Friday, April 30, 2010

Update - Ngozi and James

So the votes are in and James and Iphey are going almost head to head as I'm writing this. I've got some submissions for the coming chapters that have got my blood racing, lol. Expect some dramatic sturves as season two and maybe the entire series comes to a wrap. Before then, let us go back to see two of our major characters; How james and Ngozi met. So we'll see the beginning of their relationship before it all came crashing down.

Check back on Sunday for the next chapter. Till then, have a great and exciting weekend. Me and my people are going to see Date Night. Steve Carrel can always be trusted for the laughs.

Take care peeps.


ps, if you want to be a contributor, even if you've written before, do let me know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Office Politics: The Plans of Mice and Men 2...by Myne and Tisha

"So where were you?" Funmi bit out striding angrily out of Ayo's office. I left a file on your desk earlier this morning and now I cannot find it!"

After the discovery of Funmi and Bisi's alliance this morning, it was easy to guess how the missing file and all the other ones in the past including other different things that should have gotten her into trouble happened.

"I did not see any file on my desk," Iphey replied as she fell into step behind.

"How will you? Going out for lunch and staying two hours!" Funmi turned around and glared at her. She felt like throttling the other girl's neck. Bisi had given her the lowdown on their confrontation and she was mad as hell. Imagine the small girl, after displacing her friend, she had the guts to stand up to her! Well Bisi could blame herself for trying to befriend her in the first place. See where that had gotten her.

"It wasn't like..." Iphey began.

"Pschewwwww," Funmi hissed. By now they were standing in front of her office. "Just find that file!" She snapped testily and then left Iphey standing there. She stalked in and slammed the door behind her.

Iphey walked to the water dispenser and pressed out some water in a white plastic cup and headed to her desk. She walked gingerly since it seemed even her steps annoyed some people to no end. Iphey laughed inside, her time in the ladies before searching for Funmi showed that she was still looking great. But more than that she felt great inside. After the last few hours, she was in no mood for more drama today.

It was like the day had flown by, so many things had happened, one revelation after another. After Bisi, she had shrugged it off to focus on better things and something beautiful had really come her way. She sashayed as behind her mind’s eye she could see Chinedu, tall, dark and handsome. TDH was a dime a dozen but Chinedu stood out from the rest, his features were imprinted behind her eyes so even if she closed her eyes, she could still see him and it was weird but it seemed like they were connected.

Iphey smiled. She was working alright, but only just managing to concentrate. Half of her mind was on Chinedu. She could not even remember what the reasons for her not wanting to go out with him in the first place were. Yes, he had a shady history but he had showed himself to be an honorable man so far and those were the qualities that really mattered to her.

“A penny for your thoughts,” Tunde from marketing teased her, you are grinning like the cat that got the cream."

Iphey laughed. Tunde thought it a contagious laughter that demanded for all who heard it to laugh also. He grinned widely at her.

“Are you sure you are not getting it somewhere?” he finally asked a quizzical look on his face.

“I don’t do premarital sex if that’s what you are asking?” Iphey laughed again, “I just don’t see why you can’t be happy and in love in a relationship without premarital sex?”

"You look like someone has given you some good loving," he insisted with a wink.

“Actually I am just happy o, no particular reason, God’s been good.”

“Uh hmm…tell me...”

Funmi was passing by and gave them a dirty look. "Tunde, Ayo wants you, now!"

Tunde stood to attention, blinked at Iphey and marched off.

Funmi did not pause in her tracks. She was walking with Bisi, who kept her face strictly ahead. A few paces behind them, Tola for Master Card section gave Iphey a smile and a wave. Iphey smiled back and went back to the files before her.

Iphey smiled to herself as she relived the kiss with Chinedu in the car. Her toes curled in her pumps and began to tingle. She considered whether to call him or wait for him to call first. She didn't want to make any hasty decision but it was not as if she was planning to marry him in the next month, she was just going to give him a chance to see if they could make it work between themselves.

She remembered what she discussed with Aisha a couple of weeks ago. After they had discussed finding Bisi in his apartment, the conversation had diverged to general talk.

“Aisha, most girls are hasty to get into serious or permanent relationships. For me, I have now decided that I'll give the guy a test-drive…”

Aisha’s eyes went wide, “Do you mean…?”

Iphey grinned mischievously, “No, not the way people usually mean a test-drive. I mean a time frame in which I check out the guy and see if I like him on all levels and can check if we are on the same levels when it comes to values and compatibility of personalities.”

Aisha smiled and said, “That’s what most people do but they define it with different terms." They both laughed before Aisha continued. "As long as you don't end up in a marriage of convenience.”

Iphey sighed and said, “I could never do a marriage of convenience, I would drive someone crazy.”

She smiled again and set her pen down. If she did end up with Chinedu, it would be nothing like that. She was already halfway in love with him. Something moved beside her and when she focused her vision, she watched her boss, Ayo seeing off a slinky lady. On his way back, he caught her eye and leered. When he saw that he had got her full attention, he stopped, rubbed his hands and licked his lips. Iphey turned away quickly. Did he think she found those gestures attractive? They were a disgusting turn-off. She hissed quietly.

Out of the corner of her eye, Iphey spied Funmi striding towards him. Let them sort themselves out and leave her out of it, she prayed. At least her adversaries will be reduced at the office when Bisi got sent forth on Friday. Now that she knew Funmi was out to get her sacked, she just had to be more careful with her work, keep her head down.

She worked steadily, yet before long her mind was on Chinedu again. She was tired of doing the battle of not thinking about Chinedu, so she let her mind linger on him, she had better do something about this. She day dreamed about the kiss all over again. His lips on hers, their tongues meshing, his hands on her waist, holding her tightly. Iphey sighed.

And to think she had been dreaming about him without knowing until this morning. That should have told her she would meet him. It was a course-mate in college who said that "when you start dreaming about a guy, love is either setting the wheels rolling or about to blot him from your horizon". The first was possible, the first had proved impossible so far. It looked like Chinedu had come to stay. She was happy it was no more all in her mind, where he’d been loitering all day and night for the past couple of weeks. She looked forward to seeing him later in the evening when he came to pick her up.

She asked herself whether she had time to call and tell Aisha about Chinedu, and that they were finally going to give it a go. She also wanted them to talk so she would have all the back ground information she needed. She needed advice about the way to proceed with this guy since she believed he was something special. Her mom was going to be so happy but she herself had to be sure that was not making a mistake. The case of James was still pending.

“Here you go.”

Iphey snapped out of her reverie and looked up. Jane stood before her, hand outstretched. She was holding a file.

"The shark didn't know that I saw her hiding it in the bulk counter room. No mind her, you hear?" Jane smiled as she handed the file over.

"Thank you so much." Iphey clapped quietly as the receptionist walked away.

God was on her side sha, all her enemies will be scattered for sure! He had guided her every step so definitely. His hand was evident on every part of her life. It would all work out fine with Chinedu too, all she needed to do was put one step in front of the other and commit it into his hands…


**************************

That's it folks. The plans of mice and men will always come to nought when you keep your nose clean. Funmi and her conniving, I just wonder why she no go mind her own sef? LOL. Please vote on who you want for the next chapter which is coming up on Sunday and please leave your comments too, thanks.

This was a collabo I did with Tisha of I LOVE BECAUSE I CAN. Tisha says she's "pretty and intelligent but not street smart". I want to add that she's also talented. I love her poems. Check this out from the last one.

"I am restless
i wanna kick some one
i wanna scream, shout
i am restless
i want to let go
and just jump and shout
gone shopping
it doesn't take off
the pressure like
when i was younger..."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Office Politics: The plans of mice and men...by Afronuts

He sat behind his mahogany desk starring into space, his chin nestled in his palms. His eyes were wide open but his vision was nil; he was lost in dreamland.

He could see her; young, beautiful and promising. Everything about her enchanted him. Her smile was unique and different from what he’d ever seen on the other women around him. Yet with all the appeal she exuded, she seemed more innocent than a catholic nun. And like the sugar ant, he was trapped by this alluring innocent sweetness.

He was a man imprisoned by the unholy passion that reeked of lust and desire for a woman he had no right to own.

But in his world, the story was different. He had some degree of power and since power could corrupt, he was a very willing candidate

The Intercom on Ayo’s desk suddenly buzzed sharply startling him out of his reverie. The dreamy image of Iphey he had beheld suddenly faded into the obscurity of his subconscious.

He tapped at the intercom button, more out of anger than of urgency.

‘Yes?’

‘Sir, you have a visitor, a Miss Giwa from Abuja.’

Ayo’s mind did a brain check. He couldn’t recollect anybody by that name. His mind raced with suspicion. As a man of many escapades, he had to be careful with visits from females. Not every woman that romped with him should get to visit him at work.

He got up and strolled to his door and peeped through the pigeon hole. There was a gorgeously dressed woman standing at the secretary’s desk but he could only see her back view.

‘Sir? Are you there?’ The secretary’s voice came through the intercom again.

He hurried back to the table and tapped the intercom button.

‘Let her in.’

He couldn’t tell who she was but from the ‘good look’ of things through his pigeon hole, he was willing to take the risk.

The door swung open and Ayo was awed as he beheld the feminine spectacle that waltzed into his office.

Her svelte figure bore a body fitting red dress with rosy frills at the edges which stopped at her knees, exposing a set of long caramel tanned legs.

She wore a long hair that sat gracefully on her shoulders; her face looked spotless and fresher than a baby’s butt.

She wore no make-up except lip gloss. From the look of it, she didn’t even need make-up. That would be an overstatement.

She smiled, closed the door, walked up slowly to his desk and peered down at him through her sparkling eyes, well enhanced by contact lenses.

‘Hello Ayo.’

‘Umm…hello?’ he muttered, standing up to receive her hand shake, while trying hard to recollect where on earth he had met her.

‘It’s me, Jennifer.’

Jennifer Giwa.

Her name suddenly triggered something in Ayo’s head as memories came flooding his mind like a tsunami; the day he met her through a friend at a conference organized by the CBN two years ago at Abuja, how she had seduced him at the after party only to leave him hanging at the table because of some important call she got that required her to go to the ladies; how he had waited till the party was over and she never came back.

The mind update finished and he came back to the real world.

‘Ha! Jennifer. What a pleasant surprise. How did you find me?’

He had every reason to be angry about how he was ditched two years ago but her smile and bewitching eyes had an effect too powerful to neither ignore nor allow any other sentiment.

‘I’ll always find you. I have connections. And you gave me your card, remember?’

She came round his table and stood very close to his chair. An exotic perfume assailed his nostrils. Her hand went to his chin and caressed it softly.

Ayo felt his armpits go wet as he totally lost his composure.

‘I missed you.’ Her soft voice was taunting the hormonal noises in him.

‘You left me behind…’

‘Shhh…I know and I’m sorry’

She sat on his lap while still holding onto his chin.

Ayo’s heart skipped several times. A woman’s acceptance of fault and apology coupled with this smooshy drama was like sweet wine to his soul.

‘So what brings you here?’ He was still able to summon up the common sense to find out why she came. His brain was trying hard to be rational against the building rage of sensual adrenalin.

‘I need your help with a loan. Can I count on you?’

By this time she had drawn her face so close to his, he felt himself beginning to loose control. She leaned closer, her breath fanned gently against his face, her lips almost brushing against his…when the intercom buzzed.

Ayo’s fist slammed at the button, heavily pissed at the interruption.

‘What?’ He half yelled at the intercom.

‘Sir! The operations manager is on her way to your office!’ his secretary’s voice came whispering through the speaker. Thanks to the regular tipping he gave her to serve as his lookout for trouble.

Like a jackrabbit smoked out of its hole, Ayo came to his senses, pushed Jennifer off his lap and quickly ushered her into the toilet.

‘What’s going on?’ she asked taken aback by his sudden reaction.

‘I promise you dear. I’ll get you the loan. But I need to settle some matters with people that might be a pain in the neck. Just hide here for a few minutes and keep quiet. Trust me, okay?’

She wasn’t sure she understood all he had just said but she very well understood the part about getting the loan.

‘Okay. If you say so.’ She walked gracefully into the restroom.

Ayo closed the door just as Funmi came into the office.

She was already halfway into the office when she stopped dead in her tracks, her nose twitched.

‘What’s that smell?’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Is that a woman’s perfume I perceive?’

‘So? Are you the only female staff that wears a perfume?’

'Are you sure that girl is not in here?'

'What girl?'

Funmi waved her hand in annoyance.

‘You know who I'm talking about. I actually came to complain about her…’

‘Iphey?’

‘Yes, Iphey. I’m getting tired of that girl. She’s so incompetent. She doesn’t perform up to expectation...’

‘Would that be…your own expectation?’

‘Are you saying my own opinion doesn’t count? Do you know that she took off for lunch over an hour ago and is not back yet?'

Trust Funmi to always answer a question with a question, two in this instance. Ayo smiled and looked at her, he had to think of a way to distract her. He looked her over from the nicely weaved hair that stopped at her ears atop a set of cute gold earrings to the well dry cleaned trouser suit and finally to the shiny black high heels on her feet.

‘You look lovely today.’

Funmi was cut off balance by the remark. It was the last thing she expected.

‘Why…thank you.’

Ayo moved closer and stroked his hand down her arm. When she leaned towards him, he straightened and adjusted his tie.

‘You know I like you Funmi but on this one, I’m sorry. Your opinion doesn’t count. Besides you and Bisi, others seem to think otherwise of Iphey. They find her indispensable.’

Funmi drew back and sighed heavily. She looked at the floor, then looked back at him, hurt shone on her face.

‘Ayo, why are you doing this to me?’

‘Excuse me?’

‘You used to be so loving and compassionate…’

‘And you used to be single.’

‘So? Are you not married too?’

‘It doesn’t work the same way.’

‘Why should it be…’ She suddenly stopped. She thought she heard something in the bathroom.

‘Funmi, this convo is over. Now if you’ll excuse me…’ Ayo began but she cut him off.

‘Is there someone in there?’ She was already walking towards the restroom.

Ayo maintained his calm but his mind raced. He had to stop her from going any further.

But it was too late as Funmi’s hand rested on the door knob and turned it.

Ayo closed his eyes tightly as if it would shield him from the impending fireworks.

When he opened them, she was still at the door turning the knob. It was locked.

‘The door is locked’, she said in a tone that demanded an explanation.

‘It’s under repairs and fumigation, you probably heard the rat in there.’

Her hand quickly left the door. She hated rats and the mere mention of it.

‘I thought you were hiding Iphey in there.’

Ayo burst into laughter.

‘Stop it. It’s not funny.’

The intercom buzzed. Ayo hit the button.

‘Yes?’

‘Sir, Iphey’s coming! She’s looking for Oga Funmi’ The secretary’s whisper came loud and clear.

‘Did she say Iphey?’ Funmi asked.

‘Yep. She did.’

She gave a flustered look, refusing to meet his eyes. She now felt embarrassed that she might have overreacted. She turned and walked to the door.

‘Good thing she watches out for us.’ She said.

‘Us?’ Ayo questioned but she was out the door before he could get a reply. He heard her dialogue briefly in her usual nastiness with Iphey outside the door. Then they were gone.

He suddenly realized there were beads of sweat on his forehead and mopped them rapidly.

For a brief moment, the thought of Iphey came to his mind again. Funmi wanted her out of the picture, out of this branch or sacked for some flimsy reason but he wasn’t going to let that happen. Funmi had served her purpose and was married now. He needed a replacement and Iphey was the perfect and even better fit.

He would handle all this later. For now he had other pressing matters.

He knocked on the restroom door.

‘You can come out now.’

He heard the lock turn and Jennifer came out.

She was smiling. She had heard all the drama.

‘You’re a bad boy. Is that how you trick women?’

‘Come on. Not all women, like fingers, are equal.’

‘By the way, thanks for locking the door. I never thought of it’, he said placing himself back in his chair.

‘I might look gentle but I’m not a stupid chick’, she replied stroking his face with her well manicured fingers.

‘Now, where were we?’


*************************************


So our contributor Afronuts decided to tell us about Funmi but from the perspective of the branch manager Ayo. I found this hilarious, and I can tell you from personal experience that there are some womanizers like this guy. What can I say, in offices, BEWARE. lol...There will be no votes today since I already have a follow up but check back on Tuesday for the next chapter.

KUSH or Afronuts of the Kush Chronicles is a creative writer based in Lagos Nigeria. He sometimes runs some illustrated series on his blog and I simply love those. He also blogs about some topics which are eye-openers or food for thought. The last one was titled Bizarre jobs from History and the current one is The Murderous Innocents. Go over and check him out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Update - More on Funmi and Iphey

So the votes are in and more people want to read more about Funmi. Hopefully, we'll also get to see what happened between the beastly boss and Iphey after Chinedu drops her off. Does she threaten her, does she just go ahead to put Iphey's name on the firing list? Also maybe we'll get more into her character to see what drives her.

_______________________________

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ps, Have a great weekend you'all...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Operation gone wrong...by Atala Wala Wala.

It was the evening of what had been a dull and rainy day. Chinedu was waiting in a room with two other men; he had been asked to 'report for duty', as an operation was scheduled for this night. He was nervous, because unlike the past few operations, he had not been given any details. While he waited, he tried to pry information from the other two men. Serubawon, tough and surly, ignored him altogether; Chancer, quiet and tense, told him to wait for their leader, Dabaru, to come - he would tell him everything. Chinedu was edgy because the people he was more familiar with, Gbenro and a few others, were not there.

About an hour later, the door opened, and Dabaru entered, followed by Okey, another member of the gang. Dabaru was a tall, rangy man who had the air of someone scenting for danger around him. He had been involved in armed robbery for over five years; more than once, his sharp instincts had helped him evade capture. He called them all to gather round so that he could explain the night's operation.

"We are going to this address in Lekki tonight. I hear that someone there is keeping some money there this night." He stared fiercely at one of the other boys, "Okey, you know the place, right? The place I showed you when we were driving in the area the other day."

Chinedu was puzzled. "Is Okey driving tonight?" he asked.

Dabaru turned to him and smiled. "Yes, Okey is driving instead of you. I think it's time that you took part in a actual operation." He turned back to the others and continued explaining details of the operation, but Chinedu's mind was elsewhere. He knew that this day would come one day, but he hadn't thought that it would come so soon. His heart beat faster as he thought of what would happen. He had gone on shooting practice sessions with the gang before, but practice was one thing; real life was something else.

Eventually, Dabaru finished with the explanations and told them all to get into the car waiting outside; the guns they needed were already in the boot. As Chinedu passed him, he put his hand on his shoulder and said "We will make six million naira from this operation; I know you will not disappoint. Just be strong like you were in the last operation." Then he followed them out and entered the car, which promptly revved and sped off towards Lekki.

Chinedu shook his head as he recalled how horribly wrong the operation had gone. His role had been to climb over the wall of the compound at the address, then threaten to shoot the compound guard if he did not open the gate for the rest of his colleagues. Unfortunately, the guard had panicked and run towards the house, raising the alarm. Chinedu had him in his sights; but he found that he could not bring himself to pull the trigger. He stood there, sweating and trembling, as the rest of the gang shouted at him to let them in. Suddenly, there was a gunshot, and he felt a sharp pain in his leg. The robbers heard the shot, and that was their cue to flee. Chinedu collapsed and as he lay on the ground, blood seeping through his jeans, he heard the wail of sirens in the distance growing louder.

He woke up the next day at Apongbon. Five days later, the police doctor had bandaged the flesh wound on his leg inflicted by the house owner's pistol but the pain in his heart went deeper. While his answers to the interrogations had saved him some beating, he had been charged for armed robbery. His mother had visited once but there was nothing she or anyone could do. He was not up for bail and the police were were almost ready to transfer him to Kirikiri. He was sitting quietly while the other inmates raved and ranted, when a couple of prison guards approached his cell and unlocked it.

The prisoners began to chant at the guards, but they glared fiercely back and pointed to Chinedu.

“You... come with us. Oga wants to see you.”

Which oga, and why does he want to see me? Chinedu wondered, as they walked down the dark corridors that led to the prison’s chief superintendent’s office.

The guards knocked and entered. Two men were sitting at the table; one was dressed in uniform - Chinedu guessed that he was the superintendent - and the other was tall, dark and wore an expensive babanriga.

“Is that the boy?” the tall man asked, pointing at Chinedu.

“Yes, sah,” one of the guards replied.

“Hmm...” The man stroked his chin for a while, and then he spoke. “You... you were brought in from an armed robbery, right?”

Chinedu, staring in astonishment could only nod his head.

“I am Alhaji Galadima,” the man continued. “I am here to talk about the gang that you were part of...”

It turned out that the Alhaji, who was a police officer, was looking for information that would help him end the operations of Chinedu’s former gang, who were still active in the area. On inquiring, he learnt of Chinedu who had been part of the gang, but was now in custody. Galadima realised after talking at length with Chinedu that he had no great loyalty to the gang members, as they had abandoned him the moment he had been caught, and had not contacted or been to see him since. Chinedu said he would co-operate with the police in supplying information. Galadima also saw from the conversation that Chinedu was quite an intelligent person, and soon teased out the circumstances that led to him joining the gang.

His co-operation led to two members of the gang, Serubawon and Okey, being caught. It also meant that the Alhaji was able to arrange for him to be released sooner, and in addition, he volunteered to fund Chinedu’s education to university level “because it would be a shame for such a fine young mind to go to waste.” Chinedu’s eyes misted over as he remembered the Alhaji’s benevolence, but he quickly wiped the wetness away, as he slowed down his car to park at his office.

********************************************

So that's it folks, vote on the left for the next person you want to hear from.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Dangerous Invitation ...By Atala Wala Wala

The car pulled up just outside the bank, and Iphey stepped out, anxiously glancing at her watch again.

The window on her side slid down, and Chinedu peered through it. "Are you sure you'll be OK? I hope your boss won't eat you alive for this," he asked.

"I will be a few minutes late, but I should be fine; I'll find an excuse that will work. At least, as far as I know, there's no meeting that I need to be present at."

Iphey still wondered whether Funmi had a nasty shock waiting for her when she got back, but that was something she could worry about later. Right now, she felt so happy at the prospect at starting something really solid with Chinedu that everything else paled in comparison.

"OK. Oh - before I forget - can I get your number? You can be sure that I have no intention of deleting it this time - but I'll make up a song with the numbers in it, just in case I lose the phone," he joked.

Iphey laughed as she gave it to him. "Please call me, and let's set something up."

Chinedu smiled back. "Yes, let's see if we can start afresh. Actually, I just remembered that you don't have your own transport to get back. How about we kill two birds with one stone? I can pick you up this evening, we can go somewhere nice and then I can drop you off at home."

"That sounds like a great idea."

"Yes, I thought so too. OK, I'll see you later." He waved at her, and watched admiringly as she walked towards the bank entrance. Then the window slid back up, the engine revved and the car took off towards his office.

****

As he drove, Chinedu was lost in thought. He really wanted to make things work with Iphey, and he was glad that he had this chance... but he recalled her unease about his history as an armed robber.

“Sometimes, I wonder why I had to go and say that. Perhaps things would have been better if I had kept this close to my chest,” he mused.

The more he thought about it, the more he felt it would be better to make a clean breast of things and tell her what had happened in his earlier years...

Chinedu and his four younger siblings were had grown up in Ajegunle, where their father worked as a clerk in an office and their mum sold provisions in a small store. But it was not a happy marriage; the money both their parents brought in was rarely ever enough to feed them all, so there were always rows over why the children did not have school uniforms and books, or when the rent was going to be paid so that the landlord would stop harassing them.

Chinedu remembered those rows with a shudder; they were violent, searing affairs that left him with ugly memories. He also remembered his father often saying to him and his siblings in a bitter voice: “See the suffering that being poor can bring. If you know what is good for you, make sure you study well so that you can get a good job and live in a big house, not this..” gesturing around their cramped one-bedroom apartment. So he coped in his own way by immersing himself in his studies; perhaps he could spirit them away from this miserable existence if he became a doctor, or an engineer. Fortunately for him, his ability matched his desire, and he excelled at school, so it looked like his hopes might become reality.

Unfortunately, at the end of his second to last year in secondary school, his parents separated. His father was tired of being belittled by his wife and left to stay with another woman he had been having an affair with; his mother was only too glad to see him go, as it would mean an end to the endless beatings and abuse. But that meant that the burden of looking after the five of them weighed even more heavily on her, and in the end, this meant that Chinedu had to help to augment the family income by acting as an Alabaru, a load porter at the local market. Needless to say, this meant an end to his studies.

Chinedu recalled his time at the market with mixed feelings. He missed going to school; in addition, the work was hard and competition for customers was fierce. However, he soon realised that the place was alive in a way that he had never experienced as an ordinary market-goer. There was always something going on; in addition, there was a whole underside to life in the area that he had never realised existed until he started hearing stories from the sellers and other regulars who frequented the place.

He soon made two friends, Polycarp and Gbenro. Polycarp was a friendly, rather quiet boy who had also been working at the market as a porter for two years. But Chinedu was more more drawn to Gbenro, a much livelier person who always seemed to have a ready jest on his lips. One of the area boys, Gbenro was his nickname, no one seemed to know his real names. Chinedu also noticed that although Gbenro was not much older than him and did not always do any specific job with the area boys, he always seemed to have a good deal to spend. His curiosity pestered him to find out more; he still longed to return to school, but the meagre tips he got from his work meant that this would be a long time coming.

“So Gbenro, how you come get all dis money wey you dey spend yanfu-yanfu for here, now? No be only this area boy work you dey do here?” he asked one day, after his curiosity would give him peace no longer.

“Ah, bro... dat one na special ting...” Gbenro looked shifty all of a sudden. “I fit tell you, but...”

“But wetin?” Impatience joined curiosity in prodding him.

Chinedu gave a deep sigh. This was the moment he often replayed in his head; the moment his life took a dramatic turn, as a sequence of events began to unfold. It turned out that Gbenro, who ran errands for a gang of armed robbers in the area, had actually been waiting for an opportunity to recruit him to be a part of the gang. So Chinedu started out as an errand boy, passing along information; due to his popularity and having grown up in the area, he knew almost everyone. With time, he graduated to being a participant in the actual robberies, either as a lookout or driver. It had all been part of the excitement of being a teenager, he played cops and robbers and saved some money for his GCE exam. He assuaged any lingering doubts by thinking that no one was being hurt. Until the day everything had gone horribly wrong.


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That's it folks. This is a two-part chapter so there'll be no votes today. Check back on Tuesday for the next installment.

Our Contributor is Atala Wala Wala aka Tola Odejayi. For those that asked, the name AWW comes from a childhood song and has no particular meaning, or none that he can remember. I myself think it is poetic with all the alliteration and assonance going on but don't let him hear that. Atala prefers writing prose and editing, he was my editor for A Heart to Mend.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Update: More on Chinedu

So the votes are in and more people want to read more about Chinedu. Hopefully, we'll find out what happens between him and Iphey after the 'Kiss'. Also some background, was he really an arm-robber, why and when did he stop? Come Saturday, we'll find out all that and more? The contributor for the next chapter is my SO Atala Wala, so stay tuned.

_______________________________

Have you voted on the contest going on at Naijastories.com? There are quite a few bloggers taking part and lots of lovely stories from talented Nigerian writers. Please go over and show them some love by voting for who you think should win. If you think you can write, send and email to info@ naijastories.com to become a contributor. There are other contests coming up.

ps, Have a great weekend you'all...

Monday, April 12, 2010

I just want a chance with you...by F

After her outburst, the silence lengthened between them.

“Ifeoma!" Her mother's scolding voice cut through the charged atmosphere.

"Is that how to greet your mother's guest, ehn? With confrontation?” Letting out a loud hiss, Mama came to Chinedu’s aide, stopping what was about to turn into a train wreck.

“Don’t mind her, my son. How are you?”

If she was a meddling mother, he was gladly an enabler. At least, she came through for him. Guy! You fuck up. Why did you have to go telling Iphey you deleted her numbers? Dear God… Smiling sheepishly, he could have kicked himself for the nearly perfect impression of the awkward teenager he was putting on show. Cupid was surely having another laugh at him.

Highly irritated, Iphey cut Mama's bonding session with her perceived potential son-in-law short. “OK… I really don’t have time for this. I have to get back to work.” She stormed off, leaving Chinedu with Mama. At the door, she hurriedly mumbled some awkward but polite goodbyes and “nice to see you” to Ngozi and Otunba. In truth, she wasn’t totally thinking about her job after that last tidbit about deleting her details. She would have agreed to jump on to a bed of hot coals if it meant avoiding Chinedu.

The man might have been shaky with his words in the beginning, but he definitely wasn’t playing at the end. Even when caught off guard he exuded a natural confidence that couldn’t be taken away from him. He had just told her he had been ready to throw her over and here she was still salivating. The fact that he was just as gorgeous as the last time she saw him wasn’t helping either.

"Iphey..."

She looked up and Chinedu was in front of her. His eyes looked straight into hers unflinchingly. This was not the right time to be gazing into the eyes of an alluringly attractive man. Sanity had to be preserved. Brushing past him, Iphey dashed into her car.

Let him stew in it. Leaving him like this made her heart ache, but she was too proud. The high of their reconciliation had been dented by finding out that it had been so easy for him to forget her. And it seemed that the pride of her car had been dented as well, her engine spluttered and died when she turned it on. She couldn’t believe what was happening right when she needed to escape the most.

