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Friday, 7 June 2019

Songs of sorrow (emotional)

There are no songs.” Toni said as she turned off the stereo as she prepared to sleep again. She had her breakfast and took the first nap. Lunch was over now and another nap was due to follow. She was not sleepy and so she decided to occupy herself till sleep came.
She pulled a novel from underneath the pillow and started to read. No sooner had she started than her phone rang. It could only be one person…Nora. She didn’t understand why her family still cared for her like when she was five. She was twenty-four.
“Hey, sis.”
Toni relaxed in the bed. “I have had breakfast and lunch. Not time for dinner yet.”
“I am glad you are eating well.”
Toni smiled. “You should take good care of yourself some more.”
There was silence at the other end of the line.
“How is James?” Toni asked with an eyebrow raised.
Nora smiled faintly. “He is fine. I saw him this morning before he left.”
“That’s great. So…when are you coming home?”
“I…err…erm…I am waiting for James to return for the night shift. I usually get five minutes with him before he starts work. He doesn’t come so early.”
“Man…your life is messed up.”
Nora smiled. “I know.”
“I don’t know why you can’t man up and allow a discussion happen between you and this dude. You like him.”
Nora looked around. “I don’t know what he feels for me. He is too lazy with words. It hurts.”
“Yeah…I guess.” Toni replied.
Nora adjusted her jacket. “My tea break is over. I have to return to my station. I’ll call you when I am about leaving the office.”
“Okay.”
Nora hung up and leaned against the door.
*
Toni strolled out into the streets for her evening walk. She stopped by a side bench and allowed her thoughts to travel. It was a lonely journey for her. No one ever really understood how she felt inside. They thought she was as happy as she did portray. She was really afraid…there was a lot beneath the beautiful.
The clouds soon started to change. She looked up to the heavens and it was all coming down. She was far from home so she hurried to the nearby pub. She pulled off her jacket and allowed the water trickle from it as she closed the door of the pub. She walked over to the barman and took a seat. “Water.”
Tunji stared at her. “Water?”
She nodded. “Yeah…you have water here, don’t you?”
He nodded and turned away to get her some water.
“D--n it!” Jerry said as he took his seat beside Toni. “Tunji, pour me a whisky.”
Tunji turned at him with a smile. “You are here…again?”
“Of course.” Jerry replied.
Tunji dropped the water before Toni. “Here you go…ma’am.”
Jerry stared at her and cooed. “Why the deceit? You want a beer…you know you want it.”
Toni smiled faintly and focused on drinking her water.
“You shouldn’t ignore a gentleman at the bar, you know.” Jerry said.
She smiled as she drank on.
“Let the lady be…Jerry.” Tunji said as he set Jerry’s drink before him.
Jerry shot at Tunji coldly and then stared at Toni with a smile. “Want to go home with me? I…I have never really done this, but I don’t think I will have to pay too much. Would I?”
“Jerry…right?” Toni asked as she flipped her head in an instant.
Jerry nodded with a smile. “That’s the name, baby.”
Tunji started to chuckle.
“Get a life!” Toni replied with a smile. “While you are at it, you might want to drink more water.” She said as she passed her bottle to him.
Jerry smiled. “My name is Jerry.”
“Poor way to start a conversation.” She replied. “You came off wrong.”
“I am always wrong…I don’t know how to be right.” He replied.
She smiled as she folded her arms. “That’s an interesting deduction about yourself.”
“Man know thyself and be true to who you are.” Jerry replied with a grin. “Who said that?”
Toni shrugged. “You tell me.”
“My name is Jerry.”
“You have said that earlier.” She replied as she picked up her jacket.
Jerry smiled. “Don’t I get a name?”
“Not with a bad start. Some other day.” Toni replied as she slid some money on the table.
Jerry watched her as she approached the door. “Tomorrow never comes!” he shouted.
Toni turned back with a smile. “I’ll take my chances.”
“See you around.” Jerry said as he returned to the table.
Tunji stared at him curiously. “Who was that guy?”
“What guy? Are you so blind that you didn’t notice her gender?”
Tunji shrugged. “Never seen you act like that in all your entirety.”
“Never seen me do that too.” He replied as he took his seat.
Tunji smiled. “Good sign. What happened at work today?”
“Oh…nothing!” Jerry replied in an instant. “More.” He ordered as he dropped the glass
on the table.
***
“Hi, James.” Nora said as she clutched her handbag to her arm.
James stared at her with a smile. “Nora. Your shift was over thirty minutes ago… Why are you still here?”
She shrugged. “I like to take a few minutes to relax before I head out.”
“Interesting how those few minutes always coincide with my arrival here.”
Nora smiled. “You flatter yourself, James.”
“What can a man do?” he replied with a smile as he took a seat.
Nora took a few steps forward to leave. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You…you want to go out with me sometime? Tomorrow night?” James asked as he turned in her direction. “It is my off day…was thinking you might want to hang out. You know…make this stalking a little more official.”
Nora smiled. “Stalking?”
“I am making a conversation.”
She shrugged. “Tomorrow night is fine.” She replied and turned away from him. Tomorrow night was not fine…but how could she say ‘No’ when she might never get another chance.
Nora battled with herself on why she was too quick to give an answer. She should have thought it over and well too…she drove home with lots of worries and thoughts in her head and mind.
Toni jumped out on her sister’s arrival. “Hey!”
“You should be in your room, you know?”
