Review on Kuku Damilare’s “Nearly All The Men in Lagos are Mad”

Apart from the colorfulness of the book, the title of the book is really appealing, it sparks curiosity. “Nearly All The Men in Lagos Are Mad” is a collection of 12 short stories describing Lagos women’s different experiences in their dealings with Lagos men. 

 

Lagos being one of the largest cities in Nigeria as expected is filled with a mixture of different types of people; it is a concoction of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a very big picture and this book tells a very small part of that big picture.

 

One of the arrays of things that comes with the mega-city is the assortment of men that are strategically dished out that you are bound to meet one that will leave you in amazement. This book was written for the mummy’s boys, the gigolos, the gay men who use their wives as a cover the peculiar ‘alpha male’ who, for some suspicious reason, loves to role play as a little girl during sex, the stereotypical energetic Lagos fine boy with a special interest in the city’s crackling nightlife, and all the way to the endless cheats.

 

Kuku Damilare in her book made it known that the madness is not limited to the men native of Lagos, it is almost like she is saying that it is the city that makes them mad. This was highlighted in the part where she talked about the oyibo guys (a title used to describe a light-skinned foreigner) who may have migrated to this bustling mega-city for one purpose or another. 

 

The novel provides an endless supply of laughter, amazement, and shocks. Kuku wrote the story using different narrative techniques of which the most captivating was the first-person point of view. The first-person point of view felt more thrilling because of the intimacy it carried in relaying the story, the conversational tone sets the mood for brilliant storytelling. 

 

She did not only use simple and relatable English, but she also threw in the Nigerian-English, a tasteful grammar that sounds correct to a Nigerian indigene living in Nigeria but is not necessarily correct grammar, and the Nigerian pidgin. The characters are reasonably witty and mostly relatable, giving insights into their various personalities.

 

Even though this book elicits laughter and the stories can be wild and ridiculous, it touches on certain things that happen and why these things happen, why these things seem normal to these men even though it is seemingly abnormal; the psycho-affective conditioning that impels their madness.

 

She tried to effectively relay the different kinds of socio-cultural and socio-economic structures that are supported by long-held norms. These abnormal characters of the men are the things that regulate the experiences of many women in the novel. 

 

One of the stories talked about a self-righteous pastor who believed he was celebrating the lord even while committing adultery. His hypocrisy is enabled by the fact that the wife has a perforated view of marriage, the same views that many African women have been conditioned to uphold. When her husband’s extramarital affairs threatened to pull down the picture-perfect she had built, she solely resolves to calm the storm, scared of the skeleton in the closet that might be brought to the public for them to analyze. 

 

Most of these stories brought to light the things women have had to endure just to be with most men at specific points in their lives. They have had to shrink themselves just to be with a man. This point was also made in the story of Shike Macaulay where a financially stable woman tells her experience of wounding up with a traditional man who boldly upheld the deformed standard of a regressive society. He continuously dismissed and reduced her success and financial privileges, his backdated ideals were seen to have clogged up his brain leaving no room for new ideals or even common sense to thrive, this resulted in him refusing to enjoy the convenience of Shike’s car and instead suggested the unsafe idea of climbing bike to go over the third mainland bridge. The irony of this particular story is that as much as he upholds his alpha-male-ism, he has a questionable sexual kink of role-playing as a little girl.

 

Kuku also touched on the issue of barrenness. As much as this particular topic spreads to all other parts of the nation, Kuku spoke on it in particular to Lagos as a city. Until recently where African women have begun speaking up and reacting against this deep-rooted bias, the burden of fertility usually rested on the women, hence the fault of a childless marriage automatically rests on the woman. A woman without a child was often ranked as the lowest in the hierarchy of most African households; the side talks, becoming a co-wife, and becoming a former wife, to mention but a few. The struggles a childless woman goes through are emotionally draining, this includes, and is not even limited to, fasting, prayers, tears, visiting several hospitals, resorting to herbalists, resorting to traditional medicine, visiting different prayer houses and so much more. They become desensitized to foolishness and extremely gullible as seen in Orode’s case. Orode’s husband’s uncle gave her a “pregnancy-causing” mixture to be rubbing on her “private parts”. It could be argued that her desperation dulled her sense of smell because the book described the mixture as a foul smelling mixture. The sad thing about this is that both the uncle and the nephew (Orode’s husband) knew that it was the man who was infertile. The sadness of the story did not end there as Orode’s husband also robs and abandons her later on. Her husband, Dele’s madness was spiced with wickedness. 

 

However, the book does justice to its title emphasizing the “nearly” contained in it. As much as there are many mad men in Lagos, some of them are arguably sane just like Ivie’s driver turned lover in “First Times”. As long as you expect to see anything in Lagos, you should also expect to see the good which sometimes can be more shocking than the bad.

 

Kuku’s book is very inclusive as it explains the plethora of things that could happen or not happen in the Lagos dating scene. Apart from the sad reality it brings to the readers, the book promises a lot of laughter. 

 

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

Every penny count… either as much as a million pounds or less than it. No matter the amount in figures or words, currency etc. Your money has value after all you worked hard for it.

 

Although penny wise pound foolish is about money, we are going to stir it round towards our decision making. Having that fact established we move on to why “Penny wise Pound Foolish”. I’m sure that there have been times we have all made a decision that didn’t bode well. Simply put, it connotes making decisions that in the long run that won’t be profitable. When one is focused on the immediate satisfaction rather at having an ending and lasting satisfaction.

 

Still lost… A perfect example is when you are going on a journey and you are contemplating on either using Bolt or using along (boarding a transport). Taking Along means that you won’t get straight to your destination. There will be turns and stops on the way. Meanwhile Bolt takes you directly to your destination just at a more expensive price and stress free. I’m sure many of us have had that good feeling. No walking down, no unnecessary stops etc. Being penny wise is taking the along ride to save money but in the long run, you get stressed, probably get late to the event and for a lady get her makeup ruined.

 

Hauwa was at the bus stop waiting to board a vehicle as she was getting late for work. At the particular time she was at the bus-stop, there was a lady that usually pick passengers going her route. Hauwa asked around about the lady if she had left and was told she had not been seen. She checked her time, scanned the crowd to see if the lady was anywhere close. Right in her front, a taxi packed his car to load and was calling her destination.

 

She peeped into the vehicle, saw that it was just 3 people. She jumped quickly into the vehicle making them four. As the journey commenced and the adrenaline worn off, she realized that she was penny wise, pound foolish. Have you ever been in a hurry that you just wanted to get there fast. Well… the taxi man had other plans. The first passenger came down from the vehicle thereby making the backseat 3 people. The journey continued but with the driver looking for passengers. I know many of us can relate. At a point, the taxi driver had to park his car to be able to load his vehicle after 2 more passengers came down.

 

Hauwa after coming down from the vehicle had to walk down to where she will board the taxi dropping her off in front of her office. By the time Hauwa got to the second taxi, she was exhausted and tired. The extra minutes to wait for the lady could have helped eased off the stress she experienced. Usually, Hauwa boards 2 taxi to get to her office and if she follows the woman, the lady drops her off close to her office. From where the lady drops her, Hauwa is able to walk down to her office. Had Hauwa waited for the lady, she would have gotten to the office earlier than the time she got there using the taxi.

