Category Archives: short stories

Master of all the Balls.

I can feel the eyes of everyone on me the moment I take off my jacket. I made the effort. I am pleased by their reaction. I suck in my gut and bask in the admiration.

He walks towards me soon after, swaying as though he has lots of balls clustered like grapes beneath his trousers; crotch out, shoulders back, hands in his trouser pockets, sweeping his jacket behind him like a cape. Superman. Master of all the Balls.

Nneoma beside me, watches his approach and sniggers. I know what she is thinking. He’s probably a weirdo. I always get the weirdos. Something must be wrong with my pheromones. The last time it was Callistus; hirsute and almost mono of brow. Handsome in that Wolverine sort of way. That is until the picking and flicking; eye crusts, teeth jam, bogeys.

And then there was Eghosa who sucked his thumb when no one was looking, using his herniated belly button as a stress ball. He was a banker. A good banker. He squeezed that sucker all the time. Wouldn’t go in for surgery either. Said it was his ‘good luck charm’. In the end, I decided couldn’t date a guy with a belly button bigger than my boobs. It just wasn’t right.

Don’t even get me started on the guy who had a tail.

In the middle of the room, Master of all the Balls halts for a passing waiter, jumping back deftly to avoid spillage from overfilled glasses. He turns it into a little dance.

“Quite the mover,” says Nneoma, eyeing him up and down. “Not bad.”

“For a man with elephantiasis of the scrotum, you mean?” I roar. Nneoma titters a bit, absent-mindedly. The fact she is is not ROTFL gives me pause. This is our usual Saturday night entertainment. I buy stupidly expensive dresses which I return the next day. We visit upmarket watering hole. Get drunk. Laugh at bankers and wankers and pseudo-poshos and weirdos and intense Afropolitan-types. Go home sans weirdos. At least try to, anyway. It’s pathetic, yes. But that was how we bonded; two lonely girls from the same country who had nothing else in common.

Master smiles.

“Nice smile too,” she adds.

He has. There is a dimple in his chin that I just want to stick my tongue in and an almost cartoonish twinkle in his eye. I can even hear the twink! when the light hits it. I decide that I want him after all. Walking around crotch-first like he wants to impregnate the world is no problem, I tell myself. Much better than boob-navel.

I smile back, raise my hand in a finger wave. Beside me, Nneoma starts. I feel her glancing at me. She clears her throat.

“Err, babes…”

“Back off, he’s mine,” I say through clenched teeth.

“Girl, listen…”

“You just got a promotion! Don’t be greedy.”

Nneoma grins back maniacally but I can tell she is upset. “Fine. I need the loo anyway.”

She says ‘loo’ now.

Master reaches me just as Nneoma takes off, tattooing the floor in an angry clack-clack of heels. I flick my hair and cross my legs on the bar stool.

“Hi,” he says. His breath smells edible. He looks suddenly shy. It makes me want him all the more.

“Hi,” I tilt my head in what I hope is a coquettish manner. He smiles again. His teeth are white-white. I want to go to sleep in the tight curls on his head. He swallows.

“Hey, so,” he bends lower whispering in my ear. “The price tag on your dress is showing.”

Ogoli nuo di n’abo, omara nke ka nma – A story in Igbo (with English translation)

Hello,

So I have been practising my storytelling in Igbo for a long while now – mostly it’s Tot who is the beneficiary of my stories as you all know. However I thought I should share my latest efforts with you guys ; not only do you get to read one, but listen to it as well. I’ve uploaded a sound cloud file below.  It took about 6 takes and it’s still not perfect; I had to pause to read what I had written.

(I can speak Igbo well and write it too but reading it takes a bit of effort. Reading it aloud can be tough.)

I have also included the English language version which has taken A LOT LESS TIME to write (about 10 minutes). The Igbo version took me 25 minutes for just 700+ words. I have a long way to go in  the speed of my written Igbo, obviously!

Stories below.

***

 

OGOLI NUO DI N’ABO, OMARA NKE KA NMA.

Anwu chara Adaku n’isi mere ka osuso wee dabaa ya n’ime anya. Oji azu aka ya fichaa ya n’ihi na obere akwa ojiri ehicha okpofu ruru inyi. Adaku tara ikikere eze wee chee uche ojoo n’ebe enyi ya nwoke bu Ikem no.

“Moto onweghi, credit nwa, onaghi enye mmadu. Anwu anoro ebea n’acho ichagbu m. Kedu ka osiri buru so so mu na ndi ibe m n’ile bu onye na ata odiri afufu a?” Ka o na ekwu otua, were aka ya n’ehicha anya, owere lote na otere ihe n’anya. O nenere azu aka ya were fu na umu ihe n’ile ojiri cho nma n’ututu ahu etesasigo ya n’azu aka.