Toni rolled her eyes. “Why so serious? What’s up?”
“James asked me out.”
Toni smiled widely. “Wow! That’s so cool. You should be excited.”
“It’s tomorrow night.” She replied.
Toni rubbed her forehead. “Oh…that’s…that’s cool.”
“You? Home alone?”
“Are you home with me in the day?” Toni retorted as she grabbed the bag in the car. “You got me something?”
“Of course. The usual.”
Toni smiled. “I am thinking of the Amber style.”
“Amber?” Nora asked.
“She rocks it well…you know?”
Nora smiled as her sister walked into the house with a smile and with no worries as usual…she wondered how everything went wrong for them. It wasn’t meant to be this way…it never was. They all used to be happy.
***
“I gave a Code Blue! I needed all hands on deck! Where-were-you???”
Jerry stuttered as he stared in Emeka’s direction. “Sir…Sir, I was unavoidably absent.”
“Could it be because of your regular habits?”
Jerry shook his head in disagreement.
“You will have an alcohol test now, God help you if you fail it. I will ensure that your license to practise is taken away from you for as long as possible.” The Director shouted as he walked away angrily.
Jerry turned in Emeka’s direction. “What happened?”
“You have lost your second patient in a day.”
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The huffing breath of shock

I sat on the bed huffing and puffing trying to catch my breath. I had just had my bath yet it felt I was just coming out of the treacherous Lagos heat. She beat me mercilessly and with the terrible news I just received, it was a recipe for disaster. I wanted to run to the bath and bury myself in my tub but then I hissed in frustration. There was no bath! I hated this house and everything that came along with it. It was ok while I was a bachelor but suddenly my needs had changed and with Abike living with me, my prized bachelor pad had become a matchbox! Soon she would be home and I could already imagine the look of optimism on her face. However with my hopes dashed what was I to present? It was annoying to say the least. Sometimes I think I rushed into this thing called marriage too early but then again I don’t think so. I was ready and knew what I wanted; I had dated Abike for so long and could not imagine life without her. We were barely a year into our marriage and the storm of life had rocked my boat but besides that it was all fine until I lost my job. I placed a hand around my neck and it felt clammy; the bathroom was calling me again and I dived in with my birthday suit. I’d had enough of the soap and sponge and so I let the water do the talking this time around. It poured from the shower and made a puddle at my feet. I stared at the mirror opposite wondering when this madness was going to end.
”Who dey house?” Abike teased. I heard her wiping her feet against the mat outside the bedroom.
”Come in if you are young and beautiful” I said rising from the bed.
She had a smile plastered on her beautiful face. She was holding a black nylon and the smell of roasted corn wafted across the room. She kicked her slippers outside the door (very typical of her and untypical of me) and planted a kiss on my lips. ”See what I got” she said stretching out her hands. ”Thank you dear” I said with a wry smile.
”I know don’t tell me she whispered”
”Yeah yeah!” I said nodding my head while I reached out for a corn and began attacking it earnestly.
She got up with a sigh and said something about dinner only to return immediately ”but you said it was great, I don’t understand. How could it have gone so well and ended in disappointment? I don’t know what we are doing wrong oh. I am just weak honestly and to think this is the second time this is happening.”
Now this is what I hate about women. A while ago, she told me ”don’t tell me” and now she was leading the crusade for ”please tell me more” but I was not willing to oblige. I had a long and tiring day and if I had to be honest, I didn’t give a toss about what she was preparing anyway. I can almost swear it is the burnt out ogbolo soup she is re warming anyway – no thank you and I will not be a partaker. I lost my appetite long ago and I was doing this corn a favour by eating it!
I sat starring at her like a young sailor lost at sea. I could look into her eyes all day long. There were brown and beautiful and Lord Almighty, this girl was bold. She was staring at me and smiling like the seductress she knew she was. I’ve never met a girl this bold in all my years on God’s green earth. I’ve had my few scraps with girls but nothing this intense. For heaven’s sake, she pulled her bra and panties on her own! She reminded me of Sharon Stone and so far I think I was failing her. I think she is great but the problem is I am a rookie and with all the stunts she has been pulling, I know she is a pro. She is going to floor me and put me to shame right on this rickety bed.
She is a pale skinned beautiful woman with an amazing leg that I can stare at all day. However for all she is worth, she does not come close to my Abike. Abike, Abike, I push that name aside feeling guilty as sin. I think I have lost this battle already and there is no need crying over spilled milk. I am in the arms of lust and she has a firm grip on me.
”Are you just going to keep staring at me all day long” she says tickling me with her small toes.
”I want to get it right” I say with a smile.
”And you have gotten it right lover boy. That was the best foreplay of my life” she said with a laugh. ”Would you rather eat first” she says trying to stand up. I hold her down to the bed and whisper ”no”.
”I’ve not done this before, cant you tell?”
”Nooooo! You are joking dude” she says playfully slapping my chest.
”And why would I joke. Every man started as a boy”
”But your girlfriend, you mean you guys have not…”
”No and let’s not talk about her” I said in a guilt ridden voice. ”Please anything else but not her.”
”I am sorry that was not my intention. I feel honoured you would pick me to be your first and I would give you a treat – one that you would never forget. I want you to relax and let me school you. Where is your condom?”
Immediately, I felt severely stupid; so daft I wanted to bang my head against the wall repeatedly. I was not planning on doing this today and of course I came unprepared. I tried to stand on my feet but she pushed me back towards the pillow.
