GBI Network

Disclaimer: the tale you are about to read is not entirely fiction. Keep your internet browser close by, you might need to verify.

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“Oloshi!”

You ignore the conductor and walk right on, a crisp fifty naira note in your hand, crisper than the one you had just now refused to take from him. He curses even more as the bus zooms off, but you do not spare him a second glance – he is the least of your worries.

Your pocket is your primary worry at the moment, it is empty. Not a komkom milo kind of empty, empty tins can at least make good music; this emptiness is more of an akpa asisa kind, an abrasive kind of empty. And it is all the fault of that stupid bank.

The old man from across the street waves at you and makes to rise from his perch beneath the shade. But your wave back at him is brusque; you slip through the gate and hurry towards your door without looking back. He will be disappointed, you know. Every evening as you return for work, he is seated in the same spot beneath that tree, fanning himself with a sheet of cardboard paper. And usually, you would stop to exchange a few laughs. But not today, not while your tummy and pockets sing a duet of dearth.

It was on a day like this that you walked into that fast-food place at the corner of Sanusi Boulevard and ordered a large meal of rice, beans, plantain and cow-tail. You were washing the spirited meal down with a coke when the waiter approached, bill in hand. You didn’t even look, just waved your Naira mastercard in the air. Get your POS.

It didn’t work the first time – typical. So you tapped in your PIN again. While you waited – you and the waiter, you downed another mouthful of the chilled coke which apparently, you were sharing with somebody named Ehi.

No vex, oga, let me bring another one. And she ran off, leaving the faulty POS on the table, your card still stuck halfway in it. She returned with a grey one and an outrageously brightly coloured one in either hand. You tried again. Again. And again. Still no show, so you finished your  coke, paid in cash and left.

You were seated in the conference room, opposite the Korean investors, when the first debit alert came in, then the second, then the third, then another…and the next. Six of them in all, your account balance read just below five thousand. Sure, you were concerned, but not really worried. These things happened very often, and you were certain that you would receive six reversal alerts before close of business.

But the end of the day came, and there were no alerts. You willed them to roll in so you would not have to call customer care – they took forever to connect and always ended with more promises than fixes. Noon came the following day and you still had not seen any debit reversal SMS. You checked online and your account balance was the same – 4,998.50. So you dialed Customer Care.

They promised to fix it; you really had no choice so you waited. Then you got busy, working hard, while living off your small stash of cash, and you forgot all about it. Until earlier this afternoon when you stood in front of an ATM machine reading “Insufficient balance” on the monochrome screen. You can’t believe you had forgotten to follow up, because who goes to sleep on the comfort of a banker’s word in this country?

As you now stare at the small bag of garri sitting on your kitchen floor like a fat toddler, you realize it is your singular sure means of surviving the weekend. You are angry, angrier because you are helpless. But you are also very hungry. So you fling the tail of your tie over one shoulder and stoop to pour some of the fine yellow flour into a bowl.

Your laptop is sitting on your dining table, lid up, as you left it before going to bed last night. And the sight of it reminds you of a conversation you had with your colleague, Jide weeks ago. He is a twitter-worm and apparently, a website had been the rave at the time, where people reported their bank troubles and they got resolved at no cost.

You pour some water into it and set the bowl of garri aside – given time, the mixture will swell to a quantity that stood a better chance of sating your hunger. As the orange, red and blue colours of your internet browser flood the laptop screen, you mentally pat your own back for subscribing to the monthly plan. The state of your finances at the moment place internet way above luxury.

All you can remember about that site Jide mentioned is that its name sounded like a TV news channel; and you are not very certain but it probably had the words ‘global’ and ‘bank’ in it.

A few minutes of Google later and you are looking at a large picture of the Dubai sky-line – “Dubai is where your search ends,” it read. Wrong one. You start to glide your pointer towards the ‘go back’ button at the top-left of the screen but some words stop you.

Global Banking Issues Network – GBINetwork

‘Our bank is here to encourage all banks to be more efficient and help bank customers blah-blah-blah…

You scroll down and spend the following minutes reading through a deluge of reports sent in by dissatisfied bank customers world-wide, and the responses to them. By your rough estimate, 70-75% of all bank troubles reported here is rectified, and the erring banks even wrote personal apologies in the Comments section.

There is a ‘Click here to post your complaints’ button on the menu bar. You click.

It is loading as you reach for the bowl. The garri has ‘risen’ enough now, nearly doubling in mass and flirting with the inner rims of the large bowl. You spoon a dollop of the sodden paste into your mouth, knead it between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, and swallow.

With a grainy salt-sour taste in your mouth, you begin to type.

***

Y: “Oh boy, Jide, show first.”

Jide: “Wassup nah?”

Y: “Guy, that your link work oh.”

Jide: “Link ke? Which one?”

Y:“The bank one nah…GBIN.”

Jide: “Oh, you use am?”

Y: “Yes oh…my bank really messed up, I just use vex report them for the website.”

Jide: “Enhen…?”