“Oo! Kedu kwanu odiri ahuhu di ihe a?” O wee maa nnukwu osu. O kwusiri n’akuku uzo, meghe akpa ya, choo ugegbe aka ya, ka o wee hu ma iru ya ajoro njo. Ihe ohuru mere ka o maa osu, were mkpisi aka ya detu ire ya, wee jiri aso mmiri dozibe ihe okara mebiri emebi.

Ka okwu ebe ahu, otu ugbo ala n’egbuke egbuke jiri oso gafee, gbasa ya apiti. Adaku nere anya n’efe ya odere ede n’ututu ahu wee tie mkpu akwa. Odi ya ka o ya gbuo onwe ya.

“Baby…”

Adaku wenyiri anya ya  hu na ugbo ala gbara ya doti nachighataru azu.

“Baby gini? Maka gini ka ijii gbaa m mmiri doti?”

“Nne, ndo amaghi m uma. Odi m osiso. Ahuro m gi.”

Adaku wee si ya “Kedu ka iga esi hu mu? Ebe ina agba ka onwere ihe n’achu gi? Oburu na ikuturu m, okwa otua ka nke m kara isi wee ga?”

“Chukwu aju, nne oma m,” nwoke no n’ime moto were yipu ugegbe anya ojiri dochie anya. “Nne iwe gi adina oku. Omalicha nwata nwanyi di ka gi ekwesiro idi na ewe iwe otu a, inugo?”

Adaku mara osu ozo. “Zuzupuo m n’iru biko! Onye bu nne gi nwanu? Kitaa aga m eje letu na lecture m. Onye kwanu nwee ike inachigha azu kitaa?”

“Ngwa bata na moto, ka m buga gi n’ulo akwukwo gi. Ngwa bata bata, inugo? Mgbe emesiri anyi ejee na butiki gote akwa ozo. Nke obula ichoro, aga m egotere gi ya. Ka m nye gi number mu.”

Mgbe okwuru okwu otua, Adaku gee nti obere.

“Enweghi m credit nji akpo gi. Biko ejego m late.”

“Bia ka m buje gi. Bata na moto. Anwu a ekwesiro icha udi mmadu gi.”

Adaku runetara isi, nee anya n’ime moto ahu. “Kedu aha gi?”

“Aha m bu Chuma. Mana ndi enyi m n’akpo m Chu ma obu Chu-Boy.”

“Aha m bu Adaku. Anaghi m aba na moto onye m n’amaghi. Mana idi ka ezigbo mmadu.”

Chu-Boy riputara na moto, gazite n’ebe Adaku no. Adaku lere ya anya, hu na otoro ogologo nke ukwu, gbaa akpu obi. Ohuru n’ahu ya di ocha ka okpa waawa. Ngwere bido gbaghariba ya n’ime afo n’ihi na Chu-Boy di ya uto n’obi.

“Nne, imaka o. Odikwa m ka m buru gi laa be m kitaa kitaa, ka nje gosi mama m nwunye m.”

Adaku siri ya. “Koghelibe ebe ahu.” Mana isi bia buo ya n’ihe Chu-Boy kwuru.

Chu-Boy meghere Adaku uzo owere ba n’ime moto. Ahu ya n’ile bia dabaa n’ime oche moto ka o no n’afo nne ya, ma obu n’ime nri ji. Adaku bia kudaa, negheria anya n’ime ugbo ala ahu. Ihe n’ile di n’ime ya n’egbuke, di ohuru. Tupu Chu-Boy wee bata n’ime moto, Adaku atugharigo ya n’uche ya na o ga arapu enyi ya nwoke nke ozo sorozie Chu-Boy.

“Biko tinye seat belt nne, n’uzo ajoka. Aga m akpochi uzo n’obu otu nsiri anya moto, maka ndi ori imeghe uzo na go-slow.”

Adaku mere otu osiri kwu. Chu-Boy gbanyere ikuku n’ime moto ahu, owe kuo Adaku, aru ya wee juo oyi. Adaku chiri ochi, gosi eze ya n’ile n’ihi na obi n’eme ya polina polina.

“So, Adaku. Kedu ihe I na agu na mahadum?”

Mana gbe Adaku meghere onu iza ya, ochoputa na ohiara aru tupu orote ihe o na agu.

“Em…ana m agu Sociology.”

Chu-Boy nesiri ya anya ike. “Ya bu na irozobeghi ihe ina agu?” Owee gbanyesie ikuku oyi n’eku na moto ya ike. O juru Adaku ozo, “Kedu aha gi?”

