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March 26, 2014

Failings Of a Nation

Ousmane traore was in a foul mood. He had woken up before
the first cock crow, washed his face and hands in the harsh
cold morning, and set out for work. It was a routine he was
used to. It was a routine he had maintained for the past three
years. The sole transport system operating in the village, a
rickety old lorry with the ironic name of 'safe journey', and
which was his only means of getting to his job at the Federal
abbatoir would be arriving soon, and being late meant having to
stand for the duration of the one and half hour trip to Kukere,
or worse still, perching precariously on the vehicle, hanging on
to the tail gate for dear life as the jalopy bumped and
skittered on the pot hole pitted, scraggly lane that served as
their road. He had woken up to the rumbling of his stomach, a
stark reminder of the fact that he had not eaten the previous
day, and unless something very good happened, there would be
more hungry nights to come. He might even have to borrow
some money again in order to get by. On this particular morning,
everything seemed to be working against him. While still too
dark to clearly discern faces, he had walked the mile or so
separating his house from the park. At the park, a few other
intending commuters had arrived and stacked their goods for
the trip.
Ousmane! He turned to see the caller. Bubar waved him in
greeting, then started up the hill towards the shed that served
as a park. A short, swarthy man, with hands like tree branches
and a face only a mother could love, bubar was a lout, who
made a living by working for people on their farms during the
planting season. He was prone to violence, and people
preferred to stay out of his way. He was also a kind of crude
law enforcement officer: people employed him a strong arm in
dealing with debtors, usually in return for a portion of the
money. As bubar approached, ousmane felt his heart sink. He
wondered who exactly had sent bubar to him, because bubar
at your doorstep in the morning was never a good sign. He was
soon to find out. 'Bubar, good mornin.'
'wat is good about the mornin? Ehn, tell me, wat is good about
the morning? I've been looking for you. For the past 3 days, I
have been coming to your house, but each time your wife said
you had gone. Today now, I woke up early, and came to your
house, but you had gone again. I had to practically run all the
way here so I could get you before the bys left.'
'ah, I'm greeting you now, is that a bad thing?'
'Please, keep your greeting. Abdoulai said you're owing him some
money, is it true?'
'Err...em... It's not quite like that .'
Four thousand naira, you say it's not like that, how is it? He
drew nearer, as though Ousmane were preparing to run off.
'I borrowed 2,000 from Abdoulai, but before then I was owing
Alhassan 2,500, so after I paid Alhassan five hundred, it was
now remaining two thousand, then Alhassan's mother in law
died, and as I did not have money to give him, I asked Abdoulai,
and Alhassan was owing Adboulai 2,000, so I was now-...'
'My friend, don't waste my time,whether it is two thousand or
four thousand or twenty eight thousand, Abdoulai said I should
get it from you, so where is the money?'
'Emmm.... Let me explain...see, I don't- he began, but Bubar cut
him off. 'You don't what? Where is it?' Bubar had started to
raise his voice, and a crowd had started to form around them,
passengers waiting for the bus who were only too happy to
feed their eyes on the spectacle.
'I don't have money right now, maybe by month end I will-'
'Look, you are not serious', Bubar shouted, grabbing a fistful of
Ousmane's shirtfront. You must pay me that money today,
because you have been dodging me since. How long is it now?
How long? For the past three months you've been owing that
money, saying the same thing, month end, month end, when
month end comes, you disappear, and after you say you don't
have money. Do people enter bus without money? What will
you pay with?' Almost as if on cue, the rumbling and grumbling
of the bus could be heard as it trundled over a distant hill,
heading for the park.
'Please now, the bus is coming, and I'm already late. I will see
you this evening, once I come back, just let me-'
'Kai! You think I'm playing? Don't let me show you my red eye oh!
That money, it must come out today, whether you like it or not.
Were you planning to give the driver sand, or one of your dirty
teeth as money? Give me something!', he ranted, pulling and
twisting the shirtfront in his grip even tighter. The crowd,
sensing that entertainment in the form of a fight would not be
forthcoming, began to drift towards the approaching bus.
Those who had bags, bundles or other baggage began hefting
their loads, ready to board the bus. Please, please, let me go,
the bus is here already, and I'm late. I will see you this evening,
unfailingly. Give me something first, I can not have come all the
way here for nothing, at least let me buy some gin to wash my
mouth this morning. Searching his pockets, Ousmane came up
with a dirty twenty naira note. Please this is my last money, at
least let's share it, so that I can have some money to take
transport back home, please, please now. Mtcheeew! Bubar
hissed contemptuously, and a grimy hand snatched the note
from quavering fingers. Ousmane ran after the bus, waving
frantically to get the passengers' attention. A skinny old man
in the back of the bus waved him on, gesturing to him to keep
coming. The passengers had seen him, but the problem was
the bus was going uphill, and if it stopped, it might not start
again, so he ran on till the vehicle trundled to a stop at the top
of a hill, where it idled, waiting for him. The bus boy jumped
down and put a thick wooden block in front of the rear tires
as a wedge. He was an ugly, scraggy youth, with a face pitted
and cratered by acne, and he was wearing a shirt that may
have once been white, but was now such a mish-mash of
stains and dirt that it could answer to no particular color. As
Ousmane jogged towards the bus, the bus boy yelled, 'Do quick
na, we go sleep here?' He hissed angrily as Ousmane reached
up and climbed the steps into the bus. Then he reached down
and pulled out the wedge. Then he struck the side of the bus
with the wooden wedge, and yelled, 'carry go, carry go joor!'
Ousmane found a tiny space and wedged himself in between
the skinny old man and a very fat woman carrying a child. The
child was crying pitifully, and its nose was running. Every now
and then the woman unfolded the edge of her wrapper and
wiped its nose. But almost as soon as she wiped it, it began to
flow again, like a small stream fed by a spring deep inside the
child's head. As the bus began to roll forward, the bus boy
began his rounds, collecting fares from the passengers.
Ousmane was lost in thought when the bus boy got to him, so
when the fat woman nudged him, he started violently. 'Ehn?
Wetin? Why you de push me?' He scowled at the woman.
'Abegi bring your money before you begin de find quarrel', said
the bus boy. 'How much?' he inquired, patting his pockets, first
the left, then the right.
'See oh! Na today? The time when you de enter this motor
before, you blind? Abi na person de pay for you? Give me
money joor!' He hissed again, a sound that came out remarkably
well, considering that he was missing two teeth in front, and
nearly all the others were in various stages of decay. Ousmane
fiddled in his pocket for the money. Inadvertently his arm
brushed against the woman. 'Oho! Because you de find your
money, you come de pass there de touch my breast abi?
Shameless man, no go marry, abeg commot your useless hand
from here, before you go go de touch another man wife.'
'See me see wahala, how I take touch your breast? Mtchew. I
don marry oh, abeg pack your breast keep for that side, no de
throway am for everywhere.' He laughed loudly, a little too
loudly, either in spite of or because of the vulgarity of the joke.
He brought out a ten naira note and slapped it into the bus
boy's hand, and the bus boy pocketed it and gave him a five
naira note which was its equal in decrepitude, if not in value. He
put the money in his shirt pocket. The skinny old man on his
left tapped him and leered at the woman, then winked at him,
giving him a thumbs-up. He was smiling back before he realised
that the old man believed he had actually been fondling the
woman intentionally. He checked himself, and saw other
passengers laughing. As if on cue, the bus bumped and jolted on
