Short Stories

Family Secrets II

You were the child that saved your mother’s marriage.

That family picture hanged on the wall, above the television in the sitting room was taken on your christening. Your sisters are standing beside your parents , two by your mother’s left, one by your father’s right. Your mother is seated with you on her lap, your father next to her. He has one arm draped across her shoulder and the other placed gently on your leg. Everyone is dressed in the same lace material. Your mother’s headgear was so big the photographer had asked her to adjust it a few times. One of your sisters had cried prior to the picture being taken because the bow that held her hair in a bun was too tight. In the photo, everyone had a big smile.

Our son is here.

It was said that after your birth , your father was so excited he started keeping a beard. Because he was now a father to a boy. Now your father was his mother’s only son and only child. The 3 children his mother bore had all died before the age of 2. His father took another wife who ended up having three girls. So you see it was up to him to keep his father’s name alive.

The first child born to your parents was a girl. They named her Ifeoma, something good. A child is a good thing, be it boy or girl right?

The second, a girl they named Ngozichukwuka , God’s blessings are better. They are always better aren’t they?

The third, another girl they named Chinweokike , God owns creation. Everything, he created isn’t it?

Things started to change. Your father’s uncles would come and hold meetings behind closed doors. Your mother’s greetings were replied with mumblings. The meetings they called your mother into, she came out crying . This part Ify told you because she was older, she understood what the others did not.

It’s around this time Nne Ifeoma would call her younger sister to come and look after her children that she was going away for three days. The child she wanted, that would save her marriage, she was going to ask God for directly.

Your mother was away , praying at the mountain or water side or somewhere. She prayed, she rolled, she cried, she screamed. With Prophet.

Few weeks later she was pregnant with you. Her greetings were still met with mumblings, this time a bit more audible. During this pregnancy your mother was unsettled. If she had another girl what would happen to her and your sisters.

It is at this time that her friend Abigail visited.

“Abigail, m mwuo nwanyi ozo… hmm. If I have another girl it is finished”

“What will I do”

During her 7th month of carrying you, she packed a few things and said she was going to deliver you at her mother’s place , na nukwu nne ya.

Your mother carried you for 8 months and three weeks before she bore you. Your sisters said your father came home dancing that day with so much joy. A few weeks passed before she came back with you in her arms. Vistors trooping in and out of the house.

Your mother’s greetings were replied with “Ehen our wife kedu. Kedu maka baby. How are you. How is baby”. Your mother went from being called Nne Ifeoma to Nne Chidera.

On your christening you were called Chidera, maka, chi dera o de si go , when God writes, it is written

Ifeanyichukwu, what we asked from God

Osinachukwu , it came from God

It was on that day, the picture was taken. Everyone dressed in the same lace material. Everyone with the big smile. Everyone dark skinned, you light skinned.

Prophet was fair in complexion.

The pregnant woman at Aunty Abigail’s hospital was fair in complexion.

Your father’s father, your grandfather was fair in complexion.

It’s the joy on your father’s face when he throws you up in the air. When he looks at you and says “My son”

Who gave you life does not matter. You saved your mother’s marriage.

You are your father’s son.


Family Secrets

You were the child that came unannounced.

Not a mistake but a mistake. It was all hush hush until your mother realized she had missed her period twice and she was feeling a bit sick. One visit to the doctor’s confirmed that she was 6 weeks gone. She waited three days before telling your father. She was pregnant, he would be a father whether he liked it or not because as Christians we do not destroy what man cannot create.

“Anyi ga-eme ego ya“

That was the first thing his mother, your grandmother said when she was told. God forbid you be a child born out of wedlock, from such a well known family. Even though a few protests came from his sisters

“Idikwa sure o nke nwanne anyi? Are you sure it’s our brother’s”

Just as quickly as you were convinced, his parents took the necessary items to your mother’s parents. This gathering had no three appearances , no maidens escorting your mother to look for your father. No akwa uniform was sold. Your mother did not dance with your father while naira notes were sprayed. This joining had just her parents, his parents and ndi umunna in attendance. As your mother walked to your father with that cup of palmwine , in that small parlor of your grandparents house at Abagana.

