Archive | January 2014

Pictures from Meet Chat Buy Naija Books

On Saturday 25th of January, we had the first Meet, Chat and Buy Naija Books event hosted by Patabah Bookshops, Shoprite, Surulere. We had such a great time, and the Patabah staff were nearly overwhelmed by the number of people that turned up. Tlsplacer be steady repping. What’s more people bought plenty books. The record was a lady who bought almost Forty Thousand Naira worth of Naija books for herself and her kids. It is proof that Nigerians not only read free Nigerian works online, but are willing to pay for Nigerian Books when they can find them to buy.

Channels Book Club was on hand to cover the event and it was shown yesterday Tuesday at 3:30pm. There’ll be a rerun on Friday at 3:30pm. Many thanks to all the writers that came through. Dimeji Ojo, Ayo Sogunro, Walter Uche, Myne Whitman, HaroldWrites and Folasade. I look forward to having another event soon.

Don’t forget to keep voting for your Write Right Finalists, we’re in the final lap.

Enjoy the pictures.

TL

Books On Display

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Write Right Two – Week Four Top 5 Entries

We have the results for the 3rd Week of the 4-part series by the Write Right Two top 5. View the results HERE 

Today, we post the final episodes of the series. It’s been a thrilling ride. We should have our Winner next week and then we’ll share details of the Prize Giving Event. So keep voting for your best and keep rooting for them. One of the finalists took a bow out from the competition by not sending in an entry this week. Writing is very hard work.

Pictures from the Meet, Chat and Buy Naija Books Event will be up tomorrow, so you can come and check.

TL

Write Right

THE END by OPEOLUWA OLUBODE

“I just wanted you to feel relaxed and say your last prayers. Now, you have done just that” she said to me. Before I had the chance to reply her, she pulled the trigger. The bang of the gun alone made me think I was dead.

I closed my eyes expecting to see heaven next, but then, I heard another gunshot. It was either she targeted wrongly or she actually didn’t intend to shoot me. I heard the shattering of glass next. Surprised, I looked up from my teary and blurry eyes to see about ten policemen in the auditorium and more coming in through the shattered windows.

The shot came from the police. Thank God they had finally come. The policemen rounded them all up, handcuffed them and led them to their bullet-proof van.

As Kemi was being handcuffed, she whispered to me; “You may have won this battle, but you will never win the war.” And she smiled again. Tola started laughing uncontrollably, scaring me a little.

I closed my eyes and said a prayer of thanks to God. One of the policemen placed a call to the emergency service of Lagos University Teaching Hospital requesting for an ambulance. One of the guests who happened to have been a doctor checked Simi properly and observed that her heart was still beating although very slowly. She was unconscious and had entered a coma. Dre and I were okay but the unit leader of the rapid response squad (RRS) suggested that we needed a few sessions of counselling and trauma therapy.

When the ambulance came, Dre warded off the paramedics, carried his bride up and placed her on the stretcher. The best man did the same to me. I looked into his eyes and I knew that I had found my other half. Or maybe my brain was blocked with all that had happened.

Simi was taken to LUTH. Two of the doctors that were on ground in the Accident and Emergency ward examined her and told us that the bullet had pierced through one side of her lower abdomen and had come out from the other side, it had missed the six week old pregnancy and vital organs by a few centimetres.

Dre then had to spill the beans. He had gotten her pregnant exactly six weeks after he proposed and exactly six weeks before the wedding. Although I know that they fornicated, I’ll just say God works in mysterious ways by allowing the bullet miss the baby.

************************************************

Kemi, Tola and the thugs they had hired were put in jail. My father wanted to charge them to court so he hired a top-notch prosecution lawyer who won the case even without visual evidence.  Kemi was charged to court for attempted murder and for possession of firearms, Tola was charged as an accomplice to attempted murder and possession of firearms as well.

There were three hearings in total within the space of six months. At the end of it all, Kemi was sentenced to ten years in prison while Tola and the thugs got six years each

************************************************

When I woke up the following morning, I looked down from my window and saw so many cars in the compound. I went downstairs to find out what was wrong and when I saw the various sad faces, I knew my coming downstairs was a bad idea. The house was crowded with so many so-called sympathisers, including people that didn’t show up for the wedding. I had so many pings, direct messages and texts from friends and relations asking if I was okay and if the wedding would still hold.

One man even walked up to me and called me to a corner. I followed him thinking he wanted to tell me something important. The man then opened his mouth to say; “your brother’s bride-to-be got shot, why do you look happy?” I ran upstairs to my room as fast as I could.

I started crying as soon as I made it into my room. Why was this happening to us? Why was the very first marriage in our nuclear family ruined? Demilade (Dre’s best man) came to check on me (he came to see the both of us but seemed more concerned about me). He later drove Dre and I to one of our therapy sessions. He took me out later in the evening to get ice-cream after dropping Dre off at home.

He asked me out on the drive back home and I told him I would think about it. Guys just don’t know the right time to express their feelings, mentally I’m definitely not ready for any advances talk less of starting something. My thoughts still revolved around Simi and the events of the wedding. For some weird reason though, some part of me felt elated that he finally made it out of the friend zone.

The following morning Dre and I went to visit Simi. She had been placed on life support because she was in an induced coma. When we got there, her parents were just leaving. The nurse on duty led us to her bedside and told us that she believed Simi seemed to respond to sound. Dre sat down beside her, telling some of the sweetest words I have ever heard. He later faced reality.

“Simi, please come out of this for me. I’ve not been the same since Saturday morning. No amount of therapy can make me forget all that happened. Simi, you know I love you no matter what.”

I was by her side sobbing and getting emotional. Her fingers began to twitch slightly, Dre’s words definitely had a huge impact on her. He stood up, holding her fingers and kissed her cheeks. In the strangest fashion, all of a sudden, Simi opened her eyes, smiled, and whispered “I do!”

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THE END!!! Uhm, not yet.

One year later

Here I am, the aunt of a bouncing baby boy, Oludare Junior (the way this Yoruba people like transferring names though. We’ll call him OJ for short). He’s almost five months old. Just about the way I imagined it, Mum ‘backing’ OJ, Dre is cuddling Simi on a couch and I’m on break also helping out with the baby. Demilade is with me and helping out as well. We are together now *wink*

 

Simi wedded Dare yesterday in the city of Abuja. Only our family members and a few guests were invited. Simi got to say “I do” once again, but this time, it was at the altar, in her wedding dress. OJ was with my mum at the time. The second wedding was a good one, I saw Dre dance for the first time in my life (apart from church dance of moving from left to right and clapping your hands).

 

Kemi entered her seventh month in prison last week and Tola ran mad one month after her sentence. She is presently in a psychiatric hospital. The thugs escaped from prison and the police is currently on the look-out for them.

 

Now, this is the end.

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ORDERED CHAOS by JEREMIAH NZERE

It took Charles all of 5 minutes to calm Tunde and Lanre down. He sat across the table from them in a fast food outlet opposite the University of Ibadan. Charles had opted for the venue as he did not want them informing Tamilore’s mother of the news of her daughter’s abduction until he had all the facts. They were understandably agitated, having never witnessed an abduction before. It took a repetition of the story and several questions before he got the complete picture.

“So, where’s the box she gave you?” Charles asked.

Tunde gladly handed the box over to him. This was too much trouble over such a small box. All he wanted was his friend and his bride back.

Charles unlocked the box, and checked the contents. He extracted a disk drive from the box and returned it to Ovie.

“What do we tell her mother?” Tunde asked.

“Anything to buy us time.” Charles replied.

“Can you hold her off till tomorrow?” He asked Tunde.

“I’ll think of something” Tunde said

“I’ll get them back.” Charles said, attempting to reassure them. If they were going to be of any use to him, they had to get their wits around them.

He held up the disk drive. “This is all I need. I’ll be off to Abuja tonight. If I can get this to the President, I would be able to get his intervention.”

Tunde asked the question they were all thinking, but no one dared voice out.

“Would they still be alive?”

“I cannot tell. But I’ll do my very best” Charles promised gravely. All his hopes lay on the President now.

******

Charles was true to his word. The very next morning, he had marched into his director’s office and presented the report. The director had taken it to the State House immediately, promising Charles that the president would look at it that morning.

That day, the president sat in his office in the State House, Abuja, head bent, and half-moon spectacles perched precariously on his nose. His face was settled into the characteristic frown that showed he was in deep thought. He had been studying the file on his table for about 45 minutes now. The SSS1 had delivered it that morning, classifying it as being of the utmost importance.  The report in his front was from a comprehensive 3-year investigative study into the Nigerian oil industry that detailed dates, places, transactions, amounts, and most incriminating, names, with photo evidences in some instances. The list of people indicted in the report could as well have been an attendance list of an inner caucus meeting of his political party, and a roll-call of the power brokers in Nigeria.

He had commissioned this report when he had been naïve of the debt he owed to those who had installed him in this office. When he had hoped he could radically transform Nigeria. All those were fanciful tales now. He filed the report in a special folder. That was the end of the matter. The report now would only be useful as leverage against those who would dare move against him in the coming election year.

That was dispensed with. He pressed the intercom and informed his ADC that he was going to leave in five minutes. He was scheduled to see his medical team again.

He picked his private phone, and spoke into it.

“I have the report. Let the boy disappear quietly. We don’t want to raise any dust.” He ended the call.

It was a necessary evil. The boy knew too much, and with the way these APC2 people were growing stronger every day, if they got this kind of information, they could summarily impeach him. Dead men don’t talk.

******

Tamilore blinked as the door opened. The first shaft of light since she had been kidnapped entered the room. Before awaking in the room, the last thing she had seen was the blazing headlamp of an oncoming vehicle. She had awoken in the dark room, and had faint memories of being interrogated, but they were fuzzy.

“Get up” a gruff voice said. A hand roughly pushed her to her feet. She was pushed half stumbling, half walking outside the room, and into a corridor. She was led down the corridor into an opening. There were about ten men, dressed in military fatigues in the enclosure, but she didn’t notice them. She saw only Ovie, for the first time since their wedding eve. He had lost weight, and was shabbily dressed, with four days growth of stubble; but he had never looked more handsome to her as he swatted the hand of the soldier who held him back from walking towards her. This was the Ovie she had fallen in love with.

“Ah the lovebirds.”  One of the soldiers said, smirking. He appeared to be in charge here.

“Put them in the wagon” He directed.

Ovie and Tamilore were blind-folded and hand-cuffed, and escorted to a waiting Tundra truck. They were bundled into the back of the truck, and it trundled out of the compound down a dirt road. As the truck rolled, Tamilore bumped into Ovie.

“I’m sorry for getting you into this.” Ovie said hoarsely.

“Shiiiish” She said.

“I’ll rather die being with you than live away from you.”

Suddenly, they were thrown forward as the truck gave a lurch and stopped.

They heard several shouts of “shun sir” and a gravelly voice ordered,

“Release them.”

Tamilore felt hands helping her down from the truck. The blindfold was released, and she looked around. She could see a body of water stretching out to her right. It could only be an ocean. Where was this? Surely, the Atlantic did not extend to Ibadan? The gravelly voice spoke again. It belonged to a clean-shaven, black man who towered over her. He inclined his head at Ovie.

“I am Major-General Ali Salem. I have been ordered by the President to release you and escort you to Aso Villa, Abuja.”

Tamilore turned to Ovie and flew into his arms. He held her, and they spoke no words. None was needed.

Charles Alidu smiled, walking away to give them privacy. He had been about to introduce himself. He had been summoned by his director to accompany the COAS3 to rescue Ovie. Everything had gone well. However, this was one more story he couldn’t share with anyone. Even if he did, no one was going to believe it. They would think it was simply an adaptation of one ill-written American action movie. He climbed onto the helicopter, waiting for the entwined couple staring at the Atlantic as the sun set in the distance.

******

2 hours before.

The President walked into the State Office. The meeting with his medical team had left him drained. He checked his watch and prayed it was not too late to right some wrongs. He picked his phone.

“General Salem, I’m issuing a counter-order with respect to Ovie Keyamo.”

“Yes sir” the general replied.

“He is to be released A.S.A.P.”

