How about NO resolutions?

Perhaps you expected ‘new year, new resolutions’? Sorry to disappoint you.

Most people do not even bother to follow through on their resolutions and if you ask them after the first two weeks, they can’t remember what they resolved to do.

So, how about NO resolutions?

I suggest having milestones at the end of every month. What do you think? For the end of January, I should have a downloadable link for you to purchase my collection of short stories. Hopefully.

It is currently being edited and I am thinking of a suitable cover for it.

How about you? What have you resolved to achieve by month end? Let’s discuss it in the comments. I’m sure you have projects ahead of you.

Here’s to a beautiful month!




TITLE:                                                Indigo

AUTHOR:                                           Molara Wood

PLACE OF PUBLICATION:              Nigeria

PUBLISHER:                                      Parresia Books

YEAR OF PUBLICATION:                 2013

ISBN:                                                   978-978-934-002-6

NO OF PAGES:                                   165

GENRE:                                               Short stories


The cover of Molara Wood’s short story collection, Indigo, provides an accurate description of the content. Art by Muraina Oyelami, the piece is titled ‘pensiveness’ and it depicts a woman with indigo covered head scarf, long neck, dark skin with head tilted to one side. It appears she is considering something, weighing her options. The rest of the cover is decked in stripes reputed as the dressing of the Egba people of Ogun state. This collection examines the life of ordinary people as they deal with different challenges. Wood’s first collection of short stories offers fresh intellectualism into grief, sadness, trauma and a woman’s place in the society among other things.

In the cover story, Indigo, we follow Idera who spoke against the accepted wisdom in a room full of mothers. Her barrenness became the butt of jokes so that she felt hollow inside and her home felt strange, like a second skin. Women who had no children were barren, whether by choice or not and Idera is a character many women can relate to. Harking to his Mother’s call, Idera’s husband, Jaiye, decides to relocate back to Nigeria and in a barely heated argument flings the childless accusation at her. He claims that he kept her happy by not pressing for a hid even after professing that with or without children he was happy. The cultural shift was most likely responsible for the shift in mentality since his ears became full from what people were saying. In a stroke of luck after her husband abandons the house, Idera discovers she is pregnant and her shame is washed away by the indigo river that becomes the name for a girl child her husband hopes will be as beautiful as his wife. Indigo is a flawless balance of character and conflict that weaves in and out between past and present and yet is unforced.

There are other stories that resonate for me. Gani’s fall is a story about polygamy and one woman’s endurance when her husband rejects her because of female children and takes a second wife. The relationship between a man and his two wives is explored through a fight with the younger wife and the nonexistent relationship between the man and his female children.

In Night Market, the story is traumatic. An African American woman is traumatised by the death of her unborn child. She visits the night market in search of spirits and lycanthropic beings in hopes that they return to her her unborn child which she lost as a result of the ineffective NEPA. After a week at the hospital, she decides to find her baby and ends up getting an unorthodox healing from her gate man who turns out to be a Sango worshiper.

The relationship between two sisters and a couple is explored through a sham marriage and an overburdened guilty conscience. In Name Only is told through the first person point of view in sombre tones through the eyes of a nine year old. He is forced to attend his beloved aunt’s fake marriage ceremony that she sets up to get papers. Sadly, it backfires when immigration denies her a visa and she has to return to Nigeria. His parents’ divorce when the ties that binds them together frays.

I also particularly like Girl on the Wall, a story about servitude. A photograph reveals another sibling telling a tale of sacrifice. It is a story that stays with me long after reading it.

I enjoyed reading The Scarcity of Common Goods, sequel to Free Rice. The story is explored through the eyes of a twelve year old whose father just died. The story starts at the burial ground where there is a rude interruption at the funeral of Mr. Falode and oscillates between the child’s memories and the present.  Aduke, Mrs. Falode’s deranged sister came as a principal mourner to the funeral announcing herself with ‘kerosene is cocaine’ and an empty calabash on her head to signify shortage.  Aduke was well aware of scarcity of another kind, men. Voicing out her concerns to her sister who was privileged to be educated and also marry a rich man, Mrs. Falode although burned by her guilt-induced generosity drove Aduke away from her home with a broom. Drawing the attention of the neighbours who loved to engage in idle gossip, Mrs. Falode sought to air her dirty linen out in the open. Her father’ mistress is also present and the narrator discovers that she has two younger half siblings. Her mother becomes a matriarch ruling over the business and the household providing sustenance for many others.

