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Friday, December 30, 2011

SLAM DUNK

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Mister Kay frowned, his steps faltering as his stomach let out another yelp. When it went quiet again he moved on, trying to keep his trademark bounce in place. He approached a woman selling akara and fried yams by the roadside moments later, and the orchestra started up in his tummy again as saliva filled his mouth. The pieces of fried yam were perfect in their shapelessness; white and wonderful. He could hear the brown balls of akara calling out, ‘Mister Kay, Mister Kay’. He took his wallet out of his pocket and carefully counted all the money there for the umpteenth time that morning, like counting the notes would somehow make them multiply. He put the wallet back in his pocket. He had just enough money to take him to his destination. As he passed the yams and ignored the calls of the akara he cursed Mrs. Kay and the stupid strike she had embarked upon from last night. No food and no sex till further notice; and for an offence he didn’t even know he had committed! Women.

He was the first passenger on the bus to Obalende, and a little while after he’d got on a man entered and sat beside him. He was holding a cob of boiled corn, and as the yellow grains disappeared into his mouth Mister Kay’s stomach started again. The corn man threw a sharp glance at Mister Kay and shifted slightly away, scrunching up his nose in anticipation of the smell. If he hadn’t been too busy pretending not to have heard the sound Mister Kay might have told Corn Man not to worry, that he hadn’t farted, that it was just hunger. All the way to Obalende Corn Man kept eating, one cob after the other, all from a bag he had slung across his shoulder which looked like it contained an endless supply. Thankfully, the bus to Yaba didn’t have any corn-, or any other food, eating passengers. Mister Kay managed his saliva, consoling himself with the thought that by the time he was coming back he would have money, and he would buy anything his stomach desired and silence the voices there. Mrs. Kay could go to hell with her cooking. As for the sex, there were other ways.

Mister Kay got down at Sabo Bus Stop and walked down Chapel Road. He reached number eleven, went to flat two and rang the bell. The house girl opened the door and stepped aside, allowing him to enter.

“Mister Kay, welcome sir.”

“Ehen, thank you, Yetunde,” he grunted.

Yetunde turned and walked down the corridor and towards to the dining room, leaving Mister Kay to follow. Normally, he would admire the view of Yetunde’s buttocks as they jiggled underneath her skirt, but this time he could only be bothered to take a glance at them. They passed a mirror in the hall and Mister Kay noticed that his usually red eyes were even more bloodshot today. As they walked further into the house Mister Kay could smell fried eggs. He licked his lips. They entered into the dining room and Mister Kay saw his student eating at the table. He was right about the eggs; breakfast was bread and fried eggs. Yetunde went into the kitchen, leaving him to go past the dining room and into the living room, where Madam was. As he went he stopped to pat his student’s head with forced fondness.

“Ah-ah, Destiny, you cannot greet again because you are eating?”

“Good morning, Uncle Kay,” Destiny managed to sputter through the bread and egg mixture rolling around in her mouth.

Non, non. En Francais.”

“Oh. Bonjour, Monsieur Kay.”

Bien, bien,” Mister Kay said, patting her head again, his eyes drifting of their own accord to the breakfast spread. Bread. Eggs. Sausages. Bournvita. Cereal. Butter. Milk. Pancakes. He licked his lips again, just in time to catch the dollop of spit that had been sliding out through his open mouth.

“Mister Kay. In here, please,” Destiny’s mother called from inside the living room.

Mister Kay walked in, and even before he could sit the onslaught began.

“Mister Kay, I am not at all pleased with my daughter’s progress.”

“Madam, what do you…”

“What am I even saying, what progress? It’s been a month now yet all she knows how to say is ‘bonjour’ and ‘bon soir’. Is that what I pay you for? ‘Bonjour’ and ‘bon soir’?”

“Ah-ah, madam. She is making progress now. Don’t you…”

“I must warn you, Mister Kay,” Madam said, taking off her glasses to better enable her pierce him with her eyes. “I don’t play with my money. When I pay for something I want to get my money’s worth, every single time. No exceptions! If I do not hear my daughter speaking French like a Parisian, and soon, you will not be getting paid a single kobo. Mark my word, Mister Kay, because I will not say this again. I am running out of patience.”

Madam put her glasses back on and turned back to the women’s magazine on her lap. Mister Kay stood there, shifting his weight from foot to foot, waiting for her to present the envelope. He had pegged her for one of those people that always gave money in envelopes.

“You may go now,” Madam said, after looking up moments later to find Mister Kay still there.

“Em, Madam… my money for the first month, Ma.”

Madam peered over the rims of her glasses at him.

“Mister Kay, what do you think the worth of the word ‘bonjour’ is in naira.”