“But Mr. President,” General Salem began.

The president cut him short.

“Are you questioning a direct order?”

“No sir.”

“Good.”

He ended the call and settled slowly into his seat, like a man bearing a great burden on his shoulders, and studied the sheaf of papers in his hand.

Five minutes later, his phone rang. It was the ex-general. Things had been strained between them recently. He infused some warmth he did not feel into his voice.

“Baba, it’s a pleasure to….”

The ex-general cut him short.

“Are you out of your mind?”

The president blinked.

“Excuse me?”

“What’s this I hear about releasing the boy?”

“Yes. I made that decision.” The president said. He was getting slightly irritated, and did not feel like having this conversation.

“You have to reverse that decision. Don’t you know the implications for all of us?”

“I don’t care.” the president responded.

“You are clearly not thinking straight.”

“With all due respect Baba, I do not appreciate being insulted.” The president said, tapping his hands on the table. This old man was going too far.

“You are obviously going down, and I do not intend to drown with you. You are on your own in this.” The ex-general said. He ended the call.

The president held the phone to his ear. It appeared he was not even in charge of the armed forces. What would make a soldier question his orders, and report him, the president, to an ex-general? Wasn’t he still the commander-in-chief of this country? He was going to have to reshuffle the military brass.

He dialed Major-General Salem. He was brief, and straight to the point.

“General, you would personally retrieve that boy, Ovie Keyamo today, and bring him here. It would be your last act of service to this country.”

He clutched the sheaf of papers his medical team had given him. In the midst of all the medical jargon he couldn’t fully comprehend, he understood that he had less than 6 months to live. A neoplasm. Very rare.  Difficult to detect. He was truly going down. And just this morning, he had been planning how to win the next election. Power was truly a fickle flicker. The country was going to see a very different president for the next six months.

******

“Do you Tamilore take Ogheneovie Keyamo, to be your lawfully wedded husband? To love and to hold, in sickness and in health till death do you part?” the pastor intoned.

Tamilore could have died in that moment. Everything was so perfect.

She whispered, “I do.”

In the first row of the right aisle, silent tears streamed down Omawunmi’s face. She was sure that somewhere in heaven Rotimi was seeing this and smiling.

******

Over the next couple of weeks, a series of seemingly random events occurred. First, it was rumored that the President’s health was failing, and that he moved round with a medical team comprised of Nigeria’s best specialists. It was even said he had been secretly flown to several hospitals under the guise of attending international conferences. Then, an ex-general had a public falling out with the President, and they parted ways for a while. Next, the President retired all his service chiefs. From the outside, they appeared arbitrary, but to insiders, it was all ordered.

1. SSS-State Security Service.

2. APC-All Progressives Congress:Nigeria’s main opposition party.

3. Chief of Army Staff.

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WEWE by IFEOLUWA WATSON

Clouds. Tufts of blue and pink cascading through the ethereal hemisphere. They rode on the hydro-horses. The farther they went, the thicker the clouds became. They came to a place of trees – tall and leafy and many-fingered branches planted in pools of clear sparkling water. Beyond, there was an endless stream of light. A mighty gust descended and flapped away with one of them.

Sade spread-eagled on the car’s bonnet, amid the shards of glass that was once the windscreen, heaved a ragged breath. It was her last. Anike’s glassy stare saw and yet could not comprehend. Her throat willed her mouth to scream but the flap of skin drooled a mixture of saliva and blood on the inflated airbag. Rotimi’s hands still gripped Wewe’s waist. He’d pulled and held her strong. Even when he’d heard, krack krack, the sound of his breaking fibula as the driver’s seat had crushed it, he’d not let go. Blood from a laceration on Yeye’s forehead trickled down her face. She ignored it. Yeye opened the door on her side and ran to the still form of her daughter. In the blinking glare of the headlights, Tanwa was a bloodied mess. Yeye yowled like a wolf.

***

They stood over her. She was placed on her side. The masked figure made an incision. He cut away the muscle and fat and tissue. Then, he nipped the ureter from the organ. The ruptured kidney went into the petri dish. The surgeon straightened and the scrub nurse dabbed sweat from his eyebrows. It had been a laborious five-hour surgery. Unuttered relief hung in the air. It was short-lived.

“Shit!”the surgeon swore as he watched the urine in the catheter bag turn a bright red.

The surgeon untied the strings of his face mask and peeled the gloves off his hands. This was the part of his job he hated the most. Facing patients’ relatives and telling them the dismal condition of the patient.  With drooping shoulders, he walked out of the operating room.

In the theatre lobby, Yeye’s thighs trembled as in a spasm. She’d stayed there all night. She looked like an Egyptian Mummy with her head swathed in a white crepe bandage. When she saw the surgeon approach, Yeye rose in expectation.

“How is she? Is my Omotanwa alive? Please tell me,” she said, gripping the surgeon’s hands.

The surgeon steadied her. “Madam, you need to be calm. Please.” Yeye nodded even though the words flew past her ears like buzzing houseflies. The blaring siren of the ambulance that had transported them to the University College Hospital resounded in Yeye’s ears. Sade had been pronounced D.O.A. Anike had suffered a partial stroke and broken ribs. Apart from his broken limb, Rotimi had appeared fit and Wewe had come out unscathed. The nurses had restrained Yeye in a bed, to stitch her forehead as she’d continued shouting her daughter’s name.  “Omotanwa mi o! Omotanwa o!”

Yeye’s mind snapped back to the present as she watched the movement of the surgeon’s lips.  “Your daughter’s kidneys were severely ruptured as a result of the impact. I removed one of the kidneys and tried to repair the other….” The doctor paused and cleared his throat.

Ehn, ehn? So, what happened?” Yeye asked, in a hysterical state.

“The repair failed. Your daughter is bleeding profusely. I will have to perform another nephrectomy.”

Nefre kini? Please speak in clear terms, doctor.”

The surgeon told Yeye they will have to remove Tanwa’s second kidney. Since she could not live without a kidney, Tanwa needed a donor in the next 48 hours.

48 hours! Yeye fell back into her seat with a squishy sound. Everyone knew about the long list of renal patients awaiting transplants. Tanwa would have become a skeleton by the time her name reached the top of the list.

“It would be best to get a family member to volunteer,” the doctor advised and walked away, to the observation room.

Yeye would have gladly given Tanwa her kidney but she could not be a match. She had the selfish AB blood type that could receive from all but only donate to its like. The surgeon had mentioned relatives. Yeye’s mind drifted to her co-wives and Tanwa’s half siblings. They would laugh her to scorn if she dared step into their compound. When her husband had died, Yeye had moved out of the family house and left the other wives to squabble over the properties. As always, when problems surfaced, Yeye depended on her wealth. Who would sell their kidney to her?

***

She lay on the couch in the sparsely furnished room. Her eyes were glazed and half-closed. He sat on a chair at the head of the couch. He told her to think of water – gushing from a tap or gliding down a rock. “The water is falling on you. Is it hot or cold?”

Wewe answered, “The water is very hot. He poured it on me. He said bad girls get burned.”

“Did he touch your burned skin?”

Wewe’s face contorted. She chattered gibberish and let out indiscernible grunts and growls. Then, she was limp. She told him of the many men that had come morning and afternoon and night. How they had forced her on her knees between their legs and the look of pleasure on the men’s faces and the disgust she felt. She began to weep.

“I was just a little girl. He called me a bitch! A-good-for-nothing piece of crap! Yes! He said he’d picked me from the dunghill. I was lucky he’d kept me!”

Wewe laughed. She croaked like a frog as she repeated, lucky, lucky.  The psychiatrist pushed his spectacles higher on the bridge of his nose. He waited for her distress to pass. When she was still again, he continued.

“Do you like your skin?”

Wewe shook her head. She did not say the words. So, he repeated the question. She erupted into a long flow of words.

“I hate my skin. I want to remove it. He took me to that red-lighted hall every Friday and Saturday night. They told me and the other ladies to remove our clothes. We danced and danced and danced until our feet ached. Some of the men wanted more and we took them behind the curtain for the VIP treatment.”

The rain of words halted. The psychiatrist waited.

She resumed. “One night, I removed my clothes and pulled at my skin. A thousand pins pricked at it. I pulled and pulled but it would not come off. I ran out. I kept running across the valleys and thick bushes and over many rivers…until I found home.”

“Where is home?” he asked.

A smile played at the corners of her mouth. “Home is where the man with the blue halo over his head is. He is mine and I am his. We belong together.”

The psychiatrist was confused. He knew the blue-halo-man and the wicked man could not be the same.  He looked at the clock on the wall. It had been an hour. He moved to the final step.

“You can remove your skin now. You’ve become a new person. You’re free from the pain of your past. Step away from that dark shadow.”

Wewe whimpered and wiggled on the couch. Then, she was calm.

“What is your name?”the psychiatrist asked.

“Wewe,” she replied and came out of the hypnosis.

Wewe sat up on the couch. She looked around the room. She ran her fingers through her matted hair. “Who are you? What am I doing here?” she asked. The voice in her head had gone silent.

The psychiatrist smiled in satisfaction. This was yet another patient he’d treated successfully with the controversial procedure of hypnosis. Some of his psychiatric colleagues had labelled him an unorthodox therapist and others called him, a magician.

After the accident, the doctor at the Moniks Private Hospital had sent the critical cases to UCH. He’d admitted Rotimi at his hospital and sent Wewe to the mental hospital since she had no injuries.

A nurse came into the room. She took Wewe by the hand and led her to the bathroom. There, she washed the caked grime off her skin. They cut the matted dreadlocks and cool breeze caressed her scalp.

In the psychiatrist office, his mobile phone rang and vibrated on the table. It was the doctor at the Moniks Private Hospital calling.

“Hello ore, I have another case for you here o.”

The psychiatrist beamed. The Moniks doctor had been his classmate in medical school. He was one of the few who still reckoned with him.

“You know I appreciate your referrals anyday. I just finished with the lady.”

“Ok. Thanks. They will soon arrive at your hospital.”

Rotimi’s leg was cast in a POP. He was wheeled into the mental hospital. Immediately, he began to twist on the wheelchair; turning this way and that way. “Where is she? Where have they hidden her?”He asked. She entered the room in a loose-fitting white gown. Time stopped ticking as they beheld each other. Wewe ran to him. She knelt before him and they wrapped their arms around one another. The orderly watched open-mouthed. The distressed man he’d wheeled into the mental hospital had been replaced by this tranquil being.

The psychiatrist watched the pair. Now, he knew who the blue-halo-man was. He walked back into his office. The new patient had all he needed to be well with him.

***

Yeye had been on the phone all day. Now, in frustration she swiped her fingers hard across the phone’s screen.

“Don’t tell me you’ve not found someone yet! Dondee! I gave you just a simple assignment.” The man on the line stammered. He was Yeye’s right-hand man.

“Madam, I’m trying…bu-t you know it’s someone’s body part we talking of….”

Yeye cut in. “So? Won’t people do anything for money? I have raised the offer to ten million naira! Find a donor before morning!”

As she turned in the direction of the ICU where Tanwa had been admitted, she saw the pair. They were moving towards the adjacent orthopaedic ward. Rotimi hopped on crutches and Wewe walked by his side. Yeye rushed to meet them. She stopped in her tracks like a zombie when she encountered the transformed Wewe.

Yeye picked her jaw off the floor. She spread her palms open. “Rotimi it’s so good you are here. Please, I need your help. I know you loved her once. I know you won’t want her to die. Please, Tanwa needs a kidney from you. Please,” Yeye pleaded, as she dropped on her knees before him.

Rotimi shifted uncomfortably on his good foot. “Stand up, stand up! Don’t kneel before me,” Rotimi said. Yeye quickly got on her feet, relief dancing in her eyes. She looked at him full of hope.

“So, will you follow me to the surgeon now? To have you matched?”

Rotimi waggled his head. Yeye went over the top. She popped full blast like a champagne cork. “No! You will give your kidney! You will donate it! You will!” she screamed. Wewe stood in front of Rotimi warding Yeye off. Yeye stopped her rant for a moment and stared at her.

