The Egg Thief- Obaji-Nwali Shegun

excerpted from my forthcoming novel The Foreman

Image result for image of poultry farm

Hanging the blind to see the Hatchery Dept. workers smartly sweeping the driveway, again, for the fifth time this morning, the incident returned in vivid colors to the Foreman who was visibly forlorn.

Whatever  it was that suddenly derived pleasure in unsettling him seemed to derive immense contentment in playing it from just the door, ignoring the interior of his office; the time the thought came, 5: 30 pm, the exact time he plugged the dongle in the Egg system to transact with Sogius-Sakanmino Resturant’s manager of Foods,  the time his wife called to remind him of  their daughter’s birthday, the exact time he seemed to be overly out of the control of his own mind, the time he was seeing for the first time a long-mouthed mice swishing from the small triangular hole in the left leg of the company’s shelf of Broiler and Old layer transaction files into the tiny square hole under the bathroom door he was also seeing for the first time. The moment he was wondering what he would do if the unstable network the company choose for Egg transaction refused to connect him as usual to one of the company’s most esteemed client, the only restaurant he enjoyed lunches of pizza-mayionesse that reminded him his five-days residency programme in the company’s headquarters in Burma India- the place where pizza-mayonnaise seemed to be cooked by God himself.

The devil seemed to castigate the need to dissect his mind and show  him what was actually going on within his own skull at the moment, for he was sure he was being uprooted from his own mind by some seemingly enormous wicked force, or why on earth would a man with his own poultry farm of twenty-five workers condescend into the demeaning thought of stealing the company’s eggs.

Anyway. It began as usual from the door he opened and plodded into the Peacock Vaccine dept. to collect a polybag. He greeted Dr. Samanta, who was too busy to respond. The behavior lobbed fears in him, the fears that virtually succeeded in restoring his sanity, that almost made him  changed his mind, . The attitude that persuaded him to concur to the fact the rump of his motive had been bared, that only opened his mind to reason he’s been hated for hatching the hideous thought at all. But Dr. Samanta pacified him, tucked him deeper in the devilish thought with sudden smiles and loud response. The Forman demanded for an empty bag she handed to him. He slammed the door behind him and slogged awfully to the Hatchery Dept.  As expected the Hatchery Dept. workers were sweeping in the driveway as usual. The place was empty.

The fowls cackled at his presence. Looking sideways he ducked into the egg room. The room was silent if not for the rapid whirs of the fanafrick fan. Fearfully and religiously he filled the bag with fattest eggs. His fears came from the fact he’s not supposed, for any reason, Forman or not,  to be seen in Hatchery Dept. with a bag. It’s not his job to pick the eggs, or if he must do that because the Dept. workers weren’t around, for some cogent reasons the company endorsed, it must be done with the Egg registrar not with a bag but with the carton or cartons with the company’s insignia. Now he’s in here with a bag, without the Egg registrar doing the counting and jotting in her official register. He’s broken the rule and indubitably he’s simply stealing now and the consequence is an unquestionable sack.

The demon possessing his mind bumped out of  his head when he heard a loud unnatural cough from Hagi, the gateman. Hagi passed him into the room, picked the broom he came for and walked out pretending he had seen nobody.  He held the bag and stood like he’s glued on the floor utterly confused.

No any reason to defend himself. He’s been caught, breaking the rule, caught trying to steal the company eggs. That’s the fact and been caught trying to or caught after the deed is tantamount to the consequence of getting sacked immediately. No! it would be a shameful sack. How do he explain it to her Banker wife, to her daughter, to his workers that he had been sacked for stealing fifty-five eggs.

He returned the eggs and decided he must see the gateman at once. He met the gateman sweeping the verandah of his quarter. The Forman tapped Hagi, flailed the bag before him and altered feverishly he had returned the eggs. Before he’d finish the last sentence, the gateman that had dreaded him, that dared not look at him in the eyes glared vigorously at him saying he’d report him to the manager. The Forman tapped him to lower his voice before the Hatchery Dept. workers clustering the driveway would hear him. The Forman promised to give him whatsoever thing he would demand. The gateman smiled, sensing he’s in for business. He outlined the consequences of attempting to steal from the company  before going on to make his demand; the Forman would share his monthly salary into two, one for himself one for him, the gateman. The Forman raised a yell swiftly belated by the thought of the Hatchery Dept. workers . No argument, the gateman added and said the payment begins from this month, he ran into his room and returned with his First Bank account number he properly stuffed in the Forman’s pocket.

No argument ! and dishonorably the Forman slogged into his office. The office seemed abruptly narrow. Some invisible hollow seemed to engulf the breezes the whirring fan produced for plenty beads of perspiration, on his skin sprouted and cut off  in endless continuum. The castrated bronze elk leaning slightly on the sepia mantelpiece seemed to change colour as the body of the chameleon in his eyes. The fridge containing bottles of foreign mega wine and fruits the company manager bought specifically for him in Machester, London for his contribution to the growth of the company seemed to dance atilogwu. Tumbling and twitching. The white plate of oranges on his guest’s table dimmed wholly to a tiny square of jade-freckled Orion.

He lifted his eyes to the string of silver medal(awarded him just last month by the company to  recognize and congratulate him for his efforts in broadening the company’s commercial boundaries in the last three years ) hanging by the copper-colored Germany-made wall clock , though the silver plate and the yellow string seemed to have acquired new coloring of old snails and young cobra he wondered how on earth he’d stand the company that trusted him much. What if the whole of his poultry farm was confiscated for this gruesome act by the company. He slumped in his swivel chair and concluded he’d satisfy the gateman if it was the only thing needed to be done to shroud his hideous act in the sink of  oblivion.

For six months now the foreman shared his salary with the gateman. This wasn’t the issue bothering him now as he’s moving away from the widow to his swivel chair. The way the gateman interrupted him in staff meetings was beginning to make everyone to wonder what’s going on between him and the wretched gateman. His own fear waskilling him. He’s own crime, the crime he couldn’t define the persuasion is eating him up. A man that used to be plumb gradually emaciated to what his wife called the undergraduate Fiji when he suffered from typhoid some years ago.

His assistant had informed him he’d be visiting his office this morning not for any other issue other than why the gateman, an illiterate would always interrupt him, the Forman of Gago Poultry, a first class degree holder from the university of Legon, Ghana, who employed him unceremoniously. An act deemed over-stepping one’s boundary by other staff members. Another headache. Very soon he’d be knocking. What on earth must be said to squash down this top secret struggling to pop to light. Struggling to ruin him.

His phone rang, but his arms were too heavy to lift. He hissed and walked back to the window.  Hagi was singing with a girl he had never seen around in a way that showed she’s his lover. If it had gotten to this, then it had gotten to the height the Forman would be sacked. It’s a standing rule. None of the staff members are expected to bring in a lover and misbehave with such lover within the company premises; the company owner is an ardent Christian who strongly believed his success came for his ability to make his company sin-free for the holy spirits. Such act whisk off holy spirits. The act, this act Hagi enjoyed now with sense of abandon was as a result strongly prohibited and the Foreman was supposed to curtail this. Hagi would, if he dare strike, bare the secret and he must stop this new act before one of the staffs became peeved. He heard five knocks coming quick and consecutively and his heart leapt. Feverishly he plodded to the door.

He saw nobody when he opened the door. He hissed, and knocked his own mind for going out there to knock the door. Then a real knock came; the knocker did not wait as usual for the Forman to command the knocker to come in. the knocker was a lady, the registrar of the company. The Forman struggled to hold himself from showing he was quaking. He knew why she’s furious she had seen her spoke briefly with Hagi outside through the window.  Without any action of courtesy, an indication she’s pissed off, she blasted her mind. From the look of surprise in the registrar’s face the Forman himself noticed the lady suspected the sudden diminution of his own air of authority. The Forman, was known to be strict and extremely disciplined; even as the registrar spoke brazenly deep in her heart she harbored the fear she might  be writing her own sack letter by her own self. The Forman was aware of her own fear but he seemed to be seeing the face of the gateman in her eyes, the eyes that continued to hush the real Forman spirit of courage, audacity and authority.

The summary of the registrar’s words was: he should go out there, command Hagi, as the Forman to send the harlot out of the gate, warn him seriously never to recap such act, or she’d call the manager and owner of the company in Singapore right away.

The Forman forged up an authoritative voice and feature, ordering her to get Hagi for him right away. He shook to the window as the registrar slammed the door behind her, another act that reduced him. No one dared, not once in history, to drop his own door hard on its frames.

Hagi, caressed the lady’s wavy hairs, kissing her large black lips; what an impudence. What is fear doing to the  real man he is. He slumped on the floor, tears rolling out of his eyes like they had gathered and waited for him to loose them.  He bumped up quickly, as his door opened, it’s too late, his tears were seen by the registrar and his assistant before his brown kerchief could wipe them off.  His red irises were conspicuous.

They stood dazed and traumatized. He was ashamed of himself. He’d lie now, an act he hated from childhood even when he never believed God the way a real Christian should believe God. He must lie- the sort of lie that would send him out of there means on the whole or he’d be pushed to bare himself before the parrot of a registrar who would, in few seconds, fly to Singapore by the company land phone. He told them he just lost a friend and he had just received the information from a recent call.  They consoled him and inside the Forman was delighted, he would at-least for the moment crossed the huddles set before him unharmed. But the registrar would never hesitate to express her mind. She whispered that the gateman commanded them and him to go to hell and stink with his damned ass. The Forman coughed and demanded for a cupful of water. May be they did not hear him, the two walked out, and this negligence of the highest order intensified his emotional quagmires. He signed out with the complain of depressed for losing a friend this afternoon.  He only glared at the gateman as he drove out of the company.

* * * * *

Back home the Foreman was silent, he did not touch the homemade hamburger on the dining table, and he never listened to their house help, Rose, when she informed him the hamburger would lose its taste if it becomes cold, he was too deep in his own thought he never heard the beeps of his wife’s car outside the gate and her greetings as she walked into the dining room. He feared when her wife pinched off a bead of tear from his left eye. He feared, for the eyes of the gateman seemed to paste themselves everywhere, he lost and lacked strength like he’s standing before him.  He’s own dread of Hagi, surprised him. How the gateman he had barely noticed in the scheme of things seemed to become part of his life’s centrality. A part pulling an enormous weight, upon which other parts depended to stand.

He repeated the lie of losing an old friend in Les vagas. And felt so bad for his wife said to have fainted in the city of Detroit on hearing the news. His wife took time to swallow the unfortunate news. The story was indeed disheartening but she was wondering whom among his friends was that since she could bet with her life she knew all his foreign intimate friends from the beginning to the end.

He read his wife’s mind and covered up. He claimed she’d never know him; she was told it’s been long, and he had known the friend who travelled from Accra to South Africa before they met in Legon University.

His wife persuaded him to take heart welcoming their daughter, who had been sad for his father’s low-spiritedness during her birthday party. Passing them, Joy refused to greet his father as usual. If things were normal, he would lift her from the ground and properly fix her buttock with his koboko, but things weren’t normal. He’s in the heart of a trouble. But the girl had been encouraged by his own aloofness for months now. Realizing his own self-made trouble was beginning to tear his family down he cried brushing his teeth in the bathroom the following morning.

The gate man refused to open the gate for him. He pressed on the beep buttons until the entire staff came out to see what was going on.  More fear; he’d never be able to shun the gateman for the debasing slur and what was expected of him was to yell at Hagi and send him packing. He packed his car on the driveway and came back to greet the Peacock Dept. cleaner who opened the gate for him and answered the greetings of the top staff members nervously awaiting his reaction. They know their Forman. Everyone understood what he’s capable of doing to correct such insolence and impertinence of the highest degradation. The gateman was enjoying the loud East-African disco from his transistor radio, in a way that hinted he undermined everyone present, the Forman not excluded.

The Forman sweated. What must be done to balance the equation that seemed to be falling out of place. He must not infuriate the gateman, for a secret upon which  his own title as the Forman balanced   and he must not step into his office without demanding heroically and stanchly the motivation of such horrendous act of inattention. Some force seemed to bond his lips as he struggled to say a word. He stared about, seeing irritated faces of the staffs waiting for him to castigate the egotistic gateman that suddenly became fearless. That suddenly took everyone for a nobody, that suddenly decided he’d open the gate for any of the staffs he wished to , by the time he wished to.  The most infuriated of all the staffs was Kabiru, the West Nigerian head of Exportation and logistics; he had always bared his mind in a moment like this; he had always said the Yorubas aren’t good for going mute when everyone is silent for the inability to say things they way they are because of fear. He had claimed to come from the family of Wole Soyinka the African  Nobel laureate who’d tear off the ears of a bad government without minding it has the power to command the battalions of the armed forces of the nation after him. For the first time, he walked up to the Foreman, disregarding the bemusements of the staffs, dabbed off the sweats on the Forman’s face and told him he had just been neglected by a gateman in the brutal way he had been neglecting everyone in the past six months and now what he must do would be to get him sacked.

The word ‘sacked’ forced the gateman to lower his radio. Hagi was from the north of Nigeria. And he used the language of that part to condemn the Yoruba man with the threat of tearing him, the dan iska  with dagger if he’d not respect himself and  keep silent as the Foreman.

The Forman swallowed. The audacity and the incontrovertible verity he’d never be able to shun him in the way that would please the livid staffs set the Forman’s body on fire.

‘You need to be careful’ the Forman said apparently plummeting

‘What? You talked to me like that? The gateman said flailing his index finger before the Forman’s nose.

Everyone stared, stunned expecting the Forman to realize the gateman has just crossed the Rubicon, and deserved to be  fired straight away.

The Forman swallowed again briskly walking into his office hallway, neglecting the yells and screams of the staffs, the yells of what is going on’ ‘sack this wench’ ‘something is not normal here’.

‘No . It’s over’  the Forman said sweating and breathing profusely as he slumped in his swivel chair. He rushed up to the door, locked it and returned to the sit again. Fear has reduced him to mere rag, his wife and daughter were all angry with him. It’s now obvious he’d be sacked. The staffs would talk to the manager and it would be over.  He’s been molested during staff meetings by this gateman until he wouldn’t tell if him or Hagi was the Forman of the company, and everyone was beginning to follow suit since he abruptly became tepid. No, the suffering is enough. He decided he’d fly to Singapore tomorrow, roll on the ground before the desk of the manager, detailing his crime and asking for forgiveness, if he wished to kick  him out,  he should go ahead. It’s better than dying secretly. It’s enough.  Fear, he killed he learnt, it won’t kill him. God forbid

He drove out of the company straight to Dafo airport.

The manager was in the middle of transaction with Laso-jik eggroll company, but he rushed up to him, his Forman’s presence by the door sweating and weeping library unsettled him. He thought something was wrong with his Nigerian prominent branch.

He knelt before him, explained how something he couldn’t delineate took over his mind and forced him to play foul game with the company eggs. And how he had been molested by the gateman, how he had shared his own salary with Hagi for six months, how he had been wounded by the fear of keeping everything secret and how he had had become a nobody in the eyes of the staffs because of the  disrespects from Hagi. The Forman expected the manger to scold and tag him a wicked fellow then sack him but he made him sit on his client’s chair.

He was forgiven and given outright authority to sack the gateman as he’d not be able to fly down to Nigeria with him due to some transactions on ground. He’d endorse the sack via phone if Hagi argued. He’d be sacked for keeping a secret because of money, he would keep a secret that could ruin the entire company when properly paid. The Forman could not believe the manger until he reiterated himself.  The Forman flied back to Nigeria; for once full of poise and buoyancy.

The Forman called an emergency meeting. The gateman refused to show, he only listened to his transistor radio in his quater, nodding to an hausa martial song hailing Osmon dafodio. With the staffs they trooped down his quarter. The Forman slapped him and ordered him to walk out of the company in the next five seconds without any of his properties. The gate man  bemusedly stared at the Forman; has he forgotten he’s the egg thief who would be sacked if the manger becomes aware. Hagi, after several slaps and shuns from the Forman  called Singapore. He was shocked when the manger narrated briefly how him, the gateman caught the Forman attempting to  steal the company’s eggs and decided to keep it a secret. He deserved to be sacked and the manger announced his endorsement of the sack. The Forman ordered the staffs to push him out of the gate.

For once, in six months the Foreman laughed from his own heart.

 

 

Few days in Tanzania

this story has been published in Tuck  MagazineImage result for image of weeping african lady

The blanket, the bedsheet, the mirror, the pillow, everything she dragged out. She would burn them. She must burn them, of what benefit if all that Yakovina ever touched  stayed with her in her own hard-earned house. Soon she would get to the bathroom. To change the bath mat, respray the  cubicle, if possible pick out everyting like Yakovina’s tootbrush, mostache chopper, razor blade, all those things  young men need to make up in the bathroom  All the things bellonging  to that cheat  she’d  pack out.

Xose Adutwumwaa Wereko knew Yakovina Obataiye came from a place in Tanzania. She wouldn’t doubt that according  to Yakovina, his parents lived there in a big mansion behind a beautiful  Umojawa Vijana complex in Dar Es Salaam. She quiet was aware Yakovina had never attempted introducing her to his parent as his wife he married in Nigeria. Too, Xose did not know and couldn’t point at the parents of her husband should they called at her from a brief distance.

Yakovina never, and had never by joke as his manner was told Xose he has a robust pale  sister back in Tanzania. All he had hinted about his family to her  was the elegant tallness  of his black mother that has quaint cornroll she carried like sun on her head, each strand inked in Capri-gold and a bronze-emerald ring  tacked in her lower lip and a silver-crescent pendant that flopped and dangled in her left nose.

His father Obataiye Afaafa has a varicose ulcer and he regularly  fly from Lagos to Dar Es Salaam to check him out. He has a brother , Kiwanga Obataiye, but something happened  he perished  in a blaze. He had a nephew Bikolimana Obataiye who died of Ebola in Liberia and  Aailyah Manyadah a cousin who lived in America and an uncle Afaafa Abdulrasack  in North Dakota and the uncle’s gold firm in Missisipi and a steel company in  Ontario Canada. He  never said anything  that has to do with having a sister in Tanzania , but few days in Tanzania, a very few days in Dar Es Salaam, Yakovina came home with a pregnant pale lady he called his bereaved sister who lost her husband in  hurricane Katrina in  New Orleans a month ago.