“I… Madam, it is…”

“When you figure it out let me know. That will be your payment for the month. Meanwhile, you’re on probation for the next few weeks, in case you didn’t figure that one out. No improvement and you’re gone,” she looked down at her magazine, and then back up at Mister Kay. “Oh, and don’t forget that there are lessons tomorrow. Four p.m. as usual. Don’t be late.”

Mister Kay stood there until he became convinced he had become invisible. Then he shuffled out and into the dining room. As he came up behind Destiny and the breakfast spread he swooped down on the table and snatched up a slice of bread from her plate. And in one swift motion he folded the bread in half and dipped it into her cup of Bournvita. He lifted the dripping bread into his mouth and took the whole slice in at once, not breaking his stride to the corridor that would lead him out of the house. Not turning to see the horror on his student’s face.

N.B.: This is loosely based on a true life story. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

THE COILS THAT BIND AGAIN

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Just when I think I’ve gotten over him he shows up on my doorstep and proves again that I am a liar. I am rushing out of my apartment, keys and a thermos mug of coffee in hand, when I see him lounging against the wall beside my door. I freeze as our eyes meet. He sees into me and I can tell. He’s always had that x-ray vision. I turn around and lock my door. I am running late.

All through the day at work I manage to act normal, get through my tasks. But he is there, lounging against the wall of my heart, saying nothing, his smile knowing. Because he knows, just like I know, that it is far from over. He is making it happen again, just because he can.

Five p.m. comes around reluctantly, like a coy smile; and when it does I flee from the office and speed home in my car. I get to my apartment door and he is there, like he hasn’t moved all day. I put my key in the lock and turn my wrist, not looking at him. I open the door, walk in, close it behind me. In the living room I step out of my shoes and leave them lying there. I keep walking towards my bedroom as I reach behind me and undo my zipper. My dress slides down my body and lands in a pool of black on the floor. As I enter the bedroom I hear the front door close and the lock click into place.

It’s on. Again. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

KIDS AND CONSUMER ADVERTISING

This week because I don't have any writing to post I thought I'd switch things up and share this video I found quite interesting. I think it has information that parents and would-be parents especially need to be aware of. Basically:
Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car. Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children’s advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world. Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children’s marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.
 So enjoy. And if you find it useful, share.

Monday, December 5, 2011

REPLAY

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You come to the place beside her, where you used to lie. You see the depression his body made when he got up this morning, the smile he left on her face. You see the bedside table, and that the picture of you and her smiling, the sea breeze blowing her weave in your face, is no longer there. She’s taken the abstract painting you loved and had bought for a small fortune off the living room wall. You wonder what she did with it. You haven’t seen her ring, and the pale patch of skin on her finger has started to blend in with the rest of her hand. You ask yourself why she took it off so soon.

You know she can now turn on the big generator on her own; she did it two nights ago. You should be happy. You used to grumble each time she asked you to go turn it on when you were here. She moans and stretches, his smile still on her face, and you notice she’s wearing the last gift you’d given her: the black negligee. You know that even as the satin caresses her skin it is not you she’s thinking of. She opens her eyes and bounces out of bed, humming that tune, and you know she’s happy.

You tell yourself you’re happy that she’s happy. You're happy that, five years after you passed, she can hum "I’m Alive" again. Happy that she got rid of that painting she’d always hated. That she can smile that way again. That now she can turn on the big generator. That she and the world moved on. Without you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

YES WOMAN

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Mama Bose chased the flies from her ground melon seed with the napkin she used to dust the shelves in her stall. They went away and quickly found a place among her dried peppers. She sighed as she flipped over another page. Stupid flies. 

“Mummy,” she heard her daughter call.

“What is it?” She grunted, without looking up from the book she’d been frowning into.  

“Mummy Caro said you should give her crayfish two hundred naira, that she will bring money tomorrow.”

Mama Bose looked up, her face dangerously calm. “Bose.”

“Ma?” Bose said, taking a small step back even though she was already beyond her mother’s reach.

“Have you gone to where I sent you?”

“Em… no, Ma. It is when I was going that Mummy Caro called me to…”

“So, your name is now Caro?”

“Ma?”

“Ehn now, your name is Caro, and Mummy Caro is your mother. That is why you will go on her errand before my own, not so?”

“Ah! No, Ma,” Bose said, bending her knees over and over in apology.

“My friend, will you get out and go where I sent you!”

Bose started to run off but stopped when her mother called again.

“Come back here! The palm oil she collected last week, has she given you the money?”

“Em… no, Ma.”

“Idiot!” Bose barely had time to jump out of harm’s way as her mother’s slipper went flying in the direction of her face.

