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Archive for September, 2015

Angels & Demons

 

The smoke from the industrial neighborhood mixed with fog created a surreal ambience, combining with the street lights to cloud Allen Avenue in a haze. The young man who suddenly appeared in the distance walked as though he expected zombies or aliens to appear at any moment.

 

The low chuckle floating from his figure sounded eerie as he wrapped the jacket tighter around his lean frame, shrugging the backpack higher on his shoulder and walking in brisk strides across the road. He could hear loud music from the nightclubs that littered Ikeja.

 

Bashir shuddered and spat distastefully. He hurried across a junction, footsteps ringing loudly as he climbed the sidewalk. Suddenly his heart left his chest and showed up in his mouth as bright lights surrounded him. For a crazy second he wondered if the aliens he imagined earlier had come to get him. The loud drone of an automobile engine announced a car, and he waved anxiously, hoping it was a taxi.

 

A Mercedes Benz came hurtling out of the fog; howling as though mad dogs and not an engine were beneath the bonnet. Bashir jumped back swearing – and lost his sense of direction as he bumped into something heavily. Covering his nose against the sudden sharp smell of local gin and weed, Bashir spent a moment wondering if he wasn’t drunk as he staggered around, disoriented for some seconds. By the time he could stand properly again what he saw was the rapidly disappearing back of a weaving figure clutching something in his left hand.

 

“Stupid drunk,” Bashir muttered and walked on, brushing his suit impatiently in a vain attempt to clean away the smell that embraced him with filmy arms. His backpack once again returned to its original position, and he hurried towards the junction where the traffic light’s glowing red looked like home to him. He would definitely get a taxi –

 

He smelled her long before he saw her.

 

His stomach recoiled and he almost lost his supper of Indomie noddles and eggs – a supper thrown together professionally by the Hausa man next to the office. His stomach recoiled in reaction to her smell – and he spent a moment wondering if she had been baptized in cheap perfume earlier that evening. His strides slowed, then he hunched deeper in his jacket and picked up the pace.

 

He didn’t plan to look at her – he just wanted to go by and go on, but his gaze was inexplicably drawn to the last street light before his corner and there she was, looking just like he knew she would – black dress throwing her light skin into sharp relief and leaving nothing to the imagination, lips and fingernails dripping blood, neck and earlobes blinking and winking in the light.

 

She chose her spot well.

 

She wasn’t standing directly underneath the street lights, but she was close enough to be on display for whoever wanted to watch. And; Bashir admitted, there was a lot of her to watch.

 

He danced out of reach of her fang-fingers and hurried along on his way, not looking back for fear she would look past his frown and see what was really in his heart.

 

“Oga.” At first he thought someone was grinding stone – and then he realized she was talking. “Oga, make we go house na. You no dey cold?”

 

He almost missed his footing as he scrambled away from her, to get to his – the corner, and get a cab.

 

The corner lit up again and his hand came up – almost of its own volition before he took control and commanded it to stay beside him. For the vehicle approaching was nothing like a cab, and if the bulk was not sign enough, the ‘POLICE’ scribbled across the side in crimson letters quickly cleared that up. He looked back in the direction it was coming from, hoping it would just drive past – and his head jerked back as it screeched to a halt and a door opened somewhere to his right.

 

“Who are you?”

 

Policemen. They were made of the same ingredients everywhere – only worse or better variants; depending on who you ask.

 

Bashir smiled and responded. “How can I help you officer?”

 

A frown descended on the policeman’s face with the speed of rain. “I’m asking who are you you’re asking how you can help me. Do I need your help?!” He exhaled. “I say who are you and what is in ya bag?!”

 

Bashir couldn’t keep a quiver out of his voice – a quiver that became more pronounced as two other policemen appeared as though from nowhere. “It’s…it’s my laptop and some books…”

 

The policeman closest to him rudely pulled the bag off his back. “You have receipt abi?”

 

Relief poured over Bashir in waves of air. “Yes I do. Let me just…” he reached in his jacket pocket, intending to pull something out and therefore did not understand why his hand closed on air.

 

Trying not to look desperate, he patted his chest pocket again and then all of the pockets on himself and his bag. His wallet, containing his cards, receipts, money had simply disappeared.

 

He closed his eyes and tried to remember the last time he saw it. He paid for the noodles with two fifty naira notes, recalling the feel of the notes as he handed them to the alhaji. He saw himself clearly putting it back in his jacket pocket, the stroll down Allen Aven…

 

By the time he could stand properly again what he saw was the rapidly disappearing back of a weaving figure clutching something in his left hand…

 

The drunk he collided with had taken his wallet.

 

Bashir slumped on the sidewalk, eyes stinging from hot tears. The policemen were yelling and waving their guns at him but he couldn’t hear them. He kept thinking about his laptop – six years of work, leaving with the policemen and not being able to do anything about it. His chest heaved and he would have started sobbing.

 

“Officer.”

 

The voice came from somewhere to his left and he, along with three other policemen turned to look.

 

They saw a girl, a finely made girl who looked like she just got out of bed hurrying towards them. Beneath the oversized t-shirt she wore, her breasts jiggled gently. Bashir quickly wiped his eyes as it occurred to him that he’d seen her before. Something about her looked familiar…

 

“Officer,” she said again as she stopped beside him. “Please. He’s my boyfriend. We just had a small fight and he got upset and left. I just threw on a t-shirt and ran after him.”

 

She turned to face Bashir and he almost gasped out loud. He knew where he had seen her before – a few minutes ago standing next to a street light…

 

“Madam,” the first officer said. He sounded a lot gentler than when he was speaking to Bashir earlier.

