Posts in Fiction

Fiction: Patient Shoulders

She felt it would last forever; the imminent separation. She did not want to face the implication of his leaving. She did not want to address the lump in her throat. She sat silently in the back seat of the car as her father drove steadily to the airport.
She’d thought she was certain where they were headed before now. She hated, with a blend of tolerance, the inability to read Sola’s mind at certain moments. He looked on ahead, sitting at the front seat beside her father, his chin lifted, just as the radio in the car droned on.
To think she couldn’t bring herself to stop liking his personality no matter what. She wanted to cry.
She felt the unease occasioned by her defiant silence shift to wrap itself around her father but Sola will seem immune. Her father impulsively tapped the steering wheel as he began to speak again, stopping to clear his throat
so have you heard any other news about your father?”
No sir,” Sola replied steadily “it’s the same.”
God will intervene” her father said.
“Amen”
She gazed out the window in despair.
At the airport, her father double checked the car security before they walked down to the terminal. Sola checked in his ticket and from where she sat with her father, she saw him speaking to the lady behind the counter in his easy manner. The lady cracked a smile. He walked back to where she sat with her father, looked at them both and nodded. “I’m set to go”
Okay then my son. Keep in touch” her father said and patted his back in a brief hug, smiling.
This time her eyes would not be averted. She looked at him, appearing bolder than she felt. She gave a small smile. He didn’t. He stepped closer and put both his hands around her shoulders to hold them in a comforting manner. She did not want comfort, anything but comfort, as her head throbbed with the onset of an headache. His grip was firm but not hard.
” you take care of yourself. You deserve care.”.
~~~
Three months later and she was walking down her street having bought soft drinks for the visitors they were to host in the evening.
For no reason at all, it came unboded into her mind, what Sola had last said to her: you deserve care.
Inadvertently, she snorted. It had been three ‘almost-relationships’ in her life and she was fatigued. She was prejudiced about relationships and on a whole, world-weary but she didn’t know how to help herself. Her father who knew the level of her closeness to Sola had not known how to, but he still tried to encourage her gently. Iyanu was past words of encouragement. She wasn’t sure she could even enter into any relationship successfully without a nagging fear that it would crash. She felt her own anguish and wished for a motherly advice.
~~~
The visitors they were expecting arrived in two cars. A metallic silver honda accord and a white space bus. She was in the kitchen frying the last round of plantain to go with the jollof rice when Dele, the adopted help, went to open the gate. She took a break to briefly view them from the sitting room before returning to the kitchen.
Her father soon joined the three men and two women. There was a lot of greeting and laughter.
~~~
Iyanu left the door to her room open once she’d served them their food and her father had introduced her as his daughter. With the door open, the visitors voices carried softly to where she was. The conversation after they’d eaten the food she served wielded itself from the upcoming elections to the issue of politics in the church, and then to Christian virtues. It was on this subject: Christian virtues, that they dwelt the longest.
Iyanu guessed it was the tall woman who was speaking at the moment about Elizabeth, wife of John the Baptist.
But you see that with all our bible knowledge these days, virtues like patience seem to have taken the backseat. Some people argue that if you have faith everything comes extremely fast. Quite true, but we must know the exceptions.
That wasn’t the case for Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was old before she conceived. ‘Stricken in age’, the bible puts it
The woman’s tempo was going down and Iyanu rose from her bed where she had propped herself against the wall, leaning on her soft pillow. She took her plastic chair and sat by the door to her room for better audience.
…Heaven knew the right specifications for the woman who was to birth Jesus on earth. We were waiting for that Mary and so God kept Elizabeth childless for that purpose. Elizabeth had proven she wouldn’t disappoint him. They were stricken in age but she had come to understand like the three Hebrew boys that Faith is steadfast even if the answer from heaven doesn’t seem favourable at that time.
“Elizabeth was to birth the forerunner of Christ, a very important role and God trusted her well enough that until Mary is ready – that is old enough and engaged to Joseph, Elizabeth wouldn’t lose faith. He knew she would not stop loving him because the promise was yet to surface. It was a reckless trust she had – one not moved by time and season. The beauty of it all is that God could depend the plan of eternal salvation on her patient shoulders.”
In the distance the wall clock ticked a bit loudly.

In other news, Happy International women’s day.
Do share your thoughts and subscribe by e-mail.
As always,
Debby.

A Phone Call

A man ran by, panting hard. The end of his oversized red shirt flying in the wind, as the air from the cross ventilation and ceiling fan mingled in the room, the force came close to being outdoor.
He ran with a slightly open mouth and by all indications, was out of breath.