“It is you and people like Mummy Caro that want to destroy my business. But God will not allow you people. Come back here and let me help you twist that your mouth!” Mama Bose screamed at her daughter’s retreating figure. “It’s not only crayfish two hundred naira. Come and carry my whole stall! Nonsense.”

Mama Bose went to retrieve her slipper and, still huffing, settled down again with her accounts book. Her creditors were getting too many, owing too much, and she didn’t have the mind to chase them. At this rate she wouldn’t have enough to replenish her stock next week. Christmas was coming and the children needed new clothes. She had to send money to her parents; they had been complaining too much of late. She prayed her husband would find a job soon. Things had gotten so hard since he’d been laid off.

“Mama Bose. Mama Bose! You no dey hear?”

Mama Bose looked up to find Kemi, who lived across the street, peering at her.

“Ah, hope no problem o. It’s like you’re not here at all,” Kemi said.

“No, my sister. No problem. How is the family?”

“Everybody is fine o. Your people nko?”

“They are there jo. So what do you want to buy?”

Kemi reeled of a long list of items and Mama Bose rushed to get each one, her heart racing with the thought that maybe she would be able to stock up after all. If she got more customers like Kemi that week. After she had packaged everything nicely, she handed the bulging bags to the customer with a smile.

“Everything is five thousand seven-fifty.”

“No problem,” Kemi said as she turned to leave. “My brother will bring the money on Monday.”

The smile froze on Mama Bose’s face as she stared after Kemi. She managed to call out a cheery “No problem” through her clenched teeth.


There are times when I should have said no to things and people, sometimes with a dirty slap just to avoid any confusion. But I didn’t always. I think I’ve gotten better at saying no, though I’m still not where I should be. Are you able to say no when you know you should, or are you the smile-and-clench-your-teeth type?   

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A SLICE OF HEAVEN

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He felt the impact first, and then there was the sound of breaking glass. He glared through the windscreen at the vehicle in front of him and turned off the ignition with one angry turn of his wrist, glad that the offending vehicle could go nowhere. It took him just a few seconds to get rid of his cuff links and pull up his shirt sleeves. All the while he mumbled his fury, imagining what he would do to the imbecile who had just cost him a headlamp. He flung open his door, ready to attack.

In front of him the driver’s door came open, and in slow motion they emerged: two feet in high heels first, and a pair of skinny, silky smooth, light skinned calves that seemed endless. And then came the thighs, deliciously firm and covered midway in a denim miniskirt that rode higher as the rest of her came into view. And then there was her. She was wearing one of those tight black things – tube top abi pipe top? It stood out well against her light skin and moulded every curve. Her head was covered in short, dark curls. She got out of her car and stood for a moment with her right hand on her forehead. Her long face wore an anxious look and her full, bright red lips were pouted. Wahala had never looked so good. She began to walk to him.

His hands shook as he struggled out of the car and into the midday heat, trying to get some sound out through his suddenly uncooperative throat. Surrounded by Lagos rush hour, all he could do was stare, his face wearing a look that he was sure could only be described as mumu-ish.

“Oh my God, I am so so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking, I’m so silly.”
She wrung her hands as she spoke, her forehead creased and her voice sincere. He could only gaze at her mouth.

She bent over to inspect the shattered headlamp in that distracted, completely unselfconscious way that only the truly confident could pull off – not minding that if the strange man tilted his head just so, he could catch a glimpse of pink lace under that excuse for a skirt. Well, he did tilt his head, and he swore he could feel his legs turning to jelly. Just when he thought he would collapse she moaned in despair and stood upright again.

“It’s bad. It’s really bad. That headlight is gone,” she said. She turned to him.

“Look, I don’t know what to say. There’s no excuse. My tail light is bad as well, but hey, this is all my fault. I am so sorry. It’s just… well it’s a new car and I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet so I mess up sometimes. This is the worst damage I’ve done yet. And your car is clearly new too and really expensive…”

He stood there, drowning in her returnee accent, trying to clear his throat while making as little noise as possible. She took his silence for anger.

“God I am so stupid!” she said, hitting her forehead with an open palm.

“No, no, it’s okay. These things happen. It was a mistake,” his words came out in a croak he could barely recognize.

“Really? You’re okay? You’re not mad?” she asked, her eyes round and pleading.

“Of course not. It’s nothing…”

“Oh my God!”

He found himself in a hug he didn’t see coming. He froze for a moment, and then he put his arms around her breathed her, reveling in her warm, soft feel. She smelled of something wild; tempting, yet elusive. He closed his eyes. When she let go of him he had a stupid smile on his face, but he didn’t care.

