Racing Stars by Okhuosami Umar (2nd Position – Flash Fiction Category)

Racing Stars by Okhuosami Umar (2nd Position – Flash Fiction Category)

Racing Stars by Okhuosami Umar (2nd Position – Flash Fiction Category)

2nd Position –  Racing Stars by Okhuosami Umar

For as long as I can remember, my mother had two wishes; to hold my hand on my wedding day and marry me off well- preferably to Abubakar; our Imam’s first son. Humble, handsome Abu who always had on giant specs and stood so tall, most people had to raise their heads to make eye contact.
By all definitions Mama was extra; her happiness as infectious as her anger, terrifying. She and Papa were on first name terms and spoke to each other only when necessary. She complained about everything; money, food, clothes, even his family. In times of anger, the veins in her neck popped up and her facial wrinkles deepened. Papa knew then to be quiet. As I got older and understood biology, I often wondered how they managed to make me; this frigid mismatched couple.
That Abu and I end up together was desired and ordered. As often as she could, Mama admonished me to pay greater attention to make-up and house-hold chores. “Bend properly and hold that broom. Your waist is not made of iron is it?” Other times, she’d look me over and take off my wrapper, retying it to the left: “It goes to the left. Nobody can say I did not teach you.” My complaints against this odd betrothal got weaker with time until I was wholeheartedly enthralled. Every Friday with a fast-beating heart, I wore one of my favorite jellabas and stayed behind for Muslim Students’ meetings. With all my heart, I wished someday, Abu would notice me even with as little as a nod but repeated stolen glances confirmed my suspicions. He did not fancy me.
***
Papa died in his sleep on a cold September morning two days before my fourteenth birthday. A vicious sandstorm caused formalities to be postponed till the next day. I don’t quite remember which was worse; the whirling, blinding haze or Mama’s insufferable theatrics. We had to show a proper level of grief. “Bring my scissors and mirror Hafsa” she ordered. I sat on the tiled floor between her corpulent legs, eyes shut and careful not to enrage her by any form of disobedience. Masses of rich black curly hair caressed my face as they fell enveloping me in an aura of what I considered naked ugliness. Quivering with sobs, I took off my pink flowery gown and covered the thin frame underneath in an oversize wrapper. Waves of hot harmattan air blew into our dimly lit room provoking a cough spasm and leaving brown dust on Mama’s favorite blue coverlet.
“Allah, be quiet. Your hair will grow back.” she hissed with disgust. Dry weather always put her in a rage. “You should be angry with your father, not me. What did I ever do to make him treat me this way?”
The words hung on my lips. Did she really expect him to defeat rabies? If she had not demanded pap at all costs that night, Papa would not have jumped our new neighbor’s fence and bang repeatedly on the deaf trader’s door only to get bitten by her mad dog. She should have insisted on taking him to the hospital even when family and friends said native herbs worked best. Dying is better than ceaseless barking anyway.
***
“Your classmate, Amina is getting married this weekend” Mama said shifting her stool so she could face me square, her face enclosed in a frown. I was home on holiday from university. She continued the speech, apparently reassured by my silence while I chastised myself for not making my visit shorter.
“Her mother invited me last week. I have sewn my aso-ebi and told my union people to prepare, that you and Abu are next.”
I grunted okay but my mother will never back down.
“Everybody is already talking about it. I keep showing up for people. When will they show up for me too?”
“Mummy I will not marry Abubakar.” I stared hard at her, eyes narrowed to slits.
If my warning was perceived, it had no effect as she simply ignored it. “And why won’t you? What is wrong with him? He has graduated, is working and Muslim.”
“Why? Perhaps, you can force him to marry me” I shouted, angry in spite of myself.