As he pounced through the room and out the opposite swing door, we all looked up from our computers.
Bodies worn out from sitting for so long, bodies bent over computers while creating models, we couldn’t care less at this point.
Five minutes later, two men ran right back with this same man.
A minute later, a fat, dark complexioned woman entered speaking loudly and rapidly on the phone, not glancing once at those of us at sitted.
“Yes, call the fire services. Call them” a pause. “Okay, call abefele. Just call somebody. Ehn… They should come down to the department of computer science” she said, all in the one minute it took her to waggle through the room.
At this point, nobody could face their laptops again. We all looked at the back door, as though it would become transparent in the very next second and let us in on the cause of commotion.
Tobi stood up from his chair and stretched as he grinned playfully.
Break time?”
Working in that room over the past month with the other M.sc students had been slightly interesting. We formed a good bond in between frowning at incomprehensible samples on our computers and having group dicussions.
We often had our break time twice in a day. The first was to eat late breakfast from “all food cafeteria” just across the open yard. The woman made the best amala on campus. She made me ignore my belief that solid food shouldn’t be eaten in the morning or noon time.
The second break consisted of eating roasted or boiled corn while some others took a nap.
Mercy, who was sitted beside me, stood up and went out the screen door at the back, all alone. The rest of us also inched to the door. I did so unsure. There was no window overlooking the back that we could have gazed through.
The back door to that room opened to a collonade. Across, was the “all food cafeteria”. At the back of our own work station block, was another block of rooms.
We walked down some more, till we got to an old store which overlooked a stream. Some of the water from Odua dam still ran down to that place. It was surrounded by overgrown grass.
The men and the woman we had seen previously, were gathered together. They all glanced back at us when they heard foot falls. They jumped a bit. Or perhaps paranoia was already setting in for me.
There was something they had previously been gazing at on the floor.
It was an human body . I didn’t know how to feel or what to think. A body. I was often told of things like that, I never witnessed them.
We didn’t know if to go any closer, there was no assistance any of us could offer, so we remained a safe distance away.
Two school security officers dressed in their maroon coloured uniform appeared from around the building where we came from.
They went forward and asked who she was as they bent to inspect the body without touching it.
Men clothed in fire fighters garb came almost immediately too. There were about six of them. I instinctively moved further away. I thought it was best for us to leave at that time.
The wind blew harder and soon it was blowing real hard and the clouds were gathering. The clouds moved visibly in the exact manner I loved as a child.
I would glance up at the sky whenever it threatened to rain. I loved when the clouds were impatient and revealed their otherwise secret manner of floating by. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed watching it.
Helen did.
As one of the fire fighters bent by the body to turn it, the slightly brown shade of relaxed hair began to strike me as familiar. The wet clothes clung to her body, she must’ve been drawn out of the water. I couldn’t shake off the goosebumps that rose on my body. Her body form was too familiar. I was feeling sick.
I didn’t think I could turn back and leave all alone. I didn’t think I could trust my voice to ask my friends to leave with me either. I just stayed there and willed it to rain. Anything. My body was slipping to another time and moment, hearing another voice.
Something out of the ordinary was happening to me.
The man turned the body and it was a different face.
Not regarding that, my goosebumps remained, even long after we had been asked to leave.
That night, I slept fitfully; plagued by dreams I forgot as soon as I woke up, and a cough which I had suddenly developed.
I sat up and checked the time on my phone. 2:54am.
There was a time in Jss2, our English teacher, Mrs John, had come to class and in a burst of  quirkiness, requested that the twins in the class come forward to share with the class what it was like, to be twins.
I had been at a loss of what to say, due to the suddeness. Helen spoke up though, and soon everyone was laughing, and gazing on us steadfastly the way I imagine the crowd was often gazing at Jesus.
I swiped open my phone and punched in a phone number I still knew by heart.
Hello” She breathed, more than said. “Irene?
Helen” I said. ” I thought you’d be sleeping”
I was. I stirred and saw your number on the screen of my phone”
“oh. It’s been long enough, hasn’t it?”
We were silent until she said “wow. That’s it.”.

I sighed. Time crawled.
“There were days, Irene, there were days. Days when I wondered when you would do as Kainene did. Why didn’t you?”

“I’m doing so now”
I closed my eyes, beads of perspiration formed on my skin. Among us, I had never been the one for many words. “I’m sorry it took so long”

Ever simple, she said “Our own grandfather never made such a profound sentence like theirs did. Let’s blame grandpa.” I involuntarily chuckled as she said this. I could picture her smiling at that.
