GOLD CANDLES

dropping ink

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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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WHILE I WAIT.

by Joy Okwori, published 1 month ago

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I was once imprisoned by words whose aura is darkness. I was held down in this prison by unfriendly forces, so I sat on a stool of uncertainty as I held the moon.

I crawled through the night with gritted teeth, like one with no hope. And I couldn't dance because shackles held my feet.

Yesterday was once, today doesn't make it twice. I breakout, I don't belong to prison; the Judge said so. I smelt like rotten tomatoes, frail from tireless torture.

The Judge beckoned with open arms, and I ran with the speed of light. My accusers didn't know what crime to nail me with. The Judge knew what currency to bail me with; the blood.

Broad smiles.

Heartfelt laughter.

I dance.

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Leah

by eli-smooth, published 2 months, 4 weeks ago

The ride down the empty hill felt like a deluge. Five people cramped into an old Peugeot 504. The car jolted its way down the rough terrain and with each sharp turn, their eyes narrowed with despair.

The driver was Kelechi, a 22 year old medical student who had joined the fraternity about a month ago. His low hanging beard chiseled into his sharp jaw-line. The scar that was above his eye gave him a menacing look.

“How could this happen?” He wondered as he drove through the rickety slope. His eyes squinted a little as he swerved to avoid a goat that had moved into their path. The sudden swerve forced the engine to quake mildly and shut down.

They all moved out into the open space.

Silence lingered for a while.

“What do we do now?” Simi asked. Her dark skin glistening under the low light of orange setting sun. She was a psychology student. Brilliant but edgy; unwilling to succumb to the wild stereotypes that followed the other women in her life.

“We do nothing; we just bury the body where no one can find it” Sam whispered coldly.

Leah winced and paced the space around them, sobbing gently as she walked from side to side. She seemed the most distraught of the five. She wondered how different the day before had been and wondered if her life would ever be the same.

But it was the fifth person who seemed the most odd.

His tattoos were visible under the sleeveless shirt he had on. A nose piercing marked him out from the rest of them. He barely talked as the others encircled the empty bushes around. He just leaned on the car and peacefully disappeared into his thoughts.

“We were only supposed to scare him” Simi lamented. Her voice seemed to echo a distant regret.

“I keep asking what happened and no one wants to tell me. We were all on the same plan but as soon as I turn to take a leak, I return and find a fucking dead body on the floor. What happened while I was gone?” Kelechi asked. He seemed to be screaming at everyone else.

“Is it that important? Would you rather not have the truth be a little subdued from your conscience now?” Goni, the boy with the tattoos whispered back at Kelechi. His voice was cold, almost haunting.

“I don’t know. I didn’t sign up for this.” Kelechi confessed.

“Oh, so you think we all woke up and planned a murder and you were the only person out of the loop?” Simi asked angrily.

Kelechi looked away. His hands shaking under the weight of his deepest thoughts.

Sam chuckled slyly as he watched Leah’s wandering theatrics. He seemed calmer than he was a few minutes ago.

“The truth is right here. Whatever we say it is” Sam cuts in. The others looked at him. He nodded. They all nod back except for Goni.

“We still haven’t answered the most pertinent question though. Who poisoned the little old chap?” He asked calmly.

“Does it matter, we all know he was a dwindling, two faced monster” Leah said.

She had stopped pacing and sobbing. She seemed calmer and her big round eyes cut into her beautiful face. Sam looked at her in admiration

“We all knew that, but we also knew that the idea was to scare him and not to murder. So who amongst us had the most reasons to murder him?” Goni asked.

They all went quiet. The few seconds left between their breaths built up a reckless angst. Leah stared at each of their faces. She wondered who amongst them fits the murder type best..

Sam was a nerd.

It was odd that the frat boys loved him but underneath his queer humor and deep lingering eyes, there was no reason to suspect that he could be a killer. Leah thought. Simi was mostly indifferent; capable of the mundane but also the awe inspiring moments. Her calculative mind set her apart as the most logical of the group.

Kelechi was by matter of chance, the only one that was unavailable when they witnessed the death.

Goni was the one who seemed the most vulnerable to accusations. He had fought with the dead boy just a few minutes before the boy broke into a fit. He seemed more dangerous than anyone else and he also seemed to be nonchalant about the corpse that lay in the trunk of the car that had just stopped.

  • Simi looked at Leah from the corner of her eye. Their eyes meet and for a few seconds, they lingered on in their sanctified space. Simi felt a rush of casual emotions rushing within. She remembered their nights underneath the moon when the boys were away. She remembered every feeling and it made her question her every truth. But she also knew the other truth.

The five of them stood in an arc as the trunk was slowly being opened. The three boys straddle the body and move it towards the empty path that led one into the bushes. The rustling of the leaves just in front of them stopped them in their tracks.

A Park ranger had his gun pointed at them. The boys surrendered and raised their hands. The Ranger looked on in surprise.

“Who killed him?” He asked as he nudged the safety of the gun; turning it off.

The group stood, staring at him in silence.

“Who killed my partner?” The Ranger asked again.

This time his gun was pointed at a visibly distraught Simi.

She was overcome with fear.

“Leah, Leaaah,

She poisoned him because he raped her” Simi confessed.

The boys look back at Leah, stunned.

Leah’s face bore a look of resignation.

“Thanks so much for having my back; Lover” she said in disgust.

They boys all stood stunned. Processing both news that had crept into their ears.