dropping ink

Joy Okwori

Writer

Creative writer, Poet and a Storyteller.

Joy Okwori is a creative writer, poet, content creator, and story teller. She is a student of Mass communication. Author of 'Journey on' a poetry collection that tells stories in poetic style. She has had her works published on several blogs prior to this time. She is also a content creator for Victor Bello Foundation, a volunteer for Caprecon Development foundation, a team member at startupgrindjos, she works with COA media. She is the chief editor at New Horizon Creatives. She's also a script writer for celebrity production. She hails from Benue state and currently resides in Jos, plateau state, Nigeria. Email Address: okworijoy97@gmail.com


Titles


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AYO


AYO

Will the colourful birds of noon cease to flap their wings, will the moon sing her a song tonight? This, Tiri could not tell, as the gentle breeze that came in through the open window behind her, blew her long black, already dirty hair off her face. Uncle Dunja had come to visit after a long time yesterday, not like anyone had wanted him to come around anyways.

Tiri wished she had not gone to open the door, when she heard the knock; because, it all seemed like a nightmare after that. He had followed her dad to the kitchen, on his way to get a bottle of wine last night. After that, this happened, and that followed.

Until he came for her. "You look more beautiful than the shy Tiri that I used to know." He touched his beards, obviously enjoying the look on her face. "You are so smart, aren't you? Trying to even run away but just take a look at yourself."

He took a step towards her. "You look so much like her now, and it reminds me of the days I used to have her in my bed. I wish to grant you the privilege of replacing her, but you are not all that smart anyways." He laughed. There was no way Tiri's angry voice could be heard.

The force of the gag held back all the words, words that she desperately wanted to spill in his ugly face. The beast! She thought. The cut on the bridge of his nose, the one her father had given him before he had fallen hard on the kitchen floor, was still so fresh. She shook her head, as she turned this way, and that way.

Her hands were held by shiny silver handcuffs, that was connected to chains that was fastened to the iron bars of her window. Each move, made her to wriggle in pain. He touched his lower lip, and raised his right brow. His darling sixteen year old Tiri wants to talk, and he'll let her, even if it's for the last time.

"You will so rot in prison; bastard!" She said at the peak of her voice. "No Tiri, don't be so rude. You should thank me for letting you talk, so those words don't give choke you." He let his tongue trace the shiny metal, and used his fore finger to play with its sharp edge.

"I will slit your throat the next time you fail to wisely select your words, before throwing them at me." "Let me go, you sick bastard!" Tiri screamed. He smiled, a smile that was meant to warn Tiri.

"You killed my mother, shot my father on his leg, leaving him to die. Isn't that enough payment for not getting married to a gem like my already dead mother?"

"I am amazed that you remember so well what I am capable of doing, yet, you still toy around with me." He shook his head, as he gave her a stinging slap on her left cheek.

"What exactly do you want from me, why don't you go ahead and slit my throat, or isn't that enough satisfaction for your evil soul?"

Tiri asked, as she stared him in the eyes. "I am Dunja, I revenge, I torment, and I will watch you suffer before I finally kill you like I killed your-"

"You will do no such thing to my daughter Dunja!" Tiri stared in shock at the figure behind Dunja. "Mother?!" Tiri gasped!

"Dunja, move away from my daughter immediately. I am not Ayo the daughter of Lamisi for nothing!" "Mother, you are alive! How?"

"Oh my darling child, death can not take me away from you." Tiri was overwhelmed by joy, and at the same time, struck by the events of the last fourty hours. The tears trailed down her cheeks.

"The bullet only brushed through my arms, I survived it. I haven't lost much blood." Ayo explained to her daughter. Her brown lacy dress, was soiled in blood. Her eyes were so red, she looked like a ghost.

Tiri stared at her mother, still looking beautiful, even when she was a total wreck. It was dark and Dunja had broken her light bulbs three hours ago, but she could still make out her mother's face in the darkness.

"Dad?" Tiri could barely see with her swelled eyes. "Your dad. He's uh-"

"I am right here beside you."

Tiri had not even felt his hands on her skin before now. The whole room was dark and she felt numb. Dayo was working on the handcuffs that held her. "So I see; love is stronger than the bullets I drove into your bones right?" Dunja was obviously confused and directed his question at Ayo.

Where had he gone wrong, how had they entered Tiri's room without a single sound to alert him? His plan was to kill father and daughter, then take Ayo his love along with him. He did fire his shot, but Ayo had run towards him and had gotten hit, instead of Dayo her husband. The second shot had driven a bullet into Dayo's leg, he had bled profusely.

He left Dayo to die slowly, and not to be up strong and breathing. The man was limping, but he had the strength of ten soldiers. He can't face a military man who is now well armed.

There was hardly a bullet, and he was fast losing strength. His attempts to kill Dayo had failed for the sixth time. There was the poison that did nothing, there was also a hired killer, but the man seemed to have something that protects him.

They were friends from high school, down to the university. He had planned on marrying his girlfriend Ayo after their youth service, but Dayo had gone behind his back to be introduced to Ayo's family.

Years have come and gone, but his life has not been complete without Ayo. There was no stable job, his dreams to even be one of the top musicians in Nigeria, had also failed.

"Listen to me Dunja, drop the knife in your hands, don't you move another step closer to my wife!" Dayo ordered him. Dunja will rather wipe out the whole family, than watch Ayo and Dayo live the life that they had denied him.

He rushed towards Ayo with the knife in hand, when he felt a sharp pain on his forehead. Ayo had shot him.

"I will always love you." He said, as he fell backwards. Those were his last words to Ayo before he drifted out of existence.

Dayo held his daughter in a tight embrace, and cried like a woman, knowing how he had almost lost her about an hour ago.

Ayo moved towards her husband and daughter. She hugged them both, the last fourty hours was a miracle. "We breathe." She said to Dayo, who stared at her lovingly.

"You are more of a soldier than I am. You handle the gun as well as you handle the kitchen." She smiled, even though she was breaking inside, seeing her husband in so much pain.

"I will clean your wounds again, before the cops would get here." She said to him, as she held his face in her hands.