Some things do change your perspective though, it doesn’t matter how many sage counsels you recieve.”.

“Kainene and Olanna waited for a war.”I could read her mind and I knew she would never ask me what ours was, even though she longed to know. Why I would speak to her after so long.
All I could tell was it was over now. Over. We could now continue in our telepathic ways. she could now be the Helen to my Irene again. The freedom that came from that knowledge allowed me to chuckle. Then I laughed, and it emanated from deep within my chest, a million constricting bubbles dispelling. Constrictions permanently gone.
—————–
Make that phone call today. You know you need to.

Bodija – Moniya


He looks into her purse as she opens it to bring out her transport fare. He sees about four thousand naira,all neatly lined up by the side of the purse.
She holds the thirty naira she has just pulled out, in her hand, and draws her shopping basket nearer to herself. The shopping basket is made of the same straw material used for mats. Inside the basket, he sees eggs, plantain, grinded pepper on the surface.
“excuse me please. Will he pass in front of UI to get to Moniya?”
It’s the last micro second before it becomes obvious he was distracted, when he catches what she said.
” yes” he croakes. He had not expected her to talk to him. This happens to him all the time; responding in unplanned situations, but responding in a voice not much distinct from that of a frog. He is self-conscious.
She still sits uncomfortably in the bus, very upright. In her defence she is apparently the only one of her social class in there.
It is a small and crowded bus plying the route of bodija market to Moniya in Ibadan.
Theirs is the last row in the bus. He sits at the extreme left, she follows and then there is a Fulani man by her right, followed by an Alhaja.
Others in the bus are significantly older and poorer.
The small phone in Ire’s pocket vibrates and makes him jerk his leg suddenly. He pulls out the phone to see it is a beep from his younger brother
“flasher of life” he mumbles under his breath and remembers he has to hurry up his activities to be in church later in the afternoon. He hisses.
Mo ki gbo gbo yin ninu oko yii kaaro l’oruko Oluwa
He is stunned. It’s the UI student speaking.
o se pataki ki onikaluku wa ye igbe aye wa wo nitori  pe. .. “
Her Yoruba is faulty, that should be excuse number 1. They’re also fast approaching UI gate, excuse number 2. By reason of logic there is no reason for her to preach but then she is preaching.
She is.
When the bus gets to park in front of UI, she rushes to complete a faulty statement, then wedges her way out of the bus after paying her fare.
The Alhaja with the yellow scarf at the extreme right hisses after she leaves but Ire knows the Alhaja couldn’t have hissed while the girl was in the bus. There was something compelling about her unjustified courage that made her message worth listening to.
When Ire gets home later that morning with the items he bought at bodija market, he knows he has a motivation to go to church.
He needs what the girl with the shopping basket and purse lined with one thousand naira notes has: the shameless courage fueled by her God.

Imagination Express

So, it turns out some of the time, I write a few lines of fiction and I just can’t do a follow up, because a follow up appears to ruin it. I’ve decided to do what I please this 2017. It pleases me to tease you the way stories in my mind tease me every once in a while. Flash flash flash fiction!
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Lara ran the emry board over her nails again and allowed her fear to further grip her. She opened herself to every thought that wanted to possess her soul. Better to know the possibilities facing you than be caught unaware.
As the sun set filtered through the curtain into her apartment and her neighbour’s child’s shrill voice cut the air again with a followed “keep quiet now or I’ll beat you again”, Lara allowed the moment to catch up with her.

Mean girl's words

Hiii preciousssss. Happy new month. Noticed the changed logo? I took the picture on sept2, my birthday. Yaaaaay ! Maybe sometimes I could go into the story of what I learnt through my birthday this year. You could indicate in the comment section if you’ll like to read a post on it, already I’m getting excited. Wishing you a happy September as you read mean girl’s words. True words.
It’s been all your life staying at home
You complained murmured and snorted
And sometimes baked unfit donughts
But it was home
The flour, the smell of freshly baked snacks
The customers were your entertainment
Your eyes were Forever rolled as you attended to customers
Your voice was flat
Yet it was home
You made mockery of those you tagged ‘trying to form’
But I won’t call them ‘trying to form’ ,
 I’ll say those group of people were your age mates to whom you felt grated knowing they could afford what u couldn’t
You knew how to laugh with your coworkers till you got watery eyes and your stomach felt empty
It was a baseless laugh and it echoed while you thought it would somehow fill the void inside of u
Don’t call me wicked. No, don’t. I’m not yet started.
