May 6, 2019 · 9:21 am
Mom and I were at the Saturday market in Epe town. She bought some pepper, onions and spices. Our next stop was the fish market which was by the lagoon. Some fishermen tied their boats to the wooden pier and brought in their catch for the day to the market. We stopped by the table of a young woman selling fish, crabs and snails. Mom pointed at some fish and the fish seller set them aside. While mom haggled with the fish seller, I looked around at the other fish sellers in the market. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an elderly woman watching me. She regarded me for a while, then she stood up and started walking towards me. As she got closer to me, she kept her gaze on me and it made me uncomfortable. I moved close to mom and held her hand.
The woman came over to where we stood but her eyes never left me. There was something about her eyes. I had seen that look before when I read dad’s books about the southern parts of the country, where the oil companies had damaged the ecosystem, poisoning millions of fish with oil spills, turning fertile farmlands into a dark, depressing, barren wilderness. The woman grinned at me but her eyes were cold, lifeless, like…dead fish.
The woman spoke almost in a whisper. “Good morning.” She pointed her head at me. “Do you know that your daughter is from the sea?”
Mom regarded the woman in silence.
“Do you know that they want her back?”
The fish seller handed over mom’s fish purchase and mom dropped it inside her market bag. Mom gave me a ‘shut-your-mouth look,’ then began walking away from the woman. But the woman followed and caught up with us.
“Is what I am telling you strange?” the woman asked.
Mom looked around to see if anyone was listening to what the woman was saying. Nobody seemed to pay us any attention.
Mom’s face was creased with concern. “Why won’t you people just leave me alone? What do you want from me?” mom asked.
“I do not want anything from you. I wanted to let you know that if you do not return her, there will be consequences,” the woman whispered.
Mom seized the woman by the hand. “Have I not suffered enough? What consequences are you talking about? When will this torment come to an end?”
The woman was silent.
“Please tell me how to stop this. I have suffered a lot because of my daughter. It has been one calamity after another. My husband left me when he found out that she was a gift from the ocean goddess. What should I do?”
The woman regarded mom with some intensity. “Your daughter is too powerful to live with you.”
Mom looked confused. “You keep talking about her powers but she has never shown any powers. She is a normal child,” mom lied. Mom knew I had some powers. She knew this since the day I brought in a squid into the house.
The woman knelt down on one knee so that our eyes were on the same level. “Lara, you speak to fish, don’t you? I know you do. They know you are here. They feel you. They hear you.” She stood up and spread her hands towards the fish market. “Speak to them.” Continue reading →
January 31, 2019 · 10:39 am
Water Girl. Chapter 1.
The first time it happened I was five years old. I was playing in the garden with my dolls. I was surrounded by the sweet scent of jasmine and rose. Mangoes pregnant with ripeness, were weighing down the branches of the mango tree, pulling them to the ground. I stood up, grabbed a mango, changed my mind and returned to my dolls. I wiped the sweat of my brow with the edge of my pink dress. Mom had told me not to do that again, but I did it. I heard a noise and I looked up. It was like a screen opened before my eyes and I entered another dimension. The garden disappeared and I saw a wall of water towering above me. I looked up at it in wonder. I was not scared, rather I was curious and reached out to touch it. The water poured over me and I was submerged in it. It felt strange but I was breathing normally under the water. I saw sea creatures I had never seen before, even in my story books. I bent down to pick up my dolls but couldn’t find them. I turned around and that was when I realised that the house was no longer behind me. I called out for mom. Moments later I woke up with mom and dad kneeling beside me. Mom was crying. “They have come to take away my daughter from me,” she said. “My enemies have come to take her away,” she wept.
Dad said nothing. His eyes were alert behind his glasses. He had a puzzling expression on his face. He took off his glasses and wiped the sweat on his face with the back of his hand. He knelt down beside me and asked me a question.
“Lara, how did you get your clothes wet?” he looked around the garden searching for the source of the water. He didn’t find it. He turned his gaze back on me.