⃰                ⃰                        ⃰                ⃰                       ⃰                          ⃰                        ⃰                         ⃰

That night Xose Adutwumwaa Wereko was running a transaction in her personal workstation and there was a knock on the door. And Yakovina came in with a pale lady. Xose felt like bleating, like yelling , like grunting, like droning ,  like drumming like a wild emus but she proved a disciplined woman and groaned  among fury,passion, surprise, vehemence and a sense of betrayal  not stridently but deep inside the depth of her yakking and coughing stomach. Xose made  to say ‘you are welcome’ but an eddy of gum-filled breeze stapled her tongue to the roof of her mouth. She sat up finally and noticed the lady was predgnant.

She couldn’t stand it and furiously she thundered ‘who’s she?’ Yakovina stared about , looked to the celine and to the floor , a habit of his, mostly when he’s guilty , and act just cut for him  and chirped she is Susanfatimah ,my sister , dear wife, don’t mind Xose, my jewel get her trunks upstairs, I’d meet you shortly  and aquaint you with why she’s here. Xose ignored Yakovina’s brief monologue and said to the lady that shook like a frangipani bushes whirling in the pit of tsunami ‘who are you’ naively or timidly the lady whispered ‘am..mu…mu I’m his sister from Tanzania .

Xose suspected there was a qualm imperceptibly roosting somewhere but she stemmed the flames that punted roughly in her skull from popping out for the moment, so she would not be a mannerless wife. She did what Yakovina commanded but Xose fixed a zapping, a zonking gaze on him and never said ‘welcome’ that was a ritual cliché until she climbed out the spiral stirs with his attache case and the lady’s trunk.

Soon she was obdurately quaking her plumb waist in front of Yakovina in the bedroom

“Who is that predgnant woman?’

“For God’s sake I told you she’s my sister , my younger sister!”

“You never told me you have a sister back there in Tanzania”

“Yes , yes, I hoped she’d be here someday with her husband after she winned her first child  but something happend”

“Yako, you wont fool me, you told me known of your family members is light-skinned”

“Erm….erm, cant you see it , she was bleached with cream, common sweetheart don’t you trust me again…, his husband  visited my uncle’s new established ICT centre in New Orleans but_”

“But what?”

“Something happened , a rancourous hurricane swept out Katrina, and her husband got displaced into the ocean, please she’d stay till I raise up a certain amount of cash for her ”

“Cant your rich uncle keep her up?”

“His business failed with that huricane Katrina, he invested much, I planned to get things from you as a matter of fact”

“Not again! You owned nothing , and I gave you everything and you come home with a woman, not just a woman, a predgnant woman”

“She is my sister  and I hope you’d not insult me just for living in your house”

“Yako, am not tricked. Did she resemble you ? No”

“I swear with my head, with_ she is my sister”

“And why cant you get me  on phone to tell me she’d be coming here”

“Xose, indulge my slip-up, she’d stay with us for a very few days

”It better be Yakovina”

And it was sealed  and it was over , Susanahfatimah became part of the house.

Susanahfatimah was a polite young woman and just for this things went fine with her and Xose . if Xose thought on or could think  Susanahfatimah could be what her mind pushed her to believe she was, Susanahfatimah’s respect and regard for her as her brother’s wife was loud and soothing. Once Susanahfatimah perfected a manner that compelled Xose to urge  Yakovina to let Susanahfatimah stay for her time, the days she wished .

One day Xose dusted the cushions and soon started  to mop few electronic appliances  and Susanahfatimah walked in with a glowing smile with her predganancy.

“My brother’s jewel,” Xose wasn’t unhappy with her since she had not observed a foul play. She must sincerely  be Yakovina’s sister, and she concluded if  she  is of Yakovina’s family then a   wife is obliged to show those things of curtsey like to respect and display good manners to any member of her family-in-law. Xose smiled and chuckled

“Susanahfatimah, how is your baby”

“He’s stubborn in here” Pointing at her pointed  belly

“How do you know its he?

“Boys are big heads, they like to kick”

“Wow”

“Please let me  help you with the mopping”

“No, have a rest I’d do it”

“No, you are a banker , you are supposed to be at work now”

“Never mind , I don’t do this, my maidens went out for a live”

“Oh, you’ve got maidens here, yes five of them”

“Let me help you , my brother’s jewel”

“No you need to rest, I’ve not given birth once but I think its not right if you overlaboured yourself with works”

“No , my brother’s jewel, you should know its medical wise to do brief exercise when you are pregdnant”

“How should I know’

“So don’t mind” And she mopped out the Tv, the radio, the glassy-tables  and all other things . After Xose returned  from an Oceanic Bank conference in Accra, Ghana a week  latter, they sat opposite in the parasole outside  the house in the home garden and talked about her husband’s family in Tanzania.

“How is your mother, my husband’s mother in Tanzania”

“Tanzania?” Susanahfatimah wondered as if she had never gone to Tanzania in her life,  quickly as though  she recollected  something  she said ‘Oh mama’s fine , its papa, the vericose ulcer is troublesome  and seemed intractable , he’s  been taken to hospitals in north  Dakota, in jackson, in Detroit and different places in India, but the ulcer is always  bulging with an hyper-cruelty

“Can you tell me why your  brother would  not take me to Tanzania to know  your family intimately ”

“Yes, yes he told me, erm, erm, I talked about it anyway, he said  my parents never planned  he should marry a Nigerian and I think, he’d have to make up for the gap before  he takes you to Tanzania ”

“But what’s wrong  if a Tanzanian married a Nigerian afterall we all come from Africa”

“My mother , his mother is a rogged amazon that loved the cultures of Tanzania like heaven , she believed  as a custodian of the Tanzanian culture her son should marry a woman from Tanzania so she would not begin to relecture anybody into fitting in in the culture of the land”

“Hmmm”Xose breathed  and said

“You’d begin to teach me the  vital part of the Tanzanian culture ’ Susanahfatimah was appalled as though it was an imposible task , she comforted herself and yelled like someone rousing from a sleep

“You’d give me some times , the wife of my brother, I’m weakly”

“No qualms , Susanahfatimah whenever you are chanced am all ears and hands”

“No a problem”

So on and with this pattern they talked about her husband’s death in Katrina huricane, Yakovina’s uncle and many other things. But throughout their conversations Susanahfatimah was humane and respectful.

⃰                           ⃰                          ⃰                             ⃰                          ⃰                      ⃰                          ⃰

Everything has tranversed , all has happened , Xose has buried it all , the links  that had bonded  her with a decietful , a cheat of an husband . Now she was sorrowfully  singing in the small chalet she bought in Yaba. She was picking  out all that reminded  her of Yakovina. She swabbed her face with spotless linean and sang a yoruba song Jesumi sheun sheun….Olorunmi sheun sheun at least she should be greatful to God, she has no child though, she could of course be greatful to God  for revealing things to Mrs. Onyinlola so she made her became aware she has been staying with, spending much on a man who regularly leave and come home with an attache case full of unorganized papers , who come home in suits and an overstuffed  attache case, who has never  travelled to Abuja, a trecherous dreg born in the slums of Ajegunle but claimed  he came from Tanzania.

She walked  to the window eaves  and flung  out  the green bra of Susanahfatimah she had believed  was Yakovina’s sister . She wasn’t , Susanahfatimah was Yakovina’s wife that got him five brilliannt boys in Ojota Lagos.

‘…and Yako was using me, sucking the innocence of my neckedness  like I was some sort of a hob and I, a professional banker anchored a con, a bilk the liberty to slurp my breasts..my…… No Yako must pay for this’ she hissed , snorted  and dragged  out the trunk that reminded  her of a false union she once shared with Yakovina.

The canvassed  bronze-framed images they took in St. Patrick on the wedding day, the five they took in the reception at Surulere, the images they took inside her office , the six Yakovina  took with her phony-parents , the phony-ring , the lavender band Yakovina gave her in a dinner , the goblets, the silver mugs , the ornate carafes  she had shared  foods witn Yakovina, the cheat! She dragged them  outside , on a cemented  hallo-shape clearing in the  brilliant lawn that shone in the  sunblaze.

She turned  out the trunk in the ground . The first thing that fell out and gawked  at her menancingly was the cavasssed picture they took kneeling before the Rev father Orunloga who joined them  in a ‘decietful matrimony’. Yakovina bowwed innocently  beside  her gorgeous Indian saree  and vividly Xose could recall how he repeatedly nodded to accept  everything the priest administered. So innocently as if he’d be sincere and prepared to fufil every marital vows like ‘I do, in sickness, in health, in snow and storms..and all those things. How she cherished Yakovina, the handsome Yakovina she got through the facebook. Looking at the shattering image , how Yakovina claimed he was her sincere lover , before he travelled to his Tanzania. She slumped to the lawns and began to brawl and droan.

She was checking  out for new friends with her laptop in the facebook , in the west of Jigawa where she served before she was posted back to her mother’s state , Lagos. NYSC ladies   then loved to chat, to meet an handsome pal online, and a long-nose, dark handsome guy turned up with a smile . She zoomed out his profile picture  and he was  her ideal man with this daring phenotypical enchantment. Then she scrolled  up and down his posts and walls and details. He came from Tanzania, he was a surveyor , single, based in Ojota Lagos  where he worked for the Lagos State Estate and Land Management Ministry, his inbox images were great and succulent , his likes were Aliko Dangote , Mohammed Ali and Bill Gate. He must be a don, with her evaluation of the open-teethed young stranger , due for marriage anyway, she sent a friend request and soon very soon he confirmed it and the wild fire  began to burn.

“I am Xose Adutwumwaa Wereko”

“You must be a ghanian’

“Yearh born by a Nigeria and a Ghanaian”

“Your mum’s from Lagos I think?”

“Yes my dad is a ghanian

“You are cute”

“Not more than your Ebony skin with you open teeth”

“Ha, you will kill me Xose I never knew I have an open teeth”

“You did and the square-hole is catchy”

“Like seriously”

“Like unjoke babe”

“May i know you”

“Of course , I’m a copper  serving in Jigawa, but  my mum’s working for me. She’s scared of the bombings in the north . She need me back to lagos.

“How is that possible with your mum?”

“She is the vice chancellor of Unilag”

“What ? vice chancellor of unilag?

“Precisely”

“Hrm, but Jigawa is safe”

“She cares ?” North is noth and anything is predictable in Nigeria anything can happen

“Your best place in Lagos ”

“Eko hotel”

“Your best novel”

“I think Diana Gabadon’s Drums Of Autumn”

“Your best memory”

“Haa if I hadnt read you are a surveyor I would have called you a lawyer”

“Hrm”

“Anyway, the day I visited Washington Dc, the white house with my mum  ”

“What? Washinton Dc?” the white house, what’s the place like?

“”Heaven”

“Compare it to Lagos”

“Don’t go there, here is the wosrt  segment of Hiroshima”

“Its nice meeting you Xose.”

“And I, Xose, may I know you?”

“Sure”

“Your names”

“Yakovina Obeteiye”

“ From where”

“Tanzania”

“Yearh”

“Why do you stay in Lagos”

“A temporal thing anyway, I’m a land suveyor, working in Lagos State Estate and Land Mangement Ministry”

“Great, married?”

“No, I’m a virgin”

“Funny head”

“Your best nove?”

“Well come to Nigeria, Chika Unigwe’s On the Black Sisters Street”

“In Africa as a whole”

“Hmmmmm, Chika Unigwe’s On the Black Sisters Street and the American James Peterson’s Pop goes the whistle”

“Wow, you must be an intelligent bookworm”

“I love books”

“More about your family”

“I have an Uncle in America, a steel company owner in Ontario Canada,a gold firm owner in Mississipi, and he’s based in north Dakota; I have a cousin  that studies law in Harvad law school. And America is the finest place in the world”

“Great”

“You mean it”

“Of course”

“Your worst memory”

“The day my granny was shot to death in Journasburg, south Africa, in the days of Apatied for having a black skin , . And the day my brother died of Ebola in Liberia on a business trip”

“My heartfelt condulence”

“No qualms. It’s a very old strory”

“Your best memory?”

“The day you sent me a friend request and the day I’d see you face to face”

“What? You will kill me”

“No, like seriously I cant wait to see your yellow face”

“ What if I am a cripple”

“You wont be a cripple”

“What if I am , no let’s jokingly face it , what will you do”

“Ha, anyway I’d ha, I don’t  know ooo”

“Haaaa haaaahaa, I kow it, you’d run four forty”

“Haaaa haaa, haaa I wont run I’d tell her my wife is calling me please let me pick her call and , like the wind am gone”

“What’s the problem of Nigeria  in few lines”

“Power tussle, everybody wants to become the president. Everybody wants to become a senator. Nobody wants to be a servant. Everybody is the master of his own”

“Worst memory in Nigeria’

“Boko Haram christmas bombing and Diana Aircrash”

“You make me go grim and surreal”

“Sorry Xose”

“Cant wait to meet you face to face”

“Sure , if you wish. But you are still in Jigawa”

“I’d soon be back to Lagos”

“You’ve got my endorsement to call me anytime as soon as you entered Lagos. I cant wait to hug you”

“Its and experience meeting you Yakovina”

“Don’t mention”

⃰                            ⃰                            ⃰                            ⃰                               ⃰                                     ⃰

Xose boldly stood up and poured a gasoline on the small sagging hill of papers and frames, she looked up and down to her lawns and struck a light into it, five steps away so she’d not blaze up  and she watched tearfully as Yakovina’s cheat and glory flamed up and curled in a frosthy smoke into the azure skies of the snowy moring. Her manager understood what happened to her and had freely given her a month interlude to bear her misfortune; And such distrust  punch, that welts her beauty and feminine ego.

An hour later, she was  in the living room she shared with Yakovina ‘that demon and now he pretended susanahfatimah was his sister and how he filled that hob with lies, no wonder they both failed to teach me anything about Tanzania, because they’ve not been to Tanzania in their lives and I was pouring my money on Yakovina to augment his barbing saloon in Ojota, to feed his five boys. No Yako, you will pay for this’.She blamed her inner voice for not stressing her fututre doom.

The blanket, the bedsheet, the mirror, the pillow, everything she dragged out. She would burn them. She must burn them, of what benefit if all that Yakovina ever touched  stayed with her in her own hard-earned house. Soon she would get to the bathroom. To change the bath mat, respray the  cubicle, if possible pick out everyting like Yakovina’s tootbrush, mostache chopper, razor blade, all those things  young men need to make up in the bathroom  All the things bellonging  to that cheat  she’d  pack out.

She  would have released  them to him, she suppossed to have given him the chance to get them off her house but she felt it was not necessary since she bought them for him and even if she were to grant him the chance, she sent them out unprepared.  The blanket, the bed sheet, the lavender magazine cracks, his wrist watch, his bangle and a pendant necklace, his bow tie, the tie he dropped before they made the last love, she packed them into the trunk and headed for the bathroom.

⃰                                       ⃰                             ⃰                                  ⃰                            ⃰                         ⃰

It was brilliantly sunny in the city of Lagos that Sunday, traffic jam was the sole-character of the metropolitan parts of Lagos , Moluwe spread  out on high and low ways in an endless continum. Young ladies hawked  cattons of gala and ice creams , some little cretins of boys carried suya, bannana, carrots, sliced pinneaples on their bare heads they would wave their wares at you, from the outside. If the glasses werent turned up they could stick there things into your eyes. That’s Lagos for you, it’s the busiest place in Nigeria. And you would do the destitue children nothing than overlook them. You’d bear it, the pains  not for Lagos but because Nigeria is hard and they must hustle and bustle for livelihood.

Xose  was in her jeep deeply strung up in the heart of a rugged traffic spread that seemed  to alternatly inched five five minutes. She must get Yakovina, her handsome Tanzanian, a  good rich things. He’s to big. Too rich, too noble, too gracious  to stand there in the sun, in that park waiting for her. She checked her wrist watch and hastily and briskly looked out from the window, the traffic wasn’t seriously moving . What sort of Lagos is this? She thought .Everyday you must encounter traffic hitches in Ojota that make you nauseate and laoth ever owing a car.  Things werent this way in Jigawa. You get up and you are at your destination . Not Lagos, lagos is a boisterious city that pained your nervers with preening hullabaloos and a jerking pandemonium. It’s eighter  you are free from traffic , or you go numb with the intricate blasts oozing like smokes from the recording studios that spread about Lagos like mushroom. Thunderous punchlines  getting corrected , or repeated . Lagos  is a sickness , you’ve got only no time  to rest , to feel the entente of traquility.

Xose checked out again  and thanks to heaven the road was gradually clearing , it started  with a regular intching and soon she rolled out for the park. What  stood before her was too elegant  than what she saw in the facebook  he wore an overcoat  that fitted  his robust skin, he smiled  at a boy that waved at him and Xose got it , she simply saw that open teeth that made her head to bobble nervously few months ago.

She breathed hard , she grew nervous  in her seat belt. On earth how do she confront this tall Tanzanian surveyor  who studied in Texas and Los Angelese and she had only visited America as an High school girl, what sort of intonation would she  employ, what sort of a manner could prove her civilized and matured ? But why wasn’t he in a jeep like her. Maybe he’s humble. She thought.

She gained  confidence finally . At least she was a very stunning young lady, the one with the same  facial character and well-oiled dreadlock of Chika Unigwe the Novelist he cherished so much. Xose was milk-skinned. Richer than her mates. A professional banker. Though an introvert and of course that spurned her into online dating. Why then must she entertain fear . Just because he studied in America? No, she must have to gain a poise. Still she was nervous  and feared she don’t flop up her matriarchal ego before this gorgeous patriarchy . She breathed  hard and climbed down.

When she came out, she was a  glory. A moonbeam. An honour an ostrich perching on the green hills of snowy brackens , she wore an immaculate gown, a lavender spectacle and a furnished gleaming face , a glowing shimmering dreadlock that accorded her a rarity , an enchantment, a flawless, she limped like  an African Salamander crawling  out from a stormy sea, her teeth  like ancient  corals, like the anti-flash ivories, like the stainless tusks of an  elephant  glinted like the cheek of Chimmmanda Ngozi Adiichie the day she won an award in America for her stupendous  novel Americanah.

Yakovina  noted her quickly and sauntered  out  wildly , if he can do this , Xose felt she too can’t wait , she darted forward and they met in a smooth bang, a chest to chest bang.

‘You are Xose Adutwumwaa Wereko?’

‘Are you Yakovina Obataiye?”

