THURSDAY FART MASTER

It was a hot Thursday afternoon. 12.35pm to be precise. We had just finished a paper and still had about 20 minutes before the next would begin. The paper we just concluded was generally enjoyed and everyone was high on something, or so it seemed. Chairs were turned to face one another to form groups in the class. Each group talked nineteen to the dozen about different topics. Some guys discussed  football while others discussed movie, fashion and the likes.

“Hnnnn, hnnn”. It was the angry grunt of some students that jolted me from my chair. I had held my PASS, studying my data on it as if it had just been handed to me. I looked around to see the injured expression on the faces of my classmates. Someone had farted of what smelt of decayed cooked beans and egg.

Everyone started throwing tantrums. I sat on my chair, indifferent. I had never reacted to the smell of farts in the class, not even for once had my facial expression showed discomfort. This made people wonder if my nostrils were functional. I would just sit on my chair and run my fingers on some book page.

“This is mercilessly terrible. It is absolutely unbearable” John, the grammar guru in my class angrily ejaculated. “Whoever did this is dead. They just have not buried him” Someone else lamented, and the rants seemed like eternity.

“You will eat everything that comes your way, how won’t you be farting like someone whose stomach needs fumigation? How?” a girl asked, as if she would behead the farting culprit if she found out who it was.

“It is beans”. Someone said convincingly. “And rotten egg” Another person added in the analysis of what could smell so bad. I didn’t smile, though I wanted to; for I concluded that it was plain dumb to debate the makeup of a fart instead of avoiding the smell itself by any means possible.

“Bosun will not even say anything”, someone referred to me. I placed the voice as Juliet’s. I didn’t respond, for the girl didn’t fear anybody, and she could beat up anyone who defied her. She was the record notorious girl in our class. Once, she had been suspended for fighting and twice for disrespecting a teacher.

“Leave him alone o” another girl seconded Juliet. “Does he even have a working nose? Let him be romancing his PASS as if it is American Green Card” Still, I didn’t talk, neither did I raise my head. The class burst into a laughter that lasted a while until a teacher’s cane banged a table three times to get our attention. It was time for the next paper. Everyone adjusted their chair and silence resumed its reign in the class. I assumed the smell had escaped the class through the windows but I doubted my judgement because I could see the clean-cut supervisor expand and contract his nostrils like a rabbit smelling its feed, this in turn raised and lowered the silver rimmed spectacles that sat on them.

“Did any of you fart?” he asked, menacingly. His nose twitched and written on his face was the determination to make a scapegoat of anyone he was led to believe was the culprit. Everyone in the class looked around, as if the topic in the man’s question was alien to them.

“I will forgive you for this. If anyone tries this nonsense again before I leave this class, I promise to make him rue the day he was born. Understood?”

“Yes sir” We chorused.

“Now keep away all books and get ready for the next paper”.

Hell was let loose towards the end of the paper as the pungent smell of fart filled the class. I was calm; knowing that there was no way the culprit would be fished out. The supervisor allowed us finish the paper before he dealt with everyone but me and two other gentlemanly looking boys, because, in his words, it couldn’t have been cool boys like us who never talked since he had entered the class.

***

It was a cool evening, a warm one rather, but its temperature was mild, compared to the one earlier today in school. The full blown golden yellow light of the sun radiated on the windscreen of a car that went past me and the rays directly hit my eyes. The passengers of the car couldn’t have experienced what it felt like to be out under the glorious effect of Mother Nature. I drew this conclusion from the fact that, as I perceived, the car was a brand new one, two months old or there about. It moved slowly in a silent sound, almost unheard and no smokes came out of its exhaust pipe. So I looked at the car and willingly lured myself, in few seconds, into a world of reverie. I envisaged a day when I would be in a better car, possibly with my wife and a beautiful daughter as a first child.

This daydreaming had made my aimless journey worthwhile. I only wanted to be out because nobody was at home and our dear brothers – PHCN, had held their belonging; power. So there I was, on a street in Ibadan, dawdling and looking out for anything interesting that could happen – just anything.