 

“Yes, officer?” she responded and Bashir marveled at the accent with which she spoke.

 

“Na because of you o. You know how Ikeja is hard. All these boys –“ the policeman indicated Bashir disdainfully. “Whether they’re thieves.” His eyes rested on her bosom, and Bashir wasn’t sure but he could swear she pushed it out more. “Be careful o.”

 

“Yes officer. Thank you officer,” she curtsied and grabbed Bashir’s arm none-too-gently. “Let’s go, Seun,” she said.

 

The sound of the police truck driving off came to them but they kept walking till they turned a corner. “My name is Bashir,” he mumbled through confused lips. The girl gave no response, just stopped walking and let go of his arm. He felt ashamed and she looked at him unsmilingly.

 

“How do you want to get home?” she asked.

 

“Um…I think I’ll just go back to the office. I have the keys.”

 

She cocked her head. “And what if those policemen see you again?”

 

Bashir had no answer.

 

“You better come with me,” she said. Bashir gasped and looked around as though there was someway he could just disappear. The girl frowned and started walking.

 

“I don try,” she said quietly and Bashir ground his teeth in frustration. What were his options?

 

“Wait!” he yelled and started running after her. She didn’t respond, just continued walking. She stopped just before the traffic light, reaching into a corner and picking up her bag and other things before continuing to walk. Bashir fell in stride beside her and reached for her bag.

 

She stopped and looked at him. “I just want to help,” he said.

 

After frowning up at him for a bit, she let him carry the bag and they walked together.

 

“Thank…thank you. My name is Bashir,” he said.

 

“You’re welcome,” she smiled and he wondered how he ever thought she was ugly. “I’m Miriam.”

 

 


For Want Of A Child III

Masthead 3

“Man, Folly, this is one kind jare.”

The living room was way larger than Frank was used to – the ambience was quite pleasant too. He and his friend were lazing on the sofa, watching Super Sport and jawing. It was almost a week since he had moved in with his friend – and they were just managing to sit together for the first time in a while.

It was awkward.

“What is one kind?” Fola, his voice musical and quite effeminate asked, scratching his thigh in a distracted manner.

“This,” Frank said, waving around. “I’m a grown man squatting with a friend in his own house – and to make matters worse…”

The front door opened and a loud “Honey I’m home!” interrupted the friends.

“Hey baby!” Fola said, rising to hug the slim, fair and taller woman. They kissed briefly.

“…he’s a happily married man with children,” Frank muttered under his breath. And then he rose and smiled politely. “Good evening, Mrs. Akanji. How was the day?

“It was splendid,” she gushed, hugging Frank eagerly. “And please, it’s Stella – abi baby?” The last part was added as she turned towards her husband, still holding Frank around the waist.

“Hmmm? Oh – yes, right you are darling,” Fola answered, his attention occupied with the screen in front of him. “Frank can like to be formal sometimes,” he finished, and tuned off from everything except the television.

His smile a bit strained, Frank stepped away from the clutching woman whose cheery grin followed him. “Have you boys had dinner?” she asked as she exited the sitting room.

“Yes, Fola made rice – which is about the only thing he can make. It’s a bit salty, but I’m sure you’re used to his apology of cooking by now – yeee!” He grabbed his side in pain and frowned at Fola who was glaring at him. “What?” Frank asked.

“How can you be bad-mouthing my food in front of my wife na?”

“How can I not – if you’re trying to kill me?”

“Baby, where are the kids?” Stella asked from somewhere within the bowels of the house.

Fola looked away from the TV for a moment. “Ehn?” he said, distractedly. “The kids? They went to bed since. I gave them dinner and we did homework and watched small cartoon. And then they slept.”

There was the ping! of a microwave going off, and then “All that already?! How late am I sef?” Stella’s voice was becoming louder as she spoke – and then she reappeared in the doorway, carrying a steaming plate of rice. Frank moved out of the way in time else she would have dumped herself in his lap. As it was, she propped her feet on her husband’s thigh, leaned against the cushions and grinned at Frank, a habit he was rapidly finding annoying.

“I’ll leave you lovebirds to it then. Me, I’m off to sleep. Thank you so much for having me, Mrs. – Stella – I hope I’m not too much of an inconvenience.”

He turned and made his way up the stairs, acknowledging the couple’s greeting with a wave of the hand.

“Baby, is your friend okay?” Stella asked her husband, with a mouthful of rice.

“Hmmm? Oh Frank? He’s fine, don’t worry. It’s just one of those things.”

*********************************************************************************************

Exhaling heavily, Frank slumped on the bed in the cold guest room. He lay on his back for a small while, hum of the air conditioner lulling him into a doze – and then he rubbed his forearms, shivering from the cold.

“Where’s that…” he looked left and right, and then jumped off the bed before proceeding to pat it down, searching for the AC remote. His left hand touched something hard, and he pulled aside the covers to reveal what the hard thing was –

His phone.

A small green light was blinking at the top right hand corner of the device; a signal that he had pending messages. Grunting, his quest for the AC remote forgotten at the moment, he entered his unlock code and opened the phone, hands trembling with excitement.

He had nine WhatsApp messages from three chats – he felt down as soon as he realized none of them were what he was expecting.

Sorry about your…

Man! What happened?

We thought you were happy…

He cancelled the messages without reading them – and; feeling sour sat and looked at the phone for a moment. There was a hitch in his throat and he cleared it a few times, wondering why his hands were still shaking.

And then, without allowing himself too much thought he dialed her number.

He tensed slightly as the call connected and began to ring – but there was no other sign that he was nervous. The silence between him and Igo was stretching longer than he was comfortable with – he would really like to speak with her.