Was she sure she loved this man? Probably not.

Could forever be promised?

Did she feel completely at home in his arms?

She knelt down when she got to him. Took a sip of the palmwine and gave him to drink. Your father took the cup and drank. Him drinking signified that he had accepted your mother. That you were accepted. According to tradition they are husband and wife. Any child brought into this union is a legitimate child.

As he drank, there was a quiet applaud. An applaud of relief from the shame that had been averted. From here everyone would continue like all this had happened under normal circumstances. This part of the story would be told in hush tones. Later when you are grown , the small slips that fall from discussions on the family table is what you would gather to put together . One line from this aunty, one line from that aunty. You would begin to understand those days your mother was sad and took out her anger on you. The other days your mother told you you were her comfort in this marriage. You would understand why many times, your father was gone for so long. You would begin to remember and understand all the parables your mother spoke.

This is the story you would remember when your boyfriend tells you he wants you to have his baby. You would laugh and playful ask

“Gi na onye? You and who biko”

Are you sure you love this man?

Could forever be promised ?

Do you feel completely at home, at peace with this man?

Would you become your mother all over again?

God forbade you were born a bastard

God forbid you bore a bastard


So this is the story I wrote (last minute thanks to Nina’s persuasion) over a year ago for the Farafina Workshop Shop last year. I didn’t get in, I didn’t even think I would but at least I tried. Please read and feel very free to drop your suggestions, thoughts, criticism in the comments.

Thank you!

Prices are increasing.
Everything is now expensive, we’re getting by but still. Yesterday my mother was calculating how much it costs to fuel two cars and a generator in a week. The other day the mallam that sold suya had all types of vegetables but no tomatoes. I jokingly mentioned it to my aunty that it’s that bad now.
“Aha, tomato” he said while arranging sticks of meat on a  rusty yellow tray
“E don cost no be small”
He wore an ugly looking silver ring on his oily finger. For some reason I continued to stare at the mallam’s oily fingers as he continued to arrange his ware. His apprentice poured more oil from an old bottle on the meat and turned them over.
I continued to stare and inhale the smoke
* * *
I spoke to my father today. Nothing out of the ordinary. The usual how are yous, how’s your health. The only thing out of the ordinary is that I haven’t seen my father in three years. Over the years people have asked “Don’t you miss your father”. I always shrug it off, and tell them not really. Now see, my father wasn’t around much while growing up so I guess I’m used to it. So I use his absence to cover up for my moody days or when my roommate catches me crying. People tend to buy that lie. A lot.
But today I asked a question I never asked in three years
“Are you still coming home this summer”
“Yes of course now, sometime in July. Just a month and half”
I feel a lump in my throat and my eyes are watery. “How’s Uncle Amaechi”

I’m staring at the table .I’m staring lot at things lately
* * *
I’m sitting here staring at students walk by. Most of them are walking blindly, looking at single sheets of paper in their hands with writings on it. It’s exams, nobody is walking slowly.
Sitting opposite the bus park, waiting for my friend and I start to think of him.
We’re arguing a lot nowadays. He says I’m uptight and far from sensitive. I don’t argue about the latter. He once told me he had a love-hate thing for this artistic side of mine. He loves it but it makes him think I’ll drift away at some point. All I could say to that was “Shit happens”
He doesn’t like the way I go neither do I but I agree with him. We have no spark anymore so there’s no need wasting time.
I’m sitting down,  staring at students walk by and I’m thinking about him.
* * *
As much as prices are increasing, we’re getting by. We still find time to laugh. I’m sitting at the verandah with my mother and aunty . There’s no light so we’re entertaining ourselves with small talk. Someone’s approaching the gate, it’s the landlord’s son
“I’m sure he has gotten to smoke again” I say breaking the silence
Mummy lifts her hand to slap the mosquito on her arm
“If you see the girl he brought the other day ehn, ike ya ra ka basin. Her bum was as big as a basin”
I try to hold it but I can’t. Mummy’s laughing so hard that she starts to cough.
At that moment I realize that we will be fine, that I will be fine. I’ll leave home soon and I don’t feel like I have the ability to survive without my mother guiding me. I’m afraid one day, he would come back with that smile and say in that low deep voice “I miss you” and our tragic love story will repeat itself. Over and over I’ve chosen the love that has hurt me. The type that drains me to my bones even though on the outside it looks like it did not leave a scratch.  I feel like my identity isn’t mine sometimes and there is so much that I can do but I don’t try. I have words in my head that I can’t get out no matter how hard I try. It is these words that cause me to turn and be restless till 4 in the morning. But still I’ll be fine.
* * *
Every where is quiet. Everyone’s asleep already except from me. I’m not restless today instead I am calm but still there’s no sleep so I’m staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness. My phone beeps. I pick up it up to read the text with no intention of answering it. The message was simple,
At that moment I have no strength to lie. “We’re not fine but we’ll be fine, nothing’s wrong.” That’s all I say.
Idi kwa sure? Are you sure?”
As simple as this question is, nothing prepares me for it. I break down and start to cry. Every thing feels like a mess, I’m a mess. I’m crying and staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness but the tears makes everything blurry.
Just like everything around me.

