opana.

opana

Photo Credit: James Barnor

 

opana

don’t set your standards so high

that in reaching it, as Icarus, I will burn-

 

Ahuof3 baby rose.

you’re art-

Afrodite

bathed in chocolate

blessed with ethereal cocoa brown eyes

that make me feel and imagine inappropriate things

curves and hills and valleys, on a pedestal- like Mountain Kilimanjaro

issa trap

issa lie

wo killi me

but I wont die.

 

opana.

don’t be that girl

who will play with me-

and give me hope

and snatch it back, nope.

 

as always-I am the backup plan

locked in a closet on Venus-the forgotten one

the one that will always be there when asimesi leaves

and Kwame cancels

and Atukwei doesn’t show up

 

you come back, smelling of Kwaku’s cologne

and you come back, wearing Asihene’s shirt

and you come back, swearing you’re done with them

and you go back- expectant and filled to the brim with love-as I

 

opana.

don’t place your standards so high

that in reaching it, as Icarus, I will burn-

 

I hope you don’t mind

that your friend, Aku, keeps me company while as usual I wait for you

opana

have you noticed, that Aku is very beautiful?

 

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The Umbrella

akuawrites

She had known him for approximately twenty-three minutes, and she was already imagining being his wife. A smile played on her lips as she unabashedly stared at him and took in his features. He had the most mesmerizing eyes she’d ever seen.

At first she’d thought they were contacts but she realized those eyes were for real. It was as if they’d initially decided to be coal black, but had changed their mind last minute and settled for that ethereal shade of honey. They were the kind of eyes that could speak volumes, that could burn with their gaze, that could probably undress you, and make you feel all woozy inside. If her children had these eyes they would be lucky on this earth. Were those his eyelashes? They looked like they’d been mascaraed. She stifled a giggle. She was being silly.

She was late to work; she was supposed to be thinking about how annoyed her boss would be when she got there. But here she was drooling about a stranger. She wanted to sit by him and tell him about herself. She wanted to tell him she was Ebuka, but everyone called her Buks. She wanted to tell him how she replaced her father’s surname with her mother’s maiden one when he left them for a scrawny looking cocotte. She wanted to tell him about that time in Primary 4 when a boy had teased her about the diastema in her front teeth and she’d peed in his water bottle and watched him take the first salty sip.
She wanted to tell him how her jollof game was so strong even the married men in her office would offer her money to make some for them every morning. She wanted to tell him even though she was not the most punctual person on earth, she would be punctual to their wedding. She giggled again.

She was and would always be the most terrible flirt on the face of the earth.
He turned to look at her as if her gaze had been bothering him for a while. She smiled. He looked surprised for a moment, then nodded. A strange expression had crept on his face. She would later understand that expression. “Hello”, she attempted. He would have replied, even with that pained expression.
He got a phone call. His eyes travelled to his phone, and he spoke rapidly in Hausa. When she was in Primary six, a visiting cousin had forcibly taught Ebuka and her little sister Ebiere how to speak Hausa. And she had never appreciated it; she only used it to insult those who could not speak it. Till now.

I’m done. I will be there soon.” He said, his voice shaking.
How long? 28 minutes. I know. I’m sorry. I was afraid.
In a bus. What’s wrong with a bus, Daare? Huh? Already! I’m coming.”
He cursed, disconnecting, and then he abruptly got up in the moving bus and ordered the bus conductor to stop. He shoved some money in the conductor’s hands and got down.
She frowned, stung. That was mean. It was only when she looked down at where he sat again that she realized he’d dropped his umbrella. She reached for it. Perhaps it could lead her to him again. Perhaps he’d done it on purpose. She got down five minutes later, enduring pitying looks from passengers who seemed to want to say something.

Only one old lady said, “All the best. I hope you find him. For all you know you could be getting married a year today.” A couple of people snickered. She rolled her eyes and got out of the bus. She would find him. She would.

She was too engrossed with her lost love to acknowledge her boss’ displeasure at her lateness. She just rushed to her seat and brought out the black umbrella from her bag. It was rather plain. Even as she stared at it she knew how futile it would be to find him. She shook her head sadly, thinking how desperate she must have looked in the bus. She sighed, frustrated.