Again and again, the car refused to start. When she turned the ignition, the uncooperative engine made a sound that seemed to be laughing at her futile attempts to get it to work. Iphey felt herself on the verge of explosion. Surely, this much exasperation couldn’t be contained in one body… She was one second away from bursting into a torrential flood of tears when a deep soothing voice came through her window.

“I’ll take you.”

Iphey decided to play the hand fate had dealt her. Whatever her beef with him, the fuming Funmi still waited in the office. She didn't even want to fight him off any longer. She was in Chinedu’s car with all her stuff before she knew it. As they drove in silence, she noticed he was smiling. Out of amusement this time, not awkwardness.

“What is so funny?”

Chinedu let out a quiet laugh. It was that of a confident and mildly amused man. “So you sabi Ibo like that?” Iphey hadn’t realised she had been cursing in Ibo at her choppy day, her manager and her car. They both burst into laughter. The tension brewed by all the day’s previous events melted into oblivion. There was something about him that always put her at ease. It was the same calm she felt when he comforted her during Obi’s hospitalisation. Her mind drifted, envisioning being held in his arms, totally at peace without a care in the world.

“You always know exactly what to say or do. When you aren’t having strange women over or robbing people at gunpoint, of course.”

The laughter died at once. A feeling of intense stupidity enveloped Iphey. She had no idea why she had said that. Before she could take it back, Chinedu had veered off the road, stopping sharply by some roadside stalls. He was visibly angry.

“Who do you think you are? You no get secret? You no get past? The fact that you know mine does not give you the right to throw it in my face all the time."

He threw his hands up. "Women! You say you want honesty, then you run when you hear the truth. You say you are not interested in me, then you freak out at the sight of another woman. What the hell do you want from me?”

Iphey was dumbfounded. He was irate. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him, reverting to a childhood habit of playing with her fingers when nervous. She now looked down at them.

“Answer me! Answer me now!”

“A chance?” she whispered.

Chinedu thought he was hallucinating. He could feel everything inside him softening, turning to mush. “What?”

“I said...a chance. I’m sorry for joking about that. It sounded funny in my head.”

She laughed awkwardly in an attempt to minimise the gravity of what she was saying, and looked down at her fingers again. “I was scared. I still am. You know how they say, ‘Be careful what you wish for’? Well, I wished for someone who made me feel safe. And you do. The violence of your past scares me. But I could work through that. I just want a chance with you...”

Chinedu felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. In their place, an army of butterflies suffused his stomach. Gently, he lifted her chin so he could see her eyes. They were sincere. Afraid, but sincere.

“Iphey, I swear I’m not that person anymore. I promise you. The confusion that led me to that life is not part of me anymore. In fact, I am far from confused. I have never been as sure of anything as I am of us. So if you still want that chance, I can give it to you wholeheartedly. I am serious about you and I need you to understand that.”

Iphey finally found herself submerged in the eyes she had been trying to avoid. Relief and happiness overwhelmed her. Something else did as well. It was lust. She found herself wanting to be lost in more than his eyes. Before either of them could finish their train of thought, they were lost in an intense and passionate kiss. They didn’t even notice the petty traders outside the window until the knocking came.

“Oga, if u go use your enjoyment block customer for me, make you buy something now!”

Chinedu couldn‘t care less. He would buy the entire stall if he had to. Finally kissing Iphey had been bliss. He wanted to do kiss her again and keep doing it.

Iphey smiled widely. The kiss had felt so natural; so right. Chinedu was the man of her dreams. Literally. Those eyes...they smiled into each other's eyes and drew closer again.

Her phone beeped. "Oh no...Chinedu please, let's get to my office."


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So that is it folks. No more love interest ish, Iphey and Chinedu are now proper lovebirds, lol. That kiss, hmmmm...sure made me go awwww....Now go over to the left sidebar and vote for who you want to read more of in the next chapter coming up on Thursday.

Our contributor is F, now I wonder what that stands for. She is one part of Half and Half. F is just beginning to tap into her writing talent and I think she is amazing. She has a shortlisted entry in the Naija Stories Contest (BTW, you can go over and vote for her) and a great write-up of a Bar scene on her blog.

Writing about her entry she said, "I've always had it in me to write so I reluctantly put in a few entries over there, and even entered one for the website launch contest which fortunately got shortlisted. Did I mention I was scared out of my mind and DID NOT want to do this? Writing is the easy part, showing it to people is TERRIFYING."

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'm sorry but YOU DID WHAT?! ...by La-Pimpette featuring F

There he was. The man who had refused to call. The man who had made her feel ridiculously foolish and yet made her want to try again. Iphey was shocked to see him after so many weeks! She had to blink to be sure that this was not a trick her eyes were playing.

“Chinedu, what on earth are you doing here?”

As the words left Iphey’s lips, realisation hit her hard. MAMA! She had been right all along. The woman HAD been expecting someone else when Otunba appeared on the scene. She glanced back and the look of ultimate satisfaction on Mama’s face said it all. Right in the middle of this storm in Ngozi’s living room, Mama was grinning from ear to ear. The smile of a woman whose mission had been accomplished. Unbelievable. Iphey tried to caution herself from jumping to conclusions but Mama’s voice sealed her suspicions.

“Oh Chinedu. I have been expecting you! How are...”

“Wait, you were expecting him?” Iphey turned to her mother. She knew Mama was a match-maker but did not believe she would go that far. So all that delay asking for details about James was just to buy her some time so that Chinedu would meet her here? As Iphey extricated herself from the confused web of emotions that her mind had become, she realised Chinedu was explaining.

“Yes your mother called me here... she said she wanted me to come help her with something.”

"So you're not here to see me?"

“Yes...Erm...No... Your mother said...” Chinedu stuttered.

The funny thing about shock or stress is the disconnect between thought and speech. His words were as eloquent as those of a teenager asking for a first date. What Chinedu was thinking was, “How dare you? I am the one who should be demanding explanations here. YOU made up your mind without hearing my side!”

These thought flitted through his mind, yet, the exasperation he felt was far outweighed by something else he couldn’t explain. Like why he could not erase her from his thoughts like he did with his phone. She had a hold on him and he didn’t like it. He realized that she had also gripped his arm literally.