“Yes I am”

“Where is your jeep, sorry your car”

“Erm.erm, my car broke down and It’s with a mechanic but my uncle planned to send me one this season’

“To hotel or my house or your house” Xose asked

“My house then. And they drove out into the heart of Ojota”

⃰                       ⃰                           ⃰                           ⃰                          ⃰                    ⃰                               ⃰

The bathroom smelt  decayed snails and  putrid eggs  everything was out of place and it reflected her life , her inside , her history , her  state of mind and health now. The once glittering cubicle has the stain of Capri dolts , the mess Susanahfatimah wrecked , the caps of  mangosteen and the tiny seeds of pomegranate dropped on the bath mat . And Xose  wondered if Susanahfatimah had consumed few fruits in her bathroom. She hissed  at  least she was sure the problem won’t be again, she is now a relics of the past;  She swept out  the floor  into a net-featured plastic bin and endeavored the faucet was splendidly mopped , she let water to dribble out the last ejects of Susanahfatimah; If she knew  it had been possible to drain out the underground soak away pit that cleaved these things that came out from the bowels of Yakovina  she would  have let in a long pipe into the pungency and do a rapid outright draining, draining and draining until everything  that belonged to Yakovina disappeared completely  away into the yonder caves of history.

‘In this Lagos, in this Ojota where i cleverly grew up, sucked my mothers  breast, someone cheated on me? No. Yako is paying for  this’ . This was her mind  and she began to re-mop the cubicle , perhaps   she feared  Yakovina  could reappear  into her world  with his daring enchantment through the soul of anything that held his touch, his impress , his grasp.

Sweat gathered in her quaint face . She wasn’t  aged  enough , no wrinkles  in her face, she could boast she was yet  a lady . She’s still ripe for a perfect  marriage. Thanks  to God she wasn’t pregnant  before her  friend blew up the galf.

She blamed herself  for indulging facebook with rave and carelessness. If she had listened to her mother  life would have been much blissful. Now she realized her course mate , Adul Fatai and  her mother saw things from a vital sagacious edge she never imagined . They’ve warned Xose  to check her love for facebook, it has ruined many ladies out there. Many ladies  have been murdered  and kidnapped . Many house wives in Lagos, in America has loosed the ointment that added flavor and savor to the  bonds of their marriages. Many not few have become witches and wizards through  Facebook imperceptibly .

Once , like  her mother would briefly  narrate , a lady answered a text question and the next day she was on a carpet sprawled  out in the heart of a sea and she was forever a marine spirit , a mermaid. Facebook is the worst invention even when it is the best of all inventions. She was warned but Xose claimed she’s in her right senses. She saw an handsome  open-teeth  Yakovina  and today she was a broken incisors now a gap stood between her and her mother. She had wasted five good years with a hypocrite. ‘But i should be blamed. Did I ask him if he’s married, but i did that, I asked him, he said he was a virgin”

Few weeks  after a much sleeping together she proposed , it wasn’t Yakovina who proposed , this spoilt things  much.

“Can we be a faithful couple?

“I cant wait, Xose, I cherished you . You are my heartbeat”

And they set up for wedding. Her mother was curios. She inquired her Yakovina’s parents . He explained  things to Xose, of Tanzania been a place that yet held an awkward weather for flights , of some culture things , of her mother wanting her to marry a Tazanian rather than give her parents excuses , she bought him a pathfinder and they arranged  a fake in-laws and the wedding was officially carried out. But now  she regretted her decision. Her mother became a world apart after hearing this slush , slush of a conspiracy orchestrated by her own daughter.

⃰                        ⃰                       ⃰                      ⃰                    ⃰                    ⃰                         ⃰                      ⃰

Today as she cleaned out her chalet she moaned in her heart  for what quickly  turned the corollaries of her mistakes . She  flushed out  the bathroom so it matched a supple sublimity  then took out the trunk out again for burning. She burnt out the relics of cheat then walked into the study . The study has six tall catalogues filled with books , big encyclopedia on banking and finance , data and statistics gathering and an extraordinary catalogue that crammed African novels. She started from the swivel chair  to dust  out the impress of Yakovina, his cheat, his scent , the hypocrisy of a man he loved terribly and passionately she did just that.

⃰                         ⃰                            ⃰                            ⃰                          ⃰                      ⃰                        ⃰

She played with Mai , she flung a soft toy to the four of Susannahfatimah when her friend , a publisher, a newspaper  editor and a journalist. Mrs. Onyinlola knocked  and came in. They laughed , they discussed the problem with Nigeria as opined in Chinua Achebe’s the trouble with Nigeria. They agreed the Muslims want Islam to rule the world and that is the problem with the world  and Africa as a continent.  They chuckled and chortled on the last issue of the New Yoker and Mrs. Oyinlola blabbed angrily how she used a column in Newswatch to slam the Nigerian publishers for pricing themselves high, for not creating an avenue that exhumed the wannabe Nigerian writers. Xose said she read the column too.

She asked Xose who Susanahfatimah was  to the family. With jokes , in between flinging much toys into Mai the daughter of Susanahfatimah and smiling she said  she’s Yakovina’s sister from Tanzania. Her husband died in a Katrina huricane that swept things out in America’s New Orleans. She would have been back to Tanzania, but I insisted she stay for few more months. Oyinlola asked  her what brought her to Nigeria  and Xose said she came a pregnant woman and Yakovina had pitied who’s going to catter for her since his Uncle the finance centre of the family  rapidly failed in business . So he brought her here to relax , deliver her baby then return back to stay with his uncle.

Mrs Onyinlola laughed and said “friend , you risked your marriage, why don’t you tell me a woman now stayed with you, if not that i saw her with Yakovina everyday and one of my sub-editor told me she lived with you”

“You’ve not visited here lately and she’s always indoor”

“You played with your marriage, I cant say what I did not know but I tell you I suspect that girl, she’s up to something”

“How? She’s respectful , she calls Yakovina ‘brother’ and he is her brother indeed it’s in their attitudes”

“Ok , you see I don’t know what you would make out of this  but I must tell you, could you believe I regularly see your husband in Mr.Biggs and Eko Hotel walking hand in hand with her so called sister that wore mascara and a show-back top like a hob”

“No she just gave birth , she can’t wear show-back. She is disciplined, she can’t use mascara , often she told me how she loathed it staying on her lips.”

“Jolly-good-fellow”

“I saw them somewhere today, but I wouldn’t say what I saw; Grace to God you are around today, when they are back do not ask them questions, learn to watch them closely from morning to night , their conversations , everything”

“Why do you speak as if something is absolutely wrong somewhere

“My friend what I saw today? Ha, there’s fire on the mountain, but I think as a journalist I’ve sworn by the virtue of my profession to maintain the law of confidentiality and am sure you wont force me to say more than that  ”

“Talk to me Oyin”

“Are you blind Xose, Susanah…or what do you call her can’t you see they never resembled in anyway and  if he sincerely love you what stops him from introducing you to his parents, have you ever gone to his office, his work place? Xose I think you should wake up and understand if this is a marriage or a game. Remember you got this man through facebook and Xose take a cursory look on that girl in your fingers  ”

“No, no Oyin you won’t insult my husband in my own house”

“Look at that child , to me phenotypically speaking she’s a carbon-copy of Yakovina”

“Oyin thank you, stand up and start going”

“What?”

“Yes live my house”

“My childhood friend sending me out  for telling what I saw?”

“Yes get going, before I run mad”

Quickly  she sauntered back from slamming the door against Mrs. Oyinlola and cast a critical look all over Mai as if she’s just seeing an infested hickory wood in the eyes of the child she called a gold few minutes ago. Xose observed her dark skin, her tall narrow nose stood out like the beak of a twittering blackbird, her small mouth curved  like that of her husband.

“No” she yelped and slumped into the armchair ; Her noise brought in Jimo Kutugi and Olarotimi, the gateman and the maid

“Madam what’s wrong ” they chorused

“Nothing , get this child upstairs” she needs a moment of solitude . She must think hard. It should not be what she thinks . It shouldn’t just be or a head will roll . Her eyes redened like a plum-tomato imported  from Italy

⃰                 ⃰                     ⃰                     ⃰                     ⃰                       ⃰                      ⃰                             ⃰

The hefty novel, Pop goes the whistle of James Paterson Yakovina loved to read stayed still on the study desk, this was an horror. The novel was more worst than what Yakovina did to her. Any American fiction lover would understand the novel is a horror, and Xose had simply thought  reading just this monstrous thriller all alone in the midnight  could introduce you to demonism and of course to the realm that seals human conscience . Xose imagined this book grasping  the fingers , clinching the  image of Yakovina, She wont touch it and it was the gravity of her hatred for him. Touching the best book he talked about with passion is tantamount to touching his heart. His emotion, his mindset and his soul. If Yakovina should appear out she’d spat to his face  and why won’t she? A man who misused  a professional  banker , the daughter of the vice chancellor of Unilag , for five years like a rag, a marionette . She picked a long reed and plucked it to the floor . She attempted  all she could to anchor the novel into the trunk  . She used two short pegs but the novel as rugged as its content as its owner  slipped off and banged  on the floor. She can’t just touch it. Never. She called Jimo and the ma-ma-ma gateman picked the emblem of deceit , of cheat  out to the ashes outside the house.

⃰                 ⃰                      ⃰                        ⃰                          ⃰                       ⃰                    ⃰                     ⃰

Yakovina came in with Susanahfatimah , she wore a decent gown, contrary to what Oyinlola claimed she saw on her body. Xose behaved all was well and alright. That evening she greeted them like they were strangers . She placed  dishes of salmon mayonnaise with a hot curried chicken on dining table. She played happily with Mai. And watched them eat and slot their brunches , far away from the dining room Yakovina spoke under whisper and regularly looked sideways still Xose acted like she wasn’t interest on the dining table, already she had planted a recorder underneath the dining table. After she heard what shattered her , what soiled  her. What stained her . what they said in the dining table , she replayed it and it went thus

“Honey i over feed myself out , can I eat all these again? And is this the enjoyment you take here and you dumped me there to suffer  with your children”

“Shut up you are my sister. Common he’d here you. Let loot her  more , then one day we would run away”

That night Xose collapsed but she maintained  all was right. Few nights later Yakovina began to disappear away from the bed he shared with Xose. One night , Xose  woke up but Yakovina wasn’t by her side . She switched out the light and climbed  downstairs . She stood beside Susannahfatimah’s door and she heard Susanahfatimah panting and whispering ‘Am tired, am tired, it’s ok, it’s ok. Xose ran into her room and wept her self to sleep.

The following morning , it was over , she called the police and they were pushed out of her life, out to the street Yakovina belonged , even Mai was thrown out.

⃰                           ⃰                                ⃰                                  ⃰                                     ⃰                      ⃰

Xose lifted out all that reminded her of Yakovina and watched them blazed to ashes. She bumped into the bathroom and soaked her nakedness inside the bathtub and wept.

The Killer

excerpted from my Amazon kindle novel THE KILLER

Related image

We kill girls. We rape them before we kill them. As for me I do not join the boys to rape them. But I take extreme euphoria in killing and butchering them  ; pruning out their delicate organs without feelings of pain and remorse. Their ghosts never appear to me in my dreams neither do I see myself swimming in the pool of blood nor twirling like an oiled renegade in a velvet whirlpool

Welcome to Zone 6 Stone Mines and Quarries. Here, everything happened .It’s my wound and my anchorage. Though I’m in Tete prison now waiting for death and with dignity and fulfillment I await it. And from here and cell one  I write to the world. Read my story.

That evening, may be, an hour from the noon I see backs, dusty bare backs.

I know the owners, and am used to seeing them. They belong to the boulder crackers; and it’s why they freely flexed in the sun. I despise them as my Mother. A son owes it as a duty to love his mother but I, Achebe decided not to and my reasons are clear as crystal.

They are armpit reeks. The smells as rotten snails smother the air, a blend of ivory quarry dusts oozing from Parker-Plant crushers within and out of the stone mines.

If a quarry site exists with more massive dusts’ outputs it’s Zawa’s.The potbellied mustachioed man now in his late 60s made dough, plenty of it in Paris and fondly tells people It’s well. He came home to build the largest stone empire, with the hugest sixteen crushers, a singular fit that amuses many , make many to curse God and assumes he sent the assassins that terminated Kewekwe his brother in hardnosed butchery. He’s an exporter too, dealing on chemicals in London as him . It’s never calm in there. He has five Lista engines with endless gas to work, at the deck and call are almost a legion of engineers ready to work in  case of  abrupt breakdowns, and when they work it’s with nonstop jollity conferred by the liquid they draw from the straws licking from the stomachs of  well-brewed beer drinks; Star ,Gulder  the larger, tubur king , Macdonald and so many more, some come from London and he says London brews bright beers and cheerfully they work and wish to work more, Once a Lumba, the jobless engineer graduate from OAU fixes up the erring nut cursing regular interruptions in Fifth Crusher and spends an hour claiming he still works, after, he tells Akpan, a friend he’d have enjoyed more beers and Oga’s smiles and jokes. Kewekwe is the rich man you see among the quarry workers reeking of sweat grimes- of all other travelled mine owners who came home to relax then decided to build a stone site, it’s him who shakes tawny hands dropping from broad shoulders carrying the gold-inks of the southern sun, throw infectious megawatt smiles about like hays and forbids cultism among the mine boys-just him refuses to contract the loosed mine boys for works. And his reason? He detests cultism. And these cultists claim to hate him for this as their contractors. Am  not a cultist then but most of my friends are and i’ve been under pressures to join one.

Certainly I’m used to seeing them but not around my mother’s shack in still clusters, nodding sun-burnt necks over and over again and it’s why my heart pulses fast as Cone crushers’ swing-Jaws.  Am scared. I know my mother is a thief- She’s known all over Zone 6 for breaking into people’s shacks for cooked and raw foods- I  know my mother is just hungry, but a thief is just a thief. And the crabs and shrimpers she came back with yesterday had made me just furious and I  had taken decision to leave her shack.

Has Ofuvi located her? And she’s been smacked to coma?. She is used to been smacked to coma. And I’m used to crying for the shame. If it’s just this and not what My friend, Kpai had predicted. I’d never cry. I’d hiss and turn back never to come back again.

Enebeli, my mother had cried and wept for her son’s forgiveness, saying she can’t make out why she must steal, I  had hissed and before running out to my friend’s shack along Evo Woods told her, I have a father, but you let him die- yes, you killed him, you stole the Town Kings’ crown and when Papa heard of it he collapsed and died and look at us we are here because of this crime- here with loosed boys wanting me loosed, I had prayed for a life so moderate and I deserve a moderate life but I know I would never have it I’d soon succumb and it’s what you cursed, if I had not come here I would have been through with Royal High school and I’d have known no bad boys hassling me here and there you curs…., because of you the king banned us and here we are travailing in the sun and still you would never stop to disgrace me and yourself , out there my friends call me the son of a thief, and that’s not all you go about sleeping with men for money- I know my mother does this to feed herself and me but a whore is a whore- and you are shameless mama. Look at Buntu, who is her father’. Buntu is my sister from a strange man. ‘Mama I did not support you and it’s why I would have to go now before you corrupt me. People says I do not advice you and no matter what I say their own myopic perspectives prevail. Mama I did advice you. Just this morning you promised to change and this afternoon these are crabs and shrimpers I know where they come from, you stole them from the river side, and by now Ofuvi would be out there cursing and cursing the thief. Mama I must leave you so I could save myself. I’m going to stay with Kpai and if you come looking for me I will run away and you will never see me again. Mama, if I see changes I would come back. I  had wept as my mother and snatched my thin arm away from my mother’s clutch and left. Running eastward with the jute bag in which I parked few of my clothes.

Kpai told me I’m making a mistake. Go back to your mother. You are her strength, you are the only thing she could claim she owns now. Her people and  the world  rejected her and if you also reject her he’d hang her self and die. I don’t know but I predict she would turn psychotic. I had said but I promise to come back if she changes and am not leaving her forever, I’m doing this to scare her. No! she can’t understand, she’s psychologically wounded. She lost her husband because of her misdeed and his son is gone without permission she’s become a failed mother and a disgrace to motherhood. The guilt would be much on her. Go back Achebe for your mother before it’s too late. And it’s too late when I  understand why the backs gathering round our shack . My mother is dead. The backs had not nodded their heads and wept because she committed suicide, but because she was murdered-her breasts are clipped out, her Vigina is gone her eyes plucked out as her tongue, and when I removed the Lappah covering my mother’s nakedness i saw everything. Someone killed my mother.

This is not a new kind of killing in Zone 6. And I understand why the backs had been livid and calm. And i understand why they’d rushed out of work. I lift myself up and smacks my left ribs on the gritty ground ,twitches and jerks my legs and faints. Buntu is five. She did not weep much she just mop like frog.

 

 

 

*

It’s six years after my mother’s butchering. And so many a things had gone wrong. I’ve taken so many decisions that made my mother a better person compared to me.  At least she’s a whore and a thief , because she’s hungry and immensely felt pressed by the needs to feed her son. But me, am a killer, an assassin, a cultist and a dreamer. But i would forever not forgive her. She cursed it all. I  could have bore the whole pains. I  could have forgiven the killers. But the discovery. That letter she wrote, detailing how it all started, how she started to steal and why she’s dying for having failed to be her son’s love, altered me and made me felt like a murderer.

When i saw it on the obsidian slate at the left angle of the shack i realized she had committed suicide before she was butchered. I  need not ask who the killers are for I’m not different from the killers so I thought twice and for many a times i had butchered innocent bodies too. And I, as others and the killers of my mother works for a man…. And think about it. The man that openly loves the peasant workers and forbids cultism. Zawa. He’s the man. He sent the boy’s that butchered my mother for ritual. For multiplication of stones in his mines and quarries. And now I’m a member of the cult that killed my mother, that would have killed me too if I had not decided that afternoon to go and we laugh and roam the mine together , and we kill together and Zawa whom my mother likes to call a good man, who killed her is the boss I work for. We kill for others yearly, but for him biannually we kill for him in a year. And we laugh together and he never cares to think I hate him and plan to kill him and my gang members. And just one day, just one day I’d clip out the iniquitous elements and savage the mine, with my life. Yes, with my life because I’d surrender.

*

We are the Stone-birds of Zone 6 stone mines and quarries and the pell-loader boys that walk and work two by two around the mine during the day and together as a gang in the night.

I and Nnam step up along Peccuno lane now for the rendezvous, an uncompleted roofless couquina construction, a mile away from the last quarry site of Pa Zimalife and five miles from Evo and Zilite woods, two plots of dusty land upon which an influx of wooden shacks were built in 1998 when the stone was discovered in which the female workers lodge , trusting others trek up along their own different paths now in accordance to the twosome code.

