THE PRISON

“He is dead. If you think anyone can have you apart from me, you are highly mistaken. You are my wife and my personal whore and no one will have you as long as I live” Her Ex-husband , Kolapo Oladeji pronounced with an expressionless face after bending to check the pulse in the neck of her fiancée whose body lay lifeless on the kitchen tiles ,blood sipping out of the bullet wound in his chest. Nancy’s senses picked up the sounds in the warm kitchen as she stared at him. She heard the kettle whistling on the counter as the hot water came to boil, the smell of fresh bread that was sliced half-way on the tray and ingredients for sandwich and her tongue could almost taste the metallic scent of fresh blood in the kitchen. She opened her mouth to speak but no sound came out and her mind wondered where exactly she had gone wrong to deserve this monster in her life.

“Mum, I am tired of this marriage. He raped me every night and he doesn’t see me as a human being in this union except as an object to satisfy his weird and insatiable sex urge.” Nancy had complained to her mother over the phone some months ago, her voice husky with tears. “Nancy, you have been married for less than two years and you are already complaining about your marriage. Of course if you don’t give him what belongs to him, he will take it by force and you have no right to complain about that. Is he supposed to be begging you for his right?” Her mother had leapt to her husband’s defense as usual and she had sighed heavily. “Mum, you don’t understand. Kola is not the man you used to know before we got married and I am not even sure I know him at all. He doesn’t pray with me any longer and doesn’t talk to me either except when he wants sex. Now he has taken to hitting me when I complain. Is that the kind of life you want me to continue living?” She had said on the verge of shedding tears. “Be a submissive wife and give your husband a child. Why do you think I am still in your father’s house till now? It is because I attend to all his needs and make it my responsibility to keep my home together. Treat him like a God and worship him. That is the only way you can have peace in your matrimonial home. Do your duties without complaining. We will talk about this when you visit. Your father is here and I need to attend to him.” Her mother had said calmly. “Bye mum.” Nancy had responded in a dull voice and put an end to the call. She had leaned against the toilet wall and closed her eyes with a heavy sigh.

She wondered if this was her punishment for getting rid of an innocent life who was a result of the promiscuous lifestyle she had led during her undergraduate years. Her parent were staunch Christians and she had been raised in a disciplined and spiritually strong home. Life in school had been fun and exciting, full of illicit affairs, smoke and buzz until she had been faced with the decision of either having a child outside wed-lock and disgracing her parent who held high positions in their church or getting rid of the baby whose father she wasn’t sure of and living with the guilt forever. She had chosen the latter and it haunted her every day of her life till she met her husband.

“James, he was a perfect gentleman when we met. I told him about my past and he appeared not to be bothered by it. He said it was my past and it has nothing to do with him. He became even more loving afterwards.” She had found herself discussing about the nightmare she lived every day with her male colleague, James on a lunch break. James was single and a good-looking man. They had been good friends since she joined the company and they had been working together long before she got married. “What could have gone wrong? Did you do anything to bring out the worst part of him?” James wondered aloud as he stared at her, his lunch was left, untouched. “I asked myself that question every day since our wedding night. He didn’t touch me at all when we were dating except for the casual hugs, hand-holding when we are outside and chaste kisses on my nose, cheek or forehead. He doesn’t drink or smoke and when we hang out in the evening, it is at the movies or my home or his. My parent fell in love with him and I thought I was the luckiest woman on earth.” She paused, her gaze filled with remembered hurt. “The abrupt change in him on our wedding night still baffled me till today. He called me all sorts of despicable names that shouldn’t be mentioned in broad daylight as he tore off my night wear and raped me in every position possible. I screamed and cried my heart out. He pushed me to the floor afterwards and went to sleep. I lived that life every day, James.” Tears filled her eyes and she dabbed at it with the crumbled handkerchief in her fist. “I am so sorry for what you are going through, Nancy. I think he has either a mental or psychological problem. Why don’t you persuade him to see a psychiatric s?” James took her hand in his and held it in comfort. “The day I suggested he sees a Doctor, he accused me of calling him a crazy man and beat the hell out of me. He raped me afterwards and locked me indoor for days. That was the real reason I wasn’t in the office that period I told you I was sick and the whole office thought I just got pregnant.” She said with a weak smile. “I think it is right time you summoned your courage and ask for divorce. He will end up killing you one day if you don’t get out on time. Please do something now before it is too late.” He said pleadingly. “Funny enough he is careful not to leave physical bruises on my body when he beat or raped me. He said he doesn’t like seeing marks on my beautiful body because it belongs to him.” She murmured under her breath and looked at him. “I am surprise and glad you believe me because no one ever does. I am scared to face him, James and I am not ashamed to say that loud.” She said with a trembling voice and his heart went to her.

They become closer after that fateful lunch break and she cherished their time together. He continued persuading her to ask for divorce and she eventually summoned the courage to face her husband one evening after he finished taking his dinner.
“What did you just say, Nancy?” Kola asked coldly as he looked at her. “I said I think we need to get a divorce.” She struggled to firm her trembling voice without success. “Where did you get that idea? Divorce is not allowed in Christianity. Have you forgotten that?” He said with a smile as he got to his feet and she stepped away. “I am tired of this prison call marriage. I need my freedom. I need to breath.” She burst out desperately. “How dare you raise your voice at me?” His knuckles shot out and connected with her temple. She slide to the floor in a dead faint.

She was rushed to the hospital where she was revived and was on admission for two weeks. Her parent met James when she was on admission and her mother blamed the failure of her marriage on James’s presence in her life. They let her knew she would be disowned if she went ahead with the divorce with Kolapo but she was beyond caring at this moment. James took her to his home after she was discharged and got a lawyer on her behalf to start the divorce proceedings. It was a long and bitter legal fight and she fought the fear that her husband would turn up at any time to finish what he started. Nancy cried and celebrated the day they were finally separated legally.
James had been attracted to Nancy since the first time they met but before he could gather his courage to ask her out, she brought her wedding invitation card to the office and he had buried his feelings. He started wooing her immediately she become a free woman again and made his intentions known. At first, she was reluctant to start another relationship shortly after her divorce but he didn’t give up until she decided to give it a trial and they were soon planning their wedding.

