How Reading Impacts Knowledge

How Reading Impacts Knowledge

Reading, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, is defined as the process or act of looking at and understanding the meaning of written or printed word or symbols. The concept of reading is to learn; impact knowledge; to grow; to emphasise; to understand; to marvel, and to wonder. Reading is the root of strength of an individual even of a nation, hundreds of millions is allocated towards clothing and cosmetic just to take care of our outward and physical appearances. It is just a pity and very unfortunate that very little amount of Naira is spent on our inward strength which includes knowledge.

Reading really impacts knowledge. It helps in developing our cognitive domain which gives us the ability to solve problems and generate creative ideas. I personally, can now boast of a mind that can generate many thoughts per minute, per hour and per day. Not thoughts that can change my life alone but also of those living around me and my nation as a well. Reading also helps us in developing habits and virtues that can change our thoughts and help us live a life worth emulating.

Reading indeed is a fountain of knowledge. When we read we get unlimited knowledge and information. Continual reading is a major source of knowledge and information, it is something important in our life and our major key to success in life. Reading as a process and science has helped me acquire many forms of knowledge that has improved my personal thinking and enhanced my skills.

Reading also makes us conscious and it awakens our knowledge towards things happening around us which includes: political development, social and economic development, values and cultures of different societies and even contemporary social issues and how they can be curbed and tackled.

Readers they say are leaders. Reading has me helped me as a person in developing various skills which includes leadership skills. Being a great lover of biographies, inspirational books and spiritual books, they have given me a sense of leadership and empowered me with various skills necessary in helping others solve their problems. Biographies have helped me to know about people’s sojourn in life, the problems encountered and how to solve such problems. Inspirational books are awesome, they make me see myself as a character in the book and they also teach success and leadership strategies. Spiritual books help me grow in union with God and he uses me to impact other people’s lives and give them a good direction and sense of living. Therefore, having more clarity and understanding God’s purpose for my life.

Reading really feeds our minds. There is a saying that “you are what you read.” The type of materials you read has a great impact either negative or positive. The human brain is like a computer that is a continuous ongoing creative machine that never ceases. Our minds, like a computer, needs to be fed with information to keep it stimulated and reading is the best source of knowledge we can feed our brains with, because without information we become stagnant.

Reading helps in improving our educational standards, it also gives us higher knowledge and intelligence than those who do not read at all. Reading also helps in reducing stress, as a book can easily distract one from our burdens in the midst of activities and stressful days. It also helps in increasing analytical thinking, increases vocabularies, and in developing good writing skills and having prioritised goals.
In conclusion, reading for me is not all about escaping into a world of fiction, it is also about providing a context in our environment both real and imaginative. If we can breed many good readers in our country today, Nigeria would be able to regain her rightful place among the committee of nations because her citizens would have been fully equipped with the necessary skills for her development.
Reading is a real essence of living and a mighty fount of knowledge. It helps to be outstanding when others are standing and to stand out when others are outstanding.

Founder, “Arise African Child” Movement

Till we meet again

Till we meet again

“Afternoon. Are you going to Lagos?” asked the lady waiting her turn after me at the airline’s counter.
I responded with a tentative yes.
“Can you look after my daughter? Her father will come and pick her up at the airport.”
I found out later that she’s 10 year old. Almost 5 feet tall.
I laughed and asked why she was OK asking me to look after her daughter. “Do I look that trustworthy?”
“Don’t worry. It’s Nigeria” she said laughing in return.
Numbers were exchanged and the father called immediately to speak with me.
They said their goodbyes (the mum asking for a hug and then complaining playfully when she got an awkward hug from the girl).
We went through the scanner and sat next to each other in the waiting area. She’s very quiet which was perfectly fine by me.
But since we were going to be there for another 90 minutes or so, and she had nothing visible that might distract her, I thought I better try at least.
First few questions were answered with nods, and side glances. Then I put up a movie on my laptop and asked if she liked 3D movies. She told me she couldn’t quite see what’s on the screen. She’s had glasses for two years. But the glasses were in her checked-in luggage.
Our subsequent discussion covered lots of things. She used several “big” words and some of her ideas were beyond her years. Maybe it’s that 6 months of schooling she had in England when she was much younger …
She doesn’t watch 3D films because they are not realistic.
And no animated kiddie films either. She only watches mature films. She’s seen World War Z, all the Fast and Furious films, several movies that are definitely rated well beyond her age. She says she watches them with her dad.
She hates Sponge Bob with a passion (“how can a sponge ….”) and her school mates think she’s weird. I told her we all have our preferences. No 3D animated talking animals either because animals don’t talk in real life.
She doesn’t like corn flakes. But she likes cereal and oats. She likes golden morn because it’s made of maize. She doesn’t like wheat (meal) either.
She hates eggs, peanut butter, red meat (there are bacteria that can not be killed by heat. I suggested if it’s cooked long enough on high heat, all the bacteria would die. But she responded that the meat would become too soft and she doesn’t like soft meat), pounded yam, yam, broccoli (suggested by me). But she likes Egusi soup. I agree. I like Egusi soup too.

“Everything in this life is boring.
Especially all those Yoruba films! Eeew! All those Yoruba women. That come out in their wrappers. Just because they want to say bye bye to someone.”
She doesn’t like boring people.
Her grandma is boring. Always telling stories of World War I and this or that General.
I suggest those are the best stories. She insisted she has “current affairs” class in school for that.
She doesn’t like several tribes in Nigeria. One tribe is always fighting. Can’t remember the reason she gave for the others.
“Edo people are …” She started.
“Nice?” I attempted to complete the sentence for her.
“Noooo. My granddad is always “if you touch that thing I will flog you alive!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We are now on board the plane.
“This plain better not crash.” She says.
“Before I die I will kill the plane.”
“How?” I asked.
“I don’t know” she said. Then added: “I will blow up the engine.”
A child will always be a child (strange logic: blow up the plane before it crashes.)
There were other kids and several were somewhat loud. “That’s how they will be making noise” (she had mentioned much earlier that she didn’t like noise).
“Let me talk like the soldier in my school” (she mimicked the soldier):
“I hate noise. If you make noise, I will show you wetin you be!” (She’s a year one student in an air-force secondary school).
She’s cold. I said I don’t think I have anything that might keep her warm in my bag. Her pair of socks and her better sweater were in her checked in bag. She says she’s different (referring to the fact that she’s cold).
She wondered why I had a bag on-board.
“I didn’t check in any bag” I said.
“Because it’s small enough to put in the overhead compartment.”
“So a smart person can put a bomb in his bag and bring it on-board?”
“They still scan it. Remember when we went through the scanner?”
“Can the scanner see what’s in your body?”
“Yes. It looks like x-ray”
“So what’s private is no longer private” she declared.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We made it safely to Lagos. We got her luggage off the carousel. I offered to get the bag but she insisted that she can handle her own bag and that she carried even bigger loads). I had to smile at that. Her dad (a friendly Pastor) was waiting at “arrivals” with a lady. I tag along with them to the outskirts of the airport. I drop off because their destination is in the opposite direction to mine. I said goodbye to the dad and the lady that came with him, and as I closed the door, I said a final “Bye Bye, Jessica.”
Maybe we will meet again, maybe not. I had suggested it earlier and she said she didn’t think so. I think the reason she gave was something along the line of not being that regularly in airports or on planes.

I meant to take a cab. But the middle-aged gentleman I asked for directions at the bus-stop turned out to be a military officer (in mufti) whose first retort was “Why waste so much money?! See that pedestrian bridge over there? Walk across it sharply like a strong man. Take a bus going to Oshodi-under-bridge. It’s only 50 Naira. Climb to the top of the Oshodi bridge. You will get another bus going to CMS or Obalende.” I told him I could find my way from any of those two places. Thus my “Ijebu” kicked in and I had another uneventful trip switching buses 4 times before getting to my final stop. The whole trip cost 450 Naira instead of possibly 5,000 Naira or more (if I had taken a cab from the airport). I made a picture I took of both of us while seated in the plane my Whatsapp profile picture. A friend asked if she was my girlfriend. Another suggested she’s my daughter. I kept it up for the night and switched it out the following day.

I wonder if we will ever meet again. Maybe I should call the dad sometime and ask about those vicious German Sherpards (GSD) puppies she said they had. They are about 4 months old. I think I wouldn’t mind one if I got it for free.

I hope she grows up to be successful, and well-adjusted.

I don’t see why not.

The wonders of God

The wonders of God

You are seated at a car wash. Waiting for your car to be washed.
A little girl of about nine years walks up to you. Looks you dead straight in the eyes and greets you.

“Daddy. Good afternoon.”

“Afternoon.” You replied.

“Daddy. I want you to buy me a sachet of pure water.”

You think. That’s okay. She’s a little girl.

So you ask the lady attendant at the car wash for a sachet of water knowing that they run a side business selling cold drinks from a freezer.