I abominate the twosome code but it never began with the gang. The murder or better put the butcher of Cynthia curated it. The man that saw us the night we murdered or better put butchered her, although the man is a dead man now I chunk out his bald head from his robust neck before Bruno clipped off his stiffened penis with a pincer as sharp as razor blade. His killing was done on his bunk bed at his backyard ,he told the police the murderer of Cynthia of Evo woods were a gang of relatively young boys wearing Halloween masks with jack-knives , glittering short axes and short sabers and in dark long gowns. And may Ja place him in the worst abyss for recognizing us that lucid.

On the 5th of January, the day after the report and the day after Mr. Eleberu the parrot’s death the filigreed rotating bullhorns of five Police  black-vans swished round the mines and through the quarries with paralyzing peals and heart-plunging sirens. After it was said they scraped up  twenty boys Strolling along Malaki lane into the back of the vans.The same day we were in the redenvous sharing the cash chief Zawa gave to us; ten thousand naira for the murder or better put butcher and breasts of Cyntia Mbachu.

Out of fear, Bruno decided we must adopt a code of safety. Twosome code was born and for two years we’ve stuck to it like paint on the wall. The morning Brunno the leader of our gang and cult of ten boys proposed this code in the third floor of the rendezvous he said he’s proposing the code for the fear the apprehended boys , none of them  belonged to our gang though, might  have been scraped up for the cells for walking together and the assumption they were a gang of the killers that could be us the murderers of Cynthia and the brain behind the fifteen dead bodies  of young girls without private parts seen within and out of the stone mines and within and out of the quarries from the beginning of the seven  years. Bruno set up the gang seven years ago.

We sang a song for his imagination; for the preservation of the spirits of the stone-birds and we eulogized the code with robust claps and champagne pops . From that morning henceforth we walk and work two by two along different paths; and now I and Nnam walk the path we choose for the rendezvous. Bruno said we  have a business tonight. We have a girl to kill.

I was the one who saw Eleberu that night. Bruno was slicing out Cynthia’s left breast when I saw him. He was peeping from behind a huge granite boulder upon which a spoilt tanned dumper trunk leaned, I pretended he wasn’t there until the police arrival the next day and I regretted never telling them, the boys would have rushed over for him. He stirred this code that so much disintegrated us. We no more drink and dance in restaurants and beer parlors at a time , together.

We kill girls. We rape them before we kill them. As for me I do not join the boys to rape them. But I take extreme euphoria in killing and butchering them  ; pruning out their delicate organs without feelings of pain and remorse. Their ghosts never appear to me in my dreams neither do I see myself swimming in the pool of blood nor twirling like an oiled renegade in a velvet whirlpool and the sweet dreams of riding on eagles’ wings and white horses after each murder puzzled me, does it mean the bodies have no souls or spirits, were they told in the afterlife never to blame me for my abominable actions, were they told I did what I did because the memory, the callous vista of my mother’s murder beclouds my sense of reasoning.

Bruno and others take infinite glory in raping the helpless girls. They quake on them until the girls’ sleep. The boys wag on them until their eyes glowed and glinted  as adder’s. I only raped a girl once and it was the day I was initiated into the gang. It was in the rendezvous. I wept as  awkwardly on Odili, that was her name, Odili wept too until something gum-like and immaculate snaked out of me with a paralyzing chill that instantaneously conveyed me down the dale of brief ecstasy. It’s the first time I would experience such peculiar flow. After me others danced on her until she closed her eyes, smoky blood gushing out in endless swirls from between her thighs. And amid the blood flow and the pains and aguish Bruno handed me a short knife , and I did what he ordered me in tears ,sorrows and furies. I scrunched out her breasts, plucked out her eyes and pollarded her heart from her podgy chest . I was blood-logged that night. The girl did not scream, she died an hour ago.

My Uncle Kunmi

 

Image result for images of black gay couple

 

He covered my tiny lips with his, flung out the right of his hand into my short, pulled my snake to and fro until it responded; his teeth softly grabbed my right breast,  gently I felt his tongue curling the nipple.

My Uncle Kumi has been transferred to God-knows-where high school rumored to be in the heart of a village far away, today is Friday, burning in the rage of Uncle Kumi’s abrupt transfer the crestfallen class await the new teacher that was to replace him.

Our rages were: we weren’t told he’d be leaving so soon, dumping us for some group of village boys and, mine was the new teacher might be female and never do and see things as him.  Uncle kumi believed we should go our own ways, without any form of ceiling. God gave us that power.

People have such power in US, France, London and some other places he liked to mention. In Nigeria this power is held at bay. When he started, I never knew the power he was referring to. I knew political power. Sovereign power economic power and bottom power. The one he referred to  mopping the radiogram seemed alien. He faced me with a grin, turned, walked to the window, tapped off some wings of weevils in the net and laughed loud. The intensity turned my eyes to the door. Run he’s going mad my heart yelled. But I calmed myself. He left the window and slumped on his bed spreading his legs like a pregnant  woman trying to deliver. He beckoned me. What’s he up to. i wished I could just slam on the table by the foot of his bed the sheets of the class assignment he had ordered me that morning to follow him with down his school-provided two-room apartment and run away.  Is he trying to show me the power? I etched closer, for God sake he’s a man. He grabbed my hands and held me strappingly on his chest.  He covered my tiny lips with his, flung out the right of his hand into my short, pulled my snake to and fro until it responded; his teeth softly grabbed my right breast,  gently I felt his tongue curling the nipple. Slowly I felt my eyes closing , my snake spilling exhilarating liquid as he dipped a strong object into my anus. The thrusts were fires then some cold slush. seventeen eighteen nineteen and he rolled out of my back.

I was weeping some seconds later, for the pains, for wanting more and my inability to tell him that

He kissed my lips over and over again. When I came closer he stood up.

That is the power he whispered zipping his trousers.

But not in Nigeria. The ceiling is up there. The power to love in our own way is hanging in balance.

The power still remain alien. I only needed my uncle Kumi’s touch and again and again he made me go heady.

He’s to act the female tonight . He’s to lift his own buttock for me, and the news came he’s been transferred this morning and a ne w teacher is coming.

A large headed woman with a large jaw appeared behind the door and as we somberly rose up to greet him I knew he’d never lift my waist and dig as fast as my uncle Kunmi. As she introduced herself, starting with difficult names I know I’ve been wounded beyond repair.

 

 

There Are More Behind Smiles

Image result for image an african woman crying with her child

I dropped the phone, I did not yell. I only heard the voice of mama coming back to me  ‘There are more behind smiles’. So I had been a mistress all these years. 

Mama comes back to me, those words I had taken too lightly echoing  with slaps fastening my jaws closely as nuts.

‘There are more behind smiles’

When Kunle’s smiles come it’s as rain and am like a sun-perched ground excepting its arrival for years. It unbolts the doors of my pores, breaking every hedges as adder, the poisonous fang paralyzing my resolution, strength and heart from discernment; edging mostly the space for my mother. And no matter what she tries to enter I rap her back. And when I did I cling to it as she sprawl as stoles on the floor crying. She’s uncivilized I had thought.  Telling him Kunle’s smile is the love.

She sees the Lincoln-limousine he romps with? International friends’ metallic to the toes he associates with?  No, she sees them not I had thought. But I never cared about what she sees. In his eyes she says she sees duplicity. And I ignored the view of bland eyes to her death. And when she dies two years later after I married Kunle he proved mama right.

Our Anita was crawling along the hallway that had become mine for the three months Kunle had been out for an international conference in Kumasi Ghana when the phone rang. Trusting it’s him for months now, I sped back to the room we shared and just behind Anita’s blue cot I picked the phone.

‘am inspector Korede, I have no time, if am calling anyone who knows a Mr. Kunle Obaola  I regret to announce he’s been stabbed to death by his wife who can’t stand the truth he’s abhorring a mistress’

I dropped the phone, I did not yell. I only heard the voice of mama coming back to me  ‘There are more behind smiles’. So I had been a mistress all these years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cafe Of Tins

this story had published in Tuck Magazine

Image result for dump of books

As soon as the school dismissed in the afternoon Chinagorom would hang his threadbare Capri school bag and walked for Christy cafe and going, he endeavored to meticulously stuff his lunch fee in the depth of his cyan-pink trousers’ left pocket, of course it’s his access into the dirty cafe of luxurious novels from the best beautiful minds in the world. From Gloucestershire, Caroline Harvey or Joanna Trallope. From Manchester and Kennebunkport,England, Winston Graham . Kenneth Roberts from Nowalk of Conneticut. Sloan Wilson from south Australia. Babara Jeferis from Canada. Elizabeth Spencer and Eric Walters from New York and Cannada. Diana Galbadon , James Patterson and Margret Miller from America.

I  

Chinagorom has been reading much novels lately, although it had barely been by cheap contacts not by expensive choices. If money had been available in his family he would have been a bit selective, and if he had gotten this choice for certain and he pretty knew it, his friends, Ochiabuto, Zebrudiah and Jedi knew it all, the drive to read and devour a pyramid of prose books lingered there in his imperceptible veins, he would read crinkles of powerful, trending African novels at a go . He loathed American novels in some ways , when they were  stereotyped fictions that spurned around the hub of wars and dune of romances ,when they were unnecessarily synecdochical, taking an event happening in a part of the world to represent the whole world, the intricacy of expression and all those stuffs that make you want to collapse because every sentence rock your head  . African books make him feel an African, and at home with a taunting pride. The grace of simplicity , the feel of concern for the low-learned African  readers yet not compromising in the undeviating conveyance of the points of  pressing themes ,the life-changing themes and all that so packaged  in African imaginations, he believed, would grant him the energy to trill outside the limit of his African voice as soon as he read them one day.

That was Chinagorom. He loved African novels; Chimmamanda Ngozi Adiichie’s Half of the yellow sun, Helon Habila’s Waiting For An Angel ,Chika Unigwe’s On The Black Sisters’ Street ,Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come.  He wished to read these African novels, having read their reviews in Kelechi’s browsing Techno phone, but what cheaply came his way, though expensive, were foreign,  American novels .

Chinagorom was choiceless ,money wasn’t  available with his family ,the only source of novels he read were a few ragged stores opposite Effium slaughter house called ozo gbogorogbogoro,here, it was the place where rusted and corroded farm paraphernalias and old home utensils ,broken furniture, burnt home appliances; wireless ruptured televisions, shattered radios ,knocked speakers, frizzled American toys picked in Nsukka dustbins, pungent Italian brogues shoes picked in Enugu slums, dog-eared host of books and ripples of scrunched magazine cracks packed still from Enugu dustbins  were assembled for cheap reselling.

As soon as the school dismissed in the afternoon Chinagorom would hang his threadbare Capri school bag and walked for Christy cafe and going, he endeavored to meticulously stuff his lunch fee in the depth of his cyan-pink trousers’ left pocket, of course it’s his access into the dirty cafe of luxurious novels from the best beautiful minds in the world. From Gloucestershire, Caroline Harvey or Joanna Trallope. From Manchester and Kennebunkport,England, Winston Graham . Kenneth Roberts from Nowalk of Conneticut. Sloan Wilson from south Australia. Babara Jeferis from Canada. Elizabeth Spencer and Eric Walters from New York and Cannada. Diana Galbadon , James Patterson and Margret Miller from America.

Definitely, they were the objects that drove him there; they were the reason de tar he’d not spend his dirty notes on snacks or beverages, on okpa,akpe and Iyamangoro  ,they were the reason he could think and speak with the best furnished English, with flowing intricate intonations in Mayflower Academy Effium. When he got to Christy store he would wave his Nigerian currency notes , like a crumpled wand across her face to inform her he has come to buy books and not to play and browse through books with empty pockets, without  buying. Just the habit of his school boys to this poverty-hacked seller that woke a monster in his head and made his head to tick.

Christy knew Chinagorom well. He wasn’t one of those boys, those science boys, Caleb, Ozoigbondu and Okpoto who disliked novels and would indicate their hatred by havazardly wagging their hands on them, telling the woman to her face how they felt nauseous for the grubby art books,for her stinking wares. She knew him well. He  was someone that could be trusted to buy five to six foreign tattered novels he could lay his eyes on.

Seeing him, Christy would  smile ,nod her head and informed him with a sharp feminine grunt she had seen him and he should go ahead and search and ransack the dunghills of dirty books , swollen graves upon graves of murky papers. When Chinagorom picked his choice or the few novels he contacted she would say ‘let me see’ that’s after he flailed his selections to her face.  Like an Effium hot breeze rustled to  her face, she would close her eyes and grinned like she loved him for loving books and wished he was her son or his love for books reminded her of a cryptic past. That perhaps involved an intelligent child she once had that died prematurely.

He  would  go over the hill of filths with his ungloved fingers , digging to and fro for novels he could contact ,see and touch. He’d wondered the sort of individuals who flung out these powerful books without caring to check out their costs and values .But, Once, he queried Christy just on this and after a sprained minute of tranquility, she claimed they never picked those things in dustbins ‘we bought them, we never  picked them’ that’s what she said ,perhaps  she agreed saying the real fact could deflate  the prices of her ostentatious wares  ‘ostentatious’ that’s the best paradoxical adjective she like other sellers used to nomenclate the gbogorogbogoro business ,they knew the truth ,about how they bent and picked them in New Heaven dustbins, Milliki Hills open-vats of reek rags , and Nineth Mine grease-framed silos of broken porcelain plates  , and do not tell them the truth pertaining  their wares were ‘picked goods’. ‘They could whoop or whistle you off their stores . If you happened to have seen Christy somewhere around Enugu doing her picking, and you interrogated her ,Christy ,because she can’t deny you seeing her, would say, at least to loan her business some dignity, ‘few American ladies ,few Lebanese men from Washington D.C ,few cowboys from New York City who lived for temporal missions in Enugu flung them out to the dustbins and we packed them down to some other rural villages in Enugu, then down here in Effium, Ebonyi for cheap reselling.

Often it yanked and preened furiously at his tight skin that the people he belonged went out there to pick wastes in Enugu dustbins and came to suffocate them with the putrescent smell here. Once he tried clearing his head with questions on why Christy stoop so low, why some of the Ebonyi women stoop so low to pick on dustbins in Enugu and Christy had laughingly said ‘my son, not the Ebonyians alone who picked things, and it’s not in Enugu alone the white people lived who discarded wastes. White people sojourning in Waterworks roads , the Paramilitary boulevard, Gunning roads,  Salt spring hotel, Crunchies resturant, Osborn Lapam Hotel ,Mr. Biggs, and Ebonyi hotel also cast out good resalable stuffs, and peasants from here like us’, and he would say ‘tufiakwa minus me’, ‘peasants from Enugu, from Abia,from Anambara, from some other states in Nigeria would rout  through the Unity square to Paramilitary layout  for brisk picks.

He looked straight to her evasive, poverty-discolored eyes with butter-like shinning blobs filling the edges of the irises and inhaled an heavy breath like a gulp at least a bit relaxed that his state wasn’t  the only state in Nigeria where the rural women weren’t employed or loaned to do short scale businesses, so they go to pick dirty things on the dunghills made available by the temporal white men. And to the best of his knowledge Effium rural women were acutely abandoned by the state and federal government. They rotted and pined away in poverty just like his mother that have to fetch firewood in Okporo forest before she’d wear ekwa okirika.

His picking is by contact ,any novel he touched he picked.  When Chinagorom picked the few American fictions on romance and race he would pay Christy. The novels, no matter hefty, have no fixed prices as in the city book stores, bargain determined the selling price and the price he got these American perspirations  made him often to wonder if writing is worth going for; and the qualms the authors traversed; some authors romped through hot and cold suburbs, leaned on subways, gapping about for vital clues, from boroughs to boroughs , thorny, hilly countryside for their researches  and after they cleverly packaged their sweats you bought them with a ‘meager sum ’.  But a thought gave him solace as he grew older he understood those who discarded them to the dustbin paid for them first in the book shops and stores. The authors have no lost anyway.

He’d stretch  out a furrowed fifty naira note for two American and New York Times bestselling novels to the woman and  the yellow-teethed Christy sweaty and apparently bland from the hot Effium sun would giggle and say ‘haba, why not add at least twenty naira’. He knew she was right. Been a growing writer fantasizing to be a bestseller someday. She was unarguably right because the multiplication of what  he gave to her to a thousand  didn’t worth the American sweats. Yet, he was helpless, and ashamed to be issuing such amount for the hefty novels. He was poor, his family could not get him money to pay exorbitantly as he wished for the novels, and because he spent his snack fee and nothing else in his pocket to add he’d say ‘madam, I’ve got no any other thing to put, do get this from me please. I’m a student’. And  the weedy yet sentient woman, Christy would momentarily glowered and sulked ,then sniggered and said ‘you are always a student you big head’ and collect the note from him.

With hunger smoldering in his stomach he would sometimes, belch hysterically into Enwemiri-Isuochi untarred ,pothole-filled narrow road. It’s a natural thing, when you have a novel of a great novelist, a bestseller ,even an American bestseller like James Petterson in your fingers  when you never expected it for lack of funds, if peradventure, you got it on the highway you’d read it without minding the hooting lorries and blaring motorcycles. I lied? In Nigeria it’s a fact, it’s a verity in Ebonyi. Ebonyians love prose books to die.

He’d scuttle through Ikpoki junction, the way of cars, reading the novels he got ignoring the whooping, tootling voices of the massive gwongworos, Honking bajaj, withered kymco and crooked carter okadas rolling in from the city’s market garage and Okporo suburbs, and all those quaking yells and elusive screams  you heard from the nervous people by the sides of the road when  cars come at you and you weren’t aware.

Sometimes, he reads his novels under trees.  When he reads the novels he got new under trees with hunger-ridden stomach it isn’t a qualm it’s a therapy or at least an escape from the bleaching quandary of family poverty and  the cerebral palsy that entwined his sister, Chinelo . He’d close the novel and jumped into the  pedestrians after a tingling nudge, in the nape of his  neck with a furious blow on his left behind from one of the Ikpoki kerosene sellers, always a batch of growing boys or an Effium toothless task collector that had yelled much. He’d get into the Effium divisional  police headquarters, just along the gleaming, tar-encrusted Overbridge expressway , there in the heart of the station stood a tall and a short mango trees with pink-blue ruggedious foliages. He’d greet the policemen chirruping and discussing the recent crime in Effium, then jumped into a double Iroko planks set underneath the foliages  and got riveted in the exhilarating prose.