 

Dave was approached by a friend of his about an investment whereby you bring a certain amount of money and you get triple returns. The investment was quite lucrative as it was a fast means of getting large amount of money without too much hard work. So convinced by his friend, Dave did a trial of twenty thousand naira and got forty thousand naira (N40,000). Getting double of his money within 3 days was indeed a great investment. So, Dave introduced his friends, family and colleagues to make the same investments. They all did and got double their investments.

 

Encouraged by their returns, they all decided to play big. Playing big comes with its consequence whether good or bad. Dave plunged in all his life savings into the scheme with the hope of a great return. One could see the money sign increasing in his eyes as he stared at his Online page for the investment. They all made the investments at the same time.

 

It started first with rumors’ of a clash of the website but it was declared false as the website was back in full operations. Dave and his co-investors heaved a heavy sign of relief that all was well. Three days later, Dave tried accessing the website and was told the website does not exist. He asked his co-investors if they were having difficulty accessing the website like him. Some of the responses he got affirmed his situation, some were quick to have removed part of their money while others didn’t go all in just left the money that won’t be of drastic effect on them if something was to happen to the website.

 

It became obvious to Dave that he had lost all his investment in a Ponzi Scheme. Ponzi scheme has become quite rampant. People are lured to part with their hard-earned money to invest in a scheme involving minimum of two – four people. They all meet at a website, grouped into sub- groups whereby contacts are exchanged and pay-outs are made. After the first payment, the people are also regrouped and divided into another sub-group where pay-outs are done. All this is done within week and for this to happen, more people are lured into the group.

 

One may wonder how the investors of the scheme make their money. It is obviously a clean case of using Peter to pay Paul and when a certain target has been met and more people have believed in its authenticity, the investors then have their pay-outs. After all, a man gets his food from where he works. Penny wise Pound foolish comes into play when people are only interested in quick returns rather than start a business, raise funds through contribution or family and friend, watch the business grow and thereafter get their returns.

 

We can’t also forget the Landlords who built sub-standard buildings regardless of who will be occupying the building. I remember a time I was looking for a one room apartment (self-contain). The room was tiny and the kitchen was like a tunnel with a start and ending. What would one have cooked in that kitchen. Why not use the money to build a habitable place that people will collect sharply rather than having potential tenants’ troop in and out to search for a more conducive environment. Let them get value and worth for their money after all they have the right to use where to spend their hard-earned money.

 

Everyone’s story is different and it does not have to be on transportation or Ponzi scheme etc. We will love to know more about your story and how Penny wise, Pound Foolish was enacted.

 

 

PANDORA’S BOX; CHAPTER EIGHT

DIANE’S HUSBAND.

 

Who asked you to talk to me? Do I seem stupid to you? Knowing I will likely be the first suspect, I cannot do something like that. I took her as my daughter, I treated her as one as well. I blame my wife, I don’t see why she needed house help, we were doing just fine.

 

Was it Ama? Ever since I found out about her relationship with Salem, she has had it out for me, I am not even trying to snitch, why is she being so testy, is it the guilt? I was not even judging, I have seen worse things than that.

 

I met Diane at a restaurant, she was on a call and her voice was really loud, I turned to see who felt the need to be noticed. When I saw her, I knew I wanted her. I often think I don’t deserve good things and that day I fought a war internally, I wanted her but I didn’t know if I deserved her. I walked up to her, ignoring every other warning my head gave me, and introduced myself. She smiled at me and introduced herself. Until today I can’t remember what we talked about but I still remember her expression while she talked. It felt like she was so happy to talk to me, and I can’t remember ever feeling like someone was so happy to see me let alone talk to me. We saw a few more times after that and she always had that happy expression, it made me feel better about myself, it made me feel like I was not all bad. I may have overdone it, I mean the seeing her aspect but who in my shoes wouldn’t do the same?

 

We got married and everything was rosy until she started her quest for a child, I noticed her get sadder and sadder. I wanted to do everything she wanted, everything that would make her happy, unfortunately I could not do this one. I even opted for an adoption but she said she wasn’t trying that route yet.

 

When she started hosting dinner parties for her friends, I saw a little glimmer on her face, and I made sure I did everything to keep that dinner going. Everything.

 

To the outside eyes, it was a boring group of people meeting to eat and trying to convince themselves that they were not getting old. The only thing wrong about that assumption is that they are not boring, if you knew what happens behind the scenes, you will understand that these people are a very interesting bunch.

TRAFFIC

Today had been hectic. Jada had her eyes glued to the computer screen leaving only to get water from the dispenser to drink. She had a story line she was following up. Having a writer’s block had not been easy. Her phone alarm rang … she had set the time @5.30pm in order to leave the office by 6pm. There was only 30mins left for her to close.

 

At 6pm sharp, Jada picked her bag, bade her colleagues farewell. She placed her ear plugs on and was listening to “damages” by Tems. It was a 20 mins walk to the bus stop.  It took her a while to get a bus going her direction. She boarded with several other passengers… two sat down in the front while four of them sat in the back. The back seat was so tight that one could barely move an arm or leg. The agbero that loaded the vehicle approached the driver for his payment… “Oya naaaa, give me my money”. The driver turned to the passengers “who get 100 naira here”. Everyone kept mute. One of the passengers quickly said he had a thousand naira note. The driver looked coldly at the person and turned to the agbero “naa 50 naira I get oooo. Shey, you see say change nor dey. Nor worry, we go see tomorrow”. The agbero grumbling took the money. The driver drove out of the park and into the highway.

 

The journey commenced and everyone especially those in the back seat were so eager to come down. The vehicle entered kubwa express lane and that’s how the vehicle started jerking. “Driver… what is happening, why your car Dey jerk like this. Una nor go service car before una go enter road”. The woman was complaining bitterly, she had on a long face and was sweaty. Only two car windows were opened. Other passengers started murmuring “yet una go dey blame government as the real problem. Sheyyy naaaa government dey drive this car”. Everyone in the vehicle started laughing. “Una see ennnn, in this country na we dey do ourselves. Na we be our problem. We dey wait for government to do everything for us. It get somethings when we fit do ourself”. “Like what emm… oga. The passenger from the front seat said with a loud voice. I be engineer by training. My oga dey get contracts to do road. By the time the money reach he hand, he nor go fit do anything. You think say if money dey una go squeeze una self for back. My dear no be everything we go fit do. Other Passengers nodded in agreement.

 

The driver was able to fix the problem and the vehicle was back on the road. Jada looked up and saw the unending line of traffic. Ooooh God, she sighed. She checked the time and it was past 7pm. Her neighbour by the left who had been very quiet was busy on Instagram while her two neighbors had a forlorn look on their faces. Poooon!!! Poooon!!! Car horn sounds could be heard from vehicles at the left and right side of the road. Everyone seems to be in a hurry except the two passengers in the front and the driver also. The car was going as swiftly as it could after all the driver was not the owner of the road. Luckily for everyone, one could buy bottled water to quench their thirst.

 

It’s quite dark now… The neighbor sitting by Jada left bought date palm and offered to everyone. He offered Jada and she politely declined.  Jada stomach grumbled but what can she do. It’s a mad traffic. The loud horn of a trailer could be heard and everyone knew them as king of the road no vehicle wants them at their back or worst in between.

 

Yoruba music blasting from the car stereo with nice drum beats and a melodic voice. Most likely Fuji music… one couldn’t stop but nod the head and move the feet. That’s one thing about Africa traditional music. One doesn’t need to know the language but can be moved by the beats. And don’t forget the instrumentals. They were really helpful in swaying our minds off the traffic. From the window, Jada could see several cars parked on the road due to overheating. A young lady on a white shirt and a black pant trouser the bonnet of her car opened and was pouring water on the car radiator to cool it down.