”I told you to relax” she said quietly. She pulled open a drawer by her side and brought out a packet of condom; nothing like the popular brand we are used to seeing in this region. She pushed the wrapper aside and sat astride me. I began to speak in tongues in my head.
******************************************
”So what was their reason again?” Abike asked for the umpteenth time.
”They gave me none” I said exasperated to the core. I didn’t know if I was tired of her incessant questions or the fact I didn’t quite know how the process went downhill.
We just returned from church but I wished it was a weekday instead. At least she would have been at her baking school and I would be stalking the internet for a job – any job. I was getting desperate at this stage and was slowly getting off my high horse. I am ashamed to say the last interview was for the position of a Customer Care Representative. Oh yes, I was that desperate! Having worked in the banking industry for so many years and having to retire unceremoniously, (through no fault of mine I must add) I believed I could jump right in the job wagon but I must confess it was proving more difficult than I first imagined. It was only 6 months and yet I was beginning to feel the heavy burden on my fragile shoulders. The banking industry was a real b itch and she had tossed me around really bad. They always say live your professional career in the bank as though it were your last day but it didn’t make sense until that fateful morning.
I had worked at Bode Thomas branch straight out of NYSC. It was only 3 years but I was just getting my feet off the ground when tragedy struck. I didn’t even see the unfortunate email (who does that? Sends an email informing you of your compulsory redundancy) before my colleague Dipo burst into my cubicle with the now famous phrase ”d--n it! I just got fired. What about you? Guy e go rough oooooooo!”
Immediately I began to sweat; I just bought a car, renewed my lease for a year and spent a huge chunk of my savings on my dream wedding to Abike two months ago.
”Check your email now, you just dey come from lunch? The thing don drop reach close to 25 minutes now o.” Dipo continued tapping his foot by my side.
I looked around and saw Mariam (the lace wig wearing bleached skinned babe) crying while Madam (my immediate boss) was banging her fist on the table. Dipo was still there starring at me with his eyes as wide as saucers; waiting to welcome me into the army of disengaged soldiers. Olorun maje nor be me. Carry your load go front.
I got up with great difficulty and excused myself. By the time I returned, Dipo was gone and I could no longer access my email. So while others were crying, complaining, calling their loved ones, moaning, and asking questions on their last pay, I was left wondering yet refusing to believe I was part of the disbanded army.
I didn’t tell Abike anything that night and the next day I returned to work with my well starched stripped shirt. A lady I had never seen before approached my desk the moment I sat down and began toying with my keyboard.
”I’m afraid I don’t think that will work.”
”Pardon me” I asked praying against my worst fear.”
”I am Efe the new manager running this department. I believe you were among the persons who received the email yesterday?”
”I didn’t receive any email” I said slowly starring into her eyes.
She was a pudgy woman perhaps in her mid forties or even earlier. When you are that big, there is a tendency to be mistaken for a much older person so I can be excused for my earlier calculation. She was not pretty but neat – as neat as a pin.
”I’m sorry but I am just going to run through my list again” she said retreating like a scared cow. ”Sorry what did you say your name was again?”
”I didn’t tell you my name” I replied with a blank stare. She paused and looked at me with an equally blank expression on her face and then she walked towards me ready for a showdown.
”I don’t mean to be funny or argue with you but I am well acquainted with everyone on my list. You are not on that list and not in my department. We can make this tougher but I don’t know why you would want that. Why don’t you try logging in with your ID and password and if that does not work, then you know what you should have known yesterday.”
I continued starring at her while she starred back at me waiting for me to carry out her instruction. B itch there is no way you gonna make me type crap! She turned and walked away in disgust seeing that I had refused to move a muscle. Yeah that’s right, run and tell your superiors to come and speak to me. I got this job the old fashioned way and not like some of you slu ts now turned managers. You want me to leave, go tell Mr Yakubu and co to fire me with dignity!
************************************
”God have mercy on us” she said walking into my arms. She pushed them aside and sat on my laps while planting kiss on my lips. Then she smoothened the imaginary lines underneath my eyes and kissed me again; this time passionately.
”It’s being a while my husband. Abi we nor go do again because of condition?” I laughed out loud; she always made me smile anytime she spoke in pidgin. It was the quickest way to break the wall between us.
”I wan do you but I ache everywhere dear.”
”Let me give you a massage then” she said kissing me again. I’d had enough by this time and I gently pulled away heading for the parlour.
”Please dear, not today. I can’t see this happening today.”
”Okay so when?” she asked walking behind me. I knew this mood quite well and I prayed she would leave me alone.
”Don’t do this Abike, not tonight. Don’t be like this”
”I’m not doing nothing. I am just asking when would be a convenient time. Do I write out a time table or something and stick it above our bed? Sometimes I think you are self centred but you don’t realize it. I am the one swinging from molue all day while you sit pretty in your car. I get tired myself but I hardly say no but when it’s my turn, all I hear is stories.”
”Abike I drop you off every morning and it’s not my fault you can’t drive. Secondly when was the last time I demanded for s ex? Say the truth and let the devil be ashamed. I am worked up like a blo ody farmer during a famine. I have no job and we are living on my fast depleting savings. Why do you think it is a great time to do this and possibly make a baby.”
”Please, please say anything and everything but don’t even go there. God who gives children will take care of them. I told you what your mother said the other day didn’t I? When a woman is not pregnant, who do people begin to stare at? You make me a laughing stock while you come out smelling like roses. We’ve carried on this charade for far too long and I am tired” she cried.