The collection is capped off with Written in stone which explores history through a heart break that leads a girl to find the truth about what happened to a noble woman who placed a curse on a trio of dubious elders. It is indeed true that ‘not all princes are sterling material.’

With 17 stories gathered together, the collection is richly diverse. The strongest unifying feature is the calibre of the narratives. They all fit in even with stories that are sometimes devastating in its deep emotion. A short story is like a kiss from a stranger in the dark and with the short shorts, there is a sense of not having fully savoured each delicious bite. Those stories end just as they are beginning to reel the reader in.

There is often a change in gear between stories – from Nigeria to the Diaspora, past to present, joy to sadness – but this showcases one another rather than detract from it. This collection shows that the author has mastered complex and heart wrenching emotions without watering down the strong characters portrayed throughout the collection. It shows that Africa is richly diverse and strong. It would be reductive to seek a linking theme in this collection that has achieved so much with a variety of characters, themes and POVs.


About the reviewer: Damilola Olaniyi is an eclectic creative. She is the creative director of Onkowe Contest aimed at helping children discover their creative side through writing. She is a script writer. She loves writing, reading and has a passion for moving images. Some of her writings have appeared in The Daily Sun, Nigerian Pilot, The Writing Disorder magazine and the Kalahari Review.

Finding my Way

Sitting at my computer is my favourite part of the day. Sometimes though, I end up not writing much and I make plans and have to be reminded by an alarm. That’s okay.

But sifting the contents of my PC dug up some interesting documents and I wonder why I have not been able to do much. I realize that discouragement is a big part of it. Some would say, “who blogging epp?!” Amidst all this, I noticed that my fan base is growing organically with over 800 followers so I must have written some really beautiful things in the past.

Lately, I have been trying to race against deadlines and submit stories for contests not just because of the award money, but for my morale. A morale I am struggling to rev up.

Which is why I decided to make a list of the writing on my computer to figure out the genre I am most comfortable with. Here’s what I dug up.

List of Books in Progress

What should I be doing differently, seeing as I wrote a book titled One Book Doesn’t Make You an Author? Drop a comment or two and let’s get the conversation flowing.

Overcoming my Restlessness to Write For Literary Magazines

I rested like I promised myself I would if I took a break from the constant connectivity of online social networking. But barely three weeks after I started to get bored.
I had too much spare time on my hands that I could find better use for so I enrolled in some online courses. I started with film making courses because I became curious about that world since I ventured into scriptwriting.
I still wanted to know more so I took a screenwriting class that involved writing a script for TV. Then I found a creative writing course as a 5 course specialisation and I enrolled.
I had some additional reading to do in between while I sourced for sponsorship for a creative writing contest that I run every year. After months of knocking on closed doors, I gave up and decided to organise a workshop. In class than three weeks, it took form and it was a success. Even more than I expected.
I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way and up until now, I try hard not to procrastinate.
Despite keeping myself busy taking these courses, sometimes running two or three concurrently, I was still restless. The bird in me felt caged. I wanted to test wings that had not taken flight in a long while.
Meanwhile, my novelette did not do well mostly because I did not have a solid marketing plan in place so that whenever I came across the book, it put me in a mood. And in an eureka moment to shake off the figurative cobwebs that entangled my brain, I wrote an eBook. One book doesn’t make you an author.
The moment your book is in published and released, in print or online, you are considered an author. This book however was not written to stir up an argument about who was considered an author or not, but to remind myself of where my journey started. It was a stark reminder for me not to rest on my oars and to get up. I needed to reeve my creative engine and I had no one to prod me.
I realised I needed a tribe, a support system, a loyal following. Their job would be to cheer me on when I was on track and prod me when I needed tough love. But I didn’t have that so I surfed the internet subscribing to different blogs.
Currently, I work as a freelance writer while also serving as director of projects at a Tech start-up. The job is flexible and I can write. But I wanted to do more with my freelance writing so much that I made several lists of paying markets for literary fiction, a different one each time based on the genre I wrote.
But I needed street crew beyond the local dailies. My list had new and old markets so I started submitting stories, articles and poems everywhere I could. I got accepted with a literary non-fiction piece at The Writing Disorder and with a story at Kalahari Review.
Shortly thereafter I got a freelance script writing job with an animation company. I now have varied experience in addition to the street creds. I also have pending projects that merit my attention.
I have some ways to go still but I am confident that I am once again off to a good start. The second half of the year has started out well with pleasant surprises and I am hopeful that it would come with rich rewards.
Before long, I hope to purchase my old domain,, and I am certain you will not abandon me on this journey. In my next post, I will tell you about the blogs I subscribed to, my blog feedback, my obsession with traffic and how I plan to make money off freelance writing.
So what are you waiting for, drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you think of my ramblings.