"I love you Ayo."

That was the only way he could say thank you to his wife, for attempting to take a bullet in his place, and she understood him well enough.

"What is love, if I live only because I let you die?" Tiri moved away to sit down on the tiled floor of her room, an inch away from her parent.

She looked around her room and took a deep breath. Dunja had planned to take her life here, in her own room. All thanks to her mother, who had showed up.

How did her parent get into her room in the first place? She wondered. Then, she remembered the underground door in her bathroom. Goodness!

She touched the swollen places, where Dunja had hit her, and went straight to where his body laid to kick him with the little strength that she had.

"He's already dead!" Her parent chorused. I wish he'll wake up, so I can kill him a second time" Tiri wailed. "It's okay, he's not going to harm you anymore."

Her father assured her, and motioned for her to come sit with them. It was dark already, so they sat down together in Tiri's room, awaiting the arrival of the cops.

AYO


CHARMER IS DEAD!

CHARMER IS DEAD!


The sky was all blue like the calm color of the sea.

The sun was friendly, and gave the noon breeze some time to flaunt her cool attire.

I had cried for weeks but I said to myself, " today is Thursday, I can't cry forever."

I was sitting on the wooden seat of the old swing in the compound.

Away from family who were all in the living room, cracking jokes and talking about happenings around the world.

I enjoyed watching the birds hop from one tree to the other. I was playing with my thick black braids, the one that mama Iyani made for me.

I was recounting past events, while pampering myself.

It was not the footsteps that stopped me from swinging so fast, but the person walking towards me.

Murrello was smiling and swinging his hands like a happy child that was seeing mama after a long time.

With my buttocks on the wooden seat that was held by flexible chains, which allowed me to go back and forth in either gentle or fast strides, I felt that tight knot in my chest again. It was the boiling hate, that I had tried to discard for months.

Instinct advised that I calmed my nerves but the pain in me, roared to life and I didn't know what voice to obey.

He approached me with such confidence like a farmer going to his plot of land, to do some weeding and planting.

I searched with my eyes to see if there was any stone around to break those legs with.

Legs he used to go chasing after other women. He always had himself sailing into several relationships here and there.

Murrello actually irritates me, and I was sure he was ignorant of that fact.

"My beautiful one, you are as appealing to me as the hot steam from Nigeria's Jollof rice."

He said with a smile. Same smile that once caused my stomach to rumble, making my knees weak, was the same smile, that made me fume with anger.

"It is a known fact Murrello, thank you."

He stared at me with those eyes, eyes that made me lose my mind all the time but today, they had no effect on me.

"Smile for me Abiki, I am here to make peace." He begged.

I hissed. Murrello was nothing but a cheap casanova, a liar and an annoying sweetheart but-

"What do you really want from me Murrello?!"

"Your voice is loud enough to take off a roof, don't be angry with me Abiki, I want charmer back."

Charmer is what we nick named the love that we shared. Murrello failed to understand that one must concentrate on watering a tree for it to grow.

I had loved Murrello in all ways that I have never loved before. We were really happy together.

The early months of our relationship was bliss, he introduced me as his girlfriend to any and everyone.

I actually felt loved because I didn't know that Murrello also introduced other ladies, as his girlfriends, to other persons who didn't really know me.

He started displaying some 'I don't care attitude' towards me, I said nothing but reciprocated his actions as well.

I was hurting and he had not even noticed because he was busy with other ladies, ladies that will never love him like I did.

It will take him time to realize this but one day, he'll come to understand.

I stared at his face. All that I could find was a man I had never really known, a man I had wanted to love till the end of time.

A man that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but with tears in my eyes, I finally found my voice.

"I am sorry Murrello but charmer is dead."

©Joy Okwori



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EUPHORIA


There is a known euphoria, it makes you leap.

Clean palms and shiny nails denies you of this glee.

Mediocrity is mocked, poverty hides her face as you stretch.

Determination is a narrow road that leads to this glee.

Beneath the ladder of passion is nothing but brown dust.

Like a blind man with no aid, you may roam for years

until you dip your eyes into the box of your mind for the key.

A key to unlock your passion, a passion to climb the ladder.

Walk, run, climb; as a lover in pursuit of his runaway beloved.

For there is a blinding light at the top of the crooked ladder.

Fix your gaze on it, for each step beautifully illuminates you.

Though your knees be weak like that of a day old calf, climb.

Though your sweat trails down the sides of your neck, climb.

Though the ladder sways this way and that way, climb.

At the top, lies the warm arms of your heart desires, climb.

At the top, is an euphoria that makes you leap, climb.

™ Joy Okwori.

Dip your eyes into the box of your mind.


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A GLITTER IN THE DUST.


A GLITTER IN THE DUST.

"I want to live well, but not like this Nneka, not like a waste bin. I want to smile without tears trailing down my cheeks."

"Nneoma, you will live well, you will smile and your pain will be a thing of the past."

"What do I do with these boys? They will kill me before my time. I have spoken to them severally but they will not listen to me. Sometimes I am like a microphone in an empty hall; a drummer without an audience.

Ogbonna stole goats from our neighbors house, he sold it to some men who sell meat at the central junction. Now he is nowhere to be found, police men were at the house yesterday, and I was threatened; if he doesn't report himself to the station, they'll take me into their custody."

"Hian Nneoma, this is too much now. Nne, you didn't give birth to these boys so that they can take you to an early grave, they should heal your wounds and not cause you so much pain like their father does."

There was a moment's pause as Nneka stared down at her sister with so much pity. What curse was placed on Nneoma? It was from one big problem to a bigger one. Nneoma's husband had beaten her so much in the early days of their marriage. He was warned by the elders in the family to cease from doing so, but it was all to no avail. He rarely gives her enough money to take care of the home if ever he does, but he will rather go out to eat with friends, spend all his earnings on alcohol and prostitutes. Nneoma is still a very young woman yet her age was far younger than her looks due to hardship.