I was utterly disgusted. Sometimes Abike made me wonder who I feel in love with. ”You know what, I give up on you. You are a graduate and I believe a matured woman yet you allow people’s opinion push you around. I didn’t impose this on you, we agreed as a family to hold this thing off until one of us had a stable job and now look at what you are saying. I am doing this for our own good Abike and you know there is no hidden agenda here. If you go ahead and get prgnant, how will you train the child? Is it my savings or your 50 kobo cake you virtually give out for free?
”50kobo cake?” She asked raising an eyebrow. She opened her mouth to say something but shut it again. Immediately I felt stupid. She was doing her best to stay afloat and the last thing she needed was an unsupportive husband. She was a graduate of Library studies and in typical Nigerian style, she had struggled to find a job after her NYSC days. Her course was an obstacle and she knew it.
I remember those nights she cried each time she opened her book ”this is not what I wanted to study. I hate this course, tell me what sort of job I would get with a course like this?” Alas she was not willing to take JAMB again and I didn’t support that. I had studied her and I believed she could achieve her goal irrespective of the degree she got. It was not like she longed to be a surgeon or lawyer else I would have encouraged her to take JAMB again.
It was a good thing she had a knack of business and was interested in anything that could be baked. I encouraged her the moment she landed in Lagos and fortunately I had the money to pay for her exorbitant baking fees when I did.
”Dear I am sorry. When I said not tonight, I hope you see what I meant. I am not in the right frame of mind and I am open to saying a whole load of drivel if given the opportunity. By the way your cakes are great and you know it.”
She walked towards me and sat by my side holding my hand.
”I am not angry. I know when you talk and when you allow anger overwhelm you. The cakes are cheap now but that is because I am building my customer base. And I know they are not so terrible because you gobble them up!”
I smiled at her but she remained pensive ”a child is a blessing my husband. Who knows if this child we are preventing is the one that will herald our good fortunes? You are not God and you can’t plan for everything. Look at where your well laid career plans have taken you to. Let us allow God do this thing and trust him like a baby would.”
I looked at her and the last trace of anger melted away. She could be annoying (like me) but this was why I married her. She was beautiful, virtuous, hardworking, intelligent and wise beyond her years.
”Abike you will do everything to get in my pants tonight and that includes quarrelling or giving a pep talk” I said with a laugh.
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The police interrogations

I was busy enjoying the roasted yam my mother served me when I got an unexpected call from my boss. I nervously answered the call without wasting time, equally wondering why he was calling by that hour.
‘’agent val, where are you?’’ my boss asked in his usual gruff voice.
‘’I’m at home sir’’ I stammered, standing up nervously as if the man was right there before me.
‘’report to my office immediately. It’s very urgent. You have five minutes’’ he ordered.
‘’yes sir’’ I breathed sharply even though deep down I was extremely unhappy. I planned spending the weekend with mum after staying away from home for so long and I just couldn’t imagine how disappointed she would be, seeing me leaving just an hour after I got home.
Anyway that’s exactly the life of an agent. My life and everything belonged to the government and I had no reason to protest because I clearly knew what I was getting into when I applied to join the department of state services.
———————
I slowly made my way to the kitchen to tell my dear mother that I was leaving again. Luckily for me, I had no much explanation to do. One look at my face told her everything. She simply shrugged and bit her lips as I made my way towards her.
‘’I guess the call was from your office?, when am I seeing you again?’’ she asked.
‘’maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Once I’m free, I will be back here’’ I answered with a forced smile as I hugged her.
———————-
one hour later @ DSS Quarters Owerri
As I drove into my work place, I couldn’t help but wonder why my boss needed me so urgently. I wasn’t really holding any sensitive material or position at the moment. The general election of the previous year and every post election security matter has already been dealt with. I really had hoped on having a wonderful weekend with mum only to be ordered back to the office. Yes I really was far from happy but I hid my feelings as I appeared before my boss who was in his office with a senior colleague who was in charge of the governor’s security.
‘’agent val, I gave you five minutes to report here but you took an hour?’’ my boss asked with a frown while I quickly apologized.
‘’I’m reassigning you. From now you are part of the state governor’s security, any problem with that?’’ he asked.
‘’no sir’’ I answered, wondering the reason I was chosen for such a job since I clearly knew that we lost none of the agents working with the state governor. I instantly felt there was more to it.
‘’agent mike will brief you more on your new assignment’’ my boss added, nodding at the senior agent who smiled at me while I nervously stared back at him as he opened a file he was holding.
‘’According to your file, you are currently 26years old. A law graduate, did remarkably well in law school, been out of the country twice, still single and from a royal family’’ agent Mike calmly summarized my life as I stood still.
‘’have you ever been in real combat before?’’ he asked.
‘’no sir?’’ I answered, wondering why he asked such a question, since he was with my file which clearly stated that I had been in the department for just a year and few months and only worked at the vetting department.
‘’good, the governor needs a well educated and exposed agent of your age to watch over his rebellious daughter who will be arriving the state this evening. She is 24years old. A Harvard graduate and it’s her first time of coming home since her dad became the state governor, so listen carefully to what I have to tell you. Before accepting to come home, the girl made her father promise not to cage her, nor suffocate her life with security and bodyguards. She wants to live a free life and mingle with people like she used to do in the past. But you know we can’t let that happen. Her father needs someone within her age range to be with her all the time as a friend without her really knowing that the person is an agent and that’s where you fit in. You get me?’’ he asked.
