Glass Walls

Have you ever felt this way before?
                             * * *

“I want to break up with you”

She exhaled slowly, and rehearsed the words again. They sounded right in her head. She could say them. She could just open her mouth, and speak them out loud now. The thought gave her an exhilarated feeling, a headyness that almost seemed like the after-effects of alcohol. It made her almost want to cry.

Her hands tightened on her spectacles case, turning it around and around. She could say it right now, if she wanted to. She could just take a knife any time and sever this flimsy bond, right now. But as she basked in her chimeric power, a voice in her head snidely reminded her that severing the bond would also mean waving bye-bye the benefits that came with it. She suppressed a sigh and looked out of the car window.

The traffic eased a little and they moved forward. She eyed all the hawkers, risking their lives to sell their wares and she beckoned to one bearing soft drinks. The gas from the coke hissed as she snapped it open, and she found herself being grateful for this momentary break in the silence that was folding like dark smoke inside the car. Then she was startled by his voice.

“You didn’t ask me if I wanted one.” The way he said it so calmly; she could pretend it wasn’t an accusation. He signalled the coke seller and bought his own too. Then the silence returned. It was so strange she wanted to laugh. She wished she could laugh. She wished she could pat his leg jokingly like she used to, and say “why didn’t you talk when I was buying it?” She wished that she could also apologize for cheating with his friend. But it was so long ago, and he would only tell her that she was forgiven. “It was in the past, Nne’m. I’m not mad anymore.” I’m not mad anymore. She closed her eyes and stifled the urge to scream.

Time passed. He reached out and played with the music buttons, and eventually settled on a song she used to like. The memory of it filled her with a sad nostalgia, and she chastised herself. You don’t need this feeling. She almost leaned forward to change it with a huff, but she remembered that that was now forbidden. It was one of the acts that he frowned upon; her unwillingness to commit to something new. She picked up her coke instead fidgetted with it some more, closing and unclosing the fizzy drink. Pfft, pfft, pfft, a little less gas was released every time. She wondered what she would do when it stopped, and almost dropped the drink when she felt his hand on hers.

“Stop fidgeting, Ona.” He said. The hand took away her saviour drink and placed it in a cupholder. And came back to enclose hers again. Panic rose in her chest. “I’m not mad anymore.” An okada sped dangerously close past them and he swerved suddenly and cursed. “It’s just that you know how to annoy me! You have this ability to make me so irritated sometimes!!” She believed him. He was normally very calm with his friends. Jovial even, sometimes. But the last word had come out as a stutter, which only happened when he was considerably upset, and she felt herself shrinking inside the plush leather seat, wishing she could make herself smaller. It wasn’t always like this. She closed her eyes and inhaled slowly. It used to be better.

She felt a sharp tug in her tummy and wondered if she should have bought food instead. But she knew that food would not fill this yearning void that was threatening to drown her in sorrow. It was the same emptiness that gaped at her mockingly, everytime she settled at her table to write. The words just refused to come. These days, her thoughts were silent, except when he said “We cannot end this right now. We must work it out.” Then her mind sped and she thought of a boy. A boy who loved the circus very much. One day, he played and played and did not notice that the people had left until the night had fallen. Then he ran to the gate and the begged the keeper to open it. Little boy, the man said, with a mocking smile on his lips, stay. All the people have gone, and you are locked inside. It is just you and me now. Aren’t you happy to have the entire circus all to yourself, forever?

Dusk settled. The journey to the mainland was long, and she wondered if he wished she didn’t live so far away. The silence in the car was calm now. He felt it too, and he took her hand again and smiled. He turned it over, so that her palm was facing upwards. The last finger before the thumb, the one right after the wedding finger; he began to stroke. Not stroke lightly with the balls of his thumbs, no, but with the hard nail scrapping up and down the limp finger, digging into each bony joints. Ona wanted to tell him that it hurt, that she hated it when he touched her, that it reminded her of a butcher pinching price meat, but the voice in her head snickered again. So she bit her lips shut and stared fixedly at the muted rain, and traced the drops trickling like tears outside the car window.
                           * * *
It’s been a while, and I’m a little rusty. A shuffle here and a stumble there, and soon I’d be running.

The Funeral

I remember when Mama died.