The teenage boys who should help change the narrative for Nneoma are now the ones making her so lean like a dried corn stick and so dark in complexion. Nneoma who was once as pretty as a damsel worthy of any palace has been reduced to nothing. As she stared at her sister, she couldn't stop herself from crying as well. "They must pay, they must pay for all these!" She hissed.

Money was not a problem for Nneka, she happens to be a successful public speaker who owns her own cosmetic company. She thought of the best way to bring her sister out of her present predicament, and an idea came to her.

"You have been in an abusive marriage for too long Nne, you should divorce your husband, and start living a good life. You have taken too much than any woman will endure in this generation. It is time to look out for yourself too. I have not come all the way from Abuja to leave you this way. We have been speaking on phone but I have never imagined that your situation is this bad. Please Nne, do this for yourself, you can help the boys only when you are helped yourself. It is the maltreatment from your husband and his family that made you lose your first two pregnancies, and these boys who are surviving must be frustrated.

They are too innocent to steal goats for trivial reasons. I will search for them until they return home but before then, I will pay for the stolen goats. I do not wish to let the police men come for my own sister. No now, there's no wisdom in that."

"You are right my sister, but I made vows to my husband on our wedding day to be beside him for better, for worse. I don't think it is a good idea to leave now, not when I have stayed back for this long." Nneoma was pale as she said this to Nneka.

"Just listen to yourself Nne, take a look at yourself and take a look at me. For better, for worse? This is not what that vow you took is all about my dear sister. Are you not tired of looking like garbage? You should be beside your husband and not beneath him!" Nneka shouted at her sister as it seemed she was not listening to her. I am married but I don't see any reason why my husband should maltreat me." Nneka was ready to persuade her sister into doing what will be best for her.

There was a sharp knock on the door, it was pushed open by Ikenna. Nneka rolled her eye balls at the sight of her sister's husband. She watched as he made his way to her sister. "Useless woman, all you have given me are useless sons like yourself. There is nothing good about you!"

"They are our sons Ikenna, and not mine alone. If you are a good father to them, you won't be throwing blames at me right now." Nneoma spoke back at her husband for the very first time in years. He raised his hands to strike her on her face but Nneka quickly held it in a flash of light.

"You dare not lay a hand on my sister, especially not in my presence!" Nneka said angrily. He pushed her away and eyed Nneoma. He left them and went out again. "What an excuse for a man!" Nneka said, obviously irritated.

Nneoma's eyes were red from crying. "I am ready to divorce him now, I will go and start afresh somewhere else" she said in a whisper but it was audible enough for Nneka to hear.

"Worry not Nne, tomorrow we'll take a flight to Abuja." Nneka said with a note of finality in her voice.

™Joy Okwori



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ANA


ANA

"I do not like the small talks that is spreading like wildfire in the neighborhood. Am I the first to get pregnant for a man out of wedlock? I did right by keeping this pregnancy, but those who go for abortions weekly, are now the leaders of this criticism, and I do not like it!"

"You worry too much Ana, let them say whatever they want to say. It was a mistake, but we are all not doing the right things in this world. Even Ochanya won't close her big mouth, is she not the sex doll for all the rich men in town? 'Twah,' I don't like that girl at all!" Ene said at the top of her voice.

"Don't worry, all of these will be over soon. This doesn't equal the end of my life. Yesterday is gone, today is here, and my sun is rising." Ana said in an attempt to console herself.

"I admire you so much Ana, you are full of hope and some rare strength for someone your age. So why haven't you told anyone who it is that got you pregnant?" Ene inquired. Ana laughed, Ene stared at her in absolute confusion.

"The one responsible for this pregnancy, is someone whose reputation I do not wish to tarnish. I can't even tell my mother! She is not happy that I have brought her hopes down, and dragged it in the gutters. Mother hopes that my life will be different from her's but look at me!" Ana used the back of her left hand to wipe the tears that stubbornly dropped from her eyes.

Ene was moved, and rubbed her friend's back, as if that will solve the problem. "You can't keep all of these a secret, there's so much that you are not saying, and aside being your friend, I am your confidant. You can talk to me! You are due to deliver this baby, and it is not wise that you keep quiet anymore."

Ana stared at Ene for a long time as if deciding if she should tell her secret or not. "The baby in my womb is for the senator's son." The tears started to drop even more this time, Ene was stunned at her friend's confession.

"There are so many senators, which one are you talking about?"

"The one who lives at Greenfield avenue." Ana bit her lip and tried to stop herself from crying, but she couldn't.

"Wait, wait, is it not the one whose son is about getting married? He has just a son, so?"

"He is responsible for my pregnancy. His wedding is next month, and I don't know what to do. The last time I tried to reach him, he demanded that I get rid of whatever it is that I currently have in my womb!" Ana broke down completely this time, Ene froze in her chair.

____________________

"Ana, Ana, Ana, wake up. It is morning, and the sun is rising already!"

Ana stood up from the bed with a start, it was Inayo her mother's younger sister who had come to wake her up. They had planned on going to the market together, but she woke up dizzy with this funny feeling in her stomach. She ran to the toilet to throw up.

"Ana, you have been acting really strange these days, are you pregnant?" Aunt Inayo jokingly called after her niece, who had so many thoughts that were rubbing shoulders in her mind.

™Joy Okwori.



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ANA


Aunt Inayo laughed so hard, wondering why her niece had suddenly become so lazy. It was harmattan and the winds laughed harder than aunt Inayo. She rushed to the other end of the room to help Ana close her window.

"Who knows if she has not caught a cold, this girl will never look out for herself. The next minute, she'll be shivering like a kitten in a bowl of water." Aunt Inayo said to herself.

Ana slowly walked back into her room, her aunt's eyes followed her every step. "How are you?" She asked a troubled Ana, who will rather choke on okra soup than answer that question.

"I am okay, it is probably fever or some reaction to what I ate the night before."

"You should tidy up If you must take your bath before we set out for shopping."

"Aunt I can't, I really don't feel so well."

"You just said you are okay, what is it?" Aunt Inayo asked with so much concern in her eyes, it looked like she was going to cry.