The number you have called is not responding…

He didn’t realize he was holding his breath until with a oooooofffff, air rushed out of his mouth as he exhaled. Impatiently, he tossed the phone away, lay back on the bed and closed his eyes.

But he could not sleep.

*********************************************************************************************

Sometime later, his phone began to ring.

He pounced on it, shaky hands almost dropping the phone in his agitation. When he finally could hold it steady, he looked at the screen – and his trembling stopped – because it wasn’t Igo who was calling as he’d hoped – but a strange number.  Grunting, he switched off the phone, tossed it away again and closed his eyes.

But still, he couldn’t sleep.

*********************************************************************************************

“How far guy? No work again today?”

Frank groaned and rolled over, covering his eyes from the onslaught of light piercing the curtains.

And then he swore and sat up. “What time is it?” he asked Fola, who was standing by the door, a tolerant smile on his face.

“It’s a little after eight.”

Frank slumped on the bed, and then regarded his friend with a raised eyebrow. “You nko – no work today?”

Fola’s hand waved up and down, pointing out the fact that he was wearing a suit. “I just came back to get some stuff – sudden portfolio review at the office.” He stepped away from the door – and then looked over his shoulder at Frank. “I understand what you’re going through – or maybe not. Sha, you have to rejoin humanity at some point.” He pulled the door shut. “Have a nice day, my guy.”

Frank slumped back on the bed – and the door opened again. “How about this girl you were telling me about – this Idowu girl your parents want to hook you up with?” Fola asked.

Frank frowned. “What about her?”

“Have you met her – is she pretty? What do you think – “

“I met her briefly on my way out the last time I went visiting. I was leaving; she was coming in from work so we didn’t talk much. I didn’t even see her well – because it was evening and all – but I’m not even interested in that now.”

Fola nodded. “Okay. Sha take care.”

*********************************************************************************************

It was early evening before Frank ventured out of the house in search of a mallam he could buy cigarettes from. As he walked, several things ran through his mind, slipping like water through cracks in asphalt. He could barely think about a particular thing for too long – thoughts kept chasing themselves across his mind; shadows in dying light.

Should I have sacrificed my marriage because of a child?

I’m a man. How else do you measure a man than by his achievements – including adding his physical quota to the population?

But we were so happy…

And they continued, running circles, going on and on and never coming to a stop…

Not until he spotted the aboki’s kiosk.

*********************************************************************************************

He puffed angrily on the cigarette as he walked, as though trying to find out how many White London sticks he could smoke within five minutes. Inhaling harshly, he ingested raw smoke through his nose and bent over, hacking, coughing and spitting out the smoked out husk of what was once a cigarette.

Dragging air into his lungs, he straightened and reached into his pocket, intending to light another one. So caught up in what he was about to do, he didn’t realize a car stopped beside him till someone spoke.

“Frank? Franklin…Franklin Omure?! When did you start…oh my God. Oh my God. I’m so sorry…”

His hand freezing on entry into his pocket, Frank’s head turned on a neck that was suddenly stiff to look to his right, wondering at the same time who could address him so familiarly and recognize him in spite of the darkness.

She was a woman; that much he could tell from her voice – not a very tall one, he surmised as he looked at her through the lowered window on her side of the car. Still, she was a blur in the dark, illumination from the dashboard display not enough to show clearly who she was.

“Excuse me, I’m sorry I don’t recognize…”

She reached towards the roof of the car and with a subdued click she was bathed in interior car lights.

What you or I would have seen would have been a light skinned, attractive woman on the plump side, lips looking like they were stuck on, eyebrows too arched to be natural – and a pair of breasts that belonged on a porn site.

What Frank saw was his wife – ex wife’s – best friend, Efe.

*********************************************************************************************

“I saw you on Monday alighting from a bike – but I wasn’t sure and I was too far away to be screaming. So I thought if it really was you, I would see you again.” She paused and smiled at him. “And here you are.”

Frank shifted in his seat, looking out at the passing estate horizon. “And here I am.” He had always felt uncomfortable around Efe – she had a way of unsettling him with her eyes.

“How are you doing?” she asked him. While he hesitated, she answered for herself. “It can’t be too good if you’re smoking. I’m so sorry.”

Frank sighed. “I wonder what you’re apologizing for. And really, apologizing so much doesn’t help.” He shifted in his seat again. “What are you doing here anyway?”

Her soft laughter was a sound of pure pleasure. “I live here – just down the road. It’s the brown house down on the corner from where you stay.” There was a small pause. “What are you doing in here? Is this where you live now?”

Frank sighed. “I’m having a hard time getting accommodation so I’m squatting with a friend and his family. I tell you, it’s awkward.”

The car stopped suddenly and Frank looked around – and realized they were in front of Fola’s house.

“If ever you want to talk – or just see a familiar face, I’m just a few blocks away.” Her hand slipped from the wheel and unto his thigh. She patted it twice – and then took her hand away as Frank opened the car door and got out. And then he put his head through the window.

“I’ll remember that.” He was quiet for a bit – and then; “How – how is Igo?”

“She’s sad, Frank – but no worse than you. Worry about yourself, okay?”

As he stepped away from the car, he heard; “Frank?”

He turned towards her. “Yes?”

“Where’s your car?”

He sighed. “Mechanic.”

“Oh. Okay then. Take care!”

She waved as he straightened and then zoomed off.


Still.

Not grooving.

Knot moving

Motionless. Running helter skelter

Rocking a chair. Worried with no helper

Bent back bent back to work

Money making making slaves of us

But we made money to make money work for us

Didn’t we?