I and Mora sat on the sofa throughout the funeral, our black shoes and shiny satin gowns looking very neat and in place. I kept opening and closing my legs, fascinated by the pool of sunlight reflecting on my dress. The air was heavy with smells of moin moin and camphor, and sounds of muffled feet and hushed voices milled everywhere. From time to time, some of these visitors would stand at our side, looking at us with a curious mix of pity and mild interest on their faces. “Poor children” they would whisper, stroking Mora’s long hair. “Adimora and Adindu, take heart, ok?” while looking at only Mora. They didn’t need to exert energy turning their heads to look at us both, because we looked exactly alike.  Then they’d look over at Papa standing quietly by the window, staring blankly at the fresh grave and go, “Poor man,” before going over to the food table to scoop up rice and moin moin. I bent my head and continued playing with my pool of sunlight, widening my legs a bit further to see if it would spill like water down my dress.

That night, Adimora didn’t sleep in the room. I woke up in the middle of the night to find her side of the bed empty. The bathroom light was on, and I went in to pee. I stepped on cold metal, and I looked down to see Mama’s sewing scissors on the floor, and hair all over the place. Gingerly, I bent down, and began to wipe hair off the scissors. Images of Mora kicking and crying while mama tried to braid her hair flashed before my eyes. Mama was in heaven, where God was. If she begged Him for his binoculars, she might see me. I quickly began to gather and stuff it all in the toilet. I knew Mora was in the garden. This wasn’t the first time. She would be sitting on the old block, scooping up handfuls of earth and sniffing them. She said the rain smelled better from there. She would come in later, dragging in the black garden soil through the sitting room carpet. Mama hated it and Mora always paid dearly for her carelessness. I looked down at the floor. There were still a few tiny tell-tale strands lying around. A broom would do a better job. I closed the door gently and headed for the kitchen.

The hallway was dark, pitch black. I tiptoed ahead, mentally recalling the number of tiles it took to get to the kitchen. “Adindu is so restless…” Mama would say, telling her friends as she fixed the thread in her sewing machine. “…Always pacing about.” The visitor would turn and look at me blankly. “Be grateful you have beautiful children.” She might mutter, cradling her cold coke in between her palms. Tiny rivulets of water would run down the bottle, and I would quietly count them too, watching each droplet merge into the river. If the rivulets were enough, they would wash the bottle clean of droplets. If I counted the tiles enough, I could walk around house sure footedly with my eyes closed, like a blind woman.

I stepped on something wet. I ignored it and kept walking, only to step on another drop few feet after. I smiled at this unexpected little game, remembering my favorite fairy tale; Hansel and Gretel. I decided to follow the drops, even though I only found one more.  They led me to papa’s room. His door was ajar and he wasn’t in bed. Nobody seemed to like the bed today. I leaned on the doorway and peered into the darkness, trying to find him. The windows were slightly open and a light breeze played with the curtains. A sliver of moonlight shone through, adding silver to the edges in the room. It wasn’t long before I could make out two figures sitting on a chair. Dad’s armchair. They were moving slowly. I squinted and leaned in further, trying to understand what was happening…

The moans seemed so deep, so rich. They were low but I could tell they were coming from deep inside her. I stepped into the room quietly, knowing that they couldn’t hear me. Papa liked to carry Mora on his lap in the evenings, sit in his armchair and drink. When she got uncomfortable, she would squirm and he would pat her soothingly, purring “Good girl” over and over again. Only now he said “good girl” and urged her to squirm more, and she writhed and twisted in what looked like intense pleasure…

I walked out of the room quietly. I walked out of the room and kept walking. If Mora came back, she could play Hansel and Gretel with fresh new drops. Th. It reflected on a family picture Mama placed on our dresser not too long ago. I walked up to it and picked it up. Stared at it for a long time. At mama, holding my hand and smiling. At me and Mora standing, side by side. At our identical faces. We looked exactly alike, but Papa never sat me on his lap, on his armchair, to drink. I shut my eyes and tried to block out the images of Mora moaning, locked in a pleasure that Papa had chosen to give her. But we looked exactly alike. I had no choice. Mama was in heaven now, and I was alone. I placed the picture down and sat up on the bed, and rocked to the clip clip sounds of the scissors cutting my hair.


What do you do when your heart is weary,
When it tries and tries and keeps on
Not forgetting?
When it refuses to delete its memories,
When it refuses to listen
When it carries on despite your stern warnings,
When it still jumps at the mere scent of him?
What do you do when,
When your eye refuses to focus,
and does nothing to stop searching?
When your gut lurches,
as you spot a fellow similar, in a crowd
and your fingers refuse to not touch him?
When there is raw hunger in your belly,
and all that could fill
is him?
When your arms ache to engulf,
To embrace…
When your breasts longs to be pressed,
By his chest, and hugs alone?
When your embers of love
Are long since cold?
When the only thing that burns
In you, the only thing that rages in your
are these questions?