She says she does not have pure water sachets. Only the much more expensive bottled water. Even before you say anything the little girl (still unflinchingly looking you dead in the face. A fact that’s now starting to bother you) says “That’s okay. I don’t want bottled water. Tell her to go and get the water from the food seller manning the kiosk a few meters away.”

You are taken aback at her confidence.

You instruct the lady to go and get the pure water. She apologizes for her  oversight thinking it’s you that wants to drink the water. She returns with the water, and hands it to you. You give it to the little girl.

She stands there just looking at you with the sachet of water in her hand.

Then she says “I have a message for you.”

It’s getting more surreal by the minute.

“I can see you are scared. But don’t be.”

“You are going to give alms to some less fortunate people.”
(Author’s note: generally means beggars)

“You will get three 10 Naira notes. You will then buy three sachets of salt. You will give a salt and a 10 Naira note each to three different beggars. ”

begging1 begging2 begging3

“Are you going to do it?” She asks.

You don’t respond. But you keep looking at her in wonder.

“I see you don’t believe.”

“But you must do it. Then you will see the wonders of God.”

You start to convince yourself that there might be something to this. This strange little girl. So confident. Looking you straight in the eye. She’s not even asking you for anything.

“You are going to do something for me.”

“You are going to give me N2,000. I am going to spend the money. But before I do, I am going to pray on it for 7 days.”

You are taken aback. You have no good response.

“Do it and experience the wonders of God.”

You hesitate. Is this true? Is this really happening?

She says “I know you have two thousand to give me but you are scared. Don’t be scared.”

You start to make excuses within yourself. How much is N2000. After all if you had done what you usually do while waiting for the car to be washed, you would have easily spent more than a thousand Naira: cut your hair for 300. Eat some sweet meats and “intestine” for another three. Have a drink. Wash the car for 700 hundred. So you could just skip all the extras and give the little girl the money.

But at the same time you bulk a little and say “I don’t have two thousand Naira.”

She says “That’s okay. Since you don’t know about it before today. You will give me a thousand Naira.”

You bring out two five hundred Naira notes.

She shakes her head and refuses the money.

You are perplexed.

“No. It must be a single N1,000 Naira note.” she says.

You call the attendant over again and exchange the two five hundred Naira notes for a single one thousand Naira note.

She accepts the money. Repeating what she had earlier said about the fact that she’s going to spend the money, but will pray on it for 7 days before doing so.

“Thank you.” She says looking you straight in the eye with a solemn expression.

She leaves.

You convince yourself you did the right thing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You get home and narrates the event to your better half. She laughs at you. Says she didn’t think you were that kind of person to be so easily taken in. She says you “Received a message for a thousand bucks. What message?”

You defend yourself lamely that a thousand Naira is not a lot of money. Besides, what’s the harm in the little thing she’s said you should do. It’s only another 200 Naira. You ask her to help you get three sachets of salt from the market.

The next week during your break you prepare three little plastic bags. Each contains a sachet of salt and a ten Naira note.

You tell your colleague that you need him to go with you to some far away public place where you are unlikely to be recognized. You tell him that you have been told to give alms but he shouldn’t ask for details. You only want him to accompany you in case you get accosted by the police or something “unplanned” happens.

You drove to the place, hand out the three bags as quickly as possible, and head back to the office.



Mission accomplished.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fast forward several weeks. You are at a completely different part of town to wash your car at a completely different car wash.

While you wait, you notice a little girl accost a middle aged man with a fancy Toyota Camry salon car who is also seated at the same car wash.

You look closely at the girl. You are almost sure it’s the same girl from your earlier encounter. But may be not. Could it be (you wonder)?

The gentleman gets up and goes to his car. Counts out some money from his gloves box, puts it in an envelope and hands it to the little girl.

Now you are sure it’s the same girl.

She thanks the man and starts to walk away.

You get up and follow her.

She sees you. There is recognition in her eyes.

She takes off. Running as fast as her little legs would carry her.

You take off after her.

The chase is on.

Weaving in and out of the crowded street. Finally you catch her.

Concerned bystanders expressed their concern.

You say it’s nothing serious. She did something wrong at the car wash over there.

You ask her if she recognizes you.

She claims she’s never seen you before in her life.

You ask her why did she run.

She claims it was because she saw you running after her.

You take her back to the car wash. To the older gentleman.

“Sorry to bother you sir. Did this girl give you a message? If yes, I think it’s a scam.”

“You should take your money back.”

The older man is not so sure.

“But she gave me a message for myself and my son.” He says.

“It’s a scam sir.” you insist.

But he is not convinced. Lots of people are superstitious. Easily swayed when it’s related to the spiritual or supernatural. Prefer to err on the side of caution. He says it’s okay. N8,000 Naira is not too much in case she’s “genuine”. You let the girl go.

Your 1,000 Naira pales into insignificance beside his N8,000 Naira.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fast forward another couple of weeks and you are back at the original car wash.

A couple of friends are seated near you. One is making fun of the other: “A little boy gave you a message and you part with a thousand Naira!”

You couldn’t help engaging them. You narrate your encounter. A third guy who was also nearby, gets up, goes to his car and brings out a bag of salt! You guess he took the “message” a little too seriously!


This is the latest scam in town. Might be confined to parts of Ogun state for now.

Note that another variation of the “message” is:


“My mum is sick. She’s okay now and back at home. But while she was hospitalized, we borrowed money from loan sharks. We are even ashamed to go back to our church because the church contributed money for us several times during her illness. But we still have a lot to repay.”

The wonders of God.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


(As related by my cousin)

Is that not poisonous?

Is that not poisonous?

Conan’s lady love asked him once “Do you want to live forever?” (right before she hopped and got herself killed – not entirely her fault, but “we” needed some reason for Conan to go on a quest and show off his swordmanship – or axemanship :-).

Well, probably not in this world. But heaven (most def!).

So I was out and about today (hey! not like the devil). I went to help a colleague pay for some credit on her mobile line (she is not in town and ran out of call credit).

On the way back this lovely “earthy” (equivalent to something roasting 🙂 smell hit me and I couldn’t but help look around for the source. It was a lady and her assistant under a bug umbrella canopy. She had a grill with Plantain and yam roasting on it.

Went up and inquired about the stuff. Had to wait for another customer to be served. She went away with took plastic bowls and a serving in a plastic bag (I suspect the former were for her bosses wherever she worked). In the process the seller opened a couple of other plastic coolers: one contained the stew and “pomo” (cow skin) pieces and the other contained fishes.

Well, I asked for two yam pieces, a plantain. Decided what the … and asked her to add one of the fishes and a couple of the “pomos”.

That right there in the picture above has shortened my lifespan by 6 months (I guess that’s what the dietitians would say). But who wants to live forever in this world right? All the good stuff will kill you 🙁

A friend saw me recently and commented that since I was packing on the pounds now, what would happen when I get married?

It’s temporary though. It was the journey “outside” that caused it. I generally can do with or without food. But once I am em away, it seems food is just everywhere waiting and begging to be eaten – not to talk of other stuff like choccy! I have a simple exercise regime that’s better than nothing but I need to wait a little to get back into that until I fully recover from my recent close encounter with a wooden chair

Well. Let me leave the keyboard and get down to it. The only thing missing is a bottle of fizzy drink to ensure the whole thing congeals nicely in my belly. Well, don’t let’s shock the health-police too much. They might have a heart attack!

NB: 2x yam pieces @100; fish @150; 2x pomo @100; Plantain @150. Total = 450 Naira.



One would have thought that by now I would be used to being alone. But you never really get used to the loneliness: you just live with it.

Another long Friday evening. I wondered what to do with the hours left in the day. It was only eight. Very few choices. I checked Genesis Cinema’s website and found that there was a showing of the new Star Trek film at 8:30PM and 11:30PM. I couldn’t make the 8:30, besides what would I do after the film ended. The 11:30 sounded more like it. I read a chapter of Getty’s biography, took a bath, got dressed and headed out into the night.

For a Friday on the Island, the streets were strangely quiet. I was at the mall sooner than I expected. I bought a ticket but then had to wait for about 40 minutes outside the hall. I spent part of the time “people-watching” the couples exiting the various screening rooms (some films had just ended).

I was the third person into the hall. I didn’t expect a lot of people anyway – not at that time of the night. The three younger couples (triple dating?) who had been hanging out outside soon came in. They were a boisterous lot. I hoped they would quiet down once the film starting which they more or less did.

I enjoyed the film. As usual, I stayed until after the credit roll. I was the last one out of the hall. It was raining heavily outside. There were a few people there as well waiting for the rain to subside a little so they could dash to their cars. Some friends talked about going club hopping. They soon went to their cars which were parked close to the entrance and were on their way. I waited a little more. At some point there was a lull in the rain, but it didn’t really stop. I moved as quickly as I could without splashing water all over my trousers and hopped into my car.