“You’re my daughter! You’ve to save your sister! Please!” Yeye’s words poured forth as if hot yam scalded her tongue. She told Wewe of the nine months of carrying her in her womb. She told her of the heart-wrenching pain she’d felt for many years whenever she remembered. Then, she began to weep. “I’m sorry I threw you away. I was young and stupid and scared. Please, forgive me.”

Yeye was on her knees again. She wrapped her arms around Wewe’s legs. Wewe looked at her – long and hard. Then, Wewe pushed her away.

“I have no mother or kin.”

They left Yeye sitting smack on the concrete floor. Passers-by turned to watch the disarrayed picture she painted.

***

She limped from the wardrobe to the bed with her clothes. On her second trip to the wardrobe, she caught her reflection in the mirror. She began to sob. The left side of her face was a canvas of keloids. For the past three months, she’d barely stepped out of the house. When she went for check-ups at the hospital, people stared. Tanwa could not stand it anymore. She’d resolved to leave.

Yeye entered her room and her eyes took it all in. “Omotanwa, what are you doing? Why are you packing your clothes? Ehn?”

Tanwa looked at her mother in disgust. This was the woman that had made her to suffer for sins she had not committed.  “I’m going to the UK. I will never return. I’m leaving you to your bad luck and wickedness,” Tanwa spat, between gritted teeth.

Bile rose to Tanwa’s chest and threatened to spill into her mouth, whenever thoughts of Rotimi and Wewe entered her mind. Tanwa was grateful to Wewe. She’d saved her life. But she could not just stand the thought of her love with another. Wewe had sought the surgeon out herself. She’d been a perfect match. It was not until the kidney was inside Tanwa, that Yeye had known its owner.

Yeye had begged the surgeon to allow a paternity test be conducted from the tissues and blood they had taken from Wewe. Yeye was not surprised with the results. It showed a 99.9% probability of Wewe being her offspring.

Yeye dragged the packed bags and tried to open the zipper. “You’re not going anywhere! You’re my one and my only. Please, don’t leave me,” she begged. Tanwa’s determination was unrelenting. She looked out of the window until she saw him enter through the gates. The driver from the travelling agency had arrived to pick her. Tanwa tried to drag one of the bags along with her. She winced as the added weight bore down on her bad leg – another aftermath from the accident.

Yeye gripped Tanwa’s arm. The intense glare and the deep-seated hatred in her daughter’s eyes caused Yeye to let go as if she’d been scorched. She watched helplessly as the driver came upstairs and carried the bags. She moved to the porch, robot-like and gazed until the car faded into the distance.

***

They sat in the armchair, closely like two turtledoves. They paid no attention to the movie showing on the television. Their eyes were on each other. They basked in the euphoria of their love. Anike hobbled past them, her limp left foot, flopping pa, pa, pa on the tiles. She tried to ignore the couple but they were everywhere she turned to – in the bathroom, they giggled under the shower, splashing water and having a soap fight; in the kitchen they washed plates, one washing and the other rinsing and on the dining table they fed each other, already sated with their love. Rotimi and Wewe had become a fixture in the house.

There was a knock at the door and the housemaid went to check who it was. Yeye walked quietly into the sitting room. The eyes of the two women met – Yeye, docile and Anike, fierce.

“Wha-t a-re you do-ing he-re?” Anike struggled to speak, as a spray of spittle lined her chin. The partial stroke had affected her speech and her mouth was curved to a side.

Yeye sighed. “I came to greet you and my children.”

Anike’s crooked lips make an effort to pucker. She burst into a hoarse laughter. “Me a-nd yo-ur child-ren? Yo-u can’t ki-ll this re-main-ing one,” she sputtered, pointing at Rotimi who was in a world of his own with Wewe.

Yeye entreated her. She spoke of her empty house. How the silent walls echoed her name at night; how her heart palpitated and how she’d murdered sleep. The last time they had seen each other was at the registry. Rotimi and Wewe had been wedded in a quiet ceremony.  The psychiatrist had warned Anike not to try and separate the two. “They are soul mates. It cannot be explained rationally. Take them apart and you risk a relapse of their condition.”

Anike was embittered. Sade’s photographs on the walls were a constant reminder of her pain. Anike blamed Yeye for her woes. Yeye felt she’d lost more – her two daughters lived but they had neglected her.

Silence prevailed in the room. Wewe took no notice of her mother. Yeye rose heavily to her feet. She left the house, alone – bereft in body and spirit.

Wewe, the name no one knew its origin had come to stay. Her real name enshrouded in her painful past, remained a mystery. She’d refused to remember.

Outside the house, the moon sat resplendent in the sky. Wewe and Rotimi chased each other in glee. The lovers played hide and seek in between the exotic cars – the Chevrolets and Jaguars and Toyotas. In unison, they howled at the old woman in the yellow orbit.

—————————————————————————————

FATE’S STORE by MIRACLE ADEBAYO

Fibroid. That’s what Doctor Ini said it was.  It was hard to believe that the baby I had thought was growing in my stomach wasn’t a baby after all.

I was sick. How was that possible? There was no history of fibroid in my family. Tade jostled me to the hospital as quickly and silently as possible. His actions were strange; but I read nothing into it. He’d just found out that his wife had lied to him for years. I didn’t expect easy forgiveness. But I also didn’t expect the silent treatment he was giving me.

My operation was scheduled for Tuesday. Doctor Ini had insisted that I be admitted as soon as possible. He wanted to get things over with quickly.

Although I was a bit relieved that I wasn’t carrying the bastard’s child inside me, I couldn’t help mourning the loss. For a moment, I’d thought that God had decided to let me enjoy the ecstasy of carrying a baby again. But of course that wasn’t to be.

Fibroid. The thought sent fear running through my heart. Why did I have to have an anomaly? Why did things like this happen to me?

“Tade, talk to me…please,” he had avoided looking at me for two days. “I’m about to enter the theatre. Please just forgive me.”

I watched him take my hand in his and stroke it gently. “Sometimes, we have to do what is best for ourselves and our family. I understand that.  Perhaps, if I was in the same position, I’d have done the same thing.”

A beam of hope squeezed into my heart. Could that be forgiveness I sensed? I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

“So what are you saying?” I asked, tentative.

“I’m saying, concentrate on your surgery. I need you back alive and then we can talk.”

I nodded. Dr. Ini came in, looking set for the procedure.

“We’re ready. Are you?” He asked.

“You’re doing it alone?” I wondered.

“Fibroid isn’t such a big deal,” he glanced at Tade and an inexplicable look passed between them.

“Still, you need nurses to assist you,” I persisted.

“And there will be. Listen, you’re in good hands Bukky. Just try to relax. When next you wake up, you’ll be a whole lot healthier.”

There was something bizarre about the whole thing but I couldn’t seem to put my finger on it. Perhaps I was just nervous about the surgery. It’d been a while I’d gone through surgery of any kind. I was used to being the doctor and not the patient.

“Okay, let’s go.” Doctor Ini signalled the nurses to wheel me inside the theatre.

“Tade, I’m sorry.” I clung to my husband’s hand like a lifeline.

“So am I,” slowly he bent to kiss me. And this time I wasn’t repulsed.

************************************************************************

I was drowning in something.  It wasn’t water. It was red.

Blood.

I opened my mouth to scream. Instead my lungs began to fill.

Then I heard a voice. Her voice.

Mummy!

My baby; Laide!

I flailed around in the pool of blood looking for her.

Mummy!

The voice seemed to come from somewhere within me.

Laide! Baby! I’m sorry. I struggled to say. The blood seemed to be covering my head.

I was drowning. Really drowning.

I shut my eyes. I’d failed my daughter.

And suddenly I felt like I was flying. A hand lifted me ever so gently and place me on dry land.

I opened my eyes.

I was in the hospital. Alone. I knew then that the surgery was over.

I felt the sharp pain in my abdomen as I tried to sit up. That was when I saw the blood.

It had stained the hospital sheets and my clothes.

I tried to think if one lost a lot of blood to fibroid. I couldn’t remember. Was bleeding like this, normal?

I climbed down gently form the bed, ignoring the searing pain in my abdomen.

Clutching the wall for support, I made my way out of the  hospital room and into the hallway. I needed to find Dr. Ini to tell him I was still bleeding. I didn’t take notice of the people who stared at me as I walked down the hallway; a woman stained with blood.

Where was Dr. Ini’s office again?

Ah! There it was.

As I made to knock on the door, I heard a familiar voice from within.

“She’s still bleeding and it’s the third day. How long are you going to keep her sedated?”

It was my husband’s voice.

“Until the bleeding stops. I don’t want her to wake up and suspect anything. She’s a doctor too and she’ll know immediately that such a surgery shouldn’t require much loss of blood.”

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Doc? I don’t want to lose my wife.”

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing? Arranging an abortion without her knowledge! I’m not the one at fault here.”

“I did it for her. For us. She couldn’t have that baby.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Before I could summon the courage to confront them. I saw the ground rising to meet me.

I blacked out.

*****************************************************************************

The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes, was a face that looked so much like mine. I inhaled sharply for a moment, shut my eyes and opened them again for a clearer view. The face remained there, hovering over mine.

“Hi mum.”

I had forgotten how much she looked like me. The last time I had seen her had been a year ago, at my grandpa’s burial. Seeing her now, sent a myriad of emotions washing over me. Suddenly my guilt kicked in and lay on my shoulders heavily. I’d deprived this girl a normal life with me for fourteen years.

I began sobbing. For all the mistakes I’d made and the people I’d hurt in a bid to keep my secret.

I felt no comforting hand reach out to touch me. It dawned on me I was more alone than ever.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered as I wiped my eyes.

“Uncle Tade said I should let you know that he went to the market to get some things,” she was avoiding my eyes. In the fourteen years she’d been on earth, I’d never acknowledged her as mine in public. She was always hidden away to protect my image. The gifts I sent across to her were not enough to appease for my absence or scarcity in her life.

As she mentioned my husband’s name, I suddenly recalled what had happened. How Tade had conspired and deceived me and taken away the baby.

I tried to sit up but was too weak to. I fell back against the bed. I was now in familiar surroundings; somehow I’d been discharged and brought home.

“Come and sit beside me, Laide.” I tapped the bed softly, suddenly craving to be with my only offspring.

She hesitated.

At fourteen she was developing nicely. Her pint sized breasts stuck out admirably on her chest and her trouser hugged her bum, showing off the little curves that were being formed. Her hair was braided into cornrows, just like mine had been when I was her age.

“Please dear,” I urged.

She came, sitting tentatively at the edge of the bed.

“When did you come?” I asked, “Who sent for you?”

“You want me to go back?” A look of panic crept into her eyes.

I took her hand in mine, “Laide, you’re never leaving my side again. I want us to catch up on all the years we’ve missed out.”

“Why now? You never wanted me in your life before.”

The bitterness echoed in her voice almost brought tears to my eyes.

“A lot of things have happened, my dear. I was wrong to keep you away from me. But I hope you know I love you?”

She didn’t answer. I had never said that to her in all her life. It had never seemed appropriate then. She’d always been the unwanted child. Loving her hadn’t been easy, it was a gradual process.

“I love you Laide. I’m sorry I didn’t let you know sooner. I’ve made a lot of mistakes but keeping you away is the worst thing I’ve done yet.”

“What about my father?”

I blinked. I had expected anything but that. “I don’t know where he is. I haven’t spoken to him since I left school fifteen years ago.”

That was a lie. I had seen him once at the former hospital I worked in. He had brought in his wife to have her baby. I didn’t bother acknowledging him and neither did he. Laide and I were better off without him.

“Did you love him?” She was blunt, staring at me with those accusing eyes.

“I won’t lie to you. No I didn’t. What we did was wrong. But I don’t regret having you.”

There was no need telling her that she was the product of my first rape experience.

Just then the door opened and Tade came in, cradling grocery bags. His eyes took in the scene before him.

“Uncle welcome. Let me take it to the kitchen,” Laide scrambled to her feet and relieved my husband of his bags.

“You’re awake,” he came toward me, a tad nervous.

“How could you?” my eyes sprang to life.

“Let me explain.”