a particularly rough spot, pitching him against the old man in a
bone-jarring crunch. The fat woman's baby woke up and
started bawling. The woman used her hand to squeeze off the
mucus from the baby's nose, then flicked it off. It landed on his
shoe, but he pretended not to notice. He didn't want any
confrontation with the woman, and besides, the shoes were
battered and scuffed, having suffered on various roads, and
at the hands of various shoe-makers; what more could a little
blob of mucus do? Aaaatchew! The man opposite him
sneezed. The spray misted across his face, his shirt, his eyes.
He began to imagine that he could taste it in his mouth. He
started to yell, but thought better of it. Having looked at the
man, who could easily pass for Bubar's elder brother, he was in
such a mood as to bear every affront with dignity. The man
fished out a dirty handkerchief and applied some more grime to
his face; Ousmane could not imagine the rag being used to clean
anything. The man mopped his face, and said a tiny,
condescending "sorry" to Ousmane. Ousmane nodded in
acknowledgement, or was it sympathy? Some time later, after
passing a stretch of dusty, untarred road, the man, who had
been covering his nose and mouth, began to flare his nostrils
slightly, as though warning up for another sneeze. Ousmane
discreetly vacated his seat, on the pretext of looking at a
distant landmark to estimate how much farther they had to go
to get to Kukere. The busboy, who had plonked down as soon
as Ousmane vacated the seat, was directly in front of the
man, who somehow managed not to have his hands in front of
his face, and as such, got the full frontal dose of whatever
germs the man had rendered homeless. 'Ah-ah! Wetin?' The
bus boy let loose a string of curses that my editor wisely
decided to cancel out, and the man reached out his hand to
smack the living daylights out of him. The nimble lad dodged the
blow, and it hit the fat woman. The man began trying to
throttle the busboy, the fat woman began trying to throttle
the man, and finally the bus creaked to a halt as the driver had
to come and intervene, before his bus boy met an untimely end.
Ousmane.....Ousmane pulled out the cheap digital wrist watch
he kept in his pocket. He checked the time, and put the
strapless timepiece back in his pocket. He looked around him.
The bus boy's mouth was bleeding, the sneezing man had
scratches on his face, as if the pits left by acne and the
tribal marks were not injustice enough, and the woman had
something that was well on its way to being a black eye. He
looked at the road, and approached the rear door. 'Abeg make I
pass', he said to the man who was hanging on to the iron railing
above the door, having failed to secure a seat. 'Na here you de
drop before?' the man queried. He was short, and it was a bit
of a problem for him to hold the iron upright well. 'I de for hurry,
and before them settle quarrel finish begin drive de go, e go don
late. Make I use leg de hurry de go'
'Ah, this work serious oh, you no fit even wait make you late
small,' the man joked as he stepped aside for Ousmane to slide
out the door. Ousmane hit the ground, walking briskly. He looked
back once or twice at the still stationary bus as he breasted a
hill, and nodded at the wisdom of his decision to leave the
vehicle and proceed on foot. He walked fast, raising brief
puffs of dust along the way with each step. He was jolted
from his reverie by a stone that he kicked against and almost
fell. He looked back and swore at the stone, cursing and
damning the person who must have dropped it there. He may
have been less fervent in his swearing if he had known that
the stone was not a stone at all, but was one of the last
remaining spots where the original roadwork had not been
eroded; he had actually been tripped by the road. As he pulled
off his shoe to inspect the damage done, he heard a noise and
looked up just as the bus rumbled past, the expressions on the
faces of the passengers ranging from amusement to
contempt. He looked around for a shoe maker and, finding none,
put on his shoe and resumed his journey, albeit with a funny
shuffling gait. As he rounded a bend in the road, he looked
ahead and saw to his dismay that it was almost eight.Already
he could see the long line of people waiting to enter the bus at
the park, and he knew instinctively that all his colleagues would
have arrived. The complimentary speech from Mr. Jenkins
would not be happening today.
He looked at his shirt, once clean and tucked in, but which now
had the relics of his journey; the hands of bubar, the dirty ,
unwashed bodies in the bus, the dust of the road, and his own
sweaty body. His trousers flapped as he walked, and dust
from the road clung to his trousers. As he shuffled, favouring
his left leg due to the torn shoe, he spied an itinerant
shoemaker, and he hurried to a large ficus tree a few feet off
the road.
“Pss...tt!!!”
“Hey-ssss!!” someone nearer finally understood his meaning
and pointed the shoemaker in his direction. As the man
approached, Ousmane took off the shoe and handed it to him
for appraisal.
“Thirty naira”
“Wetin? Abeg, five naira.”
“kai mana”
They haggled back and forth until the price was finally set at
ten naira.
While the shoemaker worked, he thought about the woman on
the bus, and mentally compared her to his own scrawny wife,
who was pregnant and almost always sickly. As the
shoemaker finished, he paid the man, put on his shoe and
hurried off. The time was a quarter to nine.
As he entered the doors of the squat, ugly building that was
the federal abbatoir, an inner door opened, and mr Jenkins
emerged, puffing on a foul-smelling cigarette.
“well, well, and what have we here, ifit isn’t the boss
himself”, he sneered sarcastically.
“Good morning Sir.”
“good morning to you too,Ousmane. Do you know what the time
is?”
Ousmane knew better than to try to pull out his watch. He
stuttered,”sir,the bus.... my shoe got spoilt on the road and i
had to stoop and try to fix it...”
Mr Jenkins gave him a feral grin. He was tall, abnormally so, and
he was skeletally thin, something the cigarettes he chain
smoked all day did nothing to help. His teeth were discoloured
from tobacco smoke, and the set of his teeth in his skull lent
him a certain predatory aspect.
There’s a letter on your desk, I suggest you read it very
carefully, as itcontains very important information for you.
Sneering, he dropped the butt of the cigarette on the floor
and stepped on it. Without looking at Ousmane, he walked out
of the door.
Ousmane got to his desk in the records department. He blinked
in surprise as he saw the telegram. Quickly he opened it and
read through with shaking fingers.
GREETINGS STOP SCHOOL ON STRIKE STOP NO MONEY STOP
MANAGING AT CONSTRUCTION SITE STOP SEND FUNDS
URGENTLY STOP WILL RETURN HOME STOP PLEASE PLEASE
STOP ADAMU STOP.
He closed his eyes. It was for this reason he slaved and toiled;
it was for this reason he had only one pair of shoes, for this
reason he scrimped and scraped. Two threadbare trousers,
four ragged shirts, one skinny, pregnant, sickly wife, one
malnourished, measly child. He winced at the thought of his
younger brother coming, another mouth to feed, and clothes to
buy, more expenses. He had sworn on their father’s deathbed
that Adamu would finish school. He began to sweat.
At that moment there was a low hum, and the old rickety fan
hanging from the ceiling began to turn. Opening the first two
buttons on his shirt, he leaned forward to begin the day’s
work. It was at that moment the fan snapped. A relic of the
colonial era, it was just another symbol of the disrepair and
abandonment that the whole country had fallen into. The fan
had been squeaking for years; the ceiling crossbeams to which
it was affixed had been steadily deteriorating, as much due to
the stress and tension as to the activities of wood lice and
termites.
As the fan came crashing down, one of the spinning blades
caught Ousmane on the side of his head. He was lucky the
blade hit him broadside; else he might have died without
knowing what killed him. The fan smashed into the side of his
desk, knocking it to the ground and pinning him down under it.
Two ripped wires from the ceiling touched, causing a loud bang
and a shower of sparks. As the other clerks began to scream,
he lay there with the letter on the floor beside him, kicking
weakly to free himself from the tangled heap. He was a victim
of all that was wrong and improper in the system. Even if he
survived he was going to be a mere shell of his former self. He
was never going to be the same again. His nation had failed him.

