Tag Archives: Relationships

In the wind: A short story

Nduka watched the fingers of smoke curl towards the ceiling. He stretched his hand out to the side without looking and tapped, once, twice on the butt of his cigarette. He inhaled again.

“I wish you wouldn’t smoke,” said Buti.

“Sorry, babe. I can’t not smoke. I need to get my strength back. You almost killed me.”

“Smoking is not the way to ‘get your strength back’. If anything it’s going to make you lose your breath even more,” Buti slid out from under the sheets and tiptoed over to the window. Thrusting a hand between the curtains, she pushed the window open. Nduka put his hands to his ears. “And that,” she continued, “Was a double negative.”

“Yes, madam. Why are you hiding yourself like that?” he asked as Buti slipped back under the covers. “I’m sure everyone in this compound heard you. Even that little boy downstairs you said was spying on you when you dressed up.”

Buti twirled a lock of her weave around an index finger. “Do you think so?” She looked at the stump  – all that was left of the tree outside her bedroom window after the landlord had taken care of her ‘little problem’.



“You said that too.”
Continue reading In the wind: A short story

Mama mama, nne nne.

As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I had made a mistake.

“Ah, nne. You are Igbo.” The woman I greeted tucked her phone away inside her bag and beckoned. “Come closer, good girl. Nwa azulu azu.”

I obeyed, wishing that I kept my mouth shut when I heard her speaking on the phone. But her Igbo was so old, so melodious….she reminded me of my grandmother. I greeted her in Igbo even before I realised what I was doing.  I broke my one rule and I was going to pay. I just knew it.

“Onye ebee ka ibu, who are your people?” The woman asked. I felt her eyes weighing the fullness of my breasts, circling my waist and spanning my hips.

“My father is from Oba and my mother from Neni,” I answered the traditional way. I willed myself to do something disrespectful; putting my hands on my hips or in my pockets, or starting my answers with ‘Nya eh’ or ‘Nna eh‘ but my tongue just wouldn’t obey. And I needed my hands to steady myself on the bus.

“You are a true Igbo girl. You know, looking at you I could have sworn you were one of them,” she pointed with her mouth to include everyone else on the bus. “I did not know you were our people.” I made a sound on my throat, unsure of what to say to that. She didn’t seem to notice. “You are not married?” My ring finger burned from her gaze.

“No, Mama.”

“Ah, that is good. You will give me your number. My son is looking for a wife.”

“I have someone, Mama.”


“We are friendshiping together,” I explained using the Igbo term.

“Yes, I understand. But perhaps you and my son will friendship too, see who you like best. Ogoli nuo di n’abo, omalu nke ka nma.” She pulled out her phone and looked at me. “Ah, you’re not sure? Look, my son is very handsome, intelligent and tall. You will not have akakpo children n’etiwaro slate.”

“Mama, it would not be fair on the man I am with. Just as it would not be fair if I was going with your son and gave my number to someone else just to see.”

“Ok.” Her mouth turned down at the corners and she put her phone away again. “But my heart has received you already. I am sure my son would have liked you. Please press the bell for me, this is my stop.”

“Yes, Mama.” I did as she asked. “Go well.”

“Thank you, my daughter,” she raised her voice forcing a few heads to look up and turn around. “Oh, these old bones. Standing up is such pain. If I only had daughters to help me go to market…Ewuu chi m o!”

“Oh my God driver don’t move!…” A voice shouted.

The woman lay by the side of the road, the contents of her bags scattered around and under the bus. Passengers alighted to help her.

“Is she hurt?…”

“She just fell…”

“Why isn’t her daughter doing anything…?”

There were eyes all over my skin, but instead of a mild irritation at having their daydreams interrupted, they were filled with something resembling judgement.

“Did she push her?” The question broke through in a way the stares could not. My arm had shot out as soon as I heard her scream and connected with the woman’s waist but somehow she managed to wriggle past and end up on the floor.

I had a suspicion she did it on purpose.

(Part 2 tomorrow)

Speed dating can be dangerous to your health.

The host shushed the crowd and went through the rules.

“I know a lot of you are excited but listen carefully so that we can do this properly,” he said in Igbo. “The women are to remain seated on their tables at all times, the men will move in an anti-clockwise position once the bell rings. Do not ask for or collect numbers, just mark down on your cards whom you’d wish to contact. Be polite, be courteous. You are selling yourself after all.” He paused. “You have eight minutes.”