‘’yes sir, I understand. I think I have seen a similar movie sometime back’’ I answered freely.
‘’shut up. This is real life. Don’t mess this up or you will see yourself out of this department. The governor is very close to the president and he can ruin your life if you play with his daughter’s safety’’ he threatened seriously while I instantly hid my smile as my heart froze.
‘’I need not to tell you that the governor has a lot of enemies and you are being assigned a very tasking job’’ he added while I looked down with slight tension as the burden of my new assignment played before me.. It really would be my first major tasking assignment outside office work and I couldn’t imagine protecting a very rebellious governor’s daughter all on my own without any backup. Yes I was a good shooter but I really was yet to face any combat and with the way I was seeing my new assignment I felt a day would come when my shooting skills would be needed. I hated being with rich kids, talk more of protecting a rebellious one who could spend all her time putting herself in harm’s way.
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How I was poisoned by unknown

My ears picked up the sound of the alarm clock on my phone. I felt betrayed. Why in God’s name would my ears have done that- distracting me from a wonderful experience I was having in dream land?
I am one of those lovers of food. We seemed to have a special connection- food and I. I would eat at any opportunity even to the point of eating in my dreams. And that was what I was doing before my betrayer of an alarm messed up the whole thing.
Maybe I should give you a glimpse of the dream I was having. I found myself seated before a delightful looking egusi soup and pounded yam in an exquisitely furnished restaurant. The aroma of the food wafted into my nostrils. Such aroma could bring a dead man back to life. I had just murmured a very short prayer with my eyes open and my mouth salivating and very ready to begin the business of leveling the mountain before me and then, this annoying alarm rang, and my ears that would not stay put in its environment decided to pick up the sound from outside the dream land.
I turned to my left hand side with the plan to put the alarm to snooze mode, and almost immediately, I remembered that I was supposed to be at the office by 7:30AM. I frowned at the screen of my phone, I reached for my singlet to wear and then whispered some prayers before going to the bathroom for clean up.
Moments later, I was standing at my junction to wave down a bike. A young Hausa fellow stopped in front of me, after negotiating the fare, I boarded to my office. This day better be a good one, I thought as I looked at my wrist watch. It was 7:15AM. I hated near success syndrome. I was near eating such a delicious meal which I had not had for a long while because I simply could not afford it, and then I awoke. Almost but without it. That was bad.
Just as soon as I got down from the bike after reaching my destination and paying the bike man, as I was just turning, I felt my legs wet. An arrogant and terribly annoying person driving and blasting music loudly had just splashed me muddy water. And he did not even stop. I felt like having combined super human powers of Flash and Superman (Clark Kent), to go after him and pull him out of his car and punch him severally and then drag him out and soak him in the mud.
I pulled out my handkerchief, wiped off some of the mud water and then headed to the office to register and also use the rest room to do more wiping. Just as I was about to walk in, something semi solid fell on my white shirt.
What?, I groaned. A bird’s feaces? I turned my face up and the bird was busy singing away as it flew. I cursed under my breath, what is all these? Are these series of unfortunate events? Starting from the uncompleted dream, to the splashing of mud on my trouser and then a bird’s feaces on my shirt?
I spent some time in the bathroom to clean myself, after I had registered my name. As if these events that have produced the feeling of anger in me had not had enough, another one happened.
My boss just walked in. He was dressed in a black suit with a bow tie. I wondered why he had to put on a bow tie on such a hot morning (the sun had risen with an early morning heat. Was he planning on choking himself?). Looking at him, you would kniw that he has a thing for corporate dressing.
He nodded to everyone’s greeting except mine, rather he had a frown on his face. I wondered why. Maybe, it was my shirt. I had tried wiping off the stain from the bird’s faeces but it had left some stains- a more wider one with lesser intensity.
“Some officials will be coming from the Department of Statistics of the Ministry of Finance and you will be giving them a little talk since you assist Mr. Olu, the head of statistics unit”, he said.
“But sir, I am not…”
“Prepared?”, he cut in. “I would have informed you earlier?”
I stared at him
“I was not prepared too. I was just informed this morning. So get yourself ready, and put on something good. They will be here by 11AM”.
He turned and left. My heart began to pound. I was more of a side line person not a front line kind. I would prefer to sit and hear others give addresses than to be the one doing that. Though, I knew that I am an intelligent person but my shyness was something else.
I was not liking how today was going so far. Now, my boss seemed to have set me up for an address even though I was an assistant head to statistics unit.
Why under God’s good heavens did Oga Olu, our head of the unit did not come to work today? Missing work on Monday, of all days? Who does that for crying out loud? I didn’t even ask my boss why Oga Olu (as we under his unit usually call him) was not at work. I dialled his number but it was off. I hope he is alright, I asked myself.
I rushed home to do something about my dressing. I had done my washing but was yet to iron my shirts and trousers. Of course, it was NEPA that was behind that. NEPA would always be NEPA even if they change their name to PHCN. As I got home, they had not brought the light.
I decided to wait for some time in case they restore the power, after which I thought I should get two shirts and trousers to the dry cleaner across the street to work on instead.
We greeted and I explained to him the urgent need to iron the clothes. He said he understood and would start with mine as soon as he finished the one he was ironing for the customer waiting for him at the shop.