“What’s there to say?”

“I did it for us.”

“You did it for you! Don’t you dare lie to me!”

“That child would have had the worst life if he’d survived.”

“It wasn’t your decision to make! You’re a liar and a murderer. You killed my baby!”

I was getting hysterical. Images of the night of the rape flashed through my head.

“Calm down, Bukky,” he was standing so close to me now.

“Don’t touch me you murderer!               Stay away from me!” I was falling apart and could do nothing about it. As his face loomed over mine, I watched it transform to that of my rapist. The snarl on his face as he came towards me was too much to bear.

I screamed.

***********************************************************************

TEN WEEKS LATER

“Thanks for joining us today Laide.” Dr M, my therapist smiled at my daughter as she shook her hand.

“I enjoyed it. I didn’t know I will,” Laide blushed.

“So do we expect you next week?”

“One step  at a time, doc.” I stepped in, I didn’t want Laide feeling pressured.

“Actually I’d love to come.” She turned to me. “On one condition, though.”

I cocked my head.

“You know how Dr M has been asking you to let Uncle Tade come? Please, let him come next week.”

I sighed.

It was a month since I separated from my husband. There were too many lies between us and we’d hurt ourselves too much to return to the normal life we lived, so I’d opted out. We both needed space and time to figure out what next to do in our marriage.

Since I’d started seeing my therapist, she’d hinted at asking Tade to one of our sessions, saying that it could help our marriage. I’d turned the idea down every time. I wasn’t sure there was anything to talk about between us.

Meanwhile Laide and I were staying with a friend of mine until I could figure out what next to do with my life. Within one month I had come to bond with my daughter in a way I hadn’t known was possible. She wasn’t perfect and was sometimes too strong willed for my liking. Like now, from the look in her eyes, I knew she won’t give up until I agreed to let Tade come to one of our sessions.

“Please Mum,” she blinked.

“I don’t know Laide. It’s too early. I just…”

“Okay then, not next week. Two weeks’ time. Doc, is that okay?”

“Perfect.” Dr M beamed at us.

“Well then, we’ll see how it goes.” I conceded.

“No mum. Promise. Promise you’ll invite him to the session in two weeks.”

Strong-willed girl, like I said.

“Why does it matter?” I asked.

“Because…he’s the only father I might ever have.”

Her words hit me straight in the heart. I’d never given thought to the fact that my daughter needed a father figure in her life.

“Okay then, I promise.”

The hug she gave me was the best reward I could’ve asked for.

THE END

—————————————————————————————————

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Write Right Two Week Three Results

This is the penultimate result week. Here’s the standings below

Judges Votes

Each judge can chose to vote or abstain from voting weekly. Their votes as we said before carries a weight of 50times the reader votes. Here’s how they voted this week.

  • Ikhide – Wewe by Ifeoluwa Watson
  • Ebun –  Ordered Chaos by Jeremiah Nzere
  • Oye – Wewe by Ifeoluwa Watson
  • Tolu – Wewe by Ifeoluwa Watson

Reader Votes

Week 3 Screenshot Write Right 2

The Week Three Tables look like this

Write Right 2 Week 3 Tables

Week Four Episodes HERE.

A Little Bird Said – 8

Always interesting how time flies here on tlsplace. A Little Bird has been saying for two months now. Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

The 3rd Episode of the 4part Series of Write Right Two Top 5 voting closes today. Read them HERE and vote if you haven’t. The 4th and final Episodes will be posted tomorrow. 

We had a great time at the Meet, Chat and Buy Naija Books event on Saturday. Many thanks to Oreoluwa of Patabah Books and Kunle Kasumu of Channels Book Club. Hope to have another soon. I should have the pictures later in the week and would post them. Enjoy today’s A Little Bird Said.

TL

A Little Bird Said 3

When he came to, Bankole found himself tied to one of the heavy dining chairs in the living room. He tried to move and he felt the pain surge through him again.

“Keep still mister,” her voice came from behind him.

His eyes watered as he fought back the tears. She had tied him up in such a way that he couldn’t turn his head to see her. The unpredictability of not knowing what she was doing behind him caused the terror to rise within him.

“Why are you doing this? Who are you?” he asked, afraid to raise his voice lest she got angered enough to punish him.

“I am your worst nightmare. They call me The Ring Collector,” she said evenly.

She watched as his body stiffened when she mentioned the name. She liked it. He recognized the name and what it meant.

“Please, I beg you in the name of God…” he began

The shock from the Taser shot through him again. “Do not blaspheme the name of God mister like you’ve done for years now. Instead of truthfully saying you wanted to be free to chase skirts, you hung your desire on God and disgraced her.”

When his eyes focused again, a tab was before them. A picture of him and his wife sharing a kiss on their wedding day was on the screen. They were both flashing their wedding rings for the camera.

“Is this about Tolani? Did she send you?”

“She didn’t have to. But you threw away your ring, and I’m here to collect it. I’ll let you live on one condition. If you can produce your wedding ring now, you will live.”

Bankole gnashed his teeth.

“I thought so,” she said. “Now, the last image you will see was that of your wedding ring.”

He attempted to scream, but no sound came out of his mouth. Then he felt a searing pain. This time, it was different from the pain of the Taser. He struggled for a few moments, and then the darkness swallowed him.

***********++++++++++*************

Senayon made a note in the jotter he had been forced to get the previous day by Professor Morkly. The review of the autopsy reports of both Charles and Fuad showed one thing; the Ring Collector was very proficient with drugs that served the purpose of demobilizing her victims. Charles had a strong traces of hypnotic drugs in his system which must have induced sleep during which he was demobilized. Fuad had a drug the doctor had described as leaving patients conscious but unable to move. Terrible stuff. Unfortunately, the drugs were readily available. He grudgingly admitted to the brilliance of this serial killer. She deliberately selected tools that would give them insight, but in the final analysis were so easy to get that they would tell them nothing specific. There had to be some special hook that he could latch on to somewhere that would lead him to her. He checked the time. He had only fourteen hours to the end of the day, and he was no closer to finding her or her intended victim than he was yesterday, in spite of knowing much more.

“this is frustrating,” he said out aloud. “And it’s still two hours before I see Acharu for that darned list.”

He couldn’t stand the waiting and doing nothing. He checked on the units he had organized and were on standby to go into the field once they could decipher where to go. All that took another thirty minutes and he was left with nothing but waiting again.

He was about to call Professor Morkly to find out if there was anything new there when his phone rang. It was Acharu. He scooped the phone off his table like a hungry man and picked the call.

“Wassap. This is quite early. Area cool and calm?” he said, trying to hide his eagerness.

“See this one forming like he hadn’t been looking at his phone every five minutes just. Senayon, you forget that I know you well,” Acharu responded.

“Whatever. What do you have for me?”

“Someone is all prickly this morning o,” Acharu said.

“Well, if you had a serial killer taking personal interest in you, you’d be even more prickly,” Senayon responded curtly.

“Okay, the blogger came through faster than we expected and I’m done with handling the commissioner. So I’m on my way to your station now. Woulda asked you to come, but the situation here at headquarters is on the knife’s edge and you coming might just rile those who want us to tow the establishment line in this case,” she said.

“Ever the politician. So you handled the commissioner well, abi.” Senayon responded.

“And ever the porcupine, Senayon. And why did you have to say handled that way? That has always been your problem, you know? Assuming I have no other way of dealing with things than opening my legs. well, for your inferiority complex stunted info, I am not fucking the commissioner, there’s nothing someone in his league can do for me. If I wanted to use my kpekus to get ahead at this level, only the likes of the IG and people at the center would qualify. So shove it up your ass!” Acharu yelled.

Senayon couldn’t think of a comeback to that. He simply said flatly. “Apologies. I’ll see you soon then.”

“Send a squad car for the professor, I’d like to ask him something when I get there,” she said.

Senayon imagined he heard her adding “and that’s an order” but he knew she said nothing of the sorts. As if to assert himself with the last bit of control he could muster, he hung up and set about arranging for Professor Morkly to get there.

**********++++++++++++***************

“The list is rather brief,” Professor Morkly said, scoffing. They were all gathered around Senayon’s table, poring over the sheet of paper on which Acharu had printed the email from Stella Dimokokorkus. There was a list of three young men and two ladies along with all their social media details. “The guys are the serial engagement breakers and the ladies have had engagements broken severally,” Acharu explained.

Senayon was not going to give his seat up to Morkly this time, he was asserting himself. When Acharu had arrived, she made no mention of their telephone conversation for which he was grateful. But she had reverted to the strictly businesslike Acharu, PPRO, totally doing away with the warmth that had begun to develop between them.

“They’re all fairly popular men. We’ve checked on the first and he has been out of the country for two weeks, so he cannot be the mark. The other two are here in Lagos but we haven’t contacted them just yet.” Acharu stated.

“Well, I haven’t been idle. I spoke with one of my friends in the US, and he used his good office to hack into the Direct Messages of the two victims,” Professor Morkly said.

“Really?” both Acharu and Senayon said together.

“Yes. the idea occurred to me after I had left you and you definitely do not have the required expertise, so I carried on myself. And I discovered a pattern,” Morkly responded.

“You are just something prof,” Acharu said, shaking her head in disbelief.

“So, can you tell us what you found out good sir,” Senayon queried.

“May I use you system to access my email?” he asked even as he took the tablet from Acharu without waiting for a reply. He quickly pulled up an email that had some image attachments. “Charles’ DM was filled with all manner of dirt, but none arranging a rendezvous around the day he died. But we found a mention of wanting pizza along with his address on his timeline along with tweets that he was home alone. The killer didn’t need DMs with him. The attached images are Fuad’s DM screenshots. She monitored his routine as pasted on social media and simply planted herself in. Now, does any of your two remaining options announce their daily activities on twitter?”

They paused for a bit as if to allow the prof’s deduction sink in. then as if a bug bit him, Senayon snatched the tablet out of Morkly’s hands and launched the twitter app. Morkly was laughing hysterically at their excitement but they ignored the mad old man. Using Acharu’s handle, they went through the timeline of the first guy but found nothing that fit the bill of announcing your personal life on twitter. Without wasting time, they moved on to the second person’s timeline. The last tweet on the @doubleb handle was

“Me, my car and my bible chilling at home.” And it was accompanied by a picture of a fine young man holding a bible and leaning against a Range Rover with customized number plate Omo Jesu. His two tweets before that were similar pictures.

“Well, this is personal but not outrageously so. People post such pictures on twitter daily” Acharu said.

“Enlarge the picture again,” Seanyon said.

Acharu did as he said, wondering what else was in the picture. Senayon peered at it for some seconds and suddenly said

“There! The street name is in the image.”

Acharu quickly zoomed in on the picture and sure enough, the street name was there. She knew the street in Lekki. “Damn! I can find this man’s house if I wanted to, and if I was a serial killer targeting him.”

The raced through his timeline and sure enough saw different tweets that pieced together a picture of his daily life.

“We have our victim!” Acharu announced.

“Of course you do, even you guys are not so dumb that you wouldn’t figure it out with all the help you got. Now are you just going to sit here announcing or are you going to actually do something?” Morkly responded.

“I’m on it already,” Senayon said, exiting the room.

“Aren’t you going to check the women on the list? One of them might be the killer, you know?” Morkly goaded Acharu. She knew it was unnecessary to and ignored his peskiness. There was little time and they had to get this right. Acharu called the phone number of the guy from one of the two her agents had supplied her earlier and dialed him up. She willed with all her heart that he would answer.

Write Right Two – Week Three Top 5 Entries

The standings as at the end of Week 2 of Write Right Two has been posted HERE. We have two more weeks to go before we have our winner and as they say, a  lot can happen in 24hours (not to talk of two weeks). So, keep reading and keep voting. And yes, don’t forget the Meet, Chat and Buy Naija Books event this Saturday. I hope to see you guys there.