I looked over at my friends and smiled. The bell rang and the first man sat down opposite me.

“Hi,” he pushed up his glasses.

“Hi.” I sized him up. He was as dark as coffee and at a first glance he seemed slight, but I detected his muscles bulging beneath his shirt when he touched his face. Think Henry the accountant from Ugly Betty. He gazed at a point beyond my left ear.

“I’m Nwunye. What your name?” I shifted in my seat until I was in his line of vision. He moved his eyes again.

“I’m Odinaka.”

“So what do you do?” He took a deep breath.

“I’m training to be a doctor.”

“Oh, that’s interesting. What kind?”


“Excellent.” My cheeks hurt from smiling. Eight minutes stretched before me like a lifetime. I knew his type. I had tried to speak to him during the workshop but he ignored me or said very little. I thought he liked his women a bit on the quiet side.

“Would you like to know anything about me?” I tried again. He might have been uninterested but the least he could do was be polite. It wasn’t like he was my kind of man either. He must have caught something in my tone because he looked at me then.

“So what do you do?”

“I’m a journalist.”

“Ah, no wonder.” He smiled a little.

“No wonder what?”

“You’re very…outspoken.”

“Yes. Yes, I am. Thank you for noticing,” I gave him a chance for a zinger. He said nothing. I glanced at my wrist lying in my lap just as the bell rang. He jumped up.

“Pleased to meet you.” I didn’t realise I was holding my breath until he moved to the next table. No wonder I was light headed.

“Well, that was awkward,” said my next date. He settled as if he was in his living room.

“Great smile. Are you a model?”

“With this coconut head? Who’d take me?”

“You should stand up and let me take a look at you,” I joked.

“Alright.” He stood and turned around slowly. He was about 6″5 and immaculately groomed; his blazer/jean combo looked like it was hand made in some Italian village by peasants earning less than minimum wage. I became aware that he had stop turning when I eyeballed his crotch. He raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to twirl too? No double standards.”

“Nice,” he said when I sat down. “So you’re a journalist. What kind?”

“I didn’t say I was.”

“No, but my date was boring, so I eavesdropped on yours. Sorry.” He looked anything but.

“That’s my friend you’re talking about.”

“Oops. Well, I can safely say that there were no sparks there.” He winked at my friend who batted it away. I noticed a man come up behind him. He saw me looking and turned around. “Can I help you?”

“No, I am just waiting for the bell to ring,” the man said. My date looked past him. “Shouldn’t you be on your seat? I followed his gaze and noticed the man had jumped the queue. It wasn’t his turn to speak to me next. Just then the bell rang and my date stood. He kissed my hand. “I’m Kalu. It was a pleasure. Maybe we’ll be matched at the end.”

“Maybe.” I said.

“Ol’ boy jus’ move. I wan’ talk to her.”  The intruder pulled the next candidate aside and made a few gestures. “Hello, I’m Nonso.” He sat down and scrapped the chair across the floor.

“Hi, Nonso. I hope everything is OK now?” My rightful date settled himself elsewhere.

“Yes, I am here now. So talk to me.”

“Pardon me?”

“I have seen as your mouth has been working ‘kpara kpara kpara’. You think you can intimidate me? You can’t intimidate me.”

“Excuse me?” It began to feel dangerous. What did I have to do with making him feel intimidated?

Biko, just give me your number and stop all this pretense.” He whipped out his phone. “Where is your phone?”

“We’re not supposed to collect numbers until after this session.” I flashed my eyes around. My new friend caught my gaze and took off his blazer. ‘Are you OK?’ he mouthed at me. I nodded.

Abeg, stop this nonsense.” He was almost shouting. “This is my number.” He scribbled it on a piece of paper and pushed it towards me. The bells rang. “Aren’t you going to take it?” I put the piece of paper in my pocket, resolved to bin it later.

“Eh hen. Where is the number na?”  He said as a conversation started when the session was over. I turned from talking to my friends.

“Errrr…I have yours, so don’t worry. I’ll contact you.” I tried to move away but he blocked me.



“Either give me yours or throw mine away.”

“Ok, I will throw yours away.” I made for the bin in the corner of the hall. He grabbed my elbow and pulled hard. I fell against him.

“Give it back to me. Now.” I gave him the piece of paper with his number on it. He ripped it to shreds and walked off. My new friend is walking towards me in long strides which eat up the hall.