Once in the tree, and it was the more reason he loathed American romance fictions, although he might be synedochical, he read a romance fiction that almost made him wet his panties, the  novel’s name was Romancing the stone  by a female American writer. It was the chapter of those romance things, what he was  made of, you should know it, stood out stony , he was  ashamed and he prayed nobody shout at him to stand up, if that should happen he’d be humiliated , and this erotic urge that grasped him in his under made him to dislike American fictions with passions, not every fictions ,not anything like George Orwell’s Animal farms and his Nineteen eighty-four, not anything like Eric Walter’s safe as houses, not anything like Charles Dickens the tales of two city nor Caroline Harvey’s the city of gem despite he was not sure they were American writers and books.

 

 

 

 

II

And now, in the ebb of November, having packed much  novels from these dirty stores where books wouldn’t seize for a minute to be surplus and cheap to posses, Chinagorom has been reading much novels lately ; Pat Conroy’s the great santini and the prince of tides , James Stewart’s star , Magret Miller’s beyond here are monsters and Anita David’s Green fingers and Grit. He has been developing lately. He has been painting a new big picture. He has been given himself a big cut. He has been placing or seeing with the prism of imagination his feet set on the topmost horizon of literary fulfillment. He’s been building a flair to write a novel, he’d call his own. He’s been dreaming in the daylight. He’s been setting  himself up high , he’s peaked the height of the dream to write his own novel. He’s been building a little light, the light to be an acclaimed novelist, not just a novelist ,a bestseller like Chimmamanda Ngozi Adiichie, like Helon Habila, like Sefi Atta, Like Chinua Achebe like any great African writer recognized world wide; to write  a novel worth publishing , known all over Nigeria like waiting for an Angel, Purple Hibiscus, Half of the yellow sun, God of small things , Things fall apart, all over Ebonyi like Satan and Shaitans.

Publishers spread about Abakaliki and they could publish a good novel, Kwuzie told him a Tv presenter announced it  in Ebbc one midnight and now outside his father’s house he was planning to write a novel and getting it published would be an uppermost yarn. Three weeks later he wrote a delicious fiction he called ‘Flames’. He reviewed it every night. Once, in the class he gave the manuscript to Soromtochukwu, the most loveliest and  eloquent in the whole of Mayflower High School . That hammatan morning Soromtochukwu stood in front of the class, the curios prone-to-rebuff boys and girls. After she beautifully and succinctly pronounced the slapping phrases, sharp anecdotes and touching epigrams in the first two chapters the strong-headed classmates gawked  at her, then at him. He loved modesty and despite laughter flowed in his mouth naturally he kept a blank face so he’s not regarded a proud peacock. Sabina, the science rep mewed incredulously like she was some sort of bemused cat, like the seagull. The long-mouth science female students piped nervously like they were entrapped nightingales and said ‘No you never wrote it Chinagorom, at your age? Sixteen? SSS 3? An Ebonyian? From Effium? A Mayflower student? Impossible! You plagiarized a notable novelist . He tried to convinced them it was a talent, that he never plagiarized any novelist’s work but they were too overwhelmed to listen to him. Their awe motivated him. They respected him and it appended more sinew to the senior prefect he was. Their love for the story drove him to swear  he must publish the ‘Flames’. After all, Oscal Wilde said it, you are a novelist  if a five brilliant brains could marvel at your creation and no novel is bad.

Every day, his father was pour. Everyday his mother was penniless, everyday he watched his sister travail under the shackles of cerebral palsy. Every day he watched his family sunk in the cesspool of poverty. There weren’t foods in the house, and the day he talked to her  mother, the clatterer, because she bickered round the house whenever her husband, his father, said he has a bad day in his job and would not be able to provide money for food,  she  whispered ‘noful?’ what is noful’. He  said ‘novel, not noful mama’ he dared not call her mummy because she hated it and that’s because Obiageri, once told her one morning, a mummy is a wrapped corpse. That Morning she yelled and forever banned him from calling her that ‘thing’. His mother then said ‘Ehen, and then’ and Chinagorom said I want to publish it. She said  ‘kpoflish? Hern, ngwanu, kpoflish nu’. He looked to her eyes  and saw a monstrous robot of impecuniosities clutching a sharp sabre bearing at him and warning him, and telling him not to mention  money or he’d sever his skull. He saw poverty in her eyes glowing like hell. And it swallowed all he wished to say.

Every night, he’d roll on his mat. Daydreaming. Dreaming where his ‘Flames’ won Commonwealth prize like ‘Purple Hibiscus’  and won Orange prize like ‘Half of the Yellow sun’. Dreaming where he hugged Chimmamanda Ngozi Adiichie . He would delightedly wake up to see nothing but his mat and the crackled mud-wall and on the wall sometimes would be a contingent of crawling gecko and a brigade of staring, silent lizard usually on the edges and tops of it and on the plastered floor the buzzing mosquitoes hovered in the air and perched.

Sometimes at twilights and midnights, humming bees from the cashew tree in the backyard fluffed in through the crevices beside the shaking window louvers to slap his face and he’d exchange  hot blows  with the  pregnant buzzing, humming bees. And he’d hiss. ‘The worst malady is to have a story to tell and you can’t get it published, you become sick and miserable’ He told Afusa one evening. And added ‘you felt it was over, you grow thin, despondent and damp. And if care wasn’t handled you might go mad’.

One late December evening, the breeze swatted around the glowing bulbs outside the house and sealing the verandah with deep-yellow hues; Chinagorom’s father was a bit learned. He spoke ‘complicated grammars’ and even now he thought big grammars without money is madness. Outside the house, he sat underneath the shimmering bulb and read an issue of Ebonyi voice. He soliloquized ‘Ucha and Elechi war. Big war. Let’s see who wins now they are in the Federal High Court ‘. He trudged him from the back because he sat in a bunk bed.

He bumped up and yelled. ‘you clattering bagatelle, you ,mannerless, rancid baguette. Obdurate Narwal!. In his little mind he was yelling ‘big grammers can’t solve the matters on ground, money does. It can’t cure Chinelo’s cerebral palsy money does.

“What is it’ his father grunted finally

“I need a little money”

“The batch I plucked from my buca cavity? ”

“No sir, I want to type my novel ”

“Novel?, are you mad? Your mates think of reading to make their SSCE exams and you stand here to talk rubbish. You are demented and convincingly quadriplegic. A dim-witted, hypochondriac inebriety.

“I understand papa, just five thousand naira to get it typed then I will take it to a publisher in Abakaliki”

“I ultimately realized you are totally anathema. I have Five thousand! And your sister decayed in the grip of that thing in there. You are a lifeless desert luna moth, infact your presence suffuses typhoid , decamp before I have heart attack.

He never blamed his father ,he knew it, he wasn’t the one talking. It was poverty that spoke. Mrs. Adaebonyi, the literature auntie used to say ‘when you asked a poor man for money. He’d cry, then shout at you, please when these occurred take it, it was poverty that shouted not him’.

He was right they’ve got no food stuffs in the house, his father’s business has been failing, her mother’s fire-wood business collapsing too because women now got raped to death in the Okporo forest, his exam fees stood out there like a stubborn mountain and he talked about novels. He left his presence and almost wept. Few days later, before he was chased out of school for not paying the second term fee, Soromtochukwu, the Enugu classmate advised him to show the novel to the Mayflower Principal and here was the dialogue that ensued  between them. The principal, a plumb Egba-man, heavily mustached from Abeokuta.

“Good morning sir” Chinagorom said

“Chinagorom, how are you?”

“Am fine sir”

“Am I safe Sp?”

“” Very safe sir”

“How may I help you?”

“Sir, I have a novel, it’s good. It’s worth publishing. It’s awesome . it’s special. Its compulsive”

“Really”

“Yes sir”

“You have the fund?”

“No sir. That’s why am here”

“How?

“Publish…yes, i..i..i need to publish…”

“I get where you are going to. But I must tell you you are wasting your time and energy. Go to university before you write”

“Sir, but Ben Okiri was published in the age of seventeen”

“I’ve got no help I could offer you dear, and if at all , you still owe the school”

“Just help me publish this novel I’d pay and add jara

“Now I think you are mad. Piss off right away . Leave my office”

And he wept out. He wept because in his tiny mind taken the novel manuscript to a publisher, if at all he would get one, would fetch a lot of money to change his family. To carry Chinelo to hospital for her maligning cerebral palsy surgery. To pay for his school fees and final exams. To get her mother a good shop and store crammed with food stuffs in the most expensive part of Nwafia market rather than watch her combed the evil Okporo forest for firewoods. To wear chic denim jeans. Refurbish his father’s crackling hut of crawling filigreed geckos and staring ,nodding lizards, to change his father’s bricklaying business. But his effort to get five thousand naira was fucked up. And he felt this warranted the principal to send him out of the school the following week for his debts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III

He now stayed at home. Every day the poverty in the family interlaced his mind so his thinking was preposterous and heavily ludicrous. Every day he wept for the cough-like groans of her babe sister from the inside, from the preening impound of cerebral palsy. Every day he wept watching her mother tearfully axed on a log of melina wood and wept more in the market when people rejected her mother’s firewood because it wasn’t dry. Father was a bricklayer. And he wept each time he wept into the compound with his clean trowel to tell the wife and children he wasn’t picked for work by anyone.

One afternoon, his father told him he’d start to sell sachet pure water to support the family. Not even to publish his novel, that was a smoldering fascination. And how he loathed this business for it’s underrating aura. In Effium, in Mayflower Academy it was, and he was aware, the sons and daughters from poor, not just poor, very poor family hawked sachets of pure water in ndebo market . His rationale for wanting to reject the idea was the dignity of his ‘Spship’. But after much sleepless nights of contemplation and Consideration that he was indeed from a poor family he bought a bucket for the reductive ,cheap thing. And he felt he’d save enough money from there to secretly type his manuscript.

Daily, he strode purposelessly in the Effium sun. In nwafia market. Inikiri benard market . Nwekendiagu market, from new market to nkwo jaki. Every day he sold sachets of pure water but nothing was coming out of it. He’d would under the burden of heavy load on the scalp of his head roam round Effium market squealing ‘gonu mmiri juru oyi’ ‘o Aqua Rapha Mbaka’. He’d squeal from Effium garage to Ikpoki junction, the rendezvous of smoking derelicts and loosed scalawags. From there to Overbrige.

Two events took place that made him most miserable. He shared his pure water-selling between picking and staying to read novels he picked from ozogbogorogbogoro, the dirty stores. That’s the name of the dirty stores that provided him with a lot of American bestsellers. And racks of New York Magazines. In a very cheap prices. And the name meant the cafes of tins. It was where he first saw the  light. Where he picked the books that inspired him to dream of becoming a writer. And the magic behind the imagination of ‘Flames’ store. The cafes of Tins.

Almost every day,he’d drop his bucket of sachet water at a corner of Christy’s café. And devoured chapters upon chapters of interesting fictions. He could touch or see. Reading was his natural thing and he did it with an unfailing leverage.  Once, an old aru man  howled at him ‘this boy your pure satchet water is getting warm, go and sell it and stop reading for now’ He got up and Christy nervously said ‘I don tell am oo’. Another Ezza man, a regular customer to Christy’s café said ‘I too warned him severally to always finish his water before coming to stoop and pick here’ He shrugged and retied his scattered oja and hurried away, quoting , the vital, salient sharp phrases and epigrams he picked for the chapters he was able to read in his head and heart . Imagining what happened to the hero he encountered  and he prayed he sold everything in time  so he could continue from where he stopped at home after he bought them deducting from his gain. But one day, the sun burned heavily. On passing with his heavyweight bucket of pure water filled to the brim his eyes cut the well-designed cover of a very huge novel, The drums of Autum by Diana Galbadon. Unconsciously, he placed his bucket full of water on an edge of a tall jagged jet stone and dashed out for it. He has gotten over the acknowledgement and the prologue and just commenced with the first line of the chapter one that reads ‘ I heard the drums long before they came in sight. The beating…..’ and he heard an heavy crash on the gritty ground, it took him minutes to return back from the long voyage the novel quickly carried him, and saw his  shattered bucket and broken sachets of pure water. Twelve sachets spilled into the gritty dusts, wasted away.

He wept hard. ‘My  father  would kill me, how do i get a new bucket. How do we feed  today?’ he worried.  Christy looked at him with an infectious  sense  of empathy. She’s poor and from the look in her tearful eyes if she had gotten much she’d have paid  for the lost. Yet, she did him a favour, and she wasn’t aware of the cost of it. She gave him the hefty novel for free. Partly, he was happy for getting Diana Galbadon’s Drums of the Autumn for free and, and he was partly embittered  for his carelessness, for his broken bucket.

Back home that evening  his father  knelt him down. He did nwewo jump and slurped era nwanyi Asaba . Before flogging him with a hard whip. The one he used during  the Nigeria-Biafran war to draw welts  on the skin of a captured Nigerian soldier in Abagana and on the neck of an Hausa Nigerian Army in the outskirt of Sabongari. His mother wept that night and mopped his welt-clustered back with hot water. His father  insisted he would sleep without  food after all the food wasn’t available in the family-contained quantity. And he slept with empty stomach that night. But before he slept he read five chapters of the Drum of the Autumn. And he dreamt about the criminals hanged to death in the novel, of the scent of the ancient Scotland the novel revolved.

Few days later, he bought another bucket. And was selling again, but this time he was careful, his infatuation or whatever for novels was control against haywire.

And again, one sunny afternoon, what he never expected occurred. The thing he dreaded. He’d dodged from the view of his classmates when it was two o’clock. He loved to rigmarole  within the market and dared not go outside the market and uwobia road so his classmates wouldn’t see him as they walked hom to school. They would mock him. And laugh at an intelligent Senior prefect from a very poor family that could not afford his school fees. That afternoon, selling was dull and his water almost went hot in his bucket. It was hammatan and his lips had became dried up and properly swept off moisturizing fluids  by the hammatam dusty breeze. He was miserable that market day. The dream to get published.  The thought of selling out a warm, or going-hot sachet water tumbled in his skull until he was trekking unconsciously through the uwobia road towards ikpoki junction. The road he had averted. Screaming ‘go mmiri juru oyi’. And unexpectedly from his behind an explosion of laughter banged hard against his tiny spine. He checked at his back and saw a host of giggling science classmates, except Ofodile, twittering and yelping, sqwuaking and snarling words of demeaning mockery just at him. He was ashamed of himself. He ducked through cars and soon he was inside the market. His hiding place, there he wept and mock the poverty that churned his family. That adhered Effium like a giant luna moth in the silver webs of lack .

 

 

 

 

 

 

IV

A week before the exam commenced Chinagorom got a very new miserable  work in the city’s rice mill. He woke up before the dawn. He’d swallow cold utara and set out for work. A miserable work. There in the rice mill. Lots of children from poverty-ridden families struggled over who would turn the fairly-processed bags of rice into the thrashing machine. If you were lucky enough ,and the luckiness was determined by your ability to wake up early, to turn bags of rice into the machine  you go home with the cups of rice equivalent to the number of the gigantic bags you upturned. If you turned five bags in a day, a hard fit that consumed the whole day, with hunger and aching skin  you would staggered home and sometimes weeping with the five cups equivalent to the five bags. ‘Isn’t that a miserable would? And It is what a Nigeria child must do every day to leave’ he once told his co-laborer. What suffering of a job. As  the children pour the cereals into the machine , the rice chaffs bite and make the skin to tingle.  Peradventure you came late you’d have to climb into the mountain of the rice sun-dusts to puff out a hill of it with amatakele before you could get a grit-filled cup of white-purple rice.

Oftentimes, he was lucky he came earlier and went home with five or six cups of rice late in the night. Sometimes , he would be unable to get up for the stress of a hard work. He would climb straight into the mountainous sun-dust that was the first thing you see when you enter  Effium from ezzamgbo or iziogo and used his  Amatankele to trash out the dusts. From morning to night he could go home with two to three cups of rice with hunger gnawing his intestine. And often he pitied some city children and old women having no dream like him and would remain in the miserable, soul-exhausting work  till death.

One morning he busily poured a bucket of rice into the funnel of a warbling  machine. A little girl was at the back of the machine, cropping out the dusts. What happened  he can’t detail but all he vividly remembered  was the girl’s arm was drawn into the rolling pulley , a crackling sound, then blood sputtered about the ceiling and the operator switched off the engine. And the hungry ,miserable girl of eight laid there with a broken arm in the lumpy pool of deep-red blood. This wasn’t the first time this horror would occour in Effium rice mill; the girl’s broken limb dangled in her shoulder. Soon the rice owner. Madam Caro, a fat ,dignified woman of about thirty-two came from where she was called and said the helpless bleeding Chinasa should be bunched outside and ordered the operator to go ahead and grind his rice or she’d be packing her leftover bags to another mill. And said ‘I never killed her if she died. Her family who can’t provide for her was to be blamed and the work progressed. And the girl laid there unconscious and he grew empathic and thoughtful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V

Chinagorom came to the rice mill with the novel’s manuscript. When he has no work to do. He’d supine on the payment  and reread it and did some canceling and additions of words, phrases and letters. Of all the Nigerian authors he cherished and wished to become was Chimmamanda Ngozi Adiichie. He agreed you want to become a good author you loved and read every day. Her works were easy to grasp without qualms. she’s bagging awards in America. Ordinarily, for being a black African who wrote just like an African and not writing to please any American reader. Once, on an excursion visit to Sam Egwu’s poultry in Abakaliki   he visited a book shop along Ojeowere street with few of his friends. He set his eyes on the yellow cover of a novel titled half of the yellow sun; he saw the image of Genevive Nnaji in the right edge of the front cover, then a background of blasting grenades and a running family. He never took it serious , he felt  it was a Nollywood film converted to a novel or whatever. He was penniless . But the pale girl selling in the shop considered his request to only browse through it then drop it . When he lifted it out of the catalogue  it was sitted. He marveled, still, he never took it serious. He marveled for it heftiness . But when his eyes picked the heavy-black names CHIMMAMANDA NGOZI ADIICHIE and the glossy image of the dark lady with a captivating hairdo he yelled and limped up. He whined heavily and everybody busy within the shop stopped and fixed their eyes on him.  Silence swallowed the shop. He said ‘yes! Yes! She’s great and the book keeper asked him ‘who?’ and he said ‘she’s great! She’s making us proud. In UK , America and in London ; she looked at him again and asked ‘who now?’ and he said ‘CHIMMAMANDA NGOZI ADIICHIE’ she’s written another novel. She laughed and said she’s written almost four novels including her award-winning debut novel, purple hibiscus. And she listed them. Americannah, things around your neck, and half of the yellow sun. ‘wow’ he yelled and his love for her increased. And his yearning to be like her deepened.

