Out of the mouth of Babes…

I wanted to get my afro twisted and I have a particular hairdresser I like to go to for this hairstyle. I was more than relieved when I called her and she confirmed she was available, Fiam! I was already there, I needed to get it done ASAP and get back home to pack for my trip.

Next to the salon, a woman runs a small resturant, some would argue that it’s a buka, but I think it’s a bit above buka standard, so let’s call it a “Busturant”.

The madam running the Busturant has two daughters 6 and 5, very pretty little munchkins, I can’t recall the name of the elder daughter, but the 5 year old, her name is Blessing and she’s …. well, let’s say she’s a handful and leave it at that. She’s always in my hair dresser’s shop trying to do this or that or sneak into conversations.

“Aunty, lemme be giving you the rollers”…

“Aunty, lemme brush the wig for you”….

But she’s always getting sent back to her mother’s shop, because… well, salon gist is not for children, but see this Blessing girl ehn, she’s always back in no time.

This particular evening she walks in as Ope is twisting my hair, while we both watch a movie from my phone. Little blessing goes to the nail polish rack and picks one out, fiddles with it, walks up to where I’m seated, squats down to the floor and taps my foot and when I look down she says with the widest smile

“Aunty let me paint your leg, I know how to paint very well”.

“Nails. You want to paint my nails?”

“Yes aunty, let me paint your nails”.

She’s looking at me with so much enthusiasm that I find it difficult to say no to her.

“Ok darling, you can paint my nails” I say and turn back to my movie.

Moments later, Ope swings my chair the other way, to reach the other side of my big head, so I’m backing the table and mirror now. I throw one leg across the other and a good portion of yellow thigh is exposed as a result but I don’t take notice, I just needed somewhere to place the phone so that I could keep staring at the screen, watching my movie.

I noticed from the corner of my eye that Blessing was fiddling with a hand dryer.

“Blessing!”, I make sure to insert a healthy snap in my voice, kids tend to respond quickly to that.

She dropped it and turned to me with a smile, the kind that kids who know they’re cute and can get away with anything flash around. I tried not to smile back, I really tried but….

Hopefully she’ll start losing her teeth soon, then let’s see how she’ll be conning people with that smile.

I asked her to come sit in front of me, where I could watch whatever she was doing.

She ignored the seat I was pointing to and came to lean against my seat apparently to watch whatever it was I had been watching. “This is even better” I thought, I can be sure she’s not fiddling with anything while I watch my movie.

Shortly, I feel her tiny palm start to rub my thigh and when I look down, she’s looking at me with what I can only refer to as wonder.

“Aunty you’re fresh”


“Your leg, it is so fwesh”… she meant my thigh.

I noticed Opeyemi has paused with my hair. I didn’t know how to respond, she was looking at me with such wonder.

“I’m not as fresh as you now Blessing” I argued.😒😒

“Nooo aunty! You’re very fresh o” she insists as she stretches out her hand to touch my chest, my neck and my shoulder. I was wearing an off-shoulder dress.

“Aunty! Everywhere is fresh, you’re so fresh”. See seems to be marveling at this “discovery” of freshness.

At this point, I too stunned to speak, I don’t know what to do with or say to this little girl so I turn to Ope for help, that is when I notice that she’s sitting on the sofa, clutching her very pregnant belly and trying with very little success to reign in the laughter.

Talkative like me, I was just there, staring at the girl, tongue tied, while she went ahead to inspect my hands.

Just then her mum called and she ran off. I remember thinking “Dear God, when can I have a daughter please?”.

I’ve been thinking about resuming my search for a flat away from this neighborhood, because of the traffic and all. Today it occurred to me that relocating means moving away from Ope’s salon and my friend Blessing and now the traffic doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Abi what is Lagos life without traffic? And where else will I find a salon with a little girl that screams “fresh Aunty!!!” everytime I come around?


Have you ever thought, “how did Isaac manage it?” Seriously, how do you forgive the father that was going to kill you, that literarilly had the knife to your neck and ready to cut before God asked him to stop?
I think Isaac isn’t given enough credit. We never stop talking about Abraham’s faith, but what about the kind of faith that Isaac had?. He went back to living with the father that almost killed him and the serving the God that almost had his father do so.

