HOW BODIES BECOME FLUID by Ibe Obasiota

HOW BODIES BECOME FLUID by Ibe Obasiota

HOW BODIES BECOME FLUID

by Ibe Obasiota

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

I)
Love is a verb with wings; a free verb that makes itself into a ghost; a dark spectral that walks into our midst and sits. Love is the thing that catches our bodies between its palm and we lie there, dying out into new thresholds or dying altogether.
The first time Uju gives herself to Kachi, she says it is because she wants to satisfy a yearning; because for once she has found a man she has not outgrown, a man that is willing to think first. Kachi is not like Wole who says he fears for the man who would inherit her intelligence or like Francis who attributes her purity to her virginity. It happens in a discussion about a dead classmate and Bernth Lindfors’ criticism on Cyprian Ekwensi. They are in Kachi’s room. It is a dimly lit apartment with two small beds arranged side by side. The walls are painted a solid grey and there is only one window. Two louvres are missing but there’s a net coloured in dust. The other bed belongs to Kachi’s roommate Obiora who is never around or is always leaving when Uju comes around. Uju takes time to think about this and she concludes that Obiora is simply thoughtful. On the wall, there is a picture of Achebe’s carved from an old magazine. The picture is in black and white and there are little cuts on his cheek or put correctly, the paper. Below, there’s a quote that says: I believe the English Language is able to bear the weight of my African experience. The quote is written in Kachi’s cursive handwriting and he says it is a paraphrase of something Achebe had said. Kachi says it is one of the most brilliant things he has heard. Uju suspects it is him consoling himself. She suspects that his inability to speak his mother tongue would be the reason he terms it brilliant. Sometimes he says he is an incipient bilingual. Uju doesn’t know what he means and she doesn’t ask.
Uju lies on her back on Kachi’s bed. She looks straight to the ceiling of his room. She stares at the little black hole in it and she thinks it is a consolation of the fact that Kachi is a struggling man like every man out there nowadays.
‘I think Bernth Lindfors is another bitter white man who thinks he is wise enough to tell Africans what to write,’ Kachi delivers in one swift manner. It is like something he has rehearsed, something that he has said more than once.

‘I’ve only read Ekwensi’s Akin the drummer boy, Kachi,’ Uju says back.
‘Do you think it is a good book?’ There’s persuasion in Kachi’s eyes when he says it and it makes Uju bulge.
‘I think it is a fantastic book,’ Uju says back even though she remembers nothing from the book except Akin’s name that is of course in the title. She looks away from the ceiling just in time to see Kachi’s face break into a full smile. Another expression that slowly creeps into his smile is etched on his face.
‘Can I kiss you?’ He mutters quietly. He doesn’t wait for an answer when he claims her lips in a long kiss and she moans into his mouth. Uju hears him call someone that she believes is Obiora. He mutters something about Obiora not coming home and him making it up. 

II)
The second time she gives herself to Kachi, it is because she realises that bodies are like things that can be transfused for healing. Like saline solutions. Like blood. There is something about blood that scares Uju, that reminds her how weak bodies are; how bodies could easily become fluid; how a small wound that emits blood makes the flesh around it go away; how if our bodies are attacked by too much pain, it all becomes fluid and passes away.
It reminds her of the time her younger sister is hit by a stray bullet in Eight Miles Market and how she bleeds out from the doctor’s mouth into words that begin with ‘we are sorry’ and end with ‘the body’. She wonders how bodies could easily dissolve, how if she says my body, it holds so much life but when the Doctor had said the body, it was death itself.
This time she decides to transfuse some of her into Kachi because love to her is a thing that can be packed into tiny containers called bodies and placed on the shelf of another body. This time it is because Kachi is not the winner of a short story prize. They are in his room. One minute, Kachi is holding his phone and scrolling through his news feed and the next minute, he is throwing his phone to the edge of his bed. The picture of them on his home screen flickers off. If not the situation, Uju would think it was calculated because anger enough would send the phone off to the ground. Kachi picks up his pillow, flings it to his door and mutters something about how difficult writing queer stories were. He keeps pacing his room, occasionally rubbing his head and doesn’t decide whether to sit or walk.