Ignition on, AC on, headlights on, radio on. I drove out slowly. I wasn’t rushing anywhere. The rain picked up again.

Just as I expected, the friendly policemen usually manning the main junction had given up and gone away. The roads were even less busy than when I had set out earlier. I pulled unto the express way and made good time to the Eko hotel roundabout. I realized I was going too fast as I came to the roundabout. I slowed down a little but there was almost no traffic at all.

My tires spun the water away from the surface of the road. I really didn’t see her until I was literally passing by, otherwise I would have slowed down even more and moved to the inner lane. I saw out of the corner of my eyes as she hopped back a little. Which didn’t help her much. The water from the road rose up and she got a full drenching. I saw her gasp as the water ran down her face and her dress. She held on to her umbrella and clutched an over-sized handbag in her other hand. Her dress which was too short appeared to have shrunk even more and her heels were too high: which was when I realized who she was or what she did for a profession and why she was there at that time of the night or morning.

Even as I stopped and pulled over, I remembered some tweet I had seen earlier that evening on my Twitter feed: “Regret is for wimps and the back-mirror is for losers”. I guess I shouldn’t have looked back: I shouldn’t have stopped.

But I had done enough harm in the past for which I couldn’t do anything about and what I felt at that point must have been pity for her on many levels: why she was outside in that weather; how uncomfortable it must be for her even without my dousing her with water from the road; and her chances of earning any income now that she was absolutely soaked.

I reversed slowly until I was level with her. She came to look in at the passenger’s side window.

“Hi.” she says, trying to smile.

“Hi. I am so sorry. I didn’t see you.”

“It’s OK. I guess I shouldn’t have been standing so close to the road anyway.”

“Hum. Hmmn.” Now that I had apologized, I wasn’t sure what to do next. The thought came to me that I was going home to a warm bed, while she would probably still stay there in the rain all wet and cold.

“Can I give you a lift anywhere?”

“Not really. I need to stay here you know.”

I knew. She was “working.”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say. She smiled. She had a pretty smile despite the mascara running down her face. She looked quite young as well.

I am sometimes impulsive. Some decisions in the past got me into my current situation: roaming the streets of Lagos alone.

“Well, you can get in for a while. Maybe until the rain stops or eases up a little.”

“Thank you. ” she said as she opened the door and got into the car. I tried not to look. The damp one piece dress had ridden up even more. I remembered my never-used gym bag was in the back. There was a little towel in there. Instead of going round the round-about, I drove straight into one of the side-streets adjoining it. The thought came to my mind that if not for the rain, I could expect police trouble. But then if not for the rain, I would probably be home alone already.

I pulled up in front of one of the banks. I got up and reached back over the seat and grabbed the gym bag. I fished out the towel and handed it over to her.

“Here. Please use that to dry up a little.”

“No. It will become dirty.”

“Don’t worry. I can always wash it when I get home. I am sure you are not too comfortable as you are.”

I reduced the AC as much as possible.

She took the towel hesitantly. She wiped her face, hair, arms, and then rubbed it down the front of her dress. I fiddled with the knobs on the radio because there was nothing else to do. She bent down and rubbed her legs as well. I noticed she was light-skinned. But she was probably toning as well. There was a white sheen to her looks which I could see even in the poor light.

She placed the towel in her laps.

“Thank you.”  She said.

“You are welcome.”

There was an uncomfortable silence.

I was trying hard to think of what to do or say next. I couldn’t help thinking about what would happen if some acquaintance sees me in my current position. The rumours that would follow. The shame. Thankfully, it was unlikely due to the time, the place, and the rain. Then I felt ashamed.  Whatever she did for a living, that was a person sitting next to me. A person I had chosen to help if only because I had caused her present predicament. A person with desires, hopes and aspirations just like mine. A person who for reasons I do not know chose to stand semi-clad by the side of the road in the cold and wet Lagos night while I had gone to watch a film at the cinemas.

I looked over at her. She must have noticed because she looked away from the windscreen and smiled as well. I tried to force a smile. My lips twitched but I didn’t think I actually smiled: probably a grimace.

We couldn’t sit there forever.

“Would you go home if I offered you some money?” I asked.

“Oh Ok. Where do you live?” she asked.

I wondered why she asked me that question but then it dawned on me that she had misinterpreted my question.

“Oh no. That’s not what I meant!” even I felt embarrassed by the speed and urgency with which I responded as if she was some sort of pariah!

“Oh OK.” her shoulders literally slumped.

“No. I didn’t mean it like that.” I apologized.

“Look. I am going home. I thought you know, if you have some money for the weekend, you can go home – to your own house. So you don’t have to work tonight.” It was actually early morning. The clock on the dashboard said 2:05AM.

“Thank you.” Silence. She fidgeted a little with the towel on her laps.

“We don’t have to go to your house. If you like, we can do it here. What do you like?”

There was an earnestness in her face that squeezed at my heart.

“No. No. It’s OK. I don’t really want anything.” I think I have said too many “Nos” for one hour.

“I just meant you shouldn’t be out in this weather. You might catch a cold or something.” It sounded lame to even me.

“Oh Ok.”

Silence. The DJ put on a popular track from one of the well-known musicians. She perked up a little and started mouthing some of the lines.

“How much do you charge?” I couldn’t tell if it was because I wanted to give her the exact amount or if it was just my curiosity that got the better of me. Probably the latter.

She told me.

“Is that per night or per … service?” my unease must have been visible.

She smiled and said “No. That is per service as you called it. It is a little more per night.” She reached out and touched my arm.

I don’t know if it was the suddenness of it or if it was something else, but I jumped violently.

She hastily withdrew her hand. There was a mix of confusion, and sadness on her face. Then I could see she was fighting the tears.

I sighed. Time to apologise again. What sort of person was I.

“I am sorry. It’s not like that. I just wasn’t expecting it.” Lame excuse. It wasn’t like she reached out a diseased hand or something.

“It is OK. It is alright.” She said.

I told her to put back her hand on my arm. She refused. Just kept saying it is alright. I took her hand and put it on my arm.

Silence. After a while she withdrew it.

I thought of how much I had spent at the cinema, and on what?

“Ok. Well, let’s say I pay you for tonight and tomorrow night. You can go home for the weekend right?”

Her yes was non-committal. I thought I knew what that meant.

The rain still hadn’t let up. We both looked through the windscreen at nothing.

I had suggested she stayed until the rains let up, and I just couldn’t ask her to get out now. Besides my curiosity was starting to really get the better of me.

“If you won’t be offended. Why do you do this?”

Silence. I guess she must have been offended.

“I am sorry. You don’t have to say anything.”

“It is OK.”


“My father died a long time ago. I didn’t even know him. There were 5 of us children. I am the eldest. We were poor. My mother sold dried fish. We couldn’t go to school. We had to help her by hawking the fish as well. We didn’t do so well. The fishes were small and few. We were told it was because the rivers were polluted with oil.”


“When I was fifteen. An Uncle came to our house and offered to take me to Lagos to take care of his children. I would live with him and his wife. And maybe I would be able to go to school.”

My mother was happy. For the first time in a long time, I saw her smile. That weekend she didn’t beat any of us. No screaming. No crying. No stories about when or if my father had been alive. It made me happy as well.

The journey took a long time. That was my first time outside our village. When we reached Lagos, I had never seen so many people in my life. He lived in Okokomaiko. He and his 3 children and his wife lived in one room. It was hot. Our mud-house in the village had more space than that room. In fact, there were 4 rooms in it. The children and myself, we slept on mats on the floor. He and his wife slept on the only bed in the room. There were plenty of other rooms in the house with other people living in them. There was always shouting and fighting. Over everything. To fetch water. To sweep. To greet. Everyday, fight, fight, fight. It seems they were all angry all the time. I don’t know which one was better. In the village, a lot of people were sad all the time. In that house, they were always angry. I tried to stay out of the way but it was impossible. I had to bathe the children, which meant I had to fetch water. There were more fights at the tap than at anywhere else. Some of the people living in the house were trying to get to work so there was always argument about who got to the tap first and how much water to fetch before allowing the next person.

Nothing happened the first few months. Then my Uncle started getting very friendly. He would buy me little things whenever he came home. I didn’t realize it then, but he only gave me those things when his wife wasn’t around. And if it was edible he would say I should eat it before the rest of the family gets back. I thought he just wanted me to enjoy more of it than having to share it with his three children.

The mention of food reminded me of my “dinner.” I had bought a thousand Naira worth of Suya (peppered roasted meat), a loaf of sliced bread and some soft-drinks on my way to the cinema. I found the food and offered her some. She first said no, but I pressed her a little more. We both ate slowly. I wondered if I had made a mistake by breaking her flow, but then she continued.