Your blue uniform fit like it was the missing end of a jigsaw puzzle
It was home… For you
Yesterday,  you left home
Today,  your face is painted
You’re in a red cloth , perhaps this will come Close
Your steps are unsure
You’ve jested, you were all knowing once
Today it’s you, out of your comfort zone
Today it’s you trying on the new things
They don’t fit
Your voice is softer
Your face undefined
Where’s the permanent snort? 
And the ladies with the real designer bags laugh at you while you Jerk past them, your feet singing a tune different from that of your wedge shoes
Today,
You’re new here girl here
And there are rules
While you’re at your own home
Try being kind
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If wishes were horses

“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.” Sylvia Plath

Helloooo there beautiful people. Hope you’ve been well. I should get to a non-fiction post soon enough. Let you know what has been up with me.
In other pressing matters, I saw the above quote yesterday. Sylvia Plath couldn’t have said it better. It’s so true about written words both fiction and non-fiction. In any case I decided to share this flash fiction I wrote a few weeks back. That quote prompted me to.
See this story you’re about to read, has some elements of reality in it. Fiction, I have always accepted is therapeutic. It takes a little of us.
What had she gained? Instead her seams were ruffled inside her. She didn’t understand. She couldn’t possibly get it. And the question Uju had asked ” a boy or a girl?”
Aanu knew in that moment that she shouldn’t have told her. There ought to have been a tearing inside of Uju if she got it, the type of tearing that happened inside Aanu the night she found out.
Aanu wished she had kept quiet and nursed the grief in her. It was always best after all not to expose yourself to outsiders. What had compelled her mouth to tell Uju she still didn’t know. What she had hoped to achieve evaded her. She felt like paper; flat and raw.
After Uju heard Toni had a baby, and put the picture on Instagram, Uju’s question was “why did she put it on IG?”
For Aanu that wasn’t meant to be the question. She felt exposed and mocked.  Toni was a part of her.  Opening up to someone who didn’t get it hurt.
She rubbed her palms together in hopes to get rid of the dark gap inside her.
They had dreamt together, herself and Toni. They had hushed conversations till early mornings. They washed socks for each other when that was all they had to wash and the other had much laundry to do. She had exchanged the Friday fish she didn’t like for Toni’ Sunday plantain which Toni considered too soft.
They had snuck to read each other’s diary. And knowing they couldn’t always keep their diary far away from human reach,  they sometimes interwove untrue stories along with the truth. They created a life they wanted by sprinkling their current lives with condiments. Lives more luscious with the boys who stayed around them. So when they snuck and read each others diary they read rich and enviable entries.
Life had happened to them all after graduation. Dispersed them, changed them .
The first time Aanu saw Toni after graduation, Toni had come to unilag to see her aunt who worked there. When they met and their bodies pressed together, Toni had not opened her heart, only her arms. Anu felt a sort of bereavement, and inadequacy. She had opened her heart and her arms without receiving same.
Consequently, they distanced themselves. Whenever she went down her Facebook feed, she would see Toni’s recent photo upload, stare at it then continue scrolling like she had never seen it. Now she wished she had liked it. Wished she had commented. When she had kept in touch. Wished. Wished. Wished.
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I am Security-concious

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Hello to you today. These days i’m mostly drawn to watching YouTube videos ranging from messages to DIY to music videos to speeches and interviews. On the issue of DIY, lest I forget, I bought bicarbonate of soda yesterday, it was really cheap, #110 to help whiten my teeth. I need the perfect smile y’know. I’ve always considered using braces and the only person I’ve told, my elder sister has repeatedly said no, I shouldn’t use it. I could pursue it further but I recently read a person’s account and she said she had it on for two and a half years.  That’s quite a while guys😁. I always thought it was about a year. In any case,  mind me not, it is such an half-hearted attempt otherwise I would have done my research.  Today is a slow Saturday for me, I’m going out this evening for a program in commemoration of our youth anniversary in my church. In the meanwhile I thought I could Just paint a picture I nursed in my head in a few words. Come imagine with me.
I believe growing up in my world made me a slightly paranoid person. I sense every form of danger miles before it could happen. Truth is, I hate it. On days I am in the kitchen, and the electric bulb is switched on, I would feel uneasy about the kitchen window which faces the small unilluminated store at the back of the house. Anybody could hide in the store and be watching me. When I catch  myself with such feeling, I would berate myself and feel awashed with a sense of inadequacy. The store is made up of net, wood and iron pan. Rats die and stink in there, then mummy would call the gate man and ask him to clean up the place.