the end

SWAP! part two

Anayo Chukwu was in a good mood. He was smiling contentedly as he drove away from the pharmacy. He looked at the packet on the seat beside him, and smiled again. Today, he would get maximum value for his money. He hummed along to the music of Oliver De Coque wafting from the speakers in his dark blue Honda Cr-V as he swung off Adeniyi Jones Avenue to Olowu Street. As he spotted the ladies standing by the roadside, he slowed the SUV down and lowered the window, looking for the girl who had promised him she would be there. The ladies, dressed in various clothes that showed off their assets, approached as he rolled slowly.
‘Oga, how far na?
‘See me here, bros. offers rolled in from scantily clad females who flanked the road, in costumes that left little to be imagined.
He did not stop the vehicle, but kept rolling slowly, eyeing the ample flesh on display. He knew from experience that one did not just pick any girl. He had fantasies for tonight.
As he rolled on, his spirits sinking with every meter covered, he wondered what could possibly keep her from showing up as they had agreed.
Just then, he sighted her. Tall, nice legs. She had nice, rounded buttocks that the leggings she wore so artfully did nothing to conceal. Anayo felt a tingle in his jeans as he exited the car and leaned against it.
How much for a night?
‘Fifteen thousand naira.’
‘You won’t take ten?’
‘No, fifteen thousand oh’
‘Ok, let me give you twelve,’
‘Na whole night you de talk oh’, she protested.
‘Ok, make we go.’ She walked around to the other door and got in.
As he gunned the engine and drove, he stole a glance at her. In profile, hands clasped primly together in her laps, she was exquisite. The tingle in his trousers slowly built up to a throb.
I’m Anayo, by the way.
I’m Happiness.
Wow, Happiness, you’re going to make one guy very happy this night, he said, as he steered into Toyin Street. She blushed primly, and replied, make me happy, I’ll make you happy. Ikeja was a nice place, conveniently far from his bachelor pad on the Island, he reflected as he pulled into a hotel and shut off the engine.
Shall we? She nodded. Let’s get this show on the road then. They emerged from the car and he locked it as they entered the reception.
How much for a room per night?
‘Ten thousand Naira’.
He drew a fat, bulging billfold from his back pocket, and counted out ten thousand-naira notes, as the clerk slid a key across the counter to him. Send up a roast chicken, and some wine, he said, as he slid more notes from the billfold. As they headed up the staircase, he feasted his eyes on her rear end, and patted the little packet in his pocket as the throbbing in his jeans increased in tempo. The girl pulled out her phone, and checked the screen. He fingered the packets in his pocket and wondered if the effect of one packet would make him need more of the condoms in the second packet. He whistled a tune he had heard somewhere whose name he could not quite remember, and rubbed his hands in anticipation.
On her part, the girl watched the movements of the man as he moved along the corridor, noting the length of his legs, the grace in his walk, his fingers…. Yes, she chose wisely. It only remained to see if………
23:59
The lights suddenly went out. Hamza, the night clerk at the reception swore viciously, cursing the power company for charging exorbitant rates and lousy service delivery. He groped on the wall behind him, fingers feeling on the key rack for the keys to the generator house. He pulled out his phone, and pressed a few buttons. In the dim light of the phone’s screen, he located the ring of keys he sought, and headed through the service exit leading to the back of the hotel where the generator house was located. On his way he unplugged a rechargeable lantern hanging on the wall, and headed out. Lightning flashed across the sky, and thunder boomed across the heavens. Looking up at the inky darkness, he wondered whether it was going to rain.
‘’Anayo’’ was having the most intense orgasm of his life. The sensations swept through him like a tidal wave, obliterating everything in its path ,and  focusing his entire consciousness on the moaning, sweaty lady astride him, and as he bucked and thrashed, heaving and huffing, a pleasure like nothing he had ever felt built up inside him as he jerked and spurted and spurted, till it felt as if his very essence would depart his body through his loins. As he lay panting, sweaty and exhausted, he told himself that if this girl was this magnificent, then he just had to get her for himself. To hell with all that crap about not building relationships on sexual chemistry, he thought. All those guys never had it this good, they’d have had a change of heart for sure. As he drifted off to sleep, he reflected on the aptness of the French expression for an orgasm, le petit mort, or the little death. He certainly felt reborn.
Just as Hamza inserted the key into the padlock of the small outhouse that protected the power generating plant, the lightning flashed once more across the sky, and the lights came on. Hissing angrily, he retired into the lobby, casting plagues and pestilences on the power companies.
He stirred and smiled, remembering the previous evening and its climactic experience. As he opened his eyes, he felt heaviness in his eyelids, and, lifting a hand to his eyes to rub them, he was startled to discover long, red painted fingernails on his hand.
As he pushed aside the bedclothes and sat up, the sheet fell to his waist, and he gasped in confusion at the sight of the breasts on his chest. With a curse, he bounded off the empty bed, stopping short at the sight of the figure in the mirror.
Weave-on hair extensions, nice, pencil drawn eyebrows, fixed lashes, traces of makeup (where not rubbed out or smudged),lighter strips of skin on the shoulders left by bra straps, on his chest, two rather nice, firm breasts, beneath which a trim, flat stomach suggested a healthy diet, lots of exercise, or both, the belly button, a tiny depression in the otherwise flat landscape, and further down, where the legs met the trunk……… hair, neatly trimmed, at the…….
Oh God, he was a woman.
He raised his hand to his cheek and pinched himself, believing it to be a dream. Wincing slightly and turning away, he (she) saw a note on the bedside table. Slowly, he (she) walked round the bed and picked it up.
My dear Mr. Ifedioha (I got your real name),
I am aware you must be feeling very awkward right about now, stuck in your new body. It is only natural, and will fade as you get used to it. My name is, or should I say was, Belinda Ogbeide,  and I’m twenty four. For a very long time, I have wondered what it would be like to be a man, to grow a beard, be able to urinate while standing upright, to penetrate a woman….. the list is endless. It’s a man’s world, they say, and I wanted in. I confess I’ve been following you around, and this tryst was fixed for the one night in the year when the constellations permit us to effect a switch. We are a lot alike, same birthday, same star signs. As of now, we have been ‘swapped’, I believe that is the term. I am holed up somewhere, getting used to my new body, and I would advise that you do so too. I have taken the liberty of removing your phone, and your diary. Please do not try to find me, as it will be an exercise in futility. However, as a former occupier of the corpus you now inhabit, I feel obliged to inform you that your period is due in about three days, so going out to get pads may not exactly be a bad idea. Women are stronger, more resilient, and more adaptable than most people think, so I’m guessing you’ll do just fine.            Have Fun!
Okey Ifedioha, as I must now call myself.
P. S: there is fifteen thousand naira, along with some other documents inside YOUR handbag, which is in the drawer. It was after all, paid by the man for sex with the lady, so  I guess you can keep it.

Story Of The Year.

if you do not listen to rock music, please do not bother.........hehehehehe..



Please skip the FLYLEAF, and read the main story.

One DARK NEW DAY in the middle of BLUE OCTOBER, after my dinner of LIMP BIZKITs and some RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS, I put on my PLAIN WHITE TEES and was taking a stroll through LINKIN PARK when I saw a man who was TRAPT in a HALESTORM. I immediately released him and asked what happened. He said he came by a DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE and his name was KEANE. He said he had come to see the BLACK VEIL BRIDES at a wedding nearby. He had a RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, but became a FALLOUT BOY after BREAKING BENJAMIN.

Originally, his SIMPLE PLAN was to go out as he had a NEED TO BREATHE some fresh air. He had barely gone 3 DOORS DOWN when he was attacked by GORILLAZ who were on SNOW PATROL, by the road close to the ALTERBRIDGE.
I called my friends, the FOO FIGHTERS, and on explaining to them, they saw RED and wanted to join THE FRAY. Together, we were FIVE FOR FIGHTING, and we chased after them, veins pumping with AUDIO ADRENALINE.

Not finding them, we retired to my SAVAGE GARDEN, where we were soon BOWLING FOR SOUP that I prepared in a SKILLET. After some COLDPLAY, we decided to give them THREE DAYS GRACE, after which we would be AVENGED SEVENFOLD on those who had tried to HINDER us. On our way back to the LIFEHOUSE, we saw what we thought was A FIRE INSIDE, but on getting closer it turned out to be an ARCADE FIRE.

Getting home, we found out that HOOBA STANK of THE CRANBERRIES we passed through on the way, so we broke some JARS OF CLAY of perfume for him. One of the KINGS OF LEON was lying in ambush, but after a FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH he effected an immediate EVANESCENCE, but not without CASTING CROWNS on the floor. We called the TOKYO POLICE CLUB, and reported the incident.

In a bid to DECYFER DOWN if the house was truly safe, we searched and found some ROCKETS FROM THE CRYPT full of GOO GOO DOLLS stuffed with NINE INCH NAILS. We went to see the AERO SMITH, who built us a BOX CAR RACER to HASTE THE DAY with. On the day we finally KILLSWITCH ENGAGEd the enemy, the crowd stood up for us, and they were the ALL AMERICAN REJECTS. They were sentenced to stay in a MATCHBOX TWENTY years.

According to their NIGHTWISH, I escorted the MAROON FIVE down to the METRO STATION, where they boarded a TRAIN, after which I returned home with MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE.

My friends wanted me to get a BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, an IRON MAIDEN called METALLICA, but I refused. Out of gratitude, my friend gave me an elephant, to provide me with some THRIVING IVORY, but I rejected it. He offered me money, but I told him I would feel very STAIND if I took his money, and besides, I would be SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER, so I gave him his NICKEL BACK. He wanted to get me a PARAMORE by the name of GOOD CHARLOTTE, but I said it would be OVER MY DEAD BODY for me to break up with my SUPER CHICK.

I told him he did not have to SWITCHFOOT and begin to believe my CREED, but to stick to his THEORY OF A DEADMAN if it worked for him in these TIMES OF GRACE. He offered me THE CORRS, but they made me see BOYS LIKE GIRLS, so I gave it back. He prayed for God to MERCY ME, just the way I pray for U2, as the ANGELS AND AIRWAVES are my witness.

And that, dear friends, is THE SCRIPT for my STORY OF THE YEAR. You will probably BLINK 182 times before you finish reading this. Have a GREEN DAY, and remember, when we spend time in front of a mirror, being CUTE IS WHAT WE AIM FOR.

So how many rock bands are in this story? Let’s have fun counting joor!

 

where are the children?


