SAY CHEESE

“SAY CHEESE”

She looked lovingly into his eyes as she said “I do” to the man of her dreams. She floated in and out of the moment and could barely hear the thunderous applause and jubilation that followed the Priests “you may kiss the bride”. As she signed the statutory “Form E”, and St Joseph’s Marriage Certificate, she smiled. Her life had fallen into place at last.

Her billionaire husband, Ernest, was a good man and she had not felt the need to saddle him with tales of her morally bankrupt past or the tales of her hood and the gang. Like Pilate, she had washed off the blood, but with more than five million naira. She had nothing to fear anymore as she would be living in Germany with her husband.

At the end of the signing, they poured out onto the stairs of Saint Joseph’s Cathedral to take pictures. The sun shone in great splendour and the diamond stones on her immaculate white gown which was hand-made, sparkled with blinding brilliance. She was a beautiful bride. She looked at Ernest and smiled as she saw the light in his eyes, and love dancing on his face as he held her left hand and caressed the ring finger where the three carat, heart shaped diamond nestled in it’s setting on the ring.

“Just the couple”, she heard the photographer saying and the friends and relatives dispersed. “Sellout Photography” was one of the best and had charged a fortune, but was worth every penny. The dark young photographer who always exhibited professionalism was wearing a suit and could have passed for the groom. “Stay still and say cheeeeese”, the young man instructed cheerfully after showing them a pose. The couple broke into smiles, filled with promises of the future.

He looked into the telescope and adjusted it till his main focus was on the bride. He knew how important the day was to her and he had to take a perfect shot. He also knew that the red background would contrast nicely with her white. When he got the exact focus he needed, he clicked.

She saw the light from the shutter of the photographer and almost immediately, felt a sudden pressure just below her left breast and sensed herself falling and unable to stop herself till she landed on her back. She clutched the place she had felt the pressure and then bolts of searing pain engulfed her. She was in a state of total confusion as she looked about. There was pandemonium, and everyone was scrambling about. The photographer’s equipment was scattered on the ground and she could hear the loud crack of gunshots from Ernest’s security men. She felt warm liquid and brought the fingers she had been nursing the pain with to her face and saw the red liquid. She opened her mouth to scream, but could only let out guttural groans.

He was right about the red background. The sea of blood had engulfed part of her white gown and made a beautiful bloody contrast. This one was for his sisters death, it was personal. He saw the security men firing shots randomly into the air. He had few minutes before they would cross the street and make their way to the uncompleted three storey building he was aiming from. He quickly packed the M24 and made his way down the flight of stairs, into the waiting sedan and sped away with the gang.

The sun shone into her still eyes and the wind echoed the wails of her family and well wishers, while Ernest sat on the floor and stared into space, utterly dumbstruck.

WHITE PAIN

“WHITE PAIN

I looked at the white tablets on my palm while reading the instruction leaflet again. I silently wished that the effect would be quick.

This was the worst moment of my life. I could not imagine deteriorating to this extent and I knew I was to blame. All the signs were there and I could have spoken to someone about it, but I chose to hide it. The only solution was in my palm and I had to end the pain. I wore gloom like a dress and I was sure that most people around me were burnt when they reached out to me, yet deep within me, there was no warmth. There was just cold and pain. A pain that I could end.

I popped the tablets into my mouth and swallowed it down with the sachet water near the plates of food on my table. I lay back my bed, took one sweeping glance around my room and shut my eyes. I would soon be at peace.

I felt the back of a palm on my neck but I felt too dizzy to open my eyes. “Amanda!”, a familiar voice called out harshly. I let out a low grunt and slowly opened my eye and saw mother’s questioning look from the plates of food back to my face. “Mummy, I do not have appetite”, I whimpered. “I will vomit if I eat”, I added in defence. “Yes, vomit it”, she snapped while helping me to an upright position. She uncovered the plates of food on the table, washed her hands. She rolled the garri in her palm dipped it into the egusi soup and forced the morsels down my mouth while I swallowed grudgingly.

Next, I saw my mother’s brows furrowed and pupils dilated. She had the packet of the tablets that I had just taken in her left hand. I quickly shut my eyes. “Amanda! Do you want to kill me?” She cried. I shook my head slowly. “So, you took your Malaria drugs without eating! how many times have I told you to eat before taking your drugs?” “Do you want to destroy your kidney?”…

The End.

“LIFE IS FLEETING”

LIFE IS FLEETING

The year was 2013. He had just won the male version of his faculty’s beauty pageantry, he was the king. He was now recognised in events and social gatherings all over campus. Girls smiled at him whenever he passed by. He got invited to more events and even got the celebrity treatment. Everyone wanted selfies with him, life was beautiful.


The year was 2015. He had just won yet another beauty crown now at campus level. Now, he was not just a campus celebrity, he also got invites to events in other schools. He was recognised in the state by fashion and media houses. He was called to grace many events. He had more girls than he ever thought was possible, life was beautiful.