There are empty bottles of fruit wine and old newspapers and big coolers for Christmas time and old cabinets that are still too good to be thrown away. The store holds close to everything and on the day thieves attacked our neighbours about three years earlier, Adamu, our former gateman had run into the store and gotten a cutlass with which he made a gash in the back of a fleeing robber as he scaled the fence. Daddy found a reason to pay him off the following week. Even though he did well, we weren’t comfortable with having someone with such temdency of violence.
When the landlords association decided to do something about the security situation in our neighbourhood, they hired vigilantees and made rules such as if you were to drive later than 10pm on the street you will present an ID card.
Daddy had complained tirelessly less than a month later of how the vigilantees only drank beer at night and kept Fuji songs booming from the radio. It was a waste of the associations money and he said so at another meeting where the vigilantees demand for an increase was raised. That meeting had been in our own house.
When mummy had first learnt of the meeting she had said “ah no. Not here o. We are busy now. How are we even sure we will be around on that day?”
“since we moved here we’ve not hosted any of the meetings it’s either one wedding or burial every other Saturday. We have to host it” He said, his tone low, neither rising nor falling.
“so you have now told them yes?” Mummy asked
” hmnnn” Daddy grunted, face buried in a newspaper.
That Saturday morning, mummy was quiet, not shouting at my brother to bring down his blanket to air it or to clean up his room. The woman who came fortnightly to do laundry was at the backyard switching from singing from one Tope Alabi song to the other.
I stood in the stufy kitchen shifting from end to end as my mother moved in perceived dignity to pick something everywhere. My phone constantly buzzed with notification from social media but staying around my mum that day I felt the need to be solemn. Most times she would yell at me telling me to “put that phone down” in rapid Yoruba. Or she would say “I don’t see to this carrying the phone around hot oil” “ehn ehn ehn don’t put my phone beside water. Don’t treat it like your own”
Before the landlords came, daddy called me and my younger ones together to the sitting room.
“you see, when someone has visitors, you don’t become too relaxed” eyan o kii n darale . “you must be security conscious because you don’t know who is who. That’s not the time to leave both doors to the house open. The kitchen door should be shut because if everyone is in the living room, you can never tell who will turn around to pass the back door into the house and all the while no one will know” he instructed and instructed and instructed, most of them, things we already knew. Things he often told us. As he spoke, the aroma of egusi soup kept wafting from the kitchen and my phone would not stop buzzing. I really wanted to tell my dad it was okay.
With my growing impatience, I remembered I learnt Bisi my technical drawing set-square last time she asked. I had an assignment due for Monday, there was no way I would turn it in that morning. I sighed inwardly, my nerves grated.
“Tobi, are you hearing me?” dad asked cupping his right ear with his palm
” yes sir” I said.
“you are the eldest. You are the example. Don’t let me catch you with ear piece plugged in so that you don’t even know what is going on and if we need your attention we have to run around the house. Are you hearing me? ”
” yes sir”
By the time I got back to the kitchen, the jollof rice had started to burn and mummy was making the semovita.
 
Debby 

the lad

Prov 20:11
it is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself
if his conduct is pure and right

 
 
 
Daddy made me paste this bible passage by my bed. He is a firm believer in waking up to read your motivation. What daddy doesn’t know which I’m certain mummy does, is that I don’t wake up to read what is by my bed. In fact I don’t look to that side. I wake up when mummy comes to the room speaking rapid Yoruba, asking If it wasn’t ‘morning enough for me to rise’, her hands smelling of something from the kitchen. The smell I still love the most is that of meat broth. Ezekiel had come to school one day and thrust his thin fingers in my face asking me to smell it. It was weird that he was proud of cooking meat before coming to school but it also led me to envy him. Envy that he could have a spontaneous early morning life, and be prone to eating meat while cooking it. Mummy won’t let me near anything other than washing plates or other errands.
Perhaps daddy will find another way to have me learn it, to read the post by my bed wouldn’t work.
 
 
young young

The one who had everything

I have viewed her as someone whom the story has been sucked out of by time and desperation .
I imagine her youthful state, full of beauty and wit. An interesting personality, not in the known of the future but living in the present.
A library of novels, borrowed and bought. Flunked by a little wealth, giving way to snobbery. Not pride. Pride has to be deep-seated.
Waiting deepened those qualities only more from lovable and enviable to a quarter of lovable.
As the other people grew they each learned to love the extreme flatness of their nose and the flabiness of their lips, their slow rate of understanding . They learned to live and expand in love. Not caring much for the one who had everything.
The one who had everything waited for the one true thing she really wanted while all others with their windows wound up sped up clouds of smoke to leave her coughing by the wheels.
Debby Adebayo