The rich too busy making work for the poor

The poor getting drunk seeking libation to pour

To pour to foreign gods too poor to buy their own drinks

Promising mercy but first part ways with your piece/peace

I’m at my window watching the rain and thunder strike

Suicide at the door begging to come inside

Still.


From Tomi Adesina : Her Lines.

So.

 

Personally, it still amazes me just how much women put into their hair and so on. I think somewhere along the lines someone (maybe a man; after all ‘they’ blame ‘us’ for every little issue) told women that their hair is a crown for their heads – and that it has to look as oyinbo-like as possible. I mean, what do you think inspired Chris Rock’s documentary about the same issue?

 

Apparently his daughter had come home one day weeping. And when he asked what the problem was; she answered with a question;

“Dad, why do I have bad hair?”

Apparently if your hair isn’t ‘oyinbo’; if it isn’t fried and roasted you have bad hair. Heh.

 

But this isn’t about Chris and his daughter. No. This about that famous screenwriter Tomi Adesina, who decided to do something for the ladies – and speak about hair and related issues.

 

Inhale. Hold.

 

Now read on.

 

Her Lines (The Docudrama)

Writer: Tomi Adesina

Director: Tomi Adesina

Producers: Michael Tayo Babalola & Tomi Adesina

Cinematographer: Omobolaji Opakunbi

Genre: Docudrama

Media & Distribution: YouTube (Online platform)

Production Company: BlueHouse Films

 

 

herlines-1

Her Lines tells a story poetically in visual form which shifts focus from the diversity and versatility of the human hair and advocates for acceptance from within. It abstractly explains perception of the human mind and subtly re-emphasizes the sole essence of self-acceptance.

Written and directed by Screenwriter and popular fiction series blogger, Tomi Adesina of Dear Future Husband, All Fun and Games, Hearts and Homes and currently the popular Legal blog drama Fola King, Her Lines is a docudrama that follows the journey of three ladies in relation to their hair and beauty, a reflection about their identities and self-perception of the world at large. Creative Photographer, Michael-Tayo Babalola co-produced the docudrama with Tomi Adesina.

The hair was styled by Olufunke Williams and Dolapo Morakinyo was the make-up artist on this project.

This docudrama stars Faith Anny, Joy Ugochukwu and Grace Ogedengbe. The docudrama was produced by BlueHouse Films.

Watch the teaser video here: https://youtu.be/tivPzHTofUM

Her Lines is scheduled for release on September 28, 2015 and would be available for download via BlueHouse Films official YouTube channel: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCH8fG70Plv8Dy_u7FgXTFzw Please subscribe by following the link to direct you to the YouTube channel; then click on subscribe.

Join the conversation on Social Media by using all or any of the following media:

Twitter: @bluehousefilms #HerLines

Instagram: @bluehousefilms

Facebook: facebook.com/bluehousefilms

 

Now exhale.

 

So – what do you think about our hair? How do you feel about yours? Do share in the comments!

 

Have a great week.

 

 


For Want Of A Child II

Masthead 2

The old man’s laughter rattled the windows of the house – even though he was sitting in the backyard.

“My son, what have I tell you? I mean what do I told you? Dat ya wife is onye na amughi nwa – she cannot carry shuldren! But luff – luff haff bland you; common sense come commot for ya sense!”

Frank leaned back in the cane chair and sighed. He sure wished his mother was home.

“Look papa, just because Igo couldn’t – just because we couldn’t make babies doesn’t mean you should insult my wife.”

Pa Omure cackled loudly and slapped his only son on the shoulder. “Hohohohoho…weeeeee! You no go ki’ mi!” He suddenly pushed his face up against his son’s. “You get wife?”

Frank reared back and almost fell off the chair. “Pa…okay. I don’t have. Not since I did what you asked. Are you happy now?”

The older man touched his chest. “Me? I dey always hapi – always! Your sister jus’ commot wit her husband and shuldrens for hia! Your small sister!”

Frank hung his head. No matter how detached he tried to act, his father’s words stung. “It’s not like we – it’s not as if I didn’t want children, papa. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be for…”

“And dat is why I yam happi you haff use your common sense to commot from dia!” Pa Omure’s voice was reduced to a whisper. “When woman is dey her husband house, she cannot produce pikin, what is the value inside such a…”

“Papa, did you call me here to listen to you insult my wife?”

“You no get wife. You nefa get. Na why I call you hia be dat. You go fit meet Idowu, my neighbor pikin…”

“Franklin! Franklin o, my son!”

Mama Omure’s entry into the backyard was very much like the arrival of a gale. Light-skinned, buxom and tall – she was an easy six feet two – her presence was hard enough to ignore, and then she was lively and energetic – in spite of her sixty-something years.

“How are you my darling? No, don’t answer that. You look horrible.” She bent over and pulled his cheeks as he struggled to rise. “You’ve lost weight! Of course you have, when you sent the only person in this world who cares about you apart from me…”

“Mama, I have missed you so much.” Frank interrupted the lamenting woman, squeezing her against himself and hiding his face in her shoulder so she wouldn’t see the tears. “How is everything? Papa was just telling me that Evelyn came over..”

Mama Omure eased herself away from her son and went over to her husband. “Good evening, Pa Franklin. How’s your body?”

Not waiting for an answer, she handed the old man the black nylon bag she was carrying. “I bought you some cashew nuts. You can chew on that while I make dinner.”

And then, pulling her son by the hand she led the way into the dark interior of the house.

*********************************************************************************************

“Are you okay, Franklin? I know I ask all the time but – are you really okay?”