When it was time to work he would hide his treasure in his tattered poly

Bag and he would dream high. Getting published by Farafina, by cassava republic and jacaranda.

Everyday  he saved a cup of rice in a small box he kept among the stored bags of raw rice in an apartment in Mill 2. He planned  to gather as much cups of rice as possible until he could realize the cups that corresponded with the money he needed to type his manuscript .  So he saved cups of rice and soon the box was filled up. The day he brought out the box to sell the rice, that day his joy was endless, the fat woman, the heartless Madam Caro, swaggered out. She was the woman she worked for that evening and her rice that entered his box that evening was a cup from the five cups of rice she measured out to her after upturning five bags into the machine. Madam Caro grasped and lifted the box and started to scream ‘thief , thief, thief’. He was surprised. The rice was his. He saved it. Soon some boys loading garri bags in the garage lumbered into Mill 2 and began a mob action on him. He woke up in the police counter. A new policeman in the station walked up to him and lowered an heavy truncheon on his head ‘little thief, rice thiefer’ ‘I am innocent. The rice belong to me. I saved it. I swear’ he said before another crash on his head and he stopped to say more words. ‘rice thiefer’ he yelled again and struck the bridge of his nose and he whimpered. ‘Policemen are mad! They hate excuses when you are in their web’ Ugonne his neighbor used to say. The Madam Caro said he should be thrown in the cell and locked up. But the D.P.O insisted he saw him read under the mango tree every day that he may not be a bad boy that deserved cell, although he never said that to the woman. It was what he said after the woman left and he sworn to release him if someone come for his bail.

The next day his mother came crying with a dirty cooler of maggi-less jollof rice. ‘mama , I’m innocent, and he fell into her fingers with his swollen cheeks and bruised forehead. And mother and son cried and cried. ‘I know you are innocent but how did you got the box of rice’ ‘am sorry mama, you know that novel I told you about, that I want to publish, I secretly saved a cup of rice every day for it. Mama I am sorry I didn’t tell you it is for our own good. Am innocent’ mama. How’s Chinelo?’ ‘she’s there struggling and weeping as usual. And she wept more because you are here. But never mind. I trust you. You are not a thief. D.P.O has promised to release you but he said I’d pay for your bail’. And they wept because they knew the money was not there to bail him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI

A day later he was at home; his mother bailed him with  a borrowed five thousand naira but he soar paid for it with the eyes duel of his father for the following days. One evening he was soaking garri with ashiboko on the pavement outside the house when Soromtochukwu came to greet Chinelo. After greeting her she told him she’d take him to catholic Bishop staying at ugwu-achara. She said the bishop was wealthy enough , has many connections, chats with the state governor like they were childhood friends, drinks with the president of Somalia and Tanzania. He was hysterically joyous. Hyper-thrilled that he brawled. He told his parents he’d be leaving for Abakaliki the next day to see a bishop that would publish his novel and money would come, he said optimistically as if he was certain his debut novel would be good enough to bring much money home. The next day his father woke him up. He gave him two thousand naira for transport. He was surprised. His father will never give anyone such an amount, but to him this one was different, an investment. And he was grateful his father believed in him for once. His mother wasn’t aware what the novel thing was all about all she knew was her husband supported him and he said he would come home with money. She added a borrowed thousand naira to his transport and him and Soromtochuwku  romped in the bus for Abakaliki.

Inside the bus he couldn’t imagine it and if he could, it was impossible to believe he would be published like Chika Unigwe, Chimmamanda Ngozi Adiichie ,Femi Osofisan and others. He tried to imagine himself well-dressed and walking past a group of  Mayflower students  reading his novel and pointing at him and screaming that’s the author of this book. That’s him. He closed his eyes. And solemnly, more like a soliloquy, said ‘I will dedicate it to Chinelo, the daughter of cerebral palsy and I would take her to the hospital. Sor watched him steadily then wept silently’. His novel might not be worth publishing in the eyes of professional publishers but he needed be published that’s the drive. Deep in his heart he busted into a song as they dropped at Franco junction…. This little light of mine am gonna let it shine……

Soon they stood before a brown tall gate of a detached terraced houses with a very tall picket fence carrying green-pink tips . He couldn’t wait to feel the coming to reality of his dream pointing him in the eyes. Even if he could wait, the elegance of the delicate mansions was a conviction of prosperity greater than the expenses publishing his novel would entail. Soromtochukwu was happy for him and he easily picked just that in her milky face. She was the only Enugu girl I cherished of all the Enugu students that came to Mayflower for their SSCE examinations. She was quick, succulent ,brave, empathic and homely, and just from Nsukka. She was the girl unlike, Casandra from Ogui, Chioma from Achara Layout, Tochukwu from New Heaven, Diobi from Independent Layout and Chadikaobi from Nineth Mile, who  snarled harsh words on Chioma and Casandra  when they said Abakaliki people are animals and uncivilized. She disdained ,just like me, the Enugu ingrates who bent on calling the Ebonyians ‘the uncivilized band of barbaric people’. She said why must my people be unnecessarily selfish and unreasonably thick and stupid. If Ebonyi is the dungeon of the dim-witted barbarians then why can’t we make our WAEC examinations there in Enugu, if, Enugu has developed beyond rival in civilization why do we jettisoned it to study in Federal Girls College Ezzamgbo ,Premier Academy Effium, Mayflower Academy Effium, St. Micheal Ezzamgbo, St. Peters Abakaliki, Immaculate Secondary School Effium, Royal college Ezzamgbo, Twelve Apostles Abakaliki, all in Ebonyi state.

Those Enugu boys  and girls, men and women that rate down and belittled Ebonyi just because they were from Enugu are mad and uncivilized- orientation is civilization, not language. Enugu people have travelled to Hong Kong to Washington DC, to Newzealand, to America, to Britain, to Japan, to Thailand. And who in Ebonyi state haven’t done just that and those foreign places are the points of orientation that enhanced civilization. Everybody is equal she said. And Chinagorom said what make them puff like frogs. What’s too special in Enugu rare in Ebonyi?. What’s too special about the few one’s he’d seen so far? What’s too special with the state that some people, prone to division, vulnerable to segregation, pimple-popping ,slack-jawed, gum-snapping bunch of belching inebriates, savage little cretins dare call Ebonyi people the uncivilized and rough-edged vestigial of bruised history, nonsense, fie fie!.

Soromtochukwu’s knock on the gate wasn’t wild but humble. It should be humble, a man without  shoes must humbly walk in the dale of thorns. And a very dark man with a comic zaggy marks dropping from his ears to his bulgy cheeks. So bulgy that you assumed he was chomping and gnawing an heavy gworo in his mouth from the way he bobbed his head in the filigreed morning sunlights and scrunched his face. And let his lips squid from perhaps an heavy intake of kpanshaga one could be sure the stuff in his mouth was bitter and nasty. He’s an Hausa man they were sure from the oversize cum overlong caftan he wore. ‘kachikwo, kwu you de look kwo?

In Chinagorom’s mind he was laughing, and asking himself ‘is this Hausa man toothless that he’d speak like a stupid baboon?’ Hausa people are  intelligent  like Labram Maku, the Nigeria Minister of Information whose sonorous voice, fluency and intonation had stirred him to dream his gonna study mass communication. But this one, he was a shame to a Nigerian ethnic group that ruled Nigeria for years. He hide his laughter in his tongue but it struggled out of his nose, lips and cheeks. Finally he busted into a huge laughter but not for the Hausa man. When you expected a million naira you never worked for in Nigeria , and a little thing that could make you laugh comes your way, you’d laugh and definitely laugh like a mad man. He laughed with a drive. With expectation. Soromtochukwu went psychological. She understood he wasn’t laughing at the gauche and tacky accent of an Hausa man that spoke like a good-for nothing ne’er-do-well of a gullible wench unlocked from the cave of derision. She knew he laughed for an expectation of his dream rolling away from a mere reverie to concrete reality.

‘Do you laukw at me ?’ The Hausa man asked

‘No way’ he was happy for a beautiful house like this

“Ye wa, na my uga bishop bud am” The Hausa man said

“That’s good, we are here for Bishop Asomugha”

“My uga?” The Hausa man asked

“Ye wa” Chinagorom mimicked

“Stop for here make I gwo tell am kwo”

A leg of his, the left one was longer than the other and as he walked  away he limped like a dwarf whose both legs are not equal. And his gait was comical that they laughed with their tongues. Yes! With their tongues ,they feared ,if he turned and got them laughing at him he might change his mind and use a miserable accent to tell them Bishop has travelled to America just to keep them off. Very soon he staggered back, like he was oiled and zonked, and forcefully they contained the laughter that desperately pushed at their locked lips.

“Uga say make una come in”

Laughter curled up from Chinagorom’s stomach to his throat but he spitted it out like a phlegm, instead of a boisterous laughter that belched him it was a lumpy frosty white substance that landed on the lawn beside the driveway.

A very huge tall man with the air of dignity, a gold-rimmed spectacle with a darker-toned heavy missa, a southone  of indigo-red with a brown ribbon dividing his waist so he was a perfect shape of number 8 ushered us into a blue-pink a parlor of sofas upholstered with lavender soft linens.

“Soromtochukwu how are you, how are your parents”

“ Bishop they are fine, they now lived in New Heaven ”

“God bless them, what should Odera offer you?” Odera was his house help, a boy of about twelve. He sat in the dining room. Waving at them.

“And who is this? Your brother?”

“No, he is not my brother. He’s my Sp in the school am retaking my SSCE ”

A look of worry took his face suddenly and Chinagorom prayed his expectation would not be cut off.

“An Ebonyian”

“Yes sir”

Chinagorom shivered. Hot dust with sharp grits collected in his mouth. He sniffed the rotten odour of cabbages and rag mats even when the guest room they sat smelt burnt incense. The might Bishop be an Enugu man, maybe one of those who believed the Ebonyians are dogs and barbaric and should not be  talked to . But what’s wrong if he came from Ebonyi.

“Am planning to get a stranded Nun in Ninth mile. Tell me why you are here, her car broke down there and I need get her. So how may I help you ”

“My Lord Bishop. He wrote a brilliant novel and he looked out for someone to publish it for him” after a moment of cursory gaze at  Chinagorom, from his eyes  to his toes, maybe he saw his tattered slippers he can’t tell, and said

“What church did you attend”

“Deeper Life Bible Church”

“What?” he nearly hopped up

“My lord bishop what’s wrong ” Soromtochukwu asked

“Nothing dear….erm…erm, you see you are too young to scramble about for someone to  publish you, your mates  are busy studying  in the school. You must be a graduate before you write”

“Sorry to interrupt you sir. Age is simply a number and if a story has lesson to spread I think it’s worth publishing if properly written regardless of the age of the writer?”

“Why are you not a catholic…..”

“What ?” Chinagorom flung his mouth open. Soromtochukwu was disappointed in this Bishop. Before it was Ebonyi thing now it was church thing.

“Sir, why the question”

“The money I have is from the catholic people, and am suppose to use it on the catholic people”

“My Lord Bishop meaning” Soromtochukwu asked

“I cannot help him”

Chinagorom wept and wept “Is it because am not a catholic?”

“No, you will not go out there to tarnish my image. Not because you aren’t a catholic member but because I served the catholic people. Please Soromtochukwu take this one thousand naira and go back home. Am cashless here.” And the bishop drove out into the heart of Abakaliki. He wept, then cried and Soromtochukwu wept.

Back home, out of anger, his father collected his novel manuscript, burnt it to ashes, and threw him out of the house for wasting the money he’d have used to feed his family on a fruitless journey.

 

                                                                 

 

The Blows I Do Not Know

this story has been published in Tuck Magazine

Image result for image of an african man beating his wife

As I  caress my father’s fist hoping to imbibe the impressive cryptic blows’s soul in mine a black doctor taps my father, nods his head and says we lost her. My father says nothing. He  snatches his fist out of my hand before the blows transit down my marrow. 

I know blows and their colors. They are half-crescents, half-circles or short lozenges. They have frames of fat lines. The lines run and cave in, rise and run, cave in, rise and run, cave in, rise and run just like that to shapes of fists of the flingers . The lines have colors fading by stages to void. This order, green freckles in coal-black red, pale-black then perches of brown then perfect skin if you have efficient bleaching pomades- skinlight, carolight, peauclaire, iron cleanser, aloevera complex, mega zapper.

Intrepidly, I’d tell you I know blows. When I see them I’d tell you needing no any necromancer, and would bet my life on any bruise I call blows. I grow with blows or blows grow me or without blows I wouldn’t have grown to this twelve. Or I would have but overly rambunctious. I know blows until I become ardent crusader of well-flung blows. So know blows until they want me to display them to the world. To teach the world about them. I know blows I claimed the wrestlers and boxers in Tv are so inept. I know blows I teach fathers; clutch it tight, roll it, throw it , turn it then one more time, again, again and again. I know blows I crowned myself the lord of blows. So know blows I broke our TV. So know blows they are softer than water when my father ranged plethora of them on my cheeks and nose for cleaving the window to the world. I know blows I laugh when they make you weep and twitch your legs. I know blows I draw the shapes and temporal colors on the walls of our house, the gate of our schools and on the back of latecomers in the school. So know it’s a nice cool pizza I redrew them on the face of the father of a student who barked once for the shapes on his son’s face.

I know blows I know they’d only make you stagger then stand, fall then rise. Go to hospital and come back. I know they shape things and color things. I know they dissect and fix what they attack. I know they build and not loot even when everyone claimed they are nightmares. I know blows and their temporal colors for religiously father draw them on my mother’s face.

But i did not know the two my father draw on my mother’s face this morning.

They did not show their shapes and colors. Those duo I know so well. How they come and vanished only to appear and still vanish. The twin my father gave my mother this morning seem to come from a depraved iron wonderland and my father too seem to be confused for as we stagger into Huffin Road of Health for Cyprus clinic with my mother’s still body he is humming I only did it as usual. The same fist and the same fling. These blows are different and awesome. They depressed my mother’s face, they swallowed the bones in her skin yet they did not show their shapes and colors.

I pinch myself hard as fine nurses just shipped to the new hospital from Bulawayo Zimbabwe hurtle to us and collect my mother by a blue stretcher into an emergency room. I pinched myself for my stupidity. Where was my eyes when the rare blows ran off my father’s fists. I blame myself for recapping my father on the walls behind him in our rooms, mocking my mother’s cries. Calling her a weakling annd never watched his fists until the grenades loosed.

As my father knocks his own head and paces round the waiting room I admire his fist and vividly stare at them to see if the blows drooped from transformed hands. The hands are the same, tawny with flexes of wiry veins.

A professor said in an interview in our TV you must know everything about a field before you claim to know it. And before you claim to know a given matter you’d have faced and experienced it religiously firsthand .If I claim to know blows having received much of it on my body from my father and watched thousands of it poured on my mother and claim to know it in and out I ought not to be ignorant of where the one that broke my mother’s bone came from. I’ve not actually known blows and because it’s always been a burning urge to know blows in and out and touches my father’s fists, they are still clenched like he still have more to pour on the poor woman as soon as she’s out of the coma.

My father knows I’ve been teaching everyone the way to blow and telling people he’s the one teaching me the rudiments of blows on his wife’s face. He  ad warned me to stop spoiling him outside. And I’ve told him to stop using blows in our house, that the more I see his blows the more I’m fascinated by them. He looked at me and offered me two and said he blow my mother because she goes out. I don’t know what it means to go out. I asked my mother what it means to go out. She told me my father was listening to people. And people are telling him am sleeping with peoples husband.

My mother told me my father is a lier when I asked her if she actually sleeps with peoples husband and added that a bad husband always assumes his wife is bad. She told me she had been told by Goga, that’s auntie Morua that my father is having an affair with his boss. She told me my father had been accused by many people of fucking around and because i pretended  i was deaf and  never pressed him to sleep with me for the lack of interest of that desire that comes with longing that set sex hormones on fire, the longing his illegitimate sexual escapades never allowed to thrive he thought am sleeping around or going out.

This morning, I and my mother was eating when Banker father ran in. He did not listen to our greetings or he did but refused returning them. He dropped his briefcase in his study, removed his suite and met my mother on the way. He said a source that would never lie told him she’s been fornicating with Mafa, his older brother. He grabbed my mother’s neck and draw the fat shape and color I know on her face. He waved me back with one as I stepped forward, and as usual I learned his blows behind him laughing at my shadow on the wall.

None of my father’s blows has for once silenced my mother. She’s been blowed until she’s used to blows. Once her forehead struck the kitchen cubicle because she was thinking of running away. She did not mind, she did not rub at it. I loved that, that the blows give us heart too. When father yelled ‘honey stand up’ some fire seemed to ravaged a part of my skull. My mother lied on the floor, some white fluids fuming in her mouth. It’s never happened.  The hardest blow roll my mother on the floor and she still stands up.

The blow is different. These are blows I do not.

As I  caress my father’s fist hoping to imbibe the impressive cryptic blow’s soul in mine a black doctor taps my father, nods his head and says we lost her. My father says nothing. He  snatches his fist out of my hand before the blows transit down my marrow.

 

How I Decayed

 

this story has been published in Kalahari Review

Image result for images of crying african boy with wounds

I became higgledy-piggledy. Wholly Unorganized and hot-skinned. People burned when they killed. I lost my brain and developed stunning energies. Terrible things became my appetites. I long to make troubles, steal from trips of granites, rape girls, slap anyone that seek my trouble , smoke like Chimalu openly and  abuse any elderly that confronted me. I struggled with my head at a time and when the monster automating the skull of a murderer subjugated the sinews of human conscience I crossed my boundary one afternoon. I left the shark against mother’s orders.

 

Our home was a small wooden shark leaning slightly on gravels. Spirogyra wrapped an half of the verandah, and no matter how it nauseated my mother, I loved the wet as I loved staring in the sun and brushing her filigreed shines with my fingers.

Days I had much in my stomach, I pulled up the formless slab of coquina leaning on the wall of our thatch-roof kitchen, sat on it and clicked placidly on the sodden green spread with a splinter of bamboo.

If not Mama Sharon, the large-headed wife of Oga Danfo, the only one to call when a granite boulder refused to concur to the hits of the hammer or when a mine seemed too deep for a boulder cracker, Auntie Viki, the sharp-mouthed lady and cheap ass from Kogi or Mrs. Preye the workaholic Evangelist from the east of calabar it would be my mother who’d tow me away from the stone with yaps that echoed in my head for days.