Y: “They called me now to apologize oh, the bank people. I form small shaa, but the grammar just dey increase. Come see the sweet voice wey the babe use dey beg me nah: ‘We saw your report on GBIN, sir, we’re very sorry that you had to endure supri supri supri…’

“Omo, last last ehn, she asked some questions about my account details and the transaction wey cause the wahala, come talk say dem go fix am. As I dey drop phone, guy, alert dey enter my phone fia fia fia!”

Jide: “Wow, you mean am?”

Y: “Hian…see question oh. No be you show your boy the way?”

Jide: “Omo, I never used it oh. I just saw the gist on twitter, that’s how I knew about it. And I dey here since, my bank just dey misbehave…”

Y: “Oh boy, no time oh. Gee-BIN them!”

Jide: “Sharp sharp, bros”

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Do not keep this one to yourself. Tell someborri!

Chisom

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Roses and Angels

roses and angels

The room is chilly and quiet, so quiet that the tick-tock of the golden vintage clock resonates. Unlike the other times, you are not entranced by the tasteful furnishings this place. It is tagged first-class, this room in which you have lodged four or five times now. Johnny always tells you how lucky you are. He says suites of this sort are meant ‘for the rich, or the accessories of the rich’. The very first time he said it, you decoded what he meant, and into what category you belong – the accessories of the rich. But you did not mind.

The clock keeps ticking. On the muted television screen is a thin woman in tight khaki shorts. She is making frantic gestures. The piece of terra-cotta art work which you learnt is over a hundred years old and have spent time admiring on your previous times here has been replaced with a blue abstract painting.  But you do not notice its absence. Your thoughts are rooted in the fields where anxiety reigns, but you do not know why. There is something amiss about today, and you know it. You cannot explain it, yet it feels strange. Stranger than the sudden stiffness you now feel on your neck.

You try to shake off the present feeling. You decide to take a warm shower; it has always had a magic effect on you. Standing from the bed, you take slow numbered steps towards the wide mirror. You hold up your naked ebony complexioned breasts, wondering if Chief your new client will, like the others, find them attractive. You have heard he has high taste for women, and you are certain that that is why Johnny chose you for him today. Unlike other times, Johnny did not even spend much time bargaining. He had just mentioned the prize – your prize, and chief had accepted without objection. Your heart bounced again when Johnny dropped the phone, with that boyish smile plastered on his bleached face.

The water is running gently over your velvety skin when you hear the entrance door open and shut with a small thud. You hasten up. Chief’s heavy voice comes from outside,

‘Baby, don’t tell me you’re not ready yet.’ Silence follows for brief seconds before he speaks again, ‘Baby, I hate to be kept waiting, so you just tell me if your ass ain’t ready, and I’ll give Johnny boy a quick call,’

Chief’s voice is laced with impatience, arrogant impatience. But wait. You have heard that voice from somewhere. There is something about its heavy baritone that makes it so familiar. You have no time to dwell on such thoughts, to compare the similarities, and reach a conclusion. So you hasten up, calling back with mild apologies.

You rinse the last trace of lather off your body and step out of the sky-blue Jacuzzi. Chief has switched off the light and the only source of illumination is the bathroom room light which is sneaking into the room. You see Chief’s silhouette on the bed. You are sure he is annoyed, but of course, you know what to do to bring him back in the mood. It is your vocation, your calling.

You immediately drop your towel, unveiling your naked form like it’s a precious offering to a god. You can see Chief’s full cheeks move and you assume it is smile. It is a boost to your morale, so you gently mount yourself on the bed and get down to business. You are about to think of how impressed Johnny will be with you, when you notice on the old man’s face, a tinge of familiarity. You wish the lights were switched on. Anxiety slowly spreads its tentacles on you and tightens its wicked grip when chief mounts on you. His breathing is labourious. His movements are deliberate. His thrusts are quick and forceful, belying the shriveled features of his elderly frame.  

Morning comes with a new awareness. The sun’s rays are creeping into the room when you awake. Chief is still asleep and all other sounds, kowtow to his heavy sporadic snores.

You open your eyes, the environment looks surreal at first, then everything takes shape, and the first thing that your eyes behold is…

‘O god!’

…to be continued next week

by Uche Anichebe

OMO, SEE GOBE!

On the matter of this broadcast joke – which is apparently stale to everyone but me – omo, see gobe oh! Kai! First check it out godu…


 

If you want to marry my daughter
FILL THE FORM IN YOUR OWN HAND WRITING
AND IN BLOCK LETTERS.
I ___________________ ____________________ __________________, hereby apply to marry your beautiful daughter, Sir.
I am _____ years old.

(Please answer the following questions honestly)

1. Do you go to church/mosque? Yes/No
2. Do you have a degree or diploma? Yes/No .
3. Are you still a virgin? Yes/No.
4. Are you working? Yes/No.
5. Do you have a car? Yes/No.

(If your answer to any of the above questions is NO , do not continue & quietly leave my house.
Don’t look back as you walk out. If all your answers were YES , then you may continue.)

1. In 50 words or more, describe the disadvantages of cheating in marriage.
2. With the aid of a diagram, explain how you can give respect to your father/mother in-law.
3. Suppose your wife says, “Honey, I need money for my hair at the saloon” , what would be your answer?___________________
4. Explain any TEN causes of divorce.