Frank leaned against the kitchen sink and closed his eyes, sighing softly. “What do you expect me to say, mama? How can I be okay?”

He felt rather than saw his mother leave the vegetables she was washing – felt her come stand beside him, worry heavy in her voice. “But darling, you decided to ask Igo for a divorce…though come to think of it, she didn’t exactly protest…”

“Yes mama, I asked for the divorce. When I saw myself almost cheating on my wife of twelve years because somehow, my desire for a child had overcome my desire for her, what was I supposed to do?” He opened his eyes and turned to look his mother right in the face. “I know I asked for the divorce – but that doesn’t make it easy.”

“And we are also not making it any easier for you.” She squeezed his shoulders in a gentle hug. “I apologize for your father and I. What you need is our support, not our criticism.” She left him and walked back to the gas cooker. “How is work?”

“Work…” his voice faded away. “Work? How can I work, Nne? I cannot concentrate, I cannot do anything. I keep thinking about…” He went quiet for a bit – and then continued. “Work is fine.”

His mother chuckled. “Ah, Franklin. I think what you need for now is to rest. Rest, and allow yourself time to heal. Everybody seems to be in such a hurry these days.” She hit the spoon on the edge of the pot before turning to regard Frank patiently. “Understand your father. You’re his only son – the only hope he has of his name going on. Doesn’t mean much to me – but you can understand what that would mean to a traditional Ndigbo man.”

Franklin smiled wryly. “An Ndigbo chief, you mean.”

His mother laughed – and then Frank interrupted. “But Nne, what is this I hear about you getting me a wife?”

She sighed. “There’s this neighbor of ours your father is suddenly best friends with – and he has a daughter who is still unmarried…”

“Did this idea start after my divorce or before I even started – “

A phone started to ring – and Frank looked at his mother. “That’s me,” he said, pulling at the phone. “Let me just see who – “

The caller ID said one word; Igo.

*********************************************************************************************

“It would be good if you came early, Frannie – I mean Frank,” his ex-wife breathed into the phone. “The lawyers say it’s just a few small details about the account and businesses…”

“I already said I didn’t want anything from that – “

“I don’t want it either – but we signed papers. We signed papers, which means you cannot just pass them to whoever vocally. There has to be another set of signings or…”

Frank exhaled loudly. “Okay okay. I’ll be there by nine in the morning…nine is okay, abi?”

“Nine is fine, Frank. Good night.”

“Wait.” Frank said desperately. “Igo…are you…how are you?”

A sound that sounded curiously like a sob floated down the line, and then Igo answered harshly, “What do you care?”

Click.

Frank stood in the shadows of the corridor in his parents’ house in Bariga, looking at the phone in hand but not really seeing it.

“Frank! Food is done o!”

Snapping out of his reverie, he answered, “Coming ma!” and then dialed another number. The call went through – and was picked on the third ring.

“Hello oga?”

“Hi James. Look, I won’t be coming to work for a while. I have some things to sort out and take care of – so I’m leaving you in charge, you hear? Take care of everything.”

“Oga – I hope no problem o. Shey madam dey – “

“There is no problem. Look, just do as I say. You hear?” Frank impatiently interrupted him.

“Okay. Everything will be as you want it to be oga.”

“Thank you. Good night, James.”

“Good night, oga.”

Click.

*********************************************************************************************

“You’ve lost weight, Frank.”

He chuckled mirthlessly. “That’s what everyone’s been telling me lately – and yet I hardly miss a meal. Maybe buka food doesn’t exactly agree with me.” He laughed again, emptily; hollowly. “Mama said the same yesterday; and tried to load me with food enough so I wouldn’t be hungry till next year.”

Igo smiled wanly. “And of course, you tried to eat everything. I don’t blame you; mama can cook.” She paused – and then rushed on as though afraid of being silenced. “How is she…and and papa…?”

Her voice shook.

“She misses you, Igo.”

His ex-wife nodded and looked away, brushing her eyes free of something that may have been tears and mumbling something Frank couldn’t hear.

“What?” he asked.

“Our lawyers are ready,” Igo answered, and walked ahead of him into a dark room.

*********************************************************************************************

He knew there was a much better way of spending the time he was in that room, sitting across his ex-wife and staring at her like she was someone he did not know – but the going ons in the room didn’t interest him.

She did.

He hastily signed every paper he was handed without looking – he trusted that Damilola, his lawyer would have made sure it was safe and well; he found it distracting.

He continued watching Igo, taking in everything she did – every move she made and making something; a memory of it. For all he knew, this was the last time he would see her so he wanted to make it significant.

He watched every unconscious tucking of a stray strand of braided hair; every hesitant smile at her lawyer (who he thought was staring at her a bit too boldly and quite unprofessionally), every unsteady scribble of her pen – every accidental glance his way – and something filled his chest.

Pain. And regret.

When she sighed and straightened, he realized they were done – he realized his lawyer had been talking to him for a bit. Frank coughed, and then turned slightly towards his right hand.

“Sorry I didn’t hear you,” he said.

“Sure.” Damilola grimaced. “Everything is tidy now. You have access to some money from the joint – “ Frank interrupted, rising hurriedly and knocking back his chair as he saw Igo exit the room. “I’m sorry! I’ll be right back!” he yelled over his shoulder as he hurried after her.

“Igo – Igo! Wait!”

Her shoulders hunched as though she expected a blow, and then she turned slowly – but her eyes – her face – remained averted. “Yes, what is it?” she asked in a voice that was tired yet trying to be angry. “What do you want?” she said again, her voice sharper than it was before.