 

The driver and the male passenger in front were exchanging driving lane ideas. The driver braked sharply and Jada fell right into the arms of her neighbor on the left side of her. The vehicle was so tight as they were four seated at the back.

 

Meanwhile Jada felt the strong shoulder and the warm hands that held her. She quickly muttered sorry and sat upright. Oooo my goodness…. What must he think of me she said in her head.  Are you okay he asked… well I’m good just a bit tired. Thanks for the steady gesture. “Oooooops” that sounded wrong. Well in Jada’s mind, it didn’t matter. They had small talks which made the journey smooth. As they got to the end of the traffic, they saw what happened. A big truck had broken down. After passing the truck, the road was very free. Jada was so engrossed in the conversation that she passed her bus stop. Luckily for her, she could link her house through the next bus stop.

 

“Hello Beautiful, you seem to have left something behind”. Jada turned to check behind her to see if she had left anything behind. And instead saw that her seat mate held his phone towards her to put her number. She blushed softly and quickly typed her number. Jada came down from the vehicle and she could hear phone ringing in her bag.

PANDORA’S BOX; CHAPTER SEVEN.

AMA

 

You are judging me, right?

It was not my proudest moment but if I was to go back in time, I will still do it. It was the one time my life seemed perfect. He was perfect for me. I knew him, parts of him that no one else knew; the dark parts he has accepted, his demons, and even the bright parts he seemed not to be aware of.

We met at a very exclusive party, he was not supposed to be there, and when he saw me, I saw the fear all over his face so I smiled and told him he didn’t have to be scared, that his secret was safe with me. We kept running each other throughout the party, and I realized he was not having fun. I was a cockblock that night, and that was very laughable. 

He walked up to me at one point, and I told him that he didn’t need to let guilt make him hang out with me, he laughed and said that was not why, that he was just fascinated. I didn’t ask him why he was fascinated, but he explained anyways. He said he didn’t understand what someone like me was doing here, I told him I thought the same about him.

We talked for a long time, maybe it was the alcohol but I was fascinated, I wanted to keep talking to him, I wanted to keep hearing what he had to say. We kept in touch after that night, I got to keep hearing what he had to say, and that was what started the affair.

What? He didn’t tell you about that? I shouldn’t have talked about it.

No, it wasn’t to spite Sarah, I swear it wasn’t, but I am not stupid enough to label what happened between us a “mistake”.

I was in love, he was too. Do you know why I was confident about that? I knew his dark sides, and he knew mine, despite that, I didn’t see him any differently, and I think it was the same for him too.

It came to an end because someone else became involved, I was so stupid. I don’t think I want to talk about that yet.

What does this have to do with the murder? It ended a long time ago, now we just steal glances, and look at each other lustfully.

If you are looking for where to point fingers maybe look into Diane’s husband, it is always the innocent-looking ones, isn’t it?

FRIENDSHIP LEVELS

What You Talk About Will Increase or Reduce Your Value

 

This is the story of a young guy who doesn’t know how envious he was in the sight of others because of the kind of life he lived.  He always finds himself in the midst of other young people around his vicinity. He isn’t a dull guy but his kind of life was one of the best which made some individuals envy him without his knowledge.

 

Most times in the gathering of young men, the subject matters have always been about women, being that he is smart and associating he always gets himself in their gathering and when such a topic is been raised for discussion, he would want to chip in his idea on the subject matter but he has always been a thing of mockery to the other guys.

 

 

They wouldn’t allow him to speak, they would always say to him that he had no experience since he has never indulged in that kind of lifestyle.  He would feel embarrassed and belittled. He loves these people he is associating with and he can’t let go of them, at the same time, he can’t see himself doing what they want him to do.

 

He knows he has the capacity to do this thing but can’t see himself doing it. He made a promise to someone so important to him and dared to keep the promise but the thought of losing his pals gives him sleepy nights.

 

Surprisingly, he started considering what his pals were talking about, he started nursing the idea and finding reasons to do what they said he can’t do.  He was in a state of confusion which gave his pals the edge to convince him more and he failed so easily and subjected himself to be used by the devil.

 

A few weeks after he had done the unthinkable, they gathered as usual and they were discussing, he wanted to drop some ideas and he was still shut up, he was awed because what they know he has gone there and tasted the same thing why are they still shutting him up.  One of them said to him, just yesterday you started un-panting women, you want to give advice, what did you know about women? Have you contracted any disease from a woman before, if you haven’t treated any infection from women, Oga, sit down you haven’t started having sex.

 

He became more surprised and asked, must I get a disease before I qualify to air my option in this gathering? They all giggled at him.

Do I have a message with this story, of course, I do and I would like you to listen to me.

 

Who do you call a friend or who are your friends? How are they affecting your life? What contributions are they making to link you with those that matter?

 

Hear this, those you associate with have every opportunity to inspire or devalue you. The kind of people you welcome into your life become a watchdog that either watches to kill or protect you.  Know this, he who loves you will never allow you to go astray, and don’t see bad advice from these people as a love language. Don’t fall victim to seeking pals and devaluing your standard.

 

Don’t seek pals first instead, dare to seek a discerning spirit with his guide. You would be able to make beautiful friends that will not only help you achieve your desires but will become your family.

 

Friends are so important in our lives but hey, don’t be carried away and accept what isn’t your choice simply because you want to get closer to this person. What happens when you get there and discover something weird, would you be able to retrace your steps? Then you have lost two things at a go.

Never be in an association that isn’t like minds, and never force to be closer to someone you haven’t understood his or her ways about. Don’t be in a rush to step into any kind of relationship with a person you barely know. It might hurt you more than you think.

 

 

Lastly, when building a brand for yourself, you must be very careful with those you tell your dreams to. Stop sharing your ideas, knowledge, or connections with those who just stepped into your life, it isn’t good, it is foolishness.

 

Learn how to monitor those who claimed to be your friend, most times they aren’t there because they want to or because they cherish you but they are seeking any chance to backstab and steal from you.

PANDORA’S BOX; CHAPTER SIX

SARAH’S HUSBAND.

You want to know how Sam knows me, don’t you? I will save that for later.

When I saw Sarah, I knew she would be the perfect plus one, she was smart, ambitious, shallow, attracted attention, and liked the better things in life, but most importantly she was aloof. She was exactly what I needed.

It surprises me how much Sarah can pull off being smart and stupid at the same time; sometimes I suspect she knows something but then she proves me wrong.

Is this about the murder? I know nothing about it, I know nothing about the girl in question, there is no way we are connected; okay, there is a way, but not enough to want her dead, there were other ways to keep her shut. When the scream came, I was just as shocked as the others.

I hated Sam, probably because of the way we knew each other or the fact he acted so self-righteous and judgemental like he wouldn’t do the same if he was given a chance; sadly, people like him don’t get the kind of chances people like me got.

Whenever I was around Sarah’s friends, I felt like the most important person in their means, I am not even going to deny it, it is a good feeling. The only other person that radiated so much power was Sam’s wife and I admired her for it, I also admired Sam a little because, for someone that was spineless, he needed that.

Sarah on the other hand gave me the ick, she was always wanting to be the center of attention and I imagine she thought she was being subtle with it. She wasn’t because I was not the only one noticing it.