“Dear brother”. It was the voice of an old woman that snatched my attention from the moving car, and my imaginations. From what I inferred, it wouldn’t be too rude to say that the woman would not have been considered if she had entered an audition for a beauty pageant in her youthful days. A black beret perfectly sat on her head, the revealed part of her head was covered by rough gray hair that placed her above fifty. She was clothed in a pleated gown that must have served her for some years.

“May I have some minutes with you brother?” She asked. I gave a consenting nod. She continued her speech but not before she handed me a handbill. I had gone through this before and readily understood what her message would be. I could only pray that she was not as boring as the ones I had met before, you know, those ones who would argue and argue with you until you give them a noncommittal ‘yes’.

“My brother, do you know there is another world apart from this?” I nodded, focussing my eyes on the pit in her shoulders. It seemed someone had attempted to dig a well on both sides of her neck. The pit there could hold two eggs each.

“For everyone to enjoy the luxury of this new world, they must give their lives to Christ”. Hadn’t I guessed right? Hadn’t I?” She continued her admonitions. It was an encounter that would have been nothing short of boredom if she had spoken longer than I could cope with.

When we departed, I started to read the bill she had given me. It talked about sins and related vices; stealing, lying, fornicating, mischief, wickedness, malice etc etc. I was forced to stay by a corner to digest the content of the tract. I found myself strangely affected by the tract, for I had indeed been guilty of every sin stated in it. It ended my adventures for the evening. I went home, sank myself into a couch in our sitting room, drew my knees to my chest, and then started a playback on my life…
***
What could I have done anyway? Our meals at home consisted of beans, eggs and other variations of beans for Wednesday nights. We had been gifted a sack of beans by grandfather and mom considered it a personal calling that we must consume the sack by Christmas. With this development, who was I to control the effect of the carbon in beans? I could not bear the disgrace that would follow confessing to being the Thursday Farting Master in the class. I knew my classmates; it wouldn’t be long before someone would coined a nickname for me, something like “BOSUN THE FART MASTER”. I knew what to do. I knelt down and followed the instruction on the handbill, asking God for forgiveness.

I am @me_ablad on twitter.

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RIDING HOME

Dr. John, pot bellied, dark, loquacious sixty-year old civil servant in the Ministry of Information, or Misinformation as people always said, sat in a cane chair, his favourite spot behind the new cottage he acquired for Lara, his new catch. There, across Lara, he drank and chatted, but did the former with more care and the latter as a corollary to the former. Though rich, he was selfish with money as he was with forgiveness. He never gave too much, except to beer and beautiful women and he only forgave when it was almost useless.

“I shall not remember my own name after our night together”. He said.

Lara laughed and the bulge of her mammary gland made Dr. John smile, soon, he would bury his head in between her cleavage and forget the flapping pieces on the chest of his wife whose only work included growing fatter and making children.

“It won’t be bad”, Lara said, “after all, I can remind you”.

She blew an air of kiss across the table between them and Dr. felt that, this newly acquired woman with her dark skin glowing in the warm rays of the setting sun, would take him to the heavens, and back hopefully.

And she did. For during their night together, Dr. John had coughed and gasped for air, his body twitching as he withdrew from Lara. She had quickly gone for a glass of water and on returning, dropped the glass at the sight of the man’s body, as it lay silently, lifeless with a manhood without its earlier glory.

“I shall not remember my own name”. She remembered his words and her own promise to remind him. But she would not have to, for now she looked again, after two weeks, at his body being lowered into the grave, amidst wails from co-workers at the Ministry, family members and his housewife, whose only hope of sexual fulfilment was being covered in bleak darkness, by every measure of sand, every movement of the shovel and every word of the cleric in black: “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.

SILENT RESTART

It was an evening blessed with the warm rays of the setting sun. OAU bats were on the rampage again, flying in different directions, hovering above
buildings and people. Their ugly looking feathers, spread in the sky, became beautified under the radiation of the now setting sun.