“I don’t want anything…well that’s not true, but what I want…” he trailed off when he saw the baleful look she regarded him with. “I just want to say I’m sorry – I’m so sorry for…”

“You can save your apologies Frank, or repeat them to yourself if it makes you feel better. I don’t want to hear them; I’m not listening to any more of your nonsense. For twelve years – “ Her voice broke; she drew in a sobbing breath and buried her face in her hands.

“Igo…” Frank began, reaching for her hand.

“Don’t touch me!” She whirled on him, tear-streaked eyes blazing with fires that seemed to leap at him. He didn’t immediately realize he had taken a step back.

“Don’t touch me…” her voice faded to a whisper; but the vehemence was still quite obvious. “I gave twelve years of my life to you; to a marriage simply because I believed in it. Do you think you were the only one under pressure?! I have a family too; and the same way your dad told you to leave me is how my parents, friends – siblings…” She wiped her eyes and continued.

“I loved you, Frank. I invested twelve years of my life in you, in us. The years weren’t always rosy – but I gave my all. I realize now; you didn’t deserve my best – and you sure didn’t deserve me.” She turned and started walking away. She was opening the main door to step into outside when she said something – but the door had closed behind her before he realized what she said;

Stay away from me.

“Frank…Frank? I’m sorry – but we need to see to the rest of these – “

“Send them to the shop, will you Damilola? Thank you.”

And Frank walked out into the sunlight outside – though it could be moonlight and thunderstorms for all the notice he took of it.


For Want Of A Child – Prologue/Episode I

SAVING DAPO - Masthead Prologue

“It was really good having you guys over. Really.” Igo’s eyes asked her husband abi? and he nodded, kissing her on the nose.

“Thank you so much for coming – and bring the kids over next time. You know we love to have them always!”

Together they watched the Osagies’ rear lights disappear over the landscape of their NEPA-abandoned street – the wailing and screaming of several generating sets providing theme music for the moment. And then they turned, arms around each other and walked into their compound.

“That was great, wasn’t it? I like to see Ese – and her husband? Cool guy.”

Igo eased herself from her husband’s arms and opened the door ahead of him. She stepped inside and waited for him to enter so she could close it after him, but he pulled the door out of her hand, closed it, shot the deadbolt and kissed her.

Chuckling, Igo kissed him back briefly and then leaned away – but he followed her, backing her into the wall beside the door and pressing insistent lips against her resistant ones.

“Hmm…baby…” she started – and inadvertently gave him access to her mouth.

He laughed loudly as she, sighing, threw her arms around his neck in surrender.

*********************************************************************************************

“Thank you, dear,” Igo said, sipping wine from the glass he’d just handed her and allowing her shoulders sag into the chair. “So – what do you want to do next; watch TV or play Monopoly?”

He smiled, drained his glass and shook his head. “Those will be too distracting. I just want to hold my partner – my wife, my better whole and sing to her.”

Igo smiled. “You’ve been doing that for ten years. Aren’t you tired yet?”

Walking over, he started to speak. “You’ve been breathing for thirty-six years; aren’t you tired yet?” He stood beside her chair and stretched out a hand.

Placing her empty one in it, Igo set down the wine glass – and then allowed her husband pull her to her feet. She blinked in confusion for a moment as the lights dimmed – and then focused on his eyes as they stabilized again.

There was a gleam in them – a shine that made her heart sing and her ears heat up. She stood in front of him, as though mesmerized – and then closed her eyes as he leaned in and kissed her forehead softly.

“Happy tenth anniversary, sweetheart.” He said.

She hugged him to herself, lay her head against his shoulder and mumbled; “Happy tenth anniversary, darling.”

They stayed hugged up, swaying softly to music that played from the speakers of their hearts – music only they could hear but no less real. It was a really romantic moment –

And then the lights went dim again.

“What’s wrong with that generator?” Igo said out loud.

Her husband stopped moving. “Wait her a moment, sweetness while I go check it out.”

He kissed her cheek softly – and moved away, effectively creating a vacuum in her arms. She sat down on the floor beside the chair; amazed by the realization that she missed him.

She missed him already.

The lights flickered, went off – and then came back on a little brighter. Almost immediately she heard the rattling of the door, smiled as the generator sounds became momentarily louder – and then faded out again.

“The plug was shaking in its socket – baby, what’s wrong?”

The tears streaming down her cheeks were startlingly clear from the doorway.

Moving into the room, he crossed it in swift strides and knelt beside her chair, to take her hand in his. “What is it? What happened?”

She inhaled, drawing in a huge shuddering draught of air and then swallowing the sob that almost spilled out. And then burst into tears, throwing herself into his arms as he mumbled “It’s okay” over and over again, soft tones at direct conflict with the confused look on his face.

*********************************************************************************************

“I’m sorry darling,” her voice came from the depths of his right chest area.

He looked down – but could only see the top of her head. Leaning in, he kissed that gently, noticing a few whitening strands in the midst of the raven-black mass. He kissed her head again – and she moaned sadly and raised her face.

“Did I just do a number on your anniversary mood?”

He shook his head. “Everything will be right again – as soon as you tell me what inspired the flood.”

She turned away but leaned into his arms. “Oh – it’s – “ she fell silent as he squeezed her softly, and she closed her eyes against still-leaking tears. “You know why Ese doesn’t bring her kids here anymore, don’t you?”

He cleared his throat. “Because they want to spare our feelings? They don’t want us feeling awkward?”

The gentle up and down movement of her head told him he was right. “And it hurts so much,” she spoke. “So much – it hurts when I see you look at their last one – when you carry her up…it hurts to see the pain in your eyes. It hurts to hear you cry in the bathroom…”

His arms tightened around her reflexively – but other than that, there was no sign he had heard. She sobbed softly.