“Who do you want then? It is not as if you tell me anything. I have not heard you on the phone with a man since you came back despite my careful watch. Nor has one come calling. Do you think it is your books you will marry?”
This was my cue. I returned to school and cannabis. I was no addict. Only a little now and then to keep body and soul together.
Mama was ecstatic when she learnt I had graduated with my mates. She hugged me, crying and laughing at the same time. Her old, puffy cheeks against my youthful skin felt made a dream of heaven. For a moment, I imagined what it would feel like to stay this way forever; this old woman happy because of me. “You get your brains from me” she repeated over a dozen times. We invited friends, hired a caterer and bought souvenirs for the induction party. A night to my big day, Mama threw herself into hysteria.
“It’s nothing my dear” she said wheezing while I pleaded with her to confide in me.
“Your father should be here. First your brother- Ismail was stillborn and Mama had never mentioned him, now him. I cannot do this.”
“You can’t what ma?” I could hear my heartbeats and the unsolicited excuses I’d be making to friends on her behalf with a fake smile the next day.
“Sorry Hafsa but I am too tired. I must be ill. Oh, I am so unlucky” she wailed.
Nobody whistled loudly or clapped too long when the Head of Students called out: “Yakubu Hafsa.” That day marked a turning point in my relationship with Mama. We wouldn’t talk for years.
***
Time flew by and in June 2000, she texted me her diagnosis. We had a cold, formal relationship in place by then. I journeyed back to meet a withered lady in dirty, tattered clothes. When she smiled, the mouth sores were painful to see. The stench from her diabetic foot ulcer gave me goose bumps. Massive cobwebs dangled from the ceiling everywhere in the house. Rodents lived amongst her unsold wares.
I cleaned, burned the stock, washed Mama’s clothes, cooked her a healthy meal, dressed the wounds and drove to see a specialist. The town’s general hospital offered me a post which I accepted. At first, I missed the hustle of the big city terribly but soon came to appreciate the ordered, predictable nature of my work. Mama stayed on admission for four months. Following her discharge, we sat on the porch every evening and gossiped; about Abubakar and his three wives, the new set of stalls being built for which she will be named: “market Chairlady,” my promotion to Chief Laboratory Scientist and my future husband- our Imam offered his hand and I said yes although, Mama thinks he is too old.
The wedding held two days before eid. My friends from the city attended. I asked for the Qur’an as dowry. Mama wore a flowing brown jellaba and matching silver shoes. Her grey hair rolled in a knot, uncovered. I wore a maroon-purple jellaba and veil encrusted with tiny, shiny stones. My unruly hair was carefully oiled and combed into a bun. Black medium heels completed the ensemble. We did our make-up, she designed shapes with red henna on my fairish skin and held my hand as we trekked to the nearby mosque in a small group of family and friends. I became a married woman within minutes.
***
At the outskirts of our village far away from areas inhabited by men and crops, accessible only through a narrow path lined on both sides by frightful shoulder-high weeds, lies a patch of land ever so slightly undulating. There are no visible markers of any kind but my cousin swears he can point at both spots blindfolded. It often worries me that I will never know where Mama and Papa rest in their final sleep. I supplicate to The Merciful One on their behalf as I hope somebody would for me, when my turn comes. The moon will be a silvery orb tonight, glimmering from its fortress in the sky. Who knows, I might see those two chase each other again; the twinkling stars I can’t help but think, are Mama and Papa.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Okhuosami Umar Faruq is a biochemist who has a passion for writing fiction and essays in his spare time. He sometimes writes for microcosms fic and has works under consideration across several journals/magazines.