"Where's mother?" Ana asked, looking around her as if her mother was a mice that can fit into a corner.

"Ana, you haven't answered my question. What is wrong with you?"

"Aunt I don't know. You just go to the market, I will tidy up and I will be fine. So where's mother?"

"She left for work early, she said there are some documents she needs to print out as early as possible." Aunt Inayo finally answered but Ana's mind was in a distant place.

"Ana, Ana, Ana!"

"Oh sorry aunt, I didn't get that. What did you say?"

"You need to rest your head. Stay away from your phone if you must. I will just go out now before the sun gets too hot. I don't like bargaining under the scourging sun, the market women who are use to it, may trick me into buying at more expensive prices than I should.

"Ah, go o. You can't be buying all of those listed items when it is noon. Please don't forget to get the blender, we can't use that broken one anymore."

"Hahaha, it is the first thing on this list. Have you forgotten that we took our time to write out everything? I will even be back home before you know it." Aunt Inayo said as she shut the door behind her.

Ana heaved a sigh of relief, and buried her face in her blue pillow. It seemed like an invitation for all the thoughts she'll have to deal with. Her mother had gotten married to her father at the age of twenty two because she was pregnant for him, and not because they were in love. Her mother went for her friend's birthday party, only to have found herself in bed with her friend's boyfriend who wouldn't take his eyes off her the whole time.

According to the story she was told by aunt Inayo, her mother was just trying to find herself and was influenced by friends who had really gone wild at that time. So when he came to her and made advances, she didn't even realize he was only after her body. She just wanted to start living like her friends, not minding if it was her friend's boyfriend or not. As soon as Ana came into the world, he left little Ana and her mother.

Ana who had never felt the love of a father, was often carried away by male attention. Indeed Ana was honey skinned, her long attractive legs carried her perfect shape so well that she always got a free ride to wherever. Her white teeth casted a spell when she smiled. She was too pretty to be ignored by male folks.

Like her mother, Ana went to Lizzy's birthday party. A friend she met in her second year at the University. Lizzy was born into a wealthy family so she happened to have friends of the same social class.

When Lizzy introduced Ana to the senator's son, he had winked at her and asked her out on a date. Ana saw nothing wrong with the fact that he wanted their outings kept a secret from Lizzy. For whatever reason, it felt good that her friend wasn't in her business. The last time she had sex with him was the other night she lied to her mother that the driver was stopped by the policemen, luckily for all the passengers they were asked to run, so she trekked home. That was a lie; if only her mother knew that on that very night she was in a man's car moaning and calling out his name, her mother would have committed suicide.

Miji had refused using protective. He said he wanted to feel her and she was so dumb to have let him. Her dream came to mind again, she almost screamed. She remembered the pharmacy where Lizzy had gotten pregnancy test slip from. She looked at the wall clock in her room, it was just 10am. Should she get going immediatly, she'll get back before aunt Inayo returns. She jumped out of bed, to hell with her other thoughts.

Her last year in the university and this happens? "Oh God, oh God, no!" She was restless. Especially when the doctor had said: "you are three months pregnant, and you don't look it! You do have a great body my dear." The pregnancy test slip showed a negative test result, so Doctor Afan was her only option and looking at him now, she felt shackles tighten around her knees. She only had sex with Miji once, and that was a month ago. Three months pregnant?!

™Joy Okwori.



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FAVELA


FAVELA
We know the big boys run the town; they make the city roar and come alive. The blue disco lights decorate the streets with songs blasting from very old speakers. Cars are parked outside, some borrowed, some stolen. The ones with real owners are struggling to keep their parts together with broken rear view mirrors, almost flat tires and faded paints that won't let you identify their real color. Smokes from cigarettes are swimming in the air, empty bottles of champagne, whiskey and vodka are on the plastic tables. Eyes are blazing like fire, minds are traveling far from sanity.
See them trying to stand and at the same time, they fall. There are no children around but the young boys who were influenced are not young boys anymore. They know more than you do.The ladies? These ones have lost themselves in moments of pleasure. Life to them is drugs, sex, moans, orgasm and money. Nothing more, nothing less. Their skimpy dresses won't make a scarf for a Sunday outfit, yet they walk about in it. Looking at them, you will start to wonder why they had bothered to even put on any garment of clothing. Their breasts are mostly in full view of public eyes, this is how the weak men who claim to be strong fall into their seductive display of body parts that are no longer private.
Their best customers are the married men. Ah! Those ones have enough money to spend on them, so they are their targeted audience. This is a bar in the ghetto, welcome to the ghetto. Stone throws away is a small room standing on it's own in a face me, I face you setting. Sikel is a single mother, deserted by family and stigmatized by friends who promised to always be there. The young man, one of the big boys in the ghetto had denied the pregnancy, so she did little jobs and her wages was a means of living from hand to mouth. Though it wasn't enough to cater for herself and her growing daughter, at least they had something.
The city is alive and bubbling tonight being a Friday. She was home now, and happy that she had gotten some more money for their up keep. The little candle was the only light that dared to compete with the thick darkness.There was a knock on the door. She had no friends who came to visit, or maybe their neighbors are trying to be friendly now or could it be Bami, the guy who was fond of her little girl and sometimes helped out when he could? The knock was quite gentle and urgent. She stood up, raising her daughter's head that was resting on her thighs, to peep through the window. She could barely make out the faces, she was still skeptical if she was to open the door or not when the door was forced open.
She was face to face with some of the big boys, though these ones didn't look familiar. She opened her mouth to scream because it was never a good sign for the big boys to visit in the night. They had guns and knives in their hands. Her screams? She gulped them as the force of the gag burned her lips. Seven years old Pami was made to take off her pants, spread her legs wide open and be an altar for worship by men who had no control over their sexual urge. She struggled, she threw her arms in the air, soon she had lost strength. What strength does a six year old girl possess to fight off a muscular man? The money was taken, Pami's mother was not left alone either.She was a toy for all three men. When one tore her bra and pulled her nipples with his teeth so hard that she let out a scream audible to herself alone, the others watched. When another tore her pant and spilled his sperm all over her face, the others laughed.
The bar wasn't enough, her room was made their next party hall. A trigger was pulled, Sikel was shot in the head, Pami moved to help her mother and took the first bullet from her own father, a father she had not known, one her mother had failed to recognize cause it was night. They wouldn't stop and fired the second shot. Sikel and her six years old daughter were together in a bloody hug of eternal rest from life in the ghetto. The big boys enjoyed the flow of blood and took off to their next party hall.
Do not tell me the devil is in hell, he lives amongst men and lives in the most unluckiest of men.
™Joy Okwori