“Aunty Abby, I think I’m in love” Bridget, six.
“I know, marriage is about making babies” Sylvia, seven.
“when you like a girl, you take her to ‘faaji’(party), then kiss her, then sleep with her and she has a pregnancy for you” Rilwan, seven.
(pointing to his organ)”my mummy bought it for me, it’s for wee-wee, and also for sleeping with women” Sukanmi, five.
The names are made up, but the ages and statements are real. One was said to me, while the rest were said to friends and people I know. The individuals making these statements, though tender in years, obviously know more than they should as kids. My question then is, what is happening to our children? Are they growing up too fast?
When I was a child, I confess, I didn’t know most of the things the children of these days take for granted. I watched less television, read more books, and generally knew more facts. Kids today sadly do no such ; they have the internet, 24-hour television, and less reading paper. In the nigh thirty years of my life, a lot has changed. Only last week, I was with a friend, and his ten year old nephew was loudly protesting at being called a kid. With hands on hips, the little man railed, “I’m not a kid! I’m ten! I can take care of myself!” and this is in Nigeria, in Africa, which is said to be a backward continent! Sadly, I don’t know if we can do anything to reverse this trend, and this is just the beginning. If the current trend continues, in a few short years, all we will have are young and old adults, and the vital societal quantity known as the child will become, like the dodo and the sabre tooth tiger, a thing of the past, and a mere figure in the history books.
This is dedicated to the special ones that call me uncle:
Jolayemi Olajide, Sebioba Olajide , Oluwajenyo ‘chairmo’ Olajide, Enoubong ‘Zara’ Okon, Priceless Omoyeni Stephen,Somto David Ubong-Okon, Elliora Olanike Stephen, and all the others to follow after them.
Happy Children’s Day.

call it what you will...

If you dare, read this piece, I won't insult your intelligence by telling you there is a way out, I only know the way in.

Proceed......

I am not a normal human being. Whose normalcy did I deviate from? Who sets the standards? Yes, I braid my hair, and then? So what? What, by the way, is a normal human being? Is there a set of norms and standards set by someone somewhere, to which we all must conform, and any deviation there from is labelled anomalous or abnormal?
Let's say I stand at seven feet six inches in my shoeless, sockless feet, does that make me abnormal? Am I abnormal compared to you who stand at five feet nine? What if I stand at four feet in boots? Am I abnormal? Am I? Does it give you the right to call me odd? If, for instance, I can roll my tongue, move my ears, wiggle my eyebrows alternately, lick my elbows, and bring my linked hands forward over my head from behind my back , am I a freak? If I say there is no God, because I can't see Him, am I odd? If most humans have an appendix, and I just happen not to have been born with one, does it make me abnormal? I have all the attributes you have , physically there's nothing you can do that I can't, so why should it matter to you if my heart is on the right side of my chest? Instead of labelling me warped, freak, and demon, why not mind your own business? What makes you normal?
If you're like me in any way, rest assured, you're a freak. If you have any sort of skin colouration, birthmark, mole, or other such feature, forget, you're abnormal. And you, who told you it's normal to have pimples, a receding hairline, a widow's peak, very hard, or very soft hair? You're obviously warped, defective, and abnormal. Hey, Slim Jim, why are you so skinny? And you, Heavy Harriet, why are you this fat, like a human sausage?You're a freak too. That freak over there, so you can swim, so what? Why bother being human? Why not be a duck, a goose, or better still, a fish? You would swim to your heart's delight. Oh, you can't swim? You must have made a huge mistake being human, you can't just sink like a stone, are you under a curse?
Well, all this ranting and raving has pretty much done me in, I'll leave you now to continue your normal lives.
NORMAL WHAT? Who told you you're normal? You have the time to read this nonsense, and you think you're normal? YOU MUST BE SICK

one sad Christmas


My name is Omotayo Oni, and I really hate Christmas. Ask me why? It is a season of joy, of fun, and of laughter, but I must tell you, it is a season of pain, of regret, and of sorrow. The worst things in my life have always managed to happen around Christmas.

Firstly, I was born to a sixteen year old unwed mother, on the twenty third of December, and two days later, just as the bells tolled for the Christmas day services, I became officially a ward of the state. My mother, the one bright spot in my life, was snatched away by the fingers of death. Ii never knew who my father was, and thus did I pass on into the care of the state, i.e. no one. I was placed in an orphanage till I attained the age of seven, at which point I got adopted.

Mrs T. R. Oni was a pillar in her local church, the wife of a very rich landowner and businessman. She was a socialite who, like a moth, was attracted to the limelight, and would do anything to sustain it, up to and including hosting and throwing parties for the less privileged and loudly publicized donations to various causes. The Christmas of my seventh year, she had decided to give one less privileged child a new lease of life, so she went down to hope orphanage and picked out the most miserable, pathetic and scrawny looking child in the place; me. She signed the adoption papers with a flourish, while the local television stations kept the tape rolling, and the orphanage staff ooohed and aaahed politely about how I was such a lucky girl, and how I was going to get a better home and all that. On my part, I was crying, partly due to the fact that I was going to be leaving my friends, and everything I knew. Or maybe I was prescient.

 

And so it was that at the age of seven, while I was still tender, and unscarred, the security I felt was yanked out from under me by my transplantation to a new location. Adoption was not such a big deal for me, having tearfully extracted a promise from the staff and my new mother that I would be allowed to come on visits.

At home, my mother (so she requested, or demanded that I call her) told me that I was to help her out in the kitchen, and that was how it all started. Little did I know that, Machiavellian strategist that she was, she had just succeeded in getting herself another house girl, and adding to her considerable store of goodwill in the bargain. And thus the routine went on, early days and late nights. A year went by, and I was still just a house help, glorying in the title of daughter. One fateful day, I made the mistake of asking when I was going to start school. I got a slap that still makes me wince to think of it, and it will not surprise me in the least if my biological children have ear problems. My lips sealed permanently as to the question of school, while her own children got sent to the best schools.

By the time I turned twelve, my body had begun to change: my breasts and buttocks were beginning to jiggle and flounce when I walked, and I had started to attract attention from my ‘mother’ and her husband, who was a contractor and consultant to an oil company. My mother had begun to buy me brassieres, and as for her husband, he intensified his attempts to pester my life. On several occasions, he would pinch my breasts or my buttocks. I didn’t like them, but I was scared of telling my mother, because I was unsure of her reaction. One day, when my mother had travelled to their hometown for the Christmas festivities, I was alone with her husband, who had stayed back in Lagos to work. i had just finished taking my bath, and I had only a wrapper covering my body, when he entered my room without knocking. I was startled and asked what he wanted. Grinning wickedly, he tried to pull off the wrapper. I tried to struggle, but it only seemed to excite him the more. I tugged his hand away and tried to cover up. He slapped me hard across the face, and I fell to the floor. He untied the rope holding his sokoto to reveal his engorged member. I screamed and scrambled away, trying to pick up the wrapper and get away from him. He grabbed my leg, preventing my escape, and fell heavily atop me, knocking the wind out of me, and cutting off my screams. I bit the hand clamping my mouth, and yelled, but to no avail.

Just then, NEPA restored the light, and the small transistor radio in my room came on. And to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’ and other Christmas carols, on a day synonymous with merriment and laughter, I had my painful introduction to debased womanhood. I had turned fourteen two days earlier.

The abuse continued. Day in, day out. He would sneak or force his way into my room to have his wicked way with me. This continued for months on end. Even when the family returned, he would leave for work most mornings, then return, ostensibly on the pretext of a forgotten file or document, and ravish me. My ‘mother’ either remained blissfully ignorant or pretended not to know, and gradually it became a norm. Not that I enjoyed it, far from it! He was rough, and took my cries and whimpers of pain for moans of pleasure. He was a brute, and I grew to expect it, just as I grew to expect the monthly discharges that are a part of the life of every young woman. Those few days were my only reprieve.

One month, the monthly visitor, for reasons I could not understand, did not show up. I checked and re-checked, counted and re-counted, it was not there.  I collected money from ‘mother’ for sanitary towels, bought them, and hid them in m room, waiting for the visitor. Seemingly, all was well. Then the bubble burst.

I was preparing breakfast one morning, having just fried some eggs, when a sudden bout of nausea hit me. Before I could help it, I had vomited on the floor. Father was disgusted, mother was curious. I blamed it on the spoon I used in whisking eggs, and somehow, I passed muster, or so I thought. The vomiting came and went, the funny feeling did not. My breasts felt large and tender.

One day, after my bath, the door opened. Thinking it was my usual assailant, I turned to face the wall in resignation. It was ‘mother’s voice that cut through my reverie.

“Tayo, take off that wrapper.

Silently, I complied.

“Tayo, what is happening to you? You have been vomiting, you don’t eat, or you eat too much, see your- she stopped short in midsentence as I turned to face her.

“Are you pregnant?

I was confused and horrified. “I don’t know, maybe, yes”

Talk! Ashewo, Prostitute, you’ve been selling your useless body abi?

“Ah, Mummy, no oh, when did-“  She cut off my question with a hot slap.