Ama, as beautiful as they come. She was smart but not in a show-off way, she listened like you were giving her the recipe for immortality, she was relatable, she was enthusiastic, expressive, and deep in ways you didn’t know people could be. Those kinds, they don’t make those anymore.

She was once the only good thing in my life, and I wasn’t good enough for hers but I didn’t care. Sam knew.

Love Levels

I have been thinking about how to make him abide by this law then I adopted this beautiful plan and initiated it.

 

He has been my friend; I would say that we are dating. It has been fun and beautiful.

 

This guy was the talk of the town, he was facially handsome and of course well endowed. I haven’t been with this kind of guy before.

 

The journey into this beautiful realm was coated with milk and honey, we hardly raise our voices on each other, we respected ourselves, and never wanted a third party on our journey.

 

If we have issues, we will settle them amicably and face the next phase of life.

 

But there was something that really disturbed me about him, I had noticed it and called his attention to it.

 

I did my best in letting him know the danger he was about to step into and for the love we shared, I protected him with everything within my capacity.

 

He never sees reasons with me to change from that which he was doing. It was becoming obvious and people were complaining, I bought books that will help him eradicate that attitude but he never opened them.

 

I was totally out of ideas; I have calmly informed him of the danger of what he was doing but nothing changed. I broke a rule in our relationship and raised my voice to him but all efforts were proved abortive.

 

I was at a restaurant eating when this thought popped in and I nodded and went almost immediately to initiate it.

 

I picked up my phone and called him.

 

Hello, babe, I would like to see you this evening, I gave him a location of where we will meet and ended the call.

 

A few hours later, we were at the location and after we have finished eating, I never wanted to pull the trigger, I became calm and was pressing my phone.

 

He tapped me and requested to know why the sudden outing. I hissed and faced my phone, I was crying bitterly within, I know it won’t be easy for me either but then I have to give something out to get something I needed most.

 

He became awed at my reaction and repeated himself, this time I have gathered enough strength to let the cat out of the bag.

 

Well, I know you might be awed about this I am about to say but I want you to understand that I am doing this for your sake. It won’t be easy for me too but at this juncture, I want to pause on this relationship.

 

His mouth gapped and tears started rolling down uncontrollably. Babe, are you serious right now? he questioned.

 

I nodded and kept calm.

 

Why are you doing this, what are your reasons? I promised to make amends of whatever it was. Remember you said you won’t hurt me, now you are killing me. Please, babe, look into my eyes and tell me you are joking.

 

Well, I wish it’s joke, you remember what I told you about this attitude of yours you won’t change, I have tried enough to see you through this hard time but you never wanted to accept the truth and make amends, now I am done.

 

I stood and left with tears on my eyebrows.

 

We stopped communicating even when he called, I will not take his calls.

 

After 5months of our breakup, I decided to chat him up on WhatsApp. A few lines of words were dropped in his inbox.

 

I became surprised when he responded and pleaded to visit me for the last time which I obliged.

 

I invited him and we started talking, he was the one who began to talk and he was praising and thanking me for taking that bold step. he said when I went home, I cried and, in the morning, I sat myself down and began to talk senses into myself.

 

If you don’t truly love me, you shouldn’t have done what you did and I am totally grateful to you for making me a new person.

 

I was astonished, I never believed it. This was someone I thought I hurt; I was thinking he will put my name in his black book but here we are.

 

I hugged him and kissed his forehead.

 

Sometimes, petting and loving him doesn’t solve the predicament. Break up with him, if he has a sense, he will retrace you and reconnect with you when he knows the truth.

 

“Motivation does not come by feeling; it comes from action”

PANDORA’S BOX; CHAPTER FIVE

SAM’S WIFE.

 

First of all, I hate when people address me as Sam’s wife, it makes me feel like I am not my own person. My name is Agatha and I will like to publicly state that I am smarter than that whole friend group combined. My husband is kind but being smart has never been his forte. They think they hide their emotions well, but they don’t.

 

The things I noticed on the first night we hung out, Diane likes being the mama bear, but she is not enough for herself let alone a whole group of people. Sarah is highly competitive, it makes her focus on what is on the outside and she does not see what goes on right under her nose, because her husband and Ama have definitely had a thing or are still having a thing. Zainab on the other hand, asides from being a pushover, might actually have a little bit of fluid in her head; she is really difficult to read. And before I forget to add this, my husband is clearly in love with Ama, I see the way he moons over her he might be too cowardly to act on it but I cannot take my chances.

 

I have always wanted a friend group but while I was in school I could not keep one because I always called out their bullshit and for some reason, human beings cannot stand being told the truth, it’s like they lie so much to themselves if you hold a mirror up to them, they scurry away. This is why I have held my mouth with these ones.

 

Ama is not this self-centered bitch she wants everyone to see her as, she makes wrong choices, and she shies away before she faces the consequences of choosing wrongly. She, however, also holds a lot of secrets, it is so obvious in the way she is always skittish, talks less but talks fast whenever she does talk.

 

That night she was pale; of course, my husband noticed it and he got worried, I got worried too but worried that my husband will go running to be her knight in shining armor so I was extra clingy that night. I felt the irritation seep out of him, but I was not going to let up. 

 

I was distracted for a brief minute and my husband took off to be by her side. Not today Satan, because I was by his side faster than a fat kid could swallow a burger. I noticed his disappointment but when you have been made to fight for everything you need in life, this feels like a piece of cake in comparison.

 

When that scream came, I was confused, I was too focused on my husband’s movements that no other thing mattered. It felt like I was in my own bubble and that scream popped it.

 

Just like everyone else, I rushed to see what it was about. Sam, ever kind, ever weak Sam, of course, he started panicking. I tried to be there for him, I tried to ground him, I knew he was scared shitless and a part of me was happy. I was happy to know he needed me, it didn’t matter the circumstance. He needed me and I was there.

THE MYSTIC RIVER continued…

On the table was a plate of fufu with egusu soup with Kpomo, assorted goat meat. Papa Iyore cleared his throat as he delved into the meal. Footsteps could be heard from inside the room. ‘Iyore, is that you?” Papa Iyore called out. “Yes Papa, Iyore replied. “I am preparing the items for the festival tomorrow”. Iyore walked up to meet her father and knelt down to greet him. The lamp light shone on Iyore. She had grown to be a beautiful woman. Her breasts were round like that of an orange and hips were fully rounded. Her face was like that of an angel and her dark skin glittered as the lights shone on her. No wonder that she was the envy of the maidens and the reason why the young men kept flocking around Papa Iyore’s compound. At a point, they became his helpers. Papa Iyore sighed. Truly he was blessed.

 

“Make sure the kolanuts, the white native chalk is added to the items. We are truly grateful to Olukun. The white cockerel is in the backyard, don’t forget to add it”. “Yes Papa, I will not forget to add them”. Iyore responded with a smile on her face. Her smile was indeed radiant and dazzling. Iyore did the necessary things and laid down to sleep. At the sound of the cockerel, Iyore woke up and found out she was thoroughly soaked like she took a swim in the river. This was a frequent experience and she couldn’t bear to let her mother know. The only person she told was Asake who was her best friend.

 

The other houses were already busy at the first cry of the cockerel, the day was a bit dark but most houses were lit with the bush lamps. Olukun was a most revered deity, hence everything had to be in place in order not to incur the wrath of the gods. Sounds of pestle hitting mortars could be heard. Food was being prepared down as the festival could take the whole day.  Iyore stood up to help her mother in the kitchen to prepare the meal. It was already daylight as Iyore and her mother finished preparing the meal. The long procession to Igbange River had already started.

