Posted in Fiction

Green Christmas

Before the traffic light went green the heavy traffic was gone. I bet no one even noticed the faint yellow light turn green. The Christmas rush hour had crept into every street in town.
Caught in the euphoria of the season was a young cashier,Tade, who surprisingly wasn’t affected by the city’s rush. His finacee, Chinwe had suggested that they spend  Christmas at her parent’s country home in Owerri. He promised to give a reply later that night but he had not made up his mind on where he wanted to spend Christmas.
‘Should we go? Should we not go? I wish I can change her mind’ Tade thought out loud. He had work files on his desk but he couldn’t concentrate.
It was an unusually busy Monday and Tade had on his Monday best, a grey coloured three piece suit with matching black tie. Chinwe had bought the tie for him last Christmas when they first started dating. His shoes were black suede and he has had his gold Rolex since he graduated from University four years ago. Tade wasn’t a fashionable person and rarely wore colours outside black and grey which Chinwe found boring.
He and Chinwe had initially planned to spend Christmas in Lagos. They go to the beach and later lodge at an hotel downtown. He had even saved up thirty thousand from his fifty thousand monthly salary just for the expenses of this get away. But a trip to Owerri meant more expenses. Transport fare to and fro especially with the fuel price hike, snacks and refeshment on the journey, wrappers and blouse for her mother,exotic wine for her dad and some cash, also cash for her siblings, five of them. That is an expense way beyond his meagre fifty thousand monthly salary. And was far above his thirty thousand monthly budget for personal expenses.
He had tried to be diplomatic with Chinwe but she only resorted to emotional blackmail. She cried that he didn’t really want to marry her and only wanted to use and dump her.
By 9:39 am that morning,Tade still hadn’t finished the work on his desk. He was supposed to submit the file to his bus by 11 am sharp but his mind was seriously pre occupied with how he would convince his fiancee to spend Christmas in Lagos.

Chinwe ,a yellow Igbo babe from Imo state had never spent her Christmas in Lagos. She had always travelled to the village for the festive season. She never dated anyone outside her tribe before and she was glad when Tade proposed to her within a year of dating. She had to let go of her other side guys who though were Igbo and rich didn’t look ready to settle down. She wanted to settle down quickly so she said yes to whoever was the first to propose. Tade won the race. Though he was her least favourite of the guys she dated, she desperately wanted to get married that she didn’t care. Her parents had raised eye brows over the fact that Tade was from another tribe. They had expected her to present Andy, whom they had known for years as her husband but Andy was not ready to get married and she had grown tired of waiting endlessly for a diamond ring. She had to settle for a cheaper ring. It was not her dream engagement ring but it was a ring which was better than no ring.
Chinwe worked in a bank as a teller and earned twice the amount Tade made in a month. Plus she still got monthly up keep from her two Aristos. She owned her own apartment and drove an Honda Accord. She traveled often to Dubai for shopping which was usually sponsored by her Aristo. She had reservations about settling for a man below her economic standards but time was running out and her mother was pressuring her to give her grand children.

By 10:45, Tade had managed to get through the files and was on his way to submit it when he noticed an error in spelling in one of the documents. He quickly rushed to re-edit and reprint the page. He luckily still submitted the file in time. He skipped lunch as usual and instead went to chat with a colleague in the human resources department. He had planned to ask him for a personal loan.
After explaining his situation, Frank empathised with Tade but was not ready to part with his money so he can go impress his fiancee’s parents.
‘ I think you should tell this babe that you can’t afford such luxuries. She should be able to understand and probably subsidies the money. ‘  Frank asserted ‘ If she doesn’t agree then maybe you should call it quits’
Frank wore a serious look. He meant what he said. Tade strolled back to his desk and couldn’t shake off Frank’s voice from his head.   

At about 8:30 pm, Chinwe drove into the compound where Tade was renting a miniflat. He watched her drive in and get out of the car. She looked particularly beautiful that evening,her red bodicon gown complemented her skin colour and flattered her shape. She wore flats and he could see she had recently had a pedicure. He opened the door before she knocked. She gave him a quick side hug and pek.
‘ I don’t like coming to your area when there is no light’ Chinwe started
‘ I can’t stand the mosquito bite and heat plus your compound stinks, you should complain to your landlord about the soak away’
‘ Is there anything in your house to eat? am starving.’ She walked into the kitchen even before Tade could think of a reply.
‘ TADE! ‘ she screamed as she opened the fridge. Everything here has gone sore. I can’t keep buying food stuff and you keep letting them spoil.’
‘ You should get a new generator,  I told you not to get that small one, now its always faulty ‘
She kept rambling and complaining. When she had fixed herself a plate of noodles she sat at the dining and stared at Tade who had been quite all the while. He was working on his laptop and didn’t look up when she joined him at dining.
After about five minutes of silence Chinwe brought out her phone and started playing candy crush. They both made eye contact but continued ignoring each other.
‘ Chinwe I don’t see this relationship working out’ Tade broke his silence. Chinwe obviously lost for words could not respond immediately.
‘ I want us to call this quit’ Tade continued
Chinwe, realizing how dead serious Tade was went on her knees and started begging him.
She held him tight as he walked into the room
to get her already packed bags. She kept weeping and pleading but Tade had already made up his mind. 
After about an hour of emotional blackmail, Chinwe finally threw the engagement ring at Tade and stormed out of the house with her bags amidst tears.