Don’t you answer me back. Now, who did this?

“Mummy, it’s…. it’s……. “

“Answer me!

“It’s Daddy!

“You witch, prostitute, agent of the devil, idiot, aje,   you think you can deceive me?”

“It’s Daddy, I swear, true to god, Olorun! Mummy please-“ all my pleas fell on deaf ears. I was beaten up and thrown out of the house. Now just like my mother, I was fifteen, homeless, and pregnant. The apple truly never falls far from the tree.

While doing my daddy’s laundry, I occasionally secreted cash from his trouser pockets, and over time, it came to a little over fifteen thousand naira. I had an abortion, ad a new phase of life began for me.  I sold my body to earn a living. Tall short, rich, poor, black white, it didn’t really matter to me. All it took was a few thousand naira and I belonged to whichever man could cough up the cash, at least for the night.

 

Now I’m seventeen, three abortions and numerous infections later, and I’m HIV positive. I saw the test report today. I feel burnt out. I have purchased one bottle of gin, and one small phial of “otapiapia”, and if they don’t do it, I have some pills here. Today is the twenty fourth of December, and I’m going to give the world a Christmas present like no other. Merry Christmas!

 

The Wazobian Man; Boko Haram


3.55 am Central Mosque, Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria.

The man in the prayer robe and turban makes no noise as I enter the room. He doesn’t even turn. I hate to think that I’m expected. I prefer instead to think that either he is deep in meditation and wishes not to be disturbed, or that he is supremely confident in the two dozen or so hand-picked mujahideen that constitute his security force. I drop a small pouch on the floor a few feet behind him, and slowly he raises himself from his bowed position to rest in a kneeling position. He is a devout man, and at this point it matters not that he is one of the ten most wanted men in the world, and that the CIA and Interpol have a $20 million price on his head. Sheikh Ibrahim Abdel Mahfouz is a devout man, and it is a sobering thought. But what in Zeus’ nonchalance is he doing here in Northern Nigeria?

Two weeks back, a very highly placed official in the Nigerian Government got a tip from a classified source high up in the American Government, that notorious Yemeni cleric and Al Qaeda top shot, Sheikh Ibrahim Abdel Mahfouz, would be coming to Western Africa, ostensibly to visit, and confer with some notable Islamic scholars and clerics. The real reason, however, was more disturbing. The acclaimed Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, had finally gotten the attention of Al Qaeda, and the visit was to offer moral support, and lay the groundwork for future military support, training and equipment to further their cause. The source offered to send in a covert team of special operatives to deal decisively with the threat, but our highly placed official diplomatically turned down the offer. A U.S. navy warship or other indication of a military presence was likely to cause a ruckus, and besides, the sect was reputed to have sympathizers, supporters, and financiers high up in government.

More importantly, the Nigerian Government had an agenda. In the first fifteen years of the new millennium, insecurity was the major problem in Nigeria. Various tribal, ethnic, and religious militant groups held (or tried to hold) the nation to ransom, and threatened the stability of the Nigerian nation.
Then in 2016, things changed. A file clerk in Aso Rock, the nation’s seat of government, accidentally discovered some files pertaining to the formation of a top secret agency. The agency was to have carte blanche to use any and all means and methods available to it, to gather intelligence about, and ensure the survival of the nation by removing all internally or externally originating threats to national security. The zealous and excited clerk took the files to his superior, who promptly rebuffed him and warned him to do his job or lose it, citing the high unemployment figures in the country. Suitably chastised, the clerk returned to the monotony of his job.
Then one day, purely by chance, he entered an office early to arrange some documents for a meeting, and found himself alone with the President.
He stammered through his story, and two weeks after that, he found himself on a plane to the United States, destination: Langley, Virginia, the headquarters of the CIA. He spent six months there before leaving for Europe, and by the time he returned to Nigeria two years later, the agency was forming, with trainers, instructors and technical support staff borrowed from Germany, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, France, and Russia. Technically on various tours of duty, they had been drafted in to help facilitate the start of the agency. The field operatives were scattered in various training locations around the country, taking as much care as possible to minimize contact between agents. He resumed as its Operations Director, and two weeks later, without putting up a sign or taking an advert in a newspaper, the Nigerian Information Surveillance Technical Agency was in business. A legal and constitutional team was formed to bury the formation in the addendum to the by-law of some act or other, and funding was drawn from repatriated funds looted by a former military dictator, and spread through a number of parastatals that had always been in existence.
As he straightens slowly, I press the point of a knife into the back of his neck, and grab his mouth to ensure silence. I pull him to his feet, frisk him thoroughly, rip off his turban, and snap pictures of him with a microcam from my pouch. His eyes miss nothing, darting nervously toward the door, where the guard he is expecting is out cold from a rap to the head. As I bend to return the cam, he turns with surprising swiftness for a man his age, and makes for the door. Wrong move. In a trice, I pull my gun, and two bloody holes appear in his back. As I drag him back toward the pallet, I observe a flashing light on his wrist watch. Damn panic button. I drop him face up on the bed, and arrange the sheets such that he appears to be taking a nap. I see a chain round his neck, and on the chain I see, wonder of wonders, a USB flash drive.
I relieve him of the burden, and as I head for the door, it opens, and a tall man in black with aquiline features enters. I attack head first, butting him viciously in the nose, but it barely slows him down. There is a flash in his eyes, a hint of the bloodlust which, combined with religious fervor and the right amount of faith, makes killers and suicide bombers of the most placid men. He slashes viciously, chopping left and right in quick strokes that leave me in n doubt as to his skill and competence. Paces apart, he advances, hands held out in front of him in the traditional stance that is typical of many martial arts. He is probably well trained in several forms of hand to hand combat, but deep in the marshy wetlands of Bayelsa, there are places where the children learn to swim before they learn to crawl, and to wrestle before they learn to walk. It is the traditional wrestling for which the Ijaw are famous. I run toward him, head slightly lowered, and the twin chops he aims at my head and neck glance off my shoulders. I cannonball into him, and there is a small thrill of satisfaction at the whoosh of air leaving his lungs. As I grab him around the midsection, his legs are kicking furiously, and his arms are slamming savage blows into my back and torso. I ram him into the wall, and the assault drops in intensity.
I throw him to the floor, bending forward as I do so, and his head connects with the floor with a thud. As he struggles to regain his feet, I drop like a stone on his chest, grab his head, and the sharp crack I hear as I twist assures me there is one less terrorist for the free world to worry about. Just then, my earpiece crackles with static, and the voice of Major Stephen whispers in my ear.
‘Kedu?’ this is his signal to ask if I’m he may speak freely, if I’m under duress of any sort, or in an unsecure location.
‘Odi mma’. I give him the all clear. I give him a brief situation report, and ask for technical assistance to facilitate an escape. He chuckles and replies, ‘ask Mephistopheles. A crackle of static, and I’m on my own once again.
He constantly refers to my wrist computer as the demon Mephistopheles from Faustus {Marlowe, Mann, whoever else}, partly because it can do some pretty awesome stuff, and also (I think) because he believes field operatives like myself are in the devil’s business of shooting and looting, or stealing, killing, and destruction. The actual device strapped to my wrist is an almost replica of a BlackBerry phone, except that it has no visible screen, and no apparent battery. RIM would probably sue the Nigerian government if they see it, but I don’t think it will happen soon. The device provides real time audio and video, and can do almost anything a field agent can possibly desire. It can’t walk into a room full of bad guys and kick all their butts though, sadly. And it has all sorts of security features. I place my gloved thumb on the secure port, and the tiny sensor in my glove aligns with the one on the port.
The scratch resistant screen lights up, and I see positions of hostiles marked by red dots on the display. I note the positions of the hostiles relative to the green dot on the screen, which represents my location, and remove my thumb, turning off the screen. It is just one benefit of having satellites in space. As I leave the room, I see a guard, and I freeze in place, the suit I’m wearing has its pouches and packs designed to provide a disruptive silhouette, and if I stay very still, I can escape detection in the dark. It’s matt black, skin tight, and made of Graytex, a rather tough material that is the very latest in protective gear. It protects against small arms fire at a distance, but El Gray Inc., the developers, have made no promises as to its efficacy against close range fire. I suppose the idea is that I’ll be able to attack first or remain unseen, if it comes to that, so I guess I work with what I’m given. As the guard walks by, I slither along the shadows and head for the car park.
I’m almost there, when my breath is knocked from me as though by a huge punch, and I fall to the ground. Hard. I crawl towards the nearest vehicle, a black Mitsubishi Montero with tinted glass, and I give myself a once- over. The guys at el Gray never said it was gonna hurt like this, but I’ll live. I pull out my knife, and gently make my way among the cars. As I creep between two cars, I catch sight of the guard who shot me, he is dressed in a caftan, gun in hand, and I thank my stars that he is not one of the special ones guarding the cleric. He crouches low, flashlight in hand, and checks under cars. I slink up to him from behind, and clamp a gloved hand around his mouth. His teeth clamp down on the hand, and I drive the knife into his chest, ensuring that he’ll never speak again.
Immediately there are cries of alarm, and I can guess that the bodies have been found. A shrill, piercing whistle splits the night air, and the patter of running feet indicates that the guards are assembling. The car is still there, thankfully, and I press the little button concealed near the boot and unlock it. The cleric has probably failed to show up for the morning prayers, I start the engine, and the sweet little VW Golf 2 purrs to life. I drive through the courtyard, heading for the gate, and the guard at the first gate flags me down.