The morning sun came through the window and poked its fingers into her eyes. She stretched luxuriously as she opened her eyes and yawned loudly. It was a week to their wedding and James had loved her throughout the night. Her body was sore and ache in certain places that made her smile dreamily into space. “James, where are you?” She called as she got out of bed, clad in only his big t-shirt and padded out of the room. She pushed open the kitchen door and the smell of blood assailed her nostrils as she entered. She was confronted with the view of her ex-husband, holding a gun as he stood over her fiancee’s body that was on the floor.

He set me free from your prison and his death will not be in vain, she promised herself, even as her body shook with bone-deep grief and her eyes refused to leave the lifeless body.

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Night Boy

Sister, the heat is too much
Let us sleep on the floor,
And let us feel and hear
The sighs of our ancestors underneath

Mama, will you pray for our soul?
That this breath I breathe won’t Leave and go,
And for clean water
To drown in my throat.

Papa, these mosquitoes are evil o
And I’m weary of slapping myself –
That used to be your job
Doesn’t death know your children miss you?

And when will we have yam,
The palm oil is tired
Of sitting at the bottom
Of the bottle, and my mind.

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Baba is a hungry glutton

BABA IS A HUNGRY GLUTTON

Baba, the courageous coward,
Muscular hunter with no ability;
Whose gun pollutes the atmospheric silence
When cockroach shambles through our backyard.

That’s the best he can do…

Baba, invited guest at the dinner table,
Sweeps the corridor along his nose with tongue
When the kitchen aroma wanders around the atmosphere.
Mops his ten fingers with his salivary soap after meal.

Baba, the architect of poverty,
Who draws his dreams into the sheet of vanity.

ii

Mama, applaudable heroine with no medal
Whose sweat pays price for the meal baba perspirates over…
Upon which he groans when his stomach revolts.

Sacks of baby’s food located left-right of her chest sap,
Bitterly sweet, yet aids baba’s digestion at night
When sucked, only droplets are left
For the marching babies in heaven coming to earth.

That’s the best he can do…
To eat like a glutton eating his last supper,
Dig into mama’s thighs when daylight sleeps.

Mama, marital servant with expected obligations,
Feed the tommy of the lazy man called husband;
Opens her thighs when baba is sexually starved
Even when her libido melts away with day stress.

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Shadow (Enemy of the dark)