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SURVIVE


SURVIVE

She stood by the deep freezer as she enjoyed every single word of the lyrics. These days, it was rare to find a musician that one can so easily connect to. Perhaps, she was just in the mood for old school songs. Mother in-law was fast asleep in her room, baby Evans was lying down peacefully on the king sized bed, while she went back to making lunch. One will never understand how tiring it is to be on maternity leave; just cooking, nurturing baby, and doing anything that will be fun until baby wakes up crying.

She was so engrossed with clearing the dirty dishes from the kitchen sink that she didn’t notice Kafu when he walked in. “Babe,” you work too hard, see how tired you look. You should rest sometimes, and let mother help you now that she is here already.” He said, as he drew her close to have a better look at her eyes.

“Come on, I am not complaining, I didn’t hear you walk in, did you walk on your toe or something?” She asked. “No, come on! You were so busy with the dirty pot; you sure would not have heard my footsteps. So, is baby sleeping?” ”He should be, I left him sleeping about forty five minutes ago. Guess he’s having a long one today.” “Let his father go and have a quick look at him, I will be back in no time babe. Not to forget, I want to eat with you, table for two okay?” “Okay” she said, laughing at the fact that he had said 'let his father' she could not help but blush.

Kafu had barely pushed the bedroom door open when he heard a thud, he rushed in to find baby Evans lying on the tiled floor. He lifted baby Evans with care, mother was beside him in a hurry. “I don’t know what kind of woman will lay a small baby at the edge of the bed. Babies roll too often that it is so wrong to leave them alone.” His mother hissed, as she blamed Cece.

“It looks like he fell really hard on the floor, but he will be fine.” Cece ran upstairs as soon as she heard Kafu talk at the top of his voice. He had never raised his voice, not even when he was angry. Kafu stood by the door because mama asked him to go out when he started acting like a live fish in cold water. “What happened Kafu, is our son okay?” Silence was not a good answer, her husband stood in a manner that suggested something had terribly gone wrong. Cece reeled forward with confusion written all over her face, and with pain in her eyes.

He held her with his hands and drew her in a tight embrace as if squeezing the pain out of her; she sighed and began her explanation almost immediately. “I was fixing lunch, he fell asleep, and I put him right in our bed so I could finish up in time. I overhead mother asking the baby not to die. Now tell me Kafu, is our baby going to die? He cupped her face in his hands, planted a soft kiss on her forehead, drew back, and shook his head.

“No, no, our baby cannot die. He fell off the bed, his breathing got rather abnormal and that was when mother walked in. She carried him in her arms, so I left them both.” “ You left them, why? Kafu, he didn’t cry, and that’s abnormal. Let’s rush him to the hospital immediately. I know mother has done her best but a doctor will know better. I can drive, you look shaken.” She tugged at his well ironed shirt as tears trailed down her cheeks. Cece broke free from Kafu's grip and rushed into the room, he followed after her. Her mother-in-law walked up to her with baby Evans in her arms, though she held him closely, it seemed his neck was broken. For even in in her arms, it was wobbly.

Mother eyed Cece with such disdain, so much that her sobbing became inaudible. “At first I thought you were bad at most things but carelessly putting this child on the edge of the bed, has proven otherwise. Anyways, I won’t let you kill my grandchild before he is able to call me grandmother.” Cece parted her lips to say something but nothing came forth. She made an attempt to take the baby off mother’s hands, but mother pushed her hands away. She helplessly stared at Kafu, expecting him to say something but he was halfway down the stairs and she couldn’t make out what he had said. All Cece had on her, was leggings and a tank top but she followed immediately. Mother dared not stop her, it’s her baby anyways.

On the quiet but fast drive to the hospital, Cece silently cursed, and wondered how bad a mother she must be. She couldn’t stop the tears, and Kafu only tried to be a man. There was the fear that something bad had happened to their son and also the fact that there was so much pain in Cece’s eyes. As an orphan who had suffered so much at an early age, Kafu had promised Cece that he will never cease to make the rest of her days a happy one. He loved her so much, he wanted to scream at her for being so careless with their one month old baby but how could he? Not for once will he raise his voice at Cece, she did make a terrible mistake, but what would she have done differently?

The doctor confirmed that the baby had broken his neck, he fell on a hard surface and it was quite difficult to tell why the baby was still alive. Cece stared at baby Evans in his little blue overall as the doctor tried to check for any other sign at all. Cece walked out for some air, coupled with the fact that her mother in-law made breathing so difficult.

The doctor warned Kafu not to tell Cece what had become of their baby until later in the day. He explained that she was too emotionally attached to Evans, and telling her too much may mean sending her into the open arms of depression. "Although there are things I should make her understand, so it will be easy for her to cope with some of the changes." Kafu walked out to fetch his wife and came back almost immediately saying nothing. Cece wasn’t out there kissing a doctor when her baby had serious complications, no, she wasn’t out there with another man instead of him. “Hello Mr. Kafu, can you hear me?” The doctor was saying something but to an absent minded man.” “I am sorry doctor, she will join us shortly.”

On the drive back home, Kafu wouldn’t talk to Cece; she had only her baby in hand with two angry adults. Days afterwards, Evans grew lean. Kafu couldn’t deal with it anymore, he was in fact grateful that mother didn’t leave; Cece had all of a sudden become incapable. The meals she made were often too salty, too peppery, or too watery. He stayed away from Cece, his current conflicting emotions may cause him to hate his wife and he was fighting so hard. He moved to the guest room and saw his wife only in the mornings when he was off to work. On one Friday he was off to work when he mistakenly hit Cece on her right arm, he raised his head to say sorry when he realized how lean she was. Her complexion had taken a darker tone and her eyes had sunk so deep, he immediately turned away when he saw himself raising his hands to touch her face. She called his name, they stared at each other for some seconds but she said nothing as she hurriedly wiped the tears that were barely out of her eyes. She walked away, he wanted running after her to cuddle and kiss the misery from her eyes but he needed to clear his head.

