Five Mornings And A Shiver

​(This isnt a hit, nor will it earn shots at any festivals. Save your scathing reviews, I haven’t written in months) 

.You try so hard to leave your bed, but you can’t recall the last time you were this scared. You cling to your blanket, not necessarily to shield you from the preying winds, or to aid you in processing the loneliness, but because you just feel that the slightest contact your toe makes with the cold floor would trigger an alarm in your (typically) uncoordinated mental space, an alarm that signals the beginning of a new day, a day with the same old routine, a routine that clips another feather off your dreams, those dreams that have lost their ability to fly.

The structure of this slave plantation disguised as an office building disgust you. One short look around, and you find people whose lips are sore from making firm contact with every butt cheek up the organogram, people whose eyes betray resignation to a life devoid of any real aspirations, and zombies who briefly raise their heads up at the sound of that credit alert late in the month, before slipping back into their mentally comatose state, their chains in form of neck ties and scarves fitting all so tightly, the jackets making for a lovely slaving outfit….or prison uniform….. the appellation never mattered really. On these corridors, there is no process that calls for any real genius, as a matter of fact you are thankful for errors that allow for some remote creativity, errors that your co-slaves live in fear of, fear that gets them having nightmares of workplace drama (because you cant see such as dreams), because they cant afford to lose the only thing that gives their existence any form of meaning (they are not living, they lost the right to use that word long ago)……and you never felt so out of place, so different, so non-blending. You resisted every urge to conform, every inclination to come to terms, every move to break you to acceptance….. 


Or did you? Did you resist, really……or you are simply unwilling to admit that you have caved in? Haven’t you lost your ability to imagine, to create, to even think? Isn’t it the case that you cannot even process your thoughts properly to have any sort of meaningful conversation, let alone the kind laced with that spicy wit you were once known for. Remember the other week when Chiagozie, the slender lady from the other department, passed by your desk, and your attempt at a conversation was so lame, you had to repeat yourself thrice before she understood  you, and you wondered why, but then you replayed the words you let out and found that you weren’t making sense to even yourself. You are like them now, heck, you are worse off. On more mornings than one you wake up feeling retarded, unsure of when to cross the highway, talk about mental short-sightedness. 


Mama says you should ‘man up and quit being lazy’,  as if subjecting yourself to brain damage day after day is one of the features of adulthood. Daddy reminds you that truancy is for kids, citing the economy which is on an amazing freefall, and telling you about how Sennacherib doesnt have a job six years after graduation, or how Mordecai and 600 others got fired the other day……as if the wars in your head are of no consequence, as if you need to start thinking of the woes of others in a bid to make yourself feel better. He reminds you of the bills you have begun to pay, but you also want to ask him if it doesnt matter that sometimes you do not know what you just paid for, that there is a possibility of you not even having clues as to where you are at the time. 

You want to tell a doctor how you feel, but you remember that people still die from malaria in these parts, you think of Mayowa, and you imagine him suggesting bed rest… least you’d fare better with him than an older relative who would insist that you visit a pastor. “What is this nonsense about mental health these days?” you imagine this uncle yelling with his eyes and facial contortions,  “this is Africa, you probably offended that old woman who sits by the old grammar school on your last visit to the village. Go back, make amends, and re-dedicate your life to Christ.” Nothing close to what you need, but shrinks are few and expensive, and even when you crave for Xanax on many nights, you don’t know how to resort to pills to become less sad or less anxious. Yea, ‘less sad’,  because the idea of achieving happiness by swallowing a few substances doesnt make any sense to you. 

Barbara’s crush on you has faded; she has stopped calling. Whether it’s her being fed up of your perennial unresponsiveness, or the fact that her curiousity has worn off and she has moved on to the next creative genius, you are in no mood to figure out, at least not now…..but it’s better for her that she scrolls past when she sees your phone number or display name on her screen, because the person she would be conversing with at the other end isn’t you, but a shell with flesh and bone who looks and sounds like you, heck, even the voice reflects that disconnect between mind and body. You grab your phone and dial a few people whom you feel your insecurities are safe with, but then you wonder what you even want to say to them, so you clutch the red button, and when one decides to return your call, you nod along to the ringtone, your thoughts unable to gather themselves properly to have any kind of coherent phone conversation. 