 

Igbange River was the homestead of the Diety Olukun. It is rumored that at night that the sound of drum beats, singing and dancing could be heard. A hunter who went to set trap at night near the river claimed to have been a witness as he saw the Priestess dancing with the spirits living in the river. He ran out of fear of being seen as the river was known to have swallowed people up. Igbanje river towards the end of the year usually draws people towards their death. Till date, the bodies have never been found.

 

Iyore and Asake were amongst the procession to the river. Suddenly… a cold shiver ran through her body. She felt like she had been at the river before. Asake noticed her shivering and asked her if she was okay. Iyore nodded to reassure her. The worshippers all wore white apparel with their gifts in a basket on their head. The Priestess stood at the mouth of the river to receive their gifts and also bless them. She was adorned with white with designs on her arms, legs and her hair adorned with white cowries. Her eyes drifted round the crowd and fell on Iyore. Iyore felt it and looked up, the moment their eyes met, Iyore had flashes of memories of which she couldn’t understand. Her body had currents flowing through her. Asake noticed the change and followed Iyore gaze. She had heard rumours that Iyore was connected to the Priestess but didn’t believe it. The Priestess smiled and continued blessing others.

 

Iyore averted the Priestess eyes as she quickly dropped her gifts and fled. Asake ran after her. Blinded by her emotions, Iyore entered the river. As Asake tried following her in, she met an invincible barrier. Iyore looked onwards with tears in her eyes as she knew she will not meet her family and friends again. How was she to know that her day was going was to turn out this way. Her parents had always told her never to step into the river because she will be lost from them forever. She would have told her mother and father she loved them and also profess her love. The loud voice of the Priestess could be heard “The River Has taken its own”. In that moment, Iyore heard someone calling her name. So, she turned and, in that moment, she knew where she was going to every night and while she was always wet when she woke up.

 

Papa Iyore felt the sign and knew that his daughter had been taken. Iyore’s mother could do nothing but cry silently knowing that she will always see her daughter on Olukun festival. It is said that Iyore’s voice could be heard singing every night from the river side. It is even claimed that she and the Priestess communed with the gods every night. Their waist and hips moving symmetrically with the beats of the drum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PANDORA’S BOX; CHAPTER FOUR

SAM

 

I liked Ama but on her best days she was detached and on her worst days she acted selfishly. I often wondered what had happened to her to make her act the way she does. I had tried severally to get her to open up to me but she hates talking about herself, the irony is that everyone thinks she is self-centered. 

 

Ama is one of the most beautiful people I have seen, she carries herself with pride and nothing anyone else thinks of her matters to her. She was available for the people she loved and if you wanted someone to go to their grave with your secret, it was her. She had a bond with Sarah and I am aware that the bond is strengthened by a secret that no one else knows; nothing else can explain why she still turns up for Sarah despite her being a horrible person.

 

I have been in love with Ama since I got to know her, unfortunately, she made it obvious by her attitude towards me that I will never get to know all of her, I will never get to just enjoy her for her and I will be lying if I said I am not scared of what I may find out. That was why I convinced myself that we were better off as just friends.

 

We still kept in touch after school, she talked to me about whatever new person came into her life, and somehow, even though selfishly, I was glad she never got serious with anybody.

 

I always had mixed feelings towards these dinners and I never really understood why until that night. 

 

The first night I attended the dinner, I saw Sarah prance in with her husband in her usual show-off attitude. In case I must have forgotten to mention it, I hate Sarah and everything she is about, it felt like I was the only person that could see through her facade; the constant need to be the center of attraction, the need to be the most loved, the need to be the most noticed and the need to be better than every other person. She was a brilliant person but I always had the feeling that it was her need to be in the spotlight that fueled it.

 

When she came in with her husband, his face looked very familiar but I could not place where I knew him from. I told him he looked familiar but he denied ever meeting me. As much as I loved going for these dinners because I loved looking at Ama or being close to her without feeling like I was being sneaky in my marriage, I was always bothered around Sarah’s husband, which made me uneasy. I hated that I just could not place him.

 

That night, I noticed how uneasy Ama was, I could barely pay attention to any other thing going on in that house. I saw her walking into the bathroom an abnormal amount of times. The last time she walked in, I followed her hoping to find out what was happening but my wife came in with me. She was clingy sometimes and it irritated me.

 

I pretended I wanted to check on Diane and changed my mind, we went back out to join the rest. 

 

A few minutes after Diane came in, while I was still looking at Ama to figure out what was wrong or to at least catch her attention and maybe mouth to her asking if she was fine, I heard the scream. I don’t know what it was but it was at that moment the answer to the question that has bugged me for months came; I remembered where I knew Sarah’s husband from. 

 

If one thing gives me the shivers, it is seeing a dead person; it is not even a feeling I ever want to get used to. That being said, I don’t think I should be judged for how I reacted that night.

THE MYSTIC RIVER

Beads of sweat scattered across her face. She kept turning sideways… her legs stretched out on the mat furiously shaking. Her hands were held down at each side. Billows of smoke filled the air as the priest moved from each end of the room making incantations. Neighbours gathered round the house as this was a frequent experience. The women were consoling the mother. “Mama Iyore, she’s going to be fine”.

 

Mama Iyore freed herself from the clasp of her neighbours and started rolling on the floor. The wrapper on her body almost fell off if not for neighbours who quickly held her down. “Why is this happening to me, she cried out loud. This is the only fruit of my womb after loosing several other children. She looked upwards to the sky with tears streaming down her face “OLOKUN, she cried out loud. Why have you done this to me”. She bowed her eyes down with more questions lingering. The fear of the gods was so powerful that one had to be careful of words and utterances.

 

The Jingling sound of anklets could be heard. Voices accompanied the jingling sounds. The people in the compound gave room for passage for the procession. Standing in the centre of the procession was a woman clothed in white. Her exposed hands and legs were covered with native white chalk. Her hair had cowries intertwined and woven together. She was covered with white regalia which was tied round her chest. Her neck beads were white as it is a known symbol of the Diety Olokun.

 

Surrounded by other maidens in white, she walked towards the hut with her staff which is a symbol of her authority. Mama Iyore looked up with hopeful eyes as the gods had heard her prayers. The Priestess stood in front of the entrance to the hut. Suddenly… she turned around, her eyes were like snow balls of fire, she looked at mama Iyore with a piercing gaze. Tiny shivers ran through Mama Iyore body. The Priestess took 2 steps backward and forward and swirled around. The spirits had taken hold of her. She ran swiftly to the back of the house as her maidens ran after her. She stopped at a particular spot and a white cockerel was handed to her.

 

Heavy incantations filled the air as with one swift move, the cockerel’s neck was broken. Iyore screamed out loud from the room, calling out for her mother. The priestess took hold of a hoe and hit it on the very spot where she stood. Papa Iyore who had been surrounded by the men of his age group, took up the hole and started digging. Under the hot glaring sun, Papa Iyore dugged until the blade of the hole touched something. He dug furiously and brought out an item wrapped in a black clothing. The Priestess while muttering incantations stretched out her hands and Papa Iyore placed the item on her hands. The Priestess turned and her procession followed her out of the compound.