A lot had happened in such a short time. He was going into the dining room when he caught a glimpse of mother as she was sneaking into baby Evans room. He was curious; he was troubled and he couldn’t tell why he felt something was terribly wrong. The thought of going through what the secret camera had captured the past seven weeks crossed his mind but he shook his head until he realized that his wife had a black eye. What was really happening to the happy family that he really wanted to build with Cece? His son’s stomach was swollen the last time he had carried him, the surge of anger he felt, would have made him strangle his own wife. “This is so abnormal mother, everything is so bad and I can barely concentrate at work.” He remembered saying to his mother three days back and all she said was: “The evil you suffer is as a result of the woman you call a wife.” He had spent the other night thinking about it, he was depressed but seeing how careful mother was so as not to let anyone see her going into Evans room, had changed his line of thoughts. He rushed to his study room and watched the whole day, he was filled with both horror and rage, he was going to pull out the woman’s tongue. Not only had his mother been the one who had deliberately put Evans on the edge of the bed to fall, she was always hitting his wife, something he had never done since he got married. Mother deliberately added water, salt, pepper to whatever Cece dished out to serve him. She had also been injecting his baby with a black liquid whatever that was though. He had believed everything his mother had told him about his wife, but as he reached into his sweater pocket to get his phone and dial the police number, he thought to himself: “The evil that I suffer is as a result of the woman I call mother.”

How can he tell Cece all that has happened, how can he tell her a lady is already three months pregnant for him all because he had wanted to confide in her as a friend? He hated the fact that he was indeed a big fool, especially when he had questioned Cece, only to discover someone who was dressed like her on that day, had kissed the doctor, and not his beloved Cece. His elder brother had called him to ask after mother, and from their conversation, mother had developed a mental disorder a year ago, no one had said anything to him about it because they felt he wasn't ready for such news and it was an explanation to all that had played out in two months. He dropped his phone on his desk and wept bitterly. Will Cece survive all of these?

™Joy Okwori



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BLIND


Dipo hates the beginning of each new day because it reminds him of the things he has failed to accomplish but yet, all he does is sit at home all day and pray that somehow, help is going to find him. Mama watches him in silence because the many times she advised him, he’ll scream and threaten to leave the house. “Don’t you want to achieve your goals, do you want to live like I and your father when there are so many possibilities out there?” Dipo had screamed at her, throwing his hands in the air, and kicking an empty bucket that was right in front of him. “I know you are tired of sharing your food with me, I will go, I will leave you here.” Mama shook her head in pain. “If this is the way you have chosen to live your life, life will build you a mountain of trouble. You should listen to my advice and work hard so you can make your generation proud.” He hissed, “mama, there’s no point saying all of these things to me. God gave me an elder brother who is doing so well in business so that I won’t have to suffer, he should send me money. After all I am a graduate with no employment from the government yet. It will be unfair of him to think only of his wife and besides, they have no children yet.” Mama is stunned at Dipo’s response. “Your brother’s money is not your money! You must never forget that, go out there and make your own money. Your brother has a life of his own to live!

Dipo says nothing but finds himself a place to sit. The stool was dirty but instead of using a rag to wipe the dirt, he draws the empty water gallon to sit on. That same attitude of not wanting to sweat so as to be comfortable, is the reason he will rather wait for his elder brother to send him money than work for his own. The backyard looked like it had not seen a broom for years. Mama’s back hurts from years of hard labor and she sometimes wishes that Chioma will decide to come live with her and transport herself to school, but the cost will be more and the stress as well. Dipo will rather complain all day in his room, and afterwards wait for mama to make something for him to eat and if she didn’t, he’ll walk to the nearest shop to get himself 'garri' and sugar. Ever since he came back from his youth service, he caused mama nothing but pain. His elder brother had wanted to be of help to him so he sent money for him to start a business but Dipo spent the money on his girlfriend, one who slept with all kinds of men for money.

As mama stared at Dipo, tears welled up in her eyes and she wondered where she must have gone wrong when raising him. He was different from his other siblings. Even chioma his younger sister had started a small scale business so as to reduce the workload on their elder brother. The neighbors were gossiping about it already because each time they heard Dipo’s voice, they feared he will beat mama who was already frail and needed more peace than she got. Mama looked at the paw-paw tree that stood at the backyard whistling as if it was trying to tell mama a secret; she smiled, and asked Dipo to pluck the brown pawpaw leaf that was almost falling off the tree. Even that, was a simple task, but Dipo complained before he stretched his hands towards the tree. Mama let the tears fall from her eyes as she couldn’t hold it back anymore. She however said to him: “Dipo my son, you are just like this leaf and because you have let your brother carry your weight, one day you will fall down. The reason is because your brother will have to carry the weights of others too, and it will be time to let go of you, but if you are wise, you will work hard to so you can become a giant tree yourself.” Mama had just said some wise words and waited for Dipo to respond. All he did was laugh. “Mama, this thing you have said, is arrant nonsense, you are getting old and you are beginning to talk out of sense, how can you compare me to a withered leaf?” Mama failed to answer him, she was breathing too fast but he didn’t notice. Even when she fell off her chair and out of this world, all Dipo said was “aha, I knew you were sleepy as to why you were talking nonsense.” He walked away to hang out with friends, using same money that was sent for mama’s treatment cause she was hypertensive. Dipo did have eyes but it was obvious that his mind was blind, and that there was a limit to what he did see.