TL

Meet Chat Buy Naija Books Patabah Correct 2

ORDERED CHAOS by JEREMIAH NZERE

Tamilore paid off the cab-driver, and hurried into Agodi Park. Daylight was fast fading, and pole-mounted halogen lamps illuminated the park. The last of the day’s picnickers were exiting and the nightlife at the park was just starting to come alive. It was almost six thirty now; she had wasted time looking for the box Ovie had asked her to bring. She picked her phone out of her purse to dial Ovie’s number. It was still switched off. How was she supposed to find him when his number was still switched off? She loitered around the park staring intently at couples seated on benches and clusters of drinking buddies. Ovie wasn’t in any of them.

She turned and was heading for the wooded section of the park when she saw him. Tunde, Ovie’s friend. What was Tunde doing here? The last time she had seen him was on the wedding morning at the church. Now, he was in the company of a short, stocky man. They were approaching her, walking languidly, their eyes darting round the park in predator-like fashion. She instinctively turned away from them and stood behind a tree. As they walked past her, she edged round the tree to stay out of their sight of vision. She caught some of Tunde’s words, helped by the wind to her ears. They seemed to be arguing about something.

“We don’t need to search here.”

What were they searching for? Could she trust Tunde with the information she had? She debated. Ovie had told her to tell no one about their meeting. He and his groomsmen had been at Tunde’s house when he had disappeared. Was Tunde suspect?

She stepped out of the tree’s shadow. She was going to confront him.

“Hello Tunde.” Tunde almost jumped out of his skin. He spun round.

“What are you doing here?” they asked simultaneously. That seemed to douse the tension, as they both smiled.

“I just needed somewhere quiet to think.” Tamilore said. There was no need to tell him everything until she knew what he was doing here.

“Ma binu. Don’t be angry that you’ve not seen me since that day.” Tunde said placatingly.

“Mi o binu o. I’m just bitter.” She shrugged.

“So what are you really doing here?” She queried.

Tunde turned to the short, stocky man beside him.

“Meet Lanre Adeboye, a friend. He is a Manager of a Customer Service Outlet at a telecoms service provider.”

Tamilore nodded at Lanre, her eyes still fixed on Tunde, urging him on.

“With Lanre’s resources, we were able to track Ovie’s phone since it came on.  It has been on intermittently, and we narrowed his location to this area. This park is the sixth location we’re searching.”

He lifted his hands in a gesture of self-defeat.

“That’s why we’re here. Just trying to do our little bit. We can’t keep waiting for those Police people.”

Tunde had been understandably aggrieved with the Police since they had detained him and the other groomsmen for five hours in connection with Ovie’s disappearance.

Tamilore believed them, so she told them about the texts she got from Ovie and the blue box he had given her. She reached into her purse to bring out her phone to show them the text messages. As she unlocked the phone, she noticed the message light blinking. There was a new message from Ovie’s number: I’m waiting at the entrance. Where are you?

She showed Tunde and Lanre the message. Tunde punched the air with his fist.

“We were right. Let’s go” He headed at a trot towards the entrance to the park.

Tamilore stood, unmoving “I don’t think that’s a good idea. He specifically asked me not to tell anyone.”

Tunde stopped and turned, “Okay. You go ahead of us. We’ll be right behind you, out of sight.”

She started off. “But leave the box with us here.” Tamilore handed the box over to Tunde. She fully trusted him now.

They started off together towards the entrance, Tamilore twenty paces ahead of them. Tunde and Lanre stopped at the car park, watching out while she walked to the park gate.

It all happened in fluid motion. One moment, there was no car, the very next moment, a blue SUV pulled out of the park and drove right next to Tamilore. She was hurled into the car before she could run.

Lanre started out towards the car, raising his voice to attract attention. It was too late. The car squealed out of the park. Tunde cradled the box in the crook of his left arm, brought his phone out and called Charles Alidu.

——————————————————————–

WEWE by IFEOLUWA WATSON

Wewe bestrode the counter. She rocked with the wind. Her hands were raised above her head and her eyes closed. She was in her realm; a place where no one could reach. When the transistor radio in the corner struck up a tune, Wewe jumped to her feet on the counter. She thrust her buttocks out and raised one leg mid air and wound her waist to the beats. “One leg up, one leg up,” she mimed. A once-white ceiling fan creaked above, ke ke ke and blew the latent cobwebs east and west. The potbellied policeman behind the counter watched with his jaw slackened.

The train of suspects had marched into Beere Police Station and the two men on duty had rubbed their palms together, in anticipation.

Olopa, we caught these ritualists at Oja Oba. They wanted to capture this mad woman. They…”the first watchman had recited in a thick Oyo-accented Yoruba.

The potbellied policeman had interrupted him, “Abeg, wait first. Let me open a case file.” Potbelly rolled a finger in his nostril and flicked the dried snot into the air. He dragged the heavy records book close to himself and entered a case number. Then, he brought out a larger book, with dog-eared sheets sticking out.

“Come and write your statements,” he said, sliding the book across the counter. The two night watchmen looked at each other and then cast their eyes on the floor.

Why you dey look me like mumu? You no fit write?”Potbelly shouted. The watchmen shook their heads.

The second policeman searched the suspects. He emptied their pockets of their phones and money and car keys. It was during the search that the voice in Wewe’s head had banged and sent her flying onto the counter.

Potbelly turned to the other policeman and ordered, “Corporal, oya handcuff that woman.”

Corporal Adeolu, as his name tag read, moved forward. Wewe had upgraded her dance steps. She now waved two fingers and made a rapid open and close movement with her feet. He regarded her for a moment and hesitated.

“Ha Oga! Were leleyi o! This is a mad woman. Let’s do it together sah!”the corporal said and pushed out his chest, stiffening to attention.

Msheeew, you these young men of nowadays sha. So you can’t handle a common woman?”

Potbelly wrapped his hands around Wewe’s legs and tried to carry her off the counter. Wewe kicked furiously. Rotimi who had been standing quietly rushed forward. “Please be gentle with her,” he said, concern spanned over his face.

Wewe sunk her teeth into Potbelly’s neck. He yelped in pain. “Ah! Mo gbe! I’m in trouble! Mad woman don bite me o!” Potbelly screamed. The racket brought several policemen rushing out of the inner section of the police station; among them was a high rank officer.

“What’s happening here? Inspector Rauf, why are you weeping like a child?” The officer asked.

Tanwa who had been swelling like garri Ijebu soaked in cold water and laced with groundnuts, finally burst like a ripened boil. Acrid words spouted like thick yellow pus from her mouth. “What’s this nonsense? This a total farce! An encumbrance of our human rights! I demand to make a call!”she shrieked.

“Shut up there! Do you know where you are? You this criminal!”Corporal Adeolu shouted. Tanwa was not to be cowed. Her voice hiked. “I have the right to make a call!”she yelled.

Sade had dropped to the floor where she sat with her back against the wall. She looked like a deflated balloon. Wewe and Rotimi cuddled by the side. Rotimi removed his T-shirt and wore it on Wewe to cover her half-nakedness.

Tanwa huffed and puffed. “I will sue all your asses. Just wait till my mother calls the commissioner.” The mention of the Commissioner of Police tingled in the ears of the policemen. The noises subsided.

The high rank officer addressed Tanwa. “Erm, young lady. I’m Superintendent Okon. Come with me to my office. We can talk better there.”

Tanwa quietened. She suddenly felt weak and wobbly on her feet.

Superintendent Okon turned to a policeman beside him. “Sergeant, lock the others in the cell.” Then, he turned to Tanwa and said, “Follow me.”

***

When Yejide Akinfenwa’s phone rang, she sang along with her Yinka Ayefele’s Gospel Tungba ringtone. She did not pick the call. Yeye sat before her dressing table mirror and languidly applied her night face cream. The phone rang again and this time she peered at the number. “Who can be calling me with this unknown number at this time of the night?” she said aloud. The call persisted for the third time. At last, Yeye pressed the accept key.

“Hallo, is this Mrs Yejide Akinfenwa?”

“Who are you?” Yeye asked, ignoring the question.

“My name is Superintendent Okon. I’m calling from Beere Police Station. We have your daughter with us here. She was arrested….”

“My own Omotanwa? Ko je jebe! It isn’t possible. She is asleep in her room as I speak.”

There was a pause at the other end of the line. Yeye heard the man speaking to someone else. The next voice she heard was Tanwa’s. Yeye’s heart somersaulted.

“Tanwa, when did you leave the house? Why are you in a police station? Ehn? Talk to me now!” Tanwa took a sharp intake of breath. She sounded as if she was on the verge of tears. “Mummy, just come get me. Please,” she pleaded.

Yeye got up in a jiffy. The face cream fell and spilled on the expensive Persian rug. Yeye stepped into the mess and spread the stain in big smears as she pulled a boubou over her head. She rushed into the night.

***

Outside Beere Police Station, the two bodies nearly collided. They looked at each other, astonished.

“Anike, what are you doing here?” Yeye asked, bewildered.

“I should ask you the same question. A policeman called me that Sade and Rotimi were arrested for trying to kidnap a mad woman.”

“Kidnap ke! Tanwa is also here o.”

The two friends hastened into the police station – Yeye bunching her boubou’s hems in her hand and Anike tying and retying her falling wrapper.

Yeye banged the counter and a drowsy Potbelly stared at her in irritation. “Ehn, ehn? Wetin happen? Why you dey make noise?”

Yejide Akinfenwa regained some of her composure and eyed Potbelly in a condescending manner. “I want to see my daughter now,” she stated. Potbelly’s hand nursed his neck which now bore a plaster.

How I for know your daughter, she no get name?”he snapped. Anike who was calmer, interfered and explained.

So na you be the parent of those criminals? O ma se o. It’s such a pity.”

Yeye bristled and jutted her finger in Potbelly’s face. “Mister man, mind your words. Don’t insult me! Do you know who I am?”

“I’m the CEO of the Bejewellers and this, my friend here owns Anikky Motors. So you better know who you’re messing with!” Yeye ranted.

Potbelly stared open-mouthed. Corporal Adeolu offered profuse apologies on his behalf and escorted the women to Superintendent Okon’s office.

Behind their backs, a constable regaled the sprinkling of officers who had come out to witness yet another spectacle, with tales. “Everyone knows those women. They are stinkily rich!” the constable exclaimed. Then, he lowered his voice. “There is a rumour that they both killed their husbands.” His listeners hinged closer, stretching their necks in eagerness for the full gist.

Inside Superintendent Okon’s office, Tanwa stared at the ceiling. When the door opened, she jumped into her mother’s arms. She bawled like a baby.

“Omotanwa, what is this I’m hearing? That you went to kidnap a mad woman, ehn?”

Anike’s eyes swept the office in a quick glance. “Where are my children?” she asked.

Yeye released herself from Tanwa’s embrace and faced her daughter squarely. “Now young lady, you’re going to tell me everything.”

Tanwa relayed all she had written in the statement which still laid on the table. Anike’s hands went from their position on her chest to her head. “Rotimi ati were! My son and a mad woman? This is alarming! Take me to him now!”

Yeye wrapped her arms around her friend’s shoulders. She whispered soothing words into her ears. It worked. Anike flopped into a chair. She trembled like a shimmering water leaf.

Yeye turned to Superintendent Okon. “Officer, you have to release these children to us tonight.”

The officer shook his head from side to side. “Madam, you don’t seem to understand. This is a serious situation.”

He talked about how protocols needed to be observed and how investigation was still in process. “We can’t just release them like that. It’s never done,” he concluded.

Yeye rose to her full height, “But my daughter just explained what had really happened. They are not kidnappers!”

Superintendent Okon remained adamant. He began to rearrange loose sheets into a file. Yeye considered him for a moment. Then, she whipped her phone from her purse. She began to dial a number.

“Hello, Commissioner Oni. Yes… it’s me, Yeye Akinfenwa.” Superintendent Okon’s head jerked up in surprise. He watched as she explained the matter to the commissioner.

He stiffened as Yeye handed the phone to him.

“Is that Beere division?”The commissioner asked.

“Yes sir!” Superintendent Okon responded, striking a salute.

The commissioner ordered him to release the suspects and promised to resolve the matter.

Yeye glared at him. A triumphant gleam shone in her eyes. “So, can we see them now?” Anike asked, impatiently. Superintendent Okon, defeated, forced a smile.

