The Day Madness Entered My Eyes | Ugochi Okafor | Fiction

Madness found its way into my eyes the day the prophet came. He was boisterous, attired in a white garment whose hands were longer than his. Unlike the rest Mma, my mother, had brought to the house to perform the “cleansing ritual” on me, this one had a bald head that suggested malnourishment, not wisdom. When he spoke—he did it with a loud voice accompanied by the ding of his bell—a surge of ballistic mouth odour hugged the air. He was barefooted, and his legs hopped as he chanted nonsensical words. Continue reading

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What These Men Want

It had only been two weeks, but Mr. Isiukwu
Bigwillie, 27, who had only returned to the
country from the annual hustle in Malaysia to
celebrate the Christmas holidays, was getting
bored. He couldn’t believe that in fourteen days,
all he had unzipped his trousers for was to use
the restroom of his suite at Oriental Hotel.
Afterall, he had the wheels, gold neck chains and
multiple rings on his fingers (never mind that he
had auctioned one of his kidneys at Kuala
Lumpur), so why would he spend his vacation
with just his hands for company?

After a few calls
to friends who were familiar with the terrain, he
drove in the direction of The Palms. A lot of
traffic lay between him and Wadbash at Ajah, he
reasoned, and besides he was no cheapskates.

Tekena was all he desired; straight legs,
prominent hips, not-too-flat stomach, breasts
struggling for air in her knee-length dress, with
that ebony complexion to match. He didn’t
subscribe to light-skinned ladies, only hanging
out with them back in Malaysia because over
there, choice was a luxury he couldn’t afford.
After a brief negotiation, she agreed to
accompany him to his suite for thirty thousand
naira. It was quick and Mr. Bigwillie dozed off in
a matter of minutes, but he had got what he
wanted, and even if he did not notice Tekena slip
one of his gold chains into her handbag, he slept
with a smile on his face….

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Until he woke up the next day, solely clad in a
pair of brown underwear, four policemen
surrounding his bed. Tekena was long gone, and
he was only allowed to wear a pair of shorts and
a yellow singlet as he was whisked into the navy
blue police van , his one round pack on display.
Officers on duty quoted Bible verses as they
pushed him around the counter, and by 10am that
day, he had been arraigned….before the state’s
Ecclesiastical court.

“That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at The Palms, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
commit the sin of Lust by approaching one
Tekena (now at large), and thereby committed an
offence contrary to the Holy Bible, and punishable
by this court.”

“ That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at Oriental Hotel, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
commit fornication with one Tekena (now at
large), and thereby committed an offence contrary
to the Holy Bible, and punishable by this court.”

“That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at Oriental Hotel, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
have intercourse with the use of contraceptive, as
recovered from your hotel room as an exhibit, and
thereby committed an offence contrary to the
principle of natural prescribed by the Bible and
Canon law, and punishable by this court.”

Perplexity would have been a mild word to
describe the look on Bigwillie’s face as he heard
the charge read out to him by the court clerk. He
had no idea that an ecclesiastical court existed in
the first place, and now he was aware of what
constituted offences therein, he wasn’t so sure
how to react. He couldn’t believe that pleasure
had become criminalized, and when he was asked
for his plea, he laughed loud and long before
screaming “guilty as charged!”

The penalty was two weeks of supervised Bible
study and spiritual counselling as well as two
weeks of cleaning cathedral pews, and was to
begin the following Sunday. Bigwillie shook his
head repeatedly as he left the courtroom, and
when he finally got hold of his phone and other
personal effects, his first reaction was to log on
to Facebook and update thus:

“This is why I hate coming to Nigeria. So now, to
dey straff don turn crime? What are our
legislators being paid for sef? Naija and stupid
laws! Tsk tsk…”

Later that night, the men in black visited him
again, this time at the room he booked at Protea
Hotel. Apparently, his Facebook update had been
perceived as malicious, his phone had been
tracked, and he was to be taken away for
questioning, in line with the provisions of the new
Social Media Act, which had been domesticated
by all the states.

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After 24 hours of slaps and mosquito bites, he
was transferred to Alagbon, where he was to
remain “until investigations were concluded”. He
realized that he would be sharing the same cell
with the likes of Chris Nwandu (Head of the
Nigerian Bloggers’Union), Walter Ude, Nathaniel Jonas and Elsie
Godwin, who had been called in for “inciting
statements” on their respective blog posts. Linda
Ikeji had only just been released on bail few hours
earlier.