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GOLD CANDLES



Kalia had decided to go see her friend Nimany. The sun was hot but however, Kalia walked to the junction to get a cab. It seemed the sun had chased people off the street as Kalia could see no one else walking down the same road. Thank heavens, as soon as she got to the junction, there was a car parked just before where some women had displayed bananas on brown wooden tables for sale. She jumped in and described Alaba quarters to the excited driver who was singing along to ‘you are my African queen.’ “Madam, if na drop you wan take, make we de go. Else, na to wait for other passengers o, fuel no easy to de buy nowadays.” He said, nodding his head to the beat as he held tight to the steering wheel. “How much do you charge for a drop?” Kalia asked him, hoping it won’t exceed the cash she had at hand. “Madam na just five hundred naira only, as grammar sweet for your mouth so, that one no go pass your power.” Kalia laughed, she always had a hard time dealing with rude taxi drivers, but she had no idea what to do with this funny one. “It’s okay, take me there.” She responded at last, feeling at ease. Someone caught her attention, and she looked his way, their eyes locked for some three seconds. Kalia had no idea of what was going on in his head, hers began to swell and she thought the universe had decided she was going to meet her soul mate by the roadside.

While the driver fastened his seat belt, Kalia’s lips curved upwards in a smile then downwards immediately “ah, ‘tufiakwa’ my soul mate cannot be picking his nose in public.” She said in a whisper as she turned her head to face the other side of the road. One will think the driver had heard her silent cry for he hissed and drove off immediately. The drive to Nimany’s place was rather a fast one, she gave the driver a thousand naira when she alighted from the cab, he complained that he had only two hundred naira and there was no change, she sighed and left the rest of the change with him. These drivers will always want to keep money they didn’t work for. She had failed to ask him for change before she jumped into his taxi, but would the sun have let her think like a normal human being?

Nimany sat on her bed as she folded her clothes neatly into a small travelling bag. She almost jumped out of bed when she heard a knock. She actually wasn’t expecting anyone to come visit her on a Friday. Besides, she had turned off her phone to avoid taking calls; she just didn’t want to talk to anyone at all. “Hey Nimany, it’s me Kalia, can you just open the door and stop acting like you are being haunted.” Nimany sighed. For whatever reason, she least expected Kalia to be the one at the door. The apartment was painted in orange, Kalia noticed the furniture was changed as well. “This does look good, when was this? I remember the last time I was here, and that’s not such a long time ago.”

“I just wanted a change you know, something different from the last three years" Nimany said with a smile. “Because of Kall?” Kalia asked, looking concerned. “Yes, because of Kall.” Nimany tried not to frown as she agreed with Kalia. “Men are cowards you know, they are, they really are.” Kalia said to console her friend. “I really don’t think men are cowards, I just think Kall and all the other guys who mistreated me in the past are the real cowards.“

“You are right, I mean with all that you both have been through, he goes ahead to get another woman engaged, who does that?” Kalia said in annoyance and that made Nimany cry, she started with gentle sobs then, it got heavy and almost uncontrollable. “You will be fine my friend, just let the past go and get married to the future. Who knows what may happen next? “I just want to leave town for the weekend, go someplace nice to clear head.” Nimany said, as she made an attempt to not cry anymore.

“Oh poor child, you should, you should.” Kalia said, giving her friend a gentle pat on the back. “Can you help me pack my bags? I don’t want to change my mind about this trip. By the way, how’s Greg?” Nimany asked, as she walked over to the kitchen to get two glasses and a wine. Upon her return, she discovered Kalia had put together all the clothes she had spread on her bed. Looking closely, she saw a tear drop from Kalia’s eyes and wondered what she must have said to upset her friend. “Is everything alright?” She asked in the same calm way she talks to everyone. “You asked about Greg, and I am seriously ashamed. I know he loves me, but I am just with him for the hot sex and nothing more. No one makes me experience heaven on bed like he does and recently, I met another guy Fred, he does it better than Greg, I broke up to be with Fred, turns out he lied about not being married and right now, I am alone.” Kalia broke down in tears, she found it strange that she was always sexually attracted to men and wanted to love someone but it seemed impossible. Nimany held her hands and advised her to take a break and discover herself. Kalia laughed, “I am not you! I can’t pretend to not want the things I want. I love sex, I love that one thing from a man and nothing else, men are heartless, they do not know how to love a woman outside the bedroom and I don’t wish to go outside the bedroom either.”

There was a moment’s pause as both ladies had their separate thoughts to attend to. Nimany pulled on a black jean and wore a white t-shirt on it. She took out her sunglasses and held her hair in a bon. “I will get depressed if I stay thirty more minutes in this apartment.” She said almost to herself but Kalia had heard and she stood up as well. “That reminds me, I ought to be at Greg’s by 4pm” she said. “For? I thought you guys are no longer together.” “Well, not if it has to do with sex.” “My goodness!” Nimany exclaimed. “Your goodness what? It’s definitely going to happen.” “Let’s just go already!” Nimany didn’t want to hear anymore of Kalia’s unbelievable stories.

The taxi driver smiled at Nimany as she responded to his question of where she would like him to drop her. She breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed her head on the seat. She plugged in her earphones to take her mind off so many things, but jolted back up when she noticed the driver was headed to Dabu and not to the airport. “Excuse me sir, you are headed the wrong way, this road doesn’t lead to the airport.” The man was old, so Nimany guessed he must have forgotten or was deep in thought, but the look on his face when he turned to look at her, sent a cold chill down her spine. Instead of responding to her, he increased his speed until there were no cars anymore. He drove into a deserted path and made to get out of the car, but Nimany was quick to act. She pushed open the door and ran off, not exactly sure of which way to go. “Help!” She screamed, as she ran towards a hill. There was a gunshot, Nimany turned to see why the bullet had not hit her, to her amazement, the old man fell to the ground as he held his leg and gritted his teeth in pain. She made to continue running, after all the man wasn’t dead but she was faced with a light skinned muscled man who had a mask on. “Who are you? Please I need your help, I need to get out of this place.” She begged. He nodded his head and pulled her by her left arm, “my stuff is in that car” she cried out, pointing towards the taxi. He let go of her arm and walked towards the taxi. “Are you dumb?” She called after him, he stopped in his track and for a moment her heart began to beat again but he got her stuff and they both walked in silence out of the deserted path. Whoever he was though, Nimany was grateful that a savior can exist in such a place. She was stunned at the sight of his car; the young man must have a lot of money she thought. “I was headed for the airport, I had no idea that I had gotten into the car of a ritualist, thank you so much for saving me.” She said, now bothered about the fact that he had a black mask on. In thirty minutes time, they were at the same road that led to the airport but instead of going towards the airport, he took the turn by his left. Nimany’s hands began to shake and she started to cry and for the first time, she heard the man laugh. She begged him to let her go, but he kept on driving until he came to a stop in front of a very beautiful house. He had locked her in, there was no way she could have gotten out on her own, he went to the other side of the car to help her out. He held her hand and took her in, Nimany was so scared but was even more scared of getting a bullet in her head.