Sammy had gone to the rendezvous, a little bust stop where students boarded vehicles to their halls of residence. He wasn’t there to board a vehicle, neither
was he there to watch the sea of heads that either kept straight to their direction or looked around and dawdled up and down. He was there to meet Titi, his one
time girlfriend, his partner of a failed relationship.

When earlier that day, Titi asked to meet him at the place, he was surprised. In the eight months that their relationship had crumbled over the custody of Sammy’s laptop for a weekend, they had only exchanged one statement. It was rather a molehill, but the mountain made out of it saw to the beginning of the end
of their relationship.

It was Titi who first said it. “It is over between us”. He was shell-shocked but not as much as exasperated that Titi’s selfishness knew no bounds. Then he
blurted too, “it is over” and then thought about what he just said. What a sequence, thinking after speaking. He wished he had not said it, he wished he had been more patient, but he would never eat his words, real men never did that.

Titi did not look penitent, she only turned and left as if she had waited years for Sammy to tell her off. Sammy looked at her as she left and remembered the
pleasant past they had. The times of being a willing victim of debt over expensive dinners, times of romantic hangouts, the times of little pecking, times of holding each other’s hands and waking silently across a vast field of green grass.

Here she was, walking away with all his love, all his gifts and leaving behind a vacuum that will not be easily filled, sadness that would linger, thirst that would never be quenched, a punctured emotion. He did not cry, the tears refused to flow. He however went to bed on an empty stomach that seemed to be too filled to accommodate food.

That was eight months ago, and he had gotten over her quicker than expected. Today however, he waited patiently for her to show up. He couldn’t decipher why
she wanted to see him.

When she showed up in her flowery gown and a white scarf that flowed down her shoulders, she looked beautiful as usual, even without her blue eye-shadow
or the purple lipstick that first attracted him to her. They shook hands with each other and then a moment of brief silence followed.

“Sam”, she called as if stammering, looked straight into his eyes and back onthe ground. He didn’t see her face, it was now turned towards the ground, as if
reading from the sand what she would say next. He chose to fix his gaze on her
chocolate scalp, that scalp that once served as his meal, the one on which his tongue had practised its laundry expertise.

“I am sorry”, she said, still failing to meet his eyes.

“For what?”, he must have said it loud because she looked up and wore a quizzical look, a frown that seemed to make her more beautiful.

“I am sorry for leaving you”.

“What are you saying?”, he asked with a straight face, a face that was absent of any evidence of affection.

“I should not have been so irrational”, she cut him short. “I knew you needed your laptop. I knew how so much you loved me. The time I have spent without
you couldn’t have been more hellish…”

He was enjoying the words. They were sweet to his ears but he wore no such look as to show his happiness. Instead, he chose to hurt her a little, so he spoke
to her like a father chiding his daughter.

“Titi”, he said, placing his right hand on her shoulder. “I am happy I met you, but I am happier you left”. The words painfully dug into the deep recesses of her heart.

“Those times you were away have been the best of my life”. She wanted to slap him. She wished he could see how raging the fire which his words had flamed was but
she kept mute and tried to wear an ingratiating look.

“I have built my CGPA”. He looked into her eyes and saw a mist of tears ready to be released by the next blink. He didn’t care.

“I have realized how much my life depended on you. It should never have been so. I was too blind, blinded by love”. A sob escaped her, it encouraged him to
say more. “I was fooled by you, I played the dumb head”, she sobbed the more, it tickled him the more.

“Now I don’t want you in my life any more”. She cried and attracted some passers by. She tried to mutter a word, she found none.

“You once made a fool of me, but that was with my consent. You cannot have the consent again”.

“Sammy please” she said with a drawl. It began to hurt him to see her cry. So he chose to leave but not before he shove a white handkerchief into her hand.

“You may wipe your tears with this”, he said and turned away.