“What the hell was that about? Are you alright?”

I am speechless.

Say hello to your mother for me.

“Wait, this isn’t the way to my house. Where are we going? Why are you smiling like that?”

“We’re just going to branch for a little while.”

“Branch where, biko? You said you were taking me straight home that was why I agreed to come with you. I should have got a taxi.”

“We’re going to my house.”

“Eh? Why? What’s happening there?”

“I told you now. My mum is visiting. I wanted you guys to meet.”



“Yes, why? You heard me. Stop repeating what I’ve said.”

“Well, as someone that she should know. Someone I would like to have in my life.”

“We met just two weeks ago. This is only the second time I’ve been out with you, both times on work-related functions and you want me to meet your mother?”


“I don’t understand.”

“I want to marry you. Why are you sighing?”

“I’m tired of having this same conversation all the time.”

“We’ve never had this conversation.”

“Not you, no.”


“So what?”

“Are you going to marry me?”

“You’re proposing?”


“Just like that.”


“We only met…”

“Two weeks ago, I know. But when the time is right, the time is right.”

“Oh, I see. Well the time is not right for me. And for godssake we just met.”

“Don’t shout.”

“Why not. I feel like I’m drowning. You’re not listening.”

“You’re so dramatic.”




“Look, she knows we went to this function together. I told her you’d stop by.”

“Before you’d even discussed it with me?”

“I knew you wouldn’t mind.”

“But I do mind. Look, stop the car, let me get out. I don’t understand how you think you can do this…What I supposed to say to her then?”

“Don’t be like that.”

“If you don’t stop the car, I will open the car door and roll out. We’ll see what you tell the police. If you think I’m joking try me.”

“Ok. No problem. No problem, at all. Let me drive you back to your house.”

“Please do you mind not texting while you turn the car?”

“I just need to tell my mum that you’re not coming again.”

“What kind of impression have you given her about me anyway? Look at the time. It’s eleven o’clock. Does she think I’m the kind of girl who can just stop over at any man’s place at this time of the night?”

“Ah-ahn. She knows we went to this thing now, that you’re a journalist and that your work takes all hours.”

“Yes but I go straight home afterwards.”

“Sorry, sorry. My mistake.”


“I really am sorry. I guess I got carried away with you, I just wanted to show you off. One of my sisters is there as well, so it won’t be just my mother if you think it will be uncomfortable.”

“No thank you.”

“My sister is about your age, I’m sure you’ll have plenty to talk about.”

“I don’t know your sister. No offence I’m sure she’s a lovely person but I will not make friends under false pretences.”

“Who is pretending? What I want for myself with you is real.”

“Be that as it may, I have not been given a chance to decide what to feel. I cannot just meet your mum and sister because you’ve decided that you want to get married to me, and especially not at this time of the night; it’s short notice. And we’ve only just met.”

“Why are you shaking your head? What did I do now?”

“Nothing. I just can’t believe you.”

“I’ve said sorry.”

“Yes but you must have known that I would refuse which is why you didn’t tell me before. Some part of you must know this is wrong, however…turn right here please, then keep going straight until you get to the junction…however much you want to pretend that it’s a normal thing to do.”

“You’re still shaking your head.”

“You Igbo men are really something.”


“I can’t talk about it any more. I feel as if I am always talking about the same thing all the time.”

“I don’t know why you keep resisting me sef. I have a house here and I am building one in my village back home. I am a senior executive at my job. I am a citizen – I passed my exams in one sitting. Surely that counts for something?”

“Yes but…”

“I am not a bad guy here. I will not impregnate you and leave. I am not asking you to become a girlfriend. I am giving you respect by seeing you as wife material. I am the kind of man that would take you out for dinner at the weekends. I would allow you to work, in fact, I would even give you the money to start your own business. If I were president, you would not be merely a first lady but a minister in your own right.”

“And what’s wrong with me being president? Ha ha. You will ‘allow’ me to work?”

“Yes now. I am one of the good guys, you know. I will always let you do whatever you want.”

“I can’t do it. I can’t have this conversation again with another man. I’m tired. You are a nice guy but you just don’t get it and I can’t keep explaining. Thank you for bringing me home. Have a safe journey back to yours.”

“I know you think I am not thinking of you. The truth is, I could marry anyone I wanted but it’s you I want. I could marry a white or Jamaican.”