On his way to work the next morning, Tade smelt a new kind of Christmas in the air. He was free and happy. He stopped at at traffic light  with his car stereo speakers dishing out love songs.  He was glad when the green light came up.
As he settled down to eat lunch that afternoon he kept wondering if he broke up with Chinwe because she was high maintenance or because he didn’t want to spend his Christmas outside Lagos.

Posted in Fiction

A New Beginning

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A NEW BEGINNING:
SEASONS COME AND SEASONS GO
A NEW SEASON IS HERE;
A SEASON TO BEGIN ANEW,
TO MOVE PAST YESTERDAY’S ERRORS,
TO LOOK FORWARD TO A GLORIOUS FUTURE
SEASONS COME AND SEASONS GO
THE GOD OF THE SEASONS IS
THE SAME; YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER

WHEN SEASONS CHANGE, GOD REMAINS
THERE IS A SEASON OF LACK AND
A SEASON OF PLENTY
THERE IS A SEASON OF SOWING AND
A SEASON OF REAPING
THERE IS A SEASON OF BIRTH AND
A SEASON OF DEATH
TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON.
CERTAINLY GOD IS THE GOD OF THE SEASONS
AND HE REMAINS

EACH SEASON PREPARES YOU FOR THE NEXT
GROWTH IS THE AIM OF EACH SEASON
SO, DO NOT BE ANXIOUS
GOD IS THE SAME NO MATTER THE SEASON
THOU WINTER MAY BE UPON YOU
REJOICE FOR SPRING IS COMING
A NEW BEGINNIING

Posted in Fiction

To Become a Better Man

                            
Mother’s death haunts me. I can still see my heartless father beat up mother in my nightmares. I still cringe in fear now the same way I did when I was five. People say ‘time heals all wounds’ but not this time. My mother moved from having a few bruises to broken bones till her death was inevitable. I stood there helpless and cried while this man beat her mercilessly with his leather belt, then a pestle, for a sin she didn’t commit. She had been ill during this time and was very weak. She never told her husband that she had been on medication. She tried to explain that she wasn’t feeling well, but he wouldn’t listen.  At first, she would scream out in pain but later she learned to endure the torture. She endured till her early death that October evening.
                 *************************************************************
Mrs. Ajayi had got so worried when her younger son brought home his beautiful fiancée. They had already fixed a date for the wedding. She was also worried because all her daughter’s friends from the university were all married and had children pulling at their aprons. Even the unserious and promiscuous Ada had sent her an invitation to her wedding.
Mobola had become unhappy from her mother’s unceasing nagging. She had suffered several disappointments from men. Tunde, who had come with his family members for an introduction, had suddenly called off their engagement and hooked up with Nkechi.
‘‘Mobola,’ Mobola’, ‘Mobola’, how many times did I call you? Go and get married. You are not getting younger. Your younger brother has fixed a date for his wedding. Don’t let the world hear it that your younger one got married before you. What are you waiting for or do you want to become a nun?
‘Mama, why are you saying this eh, you know about all my predicaments yet you keep tormenting me day and night. Mama, I would soon bar you from coming to my house.’
‘You have not tried enough. If you hook one of them with pregnancy he will stay in one place. And if its charm you need to keep him, my friend is ready to take you to that Baba Aladura at Iketi. That is what I have been preaching to you for the past two years and you wouldn’t listen. You were busy waiting for God’s time. Heaven only helps those who help themselves. Or can’t you hear your biological clock ticking loudly. If you are not deaf you would hear it. You would soon be 29, at that age I was done with child bearing.’
‘Mama, I know that you have good intentions I have heard you.
‘You can imagine that Sade called me yesterday, after we had exchanged pleasantries, she asked why I hadn’t invited her to my wedding. Apparently, Ada told her I had gotten married to one American guy as a joke. What sought of joke is that eh? Anyway I don’t blame them. Right now I am ready to do anything to get married’
‘That’s my daughter, now you are talking. Just go and look for one rich fine boy and leave the rest up to me.’