“Her bountiful posterior make me want to be a bounty hunter, you know your Aunt look sixteen..said Jokingly by Jimmy Asanimo but Isaac wasn’t taken it lightly
.
“Hunh hunh stop that Jimmy I only gave you my phone to view Margaret pictures now you are viewing more than you can chew replied isaac with a fist fierce face
.
Oh oh will you shut up! you murderer Roared Jimi
.
(Jimi’s voice startled Isaac that he almost fell off his mattress) what do do-do-do you mea..stammered Isaac
.
You just murdered proverb my dear friend it was actually “bite more than you can chew” not “view more than you can chew” Jimmy said amid laughter
.
Haha you are crazy and you wetin you mean by Posterior I was thinking you said my aunt Postinor hehehehehehe
***
***
They ended the night with laughs and taunting jokes. Jimmy Asanimo and Isaac Sanguine have been friends since their first year at the University of Ibadan, now at their final year the two microbiology geek have developed a new gene and bond of friendship over the years that rival the pastor and his bible, only few knew that they are not of the same bloodline as their physical attributes nearly niche them Siamese twins except they are not conjoined and Isaac only has a four packs (abs) to show for his six month gym training session whilst Jimmy was herculean. the two dark skinned 6ft men were born on the seventh month of the same year but on a different day such was the similarity of their life and fate. like isaac, Jimmy also lost his father when he was young and was brought up by his mother but to every great story there is a stale sad tale.
***
It is no news that Jimi was a womaniser even isaac had just won a bet last week sunday when Abraham said he trusted his fiancee that no man born of a woman can cut the ties between him and his fiancee. Abraham was the short dark university chapel chaplin that always wear suit all year long and he said this why preaching on the altar a sermon that will soon be alter as there laid Isaac who sat patiently like a hungry ram behind the usher at the last row. the usher was Timi the gawk looking MR SAINT, he was a friend of Isaac and after the church services they meet
.
Hope you enjoy the service today said Timi
.
Oh yeah thank you I always feel belle full after hearing the word of God Replied Isaac
.
You see I always say this the word of God is enough for the morning the night and noon it is of no ingredients and it is easy to digest, erm I have not been seeing your friend Jimi in church this days said confidently by Timi
.
Oh you know we are in our finals he was too preoccupied with assignment and less I forget, the chaplin was saying something about no one can cut the ties in his relationship—- (Timi cuts in)
.
Yes my friend you see Roseline and Abraham is the true definition of what God has joined together no man can put asunder I can put my last penny on the word of Abraham I believe God is using him so much
***
***
And the rest they said is history as Jimmy had bedded Roseline like the nursery does the seedling. Roseline was the fair lady with a wide gap tooth and the Lead chorister of the university Chapel, it wasn’t all Rosy for Jimmy but as a master in his craft he swept Rose off her feet like Diego does Paloma in the mexican folklore, his charming and appealing appearance couple with words from his mouth was said and deemed to be sugar coated trap, laced with unfulfilled but yet funfilled promises. But for Abraham it was another sermon about “how God will avert danger and tested you with calamities of great magnitude”
***
On the contrary Isaac was literally a shy homo sapien that always feel Alienated and spend most of his leisure time on the social media howbeit him and Jimmy are two of the three that will surely graduate with first class
“Her bountiful posterior make me want to be a bounty hunter, you know your Aunt look sixteen..said Jokingly by Jimmy Asanimo but Isaac wasn’t taken it lightly
.
“Hunh hunh stop that Jimmy I only gave you my phone to view Margaret pictures now you are viewing more than you can chew replied isaac with a fist fierce face
.
Oh oh will you shut up! you murderer Roared Jimmy
.
(Jimmy’s voice startled Isaac that he almost fell off his mattress) what do do-do-do you mea..stammered Isaac
.
You just murdered proverb my dear friend it was actually “bite more than you can chew” not “view more than you can chew” Jimmy said amid laughter
.
Haha you are crazy and you wetin you mean by Posterior I was thinking you said my aunt Postinor hehehehehehe
***
***
***
They ended the night with laughs and taunting jokes. Jimmy Asanimo and Isaac Sanguine have been friends since their first year at the University of Ibadan now at their final year, the two microbiology geek have developed a new gene and bond of friendship over the years that rival the pastor and his bible. only few knew that they are not of the same bloodline as their physical attributes nearly niche them Siamese twins except they are not conjoined and Isaac only has a four packs (abs) to show for his six month of gym training sessions whilst Jimmy was herculean. the two dark skinned 6ft men were born on the seventh month of the same year but on a different day such was the similarity of their life and fate. like isaac, Jimmy also lost his father when he was young and was brought up by his mother but to every great story there is a stale sad tale.
***
It is of no news that Jimmy was a philander even Isaac had just won another parlay last week sunday when Abraham said he trusted his fiancee that no man born of a woman can loosen the rivet between him and his fiancee. Abraham was the short dark university chapel chaplin that always wear suit all year long and he said this why preaching on the altar a sermon that will soon be alter as there laid Isaac who sat patiently like a hungry lamb behind the usher at the last row. the usher was Timi the gawk looking MR SAINT, he was a friend of Isaac and after the church services they meet
.
Hope you enjoy the service today said Timi
.
Oh yeah thank you I always feel belle full after hearing the word of God Replied Isaac
.
You see I always say this the word of God is enough for the morning the night and noon it is of no ingredients and it is easy to digest, erm I have not been seeing your friend Jimmy in church this days said confidently by Timi
.
Oh you know we are in our finals he was too preoccupied with assignment, Project and less I forget, the chaplin was saying something about no one can cut the ties in his relationss—- (Timi cuts in)
.
Yes my friend you see Roseline and Abraham are the true definition of what God has joined together no man can put asunder I can bet my last penny on the word of Abraham I believe God is using him so much Timi said confidently
***
***
And the rest they said is history as Jimmy had bedded Roseline like the nursery does the seedling. Roseline was the fair lady with a wide gap in her front tooth with a well erected stature little wonder how Abraham was able to rear her or maybe because she was the Lead chorister of the university Chapel?. it wasn’t all Rosy for Jimmy but as a master in his craft he swept Rose off her feet like Diego does Paloma in the mexican folklore, his charming and appealing appearance couple with words from his mouth was said and deemed to be sugar coated trap, laced with unfulfilled but yet funfilled promises. But for Abraham it was another sermon like tirade about “how God will avert danger and tested you with calamities of great magnitude”.
***
On the contrary Isaac was literally a shy homo-sapien that always feel Alienated and spend most of his leisure time on the social media he was liken to the one suffering from congenital trismus, howbeit him and Jimmy are two of the three that will surely graduate with the scarce first class from their faculty. and its of no news that Isaac was the best among the trident but he was always living the introvert life and is always quick to run to his shell making Jimmy and the other guy to always claimed the glory and praise as he couldn’t stand the scotching eagle eyes of the class anytime there is presentation he will instead stayed quiet and pretended he had nothing to say. unlike the outspoken Jimmy, Isaac was always single and has been crushing on Margaret for two years now.
***
***
It was a windy saturday morning and after a well prepared popular indonesian meal (indomie) by Isaac the artificial twins are throwing tantrum at each other in their well furnished condo courtesy of Mrs Sanguine, Mrs Foluke Sanguine was Isaac mother in her early forty with an Amazonian figure that sat well on her wafer-thin body she is the CEO of the renowned Sanguine micro Research centre. A well respected and reputable company whose main goal is to making research and finding natural cure to some illness with many breakthrough achieved it is safe to say they are a company to reckoned with. little wonder how easy it was for Isaac to be a nerd.
They are enjoying and watching a football match but that doesn’t stop them from their usual tete a tete
.
.
Guy nawa for you oo so you no fit enter Margaret for the Past years na only to dey push me to go get girls na in you know but you no fit get one yourself Said teasingly by Jimmy
.
Abeg leave me jor.. Replied Isaac
.
Why I no go leave you? You dey support Arsenal wey are trophy shy for past years now and guy why you con carry pure water for hand yesterday? Jimmy asked
.
Na that woman oo she talk sey if I no buy things reach hundred naira she no go give me nylon
.
No problem we go buy recharge card there tomorrow and ask for nylon Jimmy said Jokingly
.
You know serious and guy you fit enter that woman na? She dey always ask of you everyday
.
For real omo no qualms na trust me na those kin forty plus woman me self dey like make I dey Kpansh, so how far the presentation on monday maybe make you stay home make I go present am or wetin you think? Jimmy asked
.
Yes that is fine.. Replied Isaac (with a little bit of disappointment)
***
They ended the day with football arguments And more taunts.
**
The Sunday morning was accompany by a shining bright sun “capable of melting a candle” a popular excuse etch by Jimmy to defend is excuses for not attending church but today Isaac forced him
.
.
Guy no excuse today go carry the car key na you go drive you must go to church said Isaac
.
Okay no qualms replied Jimmy
***
***
***
The church services was at is usual premium best, with powerful redention and melodious numbers from the Chorister Lead by Roseline, it was a sexy scenery for Jimmy and a morale booster for Isaac. Abraham was there to deliver a wonderful sermon he topic it “Your Best Friend is your Enemy” with most word directed to Jimmy and Isaac but yet they failed to pick a lesson from it they instead arbour hatred and disdain towards Abraham and made a vow never to attend the church again. a vow they uphold till their Graduation Church ceremony. They left the church before Abraham could share the grace, they didn’t discuss much about Abraham sermon either than the centre his sermon around them all because they snatch his fiancee from him.
They spent the rest of the day quietly and solemnly in their condo and Monday came quite very fast with the vast Isaac deciding to stay put while Jimmy went to school to make the presentation designed by Isaac albeit he took all the glory.
*
*two weeks later*