Me? I’d run away to an Uncle or Aunt’s house.
Me? I’ve not even finished forgiving all the senior students that bullied me in boarding house.

Yeah we know now that it was a test, but we know Abraham didn’t know that at the time and Isaac would have known this too.

I’m not even sure how this makes me feel😞😞😞. I’m just sure they didn’t give us the whole gist, it’s hard to believe they just went back to being one big happy family like that, there had to have been some dissensions and distrust and then interventions.

When you’re praying to God for the Wisdom of Solomon, faith of Abraham, favour of David…. please remember to add the forgiveness of Isaac, that kind of forgiveness is not humanly possible, it is divine👌.



8.44am and I’m still in traffic on my way to work. We’re literally at a standstill at this point because two mad people are having a shouting match somewhere ahead. Apparently one person hit the other, I can’t even tell who hit who, all I see is a man making a fist and shouting “I’ll blow you o!”, over and over again and the other man keeps saying something in Yoruba to him that I’m not getting.

Mr Blow tries to swing one in, loses a step and almost falls to the ground, but he’s back up and threatening again “I will blow you o!”. You have to hand it to this man for determination but I’m also doing an eye roll at this point.

Everybody is angry.
Me, I’m just bored.

Unku pocket your blow and enter your car let’s be moving, we have places we need to be.

Or deliver this blow already, let us watch fight. As you don’t want us to get to work today, furnish us with a good show and authentic “mad Lagos people” story.

Daring to be a Tzitzit

A voice in my head was taunting me to shun my wigs for something different last weekend. She called me lazy and said I play it safe too much alleging that laziness and fear are the reasons why I cling to me comfy shuku and wigs like an old woman. Its was the old woman part that got my attention, and I harkened to her voice when she advised that a hair cut or braids would be a good way to “show them”.

When I opted for braids, I could still hear her going on about how I liked to play it safe, I don’t know what she did it but somehow I walked in Dami’s hair salon and of all the hair extensions available I decided to attached white and blue extensions to my hair. I know this is not jazz because my name is not Chukwukadibia for nothing.

Now that I’m a living, breathing tzit tzit, aunty “reach out of your comfort zone” whisperer has disappeared. Please if she comes to you, tell her to holla at me, I just want to ask her something.

The sad thing is, the all the whole 150 minutes that I sat to get this hair done, Dami and her friend were busy telling me how pretty and “unique” the combination is, me nko?, I was looking at it and it was looking fine to me; until I woke up the this morning and looked in a mirror.

Now I’m strutting around trying to hold my head up and trying not to let on that I realize I look like a clown. It’s a good thing my mother lives 5 states away, she may have gone into the “war room” on this matter.

Anyways, what has happened has happened. I must not let the events of the past weekend shape my life, I will take the lessons and work towards a better future for my hair.

Las las, this hair is going to stick around for 2 weeks at least because it cost me some money to get it done and we cannot just come and be wasting money like that, Ife n’esi ike now.

I don’t know why I keep making these weird decisions lately, (I’m just saying weird because I don’t want to admit they’re bad decisions), I think 1 may be going through a quarter life crisis or is it 1/3 life crisis 🙄🙄.

Shout out to all my friends who have been there for me through this trying Monday

@Abiola, for telling me the hairstyle could have been better, we all need that person who can just come in, rip off the band aid and shove the truth in your face. Every body needs a Biola.

@Soprinye, for using the kindest description you could find “Unique”.

@Yetunde, for ignoring the weakness and focusing on the strength, babe just skipped the hair and went straight to, “babe, this your dress is hawt”!. God bless you mami!

@Moechude for the shoes that helped shift the attention from my head to my feet.

This too shall pass.

Nwa bu nwanne

Ikenga August 2007…..

She was confused, anyone who paid close attention would have noticed, she was just thirteen, but you couldn’t tell from her looks, she had one of those bodies that were in a hurry to get adolescence over and done with; you had to look at her, really observe to understand she was just a child. Crying village women kept coming at her, hugging her, attempting to wipe tears that weren’t there, trying to ease a pain she couldn’t feel. She just stood there, wide eyed, dry eyed and receiving their condolences, her eyes constantly wandering, searching faces, lingering on some and then moving on.