“I can’t help but feel it’s my fault – even though I know doctor after doctor has given us both clean bills of health. I hate that I cannot give you the thing you want most – “

Gently but firmly, he turned her around and kissed the corner of her mouth. She trembled slightly as her arms found themselves around his shoulders – his quite comforting shoulders – and she kissed him back enthusiastically.

“How do you know it’s the thing I want most? Have you ever asked me what I thought about the situation? Sure, it hurts at times – I feel so hurt that I may never know the joy of being called daddy; or the pain of watching my child fall and hurt himself – “ he caught the look on his wife’s face and added, “ – or herself for the first time, it hurts more when I think of you.

“But I’m comforted. And happy – and fulfilled. I married the woman I love more than life itself – and I would like to think she married the man she loves more than anything else. I didn’t marry you for children, Igo. And like someone in the good book said – “Am I not worth more to you than ten sons?”

She chuckled, wiping back tears and made to speak – but his quick kiss silenced her quite effectively and he continued. “It’s been ten years. Ten years of ups and downs – ten years of it being just me and you. And you know what?”

She shook her head, spellbound by the loving in his eyes.

“Child or no, I can’t wait for the next ten.”

Igo snuggled against the warmth – against the security, love and happiness her husband represented. “See baby, I still ask myself how you choose me in the midst of all the girls who were hanging onto you then.”

He shrugged. “Really? I had eyes only for you.”

“You do say the sweetest things – “

He shook his head. “You make it easy for me, darling.” He leaned in close till her eyes, nose, ears – everything was full of him – and then he said,

“Happy Anniversary sweetheart.”

She would have answered too – except that her lips were quite busy.

Masthead 1

Two Years Later

 

It was one of those afternoons in which the sun seemed to be on a mission – a mission to keep everyone behind closed doors, or to make everyone wish they were. It beat down with unrelenting fury, rubbing the heads and shoulders of the people in it with fiery palms and at the same time tickling the soles of their feet with scorching fingernails.

Those on Mushin Street thought they had the worst of it.

“E no go beta if we come back come carry dese tins later? Dis sun na wa o.”

The speaker, a tall lean Segun Arinze lookalike stood beside a haulage truck, squinting down the street while squeezing sweat from his forehead. His dirty-blue overall stuck to his body around the shoulders, chest and back – sweat ran down his arms in rivulets. His partner wasn’t much different – he also had similar patterns of sweat on his costume – he just happened to be the shorter of the two.

“Ol’ boi, wetin we wan do na? De man dey para!”

The taller looked over his shoulder at the house they were moving things from. “E jus’ dey provoke. Now now e no go talk, before now e go begin yarn opata. Dem say im an in wife fight – na im make e commot.”

“Ehen. No wonder. You no know say woman fit drive pessin craze?”

The subject of their quite-intense discussion sat in what was before sitting area for two people with bright hopes and even brighter smiles. Now, he tried to smile but his lips quivered with strange emotion – so he gave up.

How long does it take to end a life?

His fingers wandered through the suede frills of the seams of the chair he was sitting in as the question repeated itself in his head.

How long does it take to end a life?

Of course, there was no answer – or he couldn’t find one.

He scratched his neck and wiped sweat from his forehead.

Why is this room so hot?

Leaping to his feet, his eyes darted to the air conditioner – except a gaping hole was what met his gaze. Oh. Air conditioner left yesterday.

He thumped himself on the forehead. How did I forget?

It was almost impossible to believe two people in love had once lived in the apartment. Now it looked as though a hurricane had come through and left nothing in its wake – nothing except organized carnage. Papers littered everywhere, pieces of a life that had once been the envy of everyone around them. A brightly-colored gleam caught his eye and he leaned over to pull something from underneath paper debris.

Something that turned out to be an anniversary card.

Happy Tenth Year Anniversary darling; it read in sprawling cursive – Igo’s handwriting. His hand trembled – and he jumped as the shrill ringing of his phone startled him into dropping the card.

“Wetin?” he swore loudly, reaching in his hip pocket for the offending device. It was a call from a number he did not recognize. “Yes?” he said curtly, shaking slightly from the fright. “Who is this?”

“Oga Frank, dem no let us enter the house o. Dem say another pessin don rent am since last week – “

“What?!!” He ejaculated, moving quickly towards the front door as he spoke. “Wait. I’m on my way there now!”

He ended the call – swearing loudly as he bumped into a small stool set negligently beside the door. “Who be de madman wey put this stool dia?” he yelled as soon as he stepped out of the house and into the yard, brandishing the stool like a security guard holding up a dane gun.

The taller of the two furniture movers scratched his head. “Em, oga na you o.”

Frank slowed down, embarrassment making his movements awkward. “Ehen,” he said, setting the stool down gently. “Okay. Dem say de pipo for de house no gree dem enta – I wan run go settle am.”

The shorter of the two watched as Frank hurried out of the house – and then nudged his companion who was stacking the stool in the back of the truck.

“Dat man get problem no be small,” he said, shaking his head in pity.

*********************************************************************************************

“But sir, this isn’t fair! It isn’t right! I paid – “ Frank was interrupted.

“Young man, I said the landlord has changed his mind!” The caretaker, a hungry-looking version of Saka retorted. “Give me your bank number, and I will have my boy here – “ he gestured towards a teenager wearing sagging jeans and a dirty white vest leaning against the wall. “ – he will transfer your money back now now.”

“Don’t call me young man,” Frank muttered under his breath. “I’m forty-one years old.”