She still held the umbrella, realizing it was a tad heavier than it was supposed to be. Maybe he’d left it for her on purpose? She let out a pained chuckle and tried to remove the taut cover from the umbrella. It wouldn’t come off. She frowned. There was something in the umbrella. Something hard. With difficulty, she pried the black cover from the umbrella itself, and then gasped as she realized what it was. It was not really about what it was that shocked her. It was about what was on it.
There were two thin knives, undoubtedly very sharp. The dried, red substance on it was a dark brown. She stilled and smelled it. Congealed blood. Then she opened the umbrella, and as she expected, a crumpled paper fell. It was a photograph, she realized. She knew this man in the photo, she thought, her eyes narrowing. She looked at the back of the photograph. C.J.W.D., it said. Beneath that was Handled, written in a barely legible handwriting. She didn’t understand it. She knew the man in the picture, she’d seen him somewhere. She kept thinking about it the knives and the photograph. She wondered about it. What was it that had been handled? And then she found her answer.
It was the breaking news that evening. One of the most prominent Chief Justices had been murdered in his home. He’d been bound to a chair, stabbed several times and finally strangled to death. He’d been found hours after the murder, and as such he was in rigor mortis. She was shaking. That was the Chief Justice in the picture. He’d been so familiar because she’d seen him several times on the television. Chief Justice Walaam Dulana. Handled, it’d said at the back.
It had to be the man with the beautiful eyes, she kept thinking. She could feel it. He’d not left the umbrella for her to find him. He’d mistakenly dropped it. That explained his nervousness that day. He couldn’t sit still. He’d been afraid.

She couldn’t tell Nna, her mother, or Ebiere who was busily studying for exam. So that night she thought and wondered and reasoned. The next morning she was at the bus station earlier than she’d ever been. The black umbrella was hidden in one of her father’s farming boots. She kept thinking it was a terrible mistake. One part of her wanted her to throw the umbrella away and pretend she’d never seen it. The other part wanted her to go to the police station and file a report. She was deep in thought as she walked to the bus station. She nearly yelped in surprise.

Beautiful eyes. There he was, this time with two heavily muscled men. They were talking to one of the drivers. Ebuka caught snippets of the conversation. “…left the umbrella.” “……black, no fancy designs now…” Did you see…?” “…it is very important…” “Ask your passengers…”
“….handsome reward…” “You see, Abidemi, you see your stupidity?”

She was breathing heavily. She reached for her bag and her hands snatched the knockoff Burberry scarf she always took to work. She used it cover her hair and face like a Muslim veil and tried to nonchalantly pass in front of them and sit in the bus. This she did easily. She saw from the car the men chiding Beautiful eyes about how stupid he’d been to leave it. He was no longer Beautiful Eyes. He had a name. Abidemi. He was probably an amateur contract killer and had been so nervous he’d mistakenly dropped his murder weapon in the bus. She heard the driver make several announcements. A passenger had left a very important umbrella in one of the buses the day before. If anyone knew where it was or who had picked it they had to return it for a handsome reward. Before, when Ebuka heard ‘handsome reward’ she’d laughed and wondered unless a reward was a man packaged nicely, there was nothing handsome about it. Now she cowered in fright. She should return it. But as she got down from the bus she knew she wouldn’t.
The news was filled with gory images of the dead Chief Justice in the days that followed. The police were asking for leads. The Chief Justice had been handling a delicate case, they said, and they thought it was linked to the murder. There were no suspects yet, they said. On the third day she was stopped by an old lady. “Hey, weren’t you the one we saw on Monday, trying to catch that man’s attention?” Ebuka’s eyes widened in surprise. “I thought you were the one. I saw him just yesterday. He was asking about the umbrella he’d dropped. I told him you took it, with the hope of finding him”, the old lady winked at her.

“No, no, no. you didn’t”. Ebuka cried. “Why not? Are you married?” the old lady asked, peering at her left fingers. Ebuka shook her head and fled. She called Nna, who said she was away for a funeral and she’d be back soon. She told Nna not to come home that week. “I’ve done something bad, and some people are looking for me. Please don’t come home now. They could harm you.” She disconnected even as her mother ranted on about what Ebuka could have possibly done. Ebuka called her little sister too.