*

Our shark stood feebly like a work-worn preacher in front of an influx of tanned metal-roof sharks tilting as ours. A dense forest of gamelia trees stretched over an acreage from the rare and from it oozed mutiny of disquieting ululations.

The sounds inspired in me a pestering sense of fright until it became a tradition, the fragment of the night. Wild and low animals filling the area came to play nameless games around the shark at noon. I noticed this through the window once, perhaps they thought I was out to play in the neighborhood.

Once, I had been enthused by hunger to go hunting but as soon as my long stick towed a grasshopper from a tree branch on my shoulder I scampered back home and vowed never to cross my boundary even if the hunger loomed in a platoon peeved to a high degree.

Like other sharks, our home is made of  gamelia planks that crackled and flicked grey dusts on us as sun scourged them. Our planks had grown weak and old they have gaping holes and infinite sizzles. Just a morning I and my mother woke up to find mounds of grey-white dusts all over us. My mother espoused a stratagem; we entered large sacks and shrouded our bodies with her ragged Ankara rappers. It became the way forward.

Our shark hasn’t a door, or there was but age swung it off. There was a window we never opened for the dread of forcing it off the rusting bolts holding it to the worn-out frames.

The roof had crevices of rain. The name came just from me. The crevices of rain. Hard platters had come off the  holes until a shallow lozenge-shaped channel halved the floor; mother was crying one evening the channel over flooded and water swirled to our part.

I picked a tob shard and drew a shallow line to the left side. I made sure the line deepened day by day until I broke a hole that allied the waters to the brook running up river Niger. i couldn’t  expound the actuality of the water running straight to river Niger. And even when it was said that every water runs up river Niger I had always doubted the stone mine’s proximity to the river that the brook few steps from our shark run straight to the large river.

*

Every noon, glittering bars of light formed letter ‘T’ on the floor of our shark. The left hand of the filigreed ‘T’ climbed briefly on the right wall. Once, I watched the stem of the ‘T’ from the ragged mat I serenely laid my hunger-hollowed stomach hoping to grow up and usher it to the veil of darkness and a spider staggered across it then a luna moth perching before it. It’s a vista of war, of death and confrontation. The scene enamored me and vigorously I broadened my eyes eagerly imagining what happens next. I imagined the spider clapping it with hot fists and the luna moth kicking off the spider’s protruding belly full of yarns and black tufts.

The anomalous occurred. I had expected the spider to pick it slowly without an ado, chop it to strips before adhering it to its webs. But the luna moth reeled up and tore it to pieces. From then I had believed I could defeat my obstacles even when it seemed endless and intimidating. From that intermission of hunger, from that interlude of boredom I named my self , my challenges and my world after the low creatures. The Spider and the Luna moth. Am the luna moth and my world and challenges , the spider.

*

It was in this shark of ours that my mother wrecked the corruption that defiled me. It was here she directed the depleting furies of her maddening frustrations. It was here she lengthened my quagmires beyond my jurisdiction. Despite, her demolition of my fortresses and dumping me vulnerably porous – I had never for once forgotten to motivate my humanity with an unquestionable actuality she switched to whoredom for my conservation and perpetuation. But often I had wondered if before the abominable leap she had considered the indelible smudges her ominous action would smear on the wall of my being and the insanity that took over the senses of decorum.

The norm had being me staying back in the shark with a novel I picked on Pecuno lane and my mother blending in the throng of workers down active stone crushers and coming back home in the late evening grey-colored with a bottle of kerozine, food stuffs and grumbles.

I was consistently concerned in the grumbles. Much of it implied lack of stones in the mines the following day and lack of stones denoted lack of nylon-bag full of foods and this signified the march of a squadron of hunger.

But things changed in an August evening. Before this evening life in the mine turned inconsolably dreary; there was the prolonged pandemonium of the mine chairmanship election that led to strike and closure of works all over the mines and quarries of Zone six. And this ushered in an invisible hordes of starvation. A large number of workers emigrated to their homes for their heads. Some trouped up Enugu and Lagos for menial jobs for the mean time whilst some, maybe, without home like us to turn to lingered in the mine.

It was in this period that the earth caved in , it was then that ushered my mother to the sphere of anomalous reformation. That evening of August I had wept and got hauled in time to sleep by hunger and a chain of bangs on the door woke me. The shadows of two fellows struggled on the left wall. I tilted my head to the right and they became visible. A hulk of a man with large broad shoulders was tearing and outstripping my mother’s only santin work-worn gown. My mother was weeping as she fell on the mat beside me. She cried profusely as the man bent over her ,panting, grunting and humming liberally.

Though, Chimalu had once showed me the film of two naked people protracting and contracting on each other  I vaguely could offer a name to the action of my mother and the man. Impulsively I performed a shame-driven action. The shame of my mother’s nakedness pulled my hand to the joist in which a lamp of flickering tongue of light hung placidly. I depressed the fulcrum , the globe rose up and I quench the flame. Mother’s cries filled the room.  I stood befuddled, not knowing if I should weep, run, laugh, cry or pick a lead and thrust it in the man’s moving spines. Precipitately, I yelled ‘leave my mother’ with a long stick I lifted from a corner O….O…..bia sor….ry. go out my mother grunted.

Not then realizing the depth of their action I had assumed mother was fine and did the right thing. After, I eavesdropped from the window to their conversation. You’re sweet. The man said. Give me the money I need to cook for my child tonight. He’s been hungry since morning. My mother whispered. Your child is manner less and corrupt. The man accused. Give me the money and get out. My mother barked profusely. I should get out?. Give me the money and get out my mother began to cry.

When the man left she met me on the boulder outside. She knelt before me with a fist of money. She was begging me to wipe my tears. And telling me she was sorry. I only cried for her own tears I wasn’t crying for any other thing I was just  ten  totally unaware. And since she begged me to wipe my tears I concluded she’s alright. But as she cracked a bar of spaghetti into a steaming pot on the stove the urge to exhibit the act wrung me to loops. The heave and draw of the scene melted me to rivulet. The force turned suicidal I virtually touched her, scrunch her  bare breasts and nuzzle her over-red lips as the man had done.

Something happened to me that night, and as I ate my food and watched my mother cried bitterly I know she knew something has happened to me, that she had magnified my bogs and that I’d never remain the same. And I never remained the same.

My mother cried all day and persisted in the act all the night, waving me outside until Auntie Viki, graphically expounded the name of the act to me as I edged up to her for illumination. the truth irked me. The disrespect to my father’s shark cleaved my sense of politesse to vexed shards. The twinges of her wreckages wrapped my face with veil of antagonism and one night I clacked off the door, struck a pestle collected from Mama Ido’s restaurant on the nape of the man’s neck. I stilled the sweating man. My mother was yelling and crying. She pushed off the hulk in a pool of blood. I clasped my eyes from her nudity. Why did you do this. My mother whispered.

Because you are messing up in my father’s shark. Mummy why are you doing this. Under my nose?

My mother busily rolled the man and when she was certain he’s breathing she faced me with answers and series of hot slaps .

The men have wives in their homes,  vigilante men are all over the mine. And I must bring them here or you will starve. Look around, no work in the mine.

My mother searched the man’s pocket and starched some money in her pause. My mother checked on the man again and realized he’s dead. I was a child unaware of the implications and repercussions of murder. The veracity of trashing in jail. I was jubilant I stilled him from pounding my mother like the wheat trash. My mother cut her yell halfway with a subdued whisper . You’ve killed De Rock. I was silent but observed an electrifying gush of terror In my vein. Mother’s discomfort discomfited me, denoting howling flames of fire on the mountain. I and my mother lifted the man into  the darkness, averting and ducking with the large corpse away from the jugging lights of distant security torches until we reached the heart of the forest opposite the forest of our own house to avoid traces. Howls of jackals and grunts of elks frightened me as we dumped him under a large tree and turned back for the path leading home. Mother gasped silently as we softly trod across the herbaceous grasses rimming the way.

Back home, mother rose the light of the lamp and mopped off every dints of blood.  She made the mistake of sweeping some clumps of bloods into the line of water on the floor. I stopped the flow and filtered them off with two large brooms. My mother shivered and blamed me. She called me a murderer. I blamed her and called her a prostitute. She did nothing, she would’ve slapped me but I know her hands were too heavy. We only stared at each other. We were murderers.

we heard nothing about De Rock until a week after. An hunter had seen his bloated body and alerted the mine’s security. As an ambulance halted on Moji lane, to show the face of the dead, and people wailing and yelling De Rock, De Rock, De Rock and his wife with a new-born babe girl howling and panting I was around with my mother shivering and staring about the wailing crowd. My mother began to cry. Her cry confounded me, and veiled the anxiety of having accusing finger hauled toward us. Auntie Viki was there and I feared she would tell the gorilla-faced policemen she had once seen the man in our shark or with my mother but she only wailed like it was her own mother who died. But I realized the reason de tar she must wail and wail again. He’s one of her punters. She wailed for something slipping of her grasp down a slope of abyss. The evangelist was there with her king-size bible. She wasn’t wailing as others. She only frowned her face and dipped her head like the agape lizard that slithered off the eave of a high construction. Who’d she see the porch of heaven ,  God and an observable scrawl of revelation on the blue firmament?. As she only stepped to the corpse and drew  untraceable crooked lines of cross on the sepia-satin draped body and staggered back to her shark I knew she was blind and saw nothing than the vanity and vexation of spirit she had yelled to wayward workers and all over the mine .

As the ambulance drove off with the body’s family guilt squashed my darting irises with a mass of invisible barbs. Spikes from immortal hands broaching my ribs to my intestines. I looked at my mother to see if she felt my trepidation. She was talking with a woman and flailing her hands erratically. What was she detailing? The way the man died; the way she invaded my father’s hallowed sanctum, the unabashed manner he encroached my father’s sanctified protectorate? The vile way I looped his medulla with the large condo. And dumped him in Barfini forest? When the woman only shuddered her shoulders and never bawled and shrieked I hissed.

My mother became to me a putrid faggot, the wigs of bitter leaves father once mashed on my lips when I had diarrhea as she changed tactics and came home in the mid-night zonked and oiled. She smelt of alcohol and a fluid I would grow up to know as sperm. She had her clients outdoor, and despite she was drunk I never untied the knots of her rapper to find nothing. She made sure she properly tightened up the money for me before swerving up ogogoro joint. I tearfully untie the knot and make a delicious food she wake up to gulp like a prison break out  the following morning. Everyday I wept in the shark, saw the ghost of De Rock and felt the wrath of God encircling me.

My mother became alien. she spoke to herself. Flail her hands about like an udder of milk subtended from a hoist stuck in the skies and she desperately needed it to quench her hunger. Sometimes she fell on the floor, twitch and jerk some parts of her body as if in an epileptic fits. She begged De Rock to forgive me and urged my father to forgive her. I feared my mother. She’s my accuser. She called me a murderer and I feared she’d drink off her mind one of these days and offer me to the police.

I became higgledy-piggledy. Wholly Unorganized and hot-skinned. People burned when they killed. I lost my brain and developed stunning energies. Terrible things became my appetites. I long to make troubles, steal from trips of granites, rape girls, slap anyone that seek my trouble , smoke like Chimalu openly and  abuse any elderly that confronted me. I struggled with my head at a time and when the monster automating the skull of a murderer subjugated the sinews of human conscience I crossed my boundary one afternoon. I left the shark against mother’s orders.

I met Auntie Viki sleeping in her shark. Two towers halved by a valley was her chest. And the force came. I offered one a touch, the other, then both roughly till she twitched up. An heavy slap brought me to the floor. She was panting and whining ‘ what an insult, what an insult, don’t you know your mate, if your mother has wounded you am I your mate. I wasn’t shame laden. I was bold like I had just done nothing but an acrobat deserving an applause. I glared at her as she snatched me up the floor an have me tucked off her room.

Just as the moon began to rise, and I was mopping streaks of blood off the bloats on my mother’s forehead- the blows she got from a man that have her and refused to pay- Auntie Viki stormed on our verandah with Mama Nnedi. When my mother heard what I did and the brutal way auntie Viki attributed the course to her she picked a bottle nearby and send the women into the darkness. As for me I wouldn’t wait for her to come back. I darted into the shark, curled up in a corner, wrapped myself up with a sack and stayed there till  morning.

a Week following my mother loped to the rear of the shark vomiting and fastening her belly with wet fingers. I did not meet her, I jogged into Mala street and bought a satchet of paracetamol from Doc Muruo. I met her on the spot sprawled like a knocked mongrel. I dumped the drugs she rejected on a lump of obsidian very close, scurried off for a cup of water and have her face smoothly swabbed off white globules. She was too fragile and lacked the strength to have her in. I knelt on the wet floor staining and drenching her lapper. My mouth was immobile but tears slithered off in endless rivulet. What’s wrong with her. I don’t know I my mother never told me except she grumbled she’s not ready for two children and I wondered if I had a sibling somewhere coming from terra incognito to join us.

She stayed back at home for the lethargy bounding her. Her clients visited every night and their visitations always having my mother gasping and crying irked me one night and I blocked the door of our shark and threatened a mustachioed man to yell out to the security and have him napped for attempting to rape my mother. This vexed my mother. But I wouldn’t let the man in.

No food in this house. if he walks off be ready to starve…. Tears rolled off my eyes as her. Why must father die and have mother pulped in the crack she disdained with passion. Mother wasn’t fit but she had been pounded and pulverized all night that she looked frail and velvet irises. She hadn’t been eating since the scene of vomit. Realizing I’d be the starved I expanded my lungs with loud whine and have the man somersaulting off the verandah of our shark.

Don’t blame me for your hunger….you killing me the more. You know I’d not watch you starve. You know I’d go looking for him. You must eat.

I blocked my mother’s way. I had lifted heavy weights with Chimalu friends I flexed some muscles. She’s too weak to have me off her way.

Mother return to the mat. Am thirteen now. I’d work and feed you. No more prostitution in here.

But we’ve got no active crushers.

Just go in.

I cooked a jug of water and have her properly mopped.

Necessities had been laid upon me and it was germane for the freedom of my mother. And by all means I must stun her with endless foodstuffs or she’s off crawling on the grits for my bed of roses.

The next day I was roaming the quarry, from trips of granites to trips of coquina, from mounds of dusts to cone crushers still as the stars of the night hunting for any work to do. I was hungry by the noon and the fear I’d collapse and have the attention of my mother inspired an horrendous deliberation in my head. there was the 7UP restaurant steps away I wobbled in and comfortably sat on a plastic chair with a loud noise of order like I’ve got a million on me. Ofe ora, ugu in large quantity , chunks of mangala and pork beefs making the soup formless then a plate of well-pounded akpu came. And ravenously I gulped it off sight. Through, I was staring at the empty plates I had washed efficiently with my tongue and staring at the waiter, a girl of my age jutting off her left fingers for the pay. I had nothing on me and I just starred. I know I’d be smacked to daze and the verity of it forced tears of my eyes. Soon, I was weeping, weeping shamelessly and profusely for  the news, the news of me eating and not paying and brutally pummeled into a ditch, how it’d rip off our door and stuck in itself in my mother’s ears. How she’d trot down blaming and accusing me for making her irresponsible.

And it happened, 7UP snatched my neck up demanding his money. In the next thirty minutes I was in a dark room definitely a toilet with the stomach-churning, repellant reeks watery grimes I stood on. For hours I was sniffing the filths, wailing and watching the sunrays inching off down the hills. The Foreboding thought I’d die in the hideously nauseating smell filled the room,

 

 

 

 

Discredited Angel

this story has been published in Tuck Magazine

It was in class one that I began to feel hated and disliked by some Yoruba pupils not because I lugged the faggot of  maggots on my head,  h ad a swell of varicose ulcer on my face that convened grunge-legged Luna moths, a rain of putrid ridges on the bridge of my nose that magnetized legions of sooty flies. Not because I had the red eyes of a castrated hill dragons that drive and mail hot shells; Not because I had heavy durable legs that earthquakes acres upon acres of the western land. I was disliked because I came from Ebonyi, because I was an Igbo boy, speaking Yoruba smoothly with no crooked Igbo accents and Igbos eat human flesh.

Of an hammatan morning I stood there few years ago beside the vibrant frangipani flowers. I was certain my fingers were not on the glistening leaves, but I couldn’t point why I stood stiff there with my fingers crossed in my back. Perhaps for the singularity of the flowers’ morphing pink petals, but I was sure my weedy eyes were fixed in the setting sun that would soon begin to burn as kindled oven.

Quickly, like the spinning wings of  a crude  windmill, an oblong-faced  lanky Yoruba boy reached closer like the large nuzzle of bazzoka to my still side and I felt a violent shove. So feral was the impact that not only did I had a jerk that twirled within the pit of my stomach, a howling unseen swirl of spiteful tsunami heaved my legs off the ground so that not only did I flung my fingers into the ripening  sun in the ways of a drowning child, I fell headlong down the ditch of green liquids that collected and shuddered like the fat woman’s buttock and I felt my mouth bellowing as a stepped stag’s, opening wide and gulping  the dirty floods.

My spirit yakked like a ravenous cage-zoo wapiti. I grew feral like an entrapped nightingale. More downcast than the discredited angel.

I remember seeing a native boy vaguely running away through the school Sigidi canteen, close to Olarewaju staff cafeteria and a crowd of passionless Yoruba pupils pressing toward  and around the horizontal pungent ditch,  gawking laughing and hissing boisterously just at me . I remember  struggling solitarily in the brimmed ditch. I remember crushing  a dead tsy-fly and a lifeless pregnant luna moth with withering wings among my teeth and vomiting their  nauseating  dismembered bones.

The Yoruba pupils that crowded me were mostly growing boys with chests abhorring egotistic hearts that pumped hates underneath them, inspired by ethical consciousness. They smiled. They moaned and largely laughed. Their laughter, jarring snarling and preening. I tried  to swim up but each stroke my fingers slipped and I went drinking in the repulsive ditch.

I called to my forbidden soul to render a wee lift; I reported to the divine tripartite  for a minuscule raise but as though they too were handicapped, they were snubs. I felt they were helpless, ignoring me , opening their faceless eyes , droning pitifully at me , telling me they were vulnerable too and needing help too like myself.

It was like a common notion that in some parts of the Nigerian West an ‘Omo ibo’ would have to struggle out alone from a ditch even  in a school like St. Patrick Primary School. I thrashed about in the choking ditch. I gulped disgusting nauseating fluids and finally climbed  out. My struggle, the process of climbing out of the stinking trench was a fanfare that provided the pupils an almost infinite exhilarating moment of laugh-spree and they so relished every moment with corporal and taunting audacity.