“Then the touching started. First it was hugs. Then patting. Then pinching. Then grabbing. I was confused. I told my best friend Angela who lived a few houses away. She laughed and said my uncle wanted sex. I said I wasn’t sure. That I had never done it before. She asked if he had been buying me things. I said yes. She said it was good. That I should give in. I asked about pregnancy. She told me about contraceptives. In fact, she gave me some pills which I hid in my bag.

But still I wasn’t sure. Then one day after the children were at school and my aunty had gone to the market, he suddenly returned home. He said he had forgotten something. He rummaged around the room. Then he put on the TV and sat on the bed. He increased the volume until it was very loud. Then he told me to come and watch the TV with him. I sat at the edge of the bed. He said I should sit properly or I would fall down. So I sat closer to him.

Well, his hand first went over my shoulder. Then his other hand went into the front of my blouse. All the while he was smiling and saying something into my ear. My heart was beating so fast I couldn’t hear what he said. I wanted to get away but it was like something tied me to the bed. That was the first time. When he got on top of me he was quite heavy. I just laid there. There was some blood, but apart from my skirt it didn’t stain anything else. He told me to throw the skirt away that he would buy me another one.”

I have been told I frown a lot. I have been told my face has that discreet fatherly look that can at times put even people who rarely know me at ease – maybe it was true, otherwise I wondered why she would feel completely at ease telling me all these: or maybe she just needed an ear.

“I didn’t enjoy it that first time. And the next few times. But after that I didn’t resist him at all. Sometimes I even looked forward to it. But I should have known we would be caught sooner or later. One day aunty returned home unexpectedly and caught both of us on the bed. We were naked. She took one look and started screaming like a mad woman. Fortunately her attention was mostly directed at Uncle. I quickly got into my gown and ran for the door. I think I would have been dead if she had caught me that day. Fortunately I was quicker than her and she was also on the other side of the bed berating her husband. She dashed after me but I was out the door before she could get to me.

I ran all the way up the street. I wasn’t sure where I was going. I didn’t even have my slippers on my feet. The street was pretty deserted at that time of the day, so not many people were about. The only place that came to my mind was my friend Angela’s apartment about two streets away. She had a single room and I was sure she would be in because she usually is around during the day.

I knocked on her door. She took some time opening it. I was still panting so she asked what the issue was. She already knew about my Uncle and I, so all I just needed to tell her was what happened that morning. Even though I was crying she couldn’t help laughing. She said I could stay with her. I ended up staying there for about two weeks. I didn’t go back home. But somehow my aunty had found out I was staying with Angela whom she knew slightly. Fortunately for me, the day she came with the big pestle, the front door of the building was locked. So she stood in front of the house on the road and started shouting both my name and Angela’s. Calling us Ashawo*. Husband-snatcher. Ungrateful village ingrate. We peeped out of the window but despite the crowd gathering around her, she didn’t look like she was going to stop or go away. Someone in the crowd suggested that we were still in the house. I knew sooner or later she would gain entry into the house. Some occupant was bound to return and open the door. It was also fortunate no one had yet suggested the back door. People were always eager to witness a showdown. I told Angela I had to go. She said I should stay. That we will just keep the door of the room locked. I wasn’t sure how long we could stay there. What if she decides to wait us out? I didn’t really have any possession except a few items of clothing Angela had given me. She had lots of fancy cloths. But most of them were flashy. She had told me during the two weeks exactly what she did even though I had been suspicious long before. She was a little older than me. She suggested I go to stay with one of her friends, Bimpe, in Ikeja who I knew quite well because she was frequently in Angela’s house. The girl was very friendly. Angela called her on her phone and told her I would be coming around, that she should put me up for a while as I had family troubles. The way Bimpe giggled at the other end of the line, I guessed she must already know part of my story.

I put the cloths in a plastic bag, peeped out the window to be sure my aunty was still out in front then made my way quietly down the stairs. I went out the back door and crossed the threshold to the back of the next house which had a small door that opened into the next street in its fence. From there I was soon on the main road. I joined a bus to Ikeja. Angela had given me Bimpe’s address.

It was a little difficult to find as there was no motorable road to the house itself. But the house wasn’t bad at all. And her single room was so comfortable. I couldn’t believe how neat and tidy it was. She even had an AC. She was very friendly. Even more than when I had met her at Angela’s place. You would think we were long-lost friends.

But that was only for a short while. You see, she went out every night and slept a lot during the day. She didn’t hide what she was doing from me. In fact, once she was awake, all she wanted to talk about was the men she spent the previous night with. She went into graphic details about what each one was capable of and the ones that couldn’t even perform – she collected her money anyway.

She started gently encouraging me to go along with her. I was scared. Not that I was very religious, but I went to church regularly so I knew what she did was not right. Also, she came home once and she was all bruised and a little bloody. One of her customers had become aggressive. That really scared me.

I started thinking of what I could do, and the only thing I could think of was trading. But Bimpe wouldn’t stand for it. She demanded I either start going along with her, or pack out of her house. That where did I think I was going to be keeping my tray of small items. By this time I had been with her for almost two months. She didn’t stop at that. Why did I believe I was better than her? I don’t mind eating her food that she worked hard to be able to afford. I didn’t mind wearing the cloths she bought for me. Angela soon joined her. I was shocked. I wanted to move out. But I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t go back to the village. I could only imagine what my aunt would have told the whole village about me. Also, I couldn’t imagine going back to live there.

I finally gave in and decided to follow them one night. It’s as if that was the magic word. They both became very friendly again. They even took me shopping for new clothes. That first night I was so scared. If they hadn’t been holding my hands, I think I would have run away! They gave me a couple of tablets that they said would help me relax.  It worked.

There was a popular street where they stood by the road side. I was so ashamed. The skirt was too short. The blouse was so small, I might as well have taken it off. I just stood there like a statue but they were very brave. Any car that slowed down even a little, they were practically at the side-window asking what the occupants wanted. After a while, one of Angela’s customers showed up and she left. Asking Bimpe to take good care of me.

Bimpe said she had to find me a customer she knew very well since it was my first time. One of her regulars showed up and he was eager to go with me. She pretended to be annoyed with him, but he said he would add something on top for her. He was gentle. I never saw him again but I can still remember him. He smiled a lot. He told me a lot about himself. I think he wanted to talk more than do anything else.”

I thought the same about her. I think she just wanted a listening ear and the money of course, not necessarily a “customer”.

“But it was hard at first. And a lot of things made me confused. The way some of the men behaved afterwards. It was as if they hated me. Yet before they were all smiles and quite chatty. Some couldn’t wait to get away afterwards. But I gradually came to understand why. They were angry with themselves for being with me (a prostitute) or maybe they were scared of getting caught and being disgraced. Angela thinks it is both. It was dangerous also. I regularly came across ladies who had been beaten black and blue by their customers. Bimpe and Angela showed me some signs to watch out for when selecting a customer. They said it can be the difference between making money or ending up in the hospital, or worse. I think I have been fortunate. There was lady that used to be on our street in Ikeja. She was friendly enough but I didn’t really know her that much. Then she suddenly stopped showing up. We learnt later that her body had been found one morning. She was missing several parts. That scared me silly. In fact, the day I heard the news, I didn’t go out at night. I was too scared. By that time I had got my own little apartment. It was a one-room affair but I kept it clean and tidy. I also got a little TV.

But the following evening, I got up enough courage to go. I didn’t see any other choice. I couldn’t very well return to my village. I can’t see myself hawking farm produce or doing the back-breaking work again with very little returns.”


“I don’t usually come to the Island. Though the pay is better but sometimes there are no customers. And it is too expensive to take taxis both ways when you are not sure what would happen.”


I thought it was a good point at which to call it a night even though there were several questions I wanted to ask her such as where were her “friends”. But I should be moving on to my cold bed. I had pushed my luck far enough. I wasn’t about to pay for what she was selling. As my brother would say, “If you pay once, get ready for a lifetime of addiction.” I wasn’t about to add that to my already unimpressive list of addictions – such as watching Crime & Investigations on DSTV; drinking that two cans of Malta Guinness every evening; eating what’s not good for me. You get the idea. So I was just going to give her a gift – no strings attached.

“Uhmn”. I said.

“The rain has stopped. I should be moving on.”

The rain had stopped for a while but I am ashamed to say I was enjoying her story and her company as a person – not as a prostitute.

“Oh” she said. She couldn’t hide the disappointment.

“The rain has stopped.” She repeated. It was hard to tell if she was truly just noticing it for the first time or just repeating what I had said for nothing better to say.

“Thank you for the money and the food Mr …”

“Kayode” I gave one of the many names on my birth certificate I never use.

“Thank you Mr. Kayode” she said.

“My real name is Rosemary.” And I thought she was Janet.

“OK Rosemary.”

“Maybe some other time.”

“Yeah” I guess not.

“Do you have a business card?”