“Aha…aha…aha m…bu…bu…” Ura bucharu Adaku.

Chu-Boy chiri obere ochi, gbanite egwu n’akpo na moto wee gbasie ike, gafee iru mahadum, ebe ndi enyi nwanyi Adaku n’eche ya ka obia ulo akwukwo.

 

ENGLISH (very literal translation).

‘WHEN A WOMAN MARRIES TWO HUSBANDS, SHE DECIDES WHICH ONE IS BETTER’

The sun shone down on Adaku with such heat that a bead of sweat dropped into her eye. She rubbed the sweat away with the back of her hand as her handkerchief was already dirty. She gnashed her teeth and thought bad thoughts about her boyfriend, Ikem.

“He doesn’t have a car. He doesn’t give me phone credit. Why am I the only one out of all my friends to keep suffering like this?” As she thought these thoughts and rubbed at her eyes, she remembered too late that she had make-up on her eyes. She looked at the back of her hand and discovered it was smudged.

“Oh! What the hell kind of suffering is this?” And she hissed.

Adaku stopped by the side of the road and pulled out her mirror from her bag to examine the damage. What she saw caused her to hiss again. She dabbed a bit of spittle on her finger to wipe away and correct the lines she had draw around her eyes.

As she stood there, a flashy car sped past, splashing mud on her. She looked at her dress, the dress she had so painstakingly ironed that morning was speckled with mud. She wanted to die.

“Hey baby,” said a voice.

Adaku looked up. The car had reversed, stopping in front of her.

“What do you mean, ‘Baby’? Why did you splash mud on me?”

“Sorry, girl. I didn’t mean to. I was in a hurry and didn’t see you.”

“How would you have seen me, speeding like something was chasing you? If you had hit me down, is this now how I would have died this morning?”

“God forbid, beautiful creature!” The man took of his sunglasses and looked her up and down. “A lovely thing like you should not be prone to such anger. “

Adaku hissed again. “Get away from me. Beautiful creature my arse! Now I’m going to be late for my lectures. Who has the time to go home and change?”

“Come in, I’ll take you to school okay? I can get your dress replaced later. We could go to a boutique…I’ll buy you whatever you want. Here’s my number.”

Adaku simmered down a bit at the thought of shopping. “Whatever, man. I don’t have the credit to call you. Excuse me, I’m very late.” And she pretended to walk away.

“Com’on, I’ll take you. The sun is too hot for a beautiful girl such as you.”

Adaku leaned on the passenger-side window. “What’s your name?” she asked.

“My name is Chuma. But my friends call me Chu or Chu-Boy. “

“My name is Adaku and I wouldn’t normally take rides with strangers. But you seem normal enough.”

Chu-Boy climbed out of the car and came around to open the door for Adaku. She saw that he was very tall and broad-chested, his skin was fair like okpa waawa. Adaku felt as if lizards were scrambling about inside her belly. Chu-Boy’s looks pleased her greatly.

“Girl, you are fine,” said Chu-Boy smiling. “I feel like taking you to my house right now and introducing you to my mother as my wife.”

“Quit talking rubbish,” said Adaku, but she was secretly pleased at what he said.

Chu-Boy opened the door for her and she sank into the car seat. It cradled her as surely as if she was in her mother’s womb. It was like sinking into fufu. Adaku sighed and looked around. Everything in the car was brand new and smelled of wealth. Before Chu-Boy had even come round to the driver’s side, Adaku had decided she was going to leave Ikem and make a play for Chu-Boy instead.

“Fasten your seatbelt. I’m gonna lock the door okay? It’s how I drive. You know, I’d hate to stop and get robbed in a traffic jam.”

Adaku did as he asked. Chu-Boy switched on the air-conditioner and it cooled Adaku’s spirits. She gave a little laugh because she was suddenly very giddy with possibility.

“So, Adaku, what it it you’re studying?” asked Chu-Boy pulling away. But when Adaku tried to reply, she found out that she had difficulty remembering her course.

“Erm…erm…I’m studying Sociology….yes”

There was silence. Chu-Boy looked her in the face, hard. “I see you still remember what it is you’re studying eh?” He popped a tablet in his mouth and turned up the air conditioner.

“What did you say your name was?” He asked her again.

“My name…my name…my name is….” Adaku fell asleep.

Chu-Boy looked at her. He laughed and sped up, past the gates of the university campus where Adaku’s friends were waiting for her.

THE END.

 

My story in Luna Station Quarterly.

Hello folks!

Isn’t the sunshine on your skin divine, does not the air taste delicious? No? Maybe it’s just me then, because my story is in Luna Station Quarterly. Huzzah!

