We go dey Alright.

I grew up in the 1990s, in the heyday of Babangida and Abacha, when Nigeria rolled over and died. Because I was a child, I was insulated from the bleakness that hung in the air. While the terms SAP, DIFRI, Ogoni 9, attempted coup, annulled elections, PTF and military junta- I loved that phrase, were words I heard on the news, they had no real meaning to me until fuel scarcity joined the mix. Continue reading →

If You Say So.

She smiled when he jumped into the bus, she’d thought he was lying when he said he was already at the bus stop waiting for her and seeing him eased her mind on his reliability. Her smile faltered when he ignored her and her big smile and bounded towards the lady with the wavy weavon sitting in front, put his hands on her chair and said “hello angel.”

What is the meaning of that!” she spat as she turned around.

“I’m so-sorry” he stuttered. Continue reading →

Hello There Sunshine.

December 8th.

His fingers caressed the keys, coaxing the antique piano to give him something it hadn’t given anyone in nearly fifty years. She had never heard anything that beautiful, it teased her soul, offering it a waltz and laughter and something that felt like joy. He began to sing and her heart burst, she clutched her chest with her left hand to keep the pieces from floating out of the open bay windows and her right hand held the mop and kept her steady as his voice- whiskey smooth, continued to rock her. Continue reading →


December 6th.

The voices roused him from the fitful and deep sleep, he’d been dreaming of fried rice and dodo with spicy grilled chicken on a plate with his name engraved on it and of baptizing his throat with sangria laced fruit juice. He could discern snatches of Yoruba, Igbo and pidgin English swirling in a heated mix, an explosion was imminent. “What are they quarrelling about at 7am” he wondered aloud as he walked to his balcony to get a good view of the drama.


From his balcony, he could see the two gladiators- Iya Kasali and Iya Risikat shouting insults at each other from behind the people restraining them, he was momentarily irritated by the scene. If they wanted to fight then they should be allowed to, not that they’d even fight if you left them. He’d counted ten threats to “fun wan eleti” since he began watching the fight and he was sure he’d here at least twenty more. He wanted to shout at the peacemakers to leave the women to kill themselves if possible, the noise would end immediately. He scanned the crowd, to know who could give him the full gist about the cause of the fight.


He smiled when he saw Mummy Junior and Mama Chinedu pointing at the fight scene and laughing. This was ironic because they were the most notorious fighters on that street. Their fights were fierce but the next day would find them gossiping with each other again, they had the perfect dysfunctional relationship. He went inside to get a bench so he could be comfortable, on his way he met his father coming out from his room


“Good morning Dad” he said with trepidation colouring his voice. His father could find fault with the Hope diamond, nothing pleased him. His father’s eyes scanned him from head to toe, he steeled himself to avoid squirming.


What’s happening outside” the older man asked. The son could see the tiny vein in his father’s temple tick and he mentally wrote his will.
I think they are fighting” he replied while wishing for a dove’s wings for escaping or for his baby sister to appear at that moment, she knew how to diffuse the man’s anger.
His father eyed him, and asked if he knew the reason for the fight.
I just woke up, in fact they woke me. So I went to see what the noise was about” he replied
That’s what joblessness causes, if you hadn’t been jobless you’d have been preparing for work right now and not have time to be following everything that happens in the neighbourhood”

He wanted to scream out all his frustration, his father never failed to remind him about his joblessness. Every opportunity to rub it in was utilised by the man although he’d claim he was trying to spur him on, he was wearing him down instead. He’d become sympathetic to certain mass murderers who’d killed people in a rage, he could imagine his satisfaction at killing his father, the remorse would come later, much later.


He plodded his way back to his room and didn’t come out until nine am when his girlfriend came to see him. She was pretty, smart and calm, he liked to hold her close and claim she was his Gibraltar in a turbulent world. She was smiling as she flopped on his bed, he looked at her with baleful eyes. She was still smiling despite his fierce demeanour, the wahala girl probably thought she had odeshi.
Did you see or hear about the fight this morning?” she asked with a smile dancing or on her lips.

Falling in love with her was the most shocking thing he’d ever experienced or seen in others, not even R Kelly’s flipping and flopping into Christianity could compare. He’d thought she was too young for him, plus dating a girl who’d lived in the area was too much work. At the end, what brought them together was studying the same course but in different universities. She collected class notes and textbooks from him, and with his guidance she easily topped her class. After his youth service he asked her to be his girl and her reply was “It’s about time“.

She repeated her question and he told her what had happened with his dad, she tapped his shoulder and told him “it is well“. She then launched into the story of the fight, two young children Kasali and Nuhu were saying silly things about Risikat’s mother. It was popularly known as “mess”, you usually messed mothers, Fathers were never messed. they said her mother couldn’t cook or wash properly. Unfortunately for them, her mother came home early and caught them. She beat them throughly and even scarred Kasali. The next morning when his mother was bathing him she discovered the scars and the hounds of hell were released. They both agreed Risikat’s mother had taken things too far, it was a normal game children played.