“No. Sorry. Not on me.” The answer came out of its own volition. Borne of long practice. When I don’t want to give out my card. I felt a pang. Wasn’t this business? Or maybe business of a sort I don’t want so there was no reason why I should feel guilty for my response.

“Hmmn. Ok. Can I put my number on your phone.  In case you need anything.”

That was a first for me. I wanted to say no but then the implication would be obvious. I handed the phone over slowly.

She created a contact for herself and filled in her details. She handed back the phone. For some reason I felt as if the entry had “blighted” the phone somehow. Then I felt guilty at the thought. I made a mental noted to modify the entry later. I would add “roundabout” as the “Address” to her contact. That was hopefully innocuous enough such that any random person who happens to get access to my phone won’t read anything into it, but meaningful enough for me to remember who it represents. I don’t believe I would ever have a reason to call the number.


“Bye bye sir.”

“Bye Rosemary.”

She got out of the car, closed the door, smiled and waved through the glass.

I smiled, waved and drove on.

Regret is for wimps and the back-mirror is for losers: maybe not always.

I could see her in the rear-view mirror. She hadn’t moved.

That’s still the picture of her in my head.

One lonely person standing there on the street. On a dark, cold, wet Lagos night.

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*Ashawo – Prostitute

(15/June/2013 – 06/August/2013)

Long ago

Long ago

I was tired. So I didn’t go to church. I seem to have reasons every Sunday not to. That’s what I tell myself anyway. Otherwise how can I explain the fact that the baby that was christened the last time I was in church should have started tottering around his parent’s living room now?

“We all know the number 3 has special significance in the bible.”

I wondered what I was doing there: at the fellowship. I think it was boredom at home that pushed me to go to the local fellowship cell meeting at 6PM in the evening when I hadn’t been there for so long. Maybe it was loneliness. Not since she …

I thought for an instant when I showed up that they were going to welcome me as a new member. I could see the surprise on the face of the cell leader. He had called so many times to convince me to come around for the weekly Sunday evening fellowship that he had finally got the message and stopped calling.

I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, but no such luck. I was invited to sit right at the front beside the cell leader. He seemed to direct most of the discussion on the topic at me.

“Three crosses on Golgotha. Peter denied him three times. Satan tested Jesus three times. The list goes on and on.”

“But today, we are going to bring it home to our level. We won’t be all spiritual about this topic. Someone said the best way to beat temptation is to avoid it, but that is usually not possible. In fact by the time you know about it, you are already being tempted. I have heard some people say if they had been Peter, the fact that Jesus had told them already what would happen would give them the courage to resist denying him. Especially knowing that he was the son of God.” said the cell leader.

“Well. Let me say if Peter had succeeded in not denying Jesus three times before the cock crowed, what would that have made Jesus? ” he continued.

Everybody was thinking it. Despite the fact that it was a reasonable answer to something that didn’t actually happen, I guess a lot of people still consider it blasphemous. You can see the discomfort on their faces and several people fidgeted on their seats. As he was looking at me again, I said “A liar.”

“Correct Bro”. I still don’t  understand why he called everybody “Bro”. I guess it is more friendly and less “spiritual” than “brother this or brother that”

“But of course the Son of God cannot lie. So some people use this scenario as a basis for predestination or pre-ordination. But that is a discussion for another day, but note that the fact that God has given us free will means we are in control of the decisions we make and to a large extent the outcome. ”

“Now who thinks if he or she had been in Peter’s position, he or she would not have denied Jesus? Anyone?”

There were no takers. But secretly I thought I would have been able to damn it all and go for broke: that is, I would not have denied Jesus. The discussion wafted around me. I kept enough presence of mind to answer the questions asked directly of me. I literally thanked God when the fellowship closed with a brief prayer. I was invited to stay for light refreshments afterwards but I had a ready-made excuse: I just couldn’t wait to get away.

“Bro, I will call you during the week. There is a men’s meeting coming up and you should attend. Really.”

What have I got myself into?

The drive home was uneventful. But I couldn’t get the topic of discussion out of my mind.

I must have fallen asleep in front of the TV because I suddenly realized I was looking at “static” on the screen. I got up slowly, and headed to the bathroom. Paid my “water rate”, washed my hands then brushed my teeth, and hurled myself into bed after putting on my pajamas.

“Really Peter. You cocked that one up. But thank God for second chances.” I thought.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *   *  *  *   *  *  *   *   *   *  *  *  *  *   *   *  *   *   *  *   *   *  *   *   *  *   *   *  *  *

“Think about it. Bill Gate’s got what – 67 billion dollars mostly in Microsoft shares right? Is that cash? No. Well you could say he could cash most of it out now, but would he ever? Capital No!” I thought I knew him. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on where or how I knew him. It was a feeling. Like someone you have been talking to over the phone for a couple of years but never met. Also, I was too busy wondering how I came to be dressed up in what looked like a mid-eastern costume. Maybe I was on some movie set?

“Stay with me now. I am trying to tell you something. Now what if, just for a moment, now what if you, yes you, could get the combined wealth of all the 100 men on the Forbes list in gold right now, right here?”

“Just think what you could do with that kind of money!”

“You could get any girl you want!”

“I know, I know. You don’t want just any girl. You want that girl. Story of my life. Remind me to tell you about it sometime. But really, you just think you don’t. But with that kind of money, you could have the last 5 Miss World lined up and attending to your every need! You don’t think you want them right now. I get that. But I assure you, you will change your mind if they are right here smiling at you. Tell you what. Just to sweeten the deal, let’s include Wunmi in the list. Fresh off the boat with a degree to boot. I know you liked those pictures you saw. What if you could meet her in the flesh and she said yes to your every question – even before you asked?”

“OK. OK. You are a brother right? Brothers know how to roll. You could have every luxury car brand out there customized for you! A different car for every day of the year. Not to talk of the bada-bling you can accessorize with that kind of cash!”

“All for the limited edition, limited offer of just saying I am the king of all there is. Don’t you think that is a bargain?”

“I know what you are thinking. What if the world ended right now? What if there is an earthquake and you die? What if the big man decides to drop down for the second coming right now? Are you going to live your life a collection of what ifs that may never happen. Even J.C. says not to worry about tomorrow, today has enough evil etc, etc. Well, let me tell you. Ain’t no earthquake going to happen in the city of God! And chill, smart boy like yourself know there are more people who haven’t heard the good news than you can shake a fistful of gold dust at. Besides, you could recite Psalm 51 in a minute and be home for dinner before the trumpet sounds. But in the meantime, get the cash while it is good for the getting!”

“Say it with me now. All I need to do is say I am the big boss man!”

“OK. You don’t believe me. Let me show you how we roll.”

In front of me appeared possibly the most beautiful women I have ever seen either in the flesh or on the big screen. Their smile was enchanting. It seems all they wanted to do was serve me. But they kept just out of reach. Besides them was stacked so many gold bars, they blocked my view of the valley beyond.

“See what I am talking about. Besides how do you intend to get out of this place?”

I wasn’t sure how I got there in the first place. It looked like miles and miles of desert in all directions.

“But check out that ride over there. Isn’t it just bad! That’s not Chrome on that baby bro.” I wondered where I had heard that “bro” before.

“That is Platinum. That car is got so much armor going on, a nuclear missile couldn’t scratch its fender. ”

“All you have to say is I am the big boss man and you have hit the jackpot baby!”

I licked my lips. Despite myself, I liked what I was hearing. I looked up guiltily at the sky. It was still clear. One couldn’t wish for a better day to be alive. Maybe I can beat this guy at his game. But it would be tricky. What if I said what he wanted without actually saying it. That wouldn’t be a sin right? But the question is how to say it without actually saying it.

“You mean I get all these if I say you are the big boss man.”

“Trying to trick me boy? Trying to be smart eh? I have been at this game before you were an embryo! Didn’t the good book tell you that out of the heart proceed all wicked things? Don’t you know it is not what you say that matters but what is in your heart?”

“Wrong answer padre. Here is your reward!”

Instantly I was at the top of a mountain looking down. I could see the world laid out like a vast map built of Lego parts. Looking down! I realized I was upside down! Something was dangling me by my left leg over the precipice of a very steep drop! I kicked madly with my free right leg and started to scream, but to no avail. Whatever had me by my ankle had a vice-like grip.

“See you in hell!” he said. I was free!

I hurtled down at break-neck speed. The ground getting ever so closer. I screamed all the way down. I could hear him all the way down taunting me. My face made contact with the ground! I could feel the dirt in my mouth. I am dead.

I was still l screaming when I came awake. I was gnawing on the sideboard of the bed. I sputtered and spit out the wood. My heart was beating so wildly I thought I had died and gone to hell. But the AC was going full blast and the sweat cooling rapidly on my skin as my heart rate slowed down to normal gave me a chill. I rubbed my hands over my arms and felt the goose pimples.

