The first time Nedum set eyes on Ginika, he felt the power of attraction. She was a total stranger, yet deep down within him he felt an instant click; that romantic feeling that just overwhelms you when you find the one! It was more easily felt than expressed because it all happened so unexpectedly when they both looked into each other’s eyes from across the concourse. He was there waiting to pick up his girlfriend who was flying in from Abuja…
The awe-striking moment didn’t last forever though because Ginika quickly looked away from Nedum and had hurriedly left the place instead. Truth is, she felt exactly the same way Nedum did. It was nothing short of an instant connection, a typical moment of attraction every sexual human finds [themselves] in every now and then. But then she decided to let the moment slide because it made her feel guilty. She was a married woman although quite unhappy no thanks to her husband and his cheating ways. It had however been a long time since anybody admired her way Nedum did and the encounter awakened a lot of desires within her. She however didn’t know exactly how a married woman was supposed to react to such feelings! Nobody taught her these things. All her life she had been the good girl- church-going, Jesus-loving and married to the only man who knew her private parts. She was loyal and loving to her husband despite his many shortcomings.
But as she sat at the back of that taxi heading to her deluxe Lekki residence, she kept thinking about the strange man she saw at the airport, the man with who she felt the best attraction ever. She knew quite well that sitting in a cab and fantasizing about a stranger wasn’t exactly the most Christian thing to do as a married woman, yet she couldn’t help herself. So she fantasized that Nedum was every bit the realest man she had always wished she got to have and to hold. She wished she could see him again and feel the same way she had felt earlier. She kept thinking about him as the cab drove her home.
Unknown to her, she was getting home to meet an unexpected surprise. Her husband never expected her home that night. So as she got into the house and climbed upstairs to their bedroom, she met husband in bed, caught up in compromising positions with two women. They were busy doing many things at the same time, so busy they hardly even noticed her presence at first. Never before had Ginika’s husband been careless enough to let her catch him in the act. He was a pastor, highly respected in church and easily mistakable for a saint. Those were attributes that made her love him enough to marry him. Unknown to her, she would spend every day suspecting him until she finally caught him in the act. And what was more; the two women he was frolicking with were highly respected sisters in the church! That evening, she had the perfect excuse to leave the marriage…
Fast forward to five months later, Ginika was a divorced woman, facing all the stereotypes and loving it all. She felt good being free and was looking forwards to better days. And then one day after work as she stopped over at her favourite restaurant to have dinner, she met someone she thought she’d never meet again. It was Nedum, sitting just a table away with his back to her as he ate alone. Their gaze met and got hocked again when for whatever turned around to scan the place. And just like the first time, they shared that moment of attraction. And this time, neither of them was going to let the moment slip away. Just like Ginika, Nedum was freshly out of a relationship after his girlfriend left him to become the second wife of a senator. For months he was devastated and meeting Ginika again was indeed the best thing that happened to him the longest of times.
Today their love story continues, blossoming with every single day that passes. Got to love Love!
Written by Emmanuel Abara Benson
At first I felt him staring at me in the dark and later I saw him in brief flashes, eyeballing me as I would walk along the streets. And then he was everywhere- at the supermarket and the library, always staring at me viciously and seemingly vanishing into thin air whenever I tried approaching him. This most certainly drove me crazy, for I thought I was hallucinating. And just when I thought I couldn’t have it worst, the most bizarre part of the drama unfolded unexpectedly…
I got home that evening to find a huge surprise; somebody uninvited had made dinner for me while I was away. As I stood in the middle of the kitchen letting fear grip my heart, I puzzled over what was happening to me- who was stalking me enough to have access to be apartment; could anything be creepier in the world?! But then discovering the cooked jollof rice on the stove wasn’t the shocker of the night because as I tiptoed upstairs, I found a man on the floor of my bedroom, still. With my hands shaking uncontrollably, I turned on the light and beheld the man who had been stalking me, covered in his own blood and obviously dead! Yes, the fellow who stalked me for weeks was dead on the floor of my bedroom. His head had been smashed with some hard object, braking the skull open and causing some grey [matter mixed with blood] to ooze out…
As I stared at the sight horrified, I could see it wasn’t long before life was snuffed out of the man. The wound still oozed fluid, the blood smelling strongly fresh and nauseating. My mind was confused, thinking several things at the same time but never considering the possibility of the killer still being in the building. And just then my cell phone vibrated in my pocket, startling me as I answered with my shaky voice and listened to a rather cold female voice address me.