So, I decided to go home, do some reading and freshen up for the speech or address. I wouldn’t want to go out there and be talking rubbish. My boss would kill me if I do that and it would deal badly with my chance of getting the promotion I had been hoping for.
Moments later, I went to the dry cleaners shop and there I experienced another unfortunate situation. Oh Lord, what’s happening today? My forehead squeezed out thick drops of sweat.
I dialed the dry cleaner’s number which was written on the wall of his shop, it rang and he did not pick. I tried again and again, each ringing but he was not picking. I was getting frustrated. It was around 10:30AM.
A call came in, it was from Alex. Alex is one of my colleagues at the office. In fact, he was my closest guy, my paddy.
“Guy, where you dey?”, he asked with an anger in his voice.
“I go change my clothes. You know say the other one stain. The dry cleaner wey I give my shirts and trousers to iron no dey”
“I no understand. Wetin you mean say him no dey?”
“I dey the yeye guy shop now. I been explain give am say I need the clothes sharp o. Him say him go do am sharp. Now, I dey for the front of him shop, him shop close and him no dey pick my calls”
He sighed, “Guy do quick. The guests don show and Oga dey ask of you. The man just dey frown give our unit members”
He hung up. I went to ask the lady at the neighboring shop if she knew when the dry cleaner went to or if he left some ironed clothes with her, she said she didn’t know where he went to and that he didn’t leave any clothes with him.
I was getting tensed up. I was angry and frustrated. Angry at the dry cleaner, angry at the foolish arrogant fellow that splashed muddy water on me, angry at the bike man for stopping me at the other side of the road, angry at that good for nothing bird that defaecated on my shirt, angry at Oga Olu for missing work today, angry at the ever slothful NEPA, angry at myself too.
My phone was ringing. I looked at the caller I.D, it was Oga Morris, my boss. My hands trembled. I was debating intensely within me whether to pick the call or not. The ringing stopped. It started again. I didn’t pick.
It was now 11AM and this annoying dry cleaner was no where to be seen and still, he was not picking my calls. If I was not mistakened, I must have called him close to fourthy times. I even asked of his residential address but none said they knew his place.
A text came into my phone. I opened to see it, it was from my boss. Where are you?, was the message. It was now 11:15AM.
As I stared at the screen, a bike stopped suddenly in front of me. That got me annoyed. What was that? Why would one drive so rough and of places to stop, he chose to stop in front of me?
As I raised my head, guess who it was. The dry cleaner guy. He didn’t even act as if he took notice of me. He went forward, unlocked his shop, brought out my clothes and handed them over to me.
“Sorry”, he said.
I wanted to strangle him. I wanted to yell at him at the top of my voice. I wanted to deal with him but I did none of this. I was evidently angry at him but when I saw his eyes with tears every atom of anger I had left.
“Oga wetin happen?”
“Bros, no vex. Abeg, no vex. My wife dey labor since two days now and dem been call me for hospital say make I come sharp sharp say the thing don tough”
I felt bad for him but I needed to go. I was still feeling sorry for him but I was already so late. What pain would make a grown up man shed tears publicly before a stranger? I told him sorry and handed his money to him but he refused collecting it. He said I shouldn’t bother that he was the one who was at fault for keeping me waiting. I had no time to insist that he took the money.
So, I went into his shop and got dressed fast and took a bike to my house to put on my shoes and get my bag and headed on the same bike to the office. By the time, I got to the office, it was already 11:45AM with the useless hold up and some uniformed men asking bike men and drivers of papers.
My boss saw me and ignored me. His face was so folded. Anger sat visibly on it and his eyes looked fiery and red to me. I couldn’t look at him or speak.
What happening today, I asked myself again. Am I going to lose my job? Will I survive today?

I couldn’t look at his face. It was as though his eyes were shooting arrows at me. It was few seconds but it seemed as though the time stood still and the moment dragged.
I knew he had every right to be angry. First, he had informed me and yet I had not acted appropriately. Second, I came in late, and in between, even when he called, I did not pick his calls, neither did I reply his text message. Even if I had missed his calls as I did, I was supposed to call back but I did not.
He seemed to be busy because he did not stop to call me into his office and scold me, which was his usual manner of handling such things. This was one of the things I liked about my boss, he never scolds one publicly. He would do that behind the door of his office. It was one of his ways of respecting his staff.
Alex walked up to me, “Guy, you mess up. Na wetin?”
I wiped off the sweat on my forehead with my handkerchief, “Na long story. How the thing come waka?”
“Boss delegate me to talk. Na God help me, I for really scatter the show. You know say I no even prepare. Na after him call you wey you no pick, na him he say make I cover for you. He come give me areas to talk on”
“No vex abeg. How far? Oga dey really vex for me abi? Hope him no go do something drastic about this matter?”
“Cool down. No worry. Nothing like that go happen. He wan see you?”
“He no even talk give me. I know say him dey vex, though he dey as if he still busy. I go go see am. Though I need to first send am text message to apologize. Make that one go ahead first”
“No p. Make we enter our office”
Alex was my paddy. Unlike me, he had this ability of staying calm in a tough situation and of saying words to calm one down. Just talking with him helped me.
The cold air from the air conditioner was a relief. As I sat, I was mentally preparing myself on how to talk with my boss. I imagined standing before him(that is if he did not ask me to sit), and apologizing and explaining myself.
My boss was not one that listens only to an apology, he would also ask to know what happened. It seemed he liked stories, to know what really happened.