“You’re an angel. No! You’re a lifesaver. Thank you so much. I’ll never forget this,” she gushed, striding back to her car.

He stood there, trying to summon up the courage to ask her for her number. He was still there when she started her car and honked. He got back in his car to make way for her to leave, his head still reeling from contact with her. She blew him a kiss, her perfectly manicured fingernails waving at him as she drove by.

He sat there in the car with the engine idling. He’d had his slice of heaven. All he needed now was a good story to tell oga.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

WIFE, MOTHER, WOMAN


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They wouldn’t do it in their bedroom. No, the bedroom had become way too boring; they’d been doing it there the past fifteen years. So where now? Choices, choices. Dining table? No, the glass wouldn’t feel comfy beneath her; she knew from experience. Maybe if she stood and held on to it? No. She’d always considered standing a tad slutty, which would be fine except she wasn’t in a slutty mood today. She was feeling all tender and womanly. The kitchen? No, it presented a similar problem to the dining table. Hmmm… she could go to his office and surprise him. She’d wear that nice red wraparound dress he loved—it would definitely make for ease of access—and nothing under. Kind of like Nicole Kidman in that movie, what was the name again? No, maybe she’d do that for their anniversary. Today she wanted to be home.

Oh, the new car might work. They hadn’t done it in a car since they were newlyweds. It seemed like such a long time ago now, that time when they were young and free and invincible. They could do anything anywhere, and they had. Now it seemed they barely had enough hours in a day, and none to spare for each other. She couldn’t remember the last time they’d made love, like in the old days, and fallen asleep talking in each other’s arms. And that was why she’d asked him to leave work early today, taken half a day off work herself and come home to prepare.

Yes, the car. The car was a no. She loved the idea of reliving their youth, but how ever would they explain the shaking of the car to Akpan, their nosy gateman/security guard. Actually, he wouldn’t need them to explain at all, and that there was the real problem. She would never be able to look him in the eye again. Or should they drive the car out when it got dark? No, that would be too much work, and it would not be worth the risk of getting robbed.

She strolled into the living room and looked around. Why the heck not? With the feather soft beige rug and matching couches, it was her favourite room in the house. And at least it wasn’t their bedroom. Simple ideas were indeed the most beautiful. She strode to her shopping bag and got out her goodies. She lit the scented candles and scattered the rose petals over the floor and couch. Next, her favourite Sade CD. She took out the new negligee to admire it again. He would love this; she couldn’t wait to put it on, and then have him take it off. But first, a nice soak in the tub, with that sexy body bath that was “guaranteed to have him drooling.” Well, she certainly intended to find out.

She took her bags and started to climb up the stairs, then she heard a key turn in the lock. Oh no, he was earlier than she’d anticipated. No worries, he could share her bath. She turned around, wearing her seductress smile, as she heard the door swing open. Her heart sank as her twins bounded through the door, a weary looking Bala dragging their suitcases behind him.

“Ah-ah, what happened? You people didn’t go to school again? Bala, did the car spoil or what?” she cried, not bothering to hide her displeasure.

“No, madam…”

“Holiday extended!” her son whooped.

“What?”

“Apparently, schools cannot resume today. They say it’s because of the elections. So we’re here for like another week or so,” her daughter said.

They stopped short as they noticed the candles and rose petals and music. Then, as one, they let out a loud cackle.

“Mummy, what’s this?” her son managed to gasp through his laughter.

“Mummy the mummy! So this is how you and daddy use to enjoy when we’re not around abi. See romantic sturvs meeehn!” Priye screamed. She turned to her brother. “Ebi, see that’s why they sent us to boarding school.”

“Mummy, you’re too much jor!”

She turned and started back up the stairs, their laughing voices following her. She’d call Tonye and tell him not to bother coming home early. Maybe if they were lucky they’d still get to do it tonight. In their bedroom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

THE PINK CHICK: MOMODU

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If you haven't read the previous Pink Chick stories, you can find them here, here and here. The idea was to tell one story from the perspective of four different characters, and this is the last of the series. Thanks for reading.

Momodu was king of the world, or at least king of the roads. Who did that mumu in the old Mercedes think she was, trying to overtake his tipper? He bared his teeth in a parody of a smile as he pushed down hard on the accelerator. The new truck gave a healthy groan and shot forward. Momodu sneered at the ugly girl in the Mercedes as he passed; she thrust her middle finger up and at him. He laughed. Whoever had taught her to curse must have forgotten to tell her that she was supposed to use all five fingers. Or was this a new style that small children had devised. Pity, these children had no appreciation for the finer things in life.