NB: I am not a poet. I just needed to let this out. That’s what poetry is about, expressing emotion, right?

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Fishy Business

Okezie was very horny.

It was one of those your lazy Sundays, and his idle mind was being unusually pliant in the devil’s hands. He had tossed and turned in bed, watched a couple of raunchy videos and taken matters into his own hands, all in vain. He was still very unsatisfied. In frustration, he decided to go outside and sit at the mallam’s shed, hoping that the evening breeze would calm him down. Gathering his keys and his Blackberry, he set out for a little stroll.

It was a cool evening, and he smiled, taking in a deep breath to fill his lungs. His plan seemed to be working, as he could already feel his muscles relaxing. There was no one else on the streets, save for the mallam…and a light skinned girl standing in front of the shed. Beautiful skin too, he mused, and subconsciously picked up his pace. I wonder who she is. He was new to the estate and hadn’t really got a chance to meet anyone, and was hoping this would be a good opportunity to do so. On getting closer, Okezie let out a low whistle. The babe was…beautiful. Her skin was flawless. A wisp of her dark hair kept teasing her ear, and he noticed she had two discreet piercings. The rest of it was loosely tied up in a chignon, and Okezie could only imagine how long it was. She was tall and shapely, and her thick lashes slightly brushed her cheeks every time she blinked. Okezie felt his loins stirring and cursed under his breath.


She turned and faced him, her lips still pursed in the “o” of being caught midsentence. “Hey…could you please help me?” She said, raising her hands. In them was a transparent nylon bag filled halfway with water, with a beautiful goldfish in it. “My fish bowl broke, and Pee-wee is barely surviving. Musa here can’t seem understand what I’m asking for.”
This made him chuckle. “Err…mallams don’t exactly sell fish bowls, ma’am. In fact, I don’t think you would find any fish bowls within walking distance from here. You would have to go very far.”
At this, her beautiful face fell, and her lower lip began to tremble. Oh, such sexy lips. She bit and slowly released them, and Oke’s mouth went dry. “You know…err..” He stuttered “How about I take you to the Palms? There’ll be plenty of glass bowls to choose from…” She hesitated, he pressed on. “How much longer does Pee-wee have to live?” That did it. She adjusted her sunglasses with her middle finger and said “Alright, I’ll wait here for you.”

A couple of minutes later, they were speeding down the roads of V.I in his Nissan Armada V8 series. She was shyly playing with the hem of her dress and he tried to make conversation.
“Soo…do you live in the estate, or are you visiting?” He asked. She smiled shyly. “Visiting. I know you though…err…I’ve seen you around…” she said, and suddenly took utmost interest in her fingernails. He grinned and shook his head. She likes me, he thought, and began to hum ‘Oleku’ under his breath. It was a set P already.

There was light traffic, and they were able to get a little glass bowl in time. He bought some water and they transferred Pee-wee into the bowl, him squealing and her laughing. “You scream like a girl.” she commented, punching his arm jokingly. “Ah well, I’m not particularly fond of slimy creatures” he replied with a grimace. She smiled, shrugged and looked up at him, tilting her sunglasses again. “She’ll live, Oke, and for that I’m really grateful. How can we thank you?”
He grinned mischievously and looked at an ice cream bar beside them. She followed his gaze and smiled too, and without another word they walked in, sat down, and spent the next three hours deliciously losing themselves in each other’s company. Time went by quickly and soon the mall was closing. He drove her back home, rhythmically tapping out the tunes of ‘Oleku’ on his steering wheel and shooting her side-long glances. Nna, mba nu kwa nu o, he thought, shaking his head vigorously. There was no way he was going to let this one go. Especially not in this rainy season. She smiled at him and he nearly lost navigation skills. Choi! This babe want to killi me sha!! Chai!