It’s called ‘Tunbi’ and is the third story on the index. You can read it here. You can also click on the logo below to have access to the entire issue 18.

I am so glad to be part of this magazine. Someone – I believe it was Chika Unigwe – put up a link on twitter leading to their site and just from reading their ‘Stuff we want’ section, I knew I had found my tribe.  They’re closed for submissions now, but you can always keep an eye out for when they open again. They like:

  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Space Opera
  • New Fairy Tales
  • Some creepiness
  • Stories that explore the nooks and crannies of an original world
  • Big events from the everyman perspective
  • Unique settings and storytelling forms
  • Well written stories with strong characters

Make sure you read the entire submissions guidelines for things they don’t  like.

Oh and I forgot to mention, this is a speculative fiction magazine for women - because we’re badass, of course.

Sister P

Clearing out one of my storage drives and I found this. It’s not been edited so forgive the typos. I hope you enjoy it.

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

Sister P is speaking in tongues, roboscattering outside my window again. She is a creature of habit, is our Sister P. Every morning, five o’clock. Three claps, as if she is about to make an announcement. She starts singing in voice swollen with feeling. She sings Chineke Nke Igwe and My Lord Reigneth Let The Earth Tremble and You Are Worthy To Be Praised and Ikwesiri Ekwesi and ends with Who Is Like Unto Thee, slowing the tempo as she launches into prayer.

She used to travel the length of the street, punctuating her devotions with the kpom-kpom of her block heels. Now she just stands under my window, clapping and stomping.

Being a light sleeper, those three claps used to wake me up and irritate me so much that I would tie my wrapper and rise to confront her. But Sister P would act like I had water in my mouth.

“God bless you, sister,” she would say whenever I started on her. And she would get the beatific look on her face that you only saw in religious paintings. Perhaps it only looked that way by the yellow glow of her swinging kerosene lantern, golden light shooting out from between her hands like Jesus. Maybe it had to do with how I saw myself compared to her besuited form; bare knees, bed head and nipples piercing through the thin wrapper. She smelled of Zest soap whatever the hour. I smelled of body. Whatever it was freaked me out. I left her alone. It did not do to be seen as a troublemaker, especially when one was new to the neighbourhood. But trouble just finds people like me naturally I guess.

I expected trouble when I had the burglary proof door installed on my front and back doors. I expected trouble from my neighbour who tutted at me when I took my bath in the late afternoon. I expected more trouble after the big fight I had with Sister P’s evangelical team after they accosted me on my way back and started preaching loudly at me. But none of these compared to what was coming, when trouble came with an apology and I foolishly invited it in.

Trouble snorts loudly and buries itself deeper in my covers. I feel the heat from its fart on my too warm right leg. My left thigh is out in the cold. I try to steal some of the covers back but I am distracted by the change in Sister P’s tempo. She is entering a new prayer section.

I know Sister P’s prayers by heart now. From Praise to Worship to Binding and Casting to Grace. When she speeds up, I feel the blood in my veins surge. I tap my fingers to the sounds of Bs and Rs bubbling up and boiling over the fire of her tongue like hot yams. Her lips tumble one over the other to create sounds which have already exploded into being in her mind. Sister P does not play. She is forceful with God. Commanding even, as if she wants to stupefy the almighty, shake him into coming down and manifesting his power.

Sister P prays as if God is a thieving houseboy who has stolen something she needs returned.

“Show them! Show them that you are God. Show them that you will not be mocked!” she screams.

I can hear her pacing, clicking her fingers. Each time she clicks her fingers, another demon is despatched to hell. I click mine, almost involuntarily. Beside me Trouble flings a leg over my body, and continues its whispery snores.

Sister P’s voice calls up scenes in my mind; strewn bodies of witches charred by Holy Ghost Fire, bloated wizard corpses, the mangled eyeballs of evil which would no longer be turned upon her family, broken teeth of drinkers-of-blood littering her verbal pathway. Destruction everywhere. All Sister P’s enemies blown away by the glory of God. Carnage. Apocalypse.

“All my enemies, die, die, die. You will come one way and you will be scattered a thousand ways.” She is screeching so hard that her voice breaks. My louvres vibrate. It is as if she has put her mouth directly to them. I clench my fists and try to stop my body shaking. It will be over soon.    In five minutes, the thanksgiving Hallelujahs would begin. Then there would be morning and evening on another day.

If I was God, I would have listened to Sister P by now; she wouldn’t even need to shout. Sister P is short and beautiful. Thick hair, no make-up or jewellery. Smooth, smooth skin. From the side she is shaped like S for Sunday. Any woman would count herself lucky. Not Sister P. She starts on her list of demands. It is a long list.