‘ I didn’t get in,’ he says. His voice breaking.
Uju moves to hug him when she whispers a small ‘next time’ into his ears. She could feel his body convulse in her arms and she could also feel him shake silently.

‘I worked hard for this one,’ he says as his voice breaks into a sob. ‘You work hard for everything,’ Uju wants to add but she doesn’t. ‘I really did,’ he continues.’ I even had to borrow a laptop. I should have won it. I should have written better. I should have….’ His voice melts into a cry that rests on Uju’s shoulder blade. Uju does not know when everything moves from soft consolation to them testing surfaces. They are rolling off Kachi’s bed into Obiora’s bed and finally settling into a frenzy of wild kisses and scattered clothes. This is the time Uju’s body becomes a panacea for Kachi’s illness; the time when she gives up a part of herself on the altar of healing; the time when she subjects her body to perforation because love makes one do such things. Because scars are artifacts of love.

III)
When Kachi leaves a part of his pain inside Uju, that abstract thing called pain metamorphoses into a human. It becomes a living, breathing thing within her. But when a part of a person lives in another, the depositor would have to nurture it like tender elements and watch it hatch into fine living things. If the depositor doesn’t, that part of him becomes like untamed things. Things that do not metamorphose completely, that have missed a stage in the cycle. It is this thing that Uju tries to avoid when she decides to pull out the part of Kachi that he couldn’t take with him when he left. She decides to lose the baby.
Everything ends at 8pm on a Wednesday night. It ends with a simple phone call. It ends in Kachi telling her that she did not help him or that she was intellectually weaker. He says she doesn’t understand his interests. She was too unlike him. These words made Uju think only of loss. There are various things that follow a loss. Sometimes it is an instant death of parts of one’s soul. Other times it is the metallic taste of depression on one’s tongue. It could also be a desire to carry out an exorcism, to ward off all the memories that precede a loss.

Tonight, Uju tells the taxi driver to stop two streets before her house. This is the first time she does this. She finds that her heart wanders. She wonders whether the man approaching with the black hat could see her heart step away from her chest. She also wonders whether the boys who whistled at her as she walked past could see the evidence of the thing she was carrying inside her. She wonders whether when they hurled insults at her, they knew they were insulting the thing inside her too. She also wonders whether this strange man and his hotel room could feel the pulse of the thing inside her. She wonders whether the man she is lying on top this evening knew that two minutes before he entered her and she unconsciously called Kachi’s name, she had decided to abort Kachi’s baby.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ibe Obasiota Ben is a Nigerian. She is a graduate in English and Literary Studies of the University of Calabar. She has won the African Writers’ Award 2018(Flash fiction category). She is also a gender critic and sometimes an editor. One will always find her reading or writing.
TO PULL A LION’S TAIL by Boloere Seibidor

TO PULL A LION’S TAIL by Boloere Seibidor

TO PULL A LION’S TAIL

by Boloere Seibidor

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

Two days ago, there was another cold-blooded murder down Wellington Drive, riling up trepidation in the city.
What bothered him wasn’t the killings per sé, but the killer; a seemingly smart assassin. The victims—particularly ladies—were stripped naked before strangulation with their wrists slit open, and bore a neatly clipped paper, with a number inscribed on it, patched to their forehead with blood. These numbers, he’d surmised, bore a significance. What that could be, scared him too.
All these he’d narrated to his wife, Yemi, last night, made her neglect dinner. He understood her fears; they had a teenage daughter too.
His assistant, detective Rena, who’d been recently transferred down from the Uyo’s SCID, also lost her crave for nicotine, she stabbed her half-burnt cigarette in an ash bowl. Perhaps he should remind her this was the garden city, and to expect more, viler, mishaps.
His phone rang, jolting him from his disconcerted thoughts. A frantic Yemi was on the receiving end. He excused himself, and returned minutes later.
His expression, full of angst, gave him away.
“What is it?” Detective Rena frowned.
“It’s my daughter. . . she hasn’t returned.”
“From?”
“School.”
She chuckled and checked her watch.
“It’s 8:45, Bakpo. Something’s wrong.”
His skin grew ashen against the keen spikelets of the harmattan breeze. He quivered.
“I know. . .”