Suddenly he asked her what she’d do if a much richer young man came to marry her, would she leave him? She smiled.
“Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring my darling, let’s live in the moment. Who knows you might get rich quickly too. I love you, always will even if we end up together or not. I even dreamt you got a job in NDS“.

He guffawed, “NDS kor, NDS ni. You know I did the aptitude test some months ago, they’ve taken the people they wanna take”
“If they eventually take you Mr Doubting Thomas, you must buy me a car” she pursed her lips.
NDS pays crazy money Oma, if I get the job my first month’s salary can buy a brand new car for you and I’d still have money to live on. Those guys are the biggest players in oil prospecting and drilling in sub-Saharan Africa”. “And it’s owned by a woman” she said with laughter lacing her voice.
I’m going to mummy’s shop, you know I need to be in her good graces so I can get enough money for my project“. He looked away in shame, he was an impotent boyfriend. She guessed his thoughts and told him not to be stupid. “Walk with me to her shop” she pleaded, “staying here with your thoughts won’t do you any good“.

After taking her to her mum’s shop and indulging in some small talk with her mother, he decided to talk a long walk to clear his head. He thought about all the paths life had taken him through and wondered if he should just end it all rather than continue at the mercy of his father and end up a mass murderer. Just then, his mother called. She’d travelled to see his elder sister and her children. She told him she had a troubling feeling about him and wanted to tell him that she loved him and he was her greatest treasure. He smiled a little, she told all her children they were her greatest treasure and favourite child. He turned towards home, his mother’s words bolstered him.

In front of his house he saw Kasali, Risikat, Biliki, Junior, Chinedu, Mariam and Nuhu playing ‘catcher’. The same ‘yeye’ kids who almost caused the second civil war were playing happily together. Soon their mothers would come home from various markets and the battle lines will be redrawn, they’d go back to being enemies. He decided adults were the trouble with the world, the world would be a much better place if no one lived beyond the age of ten.

As he opened his gate, his phone rang. “Are you Bolaji Chidi Taiwo?” The caller asked.
“Yes I am”
“I’m pleased to inform you that you did very well in the aptitude test for Nedima Drilling Services, your appointment letter will be sent by email and you are to resume tomorrow”. He was too stunned to be coherent, the man understood and told him he’d give him time to let it all sink in. He’d call back in an hour to give him more instructions.

For the first time in months, Bolaji laughed.

Continue reading →


December 3rd.

She took her foot off the accelerator as she approached the blinking red light, because it would turn amber in ten seconds, she didn’t reach for her brake pedal. A danfo shot past her and hit the SUV making a U-turn at the intersection, she banged her head on the steering wheel as she laughed at the unfolding drama, the driver and all the passengers rushed down from the bus and ran in different directions. She would run too if she were in that bus, the SUV had a Nigerian flag and an army flag on the bonnet, it sported military number plates and the men that jumped out of the cars in front of the SUV and behind it were wearing green uniforms. Continue reading →

Lost, Found.

December 2nd


She was bent at the waist with a broom in her hand when a movement at the corner of her left eye forced her to jerk upward, she straightened to see a wiggling bundle on one of the pews at the left wing of the church. As she got closer, she heard sounds she recognized as the cooing of a nursery rhyme by a child. Who would leave a child here, she wondered as she drew near. Continue reading →

Suddenly, a ring.

