Dead Men Who Make Demands

Hello Guys,

Here is a new story I wrote for The Musty Corner. It was edited and published by them first, but I decided to publish it here also because i do not want to deny you wonderful people the chance to read this story which i enjoyed writing so much.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much.


A few months ago Priye thought she was the luckiest woman alive. The state of utmost contentment she was in made her not to want anything else or aspire to a greater situation. She felt fulfilled, happy, satisfied – quite complacent if you like, but she was comfortable with that. Everything was good.

In the present moment only the presence of Santan gives her anything close to joy, one that is pathetic when compared to her previous state.

Clingy, selfish, demanding Santan. Priye was not unaware of the look of irritation bestowed on Santan when people thought she wasn’t looking. If she was another’s offspring, not hers, Priye would have felt and acted the same way, but there’s something about the love a mother has for her child. It does not diminish, not even if the child were born with horns and a tail. Only a mother will understand this feeling. Continue reading

To Wait Or Not To Wait

In all my years of writing I do not remember talking about relationships or giving relationship advice. First, because there are already more relationship advisers than the assorted meat in a Yoruba woman’s soup pot and I don’t like to dabble into what everybody is doing. Secondly, because in relationships there is no advice that is all encompassing.

I have observed that one quarter of social media users and radio presenters have turned to agony aunts and we see people sending them messages about their relationships, asking for help from people who do not know the first thing about relationships and advise you with bias. Quack love doctors everywhere. Continue reading

An Unusual Affair

For the first time I’m in love. For as long as I can remember I have anticipated this occurrence. While little girls and boys went through a phase where they detested the opposite sex and the idea of marriage, I never did.

It was a lively street I grew up in. I still live there but it is no longer the same, with families now less communal. At the time, individuals did not have the luxury of generators. Once night falls and ‘NEPA’ seizes power we would all come outside. The parents would lounge in wooden reclining chairs which almost every home owned while they enjoyed the fresh air. Sometimes they relaxed as a group, inside of our corridor, which is the largest and closest to the street, hence more breeze. Other times they just sat in their respective corridors and watched the kids. We, the kids would play every game conceivable.

‘London Bridge is falling down’ bored me easily. ‘Orioma, Danger’ held my attention a bit longer due to the heady feeling of letting myself go completely and being caught before i hit the ground. However the night was never complete until I had played at being a bride. I would tie my scarf the way we were taught to do in block rosary; holding the scarf vertically in front of my face, I would pass it round my face to the back of my head and knot the two edges then lift the hanging part of the scarf covering my face over my head. This was the best way to achieve length and I would have my veil no other way.

Any one of my neighbours usually held my veil while a  visibly bored boy would act as my groom, walking me down the aisle to the voice of kids singing ‘Here comes the bride’. I remember now that the boys never liked the wedding games. They preferred ‘catcher’ or ‘police and thief’ but Nnenne, who always played the officiating minister, was a bully and always got them to co-operate.

Way into my teen years, my fantasy continued. “State wedding” was what I told everyone I will have. It had to be, because my groom will be prominent just like the princes in my story books.

After most of the families moved away and more private families moved in, I had become too old to play wedding games. After meals I would make a hole in the middle of my meat, pass my wedding ring finger through it and wear it for the rest of the day. Once I slept with it and while bathing the next morning felt great pain on my finger. Rat had had a feast.

Soon the kids I grew up with started getting married. It began with Fatima. While other kids were shocked at the news of her wedding, because we had yet to leave secondary school, I was upset. I was meant to be the first bride on the street. Everyone knew. Not long after she announced her wedding and stopped coming to school we were taught about VVF in GEM club meeting and they played a movie clip for us to watch in the school auditorium.

“We need to save Fatima.” I suggested to our GEM club matron once the movie ended “We can’t let her get married and have VVF.”

I don’t believe my concern was as noble as I presented it to be, but for some reason my fourteen year old self felt it my duty to reclaim my place as the first bride.

Then Zainab got married and Awele followed. I received all their wedding cards and treated it dismissively. Ugly card! What kind of name does her husband bear? Their wedding venue is not even nice. It’s not even as stately as mine would be… I would think as I tossed the wedding card aside.

Soon I began actively searching for my prince charming; every outing my parents took us on was an avenue and rather than bond with my family, I would walk away making friends with the boys. Sadly these friendships never blossomed into proper relationships because of Dauda.

Dauda is my father’s faithful driver. He has been with us now for over twelve years. My father would always joke that Dauda keeps to time because he is from Togo and Nigerian time doesn’t apply to him. Tell Dauda that you have an event for 5:00 am and he will be there ahead of time. Lagos traffic never held him back. He was also very loyal to my father and followed his instructions without question or conscience.