She was fascinated with the place, this her birth place that she was only visiting for first time, she didn’t want to stand and watch people crying and pretend to be sad, she wanted to hop around the big compound, to explore every corner, she wanted to be introduced to everyone, her uncles, her aunts, and cousins, she wanted to be hugged and greeted by welcoming smiles, smiles that said “we’ve longed so much to meet you”, she wanted to ask a million questions, but she didn’t; couldn’t, because she had to play the part of the grieving daughter. Her mother lay in coffin 3 feet away, the mother she’d never met, never known, never loved.

She glanced at the woman that lay in the coffin again, expecting to feel a recognition, a pain, a sadness, any emotion that would validate the fact that the woman lying in that coffin was her mother. She waited for the rush of emotions. Nothing. Where was the famous mother, daughter bond? the grief, the loss. She felt noting, not even disappointment; perhaps a small dose of guilt. Maybe, just maybe if she’d met her once in her lifetime, she’d have felt something more. She wondered why the coffin looked very small, it looked like those coffins they’d used for mass burials in the movie SARAFINA, nothing like the one they’d used for Uncle Bona’s burial at Enugu or the ones displayed at the funeral parlor on the way to their church.

Her brother squeezed her hand and she glanced at him. He looked like he was getting an overdose of all the feelings she couldn’t muster; the tears had rolled down to his chin and his lips were quivering. She let her gaze linger on his face, fascinated and longing, perhaps a bit jealous but soon enough she was bored, and her eyes began to wander again coming to a stop at the woman they called her grandmother. She caught her eye and held it for a moment, then remembered she could be punished for that, she’d been warned several times about looking elders in the eye.

A man came in and closed the coffin. 3 other men joined him, and they lifted it on their shoulders, and everyone proceeded to the grave dug at a corner of the compound where the cluster of banana trees stood. There was no singing, no band, no choir, and no procession. There was only a pastor with very bad looking shoes whose voice was quite coarse as he shouted at the heavens to forgive Aku’s sins and accept her into heaven, leaving Nwanne wondering if Pastor Augustine had lied when he preached so often in church that sins could not be forgiven after death.

Nwanne looked around and wondered why there were no church members, they were supposed to come and sing hymns, or did her mother not go to church on Sundays? She wondered if it was her mother’s absence from church that pastor ‘tattered shoes’ was asking forgiveness for or if he also knew about the other thing she’d often overheard her aunties discussing. She offered up a silent prayer for forgiveness for mocking a man of God and started to mull over the fact that she now had neither mother nor father.

Cold Dish

flash back

It was the cold, and fear of cracked heels but mostly the cold that had me wearing those socks even though I knew they could get me in trouble. See, it was always either too hot or too cold in my school and this time we were in the harmattan, that mid harmattan period when you could literally hear the wind whispering “uuugguuluuuu”. My white socks had gotten stolen, then my brown socks went missing as well and now I was left with only this pair of multicoloured socks. I knew I shouldn’t have worn them, but I didn’t have many choices, it was either that or the cold and cracked heels. I tried to hide from them, those prefects and their hawk eyes that could spot a breach from a mile away.

I found a “hidden” spot on the assembly ground and stayed put there, making sure I never got too close to the front, the back or the spaces by the sides marking were one class ended and another started. I was starting to get comfortable, confident that I was well hidden when someone tapped my shoulder on the line, I turned and locked eyes with Mimi, Arghhhh! It had to be this one, this one that hated me with every fiber of her being. “How” I thought to myself, frustrated, “how had she found me? Why was she walking between lines for heaven’s sake? What or who is she looking for, in between JSS2 lines?”

“Take them off and give them to me, stupid girl” she hissed, stretching out her palm.

“Please, I was cold”, I pleaded weakly.

She just kept looking at me with what I can only describe as malice, her palm still stretched out for the socks. I took them off slowly, hoping that somehow in that one minute it took me to take off the pair, she’d suddenly stop hating me, at least long enough to let me off with a warning or maybe light a punishment.

No Luck.