“You have three options: either you report the crime to the police, dispose of the body or you disappear tonight. If I were you I ‘d disappear because when you do, the authorities are going to believe you were the victim! That will enable you unravel this entire mystery, with my help of course. You have five minutes to call me back with your decision. Don’t call back if it is a stupid decision!” Click.
I stood in shock, the phone held to my ear as I stared at the dead man on my floor. For the first time since he mysteriously showed up in my life, I could see that he bore an uncanny resemblance to me; almost as though we were twins. Without thinking straight, I immediately redialed the unknown female caller and told her that I was ready to disappear. And two hours later, I was in a bus bound south, heading towards Calabar. According to my unknown guide, the first step to finding out what had happened was to be on the bus heading to the beautiful city; nobody else must know I was on that bus.
The following day it was reported in the dailies that I had been murdered in my apartment- High-profile Government Official Found Murdered in Lagos Home.The news said the police was working hard to find the killer. But of course the mystery was mine to unravel, at least so I had been manipulated into believing…
Story by Emmanuel Benson
*Emmanuel’s debut novel in development. Kindly anticipate.
Sitting beside the smelly bus driver, I observed the traffic through the cracked windscreen. The vehicles were assorted- old, new and the rickety, all stretched out along the pothole-filled road while moving at a snail’s pace. It was almost a beautiful sight, and even though I was too frustrated to dwell much on the aesthetic perspective to it, I could not help but notice the yellow buses. I just was fascinated by those buses! Ever since my relocation to the city, I always observed how the yellow buses typically define the roads here. They make up a major means of transportation in Lagos and as a matter of fact I was commuting to work in one of them…
This was Lagos; the fast-paced city with crawling traffic! It was early morning rush hour on a Monday morning, the worst time to be on any road and more so a Lagos road. Already the sun was out and the heat radiating from it caused many in the bus to sweat profusely. Of interesting note was the man sitting by my right; he was completely distressed as he fanned himself furiously with a newspaper. He appeared to be some kind of executive considering the fancy suit he wore. And despite looking very good in the cloth, he cursed incessantly while struggling to remove it. But cramped in the bus as we were, all his efforts were futile. All he could do was keep fanning himself while sweating and cursing. Luckily for us the traffic finally eased up a bit just as the breeze came through the windows. This breeze did not come alone however because it came accompanied by dust and exhaust fumes of different kinds. We all hissed simultaneously, some with relief while others were simply disgusted by the dust. A few windows were slammed shot behind me in desperate efforts to to wade off the fumes. Meanwhile, I finally heaved a long sigh, exhaling the driver’s odour had been hitting directly at my brain. I could not wait to get off the bus! Just unfortunate it was still a long journey no thanks to another traffic jam we soon came upon another traffic jam.
This commute was supposed to last [at most] thirty minutes. Sadly, I already spent nearly an hour and was nowhere near my destination. It had been a slow ride during which I had witnessed different kinds drama. For one, there was the bus conductor who exchanged angry words with two passengers over change. While we were boarding at the garage, the ugly, hairy bus conductor had loudly announced in his loutish manner that bus fare was a hundred and fifty naira each. He forewarned every passenger to ensure they had the exact denominations to pay with as he did not have assorted denominations for change. But despite this announcement, everyone did not take him seriously. Two of the passengers he fought actually gave him a thousand naira note each; this greatly pissed him off. Consequently, an argument ensued and soon escalated to a heated quarrel that almost saw the two passengers thrown off the vehicle. But at the end they managed to sort out the disagreement just shortly before we encountered our very first traffic jam right after Dopemu bus stop…
Prior to moving to Nigeria’s big apple, I heard several stories, some of them even scary. These stories agreed that Lagos was indeed a place to achieve one’s dreams, yet it was also a highly chaotic place. I had even sworn (at some point in my life) that nothing would ever bring me here. Funny how quickly I moved as soon as I got a job. I came ready to face/conquer. But the situation I met upon arrival was almost discouraging. Having been used to the calm of a University Community most of my life, being here was like my first taste of the Nigerian reality.The traffic was my biggest challenge. I encountered it every morning on my way to work on while on my way back home. And even though I often deprived myself of needful sleep in order to beat it, I usually always got late to work and got reprimanded for it. The Lagos traffic was many bad uncomfortable things jammed into one- one must have to struggle to board the bus and in most case these buses were cramped and utterly uncomfortable. Let me not forget the different kinds of pollution- smelly drivers, dust, fumes and of course the noise. Sad!