Until he asked me that question I had not paid attention to my dress. I looked down at my dress and it was dripping with water. I had this strange urge to lick my lips. My lips were plastered with salt. I stood up and looked around me. It looked like the sea visited me in the garden and when it retreated, it left memories of itself behind. Seaweeds hung from the mango tree, twisted around the fruits and littered the ground. There were blue, green, white, orange coloured sea shells on the spot where I had been playing with my dolls. The strong smell of sand and salt hung in the air around us. The strange thing was that we lived five miles away from the ocean. My parents took me inside the house and changed my clothes. The garden was cleaned and we never spoke about that incidence again. Then another one happened.
One day I ran into the house with excitement and showed mom what I had found as I played in the garden. Mom took a look at it and screamed. Dad ran into the sitting room, saw what was in my hand and stopped in his tracks. It was a squid, alive and wriggling in my hands. Dad took it away from me. He put it in a bucket of water, drove all the way to the lagoon and released it into the water. When he returned, dad sat me down beside him on the largest chair in the sitting room and asked me several questions which I could not answer. How did I get the squid? Where did it come from? Did someone give it to me? Did I leave the house at any time to play in the street? My parents must have come to the conclusion that their questions were futile.
Several incidents later, my parents were advised by some of their friends to seek spiritual help for my situation. They tried some churches but got tired of the pastors pushing me down to make me give up my powers. They decided to take me to a juju priest who lived in the forest. We drove outside Lagos, parked our car in a village and were led by two men into the forest. After an hour of following them through narrow forest paths, we arrived at the hut of a juju priest. It was built on a large clearing in the forest. The priest made me sit before him on the earthen floor while he consulted the oracle. He held some cowries stringed together by a white thread. He threw them on the floor before him. After looking at the cowries for several minutes, the expression on his face began to change into concern. He shook his head and glanced at me in disbelief. Finally he set the cowries aside with trembling hands. He looked up at my parents with terror in his eyes.
“I cannot help you. This is beyond me. Take this child away and leave my house,” he said. My mom quickly grabbed my hand and pulled me up. As we left the hut, he shouted after us. “And do not bring her back here.” Continue reading →
May 15, 2018 · 8:28 am
Shade saw murder in Soleye’s eyes. With what she had seen tonight in his home, Soleye would not let her walk out of his home alive. She glanced at Uche and Agnes standing by the car. If she didn’t do something Uche would die and she would be responsible for her death.
‘Get out of the car,’ Soleye ordered.
The events that brought her to this moment played in her head like a movie. She had been driven by her greed and accepted a gift from Soleye. She thought it was harmless but apparently it wasn’t. If she had told her fiancée about the gift he could have saved her from all this trouble. Now she had put herself in danger and also brought her best friend into a trap. She had to make things right even if it cost her life.
‘What are you doing?’ Soleye barked. ‘I said you should get out of the car.’
Shade shut her eyes and uttered a prayer. ‘Lord, forgive me for what I did.’ When she opened her eyes, she turned to Soleye with a determination that made the cultist take a step backward.
She pressed the ignition button. ‘I am done being scared of you. I am leaving your house and I am taking my friends along with me.’
Rage spread on the deacon’s face like an ugly rash. ‘How dare you talk to me like that?’ He turned the gun on Uche and Agnes. ‘Shade, you will do as I say or you will watch your friends die before you.’
There was a loud bang on the gate. ‘Open this gate,’ someone shouted. Soleye and the security guard turned away from the women to see what was happening at the gate. Shade saw Uche reach behind her back and pull out the knife she took from the scene of the ritual. The security guard never saw it coming. The knife struck him from behind. He gasped in pain, fell to his knees and hit the paved ground with his head. Uche threw the case containing the money coming at Soleye. The case hit him on the waist. As he fell down he dropped the gun, it went off and a bullet hit the car.
‘Open this gate,’ the person at the gate shouted louder.
Soleye stood up, took one look at the guard on the ground and fled inside the house.
‘Shade, are you okay?’ Uche asked as she came around to the driver’s side.
‘I will be fine,’ Shade said. ‘That could be Kola at the gate. You should open it.’ Uche put the case in the trunk of the car. She turned to Agnes. ‘Find out who is at the gate. Open it if it is Kola.’ Agnes nodded.
Uche looked in the direction that Soleye fled.
‘Uche, don’t go into the house,’ Shade warned.
‘Are you coming with me or not?’ Uche asked.