“Once lectures are over, bring her back home immediately.” My father had instructed when I got into the university. He answered by blinking his eyes. He rarely spoke. My mother says it is because of the way he was mocked when he newly came into Nigeria and tried speaking English. He spoke it so badly that the entire ‘umu boy’ on the street teased him. Since then he mostly blinks or gestures.

Perhaps it is because he doesn’t speak that is why I can’t get through to him. I would try to bribe or cajole him into letting me stay longer after school to chat and he will simply stand holding the door ajar and looking at me with a straight face like he was dumb. Once I defied him and stayed on and without a word he drove off and returned much later with my father, looking thunderous.

Sometime in January, a week after Christmas, I had a test in school. Dauda had travelled to his home country to spend the holiday and was to return before school resumed however I got a call asking us to return to school earlier for a test.  I had to call for a cab to take me to school.

It was a cold harmattan morning and the red cab arrived late, to my annoyance. I was used to Dauda and his timing that the three minutes delay seemed unforgivable. I scolded the driver as I got in and nagged him for almost the entire journey from Victoria Island to Yaba.  He was silent, occasionally glancing at me through the rear view mirror. After he dropped me at school he inquired if he could come pick me after wards. I agreed grudgingly. He began arriving before time after that first incident. When Dauda returned I begged my father to ease Dauda’s stress and leave him to drive my siblings while Anthony, the cab driver, drove me.

It was my final year and I needed to be in school at odd hours and for longer periods, so he agreed. Anthony was a ‘guy man.’ He would let me stay after school and even drive me to visit friends, soon I made many friends, most of them male and because I could not share my adventures with my siblings for fear that my escapades be reported to my father, I shared with Anthony.

I would give him the full history of a boy and he would tell me if the boy really liked me or not and logically give reasons as to his conclusion. Soon we formulated a game. We would both lean against his cab when he comes to pick me and each guy I point at he would give me a history. He was almost always correct.

“Play boy!” he exclaimed when I pointed at Chukwuemeka. He was right. Every girl knew Emeka’s reputation, yet yearned for him. Too shy, he said of Godspower and he swore to me that Akpabio was a cultist and warned me not to go near him.

A day before my final exams were to start, I called for Anthony not to bother coming for me since I was ill. 9:35 am, after my parents left for work and siblings for school, he was at the house.

“I thought I told you not to come” I said to him as I let him in.

“I couldn’t stay away.” He answered sympathetically handing me a black nylon bag. “What are you doing falling sick? Don’t you know your final exams starts tomorrow?”  He knew my calendar that well and knew about my exam but rather than answer I was looking uncomfortably at the content of the bag.

“Why did you buy me stuff? You know you don’t have money!” I scolded him and he laughed so hard that I was laughing too, not minding that it worsened my headache.

“I know you are an undergraduate of banking and finance but surely you haven’t started spying on my bank account.” He spoke English so well for a cab driver and I had mentioned it to him earlier. He explained that he had the hopes of completing his education and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

“I know you are an undergraduate of Philanthropy but you shouldn’t start your charity work with me.”  I teased, then added “How sweet of you.” I kissed him then, briefly. Then again, deepening it.

Our relationship began that beautiful day, two years ago. In two months’ time, Anthony and I will be married. The invitation cards in my hand are proof of that, but I am having great issue addressing the cards and deciding on whom to invite or not to.

I know my friends and even my parents’ friends. They will want to know who I am getting married to; what he does, who his father is… and many more questions of the sort. I know because I had asked similar questions from friends when they gave me their invitation card. For the information too inappropriate to ask an intending bride, I gathered from the gossip mill and the final ones, like whether he is handsome and his personality, I decided for myself by attending the wedding.

I never liked attending people’s wedding. It reminded me that I was yet to fulfil my own fairy tale dreams, but I did all the same, just to satiate my curiosity. Now it is my turn.

I am proud of Anthony and though he has vehemently refused to quit his job just yet, I know the best of him is yet to come and it doesn’t bother me that he is a taxi driver. I hope everyone else will mind their business and not care too.

If you marry taxi driver, I don’t care. As I have chosen to marry a taxi driver, just let us be.

Seed of Infidelity

“Why will I want a second wife? What is in their body that is different?” I had said to my colleagues who seemed to think that being a Muslim, I will want to exercise my freedom to more than one wife. That was two weeks to my wedding.

Five months down the matrimonial road, all was bliss like I expected it would. My wife was cool-headed, respectful despite our being only a few weeks apart in age and really economical with the little salary I earned.  I had no fear about the new addition we were expecting to our family. She will be the perfect mother.

There’s nothing like a wedding to bring old friends – and foes- together.  A married man for six months and my first time attending a social engagement without my wife due to her pregnant state, I saw her again; my ex.