The year was 2017, he was now a force to be reckoned with on campus. His face was a free pass to any event. Anybody who wanted to contest for the Students’ Union Government positions, paid a courtesy visit to him. He was a powerful member of the inner caucus of the school’s ruling clique. His grades were excellent, he had no worries, life was beautiful.


The year is 2019. He has bills to pay. He has a family to lead till the next generation. He has a career to build. It all seemed to have ended so quickly he reflected, as he sat before his laptop and relieved all those memories, clicking on picture after picture, feeling once more how powerful and invincible he felt then. He smiled and then quickly frowned as he remembered those friends who were with him those years and weren’t with him now. What had seemed to last forever all those years were now nothing but images on his memory and his laptop. He remembered the friends he lost to death and those he lost to the hustle and bustle of life.


The point is – Life is fleeting. Smile more, laugh harder, travel more, show a little more kindness, live each moment with joy and happiness. Take pictures, make videos, create memories. Think before you say anything to anybody because this breath that you draw as you read this article is never coming back. This hour, minute, and second, isn’t coming back. Every day is a gift, make it count. Life is Beautiful..


ALAS!!!! WE GREW UP

©EMEH FRANCIS STAINZ
©DAH LONEWOLF
©STAINEDSCROLL
©2019-11-18

Wild Waters

“WILD WATERS”

So, this is an informal letter, to you, my dear friend.


I was supposed to start with my address.
But I like to think that I reside somewhere in the ‘deep’, of your heart.
What should come next is, “Dear. . . (and then, your name)”.
But, I’ve addressed you as ‘dear’ already (please, refer to paragrah one).
Well, what remains now to complete this informality is your name.
I shall call you ‘Sailor’.

Dear Sailor,
‘Pon this Space, your ship crashed.
T’was an accident you claim! Tueh! I do not buy it.
There are no accidents in the skies.
The stars lent us their lights,
But men killed the lights with their laws.

Dear Sailor,
‘Pon this Island, shall a new vessel be built.
A Skyboat or a Waterplane or even the Ark that was Noah’s.
Selene’s smile shall guide our hands as we join timbers with steel
And hammer the still night away.

When dawn awakens, men shall mock
The beautiful mess of nails and woods
That bear testament to night’s toil.
Men shall doubt that this ship would sail, shall doubt that the sun is fire. .
But, I prithee, do not be anguished,
For even the Great Birnam Wood didst to high Dunsinane Hill, march.

Ahoy Sailor..!
Nature shall bear witness as we sail away in nautical bliss,
With our scars as map and beating hearts as compass..
Till in Fiddler’s Green, we doth anchor.

Yours, in Wild Waters and Still Seas,
Amazon..

WINGS

“WINGS”

Richard looked himself over on the full length mirror on the wall of his brightly lit room and smiled satisfactorily. His boo-boo, as he fondly called his partner would be delighted to see him when they went on their date tonight. He had paired the dark blue jean trousers he wore with a white, tight fitting, turtlenecked polo that did nothing to hide his biceps or pectorals. He wore the latest white Nike air max that boo-boo had gifted him on his birthday last weekend.

While he waited, he picked up his can of deodorant and began to sing. He had been blessed with a beautiful voice and he still did pretend concerts where he was the star singer at his age of twenty five. While he sang Estelles “Conqueror”, his mind couldn’t help but wander back to his childhood, when he was a chorister at St. Lukes Church. He remembered Uncle Peter and Sister Rosaline, their choir instructors.

He would never forget the life changing discussion he had had with Uncle Pee as they had fondly called Uncle Peter. Uncle Pee, who was also their neighbour had walked him home as usual after a late practice on a Friday evening and had asked him if he was still a virgin. He was only twelve and he nodded shyly. Uncle Pee had laughed and told him that he was already a man and should know the ways of men. He promised to teach him and instructed him not to tell a soul, because real men kept secrets and if he ever told anyone, he would never become a real man. Little Rich who believed everything Uncle Pee taught him, immediately agreed as he wanted to be a real man.

The next day, Uncle Pee had taken him out and made good his promise. He bought him ice cream on their way home and patted him on the back when he left him in front of his door. Richard told his mother the next day that he wouldn’t go to church as he was not feeling fine. The truth was that he was not sure he could sit for a long time on the wooden pew, after everything Uncle Pee had taught him the previous day.

Richards musical concert was interrupted by the bell. He checked the peephole and it was boo-boo. He quickly opened the door. “Wow, aren’t you looking beautiful tonight!” Vincent exclaimed as he came in through the door and leaned in for a hug and a kiss with Richard.

The End.

NATIVE MOON

“NATIVE MOON

It was the heart of the rainy season and I was excited tonight during the heavy down pour accompanied by ear splitting claps of thunder. I had it all planned. Once the rain stopped, I would go alone to the ukwu ube ojii, the local pear tree, to pick the fruits that I was sure would have littered the ground. The parents of other children would surely not let their kids out of the house around 11pm, but my parents wouldn’t mind. Father wouldn’t be back until around 1am, smelling of kai-kai, spirits, and Mother would be fast asleep after a long day working at the farm. I would sell my ube and then I would finally have enough money to buy a new sandal for school and a new catapult for Saturdays ichu osa, squirrel chase, with my friends.