Shade got out of the car. Uche picked up the gun, brought out the magazine, checked it and put it back in the gun. Shade regarded her friend with suspicion. Apparently there were many things she didn’t know about the intercessor. Uche kept the gun in the glove compartment of Shade’s car.
As she followed Uche into the building Shade couldn’t resist the urge. She had to know. ‘Uche, have you ever used a gun?’ Shade asked the former prostitute.
Uche took a breath. ‘Shade, there are things I have done that I am not proud of, things I didn’t want to share with you because they would not edify you. This is not the time or place to talk about such things. I promise you that when we get out of this situation I will tell you whatever you wish to know about my past. We should go after that man before he escapes.’ Uche entered the house. Shade stayed at a safe distance behind her. They entered the kitchen and found the back door to the kitchen open. ‘It looks like he ran to the servant quarters at the back.’
Suddenly Shade buckled at the knees and fell against the door.
‘Are you okay?’ Uche asked.
Shade touched her right thigh and her fingers returned smeared with blood.
‘You are hurt,’ Uche examined the wound. ‘This is a bullet wound.’ Blood flowed down the right side of her dress and dripped on the white kitchen tiles.
Shade gritted her teeth and pushed away from the wall. ‘I will be fine,’ she said in agony.
‘Shade, you have to take care of this wound. You don’t have to come with me. I can handle that dwarf on my own.’
Shade shook her head and looked at her friend in the eye. ‘No, I have to do this. It began with me. I must end it.’
Uche put a hand on her friend’s shoulder. ‘You don’t have to prove anything to me. This could be dangerous. I don’t want you to get hurt.’
‘I want to do this,’ Shade insisted.
Uche moved towards the back door, paused and turned to Shade. ‘To answer your question: yes, I have used a gun before.’
‘You have used a gun?’ Shade shook her head in disbelief. ‘What kind of life did you live?’ Shade wondered.
‘The dangerous kind,’ Uche forced a smile.
There was a sound above them. Both women looked up.
‘He is upstairs,’ Uche said. Continue reading →
March 19, 2018 · 5:00 am
Uche Okpara came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. Shade regarded her with suspicion as she changed into her clothes. ‘What are we going to do?’ she asked.
Uche regarded Soleye who was groaning in pain. She bent down and examined his wound. ‘He will live,’ she said. She entered the bathroom, searched the closet and found a first-aid kit. She brought out a small scissors. Shade regarded her with suspicion as she returned with the scissors and moved in the direction of Soleye.
‘What do you want to do with that?’ she asked.
Uche stood for a moment in contemplation. She cut a strip of cloth from the bed sheet she discarded and turned to Shade. ‘Don’t just stand there, make yourself useful.’ Shade stood there not knowing what Uche wanted to do.
‘Help me lift him to a sitting position and rest his back on the wall.’
Moments later Uche admired the work of her hands. Soleye was bound hand and foot like a goat about to be sacrificed on an evil altar. He opened his eyes and saw the ladies standing over him. ‘You ladies don’t know what you are playing with,’ he smirked. ‘If anything happens to me you will be haunted down until you are disposed like animals.’
Suddenly Uche stepped forward and slapped him hard. He fell and hit his head on the floor. Blood oozed from his mouth. ‘Pick him up,’ Uche instructed Shade. Soleye was placed back in a sitting position. He spat out the blood in his mouth and laughed. ‘Before this night is over you will beg me for death but I will not grant your request.’ He turned his attention to Shade. ‘If you know what is good for you, remove these restraints and let me go and I will allow you keep your pretty face for your boyfriend,’ he threatened.
Shade turned to Uche. ‘I think we should let him go. I don’t want to be involved in this. I can’t do…’
‘Shut up!’ Uche said, cutting Shade off. ‘Your chattering is driving me nuts. I need to think.’
Uche tore another piece of the bed sheet and tied Soleye’s mouth. ‘That should keep you silent.’ She looked around the room and her eyes rested on the door which led to the other room. She opened the door and stepped into the room. Shade followed her.
‘What are you doing?’ Shade asked.
Soleye’s bloodshot eyes followed them.