***********
Meanwhile, at a large mansion in one of the more
secluded parts of the capital territory, Senator
Needo Melanin was laughing with another beer-
bellied senator over glasses of champagne. The
other senator was faithful to his usual dress code
of blue jackets and over-sized black trousers.
Their giggles struggled to negotiate upwards from
the fat in their necks, and they knew what they
were celebrating. The case involving foreign accounts filed against Senator Melanin had died a natural death, the media house that did the investigative journalism had gone under, and the respective bills they
sponsored had grown into fully operative laws.

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These Virtual Walls

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You stare at your phone, triumph in your eyes. You have only just dropped it after yet another cyber-bullying session on this ultra-large social network. Yes, some lowlife on Facebook dared to oppose your views on the fuel crisis, and you, aided in part by some of those in your teeming friend list, ran him to ground (virtually at least). He must be wishing that he never ventured to comment on your status; he probably reckoned without your army of voltrons. The e-lynching was brutal like that. Continue reading

Hearts & Kilometres

30th April, 2015.

The Heart,
A Tiny Room,
Somewhere in Lagos.

Dear Kemi,

NOTICE OF SUBSISTING FONDNESS

The above subject matter refers.

So i am seated in this poorly-ventilated bus, seeing out the eight hour of what would ordinarily
have been a six-hour journey. This journey from the nation’s capital back to the South-south has
been anything but smooth. A fallen truck has forced us to take the longer route, and the scarcity
of fuel is being fully exploited by these petrol
stations on the way. The hike in price reflects on
the bus ticket, and when you spend two hours on a
queue twice as long as that which you find at the American Embassy, all because of a few litres, then
Fatigue becomes a close ally.

My music-enabled phone has gone off, and i am forced to listen to a passenger bandy words with
this middle-aged driver over the lack of a functional air-conditioner in the bus. Seated close
by is a lady with quite a mouth on her. She looks 21, but I perceive that she is a lot older. Small body frame, pretty face, firm voice….she reminds
me of a place now distant, and more importantly, she reminds me of you.

I still remember that Tuesday evening when you and the others were shipped from the NYSC
orientation camp to the lodge reserved for corps members. I had been out for most of the day and had just returned, but once
our eyes met, a conversation began, one too free-flowing for two people who had just met. Some of the male corps members tried to gain your attention, but you felt so comfortable with me, even after less than six sentences. The other ladies at the lodge would tease me that night.

I remember how you showed up the following day and asked that I take you into the town to get a
few prescription drugs. Yea, you felt safe with me like that. As Fate would have it, the skies opened its floodgates that night, and we had to take shelter in a wooden enclosure. You complained of how susceptible to cold you were, and luckily I had
my khaki jacket with me, so i gave you to wear. The rain would last for more than two hours, and
within that time interval, I would learn more than a few things about you. I would learn that you
worshipped on Fridays rather than Sundays, that you studied Mass Communication, that you just
got out of a relationship. I played the role of listener and comforter, and the weather was right
to steal a kiss, but I passed that up, not typical of me. There was also the option of convincing you to pass the night at my apartment, but I felt that such a decision would have seemed too awkward on only your first full day in this environment so new to you.

I remember how you called me up days later and together we went shopping for your household items, me playing the role of tour guide as well. You also offered to visit the following day, but I, in a bid to preserve the sanctity of my Sunday turned you down. You would eventually show up the
following weekend though, yea, that weekend where you pulled off a wonderful meal with limited
resources, and where I fought a tough internal
battle to maintain self-control. I was beginning to spend too much time with you. My other female
friends got jealous.

You soon saw through my attempts to woo you however, and contrary to my expectations, ‘no’ was
your response. I still persisted nonetheless, until the day we hung out and you got angry at a waitress. My efforts at calming you down proved abortive, and that day I saw another side of you. A hot-tempered lady is a dangerous one, and I didnt want to risk being at the receiving end of your venom someday,
so i applied the brakes. I also found out that your size belied your years, and that you were older than me, a four-year age gap at that. We still related cordially, but the level of interaction was nothing close to those first few weeks.

I see this lady here in this bus, chatting freely with everyone and being all so outspoken. I feel like
starting a conversation, but except for her long braids, all I see is you, Kemi. I don’t want to perish
from yearning for a walk with you on a cold Lagos evening, so I turn away from this human reminder and seek solace in Chimamanda’s novel
“Americanah”. The thoughts adamantly refuse to clear away, and as the Sun goes to bed on these lonely roads, I want to bring to your notice that I won’t forget those eyes or that voice, that I am still fond of you, that i sorely miss you.

Sincerely,
Me.

The Travel Journal

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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