Travel Chronicles

I met a boy once.
His name was Alex.
Okay I didn't necessarily meet that boy named Alex , I sat two seats and an aisle away from a boy named Alex.

So I sat two seats and an aisle away from a boy named Alex on a flight from Los Angeles to Paris. No I don't go on fancy vacations because I can't afford it, Paris was a stop over. I know his name is Alex because I heard him introduce himself to the lady who sat next to him. Alex wore glasses and had a stripped cardigan on which matched his socks. Both stripped but different colours. Alex had light brown hair with streaks of blonde. And also a beautiful smile. He was super nice to the old lady who sat beside him. Not technically beside beside because there was an empty chair between them. From the conversation, Alex talked about how beautiful Tahiti had been when he visited. I just listened and stole glances when I could because the lady besides me wasn't much of a conversationalist. I mean I smiled and said hi but didn't get a response. I met Alex's glance twice or thrice, I can't really remember. I'm sure he won't remember the girl in a grey cardigan with blue twists. And there's a greater possibility that he was just looking over my head or pass me.
We would never find out.
So I took got off that plane with my hand luggage and an unrealistic funny short story on how I fell in love on a 12 hours flight. I would tell this story to my friend while at the airport and almost miss my flight back to Lagos.

Months later I would be reminded of Alex when I sat next to a girl at the airport in Ethiopia waiting on our connecting flight. No I don't go on fancy vacations because I can't afford it, Ethiopia was a stop over too. She had a 3b/c afro which I thought was beautiful and I couldn't stop admiring her piercings. We shared a smile and confusion on whether the next flight boarding was ours or not. While sitting there , I noticed she had a bag of things, looked like souvenirs to me from where she had visited.
I would stand next to this same girl at LAX waiting to pick up our luggage. While I waited for my two boxes which of course one was filled with food stuffs ( a Nigerian that travels without food stuffs is that a Nigerian?) , she picked up her over sized camp bag and left. I stared at the fully grown tree tattooed on her ankle, silently wishing her good luck with whatever growth she had or wanted in life.
I should have asked her for her name.

I am grateful for French air hostesses who mispronounce your surname but escort you to board your almost missed flight.
I am grateful for different stop overs that make me feel like a seasoned traveller even though I have only two stamps from two different countries on my passport.
I am grateful for friends that keep you company with the aid of airport WiFi.
I should start collecting souvenirs , even from stop overs.
I should have taken a picture of that beautiful sunrise I saw from an airport window.
I should tell strangers that they are beautiful.
I should ask for names.
So I am grateful for Alex and the girl with the tree tattoo on her ankle.
It feels good to write again.

– for Alex and the girl with the tree tattoo on her ankle.