I’m Alive!

I have been away from here for a long while but there’s an explanation.

First, I got a domain and moved all the goodies here. And then life happened and I just went along with it. Somehow, I couldn’t renew my domain and I got discouraged. I decided to take a break but it just kept getting longer.

At the risk of leaving this free space to flounder a little while longer, I’m going to talk about things I feel deeply about over the next few days. I’d revamp this space and make it interesting so watch out for it.

I would appreciate it if you show some love. Tell me your experience in the lats six months since we’ve made it half way through the year. That will tell me in many ways that I’m doing something serious.

Go for it!

“A Day to Die” by Abiola Oni

Jalada Africa

F17 adayfordying

Daylight steals past the thick drawn curtains of my bedroom and pries my eyes open. It usually annoys me, the sun forcing itself through the clouds, marking yet another day that I have lived to see, yet another day I have to live through. But not today. Today is a good day. A day to die.

I slide to the other side of the bed, closer to the night table. The other side is cool and empty, it has been for years, but I no longer think about that. At least, not when I first wake up. I wrap my fingers around the wrought iron stead and pull myself up. My arm wobbles, the whole bed wobbles. I swing my legs – one by one – over the side of the bed, my toes touching the cold wooden floor.

Inside the drawer is a small glass bottle of Vladirvir, half…

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Uchay Joel CHIMA

a view from my corner

A few weeks ago Ugoma Adegoke asked me whether I could write a brief introduction for the catalogue of Uchay Joel Chima’s new exhibtion. Uchay is an old friend and an artist I respect, so, I agreed happily.

Blokes, strings on canvas, 42inches by 42inches, 2015Crafts and ordinary objects, no matter how skilfully executed, are rarely able to communicate with the viewer or user. Instead, with good works of art, it is possible to connect. If the viewer looks and listens attentively to them, she can discover what they quietly say. The more complex and richer the work, the greater its capacity to permit different levels of interpretation and allow multiple readings.

Yellow Sisi Dey For Corner, mixed media, 36inches by 36inches, 2013.Uchay Joel Chima’s works on canvas might look simple enough at a first glance. Probably, some viewers will be happy with it and not go beyond a superficial reading of them. Those conversant with Uchay’s experimentation…

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Hi all. I’m ashamed for doing the first thing last (but at least I’m getting it done, LOL). I would like you to join me on my domain –

A lot as happened between my last post here and getting the domain and my weekly posts. Perhaps you heard of The Contest… I apologise for all the trouble i may have caused making you search for my posts.

To continue to get interesting posts, please subscribe. That would bring a smile to my face. Thank you!