‘Tsiya, tsiya, ina za aka?’ Stop, stop, where are you going?
‘BabaYamutu!’ The old man is dead!
Screaming, he runs into the gatehouse, and the other men inside start wailing as they hear the news. As I approach the second gate, he emerges from the small shed and points.
Tsiya! Adamu, tareshi,hana shi tafiyan!  Stop, Adamu, don’t let him get away!

The guard at the second gate, a gateman, really, stands in front of the gate and stretches out his hands, trying to signal me to stop. I step harder on the gas pedal, and the Golf 2 smacks into him, knocking him to the ground and running him over. The night around me explodes in a blistering hail of automatic fire. Silently I whisper thanks to the wizards at the agency who thought it ft to make the car bullet proof. A glance in my rear view mirror tells me I have company, so I pull into traffic to put as much distance as possible between me and my new friends. I tap the small buzzer on my wrist, and almost immediately the voice of Major Stephen whispers in my ear.
Bawo ni?
I dispense with protocol, and ask for assistance to get to the nearest safe point.
“Just calm down, in about twelve minutes a satellite will be over the area, and ………..”
‘- I don’t have that time, I’m weaving through traffic, and I’m being shot at, civilian casualties will be horrible! I’m trying to-‘ I face the road just in time to avoid careening off the road. I steer towards the central business district, hoping that the men chasing me will be less inclined to open fire in densely crowded areas. As I take a turn, I take time out to observe the cars in pursuit. I think I’m being tailed by three cars, a black Nissan Murano and two Audi A4 station wagons. I deftly maneuver the small car through the traffic, using the small size of the vehicle to squeeze through gaps they can’t follow through. I spy a filling station in the distance, and head straight for it. I spy the driver of one of the cars glowering furiously, but I’m betting on the off chance that the men will not open fire at a fuel station, plus the fact that the traffic makes it hard for long-bodied cars to switch lanes. I drive straight through, leaving the Conoil attendant very surprised, and I head back to the expressway. Soon I’m on the highway leading to Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state.

My wrist-com beeps, and I quickly access the directions. It’s good to have the necessary technology; it’s just something of a pity that most of the satellite based technology will not be available for mass consumption. Following directions, I park the car along the express road and head into the bushes. My wait is not long, a van bearing the colours of the Chad Basin National Park pulls up, and a man emerges and begins to tinker with the back door. Taking my cue, I don the civilian clothes I collected from the car, and step out into the road. I catch sight of my bullet riddled tires, and I wonder what would have happened if they had failed me. As I approach the van, the man opens the door, and I get in. Almost at once, a figure in paint spattered clothes leaves the front seat. I crane my neck, but the figure is out of sight. The windows are glass only on the outside, the inside of the van is bullet proof steel. The agent, a fat, sweaty man, who is probably wearing a fat suit of some sort, smiles at me and hands me a bottle of NIFOR palm wine.
‘I’m Osas
I’m Osas too.’
Real names are too risky to be used in our line of work. Thirty minutes later, I’m heading for Lagos aboard a private plane painted in the colours of a popular church in Nigeria. As for the car, I can only guess that it will be sprayed a different colour, and returned to one of the several ‘safe houses’ scattered all over Nigeria. I am able to enter my house at Oworonshoki just in time to catch the final recap of the headlines at the end of the news: Popular Yemeni cleric killed in Maiduguri, while visiting Nigeria for consultations with Islamic scholars. I don’t get a mention in the news, not that I expect to. Outside of my department, the people who are aware of my existence number less than ten. I am Chimezie Oluwole Bar’kindo, and I am the Wazobian Man.

 

my jealous house


.

I’m afraid of my house.

Please don’t get me wrong, I live there, come in and go out freely, yes, but my house frightens me. I am Tunde Uche Ahmed, thirty two, five foot nine, and single. I have no girlfriend. None. Or to put it better, none again, not since I moved into the house.
It’s quite an ordinary looking house, located in the Victoria Island area of Lagos, Nigeria, a three bedroom bungalow in a nice compound. It comes with the job, actually. I’m a you-know-what in one of those government agencies whose name and very existence I’ll divulge, but only if I can kill you afterward, to ensure that its existence remains a secret.

Where was I? The house. It appears to have a thing for me, and I dare say the house is female, since the females are usually the more jealous of the species. What, in effect, am I saying? It killed my girlfriend.

Lola was her name. She was in her early twenties, and a final year student of the Department Of International Studies of the Lagos State University. She had come to see me soon after I returned from a trip to Korea that has no bearing on this narrative save that it was the house I moved into when I returned.
‘I don’t like this house’, she complained.
‘Why? It’s a nice enough house, or is there something wrong with it? ‘
‘I don’t know, I just don’t like it.’
‘I love it. I feel perfectly at home here,’ I countered.
‘My point. Exactly. I think houses should be like shoes, when new, they should feel a little bit odd, such that you take a while to get used to the place, giving it your own aura, your ambiance, so that with time, you begin to feel comfortable. Here, it’s almost as if the house is welcoming you in, and don’t get me wrong, it’s not the decor.’Agency ‘Besides’, she added, I know it sounds funny, stupid even, but I feel as if I’m under some sort of scrutiny when I’m here.

‘My house is not bugged, I don’t play such games, besides, it’s not like anyone’s after me or you, or…… are you feeling guilty? You have a little something to confess? Or is there someone else? ‘I joked, nuzzling her neck to divert her from the topic at hand.
‘How can?’ she replied, twining her arms round my neck.
The matter was soon dropped, but a nagging fear remained. I pushed it to the back of my mind, something I regret deeply till today.

A week had barely gone by when she slipped and fell in the shower, breaking her arm. I know my shower; it’s my house, and I KNOW that it’s hard to slip on those rough tiles. She swore the tiles were smooth on that day, and I know this sounds odd, but she also swore that before she passed out, she heard the rich, warm, triumphant laughter of a woman. Had it not been for the gravity of the situation (she was having her arm set), I would have thought she was putting me on. As it was, I had a battle going on trying not to laugh. It caused tension between us, but I was determined to not re-visit the issue.

Two weeks after she took off the cast, she came over for a weekend. I had gone out to the official _______ Street Headquarters (what name are you expecting?) to catch up on some paperwork, when an alarm signal came in from one of the teams doing routine surveillance in the area, that there had been some pretty loud noises coming from the house. An inexplicable dread had me breaking procedure and leaving the office immediately to rush down to the house, only to meet her, naked, bleeding heavily, and almost gone, in the bathroom.
I was devastated. All the warnings, all the unease she felt, it all began to swim round inside my head.
The doctor said she had been sitting on the toilet bowl when it broke, and she had probably hit her head on the cistern, and that in her fall, shards of porcelain had injured her in the private parts, neck, back, and thigh, in addition to numerous nicks and scrapes she had all over. She remained in intensive care, undergoing multiple surgeries over the next couple of days to repair arterial and spinal damage. she lasted about five days in the ICU, before succumbing to the cold hands of death.
It was a turning point for me. I began to avoid my house, taking on assignments both local and foreign, going clubbing with a passion, going out with friends and colleagues, though I’m more a stay-at-home person.
Even worse, one night, in an alcoholic haze, I returned with a lady, who spent the night with me, but subsequently began to avoid me. The day I caught up with her, she told me she was scared of me, that I was too rough, that she could no longer wear sleeveless clothes and had taken to wearing heavy makeup, due to the scars I gave her. You can well imagine my bedazzlement. I’m not a rough lover, never have been, and more importantly, I DON’T KEEP NAILS. Personally, I consider it effeminate, besides, in my line of work, it’s not really encouraged, it can be a distinguishing feature, which we’re trained not to have, so where on earth could the scars have come from?