it was their Church Graduation ceremony graced by various notable dignitaries including Mrs Idido Asanimo, Mrs Idido was Jimmy mother and she run the popular Lass hostel cartel an abode for sex workers thus erasing the question mark on Jimmy promiscuous life she was in her customary mercury-red hair that tumbled over her shoulders which make her the cynosure of eyes, Mrs Sanguine was excused from the ceremony citing work issues. the two tellurians graduated in the popular unseen colour, the “flying colour” and well sketch on their progenitor face was satisfaction and happiness, Econmium kept pouring in for the two as they savor the moment.
***
Two years later
***
Mrs Sanguine offer Jimmy a nine-to-five in her company whilst Isaac was bent on becoming a man on his own without the help of his mother he had move out of the house few month after graduation but his introvert nature was his bane as he failed many interviews and day by day his failure had led to depressions and frustrations albeit Jimmy was living his dream but soon his dream will turn to a nightmare.
it all started on a work loaded monday that resulted in him spending the rest of the night at Mrs Sanguine house. The house was a lone house and Mrs Sanguine and the gate man are the only occupants ever since Isaac left.
.
.
Jimmy am so sorry for keeping you away from home dear and thank you for been more than a son ever since you step into the company we’ve witness dramatic growth and great turnover how I wish your friend can rescind his decision and work with us having both of you on board will really make our ship a cargo of ship you know?… Said Mrs Sanguine who was dress in a silky white pyjamas that was revealing quite an ample part of her 36DD size bosom, she was well seated on the leather sofa, watching her favourite terrestrial mexican telenovela series in the big living room that can contain
.
.
Thank you Ma I will try and convince him Ma and this is also my home Ma replied Jimmy who was feeling sleepy. he was still in his tuxedo suit
.
I could see you are feeling sleepy dear I will show you to your room Said Mrs Sanguine.
***
They didn’t make it to the room as Accident do happen they said, one thing led to another and like “APC does Nigeria” Jimmy has sweep Mrs Sanguine “floorlessly”.
.
.
Boy you are so good this would have been boring if I had reach the dreaded menopause age said Mrs Sanguine
.

Menopause no get remote Mummy we can still Play the Pause said jokingly by Jimmy
***
They enjoy more ride before the turn of the day only to wake up the next day naked in the living room with Isaac well seated and in tears! The sermon of Abraham came ringing like a flash
.
“your best friends are like your shadows they will not be seen at your dark end they will only follows you when there’s light in the life. Push your friends to the positive side no matter how sweet the negativity is visit their dark side and then maybe the world we be a better place for all of us and ask your neighbour what type of friend are you to me?”
.
Isaac Failed Jimmy and Jimmy failed Isaac with both still battling their fears and achilles hills!

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1814

1814.

“Love your curves and all your edges. All your perfect imperfections.”

You are dancing with her. Your wife, lover, in the most absurd setting. And this is not the first time, but it certainly will be the last. At least for this life of hers.

“You’re my end and my beginning. Even when I lose I’m winning”

The hospital room is colder than you remember. The tiled floor licks your sole as you gingerly place them on it at intervals. The smell of drugs is thicker. You’ve been here before. 1912? 1979? 1994? Time has stolen your memory. She is crying, her steppings are tremulous, her shaved head is rested on your shoulder. She sniffs. She sobs. She sobs.

“How many times do I have to tell you? Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too.”

Touché, John legend. You think.
“It is not fair my prince.” She says, It is not fair.
“This moment is perfect.” You whisper; I’ll be waiting. Come back to take me and lead me far away.
She nods. Sobs. Sniffs. Then she convulses. She is shaking violently like turbulent waves. Blood is seeping out of her gritted teeth. She has bitten her tongue.

“Nurse! Nurse!!” Your screams border hysterics.

There is something about death and humanity that has intrigued you through time-an equally interesting phenomenon. We always fight. Even when we know it is inevitable. And death never resists our futile battles with it. It knows it will win, it needs only be patient. But what happens when we live to die and then live to die again? Do we win that way?
The nurses surge in like bees to the Queen Bee, all armed to the teeth with injections, defibrillator, a doctor, and about anything to resuscitate your hope. But you, and your lover know it’s all a facade. Your beloved will die.
You are weeping, because it doesn’t matter how many times you live this place, this moment, this transition still never gets better. Loss and time are accursed accomplices. One alleviates the other and the other accentuates one; a brutal cycle. This is not the first time she will die. You and her know it won’t be the last. The doctor holds two fingers to her neck, searching for a nonexistent pulse. You still look to him nonetheless, play the part of a hopeful partner. He shakes his head. Finality.

Goddess.
The birds that scoop your waters cry with their feathers like raining ethers.
The fishes that swim your body tweet their grief in hyper-sibilant hisses.
The death that touches your gaze breathes.Hear my plead.Bleed my
lover to me. Death, give me back my loss.For the gods lied
about their curse, its cause shouldn’t curse this cause.