There were occultic materials strewn across the room. There was a safe in the left hand corner. Uche stepped over the objects on the floor and knelt before the safe. She pulled at the handle. It opened. She looked inside the safe and turned back to Shade. ‘You should see this,’ she said with a smile. Shade bent down and took a peek into the safe. It was filled with bundles of dollar bills.
‘My God!’ she stepped back.
Uche regarded the money for a moment. ‘This is our reward for what that beast tried to do to us.’ She stood up, went into the bedroom and returned with a small briefcase. She threw the case open before the safe, knelt down and began to fill it up with money.
‘What are you doing?’ Shade asked.
‘What does it look like I am doing?’ Uche continued loading the briefcase. It seemed like the case wouldn’t contain all the money. ‘Make yourself useful and find me another case.’
Shade did not move.
Uche raised her voice. ‘Are you deaf? Why are you still standing there? I said you should get me another case from the bedroom,’ Uche said.
‘I can’t do this…this is wrong. This is stealing,’ Shade said.
Uche set the case aside and stood up from the floor. She regarded Shade in annoyance. ‘Let me tell you what is wrong. What is wrong is that diminutive man using charms to bring us to his house without our consent. It is called kidnapping and it is a crime, punishable by law. What is wrong is that evil man trying to use us both for a ritual but somehow we survived it. What is wrong is being drugged, stripped naked, placed on top of his bed and doing God knows what to me. What is wrong is this man touching my body without my permission and trying to rape me. That is what is wrong.’ She picked up a bundle of dollar notes. ‘This money is God’s way of compensating us for the horrors we were subjected to at the hands of Soleye. This isn’t wrong,’ she waved the money at Shade’s face. ‘This is the right thing to do to him. We will take every note in this safe and when we are done here, I will leave him my calling card, a small gift to make him remember me. The next time he sees me coming, that is if he lives through tonight, he will cross over to the other side of the road and scurry away like a scared animal.’ Continue reading →
February 12, 2018 · 3:30 am
Uche Okpara drifted in and out of consciousness. Her mind went back to her former life, the life she lived before the Lord saved her. Was this punishment for her past sins, she wondered. It made her laugh when her team members called her a general of intercession. If only they knew to what depths of depravity she had descended before the Lord saved her they wouldn’t call her a general. She was more like a corporal or a recruit in the army of God. She never discussed her past because she wanted to forget it. But it seemed like it kept coming back to her. Everywhere she turned she saw a reminder of what she used to be, she saw the life the Lord saved her from. And she was eternally grateful to God for His mercies.
Uche worked at a fashion house as a designer during the day but at night she transformed herself into a woman of the night called Trinity. She got the name from watching the movie ‘Matrix’ and she liked it. Her favourite spot to pick up customers was at the bar beach in Lagos island. Selling her body was not the only thing she did. Uche organised criminals to raid the houses of her clients. When she was not selling sex or robbing her rich clients, Trinity sold drugs.
She had no remorse. Everything she did was a business transaction. A powerful politician asked her over to his home to render her services. When she was done, the man refused to pay her and told her to leave his house. The next day she dressed in the most revealing clothes she could find and waited for him at the lobby of his office. The staff walked past her casting curious glances at her. She ignored them all. When her client of the previous night arrived, he saw her and his face fell. He entered his office and asked his secretary to usher her into his office. As soon as the door was shut behind his secretary he jumped out of his swivel chair. ‘Trinity, have you gone crazy? What are you doing here dressed like this? This is my office. I have very important friends who come here to do business with me.’
‘I will come here every day until you pay me for my services. And if you don’t, I will visit your golf club. I am sure your friends would like to know who I am and what I do,’ she said.
The man wiped a drop of sweat from his forehead. ‘Are you threatening me?’ he asked.
‘What does it sound like?’ Trinity asked.
He pointed a finger at her. ‘Listen you worthless piece of…’
She slapped down his finger. ‘Shut up and pay me my money or I will go to the front of your office and start shouting,’ Trinity said.
The man rushed to a desk, brought out a wad of dollar notes and threw them at her. ‘Please, don’t come back here again,’ he pleaded.
Trinity counted the notes. ‘Thank you for the tip,’ she turned and walked out of his office.