When she left, I made to follow her, then remembered this would only worsen my current predicament, assembly was still in progress and everyone had to stand in the lines. I made sure to follow her every move though and made a beeline for her immediately the principal dismissed the assembly. I wasn’t known for begging these savage senior girls for anything, but for this pair of socks I was ready to be humble. She took full advantage of this and shared some of that advantage with her class mates when I begged her all the way to her class. I remember I tried once to touch her hand as I begged and had to dodge a slap as a result.

Have you ever seen alma-Jiri children or those ones from Niger begging? Toh. You get the picture.

She kept her books and left her class room, and I followed her, begging, not for once considering where she was headed, I just wanted my socks back. When she went around the back of class and started heading for the toilet there, I intensified my begging, I may have even shed a tear or two. Last, last, “madam” walked into the toilet and came out and my socks had disappeared from her hand. Pit toilet. Mimi threw my socks in the pit toilet. When she started walking back to her class, I just stood and stared at a her wondering why this girl hated me so much. Moments later, I went into the toilet to check, if maybe by some stroke of luck, she’d dropped it on the floor and not in the pit. For Wia.

I went to my class for first period, hoping that the harmattan would be kinder to me than Mimi.


It was at the exact moment that I realized I was alone that the devil realized it too, but he didn’t say anything to me until the nicely displayed lace panties on Mimi’s panty line caught my eye through the open cubicle door as I sat up to look around.

Mimi had nice underwear, those lace and silk creations, the kind you see in magazines, nothing like the plain white cotton panties I had. She liked to show them off too. Whenever she could she’d strut around the hostel calling on her friends and looking for junior students to make miserable wearing only those bras and knickers, this was in addition to having a regular display of those things on her pant line that was strategically placed to catch every eye.

See, we were in boarding house and made to wear uniforms, we didn’t have any way to flaunt our fashion savvy save through underwear and everyone who had attractive underwear flaunted them with pride. This was; still is normal I tell you, not weird at all.  Me? I just wasn’t destined to be great in that school aswear, the only underwear I ever got was white cotton panties and vests, no lace, no frills, no flowered patterns, just plain white, very pathetic something. I didn’t grow boobs in time, but even if I did, I’m sure those people would have got me white cotton bras as well. #sigh#.

It was the slide show, a very impressive slide show of several ways those panties could pay for my socks, and then another slide show of all the times Mimi had maltreated me. It was those damned slide shows that made me forget everything about the book of life for a moment, damn the devil and his slide shows! I sat on my bed for 2 minutes that seemed like 30 staring at that pant line and contemplating, fighting the familiar battle, to love or to hate back, to exact revenge or to leave it to God; In the end, “Do me, I do you, God no go vex” won that round.

As room perfect, Mimi like all the others, had converted our box room to her personal cubicle, forcing us all to store our boxes in what was intended to be a laundry room. She’d transformed that little room into a haven, at least that’s what it would look like if you were spending 9 months of every year cooped up in a room with 30 other girls, every one of them with their own big or small wahala.

I looked around the room again, there was no one in sight still, through the windows, no one still. You may not understand how rare it was, a moment like this, when there was no one in the room, not because we were chased out but just because, at that precise moment, everyone had somewhere else they’d rather be. The novelty of this chance I had was in the fact that I didn’t have to look or wait for it, I didn’t bid my time, fate took it and dropped it in my lap, or more accurately shoved it in my face. I dog eared the page of my novel I was reading, put it in my backpack and made my move. My mother did not give birth to a smesme girl. Finally, 1 whole term, 3 months later, I was going to get revenge. What is it they say about revenge and cold dishes again? You know it.

I didn’t leave anything behind, every piece of underwear was taken including the dirty ones, the ones she’d soaked in a fancy little bucket with a lid hidden under her bed. I made sure to search everywhere, well, that was easy, it’s not exactly hard for a boarding student to figure out where another boarding student would store her underwear. Yep, I took all her socks too, and her scarves, I made to reach for her tooth brush and bath sponge but… I wasn’t that much of a terrible person, so I let those stay.

We rarely walked to anywhere in that school, we jogged or sprinted to class, hostel, dinning, assembly, chapel, everywhere, with power drunk prefects screaming at you and threatening to kill you if you stopped, almost every threat punctuated with “God save your soul”. Some junior girls always managed to get everywhere ahead of time, long before we needed to be there, I don’t know how they did it. Others like myself either jogged or came up with very innovative excuses why we couldn’t run, one time I had asthma, another time, my friend had Leukemia. What did we know? We were 11-13-year-olds.