5. What does the term ‘good husband’ mean to you? ______________________________  _______

6. Do you have both your mum & dad? Yes/No . If No, explain why?
7. Were your parents legally married? Yes/No.
If YES, for how long? If the time of their marriage is less than your age, explain why
you were born out of wedlock.
8. Explain the meaning of ”COME HOME EARLY” as used by married women. (100
words)
9. Give any THREE reasons that can cause a man to sleep outside his house.
10. In case of divorce, who do you think is the owner of the kids between father and mother?

(Answer the following by Yes or No.)
1. Do you drink alcohol? Yes/No.
2. Do you smoke? Yes/No.
3. Are you short-tempered? Yes/No.

(LAST PART, BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT.)
1. When can you be free for interviews? ____________________
2. When can be the best time to interview your dad?____________________
3. When can I interview your mum? ____________________
4. When can I interview your church pastor/mosque imam?
5. Please stick your passport size photo below, which will be put in all the daily
newspapers for 1 week to cross-check if you have other girlfriends or on wanted list by
NSIS, CID, Police or other law enforcement agencies.

Sign here: ___________
Sign again: __________
Thank you for showing interest in my daughter. Your application will be processed
in 18 month’s time. You will be acknowledged only if you emerge successful. As you wait for
my response, please don’t call me, or visit me, or contact my daughter, you will be
disqualified automatically.

Leave your details in case I need to ask you
more questions.
Postal Address: ______________________________________________
Email: ______________________________________________________
Phone: _____________________________________________________
Facebook user-name : _________________________________________


 

LMAO. Kai! This is poverty speaking oh…poverty sprinkled with healthful dollops of stinginess, better known as aka-chichichii. Mschewww!

As for me and my family ehn, when faced with such a situation, two things are involved. It is either:

Option A: I lose all manner of interest in the lady in question…no, you don’t understand. I mean that she will go from…

Meagan Good

…in my eyes, to…

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…and soon enough, she changes to…

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and at this point, the damage is good as done because it is unavoidable that whenever I look at her, I will see…

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In summary, I turn my back and never look back. If I stop, it will be to wonder again, whaddahell I had seen in the babe in the first place.

OR

Option B: I will do everything to marry the babe – all na hustle abi? I will endure it all in wait for the end when I can finally take her as wife. For the wedding ceremony, my relatives and I will attend dressed in our best ceremonial attires.

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And after I have married her, I will present dearest popsy-in-law with my own stone tablets of commandments

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you can safely assume that he will be signing affidavits for the rest of his poor life.

I will take wifey dearest home in style…

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and we will spend the rest of our lives giving her old man beautiful grandchildren…

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Abi no be cunny man dey bury cunny man?

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter  

The Lectern: THE LAW OF THE ICEBERG

Hi.

Here’s announcing the start of a new series on Words Are Work. It is called ‘The Lectern’ and is really a column for you, all of you, to express those thoughts no one ever paid you a penny for. For family, friends, fellow bloggers, writers, and – I am really hoping – readers, everybody, The Lectern is a platform beneath your feet and a microphone up against your mouth, thus the motto: That we might be read…  

If you have a piece you would like ‘read’, send it via email to ojukwumartin@gmail.com; title the mail ‘The Lectern’. And for those of us who feel the need to ‘be read’ but are yet undecided about a subject matter, send me an email and we can talk through it and select something appropriate for you. My editing and fine-tuning skills are offered free of charge too…(no cameras please)

We start off the maiden edition today with ‘The Law of the Iceberg’ which is courtesy of a colleague, Seun Abejide. Be kind enough to pen down your (chocolate-flavored) criticisms, comments and thoughts in the right sections below. Till later…have a WAW experience!

The Lectern01

That we might be read…

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

Ansel Adams

THE LAW OF THE ICEBERG

Bimpe is an only child, a teenager resident in Ikoyi, Lagos with her family. She very recently returned from a 3-month summer vacation in the UK – her first time ever to leave the country. While on the trip, she lived with her mum who has lived in the UK for over a decade now. Bimpe’s departure date was planned so it was concomitant with the commencement of her mother’s vacation leave, and when it came around, mother and daughter returned to Lagos together.

In the month since her return, Bimpe has taken on a superficial attitude that pisses everyone around her off. She refuses to play with her neighborhood friends because ‘they are local people’; she refuses to eat with her hands anymore and insists that her bread must always be toasted; and she skips and hops all around her house chores – ‘they could get dirt in her nails’.

One evening, her father returned from work to find Bimpe cowered into a corner by her exasperated mother who stood over her with a cane, yelling. Intermittently, she flicked the slender wood over Bimpe’s flesh in a visibly half-hearted attempt to discipline the errant child; and every time the cane brushed her body, Bimpe whimpered like a little scared kitten.

Flick! “Ouch”, she whimpered. Flick! “Ouch”. Flick! “Ouch! Mummy, you’re hurting me” she enunciated in a very nasal voice.

Now fed up with the child’s act, Bimpe’s father stepped up and took the cane from his wife. He flexed it once and let rip on Bimpe’s clothed back with the cane: WHACK!