Interestingly, despite the many things wrong with taking a bus ride in the city, I did enjoy being in Lagos traffic. It was a good way to observe the city because each time as I sat by the window, I always observed the different faces of the humans of Lagos. There were the kids on their way to school, the embittered house girl knocking their heads as she tugged them along the road. There were also the many workers stranded at bus stops as they waited for the BRT buses going to the Island. And of course there were the yellow buses and their drivers…those deserve an entire story dedicated to them alone. Meanwhile, there are many more interesting things to observe while in a Lagos traffic. For any fashion-inclined person, the traffic would be a good place to feed one’s eyes to different kinds of fashion statements. I for one have beheld all sorts, from the beautiful, simple to the wacky and outright outrageous.
Meanwhile, on a more serious note I also observed the level of poverty in the city. There were the many road hawkers who were present wherever there was a traffic jam. The heat of the sun never deterred them. Instead, they ran after vehicles, thrusting their goods in your face as though forcing you to buy it by all means. The disheartening aspect of the scenario is that most of these hawkers are young people of secondary schools ages. They couldn’t stay in school because they are poor. I couldn’t help but imagine the possibility of them hawking by the road side for the rest of their lives…Perhaps the hawkers’ plight was nothing compared to the two beggars I always saw at a particular spot each morning. Their location was shortly before the Ikeja Along bus stop, around an elaborately-constructed roundabout where vehicles went in different directions. There was always a terrible traffic jam at this spot, and these beggars (male and before) got to utilize the opportunity to attract enough sympathy and often money. They suffered the same polio related deformity which crippled them, but for some reason they always avoided each other. I couldn’t help but wonder why this was; could it be class or just competition? I mean, the female beggar was in a wheelchair while her male counterpart wasn’t. Moreover, she was pretty and interestingly dressed okay unlike the man who was always in the same cloth. But while their levels were apparently not the same, the male beggar always had upper hand attracting alms because of his ability to meander through the vehicles, unhindered by any wheelchair. The female would simply sit in her wheelchair aloof, with her stern-looking countenance… I was busy observing her face that morning when I heard a passenger screaming.
“Ikeja Along dey nah!” she shouted at the driver who was almost about driving past the bus stop. I looked at the driver and could instantly see that he was intentionally trying to ignore the lady. He didn’t want to stop over at this particular bus stop because coming out from it could be pretty hectic no thanks to the gridlock they always stretched from it every time. But left with no choice, he cursed under his smelly breath and finally maneuvered the bus off the road, parking it. Angry, he shouted at the passenger to hurry off the bus, turning towards me as he did even as I finally grabbed my face towel and quickly held it across my nostrils. He took note of what I was doing and had stared at me viciously, but I looked right ahead at the road through the very dirty windscreen. It was apparent he had neither taken a shower that morning nor brushed his mouth. He probably even slept in his yellow bus at the garage in order to load the first set of commuters by 5 O’clock that morning. For him, life was always on the road. I understood his struggles, but what I could not understand was why my oxygen had to be polluted by him…
-Emmanuel Benson is an aspiring Nigerian novelist. Thanks a lot for reading.