‘Coke or Fanta’

This the first thing I have written this year. At first I didn’t want anyone to read this until I was ‘finished’ , although it’s a bit different from the first one I had written but here it is  …

The house besides mine had never been occupied since the Lawals left. Their father worked at the Coca-Cola company in Lagos before they moved. They always had crates of soft drinks stacked at the door leading to the passage. Each time Nna and I visited we would be greeted warmly by Mrs Lawal or Mama Bayo as she was fondly called. Then we would be asked

“Coke or Fanta”

Sometimes I asked for a Sprite. I would take a sip and hold it in my mouth just to feel the bubbles before swallowing. Nna asked for a Coke all the time. Just before it was 6 we would  go back home and pretend we had been home all through. By quarter after 6, Mama would come home from prayer meeting, humming a worship song. We knew better not to mention our visit to the Lawals. She knew we played with their children, but she must never know we accept drinks because according to her

“You don’t go to people’s houses and be collecting things, that’s bad home training and ha buro ndi uka they don’t go to church”; the latter part said with a look of disgust.

It turns out that the Lawals weren’t Christians because Mr Lawal never believe in ‘this church thing that women believed so much in’. I heard him say this once when he and Papa were talking.

Before they moved,  Mariam had told me earlier

“My father said we’re going to live in Onitsha” she whispered in my ear one day

“To do what? You people don’t understand Igbo”

“He said he would now work there so we’re all going to live there”

Maria and I weren’t best of friends but she was the only childhood friend I had that lived close to me. The rest had moved too.

I shrugged. I  didn’t want her to see the tears in my eyes so I turned.

“Let’s play catcher ” I had started running before I finished the sentence

Two nights before they left, people went to say their goodbyes. Mama went with us because she only felt it was the right thing to do but she refused anything and we dare not accept anything out of fear of what the two hands that gently laid on our shoulders would do when we got home. Our stay was brief but only Papa stayed back for a bottle of beer. From our balcony, I watched more people go in, if only Mama had let us stay longer

A week after they left, a white board was placed in front of the gate. It had ‘TO LET’ written in red capital letters, below the letters were numbers to call if interested. I would imagine what the family that would move in be like. How many children would they have? But the house sat there, paint peeling  lizards chasing themselves on the walls. During the rainy season, the rains would wash away the dust that the harmattan had brought. I guess nobody was interested.

Sometimes when other children rode their bicycles down the streets or played ‘catcher’ I would look at the house. I would remember Mrs Lawal’s smile , I was beginning to forget what she sounded like when she said ‘Coke or Fanta’

That was 5 years ago

One day I noticed the sign was no longer there, it had been  removed, somebody was moving into the house.

On that day, a moving van drove into the compound. From our balcony I could see them  carrying in chairs, beds, everything into the house. A smaller car drove into the house and parked behind the moving van. A woman and a girl came out. The girl looked about my age, she turned and looked at my direction.

She smiled. She had big hair.

“O dinma. I’m fine”


Today we’re going on a road trip. From Lagos to Nnewi. I’ll keep to myself all through. If I’m not reading , I’ll listen to music on my mp3 player. Or I’ll sleep. My mother says I keep to myself these days. I just turn and look out the window. It’s true, I have been unusually quiet. But what is there to explain. That I don’t what’s going on with me. People irritate me. I don’t think I like the boy I thought I liked. I don’t have the strength for intellectual conversations, or any type of conversation. All I want is to do nothing. Feel nothing. And write. There’s a 3 days Creative Writing course in my mail box, all three classes with yellow stars next to them. I opened them though, just didn’t read them .I can’t write if I don’t feel anything. I feel like I’m floating. Wayyy up. And I’m enjoying it. Coming down would be facing reality. Answering the same questions “Are you okay?” “Where have you been”

It’s like my feelings know I’m not myself and they’re patiently waiting. Waiting for me to come back. Then they can come rushing all at once. That would make me confused, overwhelmed … I know. I would break down no doubt but I don’t want that. So I still want to float. Enjoy the peace while it lasts. Do I describe it as peace or running away from what I don’t what to feel? Whatever it is…

“We’re at Asaba, we would soon reach”

Nnewi. Home. Something there that makes me feel some kind acceptance, safety. The air is cool. It’s quiet there. I have my special place, nobody ever finds me there. When I get to Nnewi, I can let myself be vulnerable. Let my feelings peeping through the door overwhelm me. I could break down a little… I would break down a little. Then sort them out one after the other. And I could write. Write about how I started walking early in the morning, my new diet, my personal opinion on something. Or a story. I could write anything. I could finally take that 3 days Creative Writing course. I could finally answer all those messages and tell them that I’m fine.