“Yes, wait here. They will be taken out of the cell.” He buzzed the intercom and a sergeant entered. He gave the order for them to be released.

The door whined as they entered. It complained of wear and tear. Sade entered first, her hair askew. Anike rushed forward and hugged her daughter. Then, Rotimi and Wewe followed – the pair with their hands joined. Rotimi was still bare-chested and Wewe had her right palm fixed on his belly.

Anike slowly disengaged herself from Sade and looked at her son. Rotimi’s expression was like a river at dawn – calm and silent. Yeye turned towards the door. Her hand flew to her mouth in horror. She stared at Wewe’s star. She looked intently at her hand on Rotimi’s belly.

“No! No! Oh my God! No!”

Yeye crashed to the floor in a dead faint.

***

She was stretched out on the hospital bed. Beside her on a stand, the intravenous drip dropped to, to, to into her veins. The doctor at the Moniks Private Hospital had assured them she would revive after a while.

“The room is too crowded,” he’d said and sent Tanwa and the others out into the corridor, leaving Anike by her bedside. Anike sat with her chin cradled in her palm. She was perplexed. “What frightened Yeye so much when Sade and the others entered?” she asked herself.

Yeye coughed and opened her eyes. Anike moved nearer, anxious. “Yeye, are you okay? Can you see me?” she asked, waving her hand before Yeye’s eyes. Violent sobs wracked Yeye’s body.

Haba, Yeye! Who should be crying between the two of us? I now have a crazy son. Abi, can he be normal? A boy that’s in love with a mad woman!”

Yeye wiped her tears with the embroidered neckline of her boubou. “Anike, she’s the one.”

“Yeye, what are you talking about? You’re getting me scared!”

Yeye sighed and bit down on her forefinger. “Anike, that mad girl is my baby. The one you threw away.” She burst into fresh sobs.

Anike was taken aback for a moment. “Rara o, your baby bawo? It isn’t possible. And what do you mean by the baby I threw away? It was your decision too!”

Yeye reminded her friend of what they had done almost three decades ago.

Yejide and Anike had been students at the University of Ife in the late 1970s. In their final year, Yeye had become enchanted by a young man from the Niger Republic. Every night, Yeye had rushed to Gobaye’s room at Awolowo Hall. It was a two-bedded room reserved for foreign students. Because Gobaye’s roommate stayed off campus mostly, they had, had ample time to play under the sheets. When the seed of their frolicking had sprouted, Yeye had panicked. She’d darted to Gobaye’s room to tell him. His roommate had given her a single sheet of paper. She’d stared at the blue flower-patterned stationery until the words ran helter-skelter on the page. Gobaye had gone home to attend his father’s funeral. He had never returned.

As the days had lengthened, so had Yeye’s stomach grown. She’d swallowed all the local concoctions indicated as abortion remedies. She’d tied her belly so tight with twine until her skin paled for lack of blood. Anike had gone to an old herbalist at Ipetumodu and returned with a greenish liquid in a bottle. Yeye had retched until nothing came out of her mouth. Yet, the life within her had continued to flourish.

“Ha! My father will kill me! What will I do?” Yeye had flailed her arms helplessly. Yeye was already betrothed to the son of her father’s wealthy friend.

Anike had designed a plan. She’d travelled to Ibadan and managed to fleece money off her parents after a tall tale. Anike had also gone to Yeye’s house and repeated the same tale. She’d lied that Yeye had gone on a field trip and could not come home. Anike had returned to Ile Ife with enough money to rent a room in the town.

In that dreary room with yellow peeling paint, Yeye had pushed out a dumpling baby. Anike had always been the brawny stone-hearted one of the two. She had not flinched even once at the sight of the blood. Anike had cut the umbilical cord with a scissors. She’d watched and helped her aunt take deliveries several times at her maternity clinic.

Yeye had held on to the child for minutes that seemed like years to the impatient Anike who hovered over her. Yeye had stared hard at the birthmark on the baby’s head – a dark mark shaped like a four-angled star. Yeye had held the baby’s tiny fingers. She’d been startled when she had counted six fingers on the right hand. Anike had snatched the baby out of her hands.

“I have to do it now, before dawn,” Anike had said in a hushed voice. She’d hurried out into the dark, with the baby in a bucket.

In the years after, when Yeye’s heart had thumped with guilt, she’d comforted herself with the thought that the baby had been dead on arrival. The baby had never cried out.

“So, you think she’s the one because you saw the birthmark and the sixth finger? That doesn’t prove anything!”Anike argued.

Yeye sat up and grasped Anike’s hand tightly. “I could feel it in my bones. Something moved in me when I saw her. She’s my daughter.”

They heard a cough and they both turned towards the doorway. Tanwa stood there. Her horrified eyes formed large discs in her head. She’d heard every word they had reminisced.

“Mum! You’re a wicked soul! You threw away a baby! A human not a Barbie doll!” Tanwa railed.

Yeye and Anike shrivelled before her like corn husks. They could not meet her eye.

“You’re such a hypocrite! So, those your pious sermons on keeping myself until my wedding night and how you had been a chaste maiden are all black lies?”she continued.

Tanwa paused as a big realisation hit her. “Wait… Mum, are you saying that mad woman…the one with Rotimi…that dirty creature could be my sister?”

Yeye looked away and kept mum. Tanwa rushed forward and gripped her shoulders. “Answer me! Answer me!”she shrilled in frenzy. Yeye’s face was awash with tears. “Please, stop. You’re hurting me,” she pleaded.

At that moment, Sade ran into the room, a worried look in her eyes. “Mummy, come quickly! Rotimi and that mad woman are causing trouble at the reception.”

Anike rushed out of the room. Sade noticed Tanwa’s tear stained face.

“What’s wrong Tanwa?”

Tanwa turned and fled past her. Sade turned to Yeye but she got no answer from her shielded red-rimmed eyes. Sade hurried after her mother.

In the reception, benches and chairs had been overturned. Trouble had ensued when Wewe had slapped the backside of a passing nurse. The nurse had reciprocated a slap and Rotimi had gone ballistic. He’d pushed the nurse away and thudded his chest like an enraged lion. Then, he’d begun to throw chairs and benches about.

“These two are raving mad!”The doctor panted, holding his torn overalls. Rotimi had grabbed the doctor by the neck when he’d tried to restrain him. Wewe and Rotimi were on the floor bound with ropes.

“Ah! I’m in trouble o. What can I do? Please tell me, you’re a doctor,” Anike beseeched.

“I’m not that kind of a doctor. Let me refer you to a psychiatrist.”

Anike followed the doctor to his office. He handed a card to her. “His hospital is adjacent Oluyole radio station at Oke Mapo. You can’t miss it.”

The doctor warned her against waiting till morning. “Those two appear schizophrenic to me. It would be dangerous to delay.”

A frail-looking Yeye dragged herself into the doctor’s office holding the drip bag in her hands. “Why did you leave your bed? Where are the nurses?” The doctor asked, agitated.

“Doctor, please remove this thing. I need to leave now.” The doctor opened his mouth to argue but he saw the firm look in her eyes. He led her to a seat. He removed the plaster on her arm and pulled out the cannula needle.

“You need to rest Madam,” the doctor advised. Yeye nodded and stared blankly.

Anike thanked him and supported Yeye as they walked out. They joined a harried Sade who paced the hospital’s corridor.

“Sade, we are leaving now. We’re taking your brother and….” She paused and then reluctantly added, “We’re taking Rotimi and that lady to the mental hospital.”

Sade looked askance at her mother and Yeye. Before she opened her mouth, Anike stalled her questions. “Please, Sade I will answer all your questions later.”

Sade sat in the driver’s seat of her mother’s Prado jeep. The cars driven by Rotimi and Sade and Yeye had been left at the police station when they had rushed Yeye to the hospital. The plethora events of the night weighed heavily on Sade’s shoulder. The security men piloted Wewe and Rotimi into the back seat. Anike pointedly avoided the back seat and opened the passenger’s front door. Yeye, resigned, sat beside Wewe. She kept glancing at the star on her forehead. Wewe bared her teeth at Yeye like a feline creature.

As Sade took the turn out of the Moniks Hospital’s gate, the car’s headlights spotted the huddled figure seated by the elevated culvert ahead. Sade lifted a hand off the steering wheel and pointed. “Mummy, that’s Tanwa. We should pick….”

The rest of her words were tapped off by a tight choke on her neck. Wewe had broken the cords that bound her. She held Sade’s neck in a vice-like grip. Sade had not foreseen the attack. She panicked. Her foot slipped off the brake to the throttle. The car headed for the culvert at a great speed.

There was a loud sickening crunch of metal and bones. Then, a profound silence….

————————————————————————–

THESE LAST DAYS OF OUR LIVE by AKINWALE AGBAJE

“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given the chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.” – Game of Thrones.

Episode 3: The Night Has Come, We Severe Our Ties

In those early days, Mary-Ann exhibited a rather insufferable measure of adolescent naivety, of unadulterated wonder and unrelenting eagerness.In her defense, she was twelve years old. She had only just arrived at Lagos, at the home of the woman she was to serve for a very long time, and she was overwhelmed by even the paltriest of things that would never have mattered to the ordinary city boy or girl – soaring skyscrapers, seemingly endless bridges … a washing machine.

Twenty-three days in, and that infamous innocence she was known for was no more. Wonder became apathy. Artlessness became duplicity. The joy that burned in her eyes smoldered to hate; hate for her mistress, Yinka, a high-ranking SSS officer who saw the world as nothing more than a receptacle of falsehoods and failures and disappointments, meant to be beaten and broken until its very last breath.

Yet, Mary-Ann’s eagerness lingered, a vestige of her old self that had burgeoned inexorably in her struggle to rid herself of Yinka.

God never seemed to listen when she prayed to him, when she begged him to whisk her away, back to the arms of Mama in the village – indeed, the longer she prayed, the harder Yinka beat her with spoons and pots and big sticks. So, a new god had waltzed into her life – Nancy – and she had accepted her with open arms. She had prayed and Nancy had answered.

Nancy would kill Yinka for her.

******************************

The night Nancy had promised to strike, Yinka discovered Mary-Ann’s dark secret. She dragged the little girl out of her room and shoved her to the centre table. Mary-Ann’s knee cracked against the edge of the table and she tumbled in a heap. She made to get up but the pain in her knee shook her and forced her back to the ground.

Yinka stared down at Mary-Ann. Her eyes were different from what Mary-Ann was used to. Usually,odium inhabited them. This time around, amid the hatred, a tinge of fear glinted.

A small wooden bowl, crudely crafted, sat in Yinka’s hand. Inside the bowl, the head of a chicken was submerged in blood.

‘What is this?’ Yinka held out the bowl for Mary-Ann to see, like the girl hadn’t seen it before. She had. It belonged to her. ‘Ehn, Mary-Ann, what is this doing under your bed?’

Mary-Ann rubbed her aching knee. Her lower lip trembled. Her chest heaved.

‘In my house? You’re … you’re doing ritual in my house?’

Mary-Ann had nothing to say to that. She muttered silent words, a chant, kind of. That simply riled Yinka.

Yinka stormed towards Mary-Ann.

Mary-Ann leapt to her feet. She didn’t get far. Yinka yanked her back by the collar of her dress. A stinging slap to her face, a paralysing blow to her stomach … and then the bowl came upon her head, shattering and spilling its contents on the girl.

Yinka wrapped her hands around Mary-Ann’s throat and squeezed.

‘You people think you can kill me, shey?!’ Her eyes bulged. ‘You won’t kill me! I won’t let you!’

Mary-Ann clawed and kicked and wriggled, but she simply lacked the essential strength to free herself. The edges around her vision dimmed.

A phone rang. Yinka’s hands grew lax. That phone never rang, not unless…

She left Mary-Ann and strolled to the table. Mary-Ann collapsed,sobbing, coughing, and spluttering with fear and indignation.

Yinka picked the phone.

‘Yes?’ she said.

‘Madam, we have confirmation,’ said the firm voice from the other end.

‘Are you absolutely sure?’

‘Boko-Haram operatives are here, in Lagos. The source was very clear on that. We know where they are. We should proceed.’