Speaking of life’s finer things, this new tipper was definitely one of them. He loved the easy way the engine rumbled to life with the slightest twist of his wrist, loved the smell of new that welcomed him whenever he climbed up inside it, loved the look of envy in the other drivers’ eyes, loved the shiny blue colour of it. When Oga Paulinus had given him the keys last week for the first time, he had pulled his own ears—like they weren’t long enough as they were!—and warned him. “If anything happens to this tipper eh… if you do mistake crash this tipper, you better crash yourself join.”

Momodu smiled at the memory. But then he saw something that quickly turned his smile into a frown: traffic lights. Yellow. Momodu gunned the accelerator and felt the adrenalin high as he raced to beat the light. A few seconds before he got to the intersection, the light turned red. Momodu clenched his teeth. It was too late to use the brakes now, so he let the tipper go on ahead, almost running into the jeep that had dared to venture out of Ogidi Road. He threw back his head and roared his laughter. The idiot should have passed, so Momodu could help him remodel his car. He looked in his rear view mirror to see the man’s five fingers pointing at him through the driver’s window. Now that was how you said waka. Another driver might have been bothered about the stickers, prominently displayed on his tailgate, that said “If I drive rough call 08022365780.” Let them call; it wouldn’t be the first time. The ogas never bothered him because he was always several minutes early offloading his consignments, and he’d never been involved in an accident in his two years driving tippers.

Momodu swerved into George Street without slowing down for the turn, running into the potholes at the beginning of the street and causing clumps of sand to fall from the back of the tipper. As he sped down the street he glanced at the clock on the dashboard: three fifty-seven. He was early. He would have more than enough time to visit Solo, maybe have a drink or two with him, and then head off to Eden Hotel, where he would meet Silver. Ah, Silver… that one knew how to make a man feel like a man. Of all the girls at Eden she was the best—he should know; he’d sampled them all at one time or the other. And to think she was only new to the pleasure business. She must have been born with the talent of pleasing men. Ever since that first night with her he’d been begging Madam Abeni to put Silver on exclusive, for him. But she insisted he could not afford Silver on exclusive and she was right, whether Momodu liked it or not. So he had to manage whatever time he could get with Silver, and that was why he needed to get to Eden on time, before anyone could call and order her. After having had her, sleeping with any of the other prostitutes at Eden would be like going back to the rubbish truck he’d been driving before this new one. Unthinkable!

As Momodu sped down George Street his phone started to ring. He took it out from his shirt pocket and looked at the screen. His blood pressure shot up. He put the phone back in his pocket and tried to ignore the ringing, the vibrating against his chest. He sighed as he took it out again. He knew that woman; she would keep calling forever. He pressed the answer button and put the phone to his ear.

“Wetin!”

“Momodu, abeg call me back. I no get cre…”

“My friend, you better talk wetin you wan talk. I no dey call you back anything.”

“Momodu, you sef! Eh, na Beke school uniform. The one wen im get don tear finish. We get to buy another one.”

Momodu hissed.

“Abeg I no get money! You no fit take money from your market buy the uniform? No be you born am?”

“Ehn, na only me born am! If you like stay for PH there dey carry woman. No come Yenagoa come see your pikin. At your old age…”

“See dis one o! You think say because you manage born pikin for me I don become your boy-boy. I fit just…”

The words died in Momodu’s throat as he realized that he had gone off the road and was going to run into the red Kia parked on the shoulder. He let the phone fall from his hand as he slammed on the brakes, too late. He heard glass breaking and metal crunching; felt himself thrown forward, saw the airbag explode to envelope his face, knocking the breath out of him. The airbag deflated, leaving him with a sore face, a pounding head and a nasty smell in his lungs. But he felt fine otherwise. He clambered out of the truck to find a small group of people standing by, ogling his truck and the car it had squashed. He looked at his poor baby. The crash was bad, and it would take a lot to get the new truck to look new again. His ogas would not be pleased. Across the road he saw two women on the ground, one wailing like a police siren. At first he thought they were fighting and he felt a little spark of excitement, but a closer look told him that one was in distress and the other was trying to comfort her. The police siren should be the owner of the red Kia; she looked like she had money. She should take it easy now, Momodu thought. Was it not just a car? At least nobody had died.

“Bros, were you drunk or what?” one of the watchers, a young dark skinned man, said to Momodu.

“No o! I neva drink today,” he quickly replied.

“Whether you are drunk or not, you have killed somebody’s child. All you tipper drivers that behave like mad people! Don’t think you will go anywhere o. We are taking you to the police.” This was from an elderly man in faded Ankara. Momodu was about to tell him to go prepare to meet his ancestors—at his age they must be eagerly awaiting him—instead of helping the living to mind their business.