This night was also particularly exciting because the moon was full and I would be able to see the grounds clearly. I waited till the rain stopped and it was almost 11:25pm when I raced through the now muddy desire path leading to the tree, which was not so far from my house.

No one was there and to my delight, the fruits lay on the ground like fallen soldiers after a lost battle. I quickly separated the two, five gallon painters buckets I had come with and began picking as fast as I could. I was so lost in my new occupation that I didn’t notice when I had company. As I stood to check who it was, I discovered that it was Nwanyi otu ukwu, the one legged woman. She hopped about with a walking stick and we sometimes tried to imitate her. She lived all alone and had no relations that anyone knew of. Everyone called her Mama and Nwanyi otu ukwu behind her back. “Mama, Good evening “, I greeted. “Ehen, nwam”, Yes, my child, came the familiar throaty reply. “Kedu maka ndi be unu?” How are your family members? she enquired further. “Ha di nma”, They’re fine, I responded. I had finished with the first bucket and decided to also quickly fill the second, so I could help Nwanyi otu ukwu fill the basket she came with.

Just then, something caught my eye and registered in my brain and I froze for a few seconds before bolting out like lightening, dashing down the desire path, clutching my heart in my hands and making my way to the safety of the corrugated iron roof of my father’s house. I didn’t care if the way I shoved the door open, shut and locked it behind me woke mother or my brothers. I ran to the room and sat on my mat, drew my knees to my chest and wrapped my hand around myself. My skin felt warm despite the cold and the darkness couldn’t cover my fright.

My mind couldn’t help but wander back to the ukwu ube and Nwanyi otu ukwu. She had changed her position from where she had bent while picking, to another part of the ground and I looked into her basket and saw that she was not picking the fruits. She was picking the leaves which she carefully arranged, putting one against the other. I was still contemplating on the strangeness of it, when I realised two other things. Firstly, she did not support herself with her stick when she bent the first time. In fact, I could not see her walking stick around. Secondly, she did not hop to the other part of the ground. She had not even walked to it. She had floated to it.

As I drowned in my thoughts, the deep rumble of thunder brought me back to the pitch black reality of the room. Our clock chimed at the stroke of midnight and I could hear a dog barking in the distance. I lay down quickly and shut my eyes as I heard the loud banging and cursing from Father outside the door and the fall of the rain on the roof like the clash of machetes.

The End.


CUP OF TEA

“Cup of Tea”

He opened the sachet of Otapiapia, a rat poison and poured it into the ‘tea’ which was basically a cocoa and milk mixture. This particular type of Otapiapia was odourless and he hoped the effect would be as instantaneous as the seller had chanted.

She was lying on her back on the charcoal black leather sofa with her head resting on it’s arm. Her focus was on the movie showing on the African Magic Channel. She silently prayed that the Princess would not step on the juju placed at her entrance door the night before by her wicked step mother.

He served her the tea with bread and quietly retreated to his room. He lay back on his bed and tried to force himself back to the sleep he had been forcefully roused from, just to boil water to brew tea for his elder sister. In his fourteen years of life, he had come to have an ambivalent feeling of love and dislike for his sister, with the scale tilting heavily towards dislike with each new chore or task she made him carry out, while reminding him that she was the Ada, the first daughter and that she nursed him and so he must do her biddings!. She was just twenty one. He let his mind wander to the time the poison would take effect and how she would scream and call his name and he would pretend to be asleep, all the while, relishing the cries of her painful moribundity.

Her mind and eyes were still focused on the flat screen television on the wall, The Princess stepped on the juju, just as she lifted the plastic cup by it’s handle and took a gulp of the cocoa and milk mixture. At that instant, the world seemed to pause. She spat back into the cup. “Jesus”! she screamed out loud. She felt her tongue burn and scrapped her teeth over her tongue to ease the pain. “Chinenerem!”, she screamed his name, but got no response in return. She ran to his room, shook him awake and shouted on him. “Do you want to kill me? that tea was so hot that it could de-feather a chicken!” She ranted and cussed. She then instructed him to pour the tea away and boil another water so that she could make another one herself.

Getting to the kitchen sink to pour it away, he could still see remnants of the first poisoned milky mixture in the drain. He poured the second one into the drain and rinsed the cup. As he went to tell her that the hot water was ready, he saw her scratching her tongue with her teeth, with her brows furrowed in fury. She shot him an accusatory glance in acknowledgment. He smiled satisfactorily in his room and thought about her tongue and tried not to feel sorry for her. It wasn’t his tongue and so wasn’t his cup of tea. He shut his eyes and launched into another fantasy. This one involving her, a knife and some blood.