Do you like our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, spoken word poetry, and interviews.

Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh (3rd Position – Flash Fiction Category)

Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh (3rd Position – Flash Fiction Category)

Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh (3rd Position – Flash Fiction Category) 

3rd Position –  Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh

    Today, your wife would kiss you at the doorway, a firm press of her lips against yours, lingering and unsure, and then her tongue sliding into your mouth, not the usual breezy kisses hurriedly planted on your cheek often. She would lead you into the sitting room and tell you she had made something special for you herself. Would you like the Onugbu soup or Oha or Jollof rice? When you say, still unsure what exactly she was up to, that you didn’t want to have anything, she would pause to stare at you briefly, and then she would ask in a small, defeated voice, ‘Would you like to have a bath straightaway then?’
   She would watch you closely while you undressed to use the bathroom. There was something about her stare that unnerved you.  When she asked you if it was okay to join you in the bathroom, you would say, a bit too quickly, avoiding her curious stare, that today had been particularly uneventful and you’d rather be alone in the bathroom. She would touch your arm gently and kiss your cheek. Take it easy baby, she would say as you shut the door tentatively against her.
   These days, you avoided her. Ever since the doctor, a pleasant gentleman who seemed too young and too handsome to be a doctor, had held out an envelope to you and had told you in measured, solemn tones that this was not the end of the world, that you could still live a healthy life and enjoy a lovely marriage, you had begun to spend less and less time with your wife, conjuring imaginary business trips so you could lodge yourself in a hotel in GRA and drink yourself to stupor, bringing up tales of being too tired or sick or not really in the mood when she reached out for your flaccid penis beneath the sheets. And she was sweet, this wife of yours. She would caress your cheek and call you her poor baby. You work too hard sweetheart, she would say before she rolled over to ponder over one more night of disappointment, of implausible excuses that a child would doubt seriously. She was too much of a believer, this woman. Her optimism had always unnerved, even irritated you. But now, with your status hanging over you like a scepter, you were grateful for this optimism that surrounded her, this lack of questioning on her part.
  You would sit on the bed and watch her comb her hair in front of her dresser, swinging this way and that to get rid of the water in her hair. You would look at her legs, the smooth fairness that you ached to run your tongue over. But then, how could you possibly explain to your wife why you needed to use a condom in having sex when she was on pills and you had never needed an additional contraceptive in the past?
Babe, you would say, finally, barely louder than a murmur. But she would hear you and she would turn and walk up to you, smiling in that seductive way of hers that made your heart skip, already slipping the white towel off her body.
Babe, wait. You would say, fighting the urge to break down. So ignorant was she, so blithely unaware.
Is something wrong, sweetheart? She would say, standing directly in front of you now, cupping your chin in her palms.
 No.., you would begin. I mean.. yes. I went to see the doctor yesterday, you would say slowly, staring at the tiled floor below you because you could not bear to hold her gaze, the bewildered confusion in her hazel eyes. ‘There’s something I have to tell you.
I know she would say and for moments, the air in the room would float above you, too far from your reach. You would sit there, numb and unmoving while she slipped a pack of condom out from the drawer and dangle it before you. I got them yesterday, she would say, finally slipping the towel off her body.
   Later, after you came into the condom, you would prop yourself up on one elbow to watch her calm face, and you would ask her how she knew.
I saw the results of the test in your shirt pocket. She would say. Let’s not talk about it now, sweetheart. It’s better to have this discussion in the morning. Let the day break.
     Your relief would creep up slowly, gradually taking up the space of unbelief. You would look at her eyes and see your weakness in them. You would think of those times you came home late to find her asleep on the sofa in the sitting room while waiting for you. You would think of her persistent silence, her clam looks when you rambled about late meetings and traffic.  You would think of how undeserving you were of her goodness. You would think of the future, try to imagine what it would feel like now that she knew your status.
You would reach out to her as though to hug and kiss her at the same time, but you would bring her palms to your face instead and you would weep your gratitude into them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chukwuebuka Ibeh studies History and International relations at the Federal University in Otuoke. He has had pieces published in New African Writing Anthology, Dwartsonline, Jotters United and elsewhere. He is a regular contributor with Bella Naija, Woke Africa and the New England Review of Books.

Do you like our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, spoken word poetry, and interviews.

Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu (1st Position – Poetry Category)

Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu (1st Position – Poetry Category)

Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu (Winner – Poetry Category)

Poetry Category

1st Position –  Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu

I wish that I could capture brilliantly the art that was 21 road yesterday
Of the lone fueling station surrounded at all angles by hundreds of cars waiting for fuel.
The sweat trickling down the brows of the tired fueling station workers
Hands cramped up from hours of injecting fuel into cars and jerry cans
I wish I could capture the ebony coloured face
Of the little child still scurrying along the streets of Festac at night
Jerry can in her hand and determination on her face
Desperate for ten litres to last her madam’s family the night
I wish I could capture the sigh of the tired single mother
Gazing at the empty fuel sign in her car
Thoughts on the absent father who won’t provide
And on the children for whom she can give so little
I wish I could capture the controlled expression of the middle class worker
Foreseeing another night of darkness
Of rumpled clothes and hot pure water to drink
Another day the children have to take a public bus to school
I wish I could capture the worried look of the bus driver
The frustration in his eyes and slight crease of his brow
Unsure of his tomorrow
Of the empty seats that will greet his now empty fuel tank
I wish I could capture the teary eyes of the little boy
Riding shotgun in his father’s car
Thinking no cartoons for the night
No excited squeal when his father draws the rope that pulls the generator
I wish I could capture the determined gait of the market woman
Wrapper half undone, trailing along on the dirt road
Making her way along the zigzag route of long car lines
Hand absently on her bra, stuffed full with crumpled Naira notes.
I wish I could capture the graceful strike of the match
Of the teenage girl lighting a candle from the flat across the street
Younger siblings clustered around her
Resigning to the fate of another day without light
I wish I could capture the tired smile of the grandfather
Entertaining his grandchildren with stories on the veranda
With just the moonlight to shield them
From the darkness of this night

