SING ABOUT ME I’M DYING OF THIRST by Daniel Ogba

SING ABOUT ME I’M DYING OF THIRST by Daniel Ogba

young black man behind tree branches

SING ABOUT ME I’M DYING OF THIRST

by Daniel Ogba

Sing About Me I’m Dying of Thirst – Winner of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

Everybody for Odogwu lodge hear am that night…

*

Eduboy first came to my room one sunny Sunday afternoon, a wry smile tugging the corners of his lips. Him dey prepare correct jollof for him babe, come discover say him Maggi don finish. Abeg, if I didn’t mind, I fit run am one Knorr cube?

He scratched his head, one foot inside my room, the rest of his body outside. He wore black-and-white checkered banana republic boxer, nothing to cover his muscled chest and abs. His upper body glistened with sweat. Omo, I was tripping, no lies. Normally, I’d have stood up from the bed, walked into the small kitchen, grabbed one cube, and passed it to him. But, e be like say something possessed me; a whole Eduboy was at my door, asking for what? Ordinary Maggi? Of course, I didn’t mind. I told him to enter inside the kitchen and take it himself, top counter by the right. He smelt of smoke and spices, and it pleased me. He didn’t waste any time. Just walked in there and, before I knew it, out.

I’d never imagined Eduboy the kind to near a cooker, no. 1 fresh boy like him, so I jokingly said, “Lord knows how your food go taste.” It was the first I’d spoken to him officially, asides regular guy hwfar.

Eduboy chuckled, then, before he left, replied, “you go confirm na.”

I did confirm, at quarter past 5p.m., when someone rapped twice on my door, Eduboy. He came bearing a full-lipped smile, with a covered plate of jollof.

 

“Dude, thanks for saving my ass,” he said. “I owe you one.”

*

Everyone in the Art faculty knew him. The Eduboy, everyone called him, including lecturers. Especially lecturers.

The first time I saw him inside school was after GS class. One of his goons was celebrating. They all rounded the guy, stoned him sachet water. But something stood out. There was this particular guy in the circle who, out of nowhere, popped a bottle of Andre and wasted it on the celebrant’s head. The crowd crazed instantly. We were just walking outside the building, me and my guy, when he popped the second bottle. I tapped Alain and asked who the show-off-dude was.

“You no know am? Him dey our department na,” Alain said. “Eduboy na a veeery big guy.” With an emphasis on very.

I’d never seen him, not once, in any class gathering. It was during second year. I would see him a couple more times in lectures hanging from a window or sitting on the boulevard outside. And then he’d disappear. Within that time, I watched him with the interest of a scientist observing a species – the way he bounced, his feet lifting off the earth with each step, the way his trousers slouched a little below waistline, exposing sparkling white underwear. Where he regularly lunched (mostly 11:45 restaurant ), the boys he hung out with (people I’d not occasionally find myself in their company; dudes with serious levels), and babes that gyrated to his honeyed smoke aura.

Eduboy never wore a shirt twice to school, I confirmed. He didn’t even overdress, just moderate senior man attires. But his drip was on a steady. From Calvin Klein to Versace to Burberry to YSL, all his shirts repped this or that brand. He changed clothes like nylon. It was his kicks for me, though. There was one time in 300 level he wore this molo-molo black Air Max 720 to class, for mid-semester.

He arrived late for the quiz. The lecturer, a moronic man, ordered him to the podium, wanting to disgrace his ancestors. He had his hair tinted brown, so it gave the man ranting material. Lecturer called him nincompoop, imagine. Eduboy’s eyes darted like a hawk’s, I know he must have felt like slapping that man. I did, too. But I was focused on his kicks. When the lecturer shaa dismissed him, Eduboy walked straight to his seat, picked up his bag, and bounced. He didn’t return for that class. He didn’t write that course. Energy!

Later I’d googled Air Max 720 price; I was shook, to God. The amount tensioned me. Somebody wore forty-f**king-five thousand naira just on his legs, me what did I wear? Kito sandals. Even the Season 7 I owned was secondhand pass-down.