The cool breeze stings his face as he leans against the half-opened side glass. His head vibrates gently against it and the bus glides onto the Third Mainland Bridge at 180. The greenery, hasty humans and houses blurs and merges into each other, creating an endless stream of hazy backdrop against which the bus speeds past. Then the backdrop breaks into a misty light blue. A perfect blue, yet odd. A sensual blue that kissed the lighter blue waters beneath the bridge. Haphazardly clustered communities of wooden houses and strewed about seaweeds float on the waters. They try vainly to obstruct the romance of the blues. Blues that were not there before. Actually, they were. He’d concentrated on the hazy backdrop and had not seen the blue skies hovering above it. Just as soon as the greenery and houses broke off suddenly, it eases into the picture, sweeping the misty blue out of sight.

He sees the greenery, – fewer now, – the trees, undulating earthen streets and the figures in their differing preoccupations and yet he sees nothing. They are before his eyes a mirror into his thoughts, into his recent face-off with Chinwe.

She had called to meet him this afternoon at an eatery on the Island, he had been early as usual and she had been thirty minutes late as usual. The plastic bottled Fanta he ordered was untouched. He made to unscrew it when she sauntered in, her high heels clanking the light beige tiled floor. She slumped into the opposite seat, greeting him with a side tilt of the head. She pushed her curls to the right and smiled, – a stolid smile, – and tapped her long, red manicured nails on the table. She withdrew them hurriedly and dipped them in her handbag. Objects crumpled and rustled as she fished within without looking. She brought out a cigarette stick and placed it at her lips.

“I don’t know you smoke.” He broke the silence as she lit the end of the stick. He always had to break the ice and grope for words to draw her out of her defences. A near futile attempt most times. The high concrete walls did a good job keeping her in their parameters and he only succeeded in getting monosyllabic responses, disyllabic at the worst.

“I do.” She said, took long puffs from the stick and resumed tapping her free hand on the table. The smoke came out of her sultry, heavily painted red lips and aquiline nose freely. He never knew she used red lipstick. It used to be…

“Sorry ma’am.” He raised his gaze from her and saw a guard kneeling slightly over her. She stared seductively into the guard’s eyes and smiled nonchalantly. “We do not allow smoking in here. This is a public space, ma’am.”

“Really?” She chuckled, took a long drag and blew in the guard’s face, forcing a cough out of the guard. She stamped the stick on the table and turned to him.

“You called to say you wanted to see me.” He began. She said nothing, only peering, searchingly, into his eyes. She twitched her lips mischievously and tapped, rhythmically. He shifted his gaze uncomfortably and saw the guard at his post, – the door, – still stifling a cough. He almost laughed but checked himself and faced her. She was still staring at him. He scratched his head and fiddled with his cartoon themed tie. “I must say, erm, I was quite shocked to receive your call. It was, erm, out of the blues, you know.”

He chuckled at his supposed joke and hurriedly suppressed it. He hated this; – the way she always made him hang at her mercies like a little dog panting and trying to get its owner’s attention and only receiving condescending glances. The way she could effortlessly toggle and twine his innards and brain leaving him feeling spent, worthless.

“I wasn’t expecting you to, not that you don’t call. You do, when you are free and I understand that. I just wasn’t…”

“I want a break.” She interrupted him.


The bus skids into a ditch and bounces out roughly. Sanmi comes out of his reverie to see the whole bus staring at him, except the young guy by the driver who had his Beats earphones plugged in. He shrugs.

“What? I didn’t put the potholes on the road. Did I?” He asks.

The passengers shake their heads and carve sympathetic expressions on their faces.

“Jehovah! Save your children from the hands of momentary madness!” A woman cries from behind. “Chei, na person pikin don dey go mad so?

“Nigerians! Any little thing or behaviour that is out of usual is now termed madness, ehn? This country has a big problem, I tell you.” Another retorts. She sits on the same row as Sanmi and looks diplomatic with her plain ebony face, cornrows, casual spec and dark suit. Sort of like a barren tree devoid of sentimental or religious branches, or any branch at all.

“Before nko? After talking to himself, he would graduate into talking with invincible spirits and ghosts and roaming the streets of Lagos in torn clothes. When has he not gone mad?”