Few moments after my text message to my boss was reported delivered, his came in: “Come to my office”. My mind skipped despite all my mental preparation to explain myself properly.
“Good day sir”, I greeted as I stepped into his office.
” You disappointed me”, he started with his eyes fixed on me. He was not looking angry. “You must have a good explanation for that”, he continued. Then paused. “You will be traveling with me tomorrow morning. You will tell me exactly why you came in late”
“I am sorry sir. If I may ask, where are we going to?”
“See you tomorrow Omafe. Be at the office by 6:30AM. You will be driving me”
“Alright sir”, I replied. I wished he had told me where we were going to, and also, the purpose of the journey. It would have helped me have an idea of what to need for the journey. But at that moment, I felt it was not wise for me to insist on knowing where we were to travel to.
Moreover, he did not react angrily despite the fact that I offended him. I would not want to use my curiosity to annoy him further. So, I left his office as soon as he dismissed me. It was evident that he was still busy.
Mr. Morris, my boss was a man in his early fifty but looking at him, you would think he was in his mid forties. He was the one who helped me get the job even though I was not as qualified as the others but he said I had potentials and I was intelligent. So, from the start, I had always regarded him with utmost respect, to the point that I would often feel terribly bad whenever I hurt him. He was like a father figure.
After work, I decided to stop at Mama Aki’s shop to eat since I was feeling famished. I had not eaten since morning. Mama Aki was my food customer. As a young unmarried guy just like my other team single guys members, I also had a particular spot where I eat regularly whenever I didn’t cook at home. Mama Aki’s place was mine.
For sometime, I and some other guys had been disturbing her of adding another class of food to her food business. It had been majorly, if not all carbohydrates. Rice(rice and stew, jollof rice, fried rice. Rice na rice, all of them na rice), Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, white yam and egg sauce, spaghetti but no beans, which is protein.
On this fateful day, Mama Aki decided to answer our long awaited prayers and made beans- porridge beans. As soon as I steeped in, she called me in her characteristic way.
“Samson and Delilah, I make beans o”
“Serious?”, I asked surprised. Some of my guys there, fellow members of team single guys that patronize her like me responded: “See flexing. Guy, the beans get sense. This thing make brain”
And without asking further, I ordered for the beans and also for a bottle of cold Pepsi to wash it down, to enable a safe journey of the beans to its destination- my stomach. The cold Pepsi was needed especially considering the weather too.
As soon as the plate of beans landed on my table, all the smell cells in my nose began to analyze it and soon enough my brain testified that indeed, the beans make brain. All the creatures in my stomach stood at the front line ready to welcome this long awaited guest.
I did a sharp prayer and started business. In few minutes, I was done. I guaged my stomach and got a message to order an extra half plate which I did immediately. By the time, I was through I felt as if a new life was passed into my system.
I gisted with my guys there about the Manchester City’s match watch I had missed the other day, after which I headed home. I got my things ready for the journey, after which I decided to watch some movies and didn’t even know when I slept off.
Around 2AM, I woke up. Something was happening inside of me. My stomach was reacting, speaking in a strange language which would only be answered by visiting the toilet. I succeeded in pushing and pushing but nothing substantial came out.
But this was the beginning of another trouble. When I thought things were getting less intense, my stomach has started having issues. The beans I ate was attacking my system with one bad formation like that.

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Twist of love between two lovers

In the
chronicles of the ancient dynasty of the
Sassanidae, who reigned for about four
hundred years, from Persia to the borders
of China, beyond the great river Ganges
itself, we read the praises of one of the
kings of this race, who was said to be the
best monarch of his time. His subjects
loved him, and his neighbors feared him,
and when he died he left his kingdom in
a more prosperous and powerful
condition than any king had done before
him.
The two sons who survived him loved
each other tenderly, and it was a real
grief to the elder, Schahriar, that the laws
of the empire forbade him to share his
dominions with his brother Schahzeman.
Indeed, after ten years, during which this
state of things had not ceased to trouble
him, Schahriar cut off the country of
Great Tartary from the Persian Empire
and made his brother king.
Now the Sultan Schahriar had a wife
whom he loved more than all the world,
and his greatest happiness was to
surround her with splendour, and to give
her the finest dresses and the most
beautiful jewels. It was therefore with the
deepest shame and sorrow that he
accidentally discovered, after several
years, that she had deceived him
completely, and her whole conduct
turned out to have been so bad, that he
felt himself obliged to carry out the law
of the land, and order the grand-vizir to
put her to death. The blow was so heavy
that his mind almost gave way, and he
declared that he was quite sure that at
bottom all women were as wicked as the
sultana, if you could only find them out,
and that the fewer the world contained
the better. So every evening he married a
fresh wife and had her strangled the
following morning before the grand-vizir,
whose duty it was to provide these
unhappy brides for the Sultan. The poor
man fulfilled his task with reluctance, but
there was no escape, and every day saw a
girl married and a wife dead.
This behaviour caused the greatest horror
in the town, where nothing was heard
but cries and lamentations. In one house
was a father weeping for the loss of his
daughter, in another perhaps a mother
trembling for the fate of her child; and
instead of the blessings that had formerly
been heaped on the Sultan’s head, the air
was now full of curses.
The grand-vizir himself was the father of
two daughters, of whom the elder was
called Scheherazade, and the younger
Dinarzade. Dinarzade had no particular
gifts to distinguish her from other girls,
but her sister was clever and courageous
in the highest degree. Her father had
given her the best masters in philosophy,
medicine, history and the fine arts, and
besides all this, her beauty excelled that
of any girl in the kingdom of Persia.