Lurching with a startling red pair of miserable red eyes out of the ditch I fell down before the feet of few Yoruba pupils that scornfully laughed and plunged sideways. On the ground,  a nap bounded on me. Soon I muttered strength above the sounds of chirring snarling voices of the ‘same blood’ of ‘the united species’ and stood on my feet , though feebly. Choking odour dribbled  down my body with the pungent waters. My school uniform, a wrinkled cyan and a light-green navy-blue was wet with bland stains of spirogyra.

The Yoruba boys mostly, definitely gobbled  at me  but few Urobo and Tiv pupils had empathy and gorged out of the scene shamefully for the aura of revulsion and wafting ethnic hegemony .

I did not have to waste my time asking them of the boy, Kolawole, for I was much aware they wouldn’t indicate him should he hadn’t scuttled out to the canteen but stayed among them so far he was a Yoruba boy. The native boy. The son of the west. The son of the soil. He was one of their bloods; I knew they would jealously shield and garrison him from an ‘Omo ina’ the uncultured. The son of a swine, of a derelict, the son of the ‘Ibo man’ doomed to wrath in the west. Garrison him away from my blows with attitude bulwarked with chauvinistic sense of egocentrism, with ethnic partition that flowed from the hearts.

I knew he lopped through the rows of fluffing bourgavalia and tulip flowers into the food canteen . I ran into the canteen with a host of native pupils that bleated and howled  after me. Native teachers ran after me too, native security officers darted across the lobby. The puffing birds that perched on the window louvres and the eaves of the roof of Adesina Memorial building chirruped into the air exasperatedly as if they too loathed what Kola did to me just because I was an Igbo boy studying in the West, in  Yoruba land and performing more brilliantly than most of them in the class.  I briskly ran and Auntie Titi busily wobbled after me , calling at me, telling me ‘if I get you, if I get you’. I ignored her .I Snubbed her . I defiled fears. And I headed for the canteen. I ignored laughter, yelling and callings  and everybody  determinately trailed me like an earthquake.

I wept with smelling wet body into the canteen. I came to the native plumb woman that sold moi moiamala with ewedu soup and crook eja kpanla. So bold. So confident. So brutally my voice gonged before her face. I quaked and yelled  nervously.

Ibo lo wa ? Where is he?” I purred , burning

Tani? Where’s who?” The native woman screamed, throwing her ewedu-brew covered gloved fingers to her nose and mouth just to avert my odour.

“The boy that pushed me”  I glowed

Onrun. You are smelling. Get out of here” she hummed whisking me away.

“You hide him, I know. He is  Omo Yoruba, you hide him I know. E mo ibi to wa.” I growled .

Lorimi? In my head? In my mouth? In my teeth? Am sure you must be one of these Ibo pikins that spread about Yoruba land plaguing us with problems and dirtiness” She said. I ignored her, ran through the opened back door. I met a ripple of boys creaking, humming, grunting and arguing some issues in Quran  . I felt they would be influenced by the holiness of the Quran, I stood before them

“A yellow boy ”  I screamed , clicking my teeth, quaking , blazing in fury that so dooked like the forest ferrets.

“Which yellow boy?”  One of the sweaty boys snarled , ignoring me after he dipped his pinky to his nose and palm pressed to his mouth. He too lied I suggested.

“Oloshi buruku. I saw no any yellow boy. Omo ina”

“Must you call me Oloshi buruku and Omo ina? Oloshi buruku you too, Omo Yoruba you too”

“Get out” They chorused  with the voices that blasted like Jim Reeves.

“And if I did not go?”

“We’ll swat your smelling  body for you”

“With this heavy Quran in your hand?” I asked

“Yes , such is called mini Holy Jihad, the mini holy war”

“May God forgive you all” I brayed tearfully  and ran past them into the next Cinema hall but I saw not the boy.  I saw not Kola. The native boy.

In the pool of malodorous and fetid water, bigger Yoruba boys and security officers caught me and took me to the headmaster’s office. I was smelling and was crying before the bold hefty native man’s desk.

“See what he did to me?” I squeaked, soliciting  pity and consideration

“Who did this? Your fellow Omo Ina”

“No. Yusuf Abudul Kola ”

“Yusuf Kola?”

“Yes sir, he did this to me” I said and he said

“You this Omo ina, I know you sure offended him so he couldn’t bear it , Yoruba folks are cultured”

“No sir , I was beside the frangipani blooming bushes watching the rays of the setting sun and he pushed me into that ditch in Obalende Matrix lane. I did nothing to him”

“You lie” he boomed “for constituting noise and uproar in the school am giving you fifteen strokes of whip” The long whip made from the hyena’s fur .

“Ha! Because  am an Igbo boy? ”

“Whatever ” And he gave me fifteen on my buttock , I burned , I booed , I bawled  and felt  hated.

After I wept into the school’s fountain luxurious landscape. I washed myself and let my eyes to drift into the rigors I had had to subscribe to ever since I became a pupil in St. Patrick Primary School. It was in class one that I began to feel hated and disliked by some Yoruba pupils not because I lugged the faggot of  maggots on my head,  h ad a swell of varicose ulcer on my face that convened grunge-legged Luna moths, a rain of putrid ridges on the bridge of my nose that magnetized legions of sooty flies. Not because I had the red eyes of a castrated hill dragons that drive and mail hot shells; Not because I had heavy durable legs that earthquakes acres upon acres of the western land. I was disliked because I came from Ebonyi, because I was an Igbo boy, speaking Yoruba smoothly with no crooked Igbo accents and Igbos eat human flesh.

In the first week of the third term in class one Jibike Balogun who shared a desk with me jumped up the day  Jide Omawunmi whispered into her ear that I was an igbo boy , an omo Ina that feed on human flesh. She told my best friend that human ear was what I wolfed into my stomach for breakfast that morning and as I dejectedly strolled through the hallway during the first short break , almost the whole pupils stalked me , observing me in awe as if to capture the glimpse of blood dribbling  from a partly-crushed human ear at the side of my mouth and that day I nearly collapsed.

Auntie Lekan Titi had just finished her talk on reading the alphabet  and walked out when Omawunmu who had been jealous I took first position regularly scuttled to our desk. I greeted her but her snub was evident and when I noticed she came for my seat mate and not for me  I focused on what I have to read that morning. After she intoned a thing into Jibike’s ear my friend hopped up and stared at me suspiciously like I has a dismembered rotten bird on my head and she just saw it. And how her eyes grazed my skin that I almost plummeted.

“Is it true ?” was what she yelled with such hostility like we never played together, like we never swam together in the odo, like we never discussed the coming oro night, like we never expressed how we loathed Agemo day because you must have to stay indoor or your head would be sliced into a blood-filled drum the leader of Agemo carried on his head to Ojude-Oba of the king of Ijebu-ode “what?” I confusingly asked feeling like a fish in the lake. And the eyes of the pupils were all over me and I felt the floor would cave in , collecting me to it’s depth.

“That you are  an igbo boy and you eat human flesh and you ate human ear this morning”  that was what he said and like other pupils just realized they were at risk, they had played and exchanged words and pens with a cannibal  they shook like the leaves of a blooming thyme on the perch of breeze  and rested their eyes on me nervously, with  senses of savage and I felt like death.

“You know I’m an Igbo boy Jibike, my names are Achebe Onyerijuluafor Chichindo. Omawunmi is a lier , the Igbos have conscience and do not eat human flesh. I sucked pap and Akara this morning. Like seriously Omawunmi I’d report you for defaming my character and people I belonged”

As I spoke someone stood up to spoil it all. He was Omoba , a very dark boy , called akpoti because he was a dullard knowing nothing than make noise an bump about like the buzzing bees on the honeycomb of shame, stood up and said

“Omowunmi o kparo, ooto lon so, Omowunmi is not a lier, she says the truth, my mother said I should be careful the way I deal with the ibo pikins. My mother told me they fled from East to the West because they feared their fellow igbos would use them for lunch or breakfast”

“What?” was what I yelled and I lost my friends and I became the worst enemy of the class. The ringlator chimed the bell and they amazingly stalked me. I reported to the teacher and the response I got from her was better  I had not met her. She said if I know I eat human flesh truly I should stop it. And imagine that.  And she never said anything when the pupils called me ‘human eater’ . I told my parents but they said I shouldn’t fight. And I didn’t fight. For I was aware the ibos do not eat human flesh any where in the East of Nigeria. In Enugu, In Ebonyi , in Anambra, in Imo and in Abia.                 `

I rewashed my face and headed indigenously and brutally with the breathing sense of denial and the idea that fairness was dead and buried in the hearts of SOME Yorubans , not all. I repeat not all,  great people like Amosun, Adeola and Tunji sew me with a different, noble prism. I was a challenge to them , an ibo boy taking first position every term in the West.

I leapt to the top of a broken wall in the sunshine and sat silently there until I became dry  again. As I bent my head I was furious and shame-laden so I didn’t know the time I blurted

“It is not my fault . Is it my fault am an Ebonyian and my mother never came from here?. Is it a crime to be the son of an Igbo parents in the Nigerian West .Some Hausas kill the Igbos in the North and here we will not have rest too. What have we done? Is it my fault. I wasn’t born in Ibadan, Ogun, Eko and Ondo. Is it my fault I bear Chichindo and not Keyinde, Bolanle, Fatai, Tope ,Bukola and Saidi such and such” I hissed and dropped off.

School ended for the day. I hung my school bag and walked home. Few steps into our vast compound walls  tears decanted from my eyes . My mother was the first  woman to lay her eyes on me  before the  Yoruba neighbors that began to laugh and croak as the conceited peacocks perching on the spine of the elk at me from the balconies. She quickly grasped me to the warmth of her chest and led  me in. I wept and told her what happened in the school and  she promised  to inform my father when he’d be back  from work. My father was molue driver.

During the nighttime on the dinning table, mother prayed for unity among us and the natives who would always ‘divide and abuse’ us because we are ibos and not descendants of Oduduwa. The progenitor but not the creator of the Nigerian West. My mother prayed for me. She prayed that God should protect me from the sons and daughters of the SOME Yorubans , the SOME natives sent to make life distraught  for me . She prayed  on the food but before we began to clangor the saucers of Jollof rice  with orange  spoons  my father prayed for the insurgence that loomed  heavily  in the Northern Nigeria. He said ‘God you know what’s wrong, really  wrong in Nigeria,you know why some men were angry, the reason may be clear to them and you I don’t know yet all I pray is you fix up the issues so the Nigeria Government  and these  vague nebulous , frantic, faceless warriors that throw bombs , crush out the skulls of a new born-baby with a jack knife, disfiguring the lush verdant Nigerian Landscape would come to term with the Federal Government and bury this fratricidal gory war of attrition so Nigeria  the Giant of Africa would once again roar like the king-lion she had been and stop quaking like a crust that has a monumental lozenge-shaped hollow underneath it.

A little while longer  we were right through with the jollof rice that tasted dodo and sun-burnt coriander and cooked turmeric spices. And the family began to observe the regular  section  of confession.  Spurned by the tribal hitch. Framed and sharpened by the fierce fingers of ethnical character.  Before this section was observed the family  kept a roughed face so the section noticed the family dread it, is too holy to be it’s regent, it’s regular keepsake , wished a change in the status quo cleared it.

Often my mother the loquacious teacher would  bang her fist heavily on the metal bronze-framed dinning table not excessively so the carafe  of ornate base holding a yellow sherbet wouldn’t fall headlong and shatter on the floor and she would come gently with the story of a Yoruba teacher that slapped her face for fairly striking on the palm of a Yoruba boy for abusing a black Igbo boy, that Igbo land and  the East  is the dirtiest place in Nigeria , in the whole of Africa.(And I had wondered  why such anti-unity heritage-defaming  of a comment  should so be allowed and indoctrinated  in the heart of a growing pupil so that it formed the bases of the appreciation of his fellow beings ) And that is why an Igbo man would migrate to Lagos,Ogun,Ibandan and Osun with his family to avert the fangs  of malaria, guinea worms, cholera , tranchoma, kwashioko and all other conceivable pleagues that threathed life and now they are here in the West to infest them with their diseases

And my father , the lover of peace and ardent Pentecostal Christian would slowly and quietly ask ‘ dear I hope  you did not retaliate?” of course what he expected , my mother, a moonbeam, an elegance  would let out her tongue, smile indulgently and say ‘Never! It was ignorance  that stirred her’. I and my babe sister Akalaugo would sulk and nearly cast our fists toward them. We expected them to always retaliate, this way they would be feared and respected. But no matter what, the family twisted her face against this section when everyone tells how he was maltreated, advocated peace and wished to non-violently hoist the placards of Anti-ibo chauvinism in the West skylines.

The clock ticked ten and my mother began. ‘Honey it’s gotten hold of me here’ she said trudging at the under of her chin ‘if the headmaster of Bai Primary school would be writing against my removal just for not permitting some Yoruba pupils to always strike on the Igbo pupils and insult them for no justifiable reason, my son for God sake  shouldn’t  be pushed into a deep ditch by those heartless pupils for no reason, no reason at all..

God is love . God is friendly . My father reached out to her and blew a fresh eddy of breeze to her face . The breeze that smelt  chicken stew , my mother smiled and he said ‘unto this are we Christians, do not be much upset’ and kindly like an angel, like God he  raised and sang a soothing sacred hymn with a sonorous strain , read a popular verse from  psalm and touched mama’s lips and then mine  and I felt an exhilarating divine entente shrouding my bowl so that I loomed in the fantasy that I would eject balls of gold than the sticky usual yellow substance.

“You didn’t retaliate or do you”

“Father forgive me I tried to?”

“No now , report! . I told you that, always report. Can’t you see, the other day those women threatened your mother in odo river I reported to the Baale”

“Papa you talked like you were new in the west , you talked to Baale, and what response did you got?”

“Reporting pays”

“Anyway, in the West , some Yoruba teachers hate omo ina . My teacher slapped me for ever mentioning I was pushed by omo Yoruba.

“Then the headmaster?”

“A more worst, in my tears , in the tails of spirogyra that filled my body, that wet me he gave me fifteen strokes ” I droned “and I wept terribly father”

My father dragged out a yellow table , picked his glasses and wore it. Under the silver frames his eyes radiated and dilated , eyeballs  turned orangey and dim so they cast harsh noisome hues, and instinct caused me to be sure my father was planning , planning to do something.  My mother picked  out the oiled bowls and used cutleries and bent to pick out few spoons that fell on the floor. When something happened  to the limit that my mother left the important to do the trivial and my father  abandoned the soulful to embrace the secular like wearing his meager glasses, it was a bad omen that have me cast straight to the depth of  solid suspense so much intriguing. My father stood up silently and walked to his room. My mother put out my cardigan and mopped with hot water the spiral curly wavy welts on my skin. And I felt the mother’s love overwhelming and overpowering the callousness of the natives.

Early morning of the next day dawned and I saw myself standing with my sedate father before the headmaster’s desk and the sitting headmaster that seemed restless for years with his fingers ransacking on the Atlas of the Nigeria map.

“Good morning headmaster” my father said politely  and in a relaxed mood. I grew rugged. I grew hard. Feeling I should slap the fat man as if I was sure he’d trivialize  the issue again.

“You can see I am busy, how may I help you? If you can’t speak up, am busy or you get out ” The fat headmaster ,Adunlaye Coker Ogbomosho boomed like a bitten bittern not raising his head.

“We are not quarrelling, headmaster ”

“This man, say what you have to say”

“My son was pushed into the ditch by a boy called Kola, he reported  to you and he said you gave him fifteen” my father kindly and slowly said and I burned  for such sluggishness , for such gentleness ,for the dullness of  my father. I wished what some Yorubans needed was a rogged expression and a folk that would brutally twist his words so they were menacing, so they argue it was wrong to be chauvinistic anywhere in Nigeria. But my father was a moral coward. Not a coward but a moral coward because he had been a foot artillery soldier during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war

The brutal bloody war I had not cared myself to ask him and many years I thought the fear , the flights , the bloodiness, the gruesomeness , the wildness of such terrific warfare had kept my memory from inquiry. But some days I unlocked  my fathers war diary I saw sabon gari how it was the place where the Nigerian Northern soldiers slaughtered the Biafran escapees and armless or rather ill-trained Biafran soldiers. I saw Abagana written in bold letters, how the place was the place in the East where the Nigerian convoy that conveyed millions of Nigerian war ammunitions were burnt by the ambushed Biafran soldiers. Often I saw and noticed a shallow spiral hollow underneath my father’s hairy ear. The days I made to know how the scar came to perch there met with a snub. I had asked mother to tell me the root course of the Nigeria-Biafra war, mother had hissed and simply yelled ‘the 1966 coup cursed it’ that was after she had tried to avert my mind from forcing her tongue to explore the war that rendered her orphan; from dissecting such preening old past archive of gushing blood. She never talked more about the stupendous civil revolution of excessive human massacre that has no match after the monstrous gorilla-exploits of Adolf Hitler in the World wars. And she had not continued the story until the following cryptic days I debunked the detailed accounts of the dreaded events in books, journals, Tv and novels.

“And you are here to beat me back?”

“Never” my father said adjusting his glasses like an academia whilst he had barely gone to school and he was a cab or taxi driver.

“I said you have come to strike me thirty I hope so?” the native headmaster bleated.

“I can’t do that. Is it fair you beat a small boy pushed into a smelling ditch fifteen without calling the boy that pushed him? He gulped dirty waters headmaster?”

“Your boy behaved like any other ibo boy and I flogged him”

“I’ve..ok how do the ibo boys behave” my father asked him.

“Just like their parents they loved to be diplomatic, domineering and stubborn in other peoples’ territory ” and now I should agree the headmaster’s words must be the basis of the Natives’ hate for the Ibos.

“Am disappointed sir” my father whispered

“Are you here to abuse me?”

“My son said you’ve not seen nor called the Kola Yusuf since yesterday for questioning and now see your judgment. I hate  trouble and you know it , several cases of these Yoruba boys maltreating my son I had heard and bore with heart. If you won’t call out Kola so I know what happened  my son is quitting this school.

“We don’t need him anyway”

“You don’t need my son?, The Federal Government that employed you would not behave this way . Everybody is relevant. President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo will never be happy to know that some Yorubans treat the ibo’s this way. Like they were putrid grapes ”

“Why not go to Abuja and report me. Live my office with your stupid son”

“You mean you won’t call him?”

“Yes?”

“Why”

“Leave my office”

“My son drank things mind you? ”

“Ibo man leave my office” The headmaster blasted and we walked slowly out of his office.