I sat back on the bed. I looked at the time. It was 2 O’clock. I don’t think I would be able to sleep again. That felt so real I could have sworn I was there. What was I going to do till the morning?

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“Wow! I didn’t think you had it in you. Forty days and forty nights! Just like the Israelite in the wilderness right? Well, it is over now. I am sure you are very hungry! And thirsty!”

The hunger was OK. It was the thirst that was threatening to drive me mad. I didn’t want a cup of water. I wanted a Jerry can! Or two!

“Luck you. See those water jars over there. ” There was a row of about 10 huge earthen jars right there in front of me in the desert.

“Just like the wedding in Canaan hey? I must tell you that wine was exquisite. I have never tasted anything like it before and since. The real Jesus juice!  You cheated Mon Homme! You don’t have to tell me the secret. We both know you used grapes from heaven to make that wine. ”

“But that is in the past. The future begins now.  Help yourself. Why die of thirst in the midst of plenty!”

It was all I could do to get to the first of the jars. I pried open the lead and dipped my cupped hands in and took a mouthful. It was very sweet wine! It did nothing for my thirst and I knew if I drank too much of it, it would just worsen my situation.

“Not wine! I need water!”

I went quickly from one jar to another. Same content. One more jar left, though I wasn’t expecting anything different. My despair and desperation was obvious.

“Wait. Wait. Look. If you can change water to wine, how difficult can it be to change wine to water?”

“You know you want to.” He laughed out loud.

I opened the last jar and was not disappointed: it was full of the same sweet wine.

He rubbed his hands together. “Why have power if you can’t use it? What is the purpose then? If you can’t enjoy it a little? Don’t you think you deserve some slack after your 40-day sojourn in the wilderness? Even the Israelite had manna and water.”

“Wine is after all not good for the king so the good book says. That should encourage you to do what you need to do. There is no way you are going to make it to the city of God in your condition. Talking about wine. Why are some of your devotees so hard-assed about it? All that nonsense talk of non-alcoholic wine. When we both know it was about 10% proof and wine was a stable in those days. It is mentioned at least 235 times in the bible. Believe me I counted. Yeah. I know. Too much free time. What is  a man to do?”
“Wine. Wine. Wine. In the good book. Almost always along the advice to enjoy oneself. Along with bread, honey and milk. And talking of time, my minions are on a roll convincing men of the implausibility of your actually being the son of God not to talk of the second coming being something that would really happen. In fact, we have achieved the “perpetual motion” of unbelief and sin if one could call it that. We don’t even need to do anything anymore. Men are so busy putting up laws that aid and abet our purpose and killing themselves that we just sit back, relax and have a Saturday evening out eating pop-corn and watching them: one continuous sinful movie of blood, sin and gore!”

“Where was I?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Wine is good. Wine is not good.  Enjoy your wine. Wine is not fit for kings. Wine is not for princes. A little wine for your many infirmities. Make up your mind would you!”
“Well, no one ever said that about water. So go right ahead and change the wine to water and have a good long refreshing drink!”

“OK. OK. I know what you are thinking. Thou shall not live by bread alone. I agree with you completely. But nowhere did the good book mention water. What are you waiting for? You know you want to do it. Just go ahead and will it. I can see it in your eyes. Don’t be a blushing bride now. It is only you and I here. And I won’t judge you. I promise.”

I was shaking from the thirst. I was close to being delirious. The Sun beat down mercilessly. Maybe he was right. A little water would help me resist any temptation he may have up his sleeves to tempt me with. But then maybe not. Maybe this was the ultimate temptation in progress already? If I just think it and don’t say the words, does it count? I stared into the depths of the wine-filled jar and my eyes swam. I grabbed hold of the lip of the jar with such force I thought it would crumble under my fingers but I could feel from the smoothness that it had been fired to a rock-hard consistency.

Suddenly I could see all the way down to the bottom of the jar. The wine was no longer wine. It was water! I dipped in my hand and sucked hungrily at the content of my cupped hand. It was so cool it could have come from a refrigerator.

“Gotcha!”  he screamed with glee behind me. I felt myself upended into the jar head first. I tried to struggle but it was no use. He was too quick. I was drowning in less than 5 feet of water.

I came up gasping for air. I was in the sea! Fortunately, there was a plank floating past. The seas was so rough, the plank almost brained me in my attempt to get on top of it. Lightning flashed across the sky. It was dark. The sea raged. The rain came down with such force it stung my face, my arms and my back.

“Don’t look so shocked. That is what we call a storm in these here parts.” I couldn’t see him. But he was there. His voice came from above; from around; from within. “I am everywhere!” he laughed.

“But not to worry. You are the original storm trooper right? Just command it to stop if it is getting on your nerves. You are not scared are you?”

The waves were 100 feet high. It was all I could do to hold on to the plank. I was drinking the salty water every few minutes whenever a wave broke over my head.

“Or you could walk on the water if stopping the storm needles your need not to interfere with the grand scheme of things: the grand design. How about it? I have seen magicians do a similar trick, but I have to hand it to you, no one comes close to your showmanship. I could almost not believe my eyes that day so long ago. You doing the moonwalk on water. And believe me, I have seen it all.”

“What’s one more sin. Do it already!” he yelled over the thunder from the lightning renting the skies.

“You are going to die if you don’t!”

I realized I was in more trouble than I could handle.

A gigantic wall of water rose up in front of me and blocked out the sky. Here is why I die I thought. Heaven or hell? I got pulled under and dragged this way and that, but then I was up again and the rains beat down like heaven was weeping? Weeping?

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Weeping? Water on my face? I must have drifted off. I didn’t realize I had left the windows open. I could see the lightning and hear the subsequent thunder. The wind was blowing the rain into the room and I was almost drenched. I got up and dashed over to the window slamming it shut. The bedding was soaked.

My second pair of pajamas was in the wash so I put on a dry pair of briefs. I dragged the mattress off the bed and put it on the floor. I went over to the wardrobe and brought out the Duvet. I spread it on the bed’s frame. It won’t be comfortable but at least it was dry. I didn’t expect I would get any sleep before morning anyway. But it was still too dark to do anything else.

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“What insolence! Speaking back to the high priest like that!” it was the slap that brought me to full consciousness. I tasted blood on my lips. I could not keep from blinking my left eye continuously, something was trickling into it and it made me very uncomfortable. Probably blood. My head hurt. A lot.

The man who had slapped me looked ready to repeat the action. I cringed.

There was a crowd. Their laughter was one continuous taunt. “Safe yourself, Son of God!” they yelled. Then they burst out laughing. The crowd moved in on me. Poking me in every conceivable part of my body. I twisted every which way in reaction. Some of the jabs were merely ticklish, but several were really painful. The spite was palpable in the air. I felt as if I was suffocating. My body felt as it had been stretched and passed through a ringer. Every inch was on fire from the pain.

I realized they thought I was Jesus. I could hear the shouts of “crucify him” emanating from the crowd. It started low then built up into one continuous chant. “Crucify him!” they screamed!

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! How could I be there? Their cloths didn’t look like anything I had seen before. And I was in something similar but it was in tatters and soaked through with blood.

In my bewilderment, only one thing came to mind. I needed to get out of there! I needed to make them understand that I was not Jesus!

“But I am not Jesus!” I screamed as I was dragged across the courtyard of the high priest’s compound.

“Well, why didn’t you say so since? You had your chance. You refused to answer the high priest. Sorry, Barabbas disappeared like the wind once we released him. Though I don’t think it would have made a difference even if he was here. The pardon is already granted and there is no reversing it. But not to worry, knowing him, he will soon be back where he rightly belongs! Unfortunately for you, we have to hang someone or forfeit our own lives. We go to the hill! Let us string him up!”

The crowd roared its satisfaction!

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I must have blacked out because when I came to, I was lying down with my back to the ground looking up at a huge man standing over me. I tried to move but could not. I had been tied to a cross with heavy ropes across my forearms. I felt a pinch in my left palm. I looked over and watched in horror as a man kneeling down balanced a huge nail about 10 inches in length and as thick as a finger in the palm of my hand. He was trying to find a “good” spot. Silence descended on the crowd. I looked up in the direction in which the faces I could see were pointed expectantly. The huge man had hefted a big iron-headed mallet in his hands. He brought it up over his head, and held it there for a moment. I heard several people in the crowd gasp. Then the mallet descended like a ton of bricks! The pain of the nail going into my hand was unbearable. I saw the end exit the back of the wooden beam to which my hand was tied. I started screaming . The crowds scream mingled with mine. But they weren’t screaming from pain. They were screaming from pleasure!

I came awake. I had got my hand trapped in one of the curled springs in the bed and the sharp end had scoured my palm. There was some blood but not a lot. I was trying not to get it on the Duvet when the cock crowed?

But that is not possible! But it crowed again. Twice.