One day, when the grand-vizir was
talking to his eldest daughter, who was
his delight and pride, Scheherazade said
to him, “Father, I have a favour to ask of
you. Will you grant it to me?”
“I can refuse you nothing,” replied he,
“that is just and reasonable.”
“Then listen,” said Scheherazade. “I am
determined to stop this barbarous
practice of the Sultan’s, and to deliver
the girls and mothers from the awful fate
that hangs over them.”
“It would be an excellent thing to do,”
returned the grand-vizir, “but how do
you propose to accomplish it?”
“My father,” answered Scheherazade, “it
is you who have to provide the Sultan
daily with a fresh wife, and I implore you,
by all the affection you bear me, to allow
the honour to fall upon me.”
“Have you lost your senses?” cried the
grand-vizir, starting back in horror.
“What has put such a thing into your
head? You ought to know by this time
what it means to be the sultan’s bride!”
“Yes, my father, I know it well,” replied
she, “and I am not afraid to think of it. If
I fail, my death will be a glorious one,
and if I succeed I shall have done a great
service to my country.”
“It is of no use,” said the grand-vizir, “I
shall never consent. If the Sultan was to
order me to plunge a dagger in your
heart, I should have to obey. What a task
for a father! Ah, if you do not fear death,
fear at any rate the anguish you would
cause me.”
“Once again, my father,” said
Scheherazade, “will you grant me what I
ask?”
“What, are you still so obstinate?”
exclaimed the grand-vizir. “Why are you
so resolved upon your own ruin?”
But the maiden absolutely refused to
attend to her father’s words, and at
length, in despair, the grand-vizir was
obliged to give way, and went sadly to
the palace to tell the Sultan that the
following evening he would bring him
Scheherazade.
The Sultan received this news with the
greatest astonishment.
“How have you made up your mind,” he
asked, “to sacrifice your own daughter to
me?”
“Sire,” answered the grand-vizir, “it is
her own wish. Even the sad fate that
awaits her could not hold her back.”
“Let there be no mistake, vizir,” said the
Sultan. “Remember you will have to take
her life yourself. If you refuse, I swear
that your head shall pay forfeit.”
“Sire,” returned the vizir. “Whatever the
cost, I will obey you. Though a father, I
am also your subject.” So the Sultan told
the grand-vizir he might bring his
daughter as soon as he liked.
The vizir took back this news to
Scheherazade, who received it as if it had
been the most pleasant thing in the
world. She thanked her father warmly for
yielding to her wishes, and, seeing him
still bowed down with grief, told him that
she hoped he would never repent having
allowed her to marry the Sultan. Then
she went to prepare herself for the
marriage, and begged that her sister
Dinarzade should be sent for to speak to
her.
When they were alone, Scheherazade
addressed her thus:
“My dear sister; I want your help in a
very important affair. My father is going
to take me to the palace to celebrate my
marriage with the Sultan. When his
Highness receives me, I shall beg him, as
a last favour, to let you sleep in our
chamber, so that I may have your
company during the last night I am alive.
If, as I hope, he grants me my wish, be
sure that you wake me an hour before
the dawn, and speak to me in these
words: “My sister, if you are not asleep, I
beg you, before the sun rises, to tell me
one of your charming stories.” Then I
shall begin, and I hope by this means to
deliver the people from the terror that
reigns over them.” Dinarzade replied that
she would do with pleasure what her
sister wished.
When the usual hour arrived the grand-
vizir conducted Scheherazade to the
palace, and left her alone with the Sultan,
who bade her raise her veil and was
amazed at her beauty. But seeing her eyes
full of tears, he asked what was the
matter. “Sire,” replied Scheherazade, “I
have a sister who loves me as tenderly as
I love her. Grant me the favour of
allowing her to sleep this night in the
same room, as it is the last we shall be
together.” Schahriar consented to
Scheherazade’s petition and Dinarzade
was sent for.
An hour before daybreak Dinarzade
awoke, and exclaimed, as she had
promised, “My dear sister, if you are not
asleep, tell me I pray you, before the sun
rises, one of your charming stories. It is
the last time that I shall have the
pleasure of hearing you.”
Scheherazade did not answer her sister,
but turned to the Sultan. “Will your
highness permit me to do as my sister
asks?” said she.
“Willingly,” he answered. So
Scheherazade began.
there was once upon a time a
merchant who possessed great wealth, in
land and merchandise, as well as in ready
money. He was obliged from time to time
to take journeys to arrange his affairs.
One day, having to go a long way from
home, he mounted his horse, taking with
him a small wallet in which he had put a
few biscuits and dates, because he had to
pass through the desert where no food
was to be got. He arrived without any
mishap, and, having finished his business,
set out on his return. On the fourth day of
his journey, the heat of the sun being
very great, he turned out of his road to
rest under some trees. He found at the
foot of a large walnut-tree a fountain of
clear and running water. He dismounted,
fastened his horse to a branch of the tree,
and sat by the fountain, after having
taken from his wallet some of his dates
and biscuits. When he had finished this
frugal mean he washed his face and
hands in the fountain.
When he was thus employed he saw an
enormous Genie, white with rage, coming
towards him, with a scimitar in his hand.
“Arise,” he cried in a terrible voice, “and
let me kill you as you have killed my
son.
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