 

What did Eduboy do that I couldn’t? G+? Prostitution? Were his parents ritualist billionaires? Lord knows. Me, I just knew I wanted to be his paddy.

young black man behind tree branches

*

I didn’t know Eduboy was from Aba, till someone casually mentioned it during football training. It was my team against his, they were whooping our behinds like mad. There was this courting he gave me, and I just tumbled like a brakeless Volvo.

Someone said, “Onye egwu, nwayo, na your brother be that.” He looked back and smiled. After training, he walked to me, asked if I was really from Aba. I said yes. And Eduboy threw his hands up, pulled me into his chest, his Arsenal jersey drenched with sweat. He embraced me tightly, and called me nwanne.

Eduboy would call me his nwanne that day and other days, and a refreshing calm would set over me. Perhaps it was the lightness with which he said the word. Nwanne. A renewed assurance that I was his own blood, his person. That he wouldn’t do me anyhow. I believed him.

We got really close and shit. He’d crash in my bed, I in his. A bit out of context but, I discovered Eduboy couldn’t sleep without his lights on.

*

In his room one night, he dragged kush while I played PES. A Kendrick Lamar song vibrated the walls, his favourite jam. He passed the joint to me, eyes a wild red. I said, thanks but no thanks. He did not pressure.

Eduboy started rapping along with the music. He leaned in to me, his face covered in smoke clouds and half neon-blue light. He put a hand on my face, and recited along with a woman’s voice on the track, dragging the words out of his throat;

“Young man come talk to me… /Why are you so angry?/ See, you young man are dying of thirst/ Do you know what that means? That means you need water/ Holy water.”

I got the chills. He was obviously high, but with his hand pressing my face, I wanted more. Next thing, he was passed out on the bed.

That night in my room, I went online, downloaded the song, and played it till morning.

*

Forget all that fancy hard man stunts, na smokescreen. Truth be say, Eduboy was lonely and scared sh*tless. But this our world no get use for soft men, so he had to man up, had to don the mask and be ‘fine.’ That’s how the world expected you to be. Fine. He invented versions of himself for our sakes, and because he was in such a desperate race against time.

When I asked about family, Eduboy said he preferred to not talk about them. Later he told me. His mother finally died two months back. Not like she did live even. But before then, his father left them. Dude remarried to get his life going, he was a public figure.

He told me — and he did warn me not to tell anyone — what took his mother was coming for him next. And, although he didn’t know how long he had left to stay, he knew he wouldn’t ever face it like his mother had; wilting, powerless, annoying box-machines ever beeping, counting down till the very here moment. No. He had decided his fate in his head. It wasn’t a pleasant one, but there was no alternative. Eduboy cried like a child when he told me.

It was new, the Eduboy I experienced that day. I didn’t know how to relate, so I just held him and told him we’d get through together. Nwanne to nwanne.

*

You fit change a man’s heart. But his head? You can try, only there’s so little you can do. And Eduboy get coconut head. True true.

 

I was in my room when I heard it that night. A pop sound, like somebody dropped raw egg. I ran outside to the verandah, other tenants too. Someone pointed a flashlight from the fourth floor, where Eduboy’s room was, and we all saw it. Omo, I was too shocked, even though I knew somehow he’d do it. I didn’t know what or how to feel. I only felt my legs sinking deep into concrete. My heart slipped into my stomach.

The only thing I remember hearing, before the high-pitched ringing in my head, was a girl screaming from across, oh my God oh my God oh my God what the f*ck?

Photo Credit: Photo by Blac Bear from Pexels

IN THE NAME OF TRANSCENDENTALS by Ibe Obasiota Ben

IN THE NAME OF TRANSCENDENTALS by Ibe Obasiota Ben

black woman with a sad face

IN THE NAME OF TRANSCENDENTALS

by Amarachi Iwuafor

In the Name of Transcendentals – Second Runner-up of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

in faith i write that this poem is not a hangman

even though there are too many lifeless bodies here

even though this poem is a body in timeless regress–

fluid. formless. fragile.

