became visible. The service chiefs were among the familiar faces. Lastly a female face emerged from the darkness, it was the first lady’s; my sister. She smiled grimly staring at me. I could feel all the eyes in the room on me. The pounding of my chest could be heard a mile away, sweat trickled down my face. I had never been this scared my entire life. I didn’t want to flinch too, I had a young wife and a young daughter who needed me. I tried to steady my nerves, I tried to monster courage, I tried to stay alive.
All the while I kept stare on my sister seeking an explanation, a comfort that all is going to be fine.
Then it hit me, this was a coup, it wasn’t a meeting, it was my assassination, it was Mike’s assassination, it was the president’s assassination. We were the most trusted aides of the president, Mike had heard of a chatter and was going to tell me about it after the president’s emergency brief on the attack on the biggest military barrack in the country.
The cold steel I felt on the side of my head brought my whole life before my eyes. My daughter’s smile, my wife’s embrace, this was it.
I closed my eyes with both pictures of my girls burning against my eyes. Tears trickled down my face. At least let me die seeing the one thing that made life worth living and dying for.

“CUT…!!!” The director screamed. “It a wrap.”

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Obiukwu Chima is a geologist who writes for fun, an ardent lover of art, an aspiring movie director. He is also a blogger at BryanChima . He currently lives in portharcourt, Nigeria.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity