After Dark

In a fit of anger, she stormed out of the apartment. She trudged down the street, recoiling, initially as the frigid cold hit her exposed neck and face. She was tired of modifying her grocery lists and covering her hair with a woollen cap, not because it was cold but because she couldn’t afford to go to a salon. She was sick and tired of managing, of trying to be understanding.
She kissed her teeth.
Managing a household of four on a single income was becoming stressful. Herself and partner had both decided she stay home with the children. Daycare for the two little ones would have cost more than an arm and a leg. They were too young to be enrolled in a full-time program school at two and four years, respectively. When they moved to the north-west from the south, she had lofty dreams that his income would suffice. Though the increment in his salary was substantial, the spike in rent and general living expenses had swallowed whatever gain was made. She knew he was doing the best he could, but she was still frustrated.
Being the primary caregiver of two very active toddlers was exhausting, to say the least. By the time she was done with breakfast and doing the chores, it was time for their nap. By the time they awoke from their naps, she would be putting together their lunch. Her days were full of cleaning, laundry, cooking. It was a grind. She was at her wit’s end. Her husband started to worry about her state of mind.
‘Go for a walk. I can watch the children.’
Leaving the apartment alone, while exhilarating due to the unfamiliar terrain, was a little scary. The years of violence-sex ridden American movies intake had begun to take their toll on her senses. Her vulnerable mind seemed to unravel at the seams, playing back the movies to torment her. Her mind made vulnerable by the change in weather… from one extreme to the other. Texas climate was definitely the oven, in comparison to the cold of Montana.
Her chest constricted with sudden fear as she passed a man in a black slick. She started to bind imagined demons as she quickened her pace and started to chastise herself.
“What possessed her to listen to that man? If someone attacks and kills me, I am sure he won’t mourn me longer than a month before he finds a younger woman.’
She glanced furtively over her shoulder and notice the man in the raincoat had doubled up his pace into a jog and was fast approaching.
Images of torn body parts assail her thoughts. Her poor husband and children.
‘Breaking News: African Immigrant found stabbed, gagged, God forbid…defiled, thrown from a car…..!
She tripped over a nuisance stone and fell into a crumpled heap on the sidewalk. She lay there, momentarily stunned, and for a few seconds, forgot why she was running in the first place.
“Ma’am…are you okay?” She grit her teeth, expecting to be hit, and then cautiously opened her eyes. A surprisingly soft-faced young man bent over her.
Ma’am? He repeated as he helped her to her feet. It was the young man in the black slick she had been running away from.
Feeling slightly peevish, she mumbled, ‘I’m fine’
He flashed her a warm smile as he trudged off. She wondered how he would have felt if he knew he was her imagined sense of danger. Not everyone is a serial killer or mugger…or both, she reasoned with herself.
She hunched her shoulders against the cold winter wind as she approached the building.


We are all sign posts, pointing in different directions.

I am north…you are east…or south. All of us testaments to some misadventure, or adventure. Everyone believing in their purpose, or walking aimlessly trying to find one.

I face the North, determined to be right.

You face South,  stubborn to be just. I question your intent, you question mine.

We eye each other from a distance, not listening…not caring…doubling down in differing choices.

The years fly by, loneliness bites hard.

I forget which signpost you were.

Alade Eleshin Ara.


I have been called upon to give a eulogy on my friend.

I can say of a truth, I have known Alade Eleshin Ara most of his life.

Our fathers were contemporaries in our great village of Ekunkan. As children, we ran down the dirt path leading to the stream and waded naked in the clear, pristine calm waters. Our eyes not shrouded with adult concerns, our stomachs distended from our meals of fufu and mixed vegetables soup. As teenagers, our bonds deepened while farming on our fathers’ adjacent plots.

He was a great traditionalist. He ran the youthful ring that brought forth our Gelede masquerade. I do not understand why you children insist on burying him as a Christian! He was a staunch traditionalist, a true son of Ayo Oka. He embraced the ways of his ancestors and was proud of his beliefs.

In his death…

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A tribute to my mother.


The doctor had assured me, it was a routine procedure the night before. 

‘Your mum will be out of surgery in no time.’ 

That day was anything but routine.

The last quarter of the previous year was blighted by series of hospital stays due to health challenges you tried to shrug off, challenges that hung over us like a dark curtain. 

I didn’t see it coming. 

None of us did. 

You were our oak — The strong, beautiful tree that cast branches for our shelter—the one whose strong roots gave us stability, our quiet place of abode. When my oak began to quake, in denial-I refused to see the signs.

The night before the surgery, I arrived late — visiting time was almost over. We exchanged kisses, and I started to tell you about my day. You seemed strangely disconnected, pensive as if your mind was elsewhere. After a bit…

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# 15 Abada Street


Ours was a simple life.