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

1814

It was here your love story began- in the lush settlement ensconced in a fertile jungle. Surrounded by the serenity and fetishism your nativity brought. Naive and harmless. You were teenagers inexperienced in the art of love. Taken only by its beauty, for when love is rationalized, its beauty dies, and it’s only adolescence that could love so recklessly. Your father was king, and she, a commoner. The perfect premise for a troubled love story. She was a virgin priestess, sewn to the hips of a river goddess. But love demands more than we have, it pushes, it forges, it perseveres: and so did your love. Your love was forbidden-and that in itself is sacred, it is the forbidden fruit every man wants to eat. You would lie together on a rainy day, in the shrine of this goddess, holding on to the affection you shared, and hope, hope that the goddess would see this love and leave you be. The day she gave you what she pledged to the goddess in the absence of the chief priest, you had both burned the embers of love. As you touched, the shrine burnt, before your eyes stood the river goddess herself, lightning in her eyes, angry, and betrayed. You and your lover had stood naked before her as she cursed. You begged. She cursed. You irked. And you challenged a goddess.

“Our love will never die!” You’d screamed, holding your lover protectively, daring the goddess with your stare.

“So be it”. The goddess replied, it will be your blessing, and your curse. Then she vanished in a whiff of celestial white and aqua.

The chief priest would subsequently burst in to catch you both naked.
This was the first time you’d both die. It’s been long, but you still remember the fear her eyes held-and yours mirrored-as you were both dragged through the village by circumcised horses. The taste of stones hurled at you by the villagers-even your father. The smell of burning flesh. The sight of sand. So much sand. She was buried alive while you watched; screaming, burning at the stake for your crime of unbridled love against the river goddess.
The curse of the goddess was for you both to get lost in love. Again and again you’d both meet through time, fall in love, only for one to die and leave the other distraught. Then the search will begin until the survivor finds the lost one again, to die or to lose-whichever the case may be. You always prefer to be the one to die, because living without her is torture, and your existence tethers at the periphery of the knowledge that she is out there for you to find. But you hate the thought of her feeling this way, being in this place, so you share the burden.

Goddess,
The earth won’t forgive us.
When it does, like a stubborn bone, it spits me back to her, another beginning.
The winds won’t carry us home.
Like the lightening of the thunder God, it tatters us both;whole.
Death, give my lover back to me.
Strain your ears and hear my plead.

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

1967

It was you who died prior to this time. Plunged in the middle of a war between countrymen; you’d find that death, love, religion, immortality, and war all have uncanny similarities. You’d always felt something amiss until you were forced to fight the Biafrans.
You’d find her as a prostitute, raped to near death by your fellow soldiers. And they’d urge you to go a round on her too. Bolstered by their shouts, by cigarettes, alcohol, and the amorality of war, you’d climb her, and as you became one, the memories of your shared past lives flooded you. You’d shoot her there, for that body had been tainted. You’d wander, searching for decades, not aging-for once one found the other, aging ceases abruptly.
It’d be forty-three lonely years before you found her again in the arms of another man in the University of Ibadan. Everytime, she’d taken the same body, the same face, the same beauty. Your memories of love here would be shambolic. Her, teaching you how to twerk. You, teaching her to belch louder in the school library. Her, teaching you French. You, writing an unfinished cantos in her honor.
Love is not love, love that forgets. You’d find solace in your meshed past lives. And regardless of how short the stay, of how many times you were seperated-scattered like seeds on a farm through time, marked by the pain of replayed history like a slave, weaker, but whole-,you’d always return to each other. Burning stronger, fiercer than your love hitherto had. You find respite in that one fact.

Goddess,
The fires of your curse wanes, your spell dispels.
My lover has died, here are my tears.
Flown to the ethers again as stars to court the earth.
Drink from her skull, but be sure to return her before fall.
I wander again, a man without land.
Love is the seed these tears plant.
And you’ve made a bad thing immortal.
***************

TODAY

A teardrop falls with each step you take. You’re falling farther behind the stretcher driving her to the morgue.

“Take heart sir. The Lord giveth and he takes.” The decrepit doctor says. “You believe in God sir? One day, we will all rise not to die again.”
Religion is an elaborate illusion. It removes us from our being and connects us to something larger than us-a God. This connection pales death, balms the pain of love. What happens when you are bigger than religion? How does your pain dissipate?
You think of stars, predestination, and the invisible thread that binds your soul and that woman being wheeleled away. You’d both planned to get married-someting you’d never done in your past lives-before she got diagnosed with lung cancer. Slowly she withered away again from your grasp. And you’d held her today, crying on her corpse, oblivious of the next time you’d find her. Ten? Twenty? Thirty? Forty? Fifty years?

Time of death. 1814 hrs. The doctor finishes.

In the cold hospital room some feet behind you, John Legend reaches denouement.

“Coz all of me, loves all of you.”

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The Widow

It came like a wave of darkness
On a bright and sunny day
The shattering of a vase of flowers
In the middle of their bloom
A million thoughts ran through her head
She wished she did not have a mind
The worst part of a nightmare
Is when you know you can’t wake up

Mourners came and wailers went
Blowing promises to the air
Loving friends consoled and left
With gratitude for their homes
Except for naive darlings
She knew she was alone
She would have nagged him back to life
But who can argue with the dead?

She asked the past, the sand and walls
Why misfortune made her its choice
Each time she stared into the future
It sent chills running down her spine
She watched her children laugh and play
And forced a smile through crumpled lips
Through the sparkles in their eyes
She found a reason to be strong

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Parted Company

Written down in the sheet he gave me were the same words I had trembled into his ears the first night we became friends under the full night moon as night surrendered power to day.

Folding the paper into my bag, I let tears give succour to my aching heart. I had become the beast that torments his everyday dreams and a nightmare to his eyes awake.

Reasons were means I could never give to no one. Let the night clouds pour tears and wash the guilt mud that had ashened into my heart. I had committed the very non commitment I accused Solomon of.

Theories shall be written in my stead but yet the fact I hid shall be more myth than the lost city of Atlantis.
Secrets….