“Yes, una hol’ am!” A fat woman screamed, and the dark skinned man and a few others gathered around him.

“But nobody bin dey inside the car now…” Momodu protested as they grasped his shoulders.

“Shut up! You no see dat woman for there. Na im pikin…”

The speaker was interrupted by the sudden silence. Momodu and the crowd turned as one to see why the wailing woman had suddenly gone quiet. They followed her eyes and her smile to the young boy running across the street to her, his hands raised heavenward. What miracle was this?

Momodu didn’t need anybody to tell him. He shook off the hands of his distracted captors and took off down the street. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

THE PINK CHICK: MAMA TAMUNO


Image from here

The boli seller wiped her forehead with the corner of her wrapper and turned over the plantains roasting over the coal fire. The plantains were hot, but the calluses on her hands did a good job of protecting her from the heat. She wondered where all her customers were today. It was getting to evening and she had sold less than half of her stock for the day. And it wasn’t even a rainy day.

She thought of Tamuno, who was staying with her mother in Diobu for a few days. At that very moment they would be at Mile I park, at the stall where her mother sold local gin and ‘man power’. Tamuno would be helping his grandmother serve the touts and bus drivers that frequented the stall. Mama Tamuno frowned. She didn’t like her son mixing with those kinds of people, didn’t want them influencing his five-year-old mind. She needed her customers to show up so she could make enough money for him to start school next session. His mates were ahead of him as it was. She would have been able to send Tamuno to school last year if his no-good father hadn’t kept stealing all the money she’d been making and spending it on gin and prostitutes. As if that wasn’t enough, he would come home drunk and try out his favourite boxing moves on her. Sometimes he would force himself on her, bathing her face with saliva and stale gin breath; but that only happened when he’d run out of her money so he couldn’t afford even the most desperate of prostitutes. She sighed. Her mother would be returning Tamuno tomorrow, and along with him she would bring the condemnation and I-told-you-so look she had worn ever since things had started to go exactly as she had predicted, after a pregnant Mama Tamuno had married the father of her child.

Mama Tamuno heard footsteps and looked up to see an answer to her prayer. She smiled a welcome at her favourite customer. Mummy Soji wasn’t carrying any bags today, like she usually did when she brought old clothes and toys for Tamuno, but she didn’t mind. Mummy Soji never haggled, and she always let Mama Tamuno keep the change. And when there was no change would just give her extra money, saying, “This one na tip.” Always with a smile. Mama Tamuno watched as she ran to her stand, admiring her in her jeans and T-shirt and no make up. 

“Ah, Mummy Soji. Welcome o. Long time. Which one you want?”

Mummy Soji chose four large plantains and a few pieces of yam, and Mama Tamuno started to scrape the blackened parts off the yam with her trusty knife.

“How Soji?”

“He’s fine. He dey for car. School don close so I get to carry am go market because nobody dey house.”

She looked up from the yams to glance at the car. She wasn’t bothered that the car looked empty from where she stood. Maybe Soji was playing with something on the floor of the car.

“Papa Soji nko?”

Mummy Soji started to answer and Mama Tamuno was still smiling when she saw, from the corner of her eyes, a tipper, loaded with red sand, start to run off the road at full speed. The smile died on her face. It was headed straight for her customer’s car, parked across the road from them. She screamed just as the tipper crashed into Mummy Soji’s car from behind, crushing it into a lump of red metal and shimmering glass, spilling red sand everywhere. Mummy Soji spun around to investigate. In the few seconds that followed, the world—or George Street, at least—was still. Legs were leaden, hands and mouths hung limp, eyes watered, hearts stopped. Mama Tamuno did not look at the people who had stopped in their tracks on the street and now stood staring at the crash. She looked at Mummy Soji’s back and waited for it. When Mummy Soji flew up in the air Mama Tamuno was almost quick enough to catch her. Almost. She hit the floor with a force that made Mama Tamuno wince, but she knew Mummy Soji wouldn’t feel any pain, at least not from the fall. It had been the same for her when she’d lost her second child.

The erstwhile immobile watchers were eventually able to move again; some shuffled away, shaking their heads but going about the business they were about before, others moved to the crash site to have a closer look. A few stood around, staring at the grieving mother and making sympathetic noises. Mama Tamuno struggled to get a hold of the hysterical woman rolling in the sand and screaming unintelligible sounds, but Mummy Soji’s energy seemed boundless. It was while she was looking around, about to ask for help to restrain her customer, that she saw the smiling boy run across the street and toward her stand. His hands were raised in the air and she could make out something pink in them.  