The passengers chorus “Eyah!” and lapse into their personal meditative contemplation, chitchats, group analysis and counter-analysis of the society, the continent and the world in general. He wonders why they had looked at him and talked about someone else. Was he supposed to know the person? He felt a little pained and jealous he could not relate with them. The passengers, in just a little time, brought together by the singular unplanned commonness of huddling together in the cramped interior of the same bus, had developed an affinity he could not manage, in an extended period, with one person in years. Two years with Chinwe and he still felt like he was just getting to know her and yet knew not how to begin knowing her.

“Madness is not good.” He blurts after a little while, hoping to strike up a bond with the passengers. They turn to him and shake their heads sympathetically. He turns to the window, confused. The backdrop was no longer there, funny he did not know how and when. High–rise buildings sandwiching smaller ones, illegal stalls and roadside markets, funny looking signage, estate buildings and dilapidated bungalows and tightly jammed houses fleet before his eyes. It hardly blurs as the bus sped intermittently and move slowly. Strange places he had not been or seen before, yet familiar devils, dance tauntingly before him, ushering him home.

Home! He made up his mind to call Chinwe when he gets home. Trudging out of the sliding glass door of the eatery and whizzing through the file of people at Obalende, he hoped the drive back to Ijaiye would clear his head and put him in a better frame to strategise on the right words and actions to win back his ex. Ex? No, technically not ex. They were just in transition and would be back together before anyone can say Jack. He’s closer to Ijaiye and his mind is still a mess, broken down and torn apart like a demon possessed home. Nothing makes sense to him and he could not think of anything sensible. Lines of thought forms and he follows them until they trail off into insensibilities and leave him stranded. Other lines of thought births, – tugs and pulls him and urges him to explore them, – only to follow the same course. Once or twice, the wandering souls come back and vie for centre stage, ending up in a knotty aggregation. Just as they had come, they untwine themselves and depart noiselessly and new thoughts crop up and end up in similar fashion.

“Last bus stop! All passengers come down!” The conductor broke his thought.

Last bus stop?

“Last bus stop? I am supposed to get down at Ijaiye.”

The passengers all come down, stealing momentary glances at him. The conductor stares at him, long and hard, and hiss coldly. “Ijaiye? Why you no talk na? You go enter another bus go back be that. Come down from my motor.”

He gets down from the bus and thinks everyone is staring at him and the noisy screeching and wheezing of the cars and buses mocks him. He shuffles uneasily on his feet and attempts to cross the three-lane road. He scuttles back hurriedly, fearful of the vehicles taking unrestrained advantage of the free Lagos-Abeokuta express road before rush hour force it into a messy mirage of metallic panels, burning rubbers, angry conductors and frustrated passengers alike. He waits patiently and the eyes remain on him, the mockery too. He turns slowly but no one is close by. No one is looking at him. The few nearby are preoccupied in their hustling but he feels the eyes on him. Mysterious eyes fixed on him, prying him open and mocking his unsettledness.

The road finally becomes free and he ventures onto it. He is barely midway when his phone rings. He brings it out of his pant pockets unconsciously. CHINWE displays on the caller ID. He beams anxiously as he places the phone at his ear.

“I knew you were going to call, erm, no, God! I didn’t know but I expected you to but you didn’t really have to, you know. I would have called you when I got home…”

A car horn blares. He turns just in time to see a Highlander Jeep screeching towards him at a distance. He stands rooted, staring at the oncoming vehicle blindly. It did not make sense to him; neither did the concerned admonitions from the pedestrians crowding the roadside. It all filters into his consciousness like a background romantic score accentuating the magical getaway he inhabits with Chinwe. She was telling him how she was sorry to have dropped the bomb on him thoughtlessly at the eatery. He was still the love of her life, did he know that? Moreover, she would never really dare to break his heart because he meant the world to her and so on, and so forth.