Yinka paced the sitting room, nervous. She glanced at Mary-Ann – the girl had curled herself up in a ball, at a corner, her body trembling. Loathing seared Yinka’s insides.

‘Now?’ she said.

‘The president is taking a lot of heat from the public and the press. If these criminals succeed in whatever they’re planning, it’ll be our heads on a platter.’

‘Fine. Do it.’ Yinka dropped the phone on the table. She pulled a chair towards Mary-Ann – who cowered away – and sat. ‘You’re going to tell me who sent you to destroy me. I swear, you will, or I will kill you this night.’

******************************

DPO Adewale was the sort of man who possessed the uncanny ability to inspire whatever emotions he wanted out of a man or woman in the line of duty – fear, respect, loyalty … name it. He was huge, like a human tree – vast shoulders, strong arms; and quick on his feet, too quick for a man his size. His dark eyes, stuck in a permanent squint, secreted his emotions well. One could never tell what Adewale was thinking just by looking at him, unless he expressed it, and half the time he did that, he lied.

Like now.

The officers in his charge loaded weapons and other tactical assault accessories into the Toyota Hilux truck outside the station. From time to time they glanced at Adewale and thought to themselves, business as usual. But they didn’t know what he knew. They didn’t perceive what he truly felt: the cold hand of terror around his heart in a tight fist, savouring every delicate thump, infecting his blood, his body, his mind with a deep sense of foreboding.

The order had come in from Yinka, and so they were off. For this kind of operation, weekend night time such as this had its advantages, like zero traffic. They moved without sirens. Stealth mode.

They veered off the road into a cleared path through a thicket and halted at a lone shack. It looked deserted. They got off the truck, armed to the teeth, and jogged to the building.

There was no one inside – no one alive, that is. Adewale shone his high-powered torch around the bodies. There were five of them,all adorned with bullet holes. His source had said six. The beam from his torch roved about, and then stopped at an open doorway that led to the thick of the forest in the backyard.

‘Someone left, probably injured. Find him,’ Adewale barked the order.

The officers leapt to action, rushing through the doorway and slipping into the forest at various entry points, their aim to converge on the suspect without giving him any room to escape.

Adewale walked around, inspecting the bodies … machine guns in stiffened hands … bullet casings strewn across the wooden floor. These men had died heavily armed. His money was on the last surviving suspect as the perpetrator. But how could one man had successfully taken on five men, and with what, an A.K? No matter the weapon of choice, the odds were firmly stacked against him. By all accounts, the suspect shouldn’t have survived the gunfight.

Something didn’t feel right about this. Could there have been a second shooter, someone Adewale hadn’t factored in?

Adewale stooped beside a body. He turned the head one way and examined the deep gash on the neck. It looked like something had chewed on him while he was alive.

A terrible cry carried across the air, from the backyard. Adewale stood and pointed his torch at the gaping doorway.

Staccato gunfire resonated. Flashes of light. Bullets wheezed, spearing leaves, snapping branches.

Adewale clutched his torch. His free hand went for the sidearm on his belt but didn’t remove it.

More cries. More gunfire.The rustle of trees and bushes. What the hell was going on in there?

The leaves parted. Adewale aimed his torch. One of his officers stumbled out. He was covered in blood and mud. He struggled … hopped. His left leg was badly torn, trousers shredded. Blood streamed down, sketching a red trail behind him.

‘Musa…?’ Adewale called.

‘Oga!’ Musa said. ‘Run!’

A gust of wind, the sound of a trunk splitting – Musa was hauled back into the forest, the echo of his terrified scream written across the skies, an aide-memoire of something much darker than the black night that loitered behind the thick walls of the forest.

Adewale had had enough. He pulled his gun from its holster, trained it on the doorway, and retreated slowly. He knew he shouldn’t have come here. The source … the message she had left him … it all sounded too perfect … and weird.

He had always been different from his colleagues, forever putting his obligation to his country first before anything else – money, women … power. Perhaps tonight, he should have been a little more selfish and looked out for himself.

A creak … light as a leaf from a tree touching the floor.

Adewale froze. He felt the fruity breath caress his neck. Something was behind him, and for the first time in a very, very long time, his eyes betrayed his emotions.

******************************

‘Tell me!’

CRACK!

‘I said, tell me!’

CRACK! CRACK!

‘You will die today!’ Yinka said with murderous fury. She raised the stick again.

‘I’ll tell you! Please, don’t hit me, aunty, please!’ Mary-Ann shielded her swollen, bruised face. Her dress was in tatters,her skin criss-crossed by fresh welts.

‘What is that ritual bowl for?’ Yinka spat, jabbing a fat finger at fragments of the odd bowl she had discovered under Mary-Ann’s bed.

‘It’s for Nancy…’ Mary-Ann sobbed.

‘Who is Nancy?’

‘Nancy is … She’s—’

‘My friend, answer me!’

‘She’s my god!’

Yinka paused, staring at Mary-Ann, a potent hodgepodge of disbelief and revulsion simmering in her eyes.

‘Your … god?’

The front door opened.

Yinka looked up, confused.

A lithe, beautiful young lady walked in. She had enticing, full pink lips; soft, near-rounded cheekbones;a set of intelligent brown eyes, and short hair. She wore form-fitting blue jeans, white tanks, a red jacket, and trendy black flats.

‘Who are you?’ Yinka asked. ‘What are you doing in my house?’

The young lady closed the door. She smiled, exposing a cute gap tooth, and she kept her right hand behind her back.

Mary-Ann mustered all the strength she could and rose to her knees. She stared at the woman reverently.

‘Nancy…’ She whimpered. ‘You came!’

‘Nancy?’ Yinka said, staring from Mary-Ann to the stranger. ‘You’re the god?’

Nancy scrutinised her surroundings.

‘Well, Tunde… You either have a really active imagination or this is very real,’ she said.

‘Who’s Tunde?’ Yinka edged away, towards the dining table.

‘Never mind that.I need Protocol five-three-six,’ Nancy said. ‘I need it now.’

Yinka stiffened.

‘How do you know about that?’

‘That’s none of your concern.’

Yinka was at the shelf, ahead of the dining table. She shot her hand in between some books and fetched out a gun. Mary-Ann shrieked and dived for cover. Nancy, though, looked on in amusement. Yinka aimed the gun at her.

‘You’ve made a terrible mistake coming here,’ Yinka said.

‘Oh, I very much disagree.’ Nancy brought forth her right hand. In it – a bloody mass, dripping red. A heart.

Yinka swallowed. Beads of sweat collected on the furrows of her brow.

‘This belonged to DPO Adewale. He told everything.’ Nancy placed the heart on a side table. ‘Now, about that protocol.’

Yinka squeezed the trigger. Four shots. The first bullet smashed Nancy’s forehead, snapping her neck backwards. The other three found her torso.

Nancy staggered to the door, bent over.

‘That wasn’t … very … nice,’ she grunted.

Yinka’s jaw dropped. How was she still alive, much less standing?

Nancy straightened. She wasn’t smiling anymore. She opened her left fist and out of it fell four compacted bullets. She had caught them all.

‘My turn,’ she said.

******************************

By the morning, Nancy had protocol five-three-six etched in memory. Yinka had been relegated to a chair at the dining table, a crimson pool beneath her feet. Her head sat next to a vase of flowers.

Nancy gave Mary-Ann all the money she could find in the house – fifty thousand Naira.

‘You should leave at once.’

Mary-Ann kissed Nancy’s feet, thanked her, and fled the house.

Nancy darted off. She got the restaurant in minutes and occupied her preferred table, the one at the back that gave her a perfect view of every patron, and those who came in and left.

She ordered tea and cake.

The elderly cleaning lady – Patience – swept the floor. When she spotted Nancy she smiled and walked to her.

‘Thank you,’ Patience said. ‘Pastor Chris Oyatie’s people contacted me.’

‘That’s wonderful,’ Nancy said. ‘Just make sure you take Sally to him today. It has to be today.’

‘Of course,’ Patience said. ‘I’ll talk to my boss.’

‘He won’t be any problem.’

‘Did you find what you were looking for?’ Patience asked.

The main door opened and he entered. Tunde. He was in the company of a woman.

Nancy’s heart would have thumped faster and warmed if it still functioned. He looked worse for wear even though he tried to hide it behind his too perfect smile and too happy look. She could always tell what he was thinking, what he was going through. She understood his pain, and this time around she had resolved to give him respite, by any means necessary.

‘Yes,’ Nancy said to Patience. ‘I did.’

Patience nodded and went about her business. She soon disappeared into a backroom.

Nancy checked her watch: 5:36:00.

‘Anytime now.’

Their date was short, but effective. Tunde had certainly succeeded in beguiling the woman. She left the restaurant with that heady sensation that convoyed the initial stages of falling in love.

Once she was out of sight, Tunde dropped his mask of pretence. He stood, shoved his hand into his pocket.

That was Nancy’s cue. She quietly got up and walked. Tunde held the ring. She bumped into his shoulder and kept going.

‘Hey!’ he yelled, but he wouldn’t come after her. She knew.

She exited the restaurant, glanced at her watch: 5:36:01. She smiled and breezed off.

—————————————————————————

THE END by OPEOLUWA OLUBODE

The loud bang of a gun brought an end to my prayers. I looked up for the second time and I saw Simi fall to the ground. It was Kemi who had fired the gun. From the spot I was lying, I could see blood splattered all over her white gown. I just couldn’t believe it, I didn’t expect them to get so violent. Where exactly was the police? Dre could not do much because he had already been tied up, was as helpless as a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

He began shouting and cursing and for the first time in a very long while, I saw my brother cry. I began to cry too. This was not the wedding we had imagined. Oh God, why was this happening? Everybody was either praying or crying. A single shot fired into air was all it took to shut us up again. Then began the reign of silence.

A quarter of a minute later, the groovy beats of Tiwa Savage’s ‘Eminado’ pierced the silence. It took me the better part of five seconds to realise it was coming from my handbag. I honestly do not know how I forgot to set the silent mode. I quickly put my hand in my bag and pressed the reject button.

“Whose phone is that?”. It was Kemi’s voice. I didn’t answer but instead, closed by eyes and began praying hard. “For the second time, whose phone is that? I know it came from the front.” Her voice was deeper this time. I couldn’t answer, these people would deal with me mercilessly . Two of the men began to search and this time, they started from the front because it was obvious that was where the noise came from.

To say that I was scared stiff is a gross understatement! The sound of my heart beating drowned out every other sound…thud! Thud!! Thud!!!

They did not have to search for long because the phone rang again, the second time.

It was very obvious that the sound came from me. Everybody now looked in my direction. I was scared to death and prayed in my heart. This time, I prayed to make heaven. “Stand Up!” One of the men ordered me. He was the burliest one among them and he smelled of something a tad worse than cow dung mixed in with garlic and indian hemp ( yes, yes, I have a B.Sc in exagerration!). I did as I was told.

“Give me the phone, bitch!” Another yelled. I gave it to him. He took it and unfortunately for me, the chat with the DPO informing him of what was going down at the wedding was what he saw. Oh no! Curse all these over-sensitive touchscreen phones that open applications on their own when you forget to lock the screen.

“Ahhh you think say you smart abi? Your own don finish today! Idiot!” He told me. “Omo this bitch don yarn police ooh”. He told the other members of his crew. As if they planned it, both guys slapped me simultaneously, on both cheeks. I know they were hard loud slaps because one of the guests who was still lying on the floor shouted, “Yekpa!”

The men were so hefty, so I thought it best not to fight back. I was dizzy, really dizzy. My head began to pound and I couldn’t even see properly anymore. Everything became blurry. I was shivering and very weak. “Please.” I found myself begging. “Shut up, you bastard.” The bigger man said and slapped me two more times and knocked me hard on my head. In my entire life, I had never felt the kind of pain I was feeling now before. I could not even speak again. I did not know what to do.

“Leave her alone.” It was Kemi’s voice. The men left me immediately and walked away, then Kemi came closer to me. Though I could not see very well, I noticed the bright smile on her face. “Woow Tammy you have become so big now. I didn’t even know it was you.” Really? Was she faking it? I did not understand. She came closer and hugged me hard.