He moved few steps and looked back. She was still there and they had a one-to-one eye contact. She had dropped the handkerchief.

He moved farther away from her and looked back again. They had another eye contact. It glued him to that spot. He turned to her and the memories of the good
past came flooding, replaying really fast. He stretched his arms to her, his face still void of any emotion. As if remote-controlled, she ran towards him like a child going to a cone of ice cream.

She ran into his arms. Their embrace was brief but it felt like a whole day. With the hug went all the sadness, loneliness, anger and resentments. They held each other by the hand and Sammy thought of many things at the same time. “Women sha, such necessary evils”.

He considered apologizing for the heavily caustic words he said to her earlier but he was not going to cede his new found control on any account. He
embraced her again, whispering into her ears like he always did.

“I love you”, she said. It was then he realized she had never said it before their breakup. It convinced him, he wanted to say the same but he didn’t. He only held her hand in his, and squeezed lightly as they both dawdled along the vast field of green grass in silence that communicated a million messages.

I am @me_ablad on twitter.

NEW MOTHER, NEW CHILD BY @me_ablad

I am sure you want to read this.

OSCARPOEMS

Hello people, @me_ablad has something for us. Please read, enjoy and drop your thoughts to encourage. Thanks and have a wonderful time…

The instant the car window was rolled down, there was an exchange. While the woman at the steering felt the rush of warm air into the car, the boy holding out his hand for the alms felt the artificial coolness of the air-conditioner of the SUV caress his face. He was not satisfied with the cool air however, it never filled empty stomachs. He wanted money, and today that his benefactor had come again, he enjoyed the breeze for as long as it took her to pass the money across to him.
It usually did not take long before she gave him money or other stuff she brought; in fact it was always less than a minute. It seemed to him that she knew he was waiting, always…

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WAITING FOREVER

The first time he saw her – two months and some days ago, he knew there was something special about his attraction to her, something about a guy’s heart skipping a beat, something that he had always dismissed as clichéd. But it didn’t end there; he had continued to think about her, about what it would be like to talk to her, to be her friend.

Every morning afterwards, he stayed by the balcony, waiting for her to walk past so that he would ogle her curves, his beloved curves. He wondered how he had caught himself in such web, pining for a girl whose name he didn’t even know, but he didn’t care because he seemed consoled and healed of the loneliness that had consumed him. If looking at her could heal him so much, what would it mean to hold her close, to have her breathe life into him, to taste of the living water in her mouth? But he was iffy about being ready for her, or maybe he was not good enough, not mature enough. Once he had gone to the mirror by his bed and fiddled with his beard, it was not long enough, not bushy enough but he hoped it would score him high, a hope that made him forget his usual fear, his thought that mature guys have spot on their face, pimples – and he had none, he wished he could conjure some up…

Today again, he stayed by the balcony and waited for her, when she came – if she came, he taught, he would walk up to her and ask her what her name was, what her phone number was and if they could be friends, then something more.

But he never dared talk to her. The moment he sighted her from afar, there was usually this beat on his chest, something like a pestle being pounded against the mortar. It usually killed his confidence. This is not my first time of asking someone out, he would think, why am I afraid? Or am I not a man? Yet, he never talked to her. He had forgotten that his last relationship, the one he had in high school, ended over three years ago. He would just watch her walk past, and then he would turn his head and look at her as she faded into the corner of the street and to the next day when he would wait again.
…hello, he rehearsed, I am Bosun, no, my name is Bosun, no. He taught of his pick up lines and reframed…standing before you is Bosun, three hundred level Mass Communication student who cannot ask a girl out, his instincts corrected him.

He played with the collar of his shirt and hoped it was okay – whether he could go meet her. Just then, he sighted her again, she appeared from afar, a place where her head became a silhouette that occasionally blocked the evening sun as she moved. His heart beat faster the nearer she came.

…standing before you is Bosun, he rehearsed again before remembering his taunting thought once more…three hundred level Mass Communication student who cannot ask a girl out, but even before he could call her, she had walked past him.