 

i am still trying to understand metaphors 

just like i am still trying to understand my mother and her God–

hot and cold. mist and wine.

just like i am still searching for spaces 

where grief is not the aftermath of ghost

not the aftermath of war 

not the aftermath of home placed in fire

to negotiate the weight of tragedy.

 

all my life i have been searching the water

for things lost in the shoulder plate of home & grief. 

i do not know how to explain that loss is not the noun

it is the holocaust becoming fluid enough to shift form.

black woman with a sad face

every poem about grief is a dark room.

i have seen silhouettes bounce off walls at the reflection of light 

yet neither light nor miracle is panacea for grief.

i do not know at what point grief rankshifts into growth

but i know how much grief feels like passing through the water 

yet only a thing made hallowed can truly pass through water.

i know dead men who come alive in dreams

that is to say i want to believe 

death is really a form of transcendence

which is perhaps what it means to relive.

 

poems made of grief are the hardest to hold.

it’s easy to scream into the water

& pretend that you do not hear your own voice

& pretend also that silence is not a form of mockery. 

 

in war i write that this body has no agency to accept more grief

that is to say this body at another

prick will come apart like a balloon or a broken home.

i am several miles away from home

& the only relic i have is a whitening portrait of my father

falling away like an incomplete painting. 

home is this painting. a metaphor for the origin of passing.

do not try to disable metaphors like these

because the ground of the metaphor is hidden in grief and pain.

Photo Credit: Photo by Lucxama Sylvain from Pexels

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED by Amarachi Iwuafor

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED by Amarachi Iwuafor

burnt matchsticks

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED

by Amarachi Iwuafor

She Stared Back at Us with Her Eyes Closed – First Runner-up of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

When death walked in, it took in its arms 

         one person, 

walking past the tunnels where light had 

         never touched.

Then it left two footprints. One, grief. The

         other, memories. I’ve felt pain, 

but grief is twice the weight of pain. Our 

palms have been stained by the colors 

         of it.

I touch the walls of my memories, 

        trying to remember 

the last time we held hands. I search for her 

        in photographs

burnt matchsticks

that once held the whole shape of her.

I heard she had wished to stay longer?

        How often we grope for life 

when we are close to death.

        But most times, the life 

we live is never ours, neither our choice.

         At night,

when the world is dark, fears burn into 

        the walls of my room, 

and in my room there are nightmares.

I keep dreaming into the places we 

        first met. 

I am lost most of the night.

But as time moves like waters across the 

        shore

I build solace in these words:

People don’t die, they only lose their 

       bodies.

Photo Credit: Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels

HYDROLOGY by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

HYDROLOGY by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

black woman

HYDROLOGY

by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

Hydrology – Winner of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

You were my first undoing. You 

       whom I met at the shorelines of my life.

In the sizzling of oatmeal too close 

      to ruins      the television bright eyed on 

Saturday nights     & the crisp chattering 

      of Ludo seeds, I took care to hold you at 

an aunty’s distance. How come you 

      blurred the lines & met me unguarded.

I wanted to be a child that very night: 

       soft & fragile & yet untouched.

But you held me in your mouth, 

       weightless as I was. You led me by the  

hand into your deeps. How the river 

      swallows an eel    & was I not the victim 

 

                    of a turbulence that 

         began with you alone? 

Now, all my childhood days stand 

       against me. This body bears witness to a 

borrowed tide. The wounds fresh as spring 

have immortalized you in all the wrong places. 

& yes,   I’ve been bleeding my whole life.

              I keep sinking halfway to the shore.

But healing is an expertise I’m willing

        to learn. In this way, I come out drenched,

yet alive, with enough breath to begin again.

Photo credit: Photo by Waldir Évora from Pexels

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHIWENITE ONYEKWELU’S works have been published or are forthcoming on America Media, Brittle Paper, Kreative Diadem, ZenPens and elsewhere. He was a runner up for the Foley Poetry Contest 2020, a finalist for Stephen A. Dibiase Poetry Contest 2020 and winner of the Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize 2019 for his poem “The Origin of Wings”. He was also shortlisted for the Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Contest 2019 and was the 2nd prize winner of the Newman Writing Contest (NMWC) 2017. Chiwenite studies pharmacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.

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.

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