I wake up to the car horning. We have gotten here.

“Aha bia go, they have come”

As if on cue, everyone comes rushing outside. The ones I know and the ones I can’t remember. The ones that weren’t home, people were sent to go and call them “Hian nekwa gi, look at have grown. I just smile. Then I see my grandmother, slowly emerging from the house

“Nne m o, kedu” I hug her and hold her tightly.

“Mama o dinma. I’m fine”

Photo Credit : Google Images.

Wild Moments


Facing  the window, the morning sun pouring on her face. She was standing there in the kitchen, over sized black t-shirt and her hair pulled into a messy bun. 7 am and she was up making breakfast. ‘Bed Peace’ by Jhene playing from the stereo in the living room. Caught in the moment, she lifted her hands up and swayed unconsciously to the music. Unkown to her she had an audience.

He stood, leaning against the wall. Watching her every move. She’s wasn’t a morning person, so seeing her dancing and happy in the morning made him laugh. She was the type that didn’t follow all the rules. She could argue for hours to get her point across. According to her, if being a woman who won’t let any body tell her what to do or not to do because she was a female made her a feminist, then she is a feminist. She loved a good book, African literature being her favs ”There’s something about holding a well read book”. There was always a book by her bed side, next to her iPod. He loved listening to her talk ,whether it was something she did, a book she read, a song she heard recently. The way her eyes lit up when she was excited was enough for him. She was the type he would call ‘a girl in woman’s body’. The way she would stick her tongue out at a car that refused to stop for her to cross. Or her love for cartoons. How could someone so free spirited be caged at the same time. She hardly spoke of the things that bothered her, instead she preferred to be left alone. Sometimes she would be so withdrawn and depressed that nothing he said or did would bring her back to normal. They had their wild moments: fights that made them question why they were still together, moments they never wanted to end. People wondered why they tried. But the thought of not being together was scary enough for them.They were complicated, three years and still counting.

He went into the kitchen and held her from behind, one hand round her waist the other round her shoulder. She stopped moving and together they stood there. Then she said,  ”I don’t know what this is, either do you. But if you stay I will”

        It was last Sunday, thanksgiving service. Every body was dressed in their best. Men in their ‘agbadas’ and ‘resource controls’ while the women were competing on who’s wrapper had more stones,who’s gele was bigger and who’s jewelry was more expensive. And he walked in, wearing a tattered anakara jumper. His singlet had gone from white to a shade of brown, his beard looked so unkempt. He was ushered to sit at the back and not up front . We thought he was just one of those people who walked into a church when they had run out of money, after the service he’ll request to see the pastor then a story would emerge ,he’ll be given some money and never be heard of again.

        He looked so out of place, so scary. His every move was been watched closely: when he stood up during worship, praise, offering, even thanksgiving. Or when he adjusted himself in his seat. He was calm through out the sermon. Then it was time for testimony. He beckoned on the usher close to where he was sitted and she looked like she was about to die. Instead a much older male usher went to him, and he said he wanted to go up front, to the altar. As he was escort, we wondered what he was going there to do, then he stood in line and waited for his turn. What was he going to say? How he was going through a difficult time and God directed his steps to this church? His turn came and he introduced himself then started with a song

‘ I have a friend and he will never abandon me, his name is J E S U S’

 Then he started to give his testimony ” I was working in a factory as a factory worker in 2007. I did not find anybody trouble. Then one day, two of the workers I work with, they start to fight. As me and some people try to separate them, one carry bottle shuk the other person. As he shuk the person, everybody run. Only me and some people. I did not run because I know I did not do any tin. So police come, they carry us. E become case, they say they go carry us go court as witness.They take us to Kirikiri.The lawyer dey talk , we go court. The matter long, even the people we wey work for abandon it. So finally on Friday they freed us on suspected murder charge. Praise God”

       Everyone stood and started to clap. Those who could speak in tongues were speaking in tongues while clapping. Others like me, we were clapping while saying ‘Thank you Jesus’. As he walked back to his seat, people were saying ‘Congratulations my brother’ ‘Thank God’. 7 years in prison, for trying to be a peacemaker and a law abiding citizen. He had gone from prisoner to ‘brother’. I tried imaging what seeing the sun from the outside and not prison walls would feel like for him. What of his family that had learnt to live without him around. How did he keep faith alive during those 7 years?  I didn’t see him this Sunday, doubt I’ll see him anytime soon. But he made me grateful for the little things at that moment, things  like seeing the sun without been caged. So I’m thankful and I hope he’s happy were ever he is.