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The Apocalypse

THE APOCALYPSE

At a time when the world was a small village, there lived a King. His name was Theo. He had twenty four elders, an army of Angelos and Archangelos and a house of other messengers.

King Theo had no child but there were two young men, Helel and Mikhail, close to his heart. They served him and had risen to be loved dearly as sons.

By age, Helel was the older one. With his rise in rank, he became complacent and extremely proud ; always brewing trouble. Being very handsome, he was the light bearer of the Kingdom. He was an orator and was able to buy anyone over with his power of oration. He was the King’s second-in-command. He was feared and respected for his beauty and rank but inwardly, he sought to be worshipped as the King. He yearned for the Latria given to the King.

Mikhail on the other hand, was humble and hardworking. Despite being favoured by the King, his primary aim was to carry out the King’s bidding and to please him always. Being an archer and a swordsman, he was the Commander-in-Chief of the King’s Army. He was very powerful and more respected in the Kingdom than his brother, Helel. In his spare time, he hunted games for his pleasure.

It happened that on one of Mikhail’s hunting sprees, he came upon Helel trying to molest a maiden in the forest. As he dragged her across a clearing in the forest, she was crying and pleading with him. Seeing that he wasn’t giving an ear to her pleas, she gave him a vicious kick in the groin which got him yelping. As he struggled to regain his composure, she began to run away. Realizing that she might tell people what he did, he threw his spear at her. The journey of the spear was interrupted by an arrow that deflected it. Helel was surprised because he was unaware they had company. Then, he became enraged. That moment, the air was still; even the birds and trees stopped their chirping and swaying. It seemed they felt his anger.

“Who dares deflect my spear? Show yourself!” he bellowed.

Mikhail stepped out of the shadows and walked towards him. By then, the girl stood at a safe corner hugging herself as she watched the drama unfold.

“You shouldn’t do this, it’s not right,” Mikhail said. Helel just sighed. He wasn’t ready for the lecture on code of conduct that was on the way.

“You can have any girl that you want in the Kingdom. Just go and talk to the person, but don’t try to do it in a harsh manner. The people look up to us as gods, you know.”

“You won’t understand. There is more to it than meets the eye”
Helel answered hotly.

Mikhail could swear that he saw a flicker of hurt and anger in his eyes.

“Then make me understand,” he said coolly.

Helel just walked away without uttering another word. He was a trifle disappointed that Mikhail had to stand in his way, but there was nothing he could do about it. One thing he was sure of, however, was that Mikhail wouldn’t breathe a word of what he witnessed to anyone. Mikhail went to where the girl was then sitting at the stump of a tree.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

She nodded.

“What were you doing here in the forest all alone?”

“I was picking wild fruits for my mother,” she replied quietly.

She was visibly shaken by her experience. He cleaned the tears from her face with the back of his palms.

“What’s your name?” he probed further.

“Mareeah.”

He nodded as he pulled her up.

“You must not tell anyone about this”

She simply nodded.

Not satisfied with her response, he lifted her chin and her gaze met his.

“Do I have your word on it?”

She nodded again, this time more firmly.

He apologised on behalf of his brother as she straightened her hair and dress before sauntering off in the direction she left her basket.

Helel relayed to his friends how Mikhail spoilt his plans. They were the people he was able to convince that he was better than the King and could give them better lives. They were more of his followers and their utmost goal was to overthrow the King.

King Theo had mentioned that he had an eye on Mareeah, to be the mother of his child because she was pure and carried a unique grace. Embittered by the thought of the King fathering a child, he resolved to destroy Mareeah’s innocence or kill her to obliterate the King’s dream. He had her followed for weeks; this was the only window he had and Mikhail destroyed everything.

“My lord, is this why you’re sad? The situation can be salvaged,” Samail, one of his followers said.

“But how?” he fired.

Samail, being a very fast thinker replied,

“we can eliminate the root of the matter.”

Helel nodded him on.

“Our physician has certain amount of extraordinary powers. My lord, you can easily talk him into working for you and when this power is harnessed, killing the King will be easy for us.”

He let his gaze fall on Helel as he finished and so did others. Helel was very confused. His head felt ethereal. The thought of killing the King had never crossed his mind; it was a sacrilege, yet here was someone who believed in him asking him to do the unthinkable.
For a brief moment, he was sobered as he remembered all that the King had done for him but the hunger for power came back with a force much more greater than before. He stood abruptly and began to walk towards the door. As if on cue, he stopped and turned,

“We’ll meet tomorrow so that you all will know my decision.”

With that, he dismissed them with a wave of his hand.

He went home straight and locked himself in his room. His relationship with the King had been strained for a while. King Theo summoned him one morning and expressed displeasure over the news that he, Helel, had followers. He had rebuked him gravely, telling him that his sole duty was to keep the Kingdom together and not dividing it into factions. He further reminded him that the Latria was for him alone and admonished him to disband any group that was in loyalty to him. He had disobeyed the King. Dwelling on those thoughts, he drifted off to sleep. He awoke later in the evening with the conviction to go ahead with his plans. With that, he headed to Raphael, the physician’s house.

Raphael was tall and handsome. Though very courteous and respectful, he wasn’t easily intimidated. His loyalty was to the King alone. He listened patiently as Helel showered encomiums on him; he was the King’s second-in-command and he deserved that respect. When he finally hit the nail on the head, Raphael shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Helel kept rolling out reasons to justify what he wanted to do.

“You’re just an afterthought in this kingdom; you’re only called upon when your services are needed. Join me and I will make you my second-in-command. Just think about it. You will have whatever you want. You have nothing to lose but much to gain, my friend.”
Helel pressed further.

Raphael told him that he would give him a reply the next day and he took his leave. Raphael was greatly disturbed. Helel’s offer was tantalising.

“I think I will join forces with Helel. Afterall, I have nothing to lose,” he concluded after battling with his conscience for what seemed like eternity. Then, he went to bed.