She was a lost soul. Wickedness held her in its claws. The night she encountered Christ, a man walked up to her and gave her a tract. She wanted to throw it away but something made her stuff it in her bag. That night as her client slept beside her, she reached to take a pack of cigarettes from her bag and her fingers touched the tract. She brought it out and read it. As soon as she got to the end of the four page tract, the man lying beside her woke up, got out of bed and went out of the room.
He returned with two men and they wanted to rape her. One line in the tract came to her mind, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ As she struggled with the men she had a conversation with God.
‘Lord, if you deliver me from these men, I will serve you for the rest of my life. I will stop selling my body for money and I will like a holy life.’ She had no idea what she meant by those words but she wanted God to help her in that situation.
Suddenly a phone rang. The man left Uche alone and answered the call. Uche crawled to one side of the bed and awaited her fate.
‘The boss wants to see us now,’ the man with the phone said.
‘Right now? It is 3am,’ another man said.
‘Yes. He said we should come to his house right now.’
One man took her clothes and threw them at her. ‘Get dressed and get out of my house.’ He regarded her with anger as she struggled into her clothes. ‘You must serve a powerful God because He just saved you tonight,’ he said with disgust.
The man didn’t know how right he was. God delivered Uche from their hands. As soon as she got back to her apartment she prayed and asked God to save her soul.
Seven years later she woke up from a trance like state to see deacon Soleye reaching for her with trembling hands like a child about to steal a piece of chicken from his mommy’s pot of soup. She shook her head to clear it but it seemed like she was drugged.
‘Please, don’t do this…please,’ she begged.
Soleye stepped back to savour his moment of victory over her. ‘Where is your God now? Where is he?’ he regarded her with disdain.
In her delirium, Uche wondered the same thing. Why did God allow her to fall into this trap? She should have known better than handle occult objects carelessly. She underestimated Soleye and his ability to hurt her. She should have called for assistance from her team members in the prayer group but her pride brought her to this horrible place. She prayed in her mind and asked the Lord for strength.
Soleye’s hands touched her body.
She screamed. Continue reading →
January 8, 2018 · 5:00 am
Shade and Deacon Soleye struggled with the limp body of Uche up the stairs, entered a room and laid her on the floor. Soleye wiped some sweat off his face as he regarded the woman lying on the floor.
‘You did good,’ he said. ‘You followed my instructions to the letter.’
Shade nodded looking at Uche Okpara on the floor.
Soleye looked at his watch. ‘Now we must hurry,’ he said.
He went around the room making incantations, preparing his deity to receive the sacrifice he had brought for her. After a while he stopped and turned to her.
‘Shade, go and wait for me downstairs.’
Shade didn’t move from where she stood.
‘I said you should go downstairs and wait for me in the sitting room.’
Shade regarded her friend lying on the floor. She pointed at the limp figure of the intercessor. ‘What…what do you want to do to her?’ she asked.
Soleye gave her an angry stare. ‘That is none of your business. You are in no position to ask me questions.’
Shade was silent.
‘Do you remember what happened to you two nights ago?’ he asked.
‘If you don’t obey me, your boyfriend will not recognise you when he sees you.’
She covered her mouth in fear. ‘Please don’t hurt me.’ Fear shrouded her face.
Soleye pointed at the door. ‘Go now,’ he ordered.
Shade hurried out of the room.
Soleye regarded Uche’s helpless form on the floor like an abandoned baby left at the doorstep of an orphanage.
‘With all your boasting look at where your faith has brought you,’ he hissed in contempt. ‘Where is your God with whom you boast? Where is he?’ he asked. He stepped towards her and caressed her face, stroked her hair and ran his fingers down her neck. He grinned. ‘In a moment you will become my slave for the rest of your life. Nothing can stop me now,’ he said.
His demonic laughter bellowed through the house.
Shade shivered with fear as she heard the insane laughter of Soleye bounce around the walls of the house. She sat down not knowing what to do. In her mind she had flashes of the prayer Uche had taught her to use against satanic bondage. She recalled a few lines but her lips could not pronounce the words that floated in her mind. She struggled and finally uttered some incoherent words.
What had come over her to help Soleye ensnare Uche with the necklace? Why had she listened to Soleye’s instructions? She felt disoriented and lost. As far as she could tell, Uche Okpara wasn’t the only prisoner in Soleye’s lair. She was also a prisoner. Continue reading →
November 20, 2017 · 4:00 am
‘Do you want to tell me where you were on Friday night?’ Kola asked.