But as bad as life was, it felt good not having to hide under the canopy of the forests. I no longer had to run for cover as I did each time the shelling began. The new found freedom felt good and so I dedicated my days to feeling good, playing [the entire time] with the other children in the open yards. We played football with the human skulls that littered across my community. Those were the skulls of the unfortunate people who were not fast enough to escape the village as the Nigerian soldiers advanced upon us, as well as those stubborn enough to leave. There was this story of Eze for instance, a brilliant Science teacher who ran mad because of too many books in his brain according to legend. He had just been brought back to the village to be cared for by close relatives when the war broke out. Every day he sat in his late father’s easy chair telling all who cared to listen that the Biafran warlord Ojukwu was up to the task of crushing the Nigerian military. The day the Nigerian soldiers advanced deep into Biafra down to small town Igbere, Eze remained seated in that chair and refused to run with the others to the forest; he believed Ojukwu would save Biafra. Months later as we returned from the forest, we met his skeleton on the easy chair in front of his father’s house, but his skull was missing. There was no doubt to me that his was one of the skulls my friends and I kicked around in the form of football. But then again, there were those who were courageous enough to return home [in search of food/valuables] before the war ended. Perhaps my father’s skull was among those; my young mind could never know the truth to that. So I kicked those bones while having my fun, disregarding the elders’ warnings that we could get seriously injured. We were young and free, never caring about the risks of life. After all, what more violence could befall a tween who already nearly escaped bomb shrapnel cutting him to shreds! We saw enough violence to last forever, and the risks posed by playing with those skulls (with their jagged and sharp edges) meant nothing. Unfortunately, in the end the older people’s warnings came to pass when serious injuries resulted in infections that led to deaths. And it wasn’t until then that the bones were finally gathered and incinerated…
Forlorn Gaze is a soon to be published novel by Emmanuel Benson. #Anticipate
I was having such a good time with some friends whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. You know how it is when you are overjoyed and excited just wishing the moment never ends? That’s exactly how I felt that day. It was my birthday, and my friends were making it memorable for me. The day long event ended at a Lagos beach where we drank liquor and did other unmentionables. And then the night came just as trouble loomed.
I was almost tipsy by the time we were leaving the beach. Now I usually don’t drink much, but I did let myself indulge that particular day because aside it being my birthday, it’s not all the time you get the spend the day with almost all of your favourite people in the world; no? Anyway, I got drunk and could literarily not wait to get to my bed and kiss it all night. As the speed boat transported us across the ocean to the mainland, the rain began to fall and all around us was just the water and darkness. And in the midst of this rather unfortunate circumstance, the boat suddenly stopped. It was like a nightmare, a really bad one! And then my heart sank with fear. You see… I never really had a good relationship with water because I almost [once] drowned in a swimming pool at my Alma Marta. Meanwhile, much earlier on in life I also almost drowned in a water tank while doing what I can’t remember. So I never had a cordial relationship with water except drinking it and perhaps standing by its shores at the beach. You can then imagine my predicament after the boat broke down in the middle of the ocean with nothing but darkness and roaring waves around us Scary stuff!
Before I knew it the tipsiness disappeared. I was so wide-eyed coffee wouldn’t have had a better effect on me. What to do…swim to shore? Laughable. My mind raced in different directions. I wondered if I was going to die that night. What a sad way to die, I thought. Can you imagine drowning while some ugly fishes surround and wait for you to die? Holy Kadarshian! That had to be my scariest moment in life, and I swear I didn’t handle it well at all.
Everyone was yelling at the boatman. “Get us the hell away from here! ” they screamed. Somebody even said he would tell his “daddy“; like the funniest thing to say in the middle of a major crisis. It turned out my friends were just as scared as I was. Nobody had time for macho stuff at the moment. Nobody wants to die as they say!
As I sat there drenched in the rain water with the wind starting to slightly toss the vessel, I began to think about all the books I’ve read about ship wrecks. Would I end up like Robinson Crusoe or would a fish make me dinner for the night? Those are hard things to think about. I shivered (both with fear and cold) as everyone else panicked and the boatman tried to restart the engine. But each time he tried the stupid engine would make one annoying sound and then silence. This madness kept up for a moment until the engine made one awful sound and then started. And without even waiting to ensure it actually did start, the man zoomed off.