Then she went home and packed a couple of stuff, with the infamous umbrella and left hurriedly. She couldn’t stay there, they would find her. She took a taxi to her sister’s school. Ebiere was surprised to see her. “I need your help”, Ebuka whispered. She left out most of the most important details as she told her sister. Ebiere combed her long hair. She was skilled with hair. “How short, Buks?”
“Very short.”
In less than an hour, her long hair had been chopped, with a few tendrils on her face. She wore a cap over it. “When they come, you tell them you don’t know where I am. And you should not, under any circumstances see them alone.”
Ebiere nodded, nervous. “Are you sure this is the best decision?”
Ebuka shrugged. “It is the right decision.”

Five hours later she sat in front of the Inspector General of Police, with the umbrella on his desk. She told him about Abidemi, about Daare, and about the Hausa. She described Abidemi in perfect detail, and of the two muscled men.
The trio was arrested not long after her revelation. She saw Abidemi Beautiful Eyes on the news. She felt none of the wooziness the first day she’d seen him. She felt a mixture of disgust and fear. Late that morning, Ebiere texted her that their house had been burnt to ashes. She was scared and could not go anywhere.

Ebuka’s hands were shaking as she read the message over and over again. She’d chosen the right path, and that meant war.

💫

It’s been a while, my loves! (Actually, its been four months🙈)
I’ve been craving for piping hot pancakes and custard disguised with milk (Don’t judge me:) and daydreaming about getting A Igoni Barrett’s Black Ass and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible to read but now I have finally been jolted into reality. 

For a while I’ve been in between that place where I want to write but my characters just won’t talk to me…and where I decide I must write and I smile at my laptop and rather choose to watch some movie or just snuggle under my covers and go to sleep.
That stops today. I’m going to Vidya’s to explore and buy those books (!) and then I will dedicate my weekends to indulging in other people’s words. 💃💃💃Then I will write again and again and again, knowing that my creative juices  have been stirred.

In the meantime I have posted a short story. Read, enjoy, and comment if you must. But most importantly, don’t just crave and daydream like me. Whatever it is you’ve been wanting to do, just go do it man. Just do it!

About the Story

The Birthday Pies is what a friend of mine would have described as a ‘little story’. I wrote it for younger readers, but it wouldn’t hurt for my readers to enjoy it too. The tailored one for my readers will be ready by the end of April, and that’s a promise. Bisous!💋

The Birthday Pies

akuawrites5

It was exactly eight days to Maawe’s tenth birthday and she was thrilled. Celebrating your birthday in Class 5A was no joke. You wouldn’t lift a finger that day, or for that matter that week if you had a large following. Your friends would get your lunch for you and run all your little errands for you. It was exhilarating.
A birthday also meant she would get to talk to her class crush, Tate Sarpong. She couldn’t stop thinking about it. She’d wear her almost new navy blue loafers with bows; she’d made sure she ironed her school uniform well (with no creases whatsoever), and she’d let her mother braid her hair into pretty medium sized corn rows.

Her mother was excited too. Her father, after being unemployed for six years had finally gotten a job and now there was enough money to go around. Her father had bought her big brother in the university a laptop, and her other sister some new dresses for church. Maawe knew this meant one thing; she’d get something pretty amazing for her birthday. Yet two days later, her mother came to her room and told her that her father had given her some money for Maawe. She was going to bake the best pies for her and her class!
“Plus, of course some beverages! I’m sure some will be left to get you something small”.
Maawe, instead of looking as excited as her mother, stared at her in dismay. “You-You’ll bring pies to my class?”
“Yes! These will be my best pies ever”, Ma said.
Maawe’s excitement died down. She didn’t want Ma to come to her school. The month before her school had held a PTA meeting. Her mother had been out of town and so hadn’t made it. Her classmates’ parents, who had introduced themselves at the gathering as lawyers and doctors and engineers and bankers, had also come in luxurious and flashy cars.
Maawe had been amazed and then jealous of their apparent wealth. Her father’s weathered old car had finally given up the ghost.
“And my father is unemployed, and my mother is just a pie seller”, she’d told herself.
No, she didn’t want her mother to come to her school.
“What’s wrong Maawe?” her mother asked.