It is hard watching yourself fade away slowly….yea, you dont want to use the ‘d’ word because it sounds too extreme, too resignatory, too much like a strong fling of the towel. In any case, suicide doesnt really trend anymore, and even if you wanted to end it all, you would want to do it in style; your suicide note should be able to cart away all kinds of posthumous awards at the following year’s literary festivals, then there is the unresolved debate of whether logging out from the planet by yourself is the ultimate selfishness to the ones who love you, so you choose to be indifferent to the idea of painkillers and slashed wrists. 

The economy hits everyone hard, so you cannot afford to print invitation cards, let alone host a befitting pity party, so you resort to the all-purpose “fine” when asked about your health by people whose sincerity of inquiry you cannot gauge, or resort to silence when it becomes too hard to fake. Why, why would you want to bore people with your tales? Didnt you know that it is unmanly to whine, and when you made the mistake of trying to find solace in Sharon and let her in on your days of uncertainty and your Sunday night jitters, didnt she blow you off and throw your honesty in your face, your ‘selfishness’ and ‘penchant for always talking about yourself’ becoming insufferable? 

You dont feel like you have the authority to tell people to live their dreams because you are caving in to the fear of failure, fear of being perceived as fragile, fear of hunger, fear of being regarded as unstable, you sold out, you embarrassed the non-conformists you once dared to identify with, the treachery is unforgivable…..and the beautiful thing about it all is, the place you traded your soul for will never accept you. It’s hard to tell whether your brain cells put up a defense mechanism by shutting themselves down, or you’re actually dumbing down and going through mental progeria, but you simply cannot fit in, you cannot keep up with being told what to do without asking questions while having to smile through it all, and frequently you are reminded that you are not good enough, that you are pretty much expendable, that you are not in any way valuable to the scheme of things. Not sane enough to blend in perfectly, but not crazy enough to stand out either, you are nowhere, and you are no one……and it’s best that your friends forget you, it’s only right that your admirers move on to wilder minds. It’s easier that way, really; unable to do what you love, unwilling to settle for what you don’t, the days witness your eyes lose their brightness, and you flirt with ulcers as your alimentary canal loses every sense of time. Dave Matthews was wrong with those lyrics in “Broken Things”: nothing about the road is crystal anymore, and you’re losing grip of your entire mental landscape. 

Certain antiquated bestsellers talk about a supernatural being who fixed everything in place with a little spoken word session, and you dial up this famous Being now and then, but His line is always on Call Waiting. You really can’t blame Him though; there are 6,999,999,999 other souls to look after…….so it doesn’t take long for you to go off the rail, plunging rapidly and finding a new home in the darkest pathways. No, this is not a tunnel, with hope of little rays somewhere further up. This is an ocean, and you are sinking deeper even beyond the Benthic, that region so dark and so cold even for sealife, your heart frozen, your soul numb……but not too numb for the droplets from the showers, which cause shivers that run beyond reaction to water. You will dress up for another day at the slave camp, you will knot that tie, and you will head out to serve up more torture to your mind….or what’s left of it. 

“Now and then

I pace my place

I cant retrace how I got here

I cheat the light

To check my face

And it feels slightly

Harder than last year

Still got dreams

But they arent the same

They dont fly as high

As they used to

And those wild imaginations 

Look me in the eye

As if to say, 

‘You dont remember us, do you?’

But I turn away, unable to face

Memories of what I wont be”

The Detached

(The following is a narration of true events that took place in the wee hours between 27th and 28th March, 2016.)

27th March, 2016.
Lagos, 10.22pm.

I kept my gaze on my smartphone, waiting for the Airtel network to convert the little spiral lines into a green tick, and send my message across hundreds of kilometres to the heart of the East. It was a late Easter message to Ugochi, with the extra gloss of “I’ve missed you a lot” and “I really want you around”. I didn’t have faith in achieving any kind of positive outcome with those words, but I had nothing to lose by typing them out either.

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Words & Bandages (Rejoinder To “Heartbreak Olympics”) by Jennifer Guinevre Obinna

(In case you missed “Heartbreak Olympics”, click here:


Sitting across from the latest simpleton trying to
win my love, my thoughts stray to you. After the
first few minutes with this one, i know he won’t
be getting anywhere close to my heart. Then
again, who has, or at least, when last did that happen? I laugh to myself, forgetting for a
minute that i’m having dinner with Jide (or whatever his name is). He has been speaking for a
while, but I don’t get so bothered as to pay attention to lines that used to work five years ago .