“If you would excuse us,” Iphey said to everyone. All eyes were fixed on them by now. “We need to talk,” she whispered to him.

Chinedu was as surprised to see Iphey as she was. He did not know her mother was playing one of her tricks again! The woman had called him earlier to come and help her out with “something”. She said it was an emergency and something she could not talk about on the phone. God he had so NOT planned on seeing Iphey! It was the middle of the afternoon and she was supposed to be at work. Now all the emotions that had seemingly been buried were rising from nowhere. His thoughts were paused by the sound of her voice... he had almost forgotten what listening to her was like.

“I’m talking to you Chinedu! Did you know I'll be here when you agreed to Mama's request to come?”

He pretended nonchalance. “I came to see your mother; I honestly did not plan on seeing you.”

Her next words came out of nowhere. “That’s not even the issue! How dare you ignore me since? After that episode with Bisi, you did not even think of calling me to explain. You completely blanked me and acted like we shared nothing.... like I did not mean anything to you! How could you let me go? Why?”

First, it was his past. Now she wanted an explanation for Bisi. Iphey wasn’t even his woman so why was she angry at all? How could she be so worked up when they were not even together? He wanted to tell her he was sick of her excuses. Instead, Chiendu remained calm...

“They say if you love something you should let it go and if it comes back then its meant for you.”

Iphey hissed, “Oh don’t give me that! You did not even act like you were hoping I’d come back! Aisha said you never brought up the subject after that day.”

“I was giving you space, you needed to sort out your feelings.”

“I don't blame you." Iphey rolled her eyes. "Am I not the one that drove all the way to your house to tell you how I really felt but you happened to be with SOMEONE ELSE?”

At her rankled tone, he began getting worked up too. “Iphey, I’m trying to be as civil as possible but you are not making it easy! For Pete’s sake I’m the one meant to be pissed here. I do not deserve this interrogatory process that’s going on here! In fact, I did not deserve the show you put up that night. YOU came to my house and I had a visitor, SO WHAT? YOU chose to walk out without giving me a chance and YOU chose not to pick the calls I made to you that night!”

Iphey piped down quickly. He was saying the obvious. And after her confrontation with Bisi earlier, she knew what she had to do. “OK OK... I’m sorry,” Iphey said. “I really did not mean to raise my voice.”

“Is that all you're sorry for?" Chinedu snarled. After putting him through all that heartache? Making him wonder if he had done anything wrong? Not trusting him? Ruining his relationship with his workers because he had been terribly grumpy since then? And she was just sorry for raised voices?

“I’m sorry for everything! I should have trusted you! Something else happened that night with my family but still I shouldn't have flown off the handle so easily. I’m truly sorry.”

Chinedu felt peace flood his heart. He wanted to hug her. He smiled and moved closer. Just then her phone beeped.

Iphey quickly read the message from Jane.

“Oh no! I’m so sorry, I have to run to work now. I'm late and my boss will fire me if I’m not there this minute! Can you call me later so we can make plans and sort this thing out?”

Chinedu stepped back. With a heavy sigh he said, “Sure I will. What’s your number again?”

Iphey fumbled in her handbag for her car keys. “What?”

“I don’t have your details any more. I deleted them...”

“YOU DID WHAT?!”


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LOL...and they're already fighting again. I was like why did he go and tell her!

Well, in the end, I found a way to present it. The story is in two parts so there'll be no vote today. In this first one we start with "The confrontation" between Chinedu and Iphey from La-pimpette. Since F, the other person who submitted also started from where they met at the door, there are some clips of hers here too. But check back on Monday for her main story, "The Reconciliation". You really don't want to miss that.

So who is La-Pimpette? She is the blogger behing STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART. In her latest post she talks about the Nigerian way of raising children: "Some people had it good, while others had it so bad and this got me worried. Before this time, I'd say the reason why most Nigerian kids turn out right was because their parents flogged them into shape, thought them respect, proper home training, and all the 'goods' that come along with being Nigerian. But now I feel like the respect and fear is replacing what is actually more important- a relationship with the children. Some people respect and fear their parents but do not love or even know what it means to love them. Why will I be calling my father sir? I'm not saying there should be no ass whooping but it doesn't have to be everyday! Sometimes we really do deserve it, other times, no!"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Update: Chinedu is at the door!

So the votes are in and more people by a long shot want it to be Chinedu at the door. Hopefully, we'll find out what's up with the disappearing James in the later Chapters and if Ngozi has to chose between him and Otunba. how come many people do not like Otunba? Let's some love to widowers please. Come Saturday, we'll know what happens between Iphey and Chinedu. Will there be fireworks, will they reconcile, decide it's all over, what? Stay tuned.

By the way, you guys don't want to be in my shoes right now, or maybe you do. Once the votes for Chinedu started pilling ahead, I received two submissions in quick succession that saw Iphey and Chinedu facing each other at the door. They are both fantastic, believe me. What I am thinking now is which one to use, maybe I should show you guys both or even merge it. Oh well, the joys of a producer. I love it! I'm sure I will find a way to bring out the best enjoyment for all of us. Keep the comments coming please, they help me tailor the directions of the story.

Thank you.



PS, Have you heard of Naijastories.com? It's a collection of stories written by Nigerians for Nigerians. If you love naija stories go over and read. If you think you can write, send and email to info@ naijastories.com to become a contributor.

PPS, Have a great weekend all...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mama says, "He made the right choice." ... by Myne + Folake Basola

By the time Iphey finished her call and begged off from lunch with Jane, she had developed a headache. She knew the cause of the headache was the coming showdown with her mother. Coming on the heels of her face-off with Bisi, it was a bit too much to know that her Mother was in town and spoiling for a fight. Still numb from the things she heard from the conversation between Bisi and Funmi, she grumpily set about getting ready to leave the office. She was further taken aback to realize that the dark-blue pencil jacket which the dry cleaner had dropped off now sported a very visible stain at the collar. And he had left with his full payment. Terribly frustrated because she had so set her mind on wearing the dark-blue jacket the next day, she felt like cursing him for ruining one of her best jackets.