December 1st.
You are not the type of woman a man marries, not even if he is gay. You are the one he sits beside at a dimly lit bar, talking about Beverly or Vanessa or Sandra as you lovingly send shots of whisky to warm your stomach. He will tell you about the tiny frictions and abrasions of the love net she has woven around him, and tell you in full detail about the same things she desperately tries to pry out of him and fails without intermission.
“Why can’t she be more like you?” he would ask as he hiccups through his third drink while you think about your bed and the holiday you have been putting off for five years. You mutter three sentences of comfort, never more than three. It is pointless to waste your words on the vagaries of romance, it is one of the first things you’d learn when you become one of the guys.
The words are handy, even crucial, in a viewing centre- for cursing Arsene Wenger for beautiful games without fruit and for screaming offside! When you finally understood what it meant. They are important on the morning another friend gets married and he calls you at 5am with voice patchy with doubt and fear. Your words will warm his feet and propel him to the ceremony where his wings are snipped. Your life had just enough sauce and you intended to keep it simmering, and then, you met Kachi.
When you left your tiny flat that morning to the store, to get eggs, milk and flour for the pancakes you had craved for weeks, you selected your Whitney Houston playlist and hooked up your headphones. Headphones discourage stupid conversations; you had learned over the years. You were swaying to “I wanna dance with somebody” when an arm attached to a face with big eyes shielded by glasses and full lips curved upward with an aspiring lush beard as frame, tapped your shoulder.
He was still smiling when you slid your headphones down your head and neck to rest on your shoulders and the smile did not falter when he told you he loved the song you were listening to and he looked forward to dancing to the song with you on your wedding day. You were instantly frightened of him and scanned the floor for a quick escape route.
You were still looking around when he called your name, your ears warmed and burst into invisible flames while you desperately wished you could spray the contents of the bottle of holy water, carrying a label with the image of Father Oku Eligwe with his arms spread heavenwards, on the almost handsome face of this stranger. But it was resting at the top of your wardrobe when you left the house- the green plastic bottle and its contents would have given you enough confidence to leave him there- after wetting his body with it, of course. Your mother had pressed it into your hand at the park as you prayed for the bus to fill up quickly and give you respite from the nightmare that had been dancing around your mother’s questions about a man, the diminishing returns of a woman’s eggs, dying ovaries, and about marriage. My mother must have been psychic and known I would need protection from two-legged demons, you thought.
He told you where he had first seen you, at the house-warming party of your former friend- former, because his wife could not understand the friendship between a man and a woman that did not end on a bed. He had tried to get your number but you left the party too early. You remembered him at that point and even allowed a small smile wiggle through the wall of your face, he latched on that smile and by the time you were leaving the store with him beside you, carrying your items and the bottle of wine he had bought, you were laughing.
If anyone had told you that two months after meeting a man, you would be considering marrying him, your reply to them would have been- become a stand-up comedian. Kachi had decided he was going to marry you and you were faced with the relentless force that was his desire for you. At night however, in your room where you and your thoughts roamed free, you knew it wasn’t solely about his persistence, you had begun to like him too.
We’re going to see my mother next week,” he shouted above the noise buffeting the tiny nkwobi joint he’d insisted on taking you to that evening.
I don’t do mothers” you muttered before opening your mouth to swallow the chunk of meat dripping with sauce that he put just in front of your lips.
“And the next weekend, we shall go and see your own mother. I can’t wait to see her dance for joy when she sees the handsome man who is willing to marry her stubborn daughter.” You hit his shoulder and bit your cheek to keep yourself from laughing with him even as the accuracy of his words continued to wiggle your funny bone.
His mother turned out to be as restrained as her son was open, his father was a quiet man who’d shown you his precious collection of old stamps, ten minutes after you walked in. You had begun to relax slightly after lunch, even allowed yourself the luxury of enjoying the conversation when a voice that had always made your hands ball into fists, drifted into your ears.
Victor’s snicker on recognising you warned you that this was a battle you were ill-equipped to win. His evil delight reminding you of all the times he had tried to sabotage you just because you’d said no to his advances. Not even time and your leaving the company you had both worked at, reduced his fearsome menace
Are you here for counselling with my aunty? She’s a brilliant psychologist and that your sex addiction seemed rather serious to me” was his first shot after getting welcoming hugs from everyone in the room, except you and Kachi- who was on the phone with a supplier in Australia. He continued to yak, saying things that were technically true but were twisted so horrifically that you couldn’t even react as he’d punctuated each crazy story with “am I lying?”
Your hosts looked extremely confused and you soon mumbled goodbye and left before Kachi finished his call, you switched off your phone when you left the gate, your heart twisting with every step. You were flinging clothes into the leather bag Kachi had bought you when you heard a knock on your front door. You ignored it and packed even more feverishly but when you heard the clang of keys and the opening of the door, you were strongly tempted to jump through the window.
“It’s a good thing you gave me spare keys, I would remained outside, banging at the door uselessly.” He said as he stood beneath the door frame, looking handsomer than you’d ever seen him.
So you ran away because of Victor? My parents told me all he’d said. You know, he has always been evil but it took his performance this afternoon to convince my parents of my claims of over thirty years. He is the devil’s twin brother.
“Kachi, I cannot marry you, not with Victor being your cousin,” you whispered softly, closing your eyes to trap your tears.
He ignored you and brought out his phone and in seconds, you heard his mother’s voice calling your name. She laughed at your flight and wondered why you didn’t wait for her to handle her errant nephew. I have cut him off from our lives, she said, he will never bother you again and her husbands voice in the background grunting his agreement, dismantled the last brick walls around your heart and you began to sob, letting out joy and relief from your throat and eyes as he pulled you to him.
“I am not going to marry you, Kachi. I am marrying your parents and you will be my stepson” you whispered as you pressed your face on his chest.
As long as you’re keeping it in the family, I don’t mind,” he replied, just before kissing your hair and tilting your head to find your lips.

Continue reading →