Less than one year afterwards, Mobola got pregnant and dragged home the victim of her evil scheme, who was younger than she was. Her mother succeeded in convincing Dele’s family that he had to marry her daughter at all cost. He did not agree at first. He wanted a paternity test conducted to make sure the baby was his. After nine months she gave birth to a baby boy. She named her son Mayowa- for he had brought her joy.
Dele felt trapped at 26. The paternity test result came out positive. He was indeed the father of the child. A low key wedding was performed immediately with close friends in attendance. Dele was supposed to have travelled for his masters abroad, Mobola had disrupted his plan. Dele was visibly drunk throughout the ceremony. Her friends gossiped and visitors whispered among themselves .She was embarrassed, but the show had to continue.
She pretended to be happy after all she was now a married woman. The charm had worked. Mission accomplished. Tongues wagged for a while about Dele’s age. Mobola simply ignored all the talk and focused to her new state as a married woman.
What Mobola did not know was that she was now married to a monster who vowed to make her life miserable and the marriage a living hell. She had signed her death warrant unknowingly.
When the farce of a wedding was over, Dele called his wife to a corner and explained to her that he was not interested in the marriage and that he had only agreed to go ahead with the ceremony to please his mother and save his family the shame. He then proceeded to state his terms of living in the two- room apartment with her.
She couldn’t hold back the tears any more she felt like someone had pierced her heart with a spear.   She had hoped she would be able to make him fall in love with her. Baba’s charm could only be effective if she slept with him again. She never knew he had other plans.
She tried to seduce him that night but he didn’t fall for it. He instead threatened her into signing an agreement that stated that at the dissolution of the marriage she and her child were not entitled to anything from him and she was to remain a house wife. She wept till she had no more tears left. It was her wedding night but it was a night of tears.
Two months after they started living together, Mobola tried her luck. She knew she was passing her boundaries but she had to do something. She prepared pounded yam and egusi soup and then dressed seductively. Her plan was to lure him to her bed after he finished eating. Her mother had told her it would endear her to him once he saw that she was a good cook. She set the dinning in anticipation for his arrival. He usually closed from work around 5 p.m. By the time it was 9:30 p.m. she became worried something might have happened to him. She would have called but she did not have his mobile number or his office land line number. He made sure that she could not get in touch with him not even in case of emergency. She had tried to steal his number from his phone except that his phone was always locked. It was getting close to mid night and he still wasn’t home. She grew weary of waiting and kept the food in a warmer. What good was her cooking skill if he wasn’t around to eat her meal? She fell asleep on the couch drenched in her tears and didn’t even know when he got home later that night.
She was in a deep and troubled sleep when she felt someone slap her cheek; she opened her sleepy eyes to see Dele standing in front of her with fury in his eyes
‘Welcome…’ was all she could stammer before he started raining abuses on her for turning the sitting room into her bedroom and abandoning her bastard child , who had been crying and disturbing his sleep for close to thirty minutes. At that she bolted to the room where her baby was and saw that he was still crying. She had being so carried away by trying to woo her errant husband that she forgot about her baby. She checked the time and discovered it was 3:35a.m., she hadn’t realized that it was that late already.
After so many failed attempts at getting Dele to eat her food, Mobola decided to try one last time. She prepared amala and ewedu soup; she knew he would like it since he was from Oyo state. She had given up hope of getting him into her bed after six unsuccessful attempts. She placed the meal on a tray beside a bowl of water to wash his hands with and then knocked on his room door. He answered the door after keeping her waiting for about 10 minutes. She thought she had heard a female voice in the room, but she convinced herself it was her imagination. She couldn’t imagine Dele bringing his girl friend into their home. When he opened the door he was wearing only a pair of boxers; it was the first time in a long time that she saw him in his boxers. She held the tray towards him in a gesture that showed that she prepared the meal for him. A female voice came from his room asking him who it was at the door.  Now the voice was audible, Mobola’s hands shook as it clenched to the now heavy tray. ‘It’s the maid’, was his response as he banged the door on Mobola’s face. She was shocked. She knew he womanized but she never expected him to bring his women to their matrimonial home. She was more hurt that he dare refer to her as the maid.
She cried for so many weeks afterwards. She was depressed and lonely. She couldn’t continue keeping up a happy face in front of her friends and family anymore. She had forsaken a lucrative career in banking to be a mere house wife to a man who was unappreciative. ‘She was better of single than married’, she thought. Her blood pressure had risen and she was on medication. The doctor had warned her to avoid the source of her stress, but could she avoid something she was living with. Her only consolation was her son who brought so much her joy.
Two years into her bitter marriage Dele started beating her at any slightest provocation. He didn’t care who was there when he slapped her and hurled insults on her. One time when one of his friends, David had come to visit them, while discussing with Dele, Mobola sat down listening attentively to David’s humorous banter about love and age. He said something about feeling deep respect for his wife who was older, that he called her aunty jokingly.  She passed a comment on what he had said and laughed. Immediately Dele ordered her to shut up that no one asked her for her opinion. David was stunned but was not surprised as he had heard from one other friend about how disrespectful Dele was to his wife. Someone else even said Dele had slapped her in front of him once not minding he was just a guest in the home. This made Dele’s friends stay away from his home. Mobola left the sitting room and ran into her room crying feeling embarrassed. She had endured the abuse and insults for two years already thou it felt like she had been married to Dele for a decade. She couldn’t tell her mother or friends what she was truly facing in her home. When they asked how she was, she would give a fake smile and say she couldn’t have married a better man. She was too ashamed to share her pain.