In Her Shoes


She was the cool one. The one who wasn’t bothered by what people or the rest of the family thought. She had the perfect make-up I wished I had, the expensive taste I would like to afford, the style I wanted, the piercings I didn’t have the liver to bear the pain,the length of weave I craved, the skin tone I envied. She attended the ‘parties’, went to the ‘places’, lived life like she was young ..and yes she was young. Let’s say I sort of looked up to her.  People said things… that she had gone wild, that she had to much freedom and her mother should have not let her be far from her at a young age. I didn’t see it that way, I saw it has given the freedom to be your true self. Right to expression. ” Don’t be like her” ” You were raised better” “People look up to you”. So they talked… I admired in secret.
I was the boring one. Went to school, got good grades. Never attended parties, the longest weave I ever had was 18 inches which my mother felt was too long. I never got to do exciting things, doubt I ever had a wild ‘adventure’. I was the one who stayed at home to babysit, watch series and wish I was living the life I saw on television. I practically never left my house. It was school-church-cousin’s house-back to the house. Did eveything the family said… I would go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have children, have a 9-5 job and retire when I’m old and babysit my grand-children. Like it was always written in a book and no matter my hidden wild streak, that was how my life could end up.
Sometimes I wonder if after the parties were over, hair packed into a bun, make-up wiped off, expensive clothes replaced with an over sized tee…if she felt the way I feel. Confused..not sure what she wanted in life anymore, if she sometimes wanted to run away, start all over again, close her eyes and wake up in a different place…or not even waking up again. Most of all, if she felt lonely even though surrounded by people. If she felt like screaming and being angry at everything and everyone. Does she ask herself the ‘what if’ questions? Does she have regrets? Actions or thoughts she will like to take back? Did she have this one boy she really liked but things just didn’t work out? Does he still call her up and they talk for hours like they were still together? Does she let her mind wander at night or let the emotions flow out and cry? Does she search for peace… because I do.
Feelings of helplessness with no idea of what is going on. Running away from what she doesn’t know but can’t face. Hiding from the truth…because I do.
I still admire her though. And I wonder what it will feel like to walk in her shoes, but I have a feeling walking in her stilettos would feel like walking in my flats.



Finding Peace : Dindu’s Journey


A woman’s journey

5:30 in the morning, she would have to get to the bus park early enough if she wanted to catch the first bus. She waves down a taxi ” Jibowu” , after bargaining on the price the taxi man finally agrees on one thousand naira

” Madam na because you be my first customer make business good today” he told her as she got into the taxi.  As he took her through Maryland the road was free, she would get tot the park on time she thought. She took a good look at the driver through the review mirror. Patterned old shirt, faded looking cream coloured cap, tribal marks and with stained teeth due to constant chewing of kola nuts… yes he looked like a talker. And she was right

” Madam shey na village you dey go?” ” Igbo people una too dey go village”. He laughed showing his stained teeth to the whole world. ” Last year wey pass, my opposite neighbour Bonnyface pack him family dem go him village” . She looked at him through the mirror again, just ignore him and he’ll stop talking.. which he did after getting no response. Pressing the play button on his radio an Ebenezer Obey song starts to play ” Ebenezer Obey do your best and leave the rest” he sings along while tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. She leaned back against the seat and her mind starts to wander. She thought about what she would do when she got to the village. What would she say to a father she hadn’t seen to in five years? And the mother she hardly spoke to? Her elder sister and young brother were the only family members she spoke to only because they won’t stop calling to check up on her. The other family members… she really didn’t care. As she was drifting off, the taxi man broke into her thoughts.. ” Madam we don reach o. Na which motor you go enter?”