With Mimi’s drawers and  all in my bag, I was grateful for those senior girls and their yelling that day, I ran till I got to the pit toilet, yes, the same pit toilet where my socks were put to rest. Looking back now, I wonder why I didn’t go to one of the several pits in the hostel, why did it I have to travel all the way to one at the back of the senior class rooms, risking getting caught with the loot in my backpack?

Walking out of that pit toilet with my mission accomplished gave me a high, like you can’t imagine. I walked back to class feeling so good, itching to tell someone, but that would have been suicide. That lady they call Karma, she’s balling o; the high that comes with dishing out payback, tramadol cannot give it to you. These days when I leave these things to karma to handle, it’s just because……. BOOK OF LIFE and maybe maturity.

As I made my way to my own class for the afternoon prep, carefully avoiding running into any of the senior girls I knew I’d bought trouble I just wasn’t sure how much. I offered up a silent prayer of hope that no had seen me enter that cubicle. I stepped into my class and let myself get caught up the noisy banter that was our daily ritual before the prep prefects came in to intimidate us into silence for 90minutes of scheduled study time.


I should be studying but let me just yarn you small…

I waited for the meeting after church today, it was going so well up to the moment that one aunty killed my unborn sentence with a ✋✋ehnehn ehnehn ehnehn; sentence that I conceived and carried nine full seconds in my brain fa😞😞. You won’t know how painful that thing is until they do it to you.

So, I decided to mourn my sentence quietly and not say anything more, I don’t like showing my werey in the house of God. I kuku decided to allow the intelligent aunties to have the meeting and just observe, after all what do I know Kwanu? “Let the meeting finish and and let us come and be going biko” mood got activated. And the mood had to stay a while, it was raining outside.

Ahn ahn. Was it the small rain that fell that has almost drowned the whole Ogba? Somebody cannot even see where to match leg. Kai. Issokay.
Keke pulls up and I hop in, bring out my phone and start reading case study for next week’s exam. I notice the keke has stopped and someone gets in beside me.
Chei! OGINIDI! How can somebody be smelling like 7 days water scarcity biko? 1 person! In this rainy season kwa.
I will sha hold my peace, I don’t know how to fight Lagos fight, if to say na Awka now, ehn ehn. Last last, thank God I’m sitting close to door, this smell is nothing that “observe the road and landscape” cannot solve. Or so I thought..😥. Ogba to Ikeja underbridge had never felt this far o.
Yeshua Messiah, Why do I suffer so? Help my hustle this year na, lemme assure myself with 1 car, see what your sister has to go through ehn.

We were at guinness when it starts to drizzle again and I start to think “this rain wants to show itself now abi, better wait till I get home o“.
Less than 20 meters to Ikeja under bridge and it’s now pouring buckets, like maybe it had heard my previous “inside the head” remark.

I imagined the rain was saying, “small water that I sprinkled and you’re complaining, let me give you something to really whine about”, so I replied “Ogbeni Calm down na, somebody cannot play with you again“, laughing at my own wit.

I only realize I’m laughing out loud when the people standing close by under the bridge start looking at me someway.
How do I begin to explain that I’m having a conversation with the rain in my head?.. sigh.. they should not carry me to yaba left one day o.

Shey it’s only that small hold up that this driver couldn’t endure that made him to carry us and take “one way”, now he’s driving like a mad man with a full RRS pickup van in hot pursuit.

The RRS hilux is just 2 vehicles behind us now and I’m wondering why the driver wouldn’t just stop and surrender, they’ve caught you already oga🙄.

These yellow buses have potential sha, who would’ve thought they could run this fast?

Somebody shouts “Cele wa” and oga stops at cele, RRS van stops right behind us and oga turns a sharp right, his engine never stopped!🤤🤤🤤. This guy sharp gaan! And we’d thought he wanted to drop passenger🤣🤣🤣
Before RRS people could start their car again and chase, we’d taken another turn. Vin Diesel would have been mad proud!🤣🤣🤣🤣.
Egbeda road network sha.
Maybe they chased, maybe they didn’t, we’d lost them.