For a split second nothing happened. Then Bimpe’s eyes widened, her face contorted into an astounded cum tortured mask and her back arched at an angle so acute that she should have cracked. Then she screamed, “CHAAAEEE!!!”

WHACK! WHACK!! came her father’s reply.

“YEKPAAAA” Bimpe yelled again, springing up. “E GBA MI OH!!!” And she raced off like an alaye cat whose tail was on fire.

MORALE: Pretend on the outside all you want, what you are on the inside will eventually, always, out-shine it.

And on that note, I present to you, The Law of the Iceberg.

Experts estimate that on the average, only 10 percent of the entire mass of an iceberg appears above the surface. What that means is that 90 percent of the mass is beneath the surface and is invisible to those above the surface. The Law of the Iceberg, as put together by Todd Duncan, states that ‘the truest measure of your success is invisible to the people around you’.

Your success as seen by people could be summarized by your income, official designation, accolades and material possessions, but the truest measure of your success, Todd Duncan espoused, lies deeper within you in the form of your values, character, passions, desires, goals and purpose in life. Most of the latter are hardly ever visible to the outside world, so that what the world actually does see is often – and should rightly be – the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, the exact opposite is the case majorly among the young folks of the present society many of whom are largely empty barrels living off the cliché, ‘fake it till you make it’.

Party-pooper alert! You cannot fake it for long if you have nothing on your inside, which is why Kenneth E. Hagin said that “it doesn’t matter how beautifully you label a can if it is empty; a labeled empty can is still an empty can”. Robert Kiyosaki also intimated the ‘Be-Do-Have’ principle when he said: “Before you can have, you need to do, and before you can do, you need to be”.

Folks have tried to reverse this principle unsuccessfully. We think that if we have what certain people we term successful have then we can get to do what they do and therefore we could be like them. But we forget that we need to have roots. Deep roots.

How many times have we seen someone looking successful only to find out he was a hoax? Remember that musician who comes out with a hit song, causes raves and in six months, he’s gone? We hear nothing of the artist ever again. Also the young man who buys a new car, rents a 3 million naira apartment, marries a wife but is broke in four years, busted and disgusted begging for his next meal? Or the curious case of lottery winners?

On the other hand, there are people whose present positions in their lives’ journeys do not look like much yet they have a quiet assurance within them that makes them excel at most things. Because they have roots.

I am reminded of the very first time I watched the now famous Nigerian rapper M.I.; it was on the lunch hour show of the local television station MiTV some years ago. The little man looked tired and hungry in over-sized clothes which he probably borrowed from a bigger friend to make an appearance on TV with. He didn’t look like much. But when he went on to rap, I knew he was different; I judged him as a more than a flash in the pan. True to my judgment, M.I. has gone on to become “African Rapper No. 1”, the only Nigerian artiste ever to have sold one CD for 200 million naira.

On another pedestal, a lot of really wealthy people appear so simple that it is difficult to associate them with their great wealth. No wonder Poju Oyemade said that “highly successful people are masters of understatement.” Indeed, what we see on the outside is often not an accurate representation of how successful a person is.

Still on the earlier analogy around an iceberg, imagine sawing off the visible surface of the block of ice. What would happen next is the appearance of another tip, a dense substantial mass of ice which would float around for a while until the entire block of mass becomes stable again. in fact, a thin iceberg – one without a foundation – is more a slab of ice than an iceberg, and it would play slave to the ever-changing ebbs and flow of the tides.

In similar fashion, without a solid foundation beneath the surface of your life, the surface success may never be stable. What is on the outside is important of course – appearance matters – but it is not nearly as important as the stuff we have on the outside for many reasons, most relevant among which is the fact that the inside produces the outside.

If you are ever going to have or be anything, reader, it’s going to come from your inside before it can work on your outside.

Money on the inside, working on the outside;

beauty on the inside, working on the outside;

genius on the inside, working on the outside;

wisdom on the inside, working on the outside;

excellence on the inside, working on the outside;

success on the inside, working on the outside.

So says The Law of the Iceberg.

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By Seun Abejide

UNFORGIVEN IX

…continued from UNFORGIVEN VIII

unforgiven

She told how she’d met Charles, in a night club on the day she turned twenty-two. Her ‘friends’ had taken her out to celebrate and she and Charles had hit it off almost instantly. He had been wearing his wedding ring that night, which was unusual and yet that was what had thrilled Ethel. She’d long since made up her mind to live the kind of life her Mum did but in a classier way. She didn’t sleep around with every Tom, Dick and Harry who had money, she picked her men. Older, married and damn rich. She didn’t want love so she went with married men. At least those ones had wives to have and to hold; all she did was stroke their egos and satisfy them how she knew.

At the time she met Charles she’d been single. Just ended a relationship with a former lecturer who wasn’t ready to meet her financial needs. Stingy man and not so good looking too!

Charles had been it. Many married men took off their wedding ring when hitting on a girl, not Charles. He’d confidently struck up a conversation with her and eventually asked her to dance. Their first dance had been breathtaking and intense. Their chemistry was instant and standing so close to him had made Ethel feel like she’d explode with longing. And yet they had not touched each other that first night. Not even a kiss. He’d dropped her off at her hostel and requested a date.