LIGHTS OUT (1st Position - Poetry)

by Chiamaka Nwangwu | Creative Writing Contest

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chiamaka Chukwudire Nwangwu is a contemporary Igbo-Lagosian. She is currently in her fourth year of a romantic relationship with the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. She is a budding public speaker. She loves to read but particularly enjoys reading contemporary Nigerian fiction, history, and poetry.

Her poem, “Defiance in Death” was published in the 1st edition of the top 100 poems of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize Anthology, “The sun will rise again” in the year 2016. She won 1st place in the Kreative Diadem Poetry Prize for her poem “Lights Out” in December 2017. Her essay, “Savior” was published in the “My Book Affair” section of the literary blog, theafroreader.com

Chiamaka is absolutely certain that she is supposed to write.

Do you like our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, spoken word poetry, and interviews.

Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba (2nd Position – Poetry Category)

Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba (2nd Position – Poetry Category)

Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba (2nd Position – Poetry Category)

Poetry Category

2nd Position –  Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba

My pride.
Prominent beauties.
Soft areola tissues.
Recipe for sanity.
Smooth contour.
Like a thief in the night;
It was just a lump.
Cyclical pains.
Irritating melanin.
Tainted redness.
Defacing beauties;
Life threatening.
Seizing breath.
Radical mastectomy;
No left over.
Frigid fraternity.
A beautiful man.
My breast cancer story.
Ayanfe

BREAST CANCER (2nd Position - Poetry)

by Omobashorun Agbalagba | Creative Writing Contest

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Ayanfe and I’m a writer; a poet, songwriter, scriptwriter, and I also do spoken words. In a nutshell, I’m sentenced to form a sentence. I’m  African by ancestral lineage; a Nigerian to be precise. I’m 21 years of age,  I hail from Kwara state.
I’m a graduate of Anatomy, faculty of basic medical sciences, college of health sciences, University of Ilorin, Ilorin Nigeria.
I love arts in various presentations. From the written to the visuals. I do a lot of writing, from poems, short stories, to seasonal stories, which I post daily on ayanfepens.com.

 

Do you like our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, spoken word poetry, and interviews.

Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin (3rd Position – Poetry Category)

Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin (3rd Position – Poetry Category)

Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin (3rd Position – Poetry Category)

3rd Position – Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin

Your uncles touch you while you sleep
And the walls wail as they mangle your innocence
You are eight
Olatunji sneaks in at midnight
He pulls down your underwear
And thrusts two fingers into the flesh between your thighs
You listen as his breaths quicken and thicken
And pretend that the sound is your mother scrubbing the kitchen floor
You are twelve
Olarinde comes in the early hours of the mornings
While the Imam calls out to Muslims to say their prayers
He gently spreads you open
And you hold your breath, quietly awaiting his entry
Olarinde never lasts more than seven thrusts
You know this because you count them.
One. Two. Three. Four. Faster. Five. Six. Seven.
When he climaxes, he cries into your hair and begs God for forgiveness
He closes you up again and scurries off into the darkness
You are fifteen
Adebola visits on Thursday nights
While everyone is watching Super Story in the living room
Bola uses his tongue
Or his tongues perhaps, it never feels like one
Sometimes your body betrays you and a moan escapes your lips
Sometimes he shoves himself into your mouth
When he finishes he whispers into your ear
‘Don’t pretend you don’t like this’
This confuses you
Because you almost believe that you do
And when you finally tell Mother, you tell her everything
You do not spare any detail
But you soon realize that this is a mistake
Mother, who is a deaconess and a spiritual leader
While you talk, she holds her head in her hands
And bellows like an animal in agony
She takes you to church, where the evil spirits are flogged out of you
Your uncles touched you while you slept
It has been seventeen years now
And you still have nightmares about the things they left inside you.

THINGS YOUR UNCLE LEFT INSIDE YOU (3rd Position - Poetry)

by Stephen Ogunfoworin | Creative Writing Contest

Do you like our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, spoken word poetry, and interviews.

Pin It on Pinterest