“Stop at Chisco” .She paid him his money and got down while he helped her with her bag. She packed light.. wasn’t like she was going to live there forever. Getting to the counter, she turned to the attendant at the window that said ” Awka, Onitsha”

” One ticket to Awka please. Has the first bus left” she asked

” No. Your name?”

“Dindu. Dindu Dike”. She said as she gave her details to the attendant.. a light skinned lady with dark knuckles and drawn-on red eyebrows that more like straight lines than eyebrows. She better go easy on the bleaching cream

“Here.. First bus seat 17”

“Thank you”. She took her ticket and went to board the bus. One of the porters approached her and asked if she would go with the small bus or the big bus. ” Mba, nke nnuku” she told him. She wasn’t about to cramp herself up in a small bus just to get there one hour early. After making sure her bag had been kept in the trunk .. she boarded the bus.17.. seat 17.. she found it, thankfully that it was near the window. By the time had settled down.. other passengers were already boarding  the bus. ” Ngwa banye ka anyi ga” the driver urged them. A woman approached her seat with a baby and a baby bag.

“Sorry this is seat 18 abi?


“Please help me hold him while I keep this bag” Before she could reply, a baby was in her arms and memories rushed back. His eyes were dark brown, bright.. hers was dull. His skin was smooth.. hers was wrinkled. He was kicking his legs.. hers was stiff. His mother sat down, turned to her ” Thank you”. As she handed her back her baby she couldn’t help but ask

” How old is he?”

” Oh he’s four months”. Hers would have been the same.

” By the way I’m Nkiru” ” Dindu”

By the time the bus had started moving the baby had fallen asleep in his mother’s arms.. he looked so comfortable.. so at peace. She had to force herself to look away. A man had stood up and was preaching while holding the seats beside him for support. ” Because the bible says if you believe in him he will make a way for you in your wilderness. Can I hear an amen?!” “Amen!”.

She turned her head and rested it against the window.. she wasn’t in the mood for this. She was going to a home she hadn’t been to in five years. What had changed? She wondered if the gate still creaked when you opened it? Had the door to the barn been fixed or was it still lying against the wall? Did Papa still tie the same red wrapper with white patterns on it? Her father.. the thought of him made her smile. They were so much alike.. the height, face.. everything. He called her “Nne m” meaning my mother because according to him she was the reincarnation of his mother who had died shortly before she was born. Would he be happy to see her? Would he still be mad at her? The last time she saw him they had an argument .. a heated argument. She could still remember every word they said. She had called him a heartless man who never cared about his children nor loved his wife.

He struck her.. she took her bags and left. She could still hear her mother crying as he left.. that was five years ago.

If there was one thing she inherited from her father it was pride. Pride.. pride that made her apology five years late

Probably God was punishing her for not honouring her parents or something. In five years she had lost three children.. 2 miscarriages.. 1 still born. She quit her job, stopped attending social functions.. church services and even cut off all her friends. Her marriage was crashing ..Toby was tired and she knew it. Every time she thought he had had enough and won’t come back to her, he would walk through that door. Her heart would leap at the sight of him but her attitude treated him differently. She could remember their last fight.. ..

” I can’t keep on making excuses for you.. why you have refused see anyone, talk to someone about it, see anybody..even your family. Dindu move on! I lost three children too but you don’t see me avoiding everybody and everything. Let me help you. This is a marriage.. a union between two people not one!”

“I should move on? Two died inside me another in my arms  and I should move on!? You can’t help me nobody can. I carried those children, not you not anybody else. I felt it when they kicked, not you not anybody else. And don’t tell me you understand because you don’t! And you never will!” The words flew out of her mouth before she could stop herself. She could see it in his eyes.. she had gone too far this time. He turned around and left without a word.