I was scared out of my wits one day, when I was going on a trip (details omitted) and had to pick up a package at the house, as well as a few personal effects, before dashing to the airport.
I had been about to leave, when suddenly I could not seem to find my keys. I took my time, thoroughly and methodically going through the house, still no sign of the keys. My aide, who was supposed to drop me at the airport, came in and helped me search, yet we did not find them. Frustrated, I swore loudly (details omitted) and slammed my fist into the wall. There was an awkward pause, then we both heard it clearly: a muffled gasp, followed by the very audible tinkle of keys. We both turned and discovered it at the same time: the keys, hanging in the keyhole, where they had not been when we were searching, I’m absolutely sure of that. My aide heard the gasp: he thought it was from me, BUT I KNOW BETTER.
We rushed off, we had a flight to catch, but just before we left the room, I turned to where I hit.

I will never know what made me look, maybe it was fate, maybe it was something else, but whatever it was, it made me look, and I got an eyeful that will haunt me to my dying day.

My eyes have not always been the best, but I see quite well, and I can assure you that I know what I saw, and it chilled my blood. I had scraped and skinned my knuckle, but my WALL WAS BLEEDING.
A junior aide (name omitted) was with me, so he took the briefcase from my shaking hand, locked the door, and went to the car, where he waited for me.
I, on the other hand, could hardly think straight. The young man must have been perplexed, he kept looking at me to find out if I was all right, due to the way I was staring at my hand. He even offered to drive me to the clinic to get my hand patched up, but I declined, and told him to move on to the airport.

I have left this document, along with a few other personal effects, at the office, because of the possibility that I might not make it from the trip. It is the way of our profession. Take my money, take the share certificates, take whatever you will, but please, don’t go to my house.
REMEMBER LOLA.

P.S: Twenty-five years have passed since this document was written, and as such it is now public record, and can be seen by anyone who wishes to see it. The Official Secrets Act no longer protects it. However, in line with the provisions of the Act, some portions of this document may have been written, re-written, edited, or deleted by our people. My only concession is to add that ‘Tunde Uche Ahmed’ is alive and well, currently serving our great nation in another capacity, with another name, identity, and life, and that he does not currently inhabit the aforementioned house( as a matter of fact, I do). I must add, however, that most of what he said is true.

.Olusola Alhassan Okoro

 

FULL MOON........


FULL MOON.
The time is twenty minutes past midnight. I make my way out of the house by my usual routes and slither round the house, to assure myself, and to note recent changes and happenings. The rat emerges from the hole near the orange tree, pauses to sniff the night air, and rushes to the trash heap in a corner of the compound. A few moments of scrabbling yield a prize: the head of a fish, which was thrown out only so recently.

This is the thrill of the hunt. With his meal in his jaws, he bounds a short distance away. He puts it down, and for a brief moment I am treated to a view of what a statue of a rat is like, so still does he stand, sniffing the air. Finally, sensing nothing, he settles down to enjoy his meal, little knowing that he is doing his own version of The Last Supper. I slither up to the unwary rodent, and inside my mouth, I make ready inch-long fangs. As he picks up the last of the entrails, his peripheral vision catches my movement, and suddenly he is staring death in the face.

Beady rodent eyes gaze into flat, expressionless ophidian eyes, and for the briefest of moments, I detect a flicker of confidence in the eyes. Could it be that he has a defensive strategy? Rather not, evasion is more the usual option, but just then, the full moon slips behind a dark cloud. All that is left is the glitter of eyeshine, two pairs of eyes, nocturnal animals, predator and prey, hunter and hunted. I flick out my tongue and taste the air. Yes, it is there; I can sense it. Among the forty-something other smells I can perceive, it still stands out. The rancid, sweaty taste of fear. I flare my nostrils ever so slightly, enabling the super sensitive heat pits on the sides of my head to picture him: sweet, warm blood, gushing through his veins, his hairs raised slightly, making him appear larger. I taste the air again. The fear is still there, but there is a grim determination underlying it. He will make a break for it, or die trying.

By the way, dear reader, if you can read this, then I’m probably dead. Then again, maybe you are dead, because it is only the dead, or my death, that can divulge this diary’s location, or the contents thereof. Science and scientists tell us of the evolution of species from the primitive life-forms in the primordial ‘cosmic soup’, yet they fail to give us valid or satisfactory explanations to such phenomena as vampires, ball lightning, or the origin of cancers. They claim to have conquered earth, and deem space the final frontier, yet medicine leaves more questions than answers, and they still will not explore the Bermuda Triangle.

This testament is true. I know it to be so. I think I will be dead long before any other living pair of eyes reads this, for I intend to carry my secret to my grave, but that does not detract in any way from the veracity of the account.
I have always known I was different, even as a child, I just knew. I was not very different physically from any other child, but I just knew I was not like them. My differences began to attain frightening proportions after I turned thirteen. There is something about that age, maybe it is because of the physical and psychological changes that occur at about that age, and the sense of navigating uncharted waters.

I remember it well .It was two weeks and five days after my thirteenth birthday, and I had been joyously counting the first non-downy strands of pubic hair. The time was three minutes before one pm, and I was in Jss 3. We were nearing the end of a particularly interesting English Language class, when suddenly the ceiling caved in, bringing tons of cement and concrete down, and burying more than half the class in an avalanche of cement and classroom furniture from the class above us. It was a mercy that the students from the class were out at the Chemistry laboratories, and the class was empty. The carnage would have been indescribable. Our English teacher, Mr Akinnifesi, was the worst affected, as he was at the blackboard in front of the class. A large slab of concrete from the ceiling fell on him, causing severe head injury from which he sadly never recovered. Students from the class above us, who were on their way back after their practical, on hearing the crash and seeing the scene, rushed in to help. An alarm was raised, and a crowd of volunteers soon gathered to rescue the buried students. I had been standing in class, having failed to answer a particular question satisfactorily, and as such, I was struck in the head by a large piece of concrete from the ceiling, and I went down.

Looking back, I do not remember any pain, shock or fear. My only recollection was of falling through a long, dark tunnel, with the wind screaming in my ears and my limbs flailing for balance. I woke up fourteen hours later in a hospital bed to find the anxious faces of my mother and several nurses staring down at me. I had been found wedged in a seemingly impossible space under most of the rubble, unconscious but alive, with bruises on my body and a large bump on my head being the full extent of the injuries I came away with. The doctors and nurses fussed over me (a given, since my father was a consultant at the state general hospital, and my mother was a well known business woman), and the next four days were a blur of tests, scans, and X-rays. More awkward, and more personally disturbing, were the appearance of scaly skin on my upper arms and back. My skin appeared to be flaking off, and the dermatologist could only attribute it to exfoliative dermatitis brought about by trauma and the hormonal changes associated with puberty. Medications were prescribed, which I took religiously. I was considered one of the more fortunate victims, as the sighting of a long black snake in the debris only helped to fuel the panic, and more people actually picked up injuries while in a mad dash to flee the serpent’s supposed location.

That was the first episode. Through this and a number of other events, I came to the horrifying conclusion. I was a snake! From time to time, I had sudden urges to swallow chunks of meat whole, to lie on my belly and crawl, and to crawl under doors and into crevices. I also began to find myself wondering about what it felt like to eat lizards, rats, and other rodents. By this time I was closer to fourteen than thirteen, and I was eager to experiment and learn more.

One fine night, at the time of the full moon, I prepared myself, and went early to bed, claiming tiredness. In truth, I could not sleep. I lay expectantly for hours, waiting for midnight. When the alarm clock on the bedside table began to beep, I grabbed it and silenced it before it woke the entire house. I crawled out through the window, and stood stark naked in the moonlight. I tried to focus myself on the urges, but after fifteen minutes of closing my eyes and trying to meditate, I was just a human being shivering in the humid night air. I then relaxed, and almost immediately had the same intense feeling of falling through the tunnel once again. I gave in to my impulses and soon found myself slithering around on the dew wet grass.

This new world was a wilderness of sensations. Again and again, I stuck out my tongue, tasting the air. With my serpentine nature came heightened sensory awareness, improved night vision, and a keener insight into the happenings around me. From my place on the ground, I watched with fascination as a large owl swept noiselessly to the ground, seizing a mouse and making off with it before the confused mouse could wonder why its predator had seemingly streaked out of nowhere.

I loved this new world. Speech was unnecessary, facial expressions irrelevant. Only perception mattered, and I had some of the sharpest sensory organs in the entire animal kingdom. I slithered around the compound, tasting the air almost every minute, and shivering in excitement from the sheer number of sensations I perceived. After a long time, I crawled back to the window, and suddenly I was there, naked and shivering in the chilly night air. That was the first episode. I soon found myself waiting for the full moon every month. I craved the wind tunnel experience, and the sheer, vivid joy of sensations beyond description. It was my own private world, a place where I could escape from the cares and stress of the world above. At a time when most teenagers were finding and experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and sex, I had this, this deeper and more bestial experience to find succour in.