One fateful day she mistakenly left what she was cooking on fire to look after her child who was ill. She didn’t know that the rice she was cooking was burning and that the whole kitchen was filled with smoke. Dele had arrived at the house at that time and saw that the entire kitchen had been set ablaze. As he tried to put off the fire, Mobola arrived totally oblivious of the damage she had caused. After successfully putting out the flame, Dele descended heavily on her. He beat her till she fainted that night. Neighbors had to force the door of the house open in order to come to her rescue. She was rushed to a nearby clinic and was treated for a fractured arm, swollen eye and dislocated knee. She felt like a trailer had run over her has the pain was unbearable. Her heart was torn in bits. She cried uncontrollably. The doctor had to sedate her to keep her calm. After spending two weeks at the clinic, she was discharged. Her mother drove her home and pleaded with Dele to settle any grievances he had with his wife amicably. She left after Dele assured her that such would never occur again. It did happen; again and again she endured the beating.
Mobola had told her mother that Dele was not eating her food but she never once mentioned how he verbally and physically abused her. She was too ashamed to let her mum know that it was not the first time he was beating her. She knew her marriage was a mistake but it was too late to turn back the hands of time. She regretted following her mother’s advice to jump into marriage, if only she was patient then, she sighed. She had to keep enduring her marriage now till one day when Dele would realize his mistakes and come to his senses. She just had to be patient.
On their son’s fifth birthday, Dele told his wife he wanted to throw a party. Mobola was surprised but she agreed. Dele printed the invitations and brought the cake for the celebration. Mobola handled catering for all the invited guests. Every one present praised her cooking. One of Dele’s friends even told Dele that his wife needed to open an eatery. Dele simply smiled. May be out of curiosity but Dele tasted her cooking for the first time since they got married five years ago. Mobola was more than delighted to see Dele finish three wraps of pounded yam with efo riro. Her prayer was finally being answered she thought.
For two weeks afterwards Dele kept eating at home. Mobola couldn’t contain herself. Her joy knew no bounds. For the first time in five years of marriage she went to bed smiling.
Her son started primary one six months after his fifth birthday and so he was gone for longer hours than usual. She had home schooled him till he was four to keep herself busy, but now he had to learn to mix up with his peers. She was now becoming bored with the routine of cleaning the house, doing the laundry, ironing and cooking and wanted to start work. She was tired of been a slave in her own house. One night after she had treated Dele to a delicious meal of banga soup and starch, she put forward a proposition to Dele to start her own eatery. Dele flared up.
‘I don’t have money to waste on such venture’.
‘Don’t worry about the money’ she pleaded, ’just give me the go ahead and the rest is settled’
He frowned. And abruptly said, pushing away the food,
‘Is it because I manage to eat your food that you now have the effrontery to demand to work eh?’ ‘Oh, because you have me eating from your plate you feel you can manipulate me that easily eh? It won’t work at all. You hear me.’
He stormed out of the dining room and slammed the door of his room behind him. He stopped eating her food for two weeks after then. Mobola cried and blamed herself for even asking. Her blood pressure shot up immediately afterwards.