Mama Tamuno managed to grip Mummy Soji’s shoulders, and she shook her hard. Then she used all her energy to raise the uncooperative body into a sitting position. Using her body to hold Mummy Soji up, she pointed towards the boy.

“See Soji! See am for there! See am!

She screamed this over and over, and Mummy Soji must have finally heard her because she grew quiet and followed her pointing hand. Mama Soji felt the tension drain out of her customer’s body as the realization came to her; felt the smile she gave through her tears; heard the collective sigh of relief of the watchers. She smiled, too, as Soji came closer. She saw the painted chick in his hands, but she didn’t bother to wonder.
 




"THE QUARRY" ON ETHER BOOKS

My flash fiction piece, "The Quarry", will be published on Ether Books today. Here's the cover:



It's available as a free download as well, but unfortunately the Ether Books app works only on iPhones (and other i-stuff) for now. 

Please give it a read and a rating if you can. You can also give it a review here.

Write short fiction and poetry? You might want to give Ether Books a look.

Friday, September 30, 2011

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY: THE PINK CHICK - THE MUMMY ISSUE

Image from here


Hallo, guys. If you haven't read The Pink Chick (the first version), you should cos that's the main story. When I wrote that first Pink Chick story, that was supposed to be it. But then I had the idea to tell the same story from different perspectives. The first story was seen through the eyes of Soji, the child, and this one is seen through his mother's eyes. 

She turned left into George Street. Next stop, Mama Tamuno’s place. She looked at her watch, sighed and pressed down on the accelerator. Three forty-five. She was fifteen minutes behind schedule, thanks to the stupid traffic on Aba Road. She only hoped Mama Tamuno would have boli ready so she didn’t have to wait another ten minutes at least. The snack of roasted plantains and fish would be enough for her and Soji until she was done making dinner. She hoped she would be done before Laolu got in from work.

She hated going to the market; hated having to rub bodies against all those people as she maneuvered her way around the stalls. She hated the shouts, the smells, the filth… the haggling. That was why she went foodstuff shopping at most once every month. She would buy huge quantities of food and store the perishables in the large freezer she’d bullied Soji’s daddy into buying. It was even more stressful when she had to take Soji with her to the market, like today. She loved her son, but God knew Soji made it hard to not want to conk him like ten times every single day. They said curiosity was a good quality, especially in kids, but surely, not the type that had killed the cat. That was how he’d almost put his head in the frying pan the other day when she was frying fish, after she’d told him to leave the kitchen. Her nagging mother-in-law had visited last week and had given her an earful about soji’s burn when she saw it. She’d snapped at the woman for the first time when she could no longer stand her whiny voice grating on her nerves. That had shut her up good. Maybe she would try it with Laolu one day. She couldn’t tell who talked more: Laolu or his tiresome mother. And today again she had almost lost Soji when he’d wandered away while she was pricing croaker; what he was looking for she didn’t know till now.

She parked her Kia on the shoulder of the road, opposite Mama Tamuno’s stand, pleased to find no eager customers waiting for the roasting boli. She opened her door and turned in her seat to look at Soji. The waistband of her trousers tightened around her once-flat stomach, reminding her of the 15kg she was still struggling to lose. Maybe when she did Laolu would look at her again. They hadn’t had sex in weeks.

“Stay where you are, Soji. If you come out ehn, you will see what I will do to you,” she said, pulling her ears so the message could sink in. He gave her that nod he did with his eyes. She got out of the car and strode across the road. Mama Tamuno looked up and smiled, showing her spaced out teeth.

“Ah, Mummy Soji. Welcome o. Long time. Which one you want?”

She selected four plantains and a few pieces of yam, and Mama Tamuno proceeded to scrape the blackened parts off the yam pieces with her knife.

“How Soji?” she asked as she worked, her smile still in place.

“He’s fine. He dey for car. School don close so I get to carry am go market because nobody dey house.”

“Papa Soji nko? How 'im dey?”

She sighed and turned her mouth down. “Ehn, he’s fine…”

Her words were swallowed by the deafening crash, the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal. Even before she whirled to find her car under the tipper her stomach had dissolved into hot liquid. For a few seconds she could do nothing but stare at the wreckage, her mouth hanging open. Then she flew up in the air and threw herself hard to the ground, shouting sounds she never knew she could make. The only pain she felt as her body hit the floor was the one in her chest. She rolled around in the dust, images of the little, mangled body in the car filling her head and pushing burning tears from her eyes.