The young girl shrugged. “Oh I just don’t want you to worry yourself Ma. We’re a class of forty students! You wouldn’t waste your time with forty pies, would you?” she said, trying not to cringe at
her lie.

Ma laughed. “Maawe darling, I’ve been baking over three hundred pies daily. Forty is just a piece of cake.”
“Okay then can you let Mrs. Benson bring it, so you don’t worry yourself?” she asked.
Mrs Benson, their neighbour, drove a sleek matte black Benz. If she brought the pies, hopefully her classmates would assume that was her mother…

Ma looked confused. “Maawe, is it that you want something special for your birthday so that I don’t make the pies?”
Maawe nodded. It was better this way, than for Ma to guess she just wasn’t needed at school.

“Yes Ma. I really wanted some new dresses for church.”

“Oh. Alright then”, Ma said. “New clothes for you, no pies for your class. But I will wake up early to make your favourite, jollof and grilled tilapia. Does that sound good?” Ma asked, giving her a hug.
Maawe nodded, but couldn’t shake away the shameful and guilty feeling of lying to her mother.

The night before her birthday it rained heavily, and so when Maawe woke up the next morning it was freezing cold. Ma had already heated water for her to bath, and her school uniform had been freshly pressed and in place of her navy blue shoes was beautiful red ones, and this would be her first birthday present.

Maawe squealed in surprise. The whole family sang for her, and her big brother told her she could watch a movie on his laptop when she returned. Breakfast was porridge with bread and boiled eggs, and her lunch, the jollof, was dished out just before she rushed out to catch the school bus. Maawe was excited, but she still couldn’t shake away the dull feeling of lying to her mother.

As expected, her classmates gave her the royal treatment, and Tate said he liked her red shoes. Maawe beamed; this day would go down as one of her best days in her life.
Just before the English class ended, Mrs Anaman, their teacher, said she had a surprise for someone. Maawe watched in wonder as her mother entered, holding a large tray of pies. Her brother and father were bringing in crates of Coca Cola and Sprite, and Fanta. Maawe did not know whether to laugh or cry. What was this? She tried to smile as they all sang a happy birthday to her, and Ma started sharing the pies.

“You’ll still get your three dresses”, she whispered to Maawe, grinning.
Maawe nodded, and so tense and distracted was she that she did not even realize the pies were delicious. Her mother had made extra for all the teachers. Her family left shortly after, in a taxi. The whole day they went on about Maawe’s mother’s pies, and Maawe silently willed for the bell to ring so she could go home. She hadn’t impressed her friends and classmates.

Last year Afia Hesse’s parents brought everyone personalized ‘Afia is ten’ T shirts and handkerchiefs, and after that brought a lovely chocolate cake which they served with ice cream. She’d just given out some measly pies with drinks! She tried not to scowl on her way home. Her ‘perfect day’ had been spoilt.

Later that night as she relaxed in her brother’s bed watching a movie, her mother knocked and entered. She sat at the side of the bed.
“Maawe you did not seem too happy to see me today”, she went straight to the subject.
The young girl was too ashamed to deny it.
“At first I told myself, my daughter really seems to want new clothes, and so I’ll add up to the birthday money and do both. I made a hundred pies, Maawe, so your friends could have more than enough and your teachers could help themselves as well
And yet when I came you looked so unhappy”.
“Ma, I-“, Maawe tried to cut in, but her mother shook her head. Maawe’s tummy curled into knots.
“You didn’t want me to come did you?”
Maawe shook her head.
“Are you ashamed because I bake and sell pies?”

Maawe looked away. “Maawe would you rather I stole to allow you enjoy some lavish lifestyle?”
“No Ma! I didn’t say that. It’s just my friends gave out nice gifts for their birthdays, and cake, and ice cream, and…” her voice trailed off.
“Your mother could only bring pies. Did your friends’ parents also get to sit with the headmistress, and discuss business opportunities just because the teachers told her about how good the pies were and had her eat some? Were they told to bring different dishes the next time so if they were equally as good she’d be hired as the matron of the school?”
“Ma! That is great!” Maawe’s eyes widened in surprise.
Mrs Johnson, the impossible to please headmistress loved her mother’s pies?
“What’s great about that if your own daughter supposed to be your greatest fan in the school doesn’t even want you there?”
Maawe’s eyes were welled with tears.
“Ma I’m sorry.”
“See these scars and marks?” Ma asked, showing Maawe her hands. The little girl had never noticed it. “This one was when I mistakenly cut myself with a knife when I was cutting up the pies to be baked. That one was when I tripped over a cooking utensil and fell.