I was living in a concrete jungle. I could bet my last Naira that there was no living animal except maybe cats and dogs anywhere in my immediate neighborhood. Any chicken around was lifeless, plucked, cleaned and frozen solid. I am on the 7th floor of a serviced apartment building. There could be no cockerels around.

My computer’s screen was flashing in the dark. The “crowing” sound came from the digital software alarm installed on my laptop. I couldn’t honestly remember if or when I had changed the alarm’s sound to the crow of a cockerel. But more surprising was the fact that the alarm had stopped after the second “ring”, when usually I had to get up from the bed and shut it down as it never stops by itself once it starts. It just blinked silently in the dark.

The Sun was starting to rise.

I closed the laptop’s lid and sat there immobile in the dark. I don’t now for how long. I thought of Peter and Jesus. Then Peter. Then Heaven. Then Hell. How easy it was to get it all wrong.

I picked up my phone from the bedside table. I dialed the cell leader’s number. It rang repeatedly but no answer from the other end. It was quite early but not that early. Most people should be up and about by now. If only to beat the traffic going into the Island. It was after all a workday: the first working day of the new week.

I pressed the re-dial button. This time I got through after the third ring.

“Hello Sir. Sorry to bother you so early. When is that men’s meeting again?” I asked the cell leader over the phone.

“Bro, let me get back to you in a couple of hours.” The line went dead so quickly I didn’t even get a chance to say anything further. I could almost “see” him turn over and fall back asleep.

Maybe if I called once more. That will make it three times. Maybe I will get the answer I want: on the third call.

I pressed the re-dial button.



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Update (09/06/2013): I think most of what an FB contact said (below) after reading the story (above) may be true. I lost my muse (my lame excuse for the uninteresting stuff I have been writing). I promise to try harder to “change” – it hasn’t been easy – but the best I can do is continue to try (I think?)

“Ur story is too long and boring. Same story, unarranged . No wonder your stories don’t provoke discussion or argument.
Though you can write but you are not dynamic in your style of writing.
That makes it boring and very unstructured.
It lacks that sense of humour you have. And your writing shows how stubborn you are and that you lack change.
And don’t respond to change.”



Yesterday was my birthday. I had assumed it would just be as uneventful as the 37 others before it. Boy, was I wrong.
It started out just like every other day I can remember. I made it to work just shy of the boss docking my pay, but I still got the evil look from him anyway. It was as if by coming in one minute before 8, I had deprived him of the satisfaction he would have derived from telling me that I might as well go back home since I was not going to get paid for the day – not that I could take him up on the offer – I had bills to pay and no response yet from the several companies I had sent unsolicited job applications to.
No one at work knew it was my birthday – except maybe the boss – but I knew my secret was safe with him – the skinflint wasn’t going to risk having to give me a present or buy the office lunch by announcing it was my birthday.
I can’t really remember exactly what I did before lunch, but I had made up my mind to treat myself to a reasonable lunch. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, the only thing that would have made it special was to share the lunch with a special someone. The person I had in mind would have joined me for lunch only in her nightmare and my daydream: I guess there was a better chance of being hit by a flying boat on the second floor of my office building.
But time passed and the alarm on my laptop announced it was lunchtime, so I got up and headed for the eatery down the street.
It was relatively quiet for a Friday, but I guessed it was maybe related to the fact that the Muslim brethren were probably still at the mosques. I took a corner seat at a table and hoped no one else would join me. I looked at the menu, called a waitress over and ordered the most expensive dish on it despite the fact that I only knew what was in it after I had asked the waitress: the name of the dish was in French.
I must have been right because shortly afterwards, the place started to fill up. I soon had a companion on my corner table. Two strangers on the table. I wondered why he hadn’t sat at any of the other vacant tables in the place. Now I was wedged against the wall and I was no longer “feeling” it. I couldn’t very well ask him to move, so I resigned myself and went on eating my food. At least he was quiet and didn’t trying to make conversation – that was something to be thankful for.

The food wasn’t bad. The sudden “company” I could have done without. We were soon joined by a third person who sat opposite the first.
They both ordered lunch and while I ate slowly, they waited for their food.
I didn’t pay them much attention until the keening sound started. I looked up to find the first fellow doing what could only be described as playing with his food. He was using his fork to drag the individual bean seeds in his food gradually from the center of the plate all the way to the edge. The sound the fork made on the plate was quite disconcerting. But who was I to complain? If I wanted first class service, I shouldn’t be hanging around in economy. Maybe the guy wasn’t hungry or had a lot on his mind. He was reasonably well dressed: shirt, trousers and a tie.
Anyway, it was more interesting to watch the face of the fellow seated across from him. He had stopped eating. And the swiftly changing expression on his face hinted at a more serious struggle going on within – I think he was trying to control himself and not say anything. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore. Dropping his fork on the plate, “What are you doing?” he asked.
The other fellow stopped dragging a bean seed midway to the edge of the plate. Instead, he tapped the bean repeatedly with the prongs of the fork, but he didn’t say anything.
“What are you doing?” The question was repeated.
“Mind your own business.”
“Crazy idiot.”
Even now I still doubt whether I actually saw what happened next, because it was so fast, I wonder if it isn’t the fact that I was subsequently involved that maybe makes me think I actually saw it happen. “It” was the quickness, with which the fellow with the fork sprang up and stabbed down with the fork on the palm of the other guy, but he didn’t stop there (and the next action I definitely witnessed.)
The fork was out of the palm and in flight once again as the scream filled the room. This time it went into the side of the neck. As the blood spurted out, he sat back down again and resumed moving the bean one by one to the edge of his plate. The red on his plate was now much brighter than the red from the palm oil that the beans floated in originally. The other fellow made a tinny sound and sliding sideways, disappeared under the table.
It was obvious I needed to get out of there immediately, but the fellow had me hemmed in, and I was hesitant to ask him to excuse me unless I was ready for a “fork fight”.
I needn’t have bothered because the decision was taken out of my hand in a couple of minutes. As the place emptied out into the street, a couple of mobile policemen came in.

“Halt. No one goes out. Stay where you are or we shoot.”
Apart from two or three waiters and waitresses, there were only about five customers left in the place: I think twice that number must have made it out before the policemen came in.