Mayowa was the restless type. Full of life and very smart, he was also very curious too. One evening, after a busy day at work, Dele dropped some important documents that he needed for a presentation the next morning on the centre table. He remembered it only after he had taken his bath and was now in bed. He was too tired to get up and hoped that Mobola would see it and keep it somewhere safe for him. Meanwhile Mobola had been too depressed and was tried to even play with her son.
‘Go and play or draw or watch cartoon, just get out of my sight ‘she snapped.
‘But mummy come play with me now’. He kept dragging at his mother’s apron persistently has she did the dishes and pored away another meal she had prepared for Dele.
‘Please leave me in peace, let me be please’ she said firmly.
He left the kitchen reluctantly and went to watch cartoon in the sitting room. While watching he had the inspiration to draw some cartoon character. He found a pen and some paper on the centre table. The document his father was to present the next day at a meeting soon became a comic book. He even got some crayon and started coloring his work of art. Mobola didn’t pay attention to the mischief her son was up to. She simply drove him to bed and kept his ‘drawing sheet’ on her reading table beside the bed. After putting him to sleep she hoped that she would continue the novel she was reading but she was feeling sleepy. Soon she was already fast asleep beside her son.  She hadn’t had time to check what he had drawn.
The next morning at about 5 a.m. she heard a loud knock on her door.
What would Dele want from her so early in the morning, she thought?  When she opened the door she saw a furious Dele at the door, ‘hope nothing is wrong ‘she asked.
‘Did you see the document I kept on the center table? Dele demanded.
‘No I didn’t see anything, besides I didn’t know that you kept any document there. ’Mobola answered as she tried to make Dele lower his voice.
‘Are you sure you didn’t pick any document from that table?’ Dele continued ignoring her plea to lower his voice.
‘No, I didn’t. The only thing I picked was the papers our son was drawing on’, Mobola went to bring the nicely colored drawings and handed it to Dele, who examined the paper in disbelief. ‘You see what you caused he is awake already’. Dele could not believe his eye as he examined his ruined document and screamed.
‘WHAT!!!’
‘YOU AND YOUR SON HAVE KILLED ME’
‘SO THIS IS YOUR PLAN TO RUIN ME ABI?’
‘YOU BOTH HAVE FAILED’
Mobola was totally shocked and confused.
‘What is the matter?’ She requested totally dumbfounded.
‘ARE YOU SO DAFT THAT YOU CAN’T READ’ He flung the papers at her and stormed out of the house.
Mobola, still recovering from the shock, examined the papers Dele had thrown  at her and looked at her son who was on the bed battling for sleep and asked rhetorically,
‘What trouble have you gotten me in to now?’
Throughout the day Mobola was not at peace, no matter how she tried to forget what had happened, it kept popping up in her mind. She scolded her son when he came back from school that afternoon. She took her medication and went to prepare Dele’s dinner.
At some minutes to four that evening, Dele drove in. He was home earlier than usual. Before he had stepped out of his car, she went to open the front door and pretended to be cooking in the kitchen. She was scared and didn’t know what to expect. Immediately Dele stepped into the house she smelt alcohol and knew that he was drunk. Her heart was pounding with every footstep of his that she heard.
Mobola was still silently praying that he would just go to his room and sleep and just forget about the whole issue, when Dele stormed the Kitchen unannounced. Before she could open her mouth to say anything, he dragged her out of the kitchen by her braided hair. He didn’t even wait to hear her plea before he landed a slap on her then he began blowing her. His blows were direct and in full force and she tried to avoid them, but he held her down between his legs. She had thought her body would be used to them by now but this pain was a different kind of pain. It was more agonizing than the once she knew. She cried and pleaded with Dele but it all fell on deaf ears. He kept punching her stomach, her chest, her back and warned her not to shout. That he would kill her if she uttered any sound. She tried to endure the punches but she couldn’t anymore, she managed to force her way out of his grip and ran into the kitchen. She grabbed a knife to defend herself and kept crying and shaking. Dele held a pestle.