This one was when some hot oil on fire spilled and landed on my elbow….”
There was an uncomfortable silence.
“I did this job and several others especially when your father was unemployed, just to keep our heads above water. To keep you and your sister and brother in school. This job has paid your school fees and books and sustained you. So you should never look down on it,” Ma told her.
Maawe felt terrible. The tears, free to flow now, trickled down her eyes. “I’m so sorry Ma. Please forgive me.”
And Ma did. She enveloped Maawe into a hug, and for a few minutes they just hang there, quiet.
Then as they smiled at each other, Ma asked, “So this Mrs. Johnson how is she like?”
“Well let’s just say if she was pepper, she’d be the hottest kind”, Maawe started, and mother and daughter burst out into laughter. “I’ll tell her”, Ma threatened playfully. And as they made plans on what Ma had to make to woo her headmistress Maawe thought about how silly she’d been.
“I love you Ma”, she burst out in the middle of their conversation.
“I love you more, Maawe”, Ma said, and leaned over for another hug.

And right there, Maawe knew she’d got the perfect ending to her birthday.

Merry Christmas to my readers!

akuawriteschristmas

It has been a while. I have been busy  cooking a myriad of enthralling stories in my cauldron. I’ve posted two to whet your appetite for 2016.

Aah, 2015. Such an interesting year. I loved most parts of it anyway. I learned a lot. I constantly challenged myself and it is really paying off in some aspects of my life. And oh, I became a minimalist. The less is more lifestyle. Eliminating the unnecessary. Focusing on the barest essentials, and boy, does it feel good!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and an unforgettable 2016 (in a good way, of course). Thank you for reading my stories for all these years, the comments and the feedback always means a lot to me. New readers, Welcome to A Cornucopia of Good ideas and stories!♡

Enjoy Purgatory and 5480!

5480

akuawrites6

2014
Today, 09.58pm

My hands are trembling as I touch you. Your breathing, as usual, is irregular and your eyes firmly shut. You have such beautiful eyelashes. They are long and thick and exactly what every woman needs to use mascara on. They’re wasted on you. Your nose, oh that big nose. It hasn’t shrunk one bit. I touch it, hopefully expecting you to move just a little. But you don’t. I wish you’d surprise everyone and just open your eyes. Just once, just for me. Tell me this was all a joke. Kiss me senseless, allow me to insult you, then we go back to normal. But no, the complex little machines, the ventilator, they are all reminders that nothing is normal.
I begged the nurse not to come around this evening. Tonight is just for you and me.
I sit at the edge of the uncomfortable hospital bed. With difficulty, I wiggle up beside you. I won’t cry today, I promise myself. I will not cry. I won’t cry. I won’t cry. I will not-
Salty, hot, painful, gut-wrenching tears trickle down my face.
I try to dab at my eyes with a handkerchief.
I trace little kisses on your face, your neck, your chest. I wonder what you’re thinking, wherever you are. Do you know your wife is here, kissing you? Do you feel my warm, trembling hands? Do you feel my heart thumping so loudly I fear it would jump out of my chest and run out of these cold, grey doors?
Do you remember tomorrow is our 16th anniversary?
Then I envelope you in my arms, and close my eyes to happier times. Times when you were alive.