“This is so unreal. I’m going to get out now.”



“My mother says she’s disappointed that you didn’t meet. She made oha soup. It’s my favourite.”

“Well, say hello to her for me. And enjoy the soup.”

Sex is an Okoro’s game.

I thought he was cute when we started; he was fair, tall and slim. He looked a bit like a slit-eyed rodent, but that just added to his charm. Now I wasn’t so sure. Few things are as unattractive as a man begging for sex after he’s been told ‘No.’ Mistake number one.

“But why?” He drew out the ‘Why’ as if I had just told him that I ate his mother. “What are you afraid of?” His eyes widened. I thought he mirrored the incredulity on my face.

“What am I afraid of, kwa? Are you trying to be funny?”

“No, I just want to know. Are you afraid it will be painful?” I laughed. I threw my head back and riddled the air with snorts. I knew it was undignified but I didn’t care. When I finished, I discreetly swallowed the phlegm that I had mistakenly hacked up and wiped my eyes.

“You laugh like a mad woman,” he said.

“Do I? Well you have your answer, then. I am a mad woman, that is why I won’t sleep with you.”

“Oh com’on… be serious. I will be very gentle. I am a good lover. Why are you laughing?”

“Who the hell says ‘I am a good lover’ like that?”

“But I am. So tell me, what is the problem?”

“Ok, let me tell you.” I wiped the laughter from my eyes. “Am I afraid it will be painful? I don’t think ‘Afraid’ is the word. I just don’t want to do it now. It is bound to be painful but at the right time, I am sure I won’t mind. Just because I like you and we’re in a relationship does not mean I have to jump into bed…” I thought about his mattress on the floor of his student hostel, “or something with you. And please stop using that tone of voice with me, like I am some naive mgbeke who doesn’t know her own mind and the way you’re talking will appeal to me. You know I’m not dainty or fragile. I don’t scare easily. And I definitely know what I want. And what I don’t want.”

Hia, o!” He spoke in his normal voice for the first time since the conversation started. “Sorry. These are sensitive matters, one cannot just be shouting them about the place. But I hear you, I will talk normally.” He held my hand and tried to look into my eyes. “It’s just I think I am falling in love with you.”

Mistake number two. If you want me to take off my mpeteri, telling me you love me is not the way to go. My mother covered such topics in her rules. Just tell me you want to do, I will say ‘No’ and that will be that. All he would need to say now to make the lie complete…

“…If you really love me, you’d make love with me.” He made eyes at me. It was meant to be funny but I noticed with the pencil-thin moustache over his upper lip, that he really did bear a close similarity to a rat. The kind of rat that – when caught pillaging the food cupboard in the middle of the night –  stares down the owner of the house until he inches backwards muttering ‘Jesus’ and reaching for his bible.

“No means ‘No’. Just leave it at that. Now, can I still come and borrow your tape recorder tomorrow? I still haven’t finished my assignment and it’s due at the end of the month.”


Ah-ahn. Why are you talking like that now?”

“Nothing, my mind is just somewhere else.”

“What time would be OK for me to come?”

“Come tomorrow after classes, in the evening around five o’clock.”I knew he was upset so when we kissed I gave him an extra long hug. He was my boyfriend after all.

The next evening, I knocked on his door. I waited and knocked again. I looked at my watch: five fifteen pm. I heard shuffling inside the room. I waited. Maybe one of his flatmates was getting dressed and would soon come out. But why would they not respond? Eventually the door opened.

“So you were in there sef. What took you so long now? Were you sleeping?” I pushed past him and entered the wide room. There were four sleeping areas, made up of beds and mattresses on floors, each separated with its own ceiling-to-floor curtain for privacy and demarcation. These curtains were currently all pulled back. The room was empty.

My boyfriend’s curtain was half open. It twitched. Somebody lay on the mattress. I pulled it open.

The girl licked her index finger and flipped through the pages of the magazine slowly.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hello.” She gave me a look that made my anus burn. It was his ex-girlfriend. I looked at my boyfriend.

“Sit down,” he pointed at the solitary chair placed some way away from the mattress. “Let me get the recorder.” He turned to his ex. “Would you like more water?” he asked. She mumbled something without looking up. “Pardon?” he asked, bending down.

I looked at their body language. That did it. Mistake number three.

I stood up and walked.