 

Mama Iyore ran inside to meet her daughter who was vehemently asking for food to be brought to her. Mama Iyore planted thousands of kisses on Iyore’s forehead as her daughter was hale and hearty. Sympathisers were happy as all seemed well with the family. The men patted Papa Iyore’s back as a sign of congratulating him for doing a great job.

 

 

To be continued…
This is purely a work of fiction. Not all parts are entirely true.

DÉJÀ VU: My PVC Story.

January 2015.

Ojota, Lagos State, Nigeria.

 

This was my bit; my own little drop of water that added to the flood of 2015. Not the disaster that killed more than 50 people in about eleven states and rendered about 100,420 persons homeless between August and September of the same year. No, not that one. That flood could not displace a sitting President.

My drop of water supplemented the forceful political flood that overran a running sitting President. That political flood, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, internally displaced an incumbent President.

This is My PVC story. My Permanent Voters’ Card story which I first wrote down in 2015, after I got my PVC.

 

 

The first Punch flew past my right ear pulling along with it a whirlwind. I had titled my head to the left just in time. I would have had to go back home with one ear only, my left. The Punch was fierce enough to chop off a tree branch. It would have been very easy to lose my right ear to it.

My Yoruba was still an infant so I did not understand everything that was said. One of them spoke in pidgin, “I go fall this canopy Jos now everybody eye go clear”. The atmosphere was quite fiery.

 

I’m still in awe of a woman’s strength because, a woman, a pregnant woman in a small frame, was all it took to end the sizzling war. She simply sat in front of the chaotic crowd and kept on yelling ‘make una see me o’. That seemingly simple move tamed the storm.

By the time the dust had settled, I found I was a few places ahead in the queue. Most people were too edgy to retake their exact spots just before the scuffle ripped the peace of the distribution Centre apart. Lucky me; well, I was half lucky and half calm. My calmness helped me see that I could simply advance undisturbed, while some other people were still trying to settle what was left of the raging dust.

 

As if luck had not done enough for me, I simply stretched out my strong right arm over a bead of heads, then, “Rafiu” I called out, he looked up at me wearing surprise across his face. I heard him being called earlier by his supervisor so I took advantage of that. I took a shot.  “Rafiu help your guy na, you want make I sleep here abi?” I said to him.

I filled out the form Rafiu eventually gave me for not having my TVC – Temporary Voters ‘Card, and handed it back to him. He passed my pale PVC across to me. I signed, thumb-printed and said to myself “I’ve lost one thing I share with the Sultan of Sokoto”. I had read in the news that he, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar III, could be disenfranchised for not having his PVC unless something was done urgently. We shared that uncomfortable position until I got mine.

 

Yes, I finally got my PVC after the war that almost claimed one of my ears, and I prayed for the Sultan to get his, so we can have something in common again.

The Presidential election, the Nigerian political flood of 2015, eventually took place on the 14th of February. In 2015, I and some friends called that month ‘FeBuhari’, literally translating to ‘love Buhari’ or ‘want Buhari’ in the Yoruba Language.

 

We, the FeBuharists, have passed through eight years, each one running roughshod through us. Nonetheless, another February was wooing us by the side. 23rd February 2019.

In 2019 however, I was on air on the Presidential Election Day, with Mr Enwereji and others, on 93.7 Wazobia FM, Onitsha. It did not matter that our votes did not count, after all, we were rendering ‘essential services’.

 

 

Fast forward, to January 2023.

Life Camp, Abuja, Nigeria.

 

It is déjà vu. I had been in this same situation eight years ago. Only a slight difference, actually, a lot of difference. A peaceful atmosphere made all the difference.

In 2023, even though I am to go on air, on Citizen FM 93.7, on Election day, I had said to myself that my vote will count.

Because I moved to Abuja, my new city, I had to transfer my PVC so I could vote. Again, I needed to visit the polling unit from where I initiated the transfer process to pick up my Card. It was like reliving my past, albeit differently. It was some sort of déjà vu.

 

Interestingly, no quarrels, no fiery arguments, no wars; just a cluster of orderly ordinary people trying to get their cards. I kept on advancing until it was my turn. In less than five minutes I had my PVC with me.

The same month, same circumstances, eight years on, but the conversation had changed from being FeBuharists. What are we now? Well, hopefully, my little drop of water will yet again obediently add up to the 2023 political flood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PANDORA’S BOX; AMA

Everyone thinks I don’t care about anyone but myself, well, they are right. I could not be bothered by someone else’s drama, which was why I kept to myself. 

 

The dinners didn’t really mean much to me but it was okay; I didn’t care if it happened or not but I had fun whenever it happened. I have not been able to keep a steady relationship with any man, like I said, I hate getting caught up in someone else’s drama and they sure bring a lot of drama.

 

I was first friends with Sarah, we knew when we were teenagers. We were off and on friends but we’ve been there for each other when necessary. We grew apart in university but something only both of us knew brought us together. I saw her make other friends and I was glad she was doing okay, somehow I ended up becoming friends with her friends.

 

Sam came as someone who wanted to date me but we realized soon enough that we were better off as friends, till now I don’t really know if he managed to put that in my head or if I really thought that. Sam was protective of me; he was a natural mother bear and has always told me that he didn’t think Sarah was good for me.

 

I noticed the little squabble that went on between Sarah and Zainab over Diane and I thought it was really funny because Diane was not all that. Sarah could not even tell Diane the biggest of her secrets so I didn’t understand why she struggled to be the number one in Diane’s life.

 

Zainab was cool, I wouldn’t go out of my way to hang out with her but when we hung out, it was nice and I felt she was the least shallow among the girls. If I was being honest, I liked her more because she made Sarah feel she was not enough with Diane. I know how it looks, like I hate Sarah, right? I don’t. I just hate that Sarah jumps from person to person depending on how much she could use them. Her reasons for friendship have always been selfish. I can bet that if Zainab was not in the picture she would have stopped being friends with Diane. Despite what I knew and how I felt, I was still friends with her, we had a bond. 

 

That night, I was uneasy, in retrospect, that was my gut feeling telling me something bad was going to happen. I couldn’t wait for the night to end, I had to visit the bathroom so many times because I was having anxiety. When Diane said she was not feeling so well and needed to lay in a little, I was happy because I just had to pretend to play for a little while before making up an excuse to leave. 

 

Sarah went inside to check on Diane and I went in to use the bathroom again. I did my business and came out, shortly after, Sarah came out and that had me a bit surprised, she came out too soon. I knew how to mind my business so I did not ask.

 

A few minutes later, Zainab came in and went straight in to give Diane the drugs. She wasted a lot of time and I could see Sarah getting uneasy and checking her wristwatch. After some time, I was no longer paying attention to the room because the queasy feeling had increased. 

 

Until the scream came. That scream became the bane of my existence. when the nightmares started, I heard that scream right before consciousness. I was the first to reach the bathroom when the scream came, everything I felt intensified when I saw the body and before I could even think it through I threw up all over the floor, it was then I understood what the feeling was all about.

PANDORA’S BOX; SARAH.

I’m an extrovert and according to some people, a social butterfly. It’s not always intentional but people get drawn to me. I met Diane when I went to meet a friend; she was sitting on the same bench with my friend and she was laughing at my gist even though she was pretending she wasn’t listening.

I jokingly told her I was aware she was listening and she started laughing out loud. I introduced myself and she did the same. Before I left she asked for my number and we started texting. I liked her, I like shy people, they usually feel like a challenge to me. 