Another day gone, he would wait till tomorrow – or maybe forever.

I’m @me_ablad on twitter.

When Julius came round, he found himself tied in strong ropes that it would be pointless to attempt to break loose, even if he summoned all the strength he had. About an hour ago, he had been caught far beyond the bamboo forest after the Caroline lake, the boundary between Albion and Sathaneu. The outcome of the brawl between him and Harputh’s army was that he passed out. And when he woke up, he realised that he had enjoyed a free ride on one of the army’s horses to Harputh’s palace.
Julius looked up to see King Harputh’s angry eyes; the contempt in them only merged the height of the smoke that wreathed behind the King’s castle. The soldiers who caught Julius had been around the fire for warmth. The only knight with the king was Putith, the army commander, armed with a sword that shone with death and destruction. The sight of the king’s seal on Putith’s belt nauseated Julius, hadn’t he sworn never to have anything to do with it again?
King Harputh spat on the ground before Julius. It made Julius look up and shoot the king a deadly look. He would not respect such kings as Harputh whose taxes only burdened the people of the kingdom. His hatred for Harputh not only bordered around the King’s heavy taxes, but also on his horrifying corruption.
“I will make you pay for others, you thief” Harputh said, moving behind his throne and placing his head on his clenched fists.
“I will watch you do it” Julius dared the king. He would have none of Harputh’s threat. He would rather have his tongue cut than keep quiet. He spat towards the king.
“You will not disrespect the king, you…” Putith furiously charged towards Julius before the king stopped him with a wave of his hand.
Harputh felt defied. A suspended thief had just spat in his palace. It meant only one thing; Julius didn’t fear death. Harputh would make him curse the day he was born.
“How dare you spit in my palace?” Harputh growled and took a threatening move towards Julius. When he got to him, he delivered a heavy blow on Julius’ face. Julius fell flat on his face, hands tied behind him. He struggled hard to turn himself but he failed.
***
Two months ago, Julius’ banishment from Albion resulted from an accident. On one of his aimless frolicking around the castle, in a time when Putith had led the knights in the hunt against an enemy, he had caught Harputh with Putith’s wife and much as he would have wanted to gain the king’s trust and confidence, he failed, for should Putith know, Harputh’s reign would be a history told in agony. Putith’s wife had advised the king against killing Julius. She would set Julius up and his banishment was sure to come. How she would do it, the king never understood but even the king was dumbfounded when his golden goblet was found in Julius’s hut.
***
Julius recovered from the effect of the king’s lethal blow and looked at his side to see Putith who had already whistled in his knights to take Julius to the dungeon. Julius pitied Putith, betrayed by Putith’s palpable oblivion to the king’s betrayal and his need and power, rather than right, to overthrow the king.

UNDER AN ORANGE TREE (A Drama)

ACT 1
The scene is under an orange tree. Yomi, a village teacher walks in from the left side. He meets Bimbo, a school student, who also comes in from the right side of the stage. Both are unaware of Segun, a popular troublemaker, running mad as a result of addiction to marijuana, who is on top the tree with a dagger, peeling and eating oranges.

Yomi:   

Bimbo, Bimbo. How were you today? (Segun stops eating oranges. He adjusts and sits calmly, watching the two)

Bimbo:

(Bends to show respect) Fine sir, but my English language teacher said it should be ‘how are you?’ and not ‘were’.

Yomi:   

(feels abashed) I just have to know if you are fine. And your English Language teacher, he or she should be forgotten now, like the fart of a mad man. The fart itself, smelling no matter how bad, doesn’t make him any better. He as well could smell more offensive than his fart. A three year old has had more baths than he.

Bimbo:

And if this village is something I know well, there is no such mad man as Segun. (Segun opens his mouth, almost as if to talk but calms down) His fart, competing with his body smell, is in a battle as good as lost. I will rather sleep in the same bed with a pig than walk on the same path with Segun. (Segun frowns)

Yomi:   

(Spits disgustingly on the floor) For me, a pig is much better a living thing than compared with Segun. That is too great a favour to grant him, and too mortifying a remark for a pig. I may have to choose my faeces over Segun.