As the bus kept on moving all she was seeing were forests.. thick forests. She would have to get her life together but first peace.. she had to find peace within herself. While thinking she drifted off into sleep. She found herself in hospital, in hospital cloths, on a hospital bed.. there was blood on the sheets. She sat up and looked around. It was dark, nobody was there but she could hear voices.. at the same time

“Its a boy” “Push.. I can see the head.. push” “Madam I’m sorry your baby is dead” ” Dindu..  hold my hand” “Doctor the baby isn’t crying” ” Breathe”

She turned and saw a crib. As she approached it she saw a baby in it. Her baby.. her dead baby. She lifted him up and thought.. if only he had lived. ” Wake up” ” wake up because you have to live” . She shook the baby hard ” You won’t die on me!” ” Cry!” ” Cry!!” As she shook the baby violently , he started to cry. She stared at the dead baby.. his eyes were dull, his face had turned an  ashen colour, he wasn’t moving but he was crying. She opened her mouth to scream but could not. Horrified she dropped the baby and turned to run. She woke up with a jump. Nkiru’s baby was crying and she was trying her best to calm him down

“Did he wake you up? I’m so sorry”

” Its okay”

“Sorry” still petting her baby ” we have gotten to Anambra State sha. Oh I’m getting down here”

The bus stopped foe few passengers to get down.. Nkiru was one of them.” Bye,  take care of yourself” ” Yeah you too”. Dindu looked outside the window.. she saw a man kiss Nkiru on the cheek before helping her with her luggage. That must be her husband she thought. As the bus started to move.. Nkiru turned and waved. She waved back.

15mins later she was in a taxi heading for Nise. She still knew every turning by heart. In a few minutes she would see the family she had walked out on.  ” front of that gate”.. she got down and gave the taxi man his money. With her bag in her hand..silently she opened the gate and walked in. It still creaked. Nobody was at the front so she found her way to the back were she knew her mother would be and yes her mother was there. Was it just her or had her mother aged in five years?

“Dindu..” “Mama” Her mother rushed to her and hugged her fiercely as tears rolled their cheeks. It had been so long.. too long. They found their way to the bench and sat down still holding each other tightly. Words were not spoken, they were not needed.. their silence said a lot. They stayed in that position for a while, neither of them wanting to let go until she heard a voice.

“Chimdindu”.. she froze. She knew that voice.. she missed that voice. As she turned to face her father.. he had aged a bit, still tied at red wrapper with white patterns

“Nne m” she sighed a sigh of relief when she heard that “Nne m” ” Papa”. They embraced each other and all she kept on saying was ” I’m sorry”. Her father pulled away from he and said ” I forgive you. I had forgiven you a long time ago” and with that he hugged her again. After supper, she decided to retire to her room. Mama had their houseboy make the bed for her, Everything was still the same .. nothing had been removed or changed. It was as if they always waited for her to come back. The next day, her father sat her down in the balcony, she knew what he was going to talk about.

“Nne m I heard all that happened from your siblings and your husband . Its hard I know but  life must continue. You can’t  give up everything you have achieved like that ..  no. Chimdindu you are stronger than this I know my daughter. Your husband is a good man. Don’t give up easily o Nne m?” ” Yes Papa”. Later than evening, her mother came into her room, sat on her bed and held her. Now she could act tough with everybody but not with her mother.

” Mama I have failed. As a daughter, as a wife. I failed”

” Mba.. no. You haven’t failed at all. You lost three others will come and they will stay. Ha ga nnochi. God does not sleep .. o na fu ihe nile..he sees it all. Be strong. Tobechukwu is a good man, he has stood by you don’t give him a reason to leave. When you return let your marriage be a happy one. Try and forget what has happened. You haven’t failed anybody..ngwa try and sleep o”.

One evening while sitting outside , Dindu realized she had been running away from nothing for five years, only fighting the ones who loved her.   Her family accepted her back without questions, her husband still wanted to be with her after all that had happened. Nothing had changed.. she was the only one who did

After a week, she returned back to Lagos. She decided to prepare dinner for had been a while since she did that. 6’oclock she sat down and waited patiently. What if he didn’t come home? What if he walked in and said he was leaving for good? As many thoughts went through her mind the door opened. Her heart leaped.. and her attitude didn’t treat him differently this time.

“Toby.. I’m sorry”. He reached for her and hugged her. He held her for a long time  ” We’ll be fine” he said

And they were.