We gradually became close and it felt nice. We went everywhere together and we stayed over at each other’s place a lot. Just like every other friendship I got tired of her being too present, I started hanging out with my other friends. She’d call and I’ll either ignore or text her that I was in the middle of something. 

Coming to Diane’s little dinners was not because I enjoyed them, I just loved the drama and that I could rub it on everyone’s face that I had a perfect life. A rich tall husband, beautiful kids, a nice job, and I am not as fat as every other postpartum mother. Also, for some weird reason, my husband got really hot after each one of these dinners, which was nice.

For some reason, I cannot remember and I do not care to remember, I have always hated Zainab. I have always thought she felt better than the rest of us. Even though grown, I do not feel any different.

I met Zainab through Diane; when Diane and I had that little break, she started hanging out with Zainab. I understood later that they had been friends before I became friends with Diane but I still hated that Diane never felt bad that we stopped being close, she just moved on to the next thing. I thought I needed space from Diane until I saw her moving with someone else and I just realized I was scared to be left so I decided to leave first. I missed her and I requested that we talk. I explained myself to her, we talked at length, cried in between and I promised to be better. We started hanging out again but somehow Zainab still had to be there. I always felt like I was struggling for a spot with Zainab and I hated that feeling but that did not stop me from trying to get that spot, I just felt this desperate need to outdo her.

I have always been friends with Ama and Sam, I really cannot remember how everything happened but we became a clique. We planned outings together, we went to most places together, and if there was an event, we were there together.

You would think Sam will feel awkward being the only guy in the midst of so many girls but he never did. He was our voice of reasoning. Even though male, he always acted like a mama bear, overprotective.

That night, Diane looked pale and she was not as lively, I knew something was wrong and I wanted to ask her but I did not want to do that in front of other people; I had to wait till I got her alone. So when she said she was not feeling well and needed to go in and lie down, I planned to go ask her later. I hated it when Zainab offered to go get medications, it made me feel like that university girl that was struggling for a spot. When she left, I went inside to check on Diane but she either could not tell me what was wrong because her husband was there or because it was not something she was willing to share. I left her and her husband to join the others and shortly after, Zainab came back. I checked the time she got in there, somehow I felt if she stayed longer then, Diane was telling her what was wrong even though she just refused to tell me.

She entered at 10:02, it was 10:26 and she was not out yet. Before I could get jealous I heard a piercing scream and everybody ran inside to see what was going on. I was the last to arrive at the scene but when Ama started throwing up, my heart sank, I knew it was horrible even before I saw it. I did see it eventually, but I was just numb, I kept looking at it.

PANDORA’S BOX; ZAINAB.

It all started with a little dinner with friends.

No, I don’t think that was where it started. But that was the Trojan horse that piggybacked the remaining issues.

 

Diane was a great cook and a good host, she loved doing most of these things and sometimes I thought she was just lonely but what do I care, I enjoyed the meals.

During these dinners, we played games and drank a lot. Now, Diane has a house help who is not noticeable but not in a bad way; she is as quiet as a mouse and does not have a memorable face. Apart from getting things like napkins or drinking water, she did not do much during the dinners, we did not see her much or I did not see her much.

On this particular day, everything felt normal; we ate and played games, laughed, and made small talk, mostly gossip from our workplaces. My husband often said I turned into a tattletale when I am around them.

 

I met Diane in my first year at the University and we grew apart in the second or third year when she met Sarah. I was really jealous then, we were so close, we shared everything and I knew I would do anything for her except kill somebody. I could not say the same about Sarah, she was a social butterfly and sometimes it was hard for her to keep up with all her friend groups and sometimes she neglected Diane. I might be quiet and seem a bit aloof, but I am very observant, and as such, I saw how unhealthy Diane’s relationship with Sarah was. I never approached her about it, I was very mad at her; how dare she leave me for someone who could not commit to her? 

 

One day while I was in class, Diane came to me crying and blubbering. I could not understand what she was saying until I managed to quieten her. She was upset about how Sarah treated their friendship. I could not comprehend everything she was saying because I was too busy reeling in the fact that nobody could be there for her as much as I could. We became close again and Sarah was a closed chapter for a month before she surfaced again. I was extremely mad but I have never been one to have a very obvious emotion. I got to understand from different situations that Sarah and Diane were a package deal, I would not be able to have one without having the other so I went with it while secretly hating Sarah, and sometimes I felt the feeling was mutual. Being the social butterfly, Sarah somehow led us to Ama and Samuel. I liked Sam, he was the only one I thought shared the same feeling I had toward Sarah and he was the one that paid attention to me. Ama, on the other hand, did not care much about any other person, I did not blame her; if I were that pretty, I would not care much about anybody but me too. I liked Ama and tried to get close to her on a few occasions to get Diane jealous. While Ama did not care if we talked or did not talk; I mean, she was available but she did not care much to reach out when the next person does not, the plan to make Diane jealous worked.

Diane was a spoilt, lonely child who loved to control situations, I knew she getting jealous when it felt like we were drifting apart was not because she loved me but because she needed to be at the center of all things. I was okay with that, I still felt important nevertheless.

 

We all left school, still friends and even though we drifted to get our lives together, somehow fate brought us back together and we had these dinners twice every month with our respective spouses and Ama with whichever man she thought deserved her attention that month. We had grown in different aspects but I knew somehow they were all still the same kind of people, waiting for the trigger to show their real selves.

 

That night at some point each person left to use the restroom as usual. While we were playing card games, Diane said she was not feeling well and went in to lie down, I offered to drive out and get medications and her husband offered to stay with her till I got back. Every other person kept playing games till I got back. 

 

Diane has been trying to conceive, she is the only one in the friend group without a child and I cannot imagine how lonely it must be for her. Even though these dinners leave me drained, I still go because I understand how it must be nice for her to have people around once in a while. 

I came in with the medication, I sat with her for a while and decided to pee before joining the rest.

 

That was when I saw her house help whose name I later learned was Ruth. She was on the floor with the curtain cord around her neck. I did not need an expert to confirm she was dead, I have seen a dead body before and that was definitely what it looked like. I screamed and everybody came rushing.

 

She was murdered by someone inside the house that night. 

 

There were different reactions, Ama threw up just outside the restroom and I remember thinking facetiously who was going to clean that up since the person who was supposed to do it was lying dead. 

 

Diane was a mess, she was on the floor crying. Samuel was panicking and his wife was trying to quieten him, it was such a pathetic sight. Ama’s newest catch was holding her hair back in case she wanted to go again; I am sure he was looking forward to a night of intense lovemaking and not seeing a dead body. Sarah stood, hands folded and expressionless, her husband was pacing. I felt like I could not do anything other than stare at every other person who was not the dead body. Someone among all these people killed this girl and I wondered who was inhumane enough to do that.

 

My husband called the police and like that, Pandora’s box was opened.

NIGHTMARE

I was falling and I was falling fast, I was falling deep. Something really bad was going to happen and I could feel it. It was the same feeling I had when we moved into that new house on Sankt Street; the goosebumps, the sudden drop in temperature, the increased heartbeat, the sweaty palms and the weak stomach that comes from anxiety. I could smell it too, it smelt like open wound, bleach and antiseptic.

I was feeling those same feelings and I was certain I was in my childhood bedroom but I knew I wasn’t. I could remember the gruesome image in the closet; brains on the wall, eyes rolled to the back, blood everywhere. It was real, yet it wasn’t.