           ***********************************************************************
That was when I got to the scene. I had fallen asleep on the chair in the sitting room when father arrived. The noise from the dinning attracted my attention. When I got there he was still punching her. They were both oblivious of my presence. It was not the first time I had seen them fight, just that this time the cause of the fight was my fault.
‘If you come near me I will stab you’, mother threatened boldly. I was not sure she meant it but, she was holding a sharp knife. The one she used to cut tough meat. It was the first time I saw her stood up to him.
Father laughed. His laugher was like a lion’s roar and echoed throughout the house and scared me. I peed in my pants.
‘You this small ant you want to kill me’
‘You and your bastard son ruined the deal that took me six months to prepare for. That document would have fetched me two million dollars today. You embarrassed me in front of my foreign partners; before you kill me I will teach you a lesson.’
He struggled with mother for a while before he could get the knife out of her hands. When he had succeeded he kicked the weapon to a corner and removed his belt with which he used to beat her. He wouldn’t stop even when she was bleeding all over. The sound the belt made as it landed on my mother’s body caused me to shiver and I peed on myself. I was too scared to get close to where they were; I cried and peed on myself again. Then my cry got louder. Father turned around and saw me shivering and crying.
‘Come on shut up’ he ordered as he slapped me. I stopped for fear of getting another slap.
Mother managed to get to her feet and was trying to open the front door in other to escape when he pushed her back. She landed heavily on the concrete wall. She was covered in blood, tears and sweat. Her head had hit the wall so hard that she was bleeding by the side of her head. Her pink blouse had been dyed red. She had no fight left in her and she kept pleading with my father to let her go. He wouldn’t hear. He continued flogging her all over her body he didn’t mind where the belt touched. She kept pleading and held his feet. He kicked her hands off and spat on her.
I cried for her. I cried for the pain she felt. I cried because I couldn’t help her, I was scared. Her tears brought tears to my eyes. She was really bleeding and the floor of the sitting room where they were was drenched in blood, tears and sweat. Father kept on beating her till she didn’t cry anymore. She made no sound and she was motionless.
‘Stupid woman’
He shouted, before leaving her in the pool of her blood and tears. He staggered to his room; he was clearly drunk and didn’t notice that his wife had stopped breathing. He banged the door behind him and didn’t look back. Mother didn’t get up from the floor. She laid there drenched in her own blood and did not move even when I shook her.
Father met us on the spot where he had left his wife the previous night when he woke up. I had cried myself to sleep beside her and was equally drenched in her blood and tears. He shook her but she didn’t get up. He checked her pulse panicky and carried me away from her side immediately. As he dialed 911 he trembled on the realization of the consequences of his action. When the ambulance took her dead body to the mortuary, he drove behind them with tears in his eyes. His hands shook while he dialed her mother’s number. His voice trembled on the phone as he spoke.
I was too young to fully comprehend what had happened then but now after ten years of my mother’s death I finally understand. My mother had married a jerk and was too scared to admit she needed help.
Every year at her anniversary, I go to lay flowers on her grave. I always renew my commitment to become a better man.