5.48pm
1995

I remember the first day I saw you. I’d attended a party with my big sister. I didn’t know anyone, and I made no effort to socialize. I found some corner to sit, and later when I was getting up to go for some juice I realized my skirt had been ripped by a nail shabbily hammered on the chair. I tried to get up, and I realized the rip was bigger than I’d thought. My eyes darted around to see if anyone had noticed me. Then I turned around nervously, and your eyes caught mine. Your expression was a mixture of amusement and pity. You came to my aid anyway. You helped me cover my torn skirt with your cardigan, and then you got me another skirt. It was short and tight and uncomfortable and so I ended up still using your cardigan to cover my demure self.
Then we talked and bonded over countless bottles of Maltina and chargrilled Suya pork. I don’t really remember what you said, because I kept looking at your lips and then your lovely eyes framed by your eyelashes. Then, so you could see me again you asked me to keep your cardigan. I smiled. I had been waiting for you to say that all night.
My sister was shocked I’d met someone, and when she saw you she whispered to me. “Wow, such a nice guy. But that nose, sister. The nose has a life of its own”. Then we giggled and nicknamed you Big Nose. And later my sister would be the middleman, exchanging letters and arranging meetings for us.
Then just a little over a year later, you came home to ask for my hand in marriage, and everyone told you how lucky you were, because I was lovely and definitely STD free (they said this because one of your friends came from honeymoon with a painful little present; gonorrhea from his wife.)

8.22am
2000

You wouldn’t leave me alone when I got pregnant with our first child. You said my breasts had become huge and you wanted to touch them all the time. I was still smitten with you. You had a great sense of humour, and you loved to tease me especially because of my cravings. At dawn, I would torture you to go get Dede’s soft, billowy loaves of honey buttermilk bread because they were most delicious when fresh out of the oven. I’m sure when my little one tumbled into the world you heaved a huge sigh of relief. And oh, the birth. The doctor first thought it was a girl when it came. Then you shrieked. “My daughter’s got two little ding dongs?!”, and we realized it was a boy. But we called you Daddy Ding Dong till Kofi turned three.

2006
11.32pm

You were the first one they told when my mother died. You came home that night, and you pampered me and fed me and you cradled me in your arms. And then you said it so softly I thought I’d imagined it. Your mother has passed on. And you were there every single moment when I suffered nightmares. You handled my mood swings, my unexpected tears, and my unexplained bouts of sadness; because you knew how close I was to my mother.
You consoled me when I had that miscarriage. It would have been a girl. Then you told me you would be my little girl, and that day you wore one of my dresses and pranced about, bright pink barrettes in your hair, and you made me and the boys laugh and laugh.

2011
Christmas Eve

You’d travelled and you’d promised me you’d be home in time for Christmas. I pushed you. I should have asked you to wait when you complained you were tired. Yet I spurred you on, telling you I’d made your special jollof with grilled chicken. And you drove for six hours straight without rest, and you slept behind the wheel. You didn’t even see the oncoming truck. And you have not woken up till now.

Now
5.40am

The doctors have put you in an induced coma, and you’ve been on life support for nearly a week. They say you might not make it. They have said so many things which have broken my heart.
They will take you off life support this morning.
I sleep in fits and starts. Every time I open my eyes I look at you, and I cry. You’re leaving me on our anniversary. Today, I have loved you for 5,840 days. I have loved you since I saw you at that party. I love you still. I kiss you for the umpteenth time, and I whisper ‘Goodbye, my love.’

6.30am

I’m at the morgue when one of your nurses rushes there. ‘Mrs, come with me please’. She’s panting. There is no time to ask questions. When I get to your room what catches my eye is the EKG, where just an hour ago there’d been a flat line. Now, there is a tiny movement, and then a peak is slowly beginning to draw a pattern. My heart starts beating, and I rush to your bedside.
There you are, you magnificent idiot, and your eyelids are fluttering.