She felt Mama Tamuno trying to hold her, saying words she could not hear. What would she tell Laolu? Maybe if she hadn’t been so mad at Soji for wandering off in the market she would have taken him with her to buy the boli, like she usually did, and not left him in the car. Maybe if she had left for the market earlier she would have been done earlier and able to prepare dinner in time and not have to stop for boli and not leave her son in the car and not get him killed. Maybe if she wasn’t so afraid of getting cheated that she refused to hire someone to shop for her and insisted on always doing her shopping herself she wouldn’t have gone to the market that day and Soji wouldn’t have wandered off and she wouldn’t have been mad and she wouldn’t have left him in the car and she wouldn’t have caused him to die. Maybe…

She felt strong hands—Mama Tamuno’s?—grasp her shoulders and shake her. She felt her body being pushed up into a sitting position and her face being lifted. Why would they not let her cry and die in peace?

“See Soji! See am for there! See am!

Somehow, the words made it through the fog in her head. She followed Mama Tamuno’s pointing hand and saw him running across the street, raising his hands like he’d just won a race. Her baby. The tears continued to fall from her eyes, but a smile was breaking through.

Friday, September 23, 2011

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY: THE PINK CHICK

Image from here


This time he would obey mummy. He wanted to see that good smile that lit up her face whenever she was pleased with him. He liked that smile. It wasn’t like the one he had seen her give daddy so many times. And when she would smile this bad smile daddy would just keep talking. The last time he had almost told daddy, shut up, can’t you see that mummy feels like slapping you! It hadn’t happened yet, but he thought one day mummy just might.

Strapped in with his seat belt in the back seat, his legs started to shake. He forced them to be still. Mummy had said not to move. “Stay where you are, Soji. If you come out ehn, you will see what I will do to you.” Mummy had parked beside the road and crossed to the other side to buy the boli and fish that would hold them till dinner was ready. He would obey mummy today. He didn’t want it to be like that day when mummy had asked him to leave the kitchen because she was frying fish and didn’t want the oil to jump on him. When mummy had turned her back he had gone closer to the pan. He wanted to know what made the oil jump like that when they put fish in it. He put his face close to the pan. He heard a popping sound and started to marvel at it, before the pain registered and he screamed. Mummy had given him a conk before rubbing Vaseline on his forehead where the oil had jumped. The wound did not heal before his sixth birthday last two weeks, and that was why he had a dark spot on his head in all the pictures. He unconsciously raised his hand to touch his head. He would obey mummy today. If he kept her happy, maybe she would agree to buy him ice cream from Skippers. Yum.  

He looked out the window and knew at once that today would not be the day. He quickly checked to see that mummy was still haggling with the boli woman. Then he unstrapped the seat belt and slipped out of the car and into the gutter to follow the pink baby chicken that had walked past. He had seen white chickens, black chickens, black and white chickens, grey chickens, brown chickens, even orange chickens. He had never seen pink. He crept along, following the chick away from the car. If it was aware of Soji’s presence it didn’t act like it. He wondered if the chick would lead him to its mother, in all her pink glory. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends. A pink chicken!

The chick stopped, one leg suspended mid-air, cocked its head and let out a shrill, pitiful sound. It was crying! Tears sprang to Soji’s eyes as he realized the chick had lost its mother. Soji knew his mummy had bad smiles and could conk very well, but he didn’t want her to be lost. He would adopt the chick! He would take it home and feed it grains of rice and garri. It would become part of their family. A pink mummy chicken was pretty awesome, but who needed a pink mummy chicken when they had him? He inched forward to grab the chick. It tried to run away, but Soji got it. There, there, Soji thought as he smoothed the feathers of the shrieking chick, everything will be fine.

He climbed out of the gutter, careful not to hurt the chick. Mummy’s car was no longer where he had left it. There was a big tipper where the car had been, and beneath it he could just make out the red of mummy’s now squashed Kia. He looked across the street, and there was mummy in the boli woman’s arms, both of them on the floor. Her hair was scattered and she was shaking, rubbing herself on the floor. He had never seen mummy cry. He ran across the road to meet her. Maybe the pink chick would cheer her up.

The boli woman was the first to see him. She shook mummy and pointed, pushing her to sit up, to look at him. He raised the pink chick like a trophy and saw mummy slowly start to smile, even with the tears. It was her good smile. He smiled back. He knew the pink chick would make her happy. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

DECADES II ON AFROSAYS

Hi, guys.

My story will be featured on Afrosays for the Decades II project.

Decades is a series of eight short stories that is aimed at taking readers on a journey planned around a person's life in different stages, in decades. Decades I was the male version, written by a selection of talented writers/bloggers. Decades II is, you guessed right, the female version.

See our banner:


Cool, right.

Decades II kicks off Monday, 19 September, and one story will be put up every day. Follow it on Afrosays.
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