I can’t even describe the haste with which everyone jumped off the useless boat the moment we got ashore. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those friends of mine ended up giving testimonies in their churches, after all a miracle happened to us; no? Well if your answer is “no” you are just as right because this story is one of my attempts at fiction. Lol
The field of arts is a subjective one; no doubt! It’s like “beauty” which is in the eye of the beholder. Take for instance, a particular singer’s voice was once described as “annoying” by a judge during a singing competition and for that reason she was disqualified during auditioning. Surprisingly, the same annoying voice landed the singer a major recording contract which saw her producing major hit records one of which later got her a Grammy nomination. And that’s not all the instances! Many manuscripts of aspiring authours that were once rejected by publishers have won major literary prices such as the Orange Price for Fiction and the Booker Awards. Indeed, artistic expressions are no doubt subjective, and like it or not it will remain this way for a long time to come.
But this is destructive to creativity! The truth is that it takes a lot of courage for a rejected creative mind to keep pushing after being tagged “talentless” or flatteringly “almost talented”. The subjectivity in the arts is like an onslaught on creativity because many a creative minds have given up altogether on the craft as a result of it. This then brings me to why many creative judges are often so blunt (if not outright harsh) when passing their assessments on works of art- how would [THEY] have felt if their works were ever assessed that way? Do they ever realize that just because they don’t like a particular work of art does not make it “talentless“? Questions…
Please note this is not to say there aren’t people “who do not have it” and yet continuously strive to be recognized for a talent that simply isn’t there. Indeed such people do exist, but this post isn’t about them. I am particular about the so called “Near Talents”. Why would anybody rubbish another person’s artistic creativity just because personally [you] do not like it? Mind me, this body of “arts” being assessed (be it music, stories or even films) are not meant for the judges alone; these are arts intended for the public. And reject it all [you] want there are many other art lovers out there who will find it interesting. So then why does artistic expressions have to be judged subjectively in the first place? Should there be some level of objectivity?
Of course there is some level of objectivity in the arts- something I’d like to call determinants of good art. A singer will have to have a good voice and should be able to sing on pitch to qualify as a singer. A writer should impress me with words and tell fascinating stories in which ever form he chooses. An actor must act a character so well such that when I compare [their] character(s) with their real selves I get blown away. And painters? Let me see the pictures! Now he is the problem- there are countless individuals out there who possess these basic qualities of art and yet have been rejected for not having what it takes. Interestingly, quite a number of these people have gone ahead to prove the judges wrong by excelling beyond expectations.
Mind me, this post is not against literary critique. As a matter of fact that is not even what is being talked about right now. Instead, I am talking about the immense subjectivity, the biases, the favoritism and the corruption in the arts. Perhaps this is not a topic up for discussion most of the time, but I have decided to bring it up because be it as looked over as it is, many creative are affected by it on a daily basis.
They say to me- “you are not welcome.”
Knock knock; will you let me in?
“No; you’re not one of us!”
Closed doors are all I see
It’s like a curse on which spell I’m on
Why does it have to be this hard?
*KNOCKS… Please let me in!
The replies are just the same [always]
It’s sad to be rejected
Rejected by those you want; need
A dangerous plight for a creative mind…
Why does it have to be so difficult?
Why doesn’t breakthrough come easily?
Why the FUCKING door closed right up in my face?
And why the hell are they so scared?
Pretend I do not exist
You may wish me away
But with you I will stay
You are my abode
And I am your essence
Your basic humanity you cannot avoid
And for eternity I shall be your judge
Conscience, that’s my name
Nemesis…so you perceive of me
But why do we disagree?
Because your ways are perverted!
I seek your good
The bad I eschew
We should be friends
But to evil you prefer
I am relentless
I am patient
And why my persistence?
Because you are my precious
So ignore me
Despise me you will
But no matter what you do
I shall be here to judge
The hope we seek
The Illusion we get
A never-ending circle
Such is the human plight
Billions of years we’ve lived
Thousands of things we’ve known
Why do we fail and despair?
Such is the way of life!
Many could be saved; life is precious
Opportunities abound; wealth to go around…
But the never-ending vicious circle
Such is caused by human greed
Who could save us?
Who has failed us?
Can we be saved?
This is human dismay!