Bimbo:

(twists her nose in disgusts). That’s bad. Well thank you Mr (mocks him), Mr Tissa. (They giggle). Shall I say I am lucky to meet you today? Or that you rather are?

Yomi:   

We are both lucky to meet each other. Well, you may want to believe that I am luckier. That is if that feminine pride of yours has not gone.

Bimbo:

T-I-S-S-A! I am not proud. And if turning you down means pride, so be it. I don’t want to get invol…

Yomi:   

(Cuts in) get involved because of what? See, this feeling is mutual, don’t deceive yourself, you love me. Or like, at least. (Bimbo tries to talk but Yomi stops her with his index finger on her lips). If you are afraid of anybody, tell me. We can make it secret and I am sure you will enjoy it.

Bimbo:

It is not that I don’t hmm…but…but…errr…err (she scratches her head). Really I don’t know what to say…

Yomi:   

What to say is not a problem, I only wish that you are mine. I don’t want you to end up in the hands of some idiots, idiots like Segun whose life is a mistake from the creator’s hands, a result of few minutes of pleasure between senseless lovers.

Bimbo:

Why are you so hard on that unfortunate boy? It is not as if I have told you he asked me out. On that day when he emerged from a bush on the way to the stream with smoke oozing out of his mouth like Sango, I had thought he would let me be but what he did was strange.

Yomi:   

Really? He asked you out? That wild beast! What was he thinking? That we normal male members of the homo sapien race do not value such an angel like you?

Bimbo:

I wonder o. He just came and touched my behin… (corrects herself). He wanted to touch me. (Segun bites his index finger) If he had not been fast enough to hold my hand, an eclipse of the world would have occurred to his eyes. More so, I didn’t want to have any struggle with him. (Yomi drops his lesson note and a cane on the floor). So, I had to say yes when he started saying nothing sensible.

Yomi:   

It is a Yoruba adage; call a mad man your husband so that he lets you go. (Segun whispers to himself; “me, mad man?)

Bimbo:

(Offended). Ah…ah, I haven’t called him my husband. He can never be my husband. Never!

Yomi:   

(Persuasively) But can I? We will be a perfect match…think of it.

Bimbo:

Tissa! See, you too know, I deserve something better, something more…

Yomi:   

(cuts in) something better than I am? (feels abased). I am educated. I have a job…

Bimbo:

Yes. You have a job. You teach. But I will never marry a teacher, not even the one who can only boast of a pair of shoes and some old clothes.

Yomi:   

(feels resentful). Does that refer to me? As in…you think  I deserve all that?

Bimbo:

(faces down). I know you feel bitter, but I have to be sincere. I want a fulfilled man. Someone who will take me out of this village to a better place, a place where I will be better educated and accomplished. Not to become another mother of Segun, or a wife to such person.

Yomi:   

But you should have hope in me. I am the best man for you here. With your brilliance, I can sacrifice all for you. And take you away from here, maybe someday. Away from rogues like Segun.  (Seguns smiles up the tree)I have good intentions for you…

Bimbo:

Good! You have good intentions but dear Mr Yomi, you are in the wrong place with good intentions, and it will never work. To be candid, you are just a little better than the likes of segun, (segun sticks his tongue out in the direction of Yomi) except that you are educated, and do not smoke, what other things. You even live in a room in his father’s house, which automatically makes him your landlord. You are good and handsome, but men must know, that it is not only handsomeness, or brilliance that solves the problems of a woman. There’s more to it. I want an accomplished man. I won’t eat love alone forever…

Yomi:

(Picks his lesson not and cane on the floor, sad and ready to leave). Thank you. I have heard enough. (Segun bites his lower lip as if to mock Yomi) But I pray you and other ladies like you will see better beyond now and farther into the future, where there lie treasures of everlasting fulfilment, and know that it takes time for a man to be fulfilled and most times, this happens with the help of his partner, his wife…until then, I will be praying for you. Promise me you will not tell anyone about this.