Finally, they got home. Okezie slowly pulled the car to a halt, wanting to preserve the moment. Sitting in front of her house, with stars shining and realisation dawning, they remained silent for a little while. “So this it…” “I really enjoyed myself…” They stumbled, talking over each other at the same time. He smiled “You go first.” “Ok…” she took a deep breath. “Oke, I really enjoyed myself today. It was really, really nice getting to know you.” She said. He cleared his throat, and start fidgeting with the hand gear. “Well…it was nice getting to know your fish. Although I’m so hungry now that I’d eat her in a heart beat.” She shot him a concerned glance. “You’re hungry? Oh, poor you. You’ve only had ice cream all day.” Pause. Then…”Maybe I should come fix you something…” He smiled. They drove to his house and she fixed him dinner. It got too late, so he fixed her bath water. Then they turned off the bedroom lights and went ahead to fix each other. It was a blissful experience, and Okezie’s last thought before he drifted off to sleep was how much he would love to see her again.

He didn’t have to wait to long, for there she was later that night, sitting on a boat across him, looking very sated and serene. They were on a wide lake surrounded by mountains and huge trees. The evening sun was just setting behind one of the peaks, and they were completely alone – no sign of people or buildings anywhere. She was sitting with her side to him, holding a fishing rod over the boat, looking completely at ease.

“Any bites?” he asked. He didn’t know how long he had been sitting, but from the pain in his butt it must have been hours. She turned and smiled at him, sunglasses still on, winds slightly teasing her hair. Which was strange, he noticed, because there was no ripple on the lake, and their main sail hung slacker than a dress on a hanger.
“One would bite in a minute,” she said.
He chuckled. “You can feel it coming?”
Her grin was mischievous. “Of course. I always feel them coming. Watch.”
He watched for less than a minute when her line jerked a couple of times as ripples fanned out in the flat water. She lifted the rod and yanked the fish off the hook with a force hard enough to make him jump, and tossed it on the deck. Assuming it was dead, he picked it up. Even though the fish was cold, it was still alive. Or at least its eyes were, as they stared back at him and blinked. The fish blinked. The fish blinked. Fish couldn’t blink, could they? The pupils were blank inside. He stifled the wave of disgust that threatened to wash through him and flung it away.

“I’m not going to eat that thing” he muttered.

“Why not?”

He shook his head. “Because it keeps looking at me.”
That amused her. “Am I not looking at you?”
He looked away from her and cast his gaze on the lake. A big mistake. The sun had darkened some more, and cast a weird glare of red upon the water. He felt like he sitting in a huge pond of blood, and a bitter taste rose in mouth.
“Yeah, but I don’t plan on eating you.”
She wrinkled her nose and bit her lip. “A pity.” She reached out and placed her hand in his shirt, fingering his belly button. “Won’t you?” She asked.
“Just keep fishing.”
She let go of the rod, but it remained balanced on the railing, suspended in the air. “I don’t have to. They come to me automatically.”
“Why?” He really wanted to get off the boat now, away from her, away from this lifeless place. His body was responding to her ministrations, and he wanted to flee. “Why?” he asked again.
“Because I’m their mother.”
At this, Okezie started to slowly back away. She smiled and crawled towards him, at the same pace. She was almost leering. “Won’t you?”
“You wouldn’t? You said you loved me last night. Won’t you?”
“Get away from me!”
She smiled again, then reached up and removed her sunglasses. Until then, Okezie didn’t realise that he had never seen her eyes before. They were not black or brown; but grey like the fish’s with blank, unfocused pupils. Slowly she blinked. He stood paralysed by the horror of it all. She yanked down his zipper like she had torn the hook from the fish’s mouth. Then she touched his manhood, with hands so cold and slimy, that he could swear they had scales on them. Yet he felt a fire begin to burn deep inside, and his penis began to come alive. “Won’t you?” She asked for the fourth time, and began to lower her head…

He woke up, drenched in sweat and horror, clenching his bedsheets with all his might. He looked around him frantically, panting heavily, wanting to assure himself of his surroundings. His fan was still whirring slowly, his blackberry still blinking quietly in a corner. The last porn video he had played was still paused on his laptop, freezing an illicit scene. Everything was normal, and he began to calm down. It was all a dream. He looked at his side, patting the sheets next to him. No one was there. He shook his head in wonder. Wow. Wow. It was dream. It was all a dream.
Until he noticed the goldfish sitting on his bedside table.

He stared at it in horror.

It stared back.

Then it blinked.
* * *

Writer’s side-note: Sorry it took so long for me to get back on this grind. Please bear with me as I try to ease into it again, I’ve been out of touch. As for the write -up, well, what can I say? I know its summer, but please be careful how you set p.

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