The next morning, he sent a messenger to Helel asking him to meet him behind the village square with his cohorts as they were going to embark on the task as soon as they arrived. Before noon, Helel and his followers arrived the stipulated venue chattering animatedly. They met Raphael waiting there and they proceeded to map out strategies.

They were so engrossed in their plans that they didn’t notice King Theo’s Army creep up to them. It was when the King cleared his throat that they looked up to see that they were totally surrounded. They drew their swords in defence but when the soldiers failed to attack, they took no further action. Raphael went to stand at the King’s side as Helel shot daggers at him with his eyes. Then the King addressed Helel and his followers,

“I am very disappointed in you all. Who wishes the King dead? What you’ve failed to realize is that I’m both King and God; I neither have a beginning nor an end. I was not created and I cannot be destroyed.”

At the wave of his left hand, his Army attacked Helel’s men as Mikhail went for Helel. The King was so pained in his heart that tears gathered in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. Just about the time a tear drop fell from the King’s eye to the ground, the sun was directly overhead them. The ground quaked terribly, creating a wide, bottomless pit. As the teardrop dried up, the chaos subsided.

Just then, Mikhail got hold of Helel’s right shoulder and buried his sword in Helel’s belly. Helel sank to his knees as Mikhail with tear-filled eyes, whispered into his ears,
“Pride goes before a fall. Goodbye stranger,”
he pushed him into the pit. On the King’s command, the other traitors were also thrown into the pit as well.

Sanity returned to the Kingdom and everyone strived to do the right thing, to please the King always, for fear of the bottomless pit. It was the right thing to do, anyways.