Sanmi opened his mouth and hot air escapes. Speechless, immovable, and the jeep approached on top speed. The driver tries to swerve away from his lane but oncoming cars on the other lanes and his failed brake cage him into an inevitable end. He curse and jams at his brake and thumps the horn savagely but Sanmi stands rooted to the spot, smiling sheepishly and smelling the exotic flowers in the garden of his renewed love. They are sweet and alluring and had a strange, yet, inviting smell lurking at the end. An obnoxious, indescribable smell he could not fathom, – the smell of death!

“Are you there?” Chinwe’s high-pitched voice filtered through the receiver. Sanmi starts.

“Yeah. I… What were you saying?”

The jeep close in, about five seconds… four, three, two, and one. He closes his eyes…

For All That’s in A Name’s Worth

Padade[1] sat too close to the fireplace. He needed all the warmth he could get from this harsh, cold world. A coldness ostentatiously intensified as the bamboo wall fenced him in his father’s compound.  The compound had a deafening silence, thicker than the impenetrable walls of Babylon, which a single bit of emotion could not slice. A giggle or cracked laughter was long obsolete while a sigh, a frown, a muffled cry or the like passed as routine feelings and blended into the unusual atmosphere with unequivocal ease, tampering nothing in its wake. The fronds of the closely huddled plantain trees swept the unkempt ground with every gust and the barren mango tree shed its browned leaves in every direction like a milk churning machine gone wild, keeping the plantain trees ever-busy. The birds tweeted annoyingly and a chance noise irately got on the nerves of anyone hearing it. Broken calabashes, gourds, decomposing wastes, litters and ends and bits of cooking condiments were interspersed in between the browned leaves and decaying faeces.

The bamboo fence was breaking down, – ripping the multi-squared lattice into larger cracks. Close to the entrance, the only cow Ajani, Padade’s father, had was reclining in sickly fashion. Its bones almost bore through its frail skin of white and black left and its sunken eyes barely opened for a second. Lazily it threw its tail to ward off the buzzing flies attracted by its sickly smell. At the far end on the right, the embers burnt with vicious excitement and sent sparks and flares wildly in the air. The sparks and flares died instantly, but one flare lingered on. It held on to the fiery life it had desperately, greedily, stubbornly. Its twinkling light raged dangerously and shone brilliantly. Padade watched it keenly. His eyes caught the twinkle and shone brilliantly too. It began to itch and he rubbed. The stubborn spark was gone. He bent to make patterns on the floor with a sharp flint. Irregular here, regular there, and then an unconscious mix of both. He cleaned it off with his bare foot, scraping the parched, hardened sole against small hard irregular stones. He set forth drawing again. The image started as independent scribbles, later joined together by outstretched lines. It metamorphosed into a woman laying tiredly on the ground, a man climbing over the woman and kept materializing until the image became a dense mass of confusing lines.

A stone missed his bent back by a hair’s breadth. He dropped the flint and watched Asabi, his mother, from the arch in between his curved leg.

“You, this satanic son! Did I go to the woods to fetch wood for you? Why don’t you go and fetch your own wood ehn, instead of stealing mine?” She was saying through her cracked voice.

She stared at him, her eyes devoid of any maternal affection. Her brown hair adorned with sand that had refused to be shaken off since the last mourning. She had vowed it would not be washed off until she bore a son, no, just a child, that would stay. Her face, once beautiful, was the pride of the community. Now it was the image of pity. She became the gold-coated stone scratched by the hands of time and wear but once sought after through thick and thin, rain and sun, fire and brimstone by the most eligible, eligible, somewhat eligible and far-from-eligible classes of the times. She was just thirty-nine but could easily pass for sixty. Her sagged tits hung freely and rested on the faded polka-dotted wrapper she tied loosely against her shrunken stomach. Her eyes, – briefly focused on Padade, – bemoaned a hope longed for, finally actualized and wished it had never been hoped for at first. Where once she could have given her life to have a child, she was determined to give anything to lose this child. She spat on the floor, chuckled cynically and rubbed it with her bare left foot.