Bimbo:

I won’t. And please, don’t see this as some sorts of embarrassment. It is just the truth. I rather would not waste your time.

Yomi:   

(turns to leave). I have had it in mind to joke with you someday with this, but seeing now how contingent that is, let me do it now. When you get home, open you dictionary and check your name “Bimbo”. It is not to offend you though.

Segun: 

(speaks from tree top) Tissa. (Both Bimbo and Yomi are scared at the discovery of Segun’s presence) You are in trouble o. Wait for me with this knife. (he makes attempt to climb down as Bimbo and Yomi take to their heels in different directions). Make you run very well en? But make I know meet you for my papa house unless you get your six month arrears rent o…. (He climbs down and continues to laugh).

THE END

FIRST WARNING

FIRST WARNING

Cynthia turned to see what made her tremble. A man had entered the room in the few seconds she had spent opening the fridge for a drink. She had seen guns in movies, today, it was real. The man pointed one at her. She dropped the bottle in her hand and the drink flowed rapidly as if to escape the room.

Cynthia wished the land under her feet could open and swallow her. She was clueless. Should she start begging? Or attack? She looked at Clinton playing on a chair next her dressing table. Could she save Clinton?

“Don’t move!” the man’s hoarse voice snatched her from her thoughts. 

The man moved closer in a menacing pace. He gripped her neck and pressed the pistol hard against her forehead. It felt cold, death felt cold. She needed to pray, possibly her last.

The pistol was silent. It was only a matter of luck that it wasn’t Cynthia’s blood that splashed in the room. The man had pulled the trigger; its effect was a confluence of Clinton’s blood and the spilled drink. 

Cynthia closed her eyes in agony and pressed her teeth against her lower lip so hard that she could taste blood. When she opened her eyes, they were bloodshot; she could see her blurred image in the mirror now painted in Clinton’s blood. The man had left her with a smudge on her neck.

The man tucked the gun under his blazer and flashed Cynthia his phone’s screen. It had Mrs Kingsley’s picture. She was the woman whose husband she had been seeing. She understood and could only thank her stars that the nauseating sight of gun was no more, and perhaps, that cold death had passed her over.

“This is a first warning” he said. “It should be the last, or you die” he added with a smirk that emerged from the corner of his eyes.

“Now, promise me” the man said, “that you will remove that thing in your stomach”. 

“I promise” Cynthia blurted, amazed at how fast she could speak. She could only hope that was all. That sinister small machine in his blazer must not work again, not today, not anymore as far as it concerned her.

“Be seen with Mr Kingsley and die”, he threatened and made out of the room. 

Cynthia locked her door against the man. When she pressed a button on the wall, it sent light down a golden chandelier and she could see more blots of blood.

Clinton lay, lifeless in the pool of its blood. She released the mist of tears in her eyes, sad her dog had to die for barking, but then, she thought, it could have been worse.

She picked her phone beside her T.V and searched for her doctor’s number. Cynthia caressed her tummy and pitied the foetus inside. It should be gone. After all, promises are to be kept and there was only a first warning.

 

PRESENTATION PALAVER

PRESENTATION PALAVER

“I hereby invite Adekanmi Abiodun to the podium to give his presentation” The co-ordinator said as I made my way to the stage. The sound of my name made a thunderous beat on my heart and I knew something trouble was lurking around. How can my own name scare me so much? I thought.

“Ablad, Ablad, Ablad.” Everybody started chorusing as I mounted the raised pavement that served as the podium of the school hall. The noise was so loud that it drowned everything I had in mind to say, including my intended catch-words. My confidence immediately evaporated.

I was in SS2 then and the school social prefect, Pele Banji, had organised a gathering that featured juniors to present on various topics. Mine was “Indiscipline”.