My older brother was my primary caregiver. If I want to be honest, we took care of each other.

Nnayi ukwuwas what I called him – as a mark of respect. He made sure I wanted for nothing. He has been taking care of me since I was seven. Our parents were killed during a very dark time in our history. Elections were looming back then, and father was a powerful voice for the opposition. The incumbent chairman of our local government, fearing that he would lose the elections, had put a bounty on the heads of all those who would scuttle his mandate. Our house was set ablaze while my parents slept. They were burnt beyond recognition. My brother had recently been deployed to Benin Republic by his employer. I was spared because I was on admission in the hospital. My aunt, my…

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#15 Abada Street/Uche


Legend has it my father became a member of the elders guild of Atutu when he was ten years old.

The village was nestled in the vast hilltops of Southeastern Nigeria. The mainstay of our people was cassava. 

The elders guild was made up of a representative of each of the twelve families who owned the largest cassava farms. Each family put forward the most successful son, which of course, was the most successful farmers.

Aduba, my grandfather, represented his family. My father was the first child of seven children. His position was indisputably the most important by virtue of his gender and place. In a fiercely patriarchal world, everything in the home revolved around Aduba and his first son, Azuka.

My father was a dynamic speaker. It was said just before his birth, the village dibia visited my grandparents, and there was a prophecy. The baby would be…

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(creative fiction)


untethered 1

I pedalled furiously, past the brownstone with two large French windows. It was a cornerstone piece, in a very quiet block, surrounded by many flower bushes. The flowers were all the colors of the rainbow – blue, red, purple, yellow, green and white. The titillating mixtures of fragrance as we cycled past never ceased to amaze me. The different planters carrying some of the bushes were just as picturesque. The lawn was well manicured. The fence around the property was a row of see-through vertical metallic rods. I had ridden my bicycle past that house uncountable times with my Dad as a child, then as a teenager, and more recently – this spring.

In the summer evenings, as the sunset on the horizon, the dampness clinging to our armpits and back; in the crispy coldness of autumn, tires crunching over dry leaves, we pedalled.

I was sitting at…

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An Old Friend


Preload 06I was sixteen, a free spirit; he was eighteen, cocky, funny with a winsome, easy smile. 

We were innocent, without the many layers that come with age and blighting experiences.

We were friends as freshmen in college, which was twenty-five long years ago.

We moved within the same social circuit and dated each others’ friends. The beauty of youth minus the pressures of paying bills and caring for children.

Today we spent the morning together. Met for a late breakfast and caught up on the happenings in our individual lives. Our respective spouses were absent, so there was no need to pick topics, looking for comfortable grey areas that would not alienate them.

We talked about an old girlfriend of his. It’s been eons since they broke up, but he still wanted to talk about it. In walking backwards in time to determine what went wrong, he was trying to…

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Preload 15I grew up in an asylum. 

My mother was a cowering, slip of a woman who always spoke in a whisper. I must have been almost ten before I heard her speak properly. 

She was always afraid. 

My brothers and I were raised in fear, with my father as the originator. I hated him as a child. We never knew what could lead to an explosion. He was quick with his fists, on her mostly. Her weakness and doleful brown eyes, which were usually surrounded by a bruise; her inability to protect herself, and us from him. As I grew older, my hatred for him extended to her.

My childhood was riddled with a searing despondency. We were the outsiders in the community. Our house was located at the end of town. Perhaps he chose the location so that no one could hear our screams. As a teenager, I remember…

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Felix and Hope


All three of us shared the same commute. We shared the same building lobby but not the same employer while they worked for the same company. The first time we got on the train together, I sat between them. He had his eyes fixed on her face throughout the thirty-minute journey – eyes brazen in desire. He said something I didn’t think was funny, and she threw her dark head back, ringlets flying in every direction; the laugh, a deep throat melodious sound that drew curious glances our way.

I see them at lunch a couple of weeks later — both sitting close together, whispering and sharing secret smiles. They waved me over. They are now a couple, he says. I feign surprise—the mutual attraction between them an intangible joy enjoyable to watch.

‘Remember that day on the train? We had dinner and have been together ever since.’

She tells…

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My muffin top


I always took my pre-babies body for granted. My slim body never gave away my sweet tooth. My skin remained clear throughout puberty. I assumed my body would stay the same after the babies started coming. I was wrong.

After my first baby was born, my body went back to its original size six after almost six months. Like butter melts under heat, the fat slipped away effortlessly. I made minimal effort, still ate the same. It seemed keeping up with my maternal responsibilities sped up my metabolism. After my daughter was born, it took my body a shorter time to return to its original size. I didn’t even notice as the weight slipped off. I was that busy.

And then, my beloved Chunky was born, and I grew the ‘muffin top”. My favourite jeans refused to fit. I lingered longer in front of the mirror, doing that familiar dance…

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