Posted in Fiction

The Bully

Home didn’t have a ‘WELCOME’ door mat at the entrance. It wasn’t warm or cozy. It didn’t smell of baked pie or fresh hibiscus flowers. Instead it smelt stale and murky. No one who lived there really thought of it has a home; it was just a place they received shelter in. Though it was a duplex in the residential area of Ikeja.
Sometimes I wish I was homeless, living at the side of the road or under a bridge somewhere. I don’t think being homeless is a joke, don’t misunderstand me. I sometimes see homeless beggars and feel glad that I have a place to crash at night, but once I get into the four walls of my home, I think of switching places with the homeless beggar under the bridge. Our home can be such a terror zone that I would gladly trade it for the dangers of been a female sleeping under a bridge alone at night with street boys hunting for preys. It can be that bad.
After the bell rang for the close of last period, I sat still and didn’t move when everyone hurriedly tossed their books into their back packs and dashed for the school gate. They were all anxious to get home. They seemed so excited school was over for the day and were glad to be heading home; it was like setting captives free. I wonder why anybody would be excited to leave all of the fun of hanging out with friends- ‘who pretend to adore you’ and exchange it with parents and siblings who treat you like a worthless piece of wood. I do not share their enthusiasm.
‘Femi, Femi, Femi ‘What’s up, you have been moody all day.’
‘Nothing…. (Long pause)’
‘Are you sure, you seem lost in thought. Do you care to share?’
‘Really, it’s nothing. I have to go now, my younger brother is waiting for me and I still have to get to the market on my way home. ‘
‘Ok, we will talk tomorrow. Take care’
How I wish I didn’t have to go to that house. I and my younger brother always take the longest route home so that we could have some time for ourselves before we face the bully. I know right, most people get bullied at school or at best on the street corner, we weren’t that lucky. Our bully lives at home. We don’t get to cry home to report the bully to our mother who would then confront the bully in school the next day and threaten to beat up anyone who messes with us. Our bully was not a big spoilt brat with a famous gang or any of that stuff you see in the movies. Our bully was our mother. More specifically my younger brother’s mother cause I refuse to believe she birth me. There must have been a mix up at the clinic.
Bang!!! Yemi accidentally slammed the door as we got into the house and that was enough to wake the dragon in mother. She made sure he got a good dose of the whip for his offence and then went on to reel out the ten thousand offences he committed before leaving for school that morning, starting with the fact that he wet the bed and tried to cover it up by hiding the bed sheets. For crying out loud my five year old brother got a slap across the face. He didn’t get the friendly welcome boys his age should get: A warm hug from a mother who had missed her baby, a warm bath and a delicious supper, nothing of such, just a bitter woman lashing out at her son.
When she was done torturing my younger brother, she turned to me
‘Will you stand there or would diner make itself, common get into the kitchen this moment’
I had not removed my school uniform yet when I started cooking dinner at some minutes past six. Even though I had on an apron I still had palm oil stains on my only white school uniform. I had to immediately wash it and my brother’s own in-between running errands for mother.  By the time I got around to doing my assignments after helping my brother with his own home work, it was already 1a.m. I even forgot to eat dinner; I was so tired that I slept on the chair in the sitting room where angry mosquitoes feasted on my blood.
My day starts at 4 a.m. every day. That means I get an average of three hours of sleep and on some days when I get lucky, I get up to five hours of uninterrupted sleep. In school, I make up stories of how fun it is at home just so I don’t look like the odd one out. I day-dream of running away from home a lot, I just haven’t decided whether or not to take my younger brother along when I do. I also day- dream of getting home to see that mother have miraculously disappeared never to reappear in our lives again. Occasionally, I dream of me and my brother in this perfect home with a loving and caring mother who actually played board games with us and laughed at my jokes. I day-dream a lot; that’s how I have managed to cope with the physical, verbal and emotional abuse I have had to endure.
Mother was angry a lot. When she wasn’t angry, she was bitter. Dad left her for another woman two years ago. The other woman was a friend of mother from church. She took out her anger on us and calls us all sorts of unprintable names. She treats us like it was our fault dad left her for a younger and prettier woman. My poor younger brother is the most affected because he has the ill-luck of looking like the splitting image of my dad. One time, when Yemi was playing innocently with his Lego brick game, mother took off her leather slippers and threw it at him and demanded that he get off her sight. She frightened the poor boy so much that he cried himself to sleep for days. He would see mother coming from afar and go hide in his room under the bed and would refuse to eat. What sort of person scares off her own child?
I really feel sorry for my brother, especially because he is still too young to understand. He just turned five years old yet he already thinks that his own mother hates him. He often has nightmares of mother chasing him round the street with a horse whip. His teachers have invited mother especially to school to inquire of the sores and brutal marks on his frail body. All of which she responded,’ mind your business.’ They stopped asking questions since my brother would not say who was beating him. The beatings stopped for a while then.
‘Terror’ was what neighbors called her. She is famous for waking her children in the middle of the night with a whip for a crime they had forgotten they committed during the day. She was that devious and heartless. And we the children live in constant fear and torment.
It is not fair that adults screw things up and make their children pay for it. By the time the abuse got too far, my brother was admitted in the hospital with a broken bone and internal bleeding. Dad then had no choice but to come and get him. At least now my brother sleeps well at night and has stopped having night mares of my mother chasing him with a whip. He eats well too and feels save. Mother almost made good of her threat to kill him, thank God, he survived.
I am still stuck with the bully. Her torture has not gone away and I still live in fear and torment.
At least now when I day-dream of running away from home, I don’t have to worry about my younger brother. He is somewhere safe.

Posted in Fiction

To the grieved mother

Do you still remember the pain of childbirth?
Do you still see the scar on your tummy?
Mother! Will you be called by that name?
Will you enjoy the moments-
Baby’s cry that stops cherished rest
Dirty dishes,scattered house and
A baby to nurse.
Now after new months of agony
Two hours of labour
The dawn breaks without the cry of a baby
The clouds darken the day with the arrival of a still birth
Weep no more, sob no longer
The death of your harvest shall be avenged
This time next season
Your bossom shall carry four
Two girls to bear your basket of fruits
Two boys to harvest your crops