I was feeling my way through, I needed to get out of here quickly. I was using the walls as a guide.

Then I touched it. It was squishy, it was like flesh softened by decay, it felt like it was falling off a bone and it was wet. I didn’t want to think about it but I knew what was happening somehow. I was touching her and it was so horrible. I didn’t know her, no, not in a way you know a living person; but I knew her like a memory. I understood her and I wish I didn’t.

Even as a child I understood her like an adult would. I didn’t understand the memory then, but I do now.

Why is she coming back after all these years of heavy drinking and expensive therapy sessions.

I realized it was just a dream when I woke up drenched. I looked around and all I felt was relief. I was in my own apartment. I was safe, I wasn’t that little child anymore, I wasn’t feeling dead bodies and I definitely wasn’t in my childhood home.

Was I safe though?

If she’s standing at the corner of my own apartment smiling sinisterly, maybe I’m not really safe.

I wanted to run, I wanted to scream but I couldn’t run and I couldn’t find my voice. What was she doing to me.

But she wasn’t doing anything, just standing.

I just wasn’t awake yet for this was a dream inside a dream.

THE SYMBOLIC RELATIONSHIP OF THE MORTAR AND PESTLE: MYTH OR REALITY

 

When you hear words like “my village people are at work” we all laugh it out like it is not real. Most people don’t believe our African tales by moonlight because it seems to be stories made for us to laugh.

 

We hear African stories on while certain things are done, what is forbidden to do and what is accepted in our African society. The mortal and the pestle are symbolic items in an African home. There is no home in any village, city or tribe that does not have a mortal or pestle. It is essentially the helping hand of the wife to provide a special delicacy for her husband. It is known to be a proper African traditional meal that gives the husband stomach satisfaction.

 

I had travelled for a friend’s wedding in Benin city. She is from the Esan speaking part of Edo state. After the wedding celebrations. The bride was given several gifts amongst which was a mortal and a pestle which will be used in preparing a meal of pounded yam with her husband’s favourite soup.

 

We all got to the park to travel down to Abuja. We boarded the bus and as the person was loading the vehicle, he drew the attention of the bride to the mortar and the pestle. He clearly stated that “he cannot put the mortar and the pestle in the boot”. We were surprised so we asked why and he said that “if a vehicle has a mortar and a pestle in it, the vehicle will not move”. We laughed at the statement and called it a superstitious belief. He later placed the mortal in the vehicle and requested for N10, N20 and N50 to put inside the mortar and the pestle was given to us.

 

We left the park around 10am. On getting close to Auchi, the vehicle developed fault. The driver asked all of us to come down from the vehicle. He was able to get the vehicle working and we continued our journey. We complained to the driver about not doing proper maintenance on the vehicle as it was an old bus. The driver claimed he had never had issues with his vehicle. The vehicle kept having issues till we got to a mechanic in Okene town.

 

While there, I suddenly remembered what the loader of the vehicle had said about the mortar. I drew the attention of my companions to it and they all said it’s a superstitious belief. The driver overhead us and said that he wouldn’t have carried us if he knew we were traveling with a mortar and we told him it was because of his poor maintenance of his bus.

The journey was not going smoothly as the bus was still having issues. On getting to lokoja around 6pm, we met a vehicle that left Benin around 12pm at lokoja before us. We had to conclude within ourselves that this was not ordinary. We called our elders to ask how true the myth was. We were told that two engines (mortar and the vehicle) cannot be in the same place. We were asked if money was placed in the mortar and we said yes. The bride mother then asked if the pestle was inside the mortar and we said no and she told us to put them together as they cannot be separated.

 

We started looking for the pestle and realized that the pestle had rolled to where the mortar was which confirmed the statement that they cannot be separated. We later placed the pestle in the mortar and coincidentally, the driver just finished fixing the vehicle for the 3rd time. Believe me not, we had a smooth journey straight to Abuja.

 

Here lies the question? Was the vehicle stopping on the road due to myth or as a result of poor vehicle maintenance. This belief is common among the Edo and Yoruba speaking people in Nigeria. The Yoruba people believe in turning the mortar face down when traveling.

 

 

 

I LOVE YOU.

I love you and as someone who is deeply aware of myself and my emotions, I know it is not mere infatuation. You give me butterflies and you make me anxious but not in a bad way. I spend hours thinking about you and all that we could achieve together, I think of what our kids will look like and how our family will turn out.

 

You made the days brighter and the nights starrier. The kind of love that relegated all my problems to the background; it felt like you were the main character in my own life. It was really easy to fall in love with you; you were gorgeous, kind, bubbly and really sweet to everyone, I wondered why someone had not snatched you up yet.

 

When you started talking to me, you talked to me like you had known me for a long time; you touched my forearm and it lingered for a bit or was that just my imagination? But even the next day I could still feel the heat of your fingers on that spot.

 

I noticed how you stole glances at me and when I looked, you looked away quickly. I felt special, it felt like every other person was a faded picture in an artist’s canvas. I did not want any other person seeing what I was seeing, I did not want any other person to discover this treasure that wasn’t buried away from the eyes of vile humans. So, as I close this trunk over you, gagged and blindfolded, I just want you to know that I do this because I love you.

COBWEB.

I was awoken groggily by a scream, it didn’t sound humane and even if it was, I wouldn’t want to be that person right now. It was very early in the morning, My throat was scuffed from all the screaming last night, I could barely swallow my own saliva. The sun was not out but if I were to guess I would say 5am if we’re running a longer day and shorter night and 6am if it is the opposite.

 

My eyes had not adjusted to the darkness so I could not see what it was but I felt the horror, it felt like my whole chest cavity had fallen into my stomach and it has been doing that a lot recently. When my eyes adjusted to the dark I immediately wished it had not, for someone who has not seen a single dead body except on televisions or on the phone, I was sure seeing a lot to last me a lifetime, the irony being my lifetime could end here. It was not that these men had to do this, it was that they enjoyed doing it, they loved the job.

 

The fat guy with the cliché skull and bones tattoo never smiled until he was mid torture. His expression while doing the ungodly was oddly godly, it was sadistic; sometimes I got lost while trying to study the expression, most times I wondered what led him to this life, did he have a life outside, was he the same outside as he is here?

 

He was quite literally skinning a human being, he was using a very sharp knife to peel the skin off his Victim’s back; it weirdly reminded me of that one YouTube video where a chef was showing off his new kitchen knife that was so sharp it was cutting a tomato in very thin slices.

 

This could be what a torsoplasty looked like except there was no hanging skin and no anesthesia. I could see something that looked like animal fat and remembered how they taught us about the layers of the skin in biology class in secondary school. I couldn’t see the face of the victim clearly and it was as if my mind chose just the horrific parts to concentrate on; even though I didn’t want to, I felt compelled to keep looking.

 

He started from the lower back just inches above his butt, he cut it with such craftsmanship you’d think he was just peeling an orange; even when he got to the middle, he didn’t miss a bit. Even though it was horrific, it was really interesting to watch; a craftsman performing his craft. My eyes were burning and if my hands weren’t still hurting I’d have rubbed them, instead I just blinked constantly to water them.

 

My injuries were beginning to get infected, the water dripping down from the injury was tickling me and I would have wiped it off if my hands weren’t too heavy to be moved and if my palms weren’t as bare as whoever was lying on that table’s back. I have never been a superstitious person but I should have known the day I walked into a cobweb was the day my life would change forever.