Shade looked at her hands in silencel.
‘We can’t go on like this. If you are not willing to tell me where you were maybe you are not ready for this wedding.’
‘I don’t remember what happened,’ she said. ‘I spaced out and remember waking up on my bed.’ This was not completely accurate, but she wasn’t going to tell Kola about Soleye until she had some solid evidence to show him. If she told Kola a part of the story he may take matters into his own hands. She loved Kola and she didn’t want to see him rot away in prison for attempted murder. She wished she could tell him what Soleye did to her and allow him beat the living daylights out of that evil man. But she didn’t have any proof. But today at the luncheon she hoped to get some proof.
Kola regarded her with concern. ‘This has never happened before. Do you think you should see a doctor?’
Shade nodded her head from side to side. ‘No. That won’t be necessary. It was probably some hormonal imbalance caused by my monthly flow.’
‘Are you sure about this?’ Kola asked.
‘Yes, I am. I didn’t want to alarm you yesterday that was why I didn’t tell you what happened.’ She reached out and touched his hand, looking into his eyes. ‘I know how much you love me and would do anything to protect me.’
‘I still think you should see a doctor,’ Kola insisted.
There was a knock on the window of the car. It was Uche Okpara. ‘Shade please come with me. The pastor wants to see you.’
‘I will see you at your place tomorrow after work,’ Shade leaned over, gave Kola a kiss and got out of the car. She and Uche walked towards the church were people gathered in small groups chatting after the church service.
‘What did you tell him?’ Uche asked.
‘I told him that I must have slept off at home.’
‘Do you think he believed you?’
‘With Kola you can never be sure what is going on in his mind. He keeps thinking about a matter long after it is over just to make sure he didn’t miss anything. Of all the people I met it was the one with the inquisitive mind that I decided to marry,’ Shade said.
‘God works in mysterious ways,’ Uche said. ‘This man is good for you. He will make sure you don’t get carried away by strange gifts of jewellery from strange men,’ Uche chastised her friend.
‘Speak of the devil,’Shade said looking beyond Uche.
‘Good morning, ladies. Are you ready for the love feast at my house?’
Uche turned around. It was deacon Soleye.
A frown creased Uche’s face like a white man eating bitter leaf soup for the first time.
Soleye brought out the blue bed sheets that the cult leader had given him. The leader assured him that these sheets were special. He had immersed them in charms for weeks. Soleye removed the old sheets and spread the blue one on the bed. His wife was returning from China on Tuesday afternoon. By then he should have completed his assignment.
The leader had promised him that the blue sheets would get the job done.
‘What will happen to the sacrifice?’ he asked.
‘You don’t have to bother yourself about that. Your business is to make sure the woman lies with you on the bed. The rest is mine to worry about,’ the man said.
He opened the first door of the wardrobe and it led to a secret room. Inside were various charms, amulets and effigies scattered around the room. He picked an amulet, wore it under his clothes. He muttered some incantations, opened the black pot on the floor and brought out a small tortoise tied with seven cowries and red pieces of cloth. He lifted the tortoise and looked at it to make sure it was still alive. The charm would be useless if the creature was not alive. He returned to the bedroom, lifted the bed and kept the tortoise under the mattress. He looked around the room with some satisfaction on his face. ‘Now to make sure I bring the sacrifice to the altar.’ He rubbed his hands together and left the room. Continue reading →
November 6, 2017 · 5:00 am
‘You have to let Kola know what is going on. You shouldn’t keep this to yourself. If he finds out on his own it may destroy your relationship.’
Shade regarded her friend for a moment. ‘You want me to tell my fiancé that I spent the night in the home of a cultist but nothing happened? Kola will never believe me. This is the end of my marriage plans,’ Shade sobbed.
Uche placed a hand on her shoulder. ‘I know this is hard for you but the best thing for you to do would be to come clean, be totally honest with him.’
Shade looked at her friend. ‘Honesty cannot work in this matter. If I tell Kola that I was in that man’s house, I cannot predict his reaction. He may drive down to his house and confront him.’