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Heartbreak Olympics

(This piece is dedicated to two friends of mine, one male and one female, who just newly turned single again. Heaven bless their hearts, and I hope this helps as they undergo the healing process.)

A pub has never been the most ideal place in the world for a working class citizen to mark his lunch break in the middle of working hours, but I do that anyway. Besides, there is a reason menthol bubble gums exist to cushion the breath. The floors of my head are soaked with Ace Roots to mop off the thoughts I don’t need, while my ears are fed with tracks from Adele’s new album “25” and Coldplay’s 2014 album “Ghost Stories”. The playlist is apt, ripe for the season. Your Blackberry Message comes in; you want to find out how my day is going. Some nerve you’ve got, massaging a wound you’ve inflicted, just damn unwilling to leave the knife you lunged in! Continue reading

Two-eighths Or Three-twelfths Of The Clock

(Apologies in advance for any errors or distortion in flow. These words will not be edited; such is the spirit of this piece.)


Lagos, Nigeria.

Typical day in this city that aims to sap the soul out of you. The ‘owners’ of the park call out their respective routes like they are reciting mantras, and the citizens stick to the corporate passenger cliché of suits and headsets. I step out in similar gear, but I still feel like an immigrant here, like a sheep in the big city. The lady who sits next to me in my office thinks that I had never heard of Jumia before I got here, and whenever she describes the sights and sounds of this city to me, there is always this “I’m sure you don’t have this in your place” tone in her voice. Her MTN-customer-service accent fails to mask the “h” factor attributed to people in these parts, but that’s a story for another day.

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Too Much To Ask



“Chidinma, it’s really cold. I need you here.”


“How’s it been over there? Do you even get to go out?”

No o. I get to be indoors alone. It’s so boring, from the house to the office and back. I just came in now. I’m so tired.”

“Ouch. Coming back this late. Your boss is just being mean. I’m so sorry Baby, I wish I was beside you.”

Hmmm….me too. When will you be back from Lagos? It’s been three weeks.”

“I’ll be home to you soon. Stay beautiful. I love you.”

“Me too.”

Yeah,  that was Chidinma’s new way of responding to my sweet-nothings. “Me too”, because the words “I love you too” were a little too stressful for her tongue, or probably consumed too many micro-seconds. I smiled as I hung up, not because of any giggly sensations generated by the phone call, but because of the unfolding of events. Continue reading

Heavy Fingers & Sundry


Drab, hot Wednesday afternoon. The office case
files provide no excitement, and I am all alone,
with a wallet as flat as my slippers back home
(my tardiness that morning means no going to
court and ultimately no appearance fee), so I
look to my BBM for solace. I am not sure
however of who would be up for a chat, between
the busy ones who won’t check their phones
until 6pm, or the ones changing selfie after selfie
and updating their contacts with their life history.

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The Travel Journal

images (2)


It’s 9.35am. From the look of things, I got here just in time. I grab one of the few tickets left for this particular bus. Thankfully, I’ve missed that conscience-pricking sermon, I saw that grim-faced motor park preacher stepping aside as I came towards the bus. It also appears that there will be no physically challenged persons hounding us here today, I just saw them leave, and it’s not like I have a low naira denomination to give out anyway. I slot into the third row, as my long limbs make it detrimental for me to sit at the back, no matter the distance. I have the Chief Organizing Tout to thank for creating the space. He has directed someone with a much smaller frame to give up the seat I am now going to occupy for the rest of the journey. When it comes to this transport company, I know better than to sit in the row directly behind the driver’s seat; all kinds of luggage get fixed there, making it difficult for anyone seated there to have room for those necessary body adjustments. Continue reading

Why We Didn’t



Events highlighted are real (for the most part), but all characters in this piece are fictitious. Any reference to persons living or dead (or undead) is purely coincidental.


“Guy, how far you na? So with all these plenty fine girls wey dey your phone, wey you always dey snap with, plus the ones wey you dey use as DP every day, you still dey cook this bachelor concoction as food? You never see the one wey go just be your major ‘control’, wey go just dey stammer your name for night? Guy, you nor just dey try!” – Random buddy, going through my phone after a meal at my house. Continue reading