I get home and there’s light. I start to call out to Umar to come buy me a truck of water as I open the gate and I remember the pumping machine was fixed yesterday.
I’m home. There’s light. There’s water. All is right with the world again. At least for now.


Matthew 13:42
Matthew 8:12
Matthew 24:51
Matthew 25:30
Matthew 22:13

Five verses in the first book of the New Testament where the phrase “Gnashing of teeth” was used to denote suffering (especially the punitive kind).

The first person I ever saw gnashing his teeth was 11 month old Ejima-Nwoke slowing losing the battle to type X hepatitis. It was September of 2007, I can’t recall the date now which is rather puzzling because for a very long time I had every minute detail in my head. I guess it’s just proof that time heals all.

This is a true story so I’ll be using Aliases to conceal the identity of the characters.

I’d walked in just as my mum was getting off the phone, she’d been speaking with my uncle, and they’d already decided I would go. I was briefed, one of the twins was sick, very sick, the boy, “unusual” I thought, it was the girl who was constantly sickly.
Let me give you the background. Father and mother of the sick child were family friends, very close family friends, young couple and obviously enjoying their youth to the fullest judging from the way the babies were popping. Hey, I’m not judging, my parents did have seven of us after-all, but still…..

They had twin toddlers, just 11 months old, the boy (I’ll call him Adam) was healthy based on popular opinion, hardly ever cried, I thought differently. You see, the first things I look out for when I pick up a baby are the eyes and skin, if the eyes are jaundiced in anyway, or the skin not “baby smooth”, you’d have a difficult time convincing me that baby is healthy. Come on, the expression “baby smooth” is used for a reason. Well, that’s just my opinion; at that time, majority still believed the heavier/fatter a baby is, the healthier. The girl (I’ll call her Eve) on the other hand was so skinny, you could feel the bones when you picked her up, and her crying could test the patience of a saint.

So the usually healthy boy had been sick and unresponsive to the standard, ‘Made in Nigeria, Home remedies’ for sick babies…. I could only imagine the night his parents had had, that propelled the decision to rush off to the hospital that early in the morning.
By 6:45am, I was sitting in the back of the car, headed to Awka, holding this very heavy baby boy that kept fussing and turning; his mother (I’ll call her Uloma) sat at the other end with a black poly-ethene bag in her hand and facing the window. I got to know what the bag was meant for when we stopped at a gas station to refill and what I can only assume was her dinner started to come up and into the bag. None of us had gotten the chance to have breakfast. She had 11 month old twins, and she was pregnant, I felt sorry for her.

First thing the doctor did after the short clinical exam was to order an IV line. It took almost an hour, several pricks, a partially shaved head and the doctor himself to get good line in, and even that was on the baby’s foot. I knew my work was cut out for me; an IV line on the foot of a baby that was tossing and kicking out of pain, someone had to hold that foot in place for the fluids to flow, and a nauseated pregnant woman couldn’t be trusted to handle it alone.
When we were informed that Adam needed blood, I began to wonder if this wasn’t why I was asked to come along. Mother was pregnant, father absent, and here I was O+ and very healthy; myself and the other “family friend” (let’s call him Ezeugo) who’d driven with us to the hospital. 30 minutes later, Ezeugo had pumped full a blood bag and was sipping the “ogbonge blood booster”, 33cl of Malta Guinness mixed with 20cl of Peak evaporated milk while they hooked up the blood bag to the IV line.

For more than 6 hours we took turns holding on to that foot carrying the IV line, for the blood to flow in, and I watched.
As Adam’s feet, palms, lips and tongue began to turn a bright red and look fuller, I watched.
As he tossed this way and that, moaning and grating his upper teeth against the lower, I watched.
At intervals, I’d place my palm on his swollen abdomen, it always felt so hard and warm. During and after the blood transfusion, several injections were administered and I noticed he didn’t even flinch at the needles.
For about 2 hours after the transfusion, he seemed to be gaining traction against the illness, although he was still moaning, he wasn’t as restless as before, then things took a bad terrible turn and I knew I should have packed an overnight bag and maybe some biscuits.