“You sure your Missus won’t be mad?” she teased, drunk.

“Definitely not as mad as I am for you,” he’d re-joined.

One date turned into two, then three and finally their fifth date they couldn’t stay off each other anymore. They sat in his car, afraid to touch before the passion exploded beyond control.

“What do we do?” he asked.

“We can’t go to my hostel. We can’t go to your house.”

“A hotel?”

“No. I don’t want that. We have to reach an agreement.”

“I’m listening.”

“What do you want from me? A one-night stand?”

“Sweetheart, we’ve had one too many dates for this to just be a one-night stand.”

“Good. So you want more. And I want more too but not love.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I am not interested in falling in love with you and I want it to be clear. There isn’t going to be any love declarations blah blah blah. You have your life. I have mine. I will not sleep with anyone else while I’m with you, though.”

“Why not?” he was smiling, not believing that they were having this conversation.

“Because unlike some people, I do believe AIDs is real and I want to live awhile. Besides I will be too spent to juggle more than one guy, after I finish with you,” her voice was husky.

“So where’s the catch?”

“I want an apartment where we can meet. Then of course, my upkeep. I am, after all, to be your mistress.”

There and then the deal had been struck. The next time they met it was at Ethel’s new apartment and finally all their desires were sated.

Life with Charles was good. He treated her well; there was no time to fight because they knew nothing about each other to fight about. Everything about them was physical. Until ‘disaster’ struck.

Ethel became pregnant in the twenty-fifth month of their relationship. It was unexpected and obviously unwanted. A lot of blame went around; Charles blamed her, then she blamed him, he blamed her again until they realized they needed a solution.

Ethel didn’t want kids. Not with the kind of childhood she’d grown up with. She wanted a life free of encumbrances. And yet, she couldn’t bring herself to get rid of the thing growing inside her. Fear impeded her. What if she died? She’d heard stories of girls who went in for abortions and never came out the same. They were either dead or damaged. Did she want that?

She told Charles of her fears and eventually decided to have the child and give it up for adoption or something. She was that afraid to be a mother. Charles saw she’d made up her mind and stopped arguing with her and instead became more attentive to her. If she was going to be the mother of his baby, he’d better treat her right, he said.

It didn’t last long though because it was somewhere in her tenth week, she started having cramps and saw blood. She was alone at home that evening and had called Charles who immediately came over and took her to the hospital. The doctors confirmed that she’d lost the pregnancy.

It hadn’t hurt that much then. She consoled herself that it was answered prayers. She didn’t want the child in the first place so God had saved her and the child further grief. Charles spent more time with her as she recovered, treated her like a wife and not a mistress and it was during this time that Ethel realized she’d begun to fall in love with him. She wanted more. She wanted to feel like she actually belonged to someone. To him. She didn’t know whether it was the pregnancy that had made her go soft, all she knew was that she wanted more of him.

The second pregnancy had been planned by her, in the fourth year of their relationship. She’d done everything she could to get Charles to commit more to her; to fall in love with her but it hadn’t seemed to work. And truth was she’d begun to feel the pangs of motherhood. The first pregnancy had opened up something in her that made her rethink everything she’d formerly believed in. And it suddenly dawned on her that she wanted children, a family with the man she loved.

When she got pregnant this time, she waited till her twelfth week to tell Charles. She wanted to be sure that the danger of miscarrying the pregnancy had passed.

Charles froze. He yelled. He couldn’t believe she’d gotten pregnant again after the first mistake, hadn’t she learned anything?

She’d screamed at him too; excuse me for getting pregnant for you! I didn’t know I’d make such a terrible mother!

It’s not about you, woman! Don’t you get it?

Well, it’s my body and my baby and I’m having it. So prepare to be a father!

How far along are you?

Three months.

And you’re just telling me now?

I wanted to make sure it stayed.

How come I didn’t notice?

Because you were too busy admiring my breasts that had grown bigger.

The shouting abated and Ethel tried to convince Charles that this was a good thing. They could start a family together.

Maybe that would’ve happened if the pregnancy had stayed. It hadn’t. A week later, the cramps came in fuller force that brought tears to Ethel’ eyes. For the first time in a long time as she doubled over in the toilet, vomiting and losing blood at the same time, she prayed. She asked God to save her baby. Just this once.

He hadn’t. Like before she ended up in the hospital, worse off than the first time because she was broken in body, soul and spirit.

Charles had dropped her off in the hospital and disappeared. She later found out that he’d paid the bills in advance. Her recovery had been slow and painful and the cramps had continued for a week. At a point Ethel had thought she was going to die.

She cried day and night for her unborn child and eventually she’d been discharged. When she got to her apartment, she found that she’d been locked out and Charles had left her.

It was like another nail in her coffin. Her man had left her without a word. She’d swallowed her pride and gone back to her mum.

That had been the lowest point of her life. She’d fallen into a depression so bad that she’d once attempted suicide.

It was after her suicide attempt that she packed her things and moved to Abuja.

 

“That’s it, Amaka. Charles showed up in church on Sunday and he’s Pastor’s step-brother. I didn’t know what to do,” she concluded.

“That’s not important for now. What I want is to get to the bottom of this,” she waved the paper in front of her. “Who gave you this report?”