Purgatory

image

They argued again. Painful streams of invective flew to and fro in their bedroom. Anike’s words knew no boundaries; they touched on the sacred, they pricked and attacked Adjoka. They both yelled. His black eyes were fire in the dark. Unbridled rage seeped through her whole being.
She pushed past him and flung her wardrobe open. There was no way she was spending the night with this mad man. She took her lingerie and a couple of stuff she would need for the guest room. Time had been cruel to their marriage. Only six years ago they had been inseparable, incredibly loved up newly-weds. The fun they had…skinny dipping in their small pool every evening, talking for hours on end, murmuring endearments to each other every now and then…those had been good times. But something snapped along the way. The knot they tied loosened up. He began giving other women attention. She did the same so that she could make him jealous. But then she began to like one ‘new friend’ a little bit too much. Sai was unlike any man she’d ever met. He was younger than her. He was spontaneous, silly, sexy and he spoiled her rotten. Sai made her happy. Adjoka made her depressed. This new argument started when Adjoka saw the bill from The Sultan’s Resort in Anike’s bag. The week before she had gone for a retreat with her work colleagues in Aburi. Sai had dropped by and they had disappeared to the resort for some days. She should have thrown the bills and receipts away but she forgot all about it. It listed the exotic foods they purchased, the spas they went to….and everything was ‘for two’. Adjoka raved and ranted about it, and she had fiercely defended herself.
“Where are you going?” he now demanded crossly.
“Far away from you.” she barked, and she stomped out. She was shaking. She wanted to see Sai. He wouldn’t nag or insult her like Adjoka did. Anike reached out for her handbag and brought out the small, suede black box. Her heart warmed as she opened it. The rock on Sai’s ring shone in the darkness. He had proposed to her that morning. Anike sighed in frustration. She would call her parents so they could return the traditional drinks to Sai’s family and break up the marriage. She would leave at midnight. She would go to Sai and she would forget all about her uncouth husband.
She killed time by planning what to do. It was around eleven when she sneaked back to their bedroom to get some clothes. She packed hastily. She was swift. She took her car keys and tiptoed to the garage. She sat in the car for a few minutes, her eyes closed. Choosing Adjoka meant she would stay home and work on her marriage. Choosing Sai meant she would have to leave. She chose Sai.
Anike drove like a woman possessed. She sped; she wove into dark, dangerous paths. She was livid. Adjoka had called her a whore and a liar. She had called him worse. She was lost in thought and must have forgotten she was the one driving. She heard some people shouting, but she only realized it was directed at her when she saw the huge articulator truck that was coming towards her. She had not checked the traffic lights. She shrieked in fear, and tried to swerve to the next path but her brakes failed. Anike tried to get out of the car, but she felt like she had been glued onto her seat. She started screaming, and the articulator truck came for her. She saw the blinding white lights and sank into oblivion.

Anike felt someone pushing against her. There were whispers. There was heat. Gross discomfort. Wait. Why was she feeling anything? She was supposed to be dead. Her eyes popped open as she saw countless people flitting around. “Where am I?” she shrieked in alarm.
The raspy laugh made her jump. The man next to her whispered, “We’re in the limbo of the Fathers. Purgatory. Afterlife. It’s neither heaven nor hell, but very soon you’ll know your stand and where you’ll be sent to.”
Painful tears welled up in her eyes. It was hell all the way. She never should have left home. It was her turn now. Anike felt a light tap on her shoulder. She refused to open her eyes. She knew it. She was going to hell. She was going to endure fiery torment for eternity. She deserved it. She couldn’t stop crying.

“Anike, open your eyes.” The voice was low. And familiar.  Adjoka. Adjoka was not in purgatory with her. So where was he speaking from?
Anike’s eyes popped open in alarm.
Adjoka was peering down at her. “Are you okay?”
Anike’s eyes blurred. “Where am I? Where are we? Did you also die?” her voice was raspy.
Adjoka shook his head. “We’re in the garage. You fell asleep here. It’s morning.”
“No. I went out last night. The articulator…” her eyes were filled with tears. She felt numb. She was in the car. She was alive. Adjoka stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do. He finally opened the car door ajar and picked her up. She closed her eyes as he took her to the bedroom. He tenderly undressed her and carried her to the bathroom. He filled the tub with water and slipped in some scented salts. She cried. She couldn’t believe it. She was alive. She hugged Adjoka fiercely and he looked surprised, but pleased.
“I’m sorry for everything,’ she whispered.
“I’m sorry. I prayed for you throughout the night”, he told, kissing her forehead, his eyes wet with tears. As he turned to go, she whispered, “Adjoka. Come bath with me”. He chuckled. “I thought you’d never ask.”

He started taking her to work and picking her up. She returned Sai’s ring to him and ended their brief affair. It was far from amicable, Sai went postal. But Anike didn’t care. Something in the dream had changed her.

It had been weeks since the devastatingly vivid dream. She and Adjoka were stuck in traffic. An articulator truck passed, and the driver had winked at her. He looked like…like the guy who had been sitting next to her in purgatory. Anike’s heart was beating. The traffic lights, her speeding, the accident. The death. Somehow she knew it wasn’t just a dream. And somehow she knew she had been saved from purgatory. Adjoka’s prayers had saved her.