‘That wouldn’t be a bad idea,’ Uche said. ‘That short man should get his butt kicked for what he attempted last night. I can see him running away from Kola, totally scared out of his evil mind,’ Uche said.
Both women burst out laughing.
Shade wiped the tears from her eyes as she laughed. ‘Uche, you have such a dark sense of humour. I can imagine Kola using him as a punching bag.’
‘At least I made you laugh,’ Uche said.
‘I love Kola very much. I don’t want anything to come between us. He has not called me since he dropped me off at my place. I am afraid that this situation is irredeemable.’
Uche’s phone rang. She looked at the caller. It was pastor Cornelius Akanbi.
She covered the mouthpiece and whispered ‘pastor’ to Shade.
‘How are you doing?’ the pastor began.
‘I am fine sir. Thank God.’
‘All the group leaders in the church have been invited to a love feast at Deacon Soleye’s place tomorrow after the church service,’ her pastor said.
Uche had always suspected that her pastor was spiritually immature. Now he had succeeded in eliminating all remaining doubt from her mind. Inviting all the heads of department of the church to a luncheon at Soleye’s home was the height of spiritual irresponsibility. How could a man who called himself a pastor be so blind that he couldn’t see that the man organising the luncheon was the enemy of Christ? It bothered her deeply that a pastor who was supposed to watch over the sheep was sending them all to the slaughter in the house of their mortal enemy.
‘Uche, are you there?’ the pastor asked. Continue reading →
October 9, 2017 · 6:00 am
Shade felt the warm rays of the sun caress her face and her eyes flickered open. She turned her head away from the sun and saw the picture of Kola her fiancé smiling at her. Next to that picture was the picture they took on a boat in Dubai with the Burj Khalifa in the background. She had fond memories of that weekend in Dubai. She tried to smile but was rewarded with a headache.
She sat up in bed and noticed that she was still wearing the clothes from yesterday. One thing she never did was wear her work clothes to bed. She got out of the clothes, rushed into the bathroom and took a shower. Minutes later she emerged from the bathroom, did her beauty routine and put on some new clothes.
She entered the kitchen and made herself a cup of mint tea. The heat of the brew helped to clear her head. The clock on the microwave oven read 9:23am. A frown creased her face as she looked at the time. She never slept this late on a Saturday. She was supposed to be at the gym at 7:00 am, but she had missed today’s session by two hours. She pushed aside the cup of tea as concern rose up in her mind. She remembered going to Uche’s apartment. She couldn’t remember leaving it or what happened afterwards. As hard as she tried she couldn’t remember where she had been last night.
Her phone beeped and rescued her from the agony of trying to figure out where the last eight hours of her life went. It was a text from Kola, her fiancé. He was on his way to her apartment and wanted to know if she was back from the gym. She evaded the question. Yes, she was in, she ended the conversation. He had requested for a key to her apartment but she had refused. They were not yet married and until then he had no right to barge into her apartment whenever he wanted. She needed her own space where she could think her own thoughts, process freely and do as she pleased. She felt some sadness as she looked around her apartment. She would miss this apartment when she moved into Kola’s house in Magodo after they returned from their honeymoon. She had so many fond memories, secrets locked in the walls of this house. After living here for seven years, the environment, the people, sights of Surulere had become a part of her life. She wished she could keep the apartment and return to it when she needed some alone time. But society wouldn’t allow her do that. It would be regarded as an act of rebellion for a young bride to retain her former apartment. Her mother would see it as resistance to marriage or the fear of moving into an uncertain future with her husband. She stood up and touched the leaves of the plant that grew in a pot by the window. She liked the scent of the flowers when they blossomed. There were other flowers pots on the balcony but this one was special. She even gave it a name. Cher. Its flamboyant colours reminded her of the ageless, iconic rock artist.
‘Where were you last night?’ Kola asked her as he drove.
‘I was at Uche’s place then I came back home to sleep,’ Shade avoided his eyes.
Kola gave her a curious look. ‘I called your phone over ten times but it was switched off. When did you start turning off your phone? We had an agreement that our phones should always be on in case of an emergency.’
‘I must have forgotten,’ Shade said without conviction.