“I don’t understand what that means. I recently got a visit from…er…Charles’ wife,” Ethel shrugged.

“Why would she give you this?”

“She said something about it telling me the kind of man Charles is. Tell me what it is.”

“It’s a medical report. Look, it’s dated 2010. Do you remember the name of the hospital Charles took you to when you had your miscarriage?”

“Er…that was when I had my second miscarriage. I can’t remember the hospital’s name.”

“Okay, wait. Look at this. The signature of the doctor that wrote this report. It looks like someone’s name. Does it look familiar?”

Ethel took the paper and stared hard at the signature. It was difficult but eventually she made out the name.

“Felicia…Umoh,” she read out slowly.

It was only when the name had escaped her lips that it dawned on her.

Oh. My. God

 

To be continued next week…

 

By Mimi Adebayo

 

I paid my offering to a taxi driver

cab01 offering

“Praise da lord somebody”, Pastor Tutu’s effervescent voice wafted from the speakers, travelled through the congregation and landed on sleepy ears.

The following hallelujah was cold and drab.

The Super Eagles will play in an hour; they will not win, but we will do our bit as patriotic citizens by watching even as their performance breaks our hearts.

“I say praise da lord ooooooo”, she crooned again.

This time the hallelujah was louder but still bereft of the enthusiasm that is usually so palpable in our Sunday morning services.

I was – and I guess my fellow worshippers were too – tired and angry that Pastor John, her husband and CEO of our church had made us stand longer than necessary during his sermon. I mean, we had gotten used to the usual “tell your neighbor this is my week of unmerited favors”, and “I am going to my high places” or “I am touching my millions this week”; only last week, we drove imaginary cars, and the week before that, we fired our enemies to hell with holy ghost AK- 47s.

But this particular one – making us stand, hands in the air punching intermittently – under the guise of ‘finishing our enemies’ was utterly surprising even to first time worshippers. Those who attempted to sit through the exercise saw pastor’s red eye.

“Get up!” he yelled at Brother Freedom whose incredulous testimony much earlier in the service had seen him – and many of us too – dance like a lottery winner. “Who asked you to sit? The devourer, your enemy doesn’t sleep or rest and you’re sitting down when you should be fighting him. The bible says we’re wrestling against principality and powers, you think this is a joke?”

Pastor John hadn’t had to say more. His message was so clear and pointed that it ruptured Brother Freedom’s swag, and awash with shame, the brother had stood in one spot, face downwards until the end of the sermon.

As Pastor Tutu said “Offering time”, she had a dubious smile that can only come from a pastor’s wife as pretty and suave like her. She knew she had a hold on this congregation. Like an artist, she knew she had the power to draw and erase our moods however she wanted. She also knew her soothing voice was capable of righting all the wrongs her husband had done this Sunday morning.

“Package those offerings,” she cooed, “package the tithes, kingdom investments, transportation seed, church growth seed, project offering and every other substance you have brought and let’s honor the lord with it. The bible says while the earth remains, seed time and harvest shall not cease. And please always remember that they that sow in tears shall reap bountifully with Joy”.

If her smile was her charm, it was potent. The congregation responded like a flock of sheep following the direction of a diligent shepherd. The anger on the faces of the people faded and was replaced by quiet smiles. Hands were digging into bags and pockets and emerging with white envelopes and Naira notes of various denomination.

I thought people were angry that pastor John had pushed us too far. I thought they would vent their dissatisfaction by withholding their seeds, just as I have made up my mind to do. But the envelopes and hands that went up when she said “raise those seeds to the lord” made it clear that na only me waka come. I was a general without an army – the only worshipper who would not part with his offering on this Sunday morning.
Soon we were dancing, singing and clapping for the lord. The ushers were emptying the baskets of offerings into the large buckets under the watchful eyes of the strongest members of the “Jesus Mopol squad” from their vantage points close to the pastor’s seat.

 

Done with the collection, the hefty men grabbed the buckets firmly and breezed through the aisles. Our money – sorry God’s money – was going away.

I touched my back pocket to be sure my offering was still where I kept it, and I smiled contently as I felt its crisp edge. My N200 was right there the way I brought it. Naked. No envelope. No packaging.

We shared the grace and began to file out so the second service worshippers could come in. Some of them were already rushing to get seats in front. I looked at them and shook my head. If only they knew how Pastor John had made us stand, they would keep their offerings and join us as we filed out like prisoners.
On the road I flagged down a cab. The driver stopped and I hopped in. I didn’t notice the woman at the back until she spoke. “Oga driver, abeg no vex,” she stuttered, “my money don lost”

Oga driver was in no mood for super stories this Sunday morning. “Madam, that one nor concern me oooo! Why you no talk before you enter, you think say you wise abi? Na when we don dey reach your bus-stop you know say your money dey miss. Na so una dey do. Mscheww! You must pay me my money ooooo!”
Was madam a trickster? Did she make up this cock and bull story because she knew I didn’t pay my offering in church? The argument was becoming too loud for my ears so I shut it all up. And went with my heart – I decided to be a gentleman.

“Oga how much be her money”, I asked with the cockiness of a banker.