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Ekioba

We used to live in one of those old houses in Aduwawa built by the government for civil servants. Such houses were easily identified by the rusted corrugated roof worn out over time by the occasional rain and blistering sun that was characteristic of Benin City. It had one bedroom, a parlor, a kitchen and a bathroom I was sure had not seen running water since day one. Hence it was my duty to use jerry cans to fetch water from our neighbor’s house to fill the two giant drums occupying the greater part of the kitchen. I disliked the task so much because I felt it was what stunted my growth as a boy. Carrying jerry cans in a rickety wheelbarrow everyday was enough to hunch my shoulders and more.
But we could not afford to live in a fancier house. My father who worked in a brewery and my mother who was a petty trader selling cray fish and ogbonor seeds were scraping by to provide for their three children.
My older sister Mirabel who had just entered secondary school had a lot of expenses and my little sister Osas, who was still a baby fell sick so often she needed to be hospitalized. Mirabel tried to explain when I asked her why. She only ended up confusing me. All I could grasp from her was Osas was an SS which prompted the her to fall sick all the time.
I was eight years old or was just about to turn eight when it happened. It was around the time harmattan came early and schools were closed for the holiday.
I had woken up that morning to help my mother tie up her wares into a sack. I remember how the kitchen smelled of the ogbonor seeds and cray fish so much that it no longer bothered me. My father had already left before anyone stirred from sleep. He was a hard worker my father. Always on time for every event.
My mother dished out a few orders for Mirabel as she strapped Osas on her back with a blue worn out wrapper.
‘Ehigie,’ she called me.
‘Ma,’ I answered.
‘Don’t drag food with your sister. Make sure you take whatever she gives you.’ I nodded and smiled mischievously. ‘I’m going,’ she said picking up the sack which she hoisted up on her head with no effort. She walked briskly toward the main road where she would take a taxi to Oba market. There she would sell her wares before coming back home to prepare the evening food.
After we ate breakfast, my sister and I went outside and waited on the broken front steps. Our house was one of the headquarters for other children in the street to come around to play. We usually played suwe, game box, whot or hide and seek. Soon enough five of them trooped to the house and asked what game we would play. We chose suwe but when other children began to arrive we decided on game box.
‘I challenge you to choose’ my sister said to another girl her age with their little fingers interlocked.
‘I cut,’ the other girl said using her free hand to unlock their fingers. With that they both chose who would be on their team. I ended up in the team of the other girl. We drew the box on the ground and positioned our teammates where we wanted. The game went on for an hour before someone shouted. ‘Den don bring light! NEPA!’ There was a loud uproar from all of us because we all knew what that meant. It was time for Power Rangers.
My father who could not afford to buy Dstv or any cable at all resorted to buying a fairly used DVD player. He then bought alongside it a collection of Power Rangers movies. The DVD player constantly gave us problems where we had to tap it to get it working again and the graphics of the movie was nothing short of a blur but we loved it; from the costumes to the silly robots the rangers fought, we enjoyed every bit of it. Everyone took their places in the parlor and waited for the movie to start.
‘Has it started yet?’ Igho asked rushing in through the front door. Igho was a boy who lived at the end of our street and my classmate in school. I did not like Igho. Not one bit. The boy was known for his long throat and gorimapa head. He always knew the exact times to come to my house so that my food will be shared with him. I wanted him to go away. Since his father could not buy him power rangers, he should not come to my house to watch it. I could not tell him that because if I did, Mirabel would tell our mother and she would beat me, telling me to be more like young Jesus in the Bible.
Igho sat on the ground next to me and folded his legs. When the screen lit up with the colorful images, we all shouted in glee. About an hour into watching we all heard a shrill ringing noise. It was coming from the bathroom.
‘Mummy’s phone.’ Mirabel said and ran out of the parlor. She could be heard talking to someone on the phone. After she ended the call she walked back to announce that she had to put off the television.
‘Mummy said we should come and give her her phone.’
‘Can’t you go alone?’ I asked thinking of the movie I would miss.
‘No.’
‘You know NEPA will take the light eh Mirabel. When will we watch Power Rangers?’
‘When there is light again. Just get up from there.’
I grumbled and stood up to put on my slippers. Mirabel put off the television and told everyone we were going out and she needed to lock the door. Within five minutes, the house was empty and Mirabel and I were on our way to the market. We did not wait long by the roadside before we found a taxi heading toward Ring Road. I had to sit on Mirabel’s lap to save transport fare. We sat in between a Hausa man who smelled like burnt goat and a woman who bared her breast to feed her hungry child.
The driver who had on his radio nodded as the voice coming from it spoke at length about the dangers of letting anger control the actions of men.
‘This is what my pastor was talking about on Sunday. No matter how angry you are you should control yourself. So many wahala have started because of anger. Onigbese that is not your own, you will now carry it on top of your head.’
It was the driver who was now preaching to us. I tried to listen with effort to the man on the radio who was broadcasting from the National Television Authority station. What he was saying sounded more interesting than the driver’s. As we flowed with the traffic in Ramat Park, another car that was coming from Agbor road bumped into our taxi. Both cars came to a screeching halt. The other driver came out of his car to access the damage on it and so did our driver. Instead of the other man to apologize, he began throwing insults at our driver for driving like an epileptic patient.
Mirabel told us to get down and take another taxi so as to avoid being in the middle of a fight. I looked back on the driver who was not saying anything to the shouting man and wondered how badly he was trying to control his anger.
We found a bus heading in our direction and entered it. Nothing eventful happened on our way except for the conductor occasionally opening the door to let people in and out. We got down by the banks in Ring road and walked toward Oba market all the while dodging the crowd of buyers and sellers.
‘Fine girl you no want jeans?’ One of the sellers said to my sister. ‘Stock jeans for shekele money.’
Mirabel frowned and hissed at the man. She took my hand as we crossed the road toward the markets. We did not have to walk for long before seeing our mother under a huge umbrella. Her wares were laid out in a table in front of her. She sat on a high stool with Osas asleep on her back. We greeted her and the other women who sold meat and tomatoes close by.
My mother took her phone from Mirabel and placed it inside her wrapper. She took a lengthy bench from one of the women who sold fish and asked us to sit down. After which she bought rice and stew tied in banana leaves so we could eat. Mirabel and I did not bother to use a spoon. We washed our hands with a sachet of Big Joe table water and ate.
After eating, Mirabel chatted with one of the younger girls who sold palm nuts while I watched as people walked hurriedly around the market with strange looks on their faces. Everyone seemed to be annoyed by something. Maybe it was the flies that buzzed around the meat and fish or the fact that the place smelled because of the piling refuse in a corner. Some of the wheelbarrow pushers who helped people move their heavy goods shouted at the bus drivers to park their buses away from the road. A man selling rat poison and insecticides tried to sell my mother a pack of Rambo insecticide. She politely told him she did not need it. I was still engrossed in people watching when I heard my mom shout and drop her phone on the ground. I must have gone into shock because I became disoriented for a while. All I could see was my mom throwing her hands into the air and crying while other women came to her side. I could barely hear anything. I saw Mirabel join her. I watched as they both cried. When I was able to hear again I asked one of the women what had happened.
‘Your papa don die,’ she said to me. Your papa don die. Those words played over and over in my mind. I did not know what that meant for us other than we were not going to see my father ever again. I cried a lot thereafter. I cried till my body could no longer produce any tears.
Later on I found out as my mother talked to sympathizers that my father had been in a motor accident. The doctors could do nothing for him because he had died instantly. A lot of people came to our house to see how we were faring. I settled on sitting on the ground at a corner in the parlor to receive their greetings. They would say ‘you’re now the man of the house. Take care of your mother and sisters.’ I would nod my head in response.
Within a month we were ready for the burial. It was not easy for my mother to get the money for it. She had to sell most of our things, part of which included our DVD player. It still had the power rangers DVD plate inside. I resorted to holding the case which had pictures of the rangers on it as I slept. I would dream of them fighting and winning only to wake up to realize I could no longer watch them.
A few days after the burial ceremony as I walked back home after running an errand for my mother, I heard a familiar sound coming from Igho’s house. Their front door was opened. I peeked in to find Igho watching my Power Rangers with my DVD player. I did not think twice before shouting ‘Ole!’ and pounced on him. It took his elder brother all his strength to pull me from him. I walked back home with my pride deeply wounded. I knew my mother had sold the DVD player to someone I just did not know it had been to Igho’s mother. For a brief moment I hated my father. I hated him for dying. If he had not died, the DVD player and Power Rangers would still be around.

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designed life list

DESIGNED LIFE AWARDS: EXTENDED SUBMISSION DEADLINE (FREE ENTRY)

Due to the short submission period and other considerations by the Designed Life team, we are pleased to inform the writing community of the following changes in the designed life contest:

  1. Entry is now absolutely free and we would be making a refund to every writer who has paid. ENTRY IS NOW FREE, writers who have paid previously should send emails to hello@designed.life with their account details and evidence of payment.
  2. We would be extending submissions till 10th May 2017.
  3. The longlist will be out by 30th May 2017 which would be no more than 40 writers, the top 10 would be featured in the June Issue of the CFW EMagazine.
  4. Poetry can be sent in for a chance to win the 20,000 naira cash prize (only), Not more than 25 lines.
  5. Top 20 poets would be listed on the CFW EMagazine June Issue.

The Prizes remain the Same:

50,000 Naira for the First Category Prize (Open to Prose only)

30,000 Naira for the Second Category Prize (Open to Prose only)

20,000 Naira for the Third Category Prize (Open to Poets Only)

 

Note that the CFW EMagazine will not be making any other call for submissions after this for June Issue, so writers who do not send in Entries for the Designed life Contest would not be considered for shortlisting.

ENTRY IS FREE:

The contest will commence on the 30th of May, 2017, Check the Previous publication for how to ENTER YOUR SUBMISSION AND WIN.

ENTRY IS NOW FREE, writers who have paid previously should send emails to hello@designed.life with their account details and evidence of payment.