Suddenly Kola veered off the road and entered a gas station. He found a spot and parked the car. Shade looked at his face and feared for what was about to happen. This could very well be the end of her intended marriage to him.
Kola held the steering wheel tightly. Shade watched him.
He turned to her. ‘Shade, I am going to ask you one more time. Tell me the truth. I know you weren’t with Uche last night. I called her at 11:25pm. She said you had left her apartment and you said you were going to your mother’s place. I called your mother and she said you were not at her place.’ Kola paused and rubbed his palms together. Shade said nothing.
He continued. ‘I was tempted to call your pastor and let him know what was going on but it crossed my mind that if I brought him into the matter, there were questions I wouldn’t be able to answer. He could also tell us to call off our wedding. I didn’t want that to happen, so I didn’t call him. but if you don’t start talking to me, I will call your pastor and tell him what is going on.’
Tears came to Shade’s eyes as she listened to Kola. She saw the end of her relationship with him. She saw the wedding cancelled. She saw herself shamed out of the church. She saw herself mocked by fake and false friends who would rejoice about her break-up with Kola Owolabi. Her face would be splattered on social media platforms and people would call her mean names. Continue reading →
September 25, 2017 · 6:00 am
‘This looks so good on you,’ Uche said admiring the necklace on her friend’s neck.
Shade smiled. ‘And it is real gold,’ she said with some pride.
Uche examined the pendant that swung from the chain. She had a concerned look on her face. ‘Shade, this looks like a mermaid. Why are you wearing it?’
Shade caressed the pendant. ‘This was a Christmas gift from deacon Soleye in church. It came with a matching bracelet.’
Uche sat back in her chair. ‘Deacon Soleye gave you a necklace and bracelet as a Christmas gift? That doesn’t sound right. Why would he give you such a gift when he knows that you are already taken by another man? What did Kola your fiancé say about this?’
Shade’s eyes fell like a child who was caught lying. ‘I didn’t tell him about this.’ She lifted her head. ‘And I will really appreciate it if you kept this between us.’
Uche regarded her friend with suspicion. ‘You mean a man gave you such an expensive gift and you didn’t tell the man you are going to marry? What is going on here?’
Shade was silent for a moment, then she turned to Uche. ‘Kola is my fiancé and not my husband. We are not yet married. Should I tell him everything that goes on in my life? Shouldn’t I have some privacy?’ she asked.
Uche’s mouth hung open as she regarded her friend in shock. ‘I don’t understand. Are you telling me that the introduction and wine carrying ceremony you did in Osogbo counted for nothing? Remember that Kola was ready to go ahead with the whole wedding formalities but you said he should wait until April. Why you did that I have no idea. That guy was ready to marry you but you said he should wait and now you are saying that you want some privacy in your life? Are you really sure you want to get married? Uche asked her friend.
‘This is not what you think it is. You are taking everything out of context,’ Shade said.
‘What context? Isn’t Kola your fiancé anymore?’
‘He is but this gift has nothing to do with our…’ Shade stopped talking mid-sentence. She tilted her head away from Uche as if she was trying hard to hear something. Uche noticed the far away look she had in her eyes.
‘Shade, are you okay?’ Uche asked her.
Shade dropped the glass of orange juice she was drinking on the table. ‘I have to leave.’ She began to look around to put her things inside her bag.
Uche gave her a look. ‘Why are you leaving? You haven’t spent thirty minutes in this house.’ Shade said nothing. She was still looking around her to make sure she took all her items with her.
Uche regarded her closely. ‘Where are you going at this hour of the night? This was supposed to be a sleep over. Is it your mother?’
Shade nodded, her eyes not really focused on anything. ‘Yes, it is my mother. She needs me now,’ she stood up. Uche got up with her and held her hand.
‘Shade,’ Uche looked into her eyes. ‘It is almost 11pm at night. You told Kola you would sleep over at my place. Why are you changing your mind? It seems so sudden.’ Uche noticed that Shade’s hand was growing cold. She dropped it and stepped back. ‘Shade, I don’t think you should go anywhere tonight. Wait until tomorrow morning and I promise you that I will go with you to go see your mother.’
‘It will be too late by then. I have to leave now.’ She reached for the door and opened it.
Uche watched her leave with trepidation. Continue reading →