Posted in Fiction

The Good Samaritan and the angel

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Foots were moving in every direction raising clouds of dust, traders and buyers alike tried to get a glimpse of the petty thief. Not one person speared a thought for her juvenile innocence, they simply made side comments. Some ignored the incident and crossed to the other side of the road.  Her captors simply hurled sticks and stones at her as if she was an abomination. She was reeling in pain and her screams were deafening, she had been stripped off her clothes and was scantily clad.  A tall gentleman who was passing through the market made his way to where the young girl was, wrapped her body in his jacket and picked her up in his arm. He dodged the sticks and stones while making his way out of the market square holding her securely in his arms. Spectators stood watching with mouths agar, some of the angry traders dropped their stones and went back to their stalls while others simply hurled insults at the man who had now disappeared out of sight.
Pastor Anthony had been in a hurry that sunny Saturday afternoon; he had just received word that his only daughter has just been stricken by small pox and was going to take a taxi at the park by the market square to the next town to visit her.  He was curious when he saw the crowd gather but was too much in a hurry to wait and watch. Then as he made his way closer to the park he heard the screams of a child. He quickly made his way back to where the crowd was gathered and was shocked to see the young girl on the floor been stoned. He defied the angry mob and rescued the young girl.  He carried the frail girl to the nearest clinic opposite the market.
After her wounds had been cleaned and properly bandaged, Pastor Anthony asked for her name and age;
‘My name is Hanna and I am twelve years old’; her voice was shaky and unclear.
‘Why were you in that market?’ He probed further;
‘I was hungry and my tommy ached badly’; she sobbed while still rubbing her tommy.
‘Ok… I see’. He thought for a while as if digesting all she had said and then moved swiftly to the  nurse on duty, whispered into her ears and folded some Naira notes into her left palm. He glanced back at Hanna and assured her that the nurse would cater to her needs and he would be back in two days.
As he made his way back to the taxi park, he wondered where her parents were, and what would have happened if he had not stopped the crowd from lynching her?
As the taxi slowly made its way out of the town, he received a phone call. He was apprehensive to pick the call as he feared the worst most have happened. The voice on the other line was very ecstatic and lively. Atlas his daughter had been miraculously healed. He dropped the call full of smiles and appreciation to God.
Just then he received another call from the clinic he had dropped Hanna at. The nurse informed him that Hanna mysteriously disappeared while she went to get her food. But that she left a note for him saying; he was a kind gentleman and that his daughter, Sarah was healed of small pox.
When the call ended he was puzzled as to how Hanna knew his daughter’s name and that she had been down with small pox.
He couldn’t help but wonder if Hanna was an angel.

Posted in Uncategorized

Introduction II: Reading and Writing

Writing offers you the opportunity to express yourself. It is a tool for expression either creatively or academically.
Writing helps you to explore your own thoughts and feelings. It forces you to articulate your ideas,to discover what you really think about an issue. This means that writing lays out your ideas for examination, analysis and thoughtful  reaction.
Thus, when you write, you (and the world at large) see who you are and what you stand for,much more clearly. Writing also provides a record of your thoughts that you may study and evaluate in a way that conversation  cannot.
In summary, writing well enables you to see and know yourselves -your feelings, ideas and opinions -better. Writing effectively helps you communicate well with others.

An important benefit of reading is the opportunity to study the writing of others and get models of successful essays that can help a writer when he wants to create his own manuscript. Thus,the more you read,the more exposure you will get to the different ways to organize and develop a topic. Ideas will also come to you as you read the writings of others.
Reading also provides the writer with information they can include in their own compositions. From your reading, you will glean facts,examples, direct quotations,and other kinds of information that will help you develop and support your own thoughts about a subject.
Furthermore, reading exposes the writer to others’ thoughts about important topics and  leads them to reflect more upon those topics . As a result, reading helps the writer to form or conform his own thoughts and beliefs. 
In other words, reading encourages the writer to think critically by holding what they know up to scrutiny and then deciding if their opinions are still valid.
As you begin to improve your ability to use language, you will become more aware of the ways others write and speak.

Posted in Publishing, Uncategorized

Introduction: Enabling better Communication.

Publishing  as a profession,goes beyond just producing literary materials i.e. books, newspapers,blog posts, academic papers,magazines etc. It is actually a social responsibility to record human activity for posterity,provide entertainment and inform.
Publishing is very important in national development because of its influence on information dissemination and as a repository of human culture, history and knowledge.

The core of any publishing programme is the editing stage.

Editing is the first task that should be undertaken after finishing the first draft of a piece of text. It involves checking the content of  the text to ensure that the ideas are expressed clearly and logically, and form a coherent and meaningful whole.

The goals of editing include:
1. Logical flow of ideas.
2. Ideas are consistent and coherent.
3. Ideas form a meaningful whole.
4. Ideas are clearly expressed.
5. Ideas are accurate in the information it provides.
6. Ideas have an appropriate tone.
7. Ideas are concise.
8. The purpose of an idea is clear.
9. The idea is targeted towards the reader.

After the corrections from the editing process have been made, the text is ready for proofreading.

Proofreading involves checking over the text in finer details after the editing stage, to detect errors on spelling, punctuation,grammar and the format. It is a careful word-by-word and line-by-line reading of the typeset manuscript to ensure that there are no typographical errors and that the style specifications have been followed. Proofreading requires concentration to disconnect the mind from the content of the text in order to focus on the language and layout. Proofreader’s marks are used to indicate where corrections have to be made.

The objective of proofreading is to spot and correct errors in:
*spelling
*typography
*grammar, punctuation and use of language
*style and format
*anything missed at the editing stage
It is important to never make assumptions when proofreading, if you are not sure what the writer intended to write, query it rather than jump to conclusions amend it wrongly.