He turned away, dismay making a lie of his comment – at least facially. Feet dragging, he walked to a truck the twin of the one back at the house and addressed the driver who was looking at him with hopeful eyes. “Sorry, Peter. We have to go back to the house.”

Peter, the truck driver shrugged. “No problem, oga Frank. No be so all dese yeye caretakers dey do?” And he nudged his dozing assistant for affirmation.

“Na so, oga mi,” the boy jerkily muttered, and promptly went back to sleep.

*********************************************************************************************

“There’s a small issue with the house I got – so I’ll have to keep these things here while I get it sorted out ma.”

The old bent woman looked at him from over her glasses. “You’re the one who chased yourself out, Frank. Nobody asked you to leave. You can keep your things here for as long as you like.”

Frank tried to smile but couldn’t quite make it. “You should understand, ma. It’s not easy – “ She cut him off.

“I know, Frank. I understand – my prayers are with you and that wonderful girl Igo. So beautiful.”

Frank hurried away as some peppery sensations behind his eyes made their presence known. Igo…I thought we could make it.

“Make we begin dey offload am?”

Frank nodded. “Begin offload am.”

*********************************************************************************************

“…so I need a place to stay for a little bit while I sort out my house issues…”

Frank nodded, thinking wryly that he hadn’t completed a single sentence all day. “Sure man, thank you. I’ll probably be around in the evening…” he moved the phone from his ear to look at the screen – “around eight or so.”

He nodded. “Thanks, Fola.” And disconnected the call.

Frank looked around the apartment, wondering at the detachment he was feeling – a feeling perfectly complimented by the long shadows drawn on the floor – shadows of the burglar proof. He was standing in the middle of the shadows – and the effect combined to make it look as though he was behind bars. Tears pooled in his eyes and started the slow journey down his cheeks.

He made no attempt to wipe them.

His feet echoed hollowly as he made his way to one of the rooms. He went in, spent a few moments – before coming back out, this time carrying a phone charger. And then he walked out and towards the gate.

Aliu, the gateman opened the gate wide as he saw Frank approach. “Kai, Oga Phrank. Kai Allah, no be so e por be o. Kai kai…” he muttered, shaking his head. Frank nodded as he walked past the man, forcing trembling lips to stay glued together for fear of sobbing.

Down his cheeks they ran, on the streets they dragged.

Tears and his feet.

His phone started ringing and he mechanically pulled the device out of his pocket. In that moment, he wore the entirety of his forty-one years on his face – jagged lines that seemed to emphasize the idea that all of life is but a puzzle.

“Hello?”

“I hear you finally purshued that your emuti barrel of a wife. Good boy! Good – “

Frank impatiently interrupted his father. “Papa, look – don’t insult my wife, you hear? Do not…”

It was his turn to be interrupted. “Quiet there! What does a pikin lak you no? Ehn?! What do you…you…” the man spluttered and began to cough, loud and deep coughs that seemed to come from his belly instead of his chest.

“Papa, sorry. Take it easy…” Frank wiped tears off his face and sighed – a deep, tired sigh. He knew what was going to follow – he could repeat the conversation word for word.

“You see, Franklin, I do not have much longer to live on this earth, and Chukwu did not see fit to bless me with plenty sons. Only you so if you don’t want me to be forgotten…”

“It’s okay Papa, I hear – “

The man yelled into the phone as Franklin hastily held it away from his ear. “No! You don’t hia me!” He coughed a bit and then continued to speak. “Nna come to the house on Thurday. Me an your mother haff a new wife for you!”

Click.

Wife?!

Staring at the phone in his hand, Franklin muttered, “Oh great. My life is now one big Nollywood movie.”

He started to laugh, horrible croaking laughter that broke – and then became a sob. He opened his mouth to scream, to yell – to complain to a stoic God – and then, from the corner of his still-streaming eye he noticed a woman staring at him in fear, arm around a pretty little girl who was also staring. He was quite the spectacle, okadas had stopped with riders pointing at him, cars were slowing down and causing traffic.

“Frank? Frank! Are you alright man?”

Not stopping to check who it was, he started to jog, scrubbing his face as he ran. Car horns blared behind him, tires screeched – but he heard it all through a layer of static; a steady buzzing in his ears. The tears continued to stream unabated and he continued to run.

After running for what seemed like forever – but was only a couple of minutes, he collapsed against a wall, hands on knees, inhaling jerkily. Some turmoil inside his belly let itself known – and then he started to retch, dry body racking spasms that made him jerk as though he was being mildly electrified.

Minutes later, the retching stopped and he straightened.

He hadn’t eaten all day – thankfully – but his mouth was sour, and a little something to wash it out wouldn’t hurt. He looked around to get his bearings; loud music and assorted smells told him he was in the notorious area of his neighborhood.

A smile darkened his features – a sinister, unpleasant smile – as he pushed away from the wall, resolving to do something he had not done in fourteen years.

Smoke a cigarette.


Goodbyes Are Forever

 

 

Don’t be mad

 

I just didn’t remember

 

But how could I forget?

 

Goodbyes are forever

 

 

We made promises

 

You said you would come back

 

And I would sail seven seas

 

Just to keep track

 

 

How could I not remember!

 

Too much too soon

 

Too soon too gone

 

Gone – till November

 

 

No – not this one; so close

 

Like the thorn from a rose

 

But that one that’ll never come

 

Like distant memories; far gone

 

 

Should have been more of a lover,

 

Should have kissed you tender,

 

Held your hand;

 

And allowed you go no further.

 

 

Oh; dear me!

 

How can I not remember!

 

How dare I forget;

 

That goodbyes are forever?!

 

 

 

 

How?

PROMO