“From where I carry am, her money na 150”, came his reply.

“How much be my own?”

“Your own na 100 naira sah”, he said.

I smiled wryly, dug my hand into my pocket and brought out the N200 note – the offering box escapee. From my wallet I brought out another N100 and handed both notes over to the driver.

“You can keep the change sir”, I said as I alighted.

I walked home feeling good, like a Good Samaritan and a gentleman. I helped the needy with my offering. I gave my offering to a taxi driver.

offering04

By Vincent Nzemeke ( on twitter)

UNFORGIVEN VI

…continued from Unforgiven V

unforgiven

“Some men talk about their wives whenever they are with their mistresses. But…not you. Why?”

“I didn’t think my mistress would want to know my wife. Why do you want to know?”

“Because I want to know. Why don’t you talk about the Missus?”

“Well babes; I’ve long since learned not to mix my family and my extracurricular activities. We don’t want any mix-ups there.”

************

Unbidden, the conversation flashed in Ethel’s mind as she stood toe-to-toe with Charles’ wife. Why hadn’t Charles warned her about this? The woman looked intimidating and well…older, much older than Ethel and if she wasn’t mistaken, older than Charles.

But she was a beauty. In every aspect. And she was expensive. Everything on her reeked of wealth…from her finely starched designer shirt to her knee-length ash skirt that hugged her hips. Her make-up was finely applied and took away a lot from her age.

Why would any man want to cheat on this woman?

“Are you done analyzing me?” she sounded amused.

“I…uh…I wasn’t. I just…this is weird,” Ethel stammered.

“Meeting your lover’s wife?”

“You’re wrong. We are not lovers. We’re just supposed to have dinner together. I didn’t know you were in Abuja too.”

“He didn’t tell you that he accompanied me for a doctors’ conference. Typical Charles – chasing some bimbo while I’m working my ass off.”

“No. We haven’t had much time to talk. Believe me, there’s nothing between us.”

“Again?”

Ethel looked away. “Again. How did you know about today?”

“I’m not stupid. I’ve known about you for a while sadly I thought I’d gotten rid of you three years ago,” her voice was unsympathetic. “Charles has no idea I’ve got him within my sights.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Oh. When it comes to choosing between his family and extracurricular activities, Charles always chooses right,” sarcasm dripped from her words.

The words stung more than Ethel would admit. Extracurricular activities. Translation – you

“Madam, please explain what you mean by getting rid of me three years ago,” there was a tremor in her voice. She sensed that what she would not like was what she was about to hear.

“Remember the last time you saw him? That was my doing. I gave him an ultimatum,” she dipped her hand into her Prada handbag and pulled out an envelope, “he’s going to be here any minute. I’m glad we decided to have this talk. Meanwhile I’m sure you’d be pleased to know what information is in that envelope. It’d enlighten you about your err…relationship with my husband.”

“Why did you come?”

“Charles cares about his family more than he lets on. He was nothing when I married him but look at him now – every stray girl’s dream. No matter what happens he’ll always choose me, the mother of his children. Remember that when next you think of screwing him.”

Ethel was silent. She didn’t say a word as Mrs. Felicia Umoh dropped the envelope on the table.

“And oh…it’d be in your best interest not to mention our little meeting to him.” With that she stalked out of the house.

Ethel crumpled into the chair, her head whirling with thoughts. Her breakup with Charles had been painful. It hadn’t even qualified as a breakup because there’d been no teary-eyed goodbyes. He’d simply left one day without a word.

She’d been in the hospital; still recovering from her recent miscarriage. Her mind and body were affected and she had needed all the support she could get from him. The man she loved. But he’d been nowhere to be found.

The day she was discharged she’d rushed home to the apartment he’d rented for her, only to find it locked with a few of her things packed into a small duffel bag and kept with a neighbor. There was no note, no explanation and no way to get in touch with him. It had literally killed Ethel. The not-knowing, the silence, his unceremonial disappearance.

She had been left with nothing except a broken heart and depression. No home, hardly any clothes; so she’d gone to the one place she’d vowed she wouldn’t return to – her childhood home. With Mum.

Now what did this woman mean by she’d gotten rid of her? Ethel found herself too stunned to think. Had she had something to do with Charles’ disappearance from her life?

What did that matter now? Three years have gone by, Ethel. Just drop it.

She picked up the envelope. How was she going to face Charles today after such a visit?

Cancel the date.

Nah. Too late. You’ll suck it up and pretend he didn’t lie to you. Then you’ll get your closure.

At that precise moment the doorbell rang and, Ethel quickly tucked the envelope into her purse. She’d take a look at it later.

“Who is it?” she wasn’t going to be taken by surprise twice in one day.

“Charles.”

She glanced at the time, 7:45pm. He was forty-five minutes late.

“I’ll be right out,” she didn’t want him in her apartment. She picked up her purse, took a deep breath and went out to face him.

He stood there confidently, looking so sleek and irresistibly fine. He had an aura, a certain contagious confidence that threw Ethel off balance when she first met him. It always pulled her like a magnet.

“You’re late,” she accused.

“Had some car issues. I’m sorry. You look gorgeous. Well covered up, I see,” he smirked.