 

I turn my pillow over, preparing to savour the cool, cool underside on my next phase of sleep. Trouble is drooling on my pillow. I run a finger along his Cupid’s bow. I feel warmth implode inside my chest. I tap the ankle draped over my hip. He bolts upright.

“Trust you to sleep through that noise,” I say. “You’d better go home. Your wife is at it again.”

“Nnh?”

He always is useless in the morning. I shove his back to get him moving and turn over, burrowing under the covers.

“And leave better money o, not that nonsense fifty-fifty naira that you took from collection.”

I cover myself up and drift back to sleep.

 

Igbo dads and dangerous phalluses.

Once upon a time I was heading out to study for my final university exams with friends when my father called me back.

“Nwunye,” he shouted after going through the names of the other twelve of my siblings.

“Sah?” I answered, because I am a good child.

“Where do you think you are going at this time of night?”

“I am going to Ogo’s house, sah.” I looked at my watch. It was 5 pm.

“Which Ogo?”

“Ogo my friend, sah. You have met her sah.”

“I have?”

“Yes sah. She has big…brains sah.”

“Ah, the big-brained Ogo. So what are you doing in her house at this time of the night eh?”

“We are studying sah. Me and Ogo and Chiamaka and Ifeoma.”

My father grunted, picking  vegetables from his teeth with a toothpick. When he finished, he popped the teeth back into his mouth. “Okay. But this one you are always  going to study with those girls…” He fidgeted.

“Sah?” I bristled, thinking he was calling their character into question. Did he not remember who they were?

“Just know I don’t want any daughters-in-law. I want sons. Sons-in-law.”

I caught many flies in my mouth on the okada to Ogo’s house that day.

Yes. This really happened.  I remember relaying the story to my study group when I got to Ogo’s house. (And for those who are wondering, yes, I did attend university from home. If you’ve only known me as an adult, you’ve just had an ‘Ah-ha’ moment because shit just made sense.) My friends thought it was funny. Me, I was just dazed that my square to the power of infinity dad knew about lesbianism. I didn’t dwell too much on this though because I would have started to wonder what else he knew and my imagination cannot handle things like that. Every generation likes to think they invented sex after all.

But this is what I do not understand.  This is the same man that flogged the brown off my skin because I went on a date with a guy at seventeen. It wasn’t even a date if I am honest. Okay, it kinda was. But I was in my second year of university and for chrissakes it wasn’t like I lay down on the road and had sex with him. That came much later. I wouldn’t recommend it by the way. Vehicles are a bloody nuisance and Nigerian grit gets into cracks like you cannot imagine. Sometimes when I sneeze, a little bit of sand and coal tar comes out.

A good Igbo girl is not supposed to think of guys other than as things to beat in school which is unsurprisingly easy.  (Yeah, I said it. Heh heh!) Not even when the boys in question are your cousins. You get to a point when your breast buds appear and all male cousins suddenly become off limits.

You spend the next few decades learning that men are the enemy. You spit when they talk to you, your put-downs are legendary and if they touch you, it’s hi-ya! and out pops their eyes. Your parents applaud you, chaste Virginia, you. At what point are you supposed to stop using them for target practice and start seeing them as potential mates?  It was a wonder I even tried that first date on for size. (Such was the level of my inexperience with humans of the male persuasion that the first date became the start of a two-and-a-half-year stint.)

I know I have said all this before, but things keep happening that make my jaw drop. Some Igbo parents can really screw up their female kids.

At what point am I supposed to consider giving you (if I desire it) sons-in-law as opposed to daughters-in-law? After all the scare stories about the beastly nature of men, their dangerous phalluses and their fickle-mindedness in dealing with the consequences of their sexual actions (pregnancy, disease. Pregnancy.), when exactly am I supposed to think “Hmmm. I’d like to jump on that dangerous phallus and snare me a diseased baby or two?”

Cover up, close your legs, don’t whistle, don’t sit on a man’s thighs, don’t laugh with a man, he’ll think you’re cheap, don’t whistle, don’t wear rings on your fingers if you’re not married, don’t go anywhere once the sun sets, don’t be arrogant, don’t correct a man in public, don’t raise your voice, don’t argue and my personal favourite , don’t drive – he’ll think you’re feeling too big, then who’ll you marry?

No wonder some women cry at their weddings. Lucky me, I didn’t. My dad did though. Huge, splashy, snotty tears and much hysterical sobbing. My mother looked as if she wanted to give him Snickers bar.

I guess he was just relieved I ended up with a dude.