I also began to fear. You see, the sound of the grating teeth reminded me of the expression in the bible “gnashing of teeth”, in Igbo we call it “ita ikikere Eze” and it denotes great suffering. It bothered me that this 11 month old child was in so much pain, he was gnashing his teeth. Then there was the vomit, coming up at ten minute intervals and always a brown colored fluid. He vomited so often that I feared very soon there’d be nothing left and he’d vomit his guts. I guess I wasn’t the only scared one because they hooked him up to another bag of intravenous fluids.

All those hours and not once did the Adam cry, not once did he sleep, not once did he Stretch out his arms to his mother. I believe that besides the pain, he was conscious of nothing else. He just tossed, and turned and moaned and vomited and gnashed his teeth.

It must not have taken me more than a minute to run to the doctor’s quarters and back but it felt like ages. He seemed to be expecting me because he was out before I could even knock. This was around 10pm and Adam was convulsing violently.
When we got back to the ward, the baby was in a mid-convulsive pose and the Uloma just held him and stared. I can’t remember what I had thought; that she was tired? That she was shocked? But I took him and started massaging his arms and legs, his very stiff arms and legs. I don’t know what I’d aimed to achieve. I heard the doctor say “stop” but I went on; wasn’t this what I had seen my aunt do the day my cousin had that terrible convulsion? Hadn’t she kept rubbing down his limbs with that oil? Only I didn’t have any Okwuma, so I just kept rubbing with my hands.

“Stop”. This time he took the baby from me, and did a quick exam. When he was done, he handed the baby back to me, asked the nurse on duty to stay with the mother, and told me to go with him. I was almost out the door with the baby before him. In his office, Doctor, asked me to place the baby on the examination table and go get his clothes. I was off again like a rocket. I didn’t ask why we suddenly needed the baby to be fully clothed, I was on “do whatever the doctor says and do it fast” mode.
When I got back with the clothes, he was on the phone with someone and emptying the contents of a big brown carton and I heard him say to whoever he was speaking to in Igbo “Ama’m na Oga’anwu, mana aga anwalili ka ike anyi ra”.

This was when it hit me. ADAM was dead.
He wasn’t moaning anymore, he wasn’t restless, I couldn’t hear his breathing anymore and he wasn’t gnashing his teeth. For the first time since we’d gotten there, He was peaceful.

As he lay there on the examination table while dressed him in his clothes (I would later learn that this is called “last office”) I half expected him to moan, cry, cough, open his eyes, anything that would negate the conclusion that he was dead. At the same time, I was scared that he’d suddenly wake up, and grab my arm and attempt to kill me, you know, like in all those zombie movies.

Back in the ward, Uloma was sitting in the same place I had left her; we didn’t say a word to each other as I gathered up all our things, all of Adam’s things. When I was done, I took her hand and tugged; and she just stood up and let me lead her, not saying a single word, not shedding a single tear. We were leaving the ward to spend the night in the doctor’s guest room. Maybe this is where I should mention that Doctor is my father’s cousin.

Neither of us slept for a long time, we just lay there, I didn’t know what to say to her; I never know what to say to the bereaved. Several times I almost got up to go to the doctor’s office, to check if maybe we’d been mistaken, if maybe he’d woken up and was crying because it was dark and he was alone.
It would have been easier if she were crying, then I would have said things like “sorry” or “stop crying” and “God Knows best” but she wasn’t crying. She was unsettlingly quiet and staring, at nothing in particular, so I just held her hand till we both drifted off to sleep.

At dawn, Ezeugo was back with the car, the brown carton holding Adam was loaded into the boot and we set off for home. We attached green branches to the bonnet and door handles of the car; I have never understood why or how, but this was supposed to prevent the car from getting stopped or delayed on the road. Still, the doctor gave me a death certificate to hold on to incase we ran into any excited policemen on our way.

By the time we got back with the corpse, a small casket was ready. His father’s kinsmen and the church had been informed and after the Umunna had examined the corpse and satisfied themselves that there was no foul play, everyone took off for the plot of family land where he was to be buried.
I didn’t attend the funeral. I went home, took a bath, slept, woke up, ate some food and slept again.

Exactly, three months later, we were back at the hospital with Eve. This time, it was I sipping the “ogbonge” blood booster.
She’s 10 years old now and very healthy.

I had to finish with this because I love happy endings.