The drive home was incautious. He’d asked detective Rena to come along. . . just in case. He found his daughter by the veranda when he arrived. On seeing him, she sprung to her feet and rushed forward. She was safe!   His relief was insurmountable.
As she drew close, he noticed she’d been crying. On her forehead was a red blot, and her blouse was stained with blood. His pupils dilated as his body’s mechanism built a reaction.
“What happened, Rose?”
She cried in heavy torrents, shaking her braids.
“I’m. . . fine, daddy.”
“Tell me! . . .there’s blood.”
Detective Rena tried to calm him; an abortive attempt.
“Rose!”
She sniffed back sobs then finally conformed. She led him to the parlour where he found Yemi lifeless on the floor in a small blood pool. He grew ashen. Numb. Perhaps he died that instant. Detective Rena moved closer and retrieved the paper on her head.
“Number 8,” she said softly. She didn’t know when she offered him a cigarette; she didn’t know what else to do.
* * * * *
Four days later, with the intervention of officer Yakubu Jed, a police general, the killer was found. His last killing seemed hasty, and his DNA imprints were caught.
“If it’s any consolation,” the general said to him during a lunch he merely poked at, “he’ll rot in prison.”
He nodded and acknowledged condolences from nearby colleagues.
He looked up when he saw Detective Rena running in, covered in sweat.
“There’s been another murder.” She breathed.
The general froze, looking from one stricken face to the other.
She lifted a small paper, “number one.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Boloere Seibidor is an undergraduate at the University of Port Harcourt. Boloere was born, brought up, and writes from the city of Port Harcourt, where she still resides. She is inspired by virtually all things; from music, to paintings, to people.  
Her poem has been featured on SprinNG, and her other poems are upcoming on other online magazines. Her story was shortlisted for the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Competition, where she won honourable mention.
When somber, she listens to Ed Sheeran and James Bay. And at the grimmest hours of the night, Boloere enjoys reading/writing suspenseful stories.
Meet her on Instagram @b.s_vinnie
WHAT IS YOUR BODY by Onyekwelu Chiwenite

WHAT IS YOUR BODY by Onyekwelu Chiwenite

WHAT IS YOUR BODY

by Onyekwelu Chiwenite Kingsley

 

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

And he throws my body open, the way you
move into a river
when someone is drowning. And my body
is a dark room filled
with rotten birds that spit blood through their
wings.

He says I want to love you.
He says why won’t you let me love you?

But there is something rising into my tongue,
it tastes like fire,
it tastes like knife blades slitting my skin into
halves. And in my
body it’s drizzling I can’t find my voice.

He says you have to understand.
He says you have to let me in.

And my body bursts apart the way a river
flows out of your
mouth, the way a song drowns inside your
throat. It’s bleeding
and soft and filled with pain.

He says what is wrong with you?
He says lie down let me love you.

When your body is a pathway, you build walls
inside it to obstruct
the steps of sleepwalking men. But what is
your body when it is a country?

What is your body when he spreads you out
like a map to
claim a whole nation for himself?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Onyekwelu Chiwenite Kingsley is a Nigerian essayist, poet and storyteller. He studies pharmacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He holds a certificate in essay writing from Lifesaver Essays, Oakland, California. He was the 2nd prize winner of the Newman Writing Contest, 2017. In 2019, he made the top-100 poem list for Nigerian Students’ Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted for the Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Contest. Chiwenite was recently shortlisted for Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize 2020.

REMEMBER US by Chibueze Obunadike

REMEMBER US by Chibueze Obunadike

REMEMBER US

by Chibueze Obunadike

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

“Someone, I tell you, in another time will remember us” — Sappho

 

a drunk man walks into a room and hits his lover till she begins to look

like all the love that has left him.

somewhere in the rotten underbelly of this city, a man is forcing himself

into the body of an under aged girl and claiming that

she looks like his wife’s ghost.

 

my father takes his wrist and cuts it open with his teeth

until all the memories escape and the floor is again red with him.

we begin again, and it’s the same old story. 

the villain. the world falling apart. the hero only trying to do 

good and ending up as the very thing he wanted to destroy. 

the villain and the hero and how they are 

us. all of us.

 

i am tired of writing the scenes where we save the day.

where we make it back alive again. 

where we come back and act like the blood on our hands

isn’t even our own.

humanity is blood and only blood. i told you this the first day we met.

i also told you i loved you.