The eerie silence in the compound was broken by the rattling of the Ifa priest’s stick in the main hut. Asabi shot a glance at the direction and winced wickedly. She shrugged and continued her work. Recently she had given up being an audience to the weekly ritual and would surreptitiously side-glance the main hut or laid attentive ears for the throwing of cowries as she diced the vegetables or watch the watery soup boil. The hope of any change in the gods’ disposition had vanished in her mind and she openly nurtured her resentment to the surviving son of her hips.

The dilapidated main hut stood disjointedly at the centre of the bamboo fenced-in compound. There the beautiful journey of Padade’s life began and there it was taken from him. He was approaching four years when he sat dreamily on his mother’s laps. His father looked glumly at the divination board as the priest mumbled some vague incantations. He cringed mildly as Asabi carefully contemplated the incisions on his back, arms and the back of his head. A hundred and twenty serrations, she counted, to herself, lining his body like foot soldiers in linear war formations. He watched, with mechanical curiosity, the stones falling off the priest’s frail hands onto the board repeatedly. The gesture he had grown accustomed to know like the back of his hands, as he grew old enough to decipher sounds and identify gestures and faces. He would always look forward to the weekly visit of the priest. The visit always had on its trail a longing ready to be fulfilled, a hope, – though disappearing as the priest’s back is turned to the compound, – that had deserted the compound and the only entertainment for his friendless self for the week.

“The gods are adamant on this issue.’ The priest coughed. His gaze intently scrutinizing the board for any change in the gods’ disposition while fearing to meet the eager, anticipating eyes of the hopeless parents. He shook his head, ‘There is nothing we can do. This child has come to stay.”

“But you said ‘as long as he stays alive…’” Ajani protested. He could not come to grips with the fact that a product of his manhood could bring so much bad luck to him and his family. He would not hear any of the priest’s prediction from the start and his wife’s constant nagging, and concluded there must be a mistake in the god’s message or the priest’s interpretation. To wait so long for that feeling, a longed for paternal sensation and be told it had to be taken back before he could even savour the feeling. They must be joking! Probably if the priest reads it continuously, he would get the message right. Thus, the priest became a weekly guest in the compound.

“‘…your farm would sprout weeds for produce and your cow would emaciate,’’ the priest cut in Ajani’s thoughts, ‘‘you shall become an object of pity and ridicule in the whole village and beyond. All these and many more would be added to you and your family. It is a curse from your late sons.’ I did not say that. That is what the gods said. I am just their spokesperson.”

“My only cow would emaciate?’ Ajani repeated as though that was the only thing the priest said and he was just hearing it for the first time. ‘Look at me. How do we survive when the cow providing us with milk we sell emaciates? Look at me. I am not in a position to go to the farm.”

Ajani shifted on the chequered woven mat. His limp legs did not move. Asabi shifted her gaze to hide the pain that was beginning to well in her heart and rubbed Padade’s back absentmindedly. She had not imagined that her charming, well-chiselled prince that courted her to the depths of romantic pleasures and extremities could be confined on a mouldy mat as a flabby crippled man. She caught Padade’s large innocent eyes and a needle-like pain seared her heart. Sharp, sudden. A brief moment, he looked at her and smiled innocently. She had caught his eyes then and pushed him off like a soiled bag accidentally thrown on an obsessive-compulsively clean sanitary inspector’s laps.

“How could a son from our loins be happy at our tribulations?” She cried sharply.

“How could you have turned the corpse of your late son into a public exhibition in the middle of the public square ten years ago despite my warnings?” The priest retorted.

“We were broke. Do you know how much it costs to afford a befitting burial for eight dead sons within the space of fifteen years? Just as we are paying off the debt of a naming ceremony and burial, another is being born and dies. It was just like a cycle.”

“We could not even afford the services of a digger, not to mention the akara to feed the village anymore.”