This time, I knew God had answered my prayers. “I am so sorry I let them hit you like that.” Kemi continued and asked me to sit down. “You see, I am not mad at you at all. It’s just that my life is ruined because of your big bro and I have to ruin his life too. At this point, I don’t even care anymore if i go to prison, as long as my Dare never finds happiness.” She was still smiling.

“Our Dare.” Tola corrected her. And they both laughed. I still didn’t know what to do. I was very confounded.

Now everybody was staring at me, like I had planned this with them.

“Tola, Kemi, both of you do not really have to do this.” I said, I was feeling a bit better, the headache had gone down and these people were now being nice to me.

“I know, but it’s too late darling.” She answered me, still smiling.

“Please. Kemi, please” I went on my knees and began pleading.

“Tammy, don’t let me get angry. Get up and sit down.”

This time, the smile had disappeared. I had no choice, I did as I was told.  I looked around for the umpteenth time. Dre was crying harder, helpless and weak. Simi was still on the floor, lying lifeless, she had just gone like that. My parents and Simi’s parents were flat on the ground, helpless. Everybody else was lying flat, praying and crying.The rest of Kemi and Tola’s crew were at a corner of the church, talking about what I could not hear.

I started crying again. Why was this happening to us? Why was the very first wedding in my nuclear family being ruined? I was helpless, agitated and very unhappy. I did not know what to do. And where was the police? I had pinged the DPO like twenty minutes ago. Did they have to take so long every time? I decided to pray again. This time, I was saying my last prayers, praying for God to touch Kemi’s heart and praying for the police to hurry up.

I looked up with my teary eyes and what I saw got me baffled. Now, I was even more perplexed. I used my right hand to wipe my tears to see clearly. This time, I was convinced I was not imagining things but what I was seeing was very real. There was Kemi, holding a gun pointed at me. The strange thing was that she was still smiling. Even smiling harder this time. I did not understand.

“I just wanted you to feel relaxed and say your last prayers. Now, you have done just that”. She said to me. Before I had a chance to reply her, she pulled the trigger and the bullet came straight to me.

—————————————————————————

FATE’S STORE by MIRACLE ADEBAYO

Since the day I’d found out I was pregnant; I’d refused to acknowledge the life growing inside of me. This was the reason I’d avoided discussing it with my husband. What was there to talk about?

It was too much to bear, my emotions were conflicting. The thought that I was going to be a mother again sent my heart racing with a strange anticipation but also brought the memories flooding back.

There was something else nagging at the back of my mind, the secret I’d kept for so long because I was ashamed.

It suddenly seemed like the right time to spill. It was going to be the biggest blow yet to our marriage but I knew that if I kept my mouth shut anymore; I’d burst.

I recalled a conversation I had with my mother when I’d been about to get married to Tade, she’d advised me to open up to him with the  truth.

But I’d been afraid he’ll reject me if he found out who I really was. So I’d made my parents promise not to mention it to him but now, after being childless throughout the nine years of my marriage and with this unexpected twist in my life;  it seemed I was paying for  the sins I’d committed.

I looked at my husband and felt sympathy and affection well up in my heart. This was a man I’d loved for the greater part of my life; a man who I’d shared my dreams with, had anything changed all that?

“Nine years Tade,” I managed to say.

He was silent, his eyes searching my face.

“Isn’t life cruel?” I gave a short mirthless laugh. “It seems bad luck seems to follow me everywhere.”

“Don’t say that Bukky. This is one of those things that happen. There’s always a way out.  We just need to find it.”

“The way out here is what? Abortion abi?

“Maybe.”

“God is punishing me,” I said softly, casting my mind to my past.

“God doesn’t punish us like that, besides what wrong did you do?”

“You don’t know me well, Tade. All these years, I’ve lied to you. Do you know how long I’ve wanted to have your baby, Tade? It has been my only dream for the past nine years and now, out of nowhere, this nonsense happens and I’m left with a child growing inside me. A child I don’t even want, I’m afraid to say.”

“What do you mean I don’t know you?”

I stalled. Was now the right time to tell him the truth about me?

“I have a confession to make, Tade. Something that might change your whole perception of me from now on. It is something I was ashamed to tell you when we first met, but I’m ready now. You deserve to know.”

“You’re scaring me Bukky. What is it?”

As I opened my mouth to speak, it all came rushing back. The memories.

****************************************************************

MAY 2ND 1999

The day began like any other day. Papa dropped me off at school on his way to work and I met up with Amaka my best friend in the classroom. Amaka and I were age mates but she’d always seemed more worldy than I; this was the reason why she’d been carrying on a relationship with one of our classmates for three months.

               “What do you like about him?” I asked her during lunch one day.

               “He’s beautiful. And he can kiss,” she giggled.

               I was a little bit awed by her. Ever since she’d entered puberty, guys had begun noticing her.

               “And where did you learn how to kiss?” The jealousy was evident in my voice.

               “Where else? TV of course. And if you have a boyfriend it’s not so hard.”

               I grunted. I  wanted a boyfriend too. I envied my friend the kind of freedom she had. It was the kind I sought, one which I had never gotten. My father was the pastor in our church which means the kind of life Amaka lived was a mirage to me; one that I desperately wanted to hold.

               From that moment, I decided that I would taste even if it was a little bit of what Amaka had.

               “So what do you people do after school in class?” I asked, curiously.

               “Kiss. He likes touching my breasts. I like it too but sometimes he pinches too hard.”

               I was getting more excited.

               “Let me tell you something, you know Uncle Mike likes you ba?”

               “What?” My eyes widened. Uncle Mike was our Computer Science teacher.

               “Stop doing like mumu joor. He made you his class rep, then he always asks you question in class, the other day, when you were walking in front of him, I looked back and saw him looking at you.”

               My pulse raced. My friend had an eye for these things. It wasn’t hard to believe her.

               “I don’t believe you. Abeg, he made me class rep because I’m good at computer. Besides, he’s old.”

               “I bet he’s good in bed,” she chuckled, nudging me.

               “Amaka!” I hushed.

 

               However, the seed had been planted, I kept an eye out for Uncle Mike. I don’t know why it suddenly mattered to me to freshen up whenever I went to his office to submit assignments. My actions around my teacher changed, I wasn’t seducing him or anything but I was making sure he noticed me. I wanted to see how I could possibly attract a man with my sixteen year old body.

               It was a dangerous game.

One afternoon, after school hours, Uncle Mike asked me to stay back to help me mark answer scripts.

                              I told Amaka and she looked at me with dark eyes.

               “Mark scripts after school? Hian.”

               “Your mind is dirty, that is what is killing you. Too much of those movies,” I reprimanded.

               “Whatever; I sha told  you.”

               I nodded and packed my bag before going to my teacher’s office. The office was deserted and we went straight to work, he handed me a sheaf of papers and the marking scheme and asked me to get started.

               We had only gone halfway when I paused. I realised he’d been staring at me.

               I blushed self-consciously, unsure of what to say or do.

               “Do you know you’re a beautiful girl, Bukky?”

               I smiled shyly, “Thank you sir.”

               “I don’t know if anyone has told you before but you can be a model when you grow older.”

               My head began to swell. An older man found me good enough to be a model!  Me! Not Amaka!

               The words kept rolling off his tongue like chunks of well-formed morsels; and without realising it, he was soon beside me.

               When he first kissed me, it wasn’t like I’d thought it would be. It wasn’t like Amaka had described it, neither was it like what I’d seen in the movies.

               It was sloppy and unpleasant. I pulled away; he crushed me against himself in an embrace.

               The second kiss was worse but as I tried to protest, he deepened it.

               A kiss I could handle, but the moment his hand began fiddling with my uniform, I knew he was going out of bounds.

               “Uncle! Stop!” I pulled away.

               “Why are you pretending?”

               I frowned, smoothing my skirt, “Please sir, let me go home. I don’t want this.”

               “After seducing me?” His eyes were turning an unpleasant shade of red.

               “Ha! Me! Seduce! I’m sorry sir, please sir,” I turned away from him to get my bag.

               Before I knew it, he walked to the door, banged it and turned the key in its lock. “Oya go let me see.”

               “Jesus!” It was a scream. “Help ooh somebody help! Uncle open this door if not I will scream!”

               “Scream now; let me see who’ll help you,” he advanced towards me. “I’ll teach you about sex and you’ll enjoy it, just once my darling.”

               I tasted my tears as I backed away from him.

“Please sir, I’m begging you in God’s name, please allow me go. Please, I’m like your younger sister ooh! Help ooh! Somebody help me!”

                              I was trapped; backed against the wall.

I screamed as he jumped on me; no one came to my rescue. I fought and scratched at him, he overpowered me without qualms.

               I lost my virginity to a man more than ten years my senior. I was fully conscious and I cried the whole time.

               I told no one, not even Amaka. I was so ashamed of myself.

               Three days later, it was as though I couldn’t control myself, a force propelled me to his office. He didn’t dissuade me, instead he took me to his house and although he was more gentle this time, the tears flowed freely from my eyes as he thrust himself into me again and again.

               It was as though a sudden possession had taken over me. I hated myself every time he finished with me but I couldn’t seem to stay away from him.

               My affair with Uncle Mike went on for two months before I discovered I was pregnant.

               I wanted to die. At sixteen, with my final exams a few months away, I was pregnant for a man I loathed. I didn’t tell him or Amaka.

               Because of my upbringing, abortion wasn’t an option for me. I didn’t have to wait long for my mother to see the changes in my body.

               An alarm was raised in my home.

               An abortion, Mum suggested. We can’t have our daughter made a laughing stock.

               Papa disagreed. Abortion is a sin, he said. She knew what she was doing before she did it.

               Mum pleaded, cried and begged Papa for a reprieve.

               I won’t sin against God by sanctioning an abortion. He maintained.

               And your congregation? Mum asked. What would they think?

               She can travel to the village and have the baby.

Eventually, the decision was made. My education was on hold. I was withdrawn from school immediately and taken to the village, where I spent the remaining seven months of my term.

               Labour was the most painful process I’d ever gone through and as I screamed in pain, it was then I made up my mind to be a doctor who helped women in child birth.

               My daughter Laide was born eight hours later.

*******************************************************

PRESENT DAY

AGBOOLA’S RESIDENCE

Tade hadn’t moved since I’d finished my story. And that had been six minutes ago. The chimes from the wall clock echoed in my ears.

I had kept my secret for fourteen years, no one apart from my grandmother and my immediate family knew about my daughter.

“Tade, I’m sorry but I was so ashamed. I couldn’t tell anyone about my dirty past; it was something I tried to keep…”

“Please Bukky, just shut up. Please…I don’t want to hear anymore,” He raised his head and I saw the film of tears that teased his eyes. “Ten years. Ten years I’ve known you and you never thought to tell me that you had a child!”

In the nine years we’d been married, I’d seen my husband lose control and cry only once; seeing him at the verge of tears now, and knowing I’d brought it to his eyes, made my heart ache.

I loved this man and I’d never wanted to hurt him.

I dropped to my knees in front of him. “I didn’t plan to hurt you, I swear. You can hate me, do whatever you want to me, I deserve it. I think God is finally punishing me for my wickedness.”

He didn’t look at me.

“So all these years, all these years…how many times did you visit her? All those gifts you sent to your grandmother…all those visits…”

Our discussion was interrupted by the shrill sound of his phone. I heard him cuss as he took out the phone while sniffling.

“Hello, Doctor Ini. It’s two a.m. in the morning, what could be so important?”

My ears perked up at the sound of the name of the doctor who’d treated me.

“Yes? What is it?” Tade listened. “Blood of Jesus! What? How? Oh God! Are you sure?”

He listened again and finally thanked the doctor and hung up.

The look in his eyes had changed; there was a mixture of fear and relief.

“That was Doctor Ini.”

I nodded.

“He said he was going through your latest test results and stumbled on something.”

“Yes?”

“You’re not pregnant.”

I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. I had lost a baby I never even had.

“The tests showed that you’re not carrying a baby, you’ve…”

His voice quivered and I knew there was more.

———————————————————————–

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