She noticed the interior design of the house, was nothing compared to anything she had seen in a long time. It was already dark, where can she possibly run to? And for the first time since he had taken her out of that bush, she heard him speak “There’s a room at the other side, you can go in to freshen up, there’s water in the bathroom as well, when you are done with that, you can come down to have something to eat.” That was all he said for that day. The next morning, she woke up with a start as she remembered she had not slept in her own bed. She tip toed to the living room, praying there was a way out. Who was this stranger, and why was he so good to her in a strange way? She froze when she heard footsteps behind her, she paused and turned round to see him standing there, with nothing but a pajamas, and she swallowed hard as she beheld a god. She stammered trying to explain why she was headed towards the door, she blinked multiple times, she had never had a strong urge to kiss a man before or wrap her arms around one, and she just stood there and stared.

“I am so surprised that you can’t remember me especially now that I have no mask on.” He said, throwing his hands in the air as if almost in frustration. She narrowed her eyes and scratched her forehead using her index finger. Her jaw dropped open and her eyes widened. Khamal was her high school sweet heart, they had parted ways when he moved out of the country after high school and it was so hard to believe. “Khamal?” she took a step towards him. “Yes, that’s right. I saw a pretty lady that looked like someone I used to know, I was hoping she would have seen me but she hailed a cab and I followed behind, hoping I keep track of the car. Unfortunately, we were right there in a deserted path and I had to save her when I realized she was a victim. Scared, and waiting for the right time to reveal myself, I brought her all the way to my place.” Nimany blinked her eyes and ran towards him, he moved a step back not knowing what her intention must have been. “Hey, I have missed you after all these years.” She said, and it made him relax. “I thought you were going to punch me or something, why are you running to do things? No one is ever going to hurt you anymore, I am here now” he said as he pulled her to himself. She held his face and did what she had longed to do all the time that he was right there explaining the event that had taken place the day before. She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him with such passion that they almost had sex on the floor of the living room but he pulled away and led her to sit on the couch right beside him. It felt like he had rejected her, and her heart began to bleed again from a fresh heartbreak.

He told her all that had happened for in the past twelve years, they made jokes the whole day, he made them lunch and it tasted as good as the taste of his lips when she had kissed him. When it was night, she announced she was going to bed as she had agreed to spend her time with him instead of traveling. She stood up from the couch but he pulled her back, the spark they had in high school was still there, anyone would have seen it. He held her hand, as he led her to his room. He pushed open the door and her heart melted. There were gold candles around the bed, rose petals on the brown rug, and the ring was on a red plate; it glistened beneath the chandelier. The tears came down as he said “I haven’t seen another woman so charming, so unique, and so beautiful. Before the moon goes down and the sun comes up, I ask you Nimany to be the woman I spend the rest of my life with.” Though she felt it was sudden, she danced around the room to let the universe know that her answer was a yes. She looked around the room a second time and smiled. “The gold candles, the rose petals, how?” She asked. “You don’t need to know everything” he said, as he swept her off her feet.

™Joy Okwori.



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A ROSE FOR ADANMA.


The first time Abiola had met Adanma in a mall, he almost didn't look at her. She had the appearance of those ladies who were tagged angels on earth but later to be found displaying attributes of the devil himself. He had left in a hurry because there was this force pushing him to go and talk to her. "The son of Jide will not be found chasing after the daughter of Jezebel." He said inaudibly.

When he came across Adanma again at the cinema, he tried to concentrate on the movie but couldn't. There was something about her that drew his attention. He hissed under his breath and didn't care about how much he had paid for the ticket. He stood up to leave, but the warm smile she had given him, made his knees so weak that all he did was stare.

She walked up to him and asked to sit beside him since the seat next to him was empty. "Well, well, I was about going out to, to-" he stammered. "Going out to where?" She asked, giving him same smile that had confused him in the first place. "Apparently, you don't have an answer to that. Who will leave the cinema when a brilliant movie such as this one is just starting?" She asked him, as she chuckled.

"That's right, I just thought it will be best to watch such a movie with someone but since you are here already, I see no reason why I should leave." He said, wondering if those words had come from him. Adanma became the song on his lips from that day onward. He couldn't take his eyes off her whenever they were out together. He introduced her to friends and family. The fact that Adanma was indeed an angel, made him uncomfortable that his thoughts had belittled her.

Many fishes they say, is in the river but this one he had found was not one to be left in the market place for all eyes to have a glimpse. He had plans on proposing to her even though they had only being together for three months. Those three months to him was the best of his life, ever since the demise of his parents.

He made plans and wanted the proposal to be a surprise, but as he was right there in a flower shop trying to get a rose in which a ring can perfectly fit in, he saw Adanma with another man, walking hand in hand. That must be her dad he thought, he walked up to them to say a 'hello' but as he got closer, he realized the man was older and bore no resemblance to her father.

Adanma stammered at the sight of him. "Darling, do you know the young man?" The old man asked in confusion as he watched how Adanma suddenly became nervous. "I really don't know him from anywhere." She said almost in a whisper, but Abiola had heard her clearly. He brought out the ring from the flower he had picked and gave the rose flower to Adanma. "I was wrong, you are just like one of the others." He said with so much pain written on his face as he walked away.

- Joy Okwori.