The hut was silent. Ajani watched Padade, meditatively. It dawned on him there was no resemblance of sort between Padade and the eight dead sons whatsoever from their birth until their individual age of demise. There had not been any marker tying them to each other, except the fact they each failed to stay, except this, and what better pretext than blame it on  the surviving one. Padade. He sighed. He was tired. Tired of everything; the priest, his interpretations and the adamant gods whose message never changed despite the changes in the cowries’ landings and sounds, his wife’s constant naggings and, above all, this son that had come to stay. Padade, on his own hand, nursed his bruised knee against the mud wall he hunched up against. The once light-brown colour of the hut’s mud wall began to give way to a hostile dark brown, almost the shade of pitch black. It caught on the three faces directed at him and it seemed the only things visible in the room and the world were three egg-like torches pointing at the four year old.


Now, at eight, Padade betrayed any sign he is, or was, an abiku. No fitful slumping, white-eyes or feverish cold seizing him during his birthdays or special events, – though he never celebrated any. Probably the fact that he never had a special occasion celebrated accounted for this. He was just that ordinary child single-handedly picked out for ostracism, by the whole village and the world at large, for no reasons other than he was the only one who survived out of nine sons. He couldn’t even picture how the interior of the main hut looked like now. The crane chair might still be there, the chequered woven mat might be leaning on the wall or Ajani would be crouching on it and the palm wine gourd, which Padade could not lift himself but always dipped his hands into and lick the palm-wine from, might just be broken. Or the black and white pictures of his happy father and mother holding babies, supposedly him come to the world in different times, in different poses might have been taken down. He could not help but muse, at certain times, over the mud walls, of the main hut which he playfully threw with Ajani when he was small, falling apart. He freely crawled and roamed into all the rooms in the compound and often spent days without coming out from the main hut when he was little. Now he was banned from the hut and all the rooms in the compound. He could not even leave the compound. All the villagers seem to be waiting for him at every corner, ready to point accusing fingers and scornful eyes and throwing stones and what-have-you, spitting at him and saying, rather perfunctorily:

‘There goes the wicked son.’

‘If I had a son like him, I would have killed him with my bare hands.’

‘Wicked son, pity your parents and die.’

‘What in the world did such wonderful parents do to deserve a devilish son?’

The fireplace became his room and his home in the middle of his strange home and village and it was abandoned to him only because he stubbornly refused to leave it.


“Kulu-kulu, kulu-kulu, kulu.” The cowries gave off as it danced on the divination board on the ground. Padade turned his neck and caught his mother gazing through the slight opening in the doorway. He now turned to face the main hut. His father was not in sight but he could see the old priest in white wrapper. White linen drapes around his right shoulder and chalked patterns encircle his eyes and ankles. He moaned deeply. He threw the cowries, half expecting the sound to change slightly or a different message from the gods and half wishing the visits could end. He shook his head and gave up the pretence.

“There is nothing else to say… I fear the gods are not prepared to change their minds.” The old man grunted in resigned submission. Ajani did not say anything. After what seem a long wait the cowries danced as they were thrown in the bag and hit the divination board in defeat. The circle of waiting on and testing the gods’ patience was over. The inevitable had to be accepted.


Padade turned and bent to stroke the embers. Through the curve in between his legs, he watched the old priest shuffle out nervously, Ajani pushing himself out with his hands behind him and Asabi trying hard to ignore their presence. She had only four pieces of yam left in the coal pot and none to spare for a stomach’s owner who could not help lighten their problems. Soon she would support her husband to the cleared path close to the market to beg for alms and she intended not to speak so she could save enough voice to beg for alms.

The embers were beginning to die. Through the waning light, his life flashed briefly and deceptively taunting. They said he had lived and died eight times. He could not remember a minute second of any such previous existence. Only the pictures he saw on the walls and the serrations on his back and head that Asabi was wont to subject careful examination. He had not even set eyes on them and did not know if it was true or they even existed. They could be wrong, as they could not be right. To the tale of coming eight times or not, the peace of the family might as well depend on his death. However, of that, for all that is in a name’s worth, he would not give them the pleasure of counting him as the ninth casualty. He had come… to live.

[1]  Padade literally means Come Back.