Over time, I mastered my urges, to live with them, and finally, to control them rather than be subject to them. It was difficult at first, but time and practice helped a lot. On one occasion, I nearly let myself slip. I had gone out drinking with friends, and was midway into my third bottle, which was virgin territory, as opposed to my more experienced drinking buddies. Soon after, when I tried to rise, I found myself assailed by a curious inability to stay stable on my feet, or perhaps it was the ground that was suddenly uneven. Whichever it was, I sank to the ground under the table, and would have commenced trying to slither out of the room, was it not for one of my friends who promptly pulled me out from under. Little did he know that, only a few seconds later, he would have pulled out a long black snake.

Back to that night. As the moon emerged from behind the clouds, the air seemed to change. My tongue, dancing rapidly in and out between my lips, detected a new, yet familiar scent. Primordial instincts drew me, beckoned to a part of me that was previously dormant. The rat, thinking himself safe, bolted for safety. Too late, too late by a second and a half. Tightly bunched muscles sprang loose; inch long fangs struck the rodent in the small of his back, shooting venom into his system. Panicked, the rat abandoned all thought of skill or stealth, and bolted like a demon from hell. But it was enough. The accelerated heart rate due to the exertion would quicken the spread of the toxins through his system, and in no time at all, we were going to have ourselves a very dead rat. Moreover, the signature scent of my poison would be easy to trace.

That scent again, stronger this time. I lay flat on the ground, flaring my nostrils, tongue waving frantically, trying to locate the source of the scent. My senses pulled me towards a small hole in a corner of the compound. To my great surprise, a young female was moulting off the last vestiges of old scales, sloughing off the skin like a silken undergarment. It was indescribable, beyond sensation. No words can ever capture the essence of that moment. If I had been human, I’m very sure I would have caught my breath. Visualise a young man, suddenly finding himself in a boudoir, with the jewel of the sultan’s harem so unabashedly baring herself for his appreciation, and you would have understood a tiny part of what the experience was like.

So I crawled up to her, and thus began an elaborate courting ritual, that consisted of entwining and slithering over ourselves and each other. She was somewhat impressed by something I am not quite sure of, but since I am not altogether a bad looking human (in that form), it is safe to say I had at least a little of that nameless and elusive quality that intrigues and or excites females of a serpentine sort. So with the moon shining brightly in the sky, the cries of night birds ringing in the still air, and the chirping of crickets providing a steady baseline to their songs, and the gentle rustling of the leaves above and below, we mated.

I have had some experience of the sex act in humans, and it is extremely pleasurable. But this is sweeter yet. It is more than a mere joining of the sexes; it is more than a meeting of the sex organs, and it is not listless wrangling. The myriad sensations we reap from the mating ritual is more than what is humanly explicable, it is the apogee of sensations. So engrossed were we in our limbless lovemaking, that we were totally oblivious to the passage of time. At last, sated by the expenditure of our mutual passions, we parted. Communication, though devoid of speech, took place. We assured ourselves that propagation of the species was our prime responsibility, and that we had to do all we could to live up to it.

As I crawled slowly towards the house, I tasted the air casually. My earlier prey had succumbed to the toxins, and was now lying dead somewhere close by, but not within sight. It would have taken a bit of time for me to find him, but a glance at the house, where a light had suddenly come on, made me realise that I did not have such a commodity in excess. I followed my usual route, to the little used cluster of rooms at the rear of the house, and then in through a crack in the wall. I was going past the kitchen, when the lights suddenly went on, blinding me temporarily.

There, clad in pajamas, still mildly groggy from sleep, was my Uncle John, who had probably gotten up to do some reading. He took one look at me, on the kitchen floor, and yelled. Soon the house was agog with noises, doors opening and closing, feet clattering down stairs, and the like.
Let me provide a little background information. I live with my uncle, his wife, and their kids. It was a fairly large house, with four bedrooms upstairs, and one converted bedroom downstairs. My uncle is a doctor, and loves to wake at night to read. The children, the eldest of whom is seventeen, are three, namely, Adesuwa, Susan, and Moses.

I hastily ducked behind and under the refrigerator, when he screamed, then I surreptitiously made my way back to my room, and slid under the door, little knowing that Susan was coming to wake me. I was still lying on my room floor, stark naked, when she started knocking on the door. I knew she would not go beyond knocking. My room door is almost always locked, ostensibly due to the fact that I sleep in the nude because of the heat.

Osazuwa! Come quick! Papa says there’s a snake in the house. I hastily began to dress, while her knocking continued. I was just putting on a shirt when the knocking was replaced by a violent pounding.
I hastily opened the door. Glaring at me furiously, wearing his pajamas, glasses and an angry look was my uncle John.
‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ he queried. I sent Susan to get you long ago.
‘Sorry’, I mumbled, feigning a sleepy pose.
You sleep too deeply, there’s a snake in this house, and you well know that there are children here. My wife is pregnant, and in her condition we can’t have that kind of menace here.

I sleepily joined him in his search, which lasted until dawn, but I knew better. The snake was gone. Furious at not finding even a trace of the snake that he alone say, he retired upstairs, promising all who cared to listen (and I did not) that he would call in the exterminators as soon as it was daylight.
For all I care, he can call in two million exterminators, and they can take the house apart, brick by brick and shingle by shingle. They can strip the house down to its foundations, and spray it with enough chemicals to kill every snake in the world. But one thing I know: Come next month, at the time of the full moon, there will still be a snake in the house, and I will still be in a very deep …….”

The door slammed suddenly. Startled, the maid hurriedly closed the diary and dropped it in a drawer, then pushed it closed. Turning to the bed, she began to straighten the sheets, hoping that the occupant of the room would not notice her indiscretion. On hearing footsteps at the door, she turned, picked up her mop and bucket, and made to leave. He waved her on, saying, ‘Go on, finish up, take your time’, before making a beeline for the bathroom. He was tall, slim, and light-skinned. He moved gracefully, almost as if to a tune. He had a quick smile on his handsome face, and his eyebrows were thick and dark. Emerging from the bathroom, he walked to the dresser and opened a drawer. He froze when he saw the book, lying inside, next to his other books, instead of next to his underwear in the next drawer. With a smile that did not quite reach his eyes, he turned to the maid with the notebook in his hand.

‘Oh my God, I’m very sorry sir, please don’t report about this, I didn’t mean to pry, just that it was there, and….. open, please don’t…. She wrung her hands in frustration, and ran a hand through her thinning brown hair. He suddenly burst out laughing.
Please, I need the job, ‘cause my children need to eat, and there are bills to pay, and… ‘She tapered off, surprised by his laughter.

‘You still don’t get it, do you?’ he asked. She turned to look at him, and stared in shock.
He was standing by the door, the key in his hand, and a long black forked tongue was darting out from between his lips. She suddenly understood. With a scream, she fled from the room. His laughter rang out loud and long behind her as she entered the bedroom. Seeing nowhere to run to, she immediately ran to the bathroom and opened it. She locked the door, bolted it, and weighing her options, headed straight for the window, drew back the curtain, and froze.
There was a full moon up in the sky

November 18, 2011

It began with a simple text message.

The shrill sound of the phone disrupted her concentration. She got up from the bed, stretched, and crossed to the table at the other end of the first floor room that served as a bedroom for the two daughters of George Peters, and picked up the phone. Staring at the unfamiliar number, she read through the text, a frown furrowing her face. " If a big fat man wearing red jumps into your room and stuffs you into a bag, don't worry, don't fret, it's only because I want you for Christmas...... *...some text missing...*.
Just then, what appeared to be a large snowball sailed in through the open window, landing on the floor, and making an odd hissing sound. Still holding the phone, she turned toward the object, then to the window, to get a glimpse of the prankster, but she suddenly felt as if she was walking through a running river,against the current. Slow, languid steps took her toward the window, where a huge man in a red costume was climbing up the drain pipe, heading for her. She opened her mouth to shout for help, but her tongue had never seemed thicker. She slurred, her knees buckled, and she slumped, just as the phone in her hand began to beep again, the complete text of the message having entered. Her last conscious thought before she sank into a bottomless void was that the text message was coming true.
Then Laurel Peters succumbed to the effect of the drug, and passed out. The giant in the Father Christmas getup and a gas mask heaved himself over the window sill into the room, stepped over the unconscious girl, and picked up the canister. He then picked up the girl, and slowly climbed out the window, making his way gently down, to where a red car was idling in the street. The man entered the car, and they took off at a leisurely pace down the road, with the echoes of the chimes of the clock in her room fading away as they drove. Eight o'clock. The date was the nineteenth of December.