It had not been a nice parting. How could it be after ten years together? The last we saw she came to pick her stuff from my house, a month to my wedding, and we barely acted in a civil manner towards each other.

Now, she looked to be doing well, though the way she painstakingly ignored me proved she was still affected by our break-up. Deciding to be the bigger man I made a move to be civil.

She was reluctant for a long time. I suggested we bury the hatchet. She looked at me with disbelief.

“Bury hatchet? You are one to talk when you have moved on! Ten years of my life is what I gave you. For ten years I refused every marriage proposal and what do you do? You replace me easily.”

Funny how the guilty can suddenly become the accuser. We had met soon as I was wrapping up my HND programme.  She was yet to get into school and with my paltry salary then of NGN 20,000 I paid her school fees all through school.

My friends saw it as a bad idea. She was in school in a different state from me. Anything could happen. And something did happen. While I was meeting her financial needs and preserving her virtue for marriage, she had a course mate meeting her physical needs.

On finding out, I pretended not to know then when she came to visit while on holiday I did what no Muslim brother should do; I seduced her. I consoled myself that it was the only payment I was to get for my years of sacrifice on her. “She wronged me first” was the reason I gave when my conscience worked overtime.

I would have straight up reminded her all the ways she was the reason for her own misfortune but I noticed for the first time, or just now chose to accept, that I still cared about her.

We are mature adults, surely we could sort out our differences and be friends. Upon further inquiry I discovered our offices were quite close and I suggested we met to smooth things over.

I never hid anything from my wife and when she asked me how the wedding went, I told her all save for meeting my ex. I didn’t want to trouble her, I rationalized. As she inquired further about the wedding and I answered distractedly, it registered that this time last year my wife and I were total strangers. To the surprise of my wife, i got up rapidly in search of a calendar. This time last year was the exact date I seduced my ex then asked her out of my life. Allah blessed me a few weeks later with a virgin maiden, Aisha, who is now my wife.

I began calling Hadiza again. In the office only. No need to trouble my pregnant wife.

“Does your wife know about this?” Nneka, my favourite colleague asked.

“No she doesn’t, but she will once I have made peace with Hadiza, that’s the only reason why I call her”

“OK o, just be careful” She warned. But that was not necessary. I trust myself and love my wife dearly.

Some phone conversations later, we agreed to meet and since I could not confide in my wife I told Nneka about it.

“Nooo Way!” She objected loudly.

“Yes way” I countered smiling. “Remember I promised I will never marry a second wife?”

Nneka continued shaking her head and did everything in her power to prevent me from going.

“Will you be happy if your wife meets with her ex?”

“Ahn ahn, why will she? See, it’s different. I just want to clear the air, that’s all”

“That’s how it starts.”

Very early Sunday morning, one full month after we had met again at that wedding, I met with Hadiza at her house.

She asked why i treated her in such manner. I explained that I found out about her unfaithfulness in school. She was shocked that I knew and explained that it all happened at a time when I began acting indifferent towards her. The guy was very attentive and she was vulnerable thinking I was not interested in her anymore.

I remembered that during that period I was really busy at work because a colleague resigned and I had to handle two people’s job till we got a replacement. I apologized for being inattentive but told her that wasn’t still a good reason to lose her virtue. She explained she was sorry about it and that she had no real feelings towards him.

But she had also become rude towards my family and when I brought that up she explained that she felt like the outsider amongst them because she had not been properly married into the family and hoped I would ask her the reason for her behavior and try to remedy things.

She cried. I cried. We apologized and I realized I had never stopped loving her. She begged me to take her back; Two wives was not unheard of. We talked till seven in the evening before I left for home.

 

“How did it go?” Nneka asked in answer to my “Good morning” on Monday morning.

I refused to go into details about all that transpired and said simply “I still love her. She was my first love.”

“Well, what can I say? Congratulations on your next wedding Fatiha.”

As I opened my mouth to remind her of my vow never to marry a second wife she interrupted me “And don’t feed me that ‘no second wife’ story because the first seed has already been planted and you are doing a good job nurturing it. I just regret that I didn’t make a bet with you when you boasted never to remarry, I would be richer in a few months.”

She sounded so certain that i will be getting married soon. I wonder if it is so. How can one love two women so intensely?

Writer’s Note: This is a true life story; the story of a close friend. Names have been changed and i am ‘Nneka’ in this story. It has been tweaked a bit though and i had to leave out some really personal stuff.

“Is it OK to stay friends with the ex?” That was the discussion on radio last night and as i listened i decided to write this story.

So i ask.; Is staying friends with the ex a sign of maturity or courting trouble? To what extent should one be civil towards their ex?