“Get used to it,” she snapped, shrugging off his hands that went around her shoulders.

“What? Now I can’t hold you anymore? You forget…I’ve seen some intriguing parts of your body,” there was a twinkle in his eyes as they walked to his car.

She hid a smile. He’d certainly turned the charm on.

“What are you doing in Abuja?” she asked, taking her seat beside him in the car.

“Work. But I had to see you.”

Liar, liar. “What about your wife?”

“Thelia, this night is about me and you. No third parties please,” his eyes were on the road as he drove.

Why are you here Ethel? Why are you here with this man who is a danger to you physically, spiritually and mentally? Why do you want to torture yourself?

“No, Charles. I’m the third party here. You’re one with your wife and I’m nothing but a passing fancy. That’s what I’ve always been to you.”

“Why are you talking like this? I thought tonight was not about the past,” he reached out and placed a hand on her knee, “besides if you were a passing fancy then you really did a good job because you kept my attention for four years.”

Ethel moved her leg away from his touch refusing to admit how much it affected her.

She couldn’t believe that she’d given four years of her life to this man.

“Why did you leave without a word, Charles? You left me stranded when I needed you most,” she needed to know.

“Let’s have dinner first. Then we can talk. I want to give you a treat tonight.”

**********

He stuffed her with food, spoiling her by insisting she take whatever she wanted. The evening was almost magical; it was like he was intent on stripping away the years that had separated them and bringing back the memories. Yet Ethel couldn’t take her mind off his wife’s visit.

Charles was nothing when I married him. He will always choose me, the mother of his children.

It was nine thirty pm when they arrived at her doorstep. As she stepped out of the car, Ethel felt a twinge of sadness at the thought that she might never see him again. She’d wrapped up this chapter of her life and it was over. The visit from his wife today had proved it.

“Won’t you ask me in?” he asked, following her closely behind.

“Of course not Charles,” she turned to face him, “before you leave I have a question.” 

 He was staring intently at her in a way that made her skin burn. God, why did the man have to be so damn attractive?

“Yes?”

“Did your wife have anything to do with the…way our relationship ended?”

“Family always comes first, Ethel, you know that,” his face gave away nothing.

 Yes, now I do. “That was my mistake, right? Falling in love with you?”

“No, no, no. We had an agreement, Ethel. Love was never part of the equation from the beginning. It was one of the ground rules you set, remember?”

Yes, she did remember. Oh she remembered so well. But what had she known then? She’d been just twenty-two, in her final year at the university and still very much in the claws of her mother. Meeting Charles had been like a miracle; he was older, charming, smitten with her and rich. What more could a girl like her want? She’d known he was married and it had added more to the thrill.

“Well I broke the rules at some point. Why couldn’t you? Was I that terrible to love?” she asked.

Careful, Ethel. Tread cautiously.

“No but I already had someone I loved. I had a wife! A family! I couldn’t risk all that for…for…”

“Say it. For me. I wasn’t worth it. I was always going to be the mistress, right? Not even when I got pregnant? What if I’d had your child?”

He was silent and unsure. He stood, looking at her, helpless. A first for Charles Umoh.

“Leave, Charles. Just leave. This is over. Thank you for a nice evening. I hope you have a nice life with your family,” she had to get away before she burst into tears.

“I’m sorry Thelia, I wish I could’ve been more,” he caught her hand in his and pressed it to his lips. “What? No hug or…even…a kiss? For old time’s sake?”

“No. Get out of my way Charles.”

“C’mon Thelia. Please. Just a goodbye hug and a peck on the cheek.”

Insane. Insane that she actually wanted his arms around her. Totally insane that she was actually thinking of hugging him.

“I said get out, Charles and let’s not make a scene.”

“You know me. I won’t leave until you give me that hug and peck. So how about that scene, Thelia? Please?” his eyes looked so beautiful when he begged.

“Don’t. Don’t call me that.”

“Why not?” he stroked her face.

Because it jumbles my head! Because it reminds me of whom I used to be! And I don’t want to be that person anymore. I’m better! I don’t want to be here with you; feeling this way about you! The voice in her head screamed but her mouth refused to move.

How could she be thinking this about a man that just told her she meant nothing to him?

One hug, Ethel and get this man out of your front yard. And out of your life.

Too risky Ethel, don’t do it. Leave him standing out here and walk into your house.

Oh I wish. Just one hug and I’m outta here.

Forgive my weakness, Lord.

She let him pull her into his arms and envelope her. Ah…it felt so good. So right. So warm. She’d missed this, Lord. She really had.

Pull away now, Ethel. He’s feeling you up.

 Her head was obviously thinking straighter than her heart and her hormones.

She began to pull away but his grip on her was firm, caressing.

“A peck on the cheek please,” he whispered, huskily.

Ethel was afraid of what her neighbors would think seeing her locked in a seemingly passionate embrace with a man. Even though her front yard was dark she wasn’t too comfortable, so she reached up to plant a quick peck on his cheek.

And then he did something. He turned his head so slightly and her lips touched his. A shiver of apprehension sailed through her body as her lips began to part, slowly.

 

To be continued next week…

 

by Mimi Adebayo