 

and how that too, is bloodshed. only of the heart.

i took you to my mother’s garden in the backyard and showed you the roses.

how they bleed red and bloom through it. i still remember how the light flickered 

in your eyes as you said how much you loved them.

how in that moment i wanted to be nothing but a rose, not minding the blood,

my heart in your hands.

 

this is how the story goes:

we meet years later, in a bookstore, or a coffee shop, or on a street out in the 

middle of nowhere, i don’t know, 

and i tell you i love you. i tell you i never stopped.

your eyes are still and bloodless. you nod yes but you don’t say a thing.

somewhere, a boy is holding his father’s gun to his head and trying to outrun 

his ghosts. he comes close, but doesn’t die. doesn’t die at all.

 have you learnt nothing yet? the story is coming to a close

we were just kids. we didn’t mean to fall in love.

we certainly didn’t mean for all this blood.

 

i take your hands in mine and tell you i love you. you nod yes but you don’t say a thing.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chibueze Obunadike is a young Nigerian writer and poet who is still learning all the ways life has to break him. His work focuses on the search for self and the fragile nature of human identity amongst other things. He has often been described as a love poet even though he does not know what that means. His poems are published in the Best New African Poets 2018 Anthology and won the 2018 UBA Africa Day Poetry Contest. He was also the joint first recipient of The Singing Bullet scholarship award 2019. He resides in Enugu, Nigeria, and you can find him wandering the lamplit streets at night, laughing.

HOW LAST TUESDAY BECAME BLACK TUESDAY by Praise Osawaru

HOW LAST TUESDAY BECAME BLACK TUESDAY by Praise Osawaru

HOW LAST TUESDAY BECAME BLACK TUESDAY

by Praise Osawaru

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

last Tuesday began with showers of sunlight/the kind that melts your spoonful of ice cream/before it arrives at the doorstep of your mouth/the weather report read: sunny with a chance of stark happiness/& so i blindly believed/the thirty minutes ride to school felt like two decades/spent watching the trees’ leaves flutter in the wind/the birds chase after themselves in the sky/& Asa’s There’s Fire On The Mountain swim in the atmosphere/a grey cloud—blend of white & black—hovered above the school premises/but i recalled: sunny with a chance of…../so i walked in, clutching my bag tightly/seconds turned into hours & classes flowed/steadily & almost undying like a waterfall/by the time the school bell rung, it sent a shockwave of happiness/that slithered throughout the school/& doors fell like dominoes, one by one/(the governor’s wife was to pass in front of our school that day)/about a minute after the stroked string of the day’s end/sirens stamped its feet onto the atmosphere as black tinted-window cars/arranged in front of the dispersing students/a gang of students surfaced from the corner of my eye/their hands smooching placards in the air which read/give us light! give us water!/and then men in black uniforms stormed down from a vehicle/with their hands caressing the butts of their AK-47’s/back away! one yelled at them dancing his gun across their faces/silence played as slow as possible & its tune flowed throughout the school/everyone’s gaze was held hostage by the placarded students/who stood their ground/give us…./attack!/poh poh poh…/I heard a violent ringing in my head/the crowd scattered like sand or ashes/whichever slow-motions/as the uniformed men/played a different tune with their guns, shattering everyone/the next day, the news read/governor’s wife escapes attack from varsity hostel students/i reclined on the bed, with the hollow in my stomach teasing me/attack!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Praise Osawaru, also known as Wordsmithpraise, is a Nigerian writer, poet, content developer & entrepreneur-in-training. His writings are influenced by his consciousness of mental health, his personal experiences & the desire to heal through words. His works have appeared in Black Youth, Nantygreens, SprinNG & Writers Space Africa. Praise was a finalist in the Clash Of Pen Poetry Contest 2019. He was also longlisted for African Writers Award 2019 & shortlisted for The Zi Prize 2019. His poem, ‘How Last Tuesday Became Black Tuesday’ won Honorable Mention in Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest 2019. He is liberal, & enjoys reading books, listening to good music & binge-watching series on Netflix when he isn’t over-worrying about University life. Say hello on Instagram/Twitter: @wordsmithpraise

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