I looked around and saw my friends wave hands at me and repeating my nickname, Ablad. Actually, they had expected me to talk as though I was a parrot, just the way I did in class. Until then, I wasn’t going to disappoint them.

Samwagba College, Ore, Ondo state was a popular mixed school in the area. You can be sure that once you are embarrassed in the presence of the students there, your news is sure to break into the public faster than the speed of light.

I took the opportunity of the hailing to remind myself of my intro lines. “Good day everybody, my name is…” I rehearsed under my breath until suddenly the noise died down.

Then everybody looked at me. Their eyes bored into every part of me, eating me to the bones. My stomach churned and I became uncomfortable. I looked at the audience, numbering over a hundred. “Mogbe”, I cursed as I began. I needed a magic that would turn the whole thing into a dream, or nightmare, (that didn’t matter since I would wake up).

“Good day every…” I blurted. I soon realised I wasn’t ready to face the crowd. After I struggled to introduce myself, I defined “Indiscipline” and moved on.

And there she was. Queen was my favourite enemy in class. We hated each other with passion. In the school hall, she occupied one of the front seats. As soon as I caught sight of her, the remaining bit of my confidence disappeared to nowhere.

“The yeye girl”, I thought. “Today is your day right?”

“You’re in for it today”, I could hear her say in her mind. She already had a topic to discuss in the girls’ hostel. “This girl will finish me” I even thought of going to her after my presentation to settle scores with her. That though would diminish my dignity. The stupid girl was not even as brilliant as I was. Our hatred for each other started during an Economics test. She had whispered to me for what arithmetic sign to use, plus or minus. I innocently told her the wrong one. I actually didn’t know the answer. I was only to realise that she had begrudged me by the second term.

“I will put you to shame today” I promised without saying a word. In other times, I would have scolded her that the bleaching cream she used would soon tear her into pieces. Today however was not the day for scolding.

I continued my speech. “Indiscipline will lead you nowhere…blah, blah, blah” Before I knew it, the saliva in my mouth had also dried up. What was left of my mouth was some sticky white liquid that made my speech much more difficult.

I looked at Queen again and cursed her. “The witch has sent super glue to my mouth”.

“Stop being paranoid” A voice warned me. That must be Queen’s voice. She must be using telepathy.

I felt the whole world was against me when I saw a girl waving at me. It was Angel. That was the christening I gave her. She had been my crush since JSS3. I had taken the courage to write her a love letter which I later learnt, because of her carelessness, became a topic in the girls’ hostel. I was in danger. I could only hope Queen hadn’t heard about it all, she would just open the can of worms at the least opportunity. I could see boys and girls already making jest of me the next time I meet them, some pointing at me form corners and saying “that’s the boy who cannot even face his fellow students”. I could see Queen saying in her Yoruba accent, “you are not even mashure”.

As Angel waved at me, I felt the need to satisfy, compulsorily, two people; Queen and Angel. Pele Banji, the social prefect boy was there behind the high table expecting me to be blowing grammar the way I did during preparation. I was really disappointing him. Why did he even choose me? I was stammering.

Oh God. My legs were shaking. My heart beat at fast irregular intervals. My voice broke into pieces. I prepared well for this. I even did a three-day fasting and prayer and went as far as anonymously asking my fellowship members to pray for confidence for a member. Now, the prayers didn’t even count for anything.

I didn’t memorise which would’ve made it much worse. So I did it the free style. It was apparent I wasn’t confident but I managed to make my points which earned me claps, claps that killed my intentions, no matter how good.

After my long speech with a final bow and a “thank you” that planted relief into me, I hoped I had defeated Queen. I made out of the hall and its intimidating occupants. The ovation however made me wonder if the people understood that it wasn’t easy and that I had done my best. They all (I like to believe that) chorused my nick name. ABLAD! ABLAD!! ABLAD!!!

Outside the hall, I felt a hand over my shoulder offering me a sachet of water. “Thank you”, I said taking the water and turning only to discover who it was, Queen!

 

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