About thirty minutes afterwards, she was at Ngozi's place. As Iphey rolled down the driveway and parked, she saw her mother outside, pacing the length of the small compound. She had to pause for a minute when she noticed Mama’s eyes boring into hers with hurt and disappointment. Immediately Iphey knew this was one of those days one wished to go back to bed and wake up with all the past events being a bad dream. Not that her dreams had been very peaceful at the moment. Iphey sighed and got out of the car.

As she walked towards her mother, it was obvious Mama was angry. She was as tense as a cat on a spring and ready to pounce. Instantly, Iphey began to dread the days ahead. She didn’t totally welcome her mother's temporary visit under any guise because she knew how much Mama loved planning other people’s lives. As she guessed, Mama was too angry to notice Iphey’s discomfort and began to barrage her with questions even before they were inside.

“So that was why you ignored all my calls to your mobile phone these past few weeks and just sent me text messages? If the information had not now slipped out of Ngozi, you had no intention of telling me that you found my missing son-in-law?"

Iphey continued on her way into the house. "Mama, I'm sorry but..."

"How long did you think you could keep such vital information from me, Iphey? Or do you think I have no right to ask?"

"I didn't want to be the one to tell you. I hoped Ngozi would do that. James is her husband..."

Her mother cut her off again. "Or as you believe and have never minced words to let me know, it is not my business? You don't want to get married and now you want to put your sister's marriage in jeopardy?" Mama poured out more questions.

They were now inside and Iphey spied Ngozi on the sofa. She sat with legs crossed and her jaw resting on her flexed fist.

"Ngozi, you better tell your sister that life is not all about work, work work!"

At that point, all Iphey could see was Funmi’s smiling face as she handed over a query or termination letter if she returned a minute late to the office. She turned to Ngozi for help, finding none there, she turned back to her mother.

“Mama, I’m sorry for everything, but could we do this quickly? I have to get back to work.”

Giving her a smothering look, her mother retorted, “Not this time around, Ifeoma, you will stay here and answer all these questions I’m asking you!”

Being fully acquainted with her moods, Iphey knew her mother could be highly irrational when she got like this. In a reconciliatory voice, she quickly gave a short version of the whole story.

“I bumped into James about two weeks ago in a taxi. That evening he came over to my house to explain why he abandoned his family. He said he lost his job but kept going to work for months, borrowing money from banks to cater for his family and also to take care of Obi’s high medical bills. Soon the bank began to mount pressure on him to pay back or forfeit his house which he had used as collateral. He resorted to gambling and loan sharks whom he now owes millions of naira. He said he had to abscond when he realized the loan sharks were getting ready to draw blood since he was not forthcoming with their money.”

Looking at Mama when she was done, Iphey saw that her mother looked skeptical. Ngozi had the same raw look she wore two weeks ago when Iphey was in her house.

"Is that all? Ngozi said the same and I was hoping you could add something more."

"There's really nothing else."

There was silence in the room. Finally, Mama in a small voice quite unlike hers said, ”I think that was a very brave thing James did.”

Both Iphey and Ngozi looked at their mother in horror. How could Mama approve what James did?

Mama faced Ngozi, arms on her hips, "It is fine for you to feel that what he did was unfair, making you go through so much agony all alone and turning you into a single mother overnight. But believe me, at that point, I think he was left with no choice. I've told you this and I'll say it again, James had to make the painful decision of abandoning you and Obi thereby guaranteeing your safety or staying and bringing about your death. He made the right choice.”

"You say he did right? Abandoning us for three years and refusing to see me even now?" There were tears in Ngozi's voice.

The doorbell rang. When their mother rushed to answer it, Iphey shook her head. One would think Mama owned the house. It was Otunba, Ngozi's benefactor and the quick way their mother returned to her seat left Iphey wondering if she was expecting someone else.

Ngozi got to her feet. "Otunba, are you back already?"

"Yes I did," he replied. "You sounded so worried when you called earlier I had to take the next flight back and come here immediately."

"Thank you so much." Otunba folded Ngozi into the thick folds of his Agbada and stroked her hair.

The long hug was Iphey's first clue that the couple's relationship was more than business as she had thought. Her raised eyebrows to her mother got a nod with pursed lips.

"He called me and asked to marry her." Mama whispered. "No way!" She folded her arms and sat back in her seat.

"Good evening Mama," Otunba greeted. Mama sniffed and Iphey almost choked on the laughter bubbling up her throat. "Iphey, how are you?"

Iphey got to her feet and walked towards him and they shook hands. "I'm fine, thanks Otunba." She turned to the others. "I have to return to the office now." There was obviously a lot of gist but she could wait.

"No, Iphey wait. There's..."

"Mama please, not now. My boss will have my head on a platter..." Iphey opened the door and the words flew out of her head.

Someone stood at the door, hand upraised to knock.


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And that's it folks. Do you think Mama is right? Are you with their mother on team James or have you moved on to team Otunba? Most importantly, who is at the door? You just know you have to come back for the next chapter, vote on the left as usual.

This was a collabo I did with Basola Afolake. Folake is an aspiring writer who saw the series on Facebook and became hooked. I enjoyed the challenge of working with an upcoming talent and maybe I'll be doing more of that. You can read more of her write-ups HERE.

PS, we are looking for contributors. If you've written before and want to do so again, please shoot me an email.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Update + NaijaStories

So the votes are in and more people by far wanted to see more of what happens with Ngozi, Iphey and their mother in a family showdown. Hopefully, we might even get to know what's up with Chinedu, will Otunba make an appearance? And what will Mama's stance be to knowing that James has been found, remember she was the one that match-maked Ngozi and James. We'll take a break for Easter but come Tuesday, we'll know what our next writer has in store for us. Stay tuned.

PS, Have you heard of Naijastories.com? It's a collection of stories written by Nigerians for Nigerians. If you love naija stories go over and read. If you think you can write, send and email to info@ naijastories.com to become a contributor. The website launch contest is just over and the contestants need your votes and comments to keep them in the race. Go over and support our bloggers.

PPS, Have a great Easter weekend you all...

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