Tapping is a game……

The siren woke me.
I sat up, closed my book (I hadn’t gotten past the first page) and put it into my “locker”, then I chained my bucket to my locker, there was no point taking it empty to the hostel. Once again I hadn’t been able to get any water and I was just too tired to join the other desperate junior girls in the night crawling in search of water. I had only one intention; to go and continue this sleep in my bed. I rushed out of the classroom and towards ‘Red Bricks’ with the other students praying that there wasn’t any mass punishment at the hostel today; The latest batch of prefects were still fresh and keen on exercising their authority, what better way to do this than to punish and flog at the slightest semblance of an offence? Night time was always the best time to do this, they could get all or at least most of us together at once, kneeling in the courtyard, while they pranced around in their fancy bras and shorts, threatening us with the best combination of Phonetics and slang words they can come up with before administering the real beating….
“Sapphire girls! Sapphire girls! All of you are very stupid! (We could never just be anything, we always had to be “very” something) You had the liver! The temerity! The audacity!, to walk down to the dining hall today! Ehn ehn, You wanted to show us that you can step, that you can catwalk, you were waiting for me to tell you to run down abi…..” or something like that.

So, I was praying for this safe journey to my bed when she called me, I couldn’t pretend I didn’t hear, I didn’t turn but I could feel her gaze on me in the darkness, attempting to escape could only have attracted a worse night than the one I was praying against, the consequences would have lasted more than that night…. These senior girls were merciless. Normally, I would have had a ready lie in the three seconds that it took me to get there; a reason why I couldn’t carry that bucket of water for her, but this night I wasn’t at the top of my game. I just wanted to sleep.

“All of you Carry one, one” (she already had about six victims before I joined)… I recognised her, she was one of the senior girls who had “chanced” us at the tap today. They came, five of them’ with what seemed like a hundred empty buckets and taken over the 3 taps. They were still filling their containers when the taps started to make funny gurgling sounds and throw out the water like Nikru Sylvanus would throw up puke in a movie to announce her pregnancy. I left then, before I would be called to carry the water to their classes.

“Go to Topaz house room 4, ask for Salamatu’s corner, drop it under my bed, May God bless your souls, just pour a drop of water in my corner…. I will…” I had already lifted one and started leaving. I noticed the other girls band together, partnering in their lamentations but I wasn’t interested, I went ahead of them aiming to get this over with and retire.

I could already see the hostel gates when the thought occurred to me.

It had been really dark.

She didn’t look too closely at my face.

I hadn’t spoken so she couldn’t recognise my voice.

I didn’t have any water.

I looked back, the other girls were nowhere in sight… As I passed the gate, I headed straight for Sapphire house with the bucket of water.

By this time, the sleep had cleared from my eyes.

I didn’t go into the hostel with the bucket. As with all intelligent crimes, I had to cover my tracks. I hid the bucket of water somewhere ensuring that no one was watching and went to my room. I came out with two empty buckets, my school shirt and socks and my daywear. Ten minutes later I went in with two buckets, one with my wet washed clothes and another half filled with water, now there would be no need to chant “please give me one bowl” in the morning. The first bucket had been left outside for whoever was lucky or unlucky enough to tap it.

I got into bed humming “God will make a way… where there seems to be no way……”

I would brag about this the next day to my friends and they would tell me how “sharp” I am.


He died over a bike, over the alchohol induced audacity to make away with a rickety motor bike.

I knew he wasn’t going to live the moment I saw him… his attackers didn’t intend for him to. I still said a silent prayer for him.

He’d been stripped naked and looked like someone had paid attention to detail in ensuring that every inch of his body had been given a measure; he looked like a corpse that skipped a couple of stages of decomposition straight to the bloating.

From the conversations around I could gather he was no stranger to this street. I imagined he had friends, maybe even a relation or two in the crowd, they wouldn’t dare attempt to take him away, wouldn’t dare try to help. Around here that would be a stupid thing to do with a crowd this size hovering around.

I hovered around until finally someone came to take him away, I tried look at his eyes, I hoped he’d look into mine, see that someone in this crowd had some pity, some sympathy. It was useless, his eyes where swollen shut.

I went back in, I had chores to do. I couldn’t sleep for days.

That was more than seven years ago. I sleep very well now. I’ve seen worse.