One of the policemen men prodded the man on the floor with the muzzle of his rifle: “This one is dead O.”
The other one looked around at all of us in the place: “If you have blood on you, you are coming with us.”
I checked my cloth and was glad to notice no visible blood stains.
Someone asked, “Why officer?”
“Because you have evidence on you.”
“Can’t we just give you the cloth and go”
“Are you joking? You can’t just go away with the evidence now. and if you step out of that door without your clothes, you have doubled your offence. That is indecent exposure and disturbing the peace.”
“But you have been told who is responsible already. And you can see he is not even denying it.”
“How can we be sure you are not co-conspirators? You have to assist us with our investigation.”
“Ok. Stop wasting our time. If you know you are involved or have the victim’s blood on you, move to my left. If you do not have blood on you move to my right. Welcome to your father’s kingdom. If you work here and don’t have blood on you join those on my right. If you are the manager here, join those on my left.”
“Mr. Criminal. Drop the fork and stand up.”
The man next to me finally dropped the fork and getting up, slowly joined the little group on the policeman’s left. Finally, I was able to leave the table. I gingerly stepped over what pool of blood I could see on the floor, and made for the policeman’s right and hopefully to freedom and back to work: I don’t think I have ever been that happy at the thought of going to sit behind my office desk.
“Gentleman. Where are you going?” The policeman directed his question at me.
“Respect yourself O. Is that not blood on your trousers? Join your friends on my left.”
I protested that the blood must have come from my brushing against the table as I got up.
“OK. You are trying to teach me my job now eh? So you were even sitting beside the main criminal? Just three of you? You are either a victim or a criminal. Since you are not stabbed, you are a criminal. Abeg, don’t waste my time, join your friends.”
There were now about seven of us on his left and four people on his right.
“The innocent shall not be punished unjustly. My friends, you are free to go.”
The four he addressed hot footed it out of the place in less than a minute.
“The ambulance is coming. Once it gets here, we will all leave in our vehicle.”
Soon, we were all aboard the police vehicle – a Toyota Hilux with a covered back. The “main” criminal was asked to get in first, followed by the rest of us who were “guilty by location”, lastly the policemen, who sat at the outer edge: I got the impression the policemen were trying to stay as far away from him as possible. As we pulled away, I noticed two paramedics exit the restaurant with the other man on a stretcher: I had assumed there would be a sheet over him, but there was none.
The trip to the station was hot and despite the station being only a couple of streets away, it took the better part on an hour under the relentless midday Sun and the gridlocked motor traffic.
We were matched at a rather quick pace into the station. We were soon “processed” in. One by one, we answered a few questions by the constable behind the desk, turned out our pockets, belt, shoes, declared our possessions and signed a sheet stating so.  The DPO emerged from some back office at about this time, took one look at us and commented “So these are the ones eh?” And with that, he receded back to his office.
The captain or whatever his rank was who was in charge continued to harangue us.
“That is my boss. You can see he knew already that you were coming. He is the alpha and omega in this station. And he has ordered us to give you the VIP treatment. If you don’t like how we treat you, you can say so at any time. We will then upgrade you to the very VIP “V.V.I.P.” category. Very few people complain when we put them in that category. But in case we have goats among you, there is even one additional category after that one, it is by invitation only: we invite you there when we see by your action that you are deserving very special treatment.”
“Gentlemen, follow me.”
We passed through one side of the counter to where the holding cells were situated.
One man asked if he could get his one phone call (our phones were collected at the restaurant).
“Ha ha ha. Free phone call. I am sure you have DSTV in your house. Is it Crime and Investigation you watch? You want to teach me my job? I think we should upgrade you pronto.”
“Constable!” Shouting to the officer behind the desk.
“Sir! Yes Sir!” Came the disembodied response.
“Do we still have space in the Very VIP lounge?”
“No Sir. Maybe later this evening. One prisoner has asked to be downgraded. He is waiting for his people to come and fulfill all righteousness.”
“You be lucky man O your highness. Please remind me in the evening to revisit your case.” He said to the man who had requested the phone call.
We were all perspiring, but the “phone call” man was shedding it in buckets. He was visibly shaking.
We soon came to one of the cells which appeared empty. The policeman opened it, and was about to ask us to file in when he peaked inside – there was apparently someone in there.
“You, come out here!” The policeman shouted.
A diminutive looking man came out slowly. One could immediately see why it was easy to miss him – he was a certain shade of “dark” that blended with the darkness in the far corner of the cell where he had been sitting. He was the kind of fellow you wouldn’t want as a foe on a dark moonless night.
“Constable! What is this man still doing here?!” The policeman bellowed.
“We never see his people O! E be like say dey don default O!”
“Oga move to one side! Abi you wan remain there? Wetin your crime again?”
“I steal sir.”
“Wetin you steal?”
“Goat sir.”
“Ordinary goat. How long you don dey here?”
“Three months sir.”
“E be like say the witches in your hometown follow you come Lagos? You wan make we pack you ordinary thief with these murder suspects abi? Na there them come finally finish you be that O!”
“Gerrrout and stand over there.”
“You still dey wait for invitation?” He was addressing us. So we went into the cell.
“Make yourself at home. The constable will invite you one by one for a one to one meeting very soon. So we know how to handle your case.” with that he locked the door behind him and was gone.
The trouble I was in became more obvious. No one would be looking for me. And I couldn’t think of anyone to call even if I had the chance. Maybe my boss – maybe not. I suspect he will courier my sack letter to the policestation under the guise that company policy does not allow for convicts on the payroll.
After about an hour, the constable shouted a name. 

No one answered. I guess no one could make out the name he called out properly or we all just missed it because we were preoccupied with our thoughts. He yelled the name again. This time someone answered. Then we heard his shoes beat a pattern to the cell door.

“Who be dat? You wan make I use megaphone call una?”

Which was ridiculous. It wasn’t as if we could leave the cell and stroll down to the frontdesk when he called. He needed to come and let out the person, so why shout the name and demand an answer first before showing up.

The hapless fellow was let out of the cell, while a few of the other inmates started begging and talking in unison – asking to be allowed to at least call someone.

“Order!” He shouted.

“One by one na so we go shave una heads. U don see fish wey dey in a hurry to swim inside peppersoup before?”

About 20minutes later, the constable returned with the fellow. The look on his face wasn’t too encouraging. It appeared none of the people he called could make it down to the station: either they were far away, didn’t want police trouble or had no money. It looked as if he would be spending at least one night there.

I wasn’t in a much better situation myself. In the meantime, I found I was somehow the one seated closest to the gentleman who landed all of us in our present situation. The other 5 guys were obviously clustered together away from the two of us. I was wondering how I came to be in the wrong group when the constable bellowed another name again. This time the response was immediate and the fellow was standing at the cell door by the time the constable showed up. Another disappearing act for about 20minutes. There was a noticeable difference in the fellow’s demeanor when he returned. His uncle was sending someone to come and bail him out in about an hour.

This went on until it was my turn. I followed the constable to the front desk.

He repeated my name for confirmation and I obliged.

“What was your purpose at the crime scene.”

“I went there to eat.”

“To eat?” He sounded incredulous.

“Do you always go there to eat?”

“No. In fact it is my birthday. I was giving myself a treat.”

“Your birthday? You don’t say.”

“You should have told us that since now. We would have given you special treatment.”
Going by the way they used the word when we got to the station, even if I had remembered it was my birthday, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it then.


“How we go celebrate am now?” he asked me.

He picked up the list describing my personal effects and scanned it quickly with his eyes.

“Oga, there is enough money here to throw a small party o. Make I call my second make he arrange something? I can’t leave this desk but he is outside and I know say he is willing and able.”

If he thought the little amount in my purse was a goldstrike, then I am much more well off than I gave myself credit for. Buying them lunch couldn’t hurt either. I gave him the go ahead. He handed me back my purse, I fished out some notes, and handed him back both the cash and the purse. He took a second to change the amount recorded on my sheet (downwards).

“Oga. It may help to extend your goodwill to the DPO too O.”

I guess the DPO deserved “special” treatment above and beyond his subordinates. Another exchange of purse and money again and we were good.

“Thank you. You will remember today for good. Many happy returns of the day sir.”

The day had taken a decidedly sad turn several hours earlier: did he even understand the meaning of those words – in my present condition?

I mumbled an unenthusiastic “Amen.”

“Constable Mabawonwi!”

There was a small commotion outside and another policeman rushed in.

He stood to attention.

“Sir! Yes Sir!”
“My Lord. Here I am. Send me!”

One could see he was just fooling around pretending the first policeman was his superior.

“Can you imagine. It is my oga’s birthday today and he has decided to bless us abundantly according to his riches in glory.”

More well wishes from the second policeman after which he was dispatched to go and get the food and some drinks.

“Hmmn. Back to the issue at hand. How we go do am now? You go get someone to come and bail you? If you want, we can follow you to the ATM, then you can come back and we release you on self-recognition. As I see you so, I dey sure you are an upstanding citizen.”

The beginning of an idea. Maybe I won’t spend the night in that cell after all.

I asked him about the bail amount and he gave me what he said was a discounted figure due to my special status. Under other conditions, I would have wondered if I was at the police station or a comedy house.

I knew the amount in my bank account to the nearest Naira give or take a kobo or two. Unfortunately, it was several thousands short of the bail amount.

I told him I was short of money.

“How we go do am now? I don try for you O.”

I racked my brain for several minutes. Thinking where I may have money outside my bank account. Finally I remembered a debt owed me by a former colleague who had been promising to pay for a long time but always defaulted when the time agreed comes round. I had given up all hope and mentally written off the money as a bad loan several months back. But with nowhere else to turn, I thought I would give it a try.

I explained the situation to the constable and asked if I may use my phone.

He handed it over.

I scrolled through my contact list and pressed dial on his number.

“Hello Dele. Long time. How now.” I was surprised I got through to him. He had stopped taking my calls some time ago.

“My Oga. How is it going?”

“So so. I need your help. I am at the police station.”

I was embarrassed to even say so. I had never had any troubles with the police in all my 38 years and now in one fell sweep I have a criminal record and have seen the inside of a police cell.

“Wetin you dey do there? You don change your career?”

“No.” The joke wasn’t lost on me, but I was not in a position to find it funny.

“I am in a small trouble. Can you please bring the money you owe me to the station by the office. I need it to settle my bail.”

Brief silence. Then it sounded as if someone was raking the phone over a rough surface, followed by “Hello. The line is breaking up. Hello I can’t hear you. Let me call you back.”


“Just joking O. In fact I have the money now. Give me about 3 hours. I will be there with you.”

“Thanks Dele. God will bless you.”

“You too bro. I know you don vex long time ago. I didn’t have the money which is why I stopped taking your calls. But maybe it’s God that withheld the money for a day like this eh? See you soon.”

That was a miracle if indeed miracles happen.

I repeated the good news to the constable. He became even friendlier.

“Oga, if not for say the area commander don start to dey make surprise visit, I for ask you to perch here with me for my office O, but how I go explain say criminal dey mann frontdesk if he shows up? When your others dey inside cell? No vex O, but na so e be. But as soon as your friend shows up, you don free be dat O.”

With that, it was back to the cell for me.

I was the last person he took out of the cell. The only other person who hadn’t paid a visit to the frontdesk was the man that had wielded the fork.

And after expecting the constable to call him for about 30 minutes, I assumed they weren’t going to offer him the bail option – after all his victim was dead.

I waited for my friend to show up.

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