Tag Archives: short-story

The Only Family He Had

Ikem beamed whenever his father drew close to him and told him stories and gratified his curiosity while his stepmother burned with something he understood well.

His father brought her because his mother could not have a child. She got Ikem when his half brother was already four. But she passed the next day when he was yet to see her face. Now Ikem was eight years and happy his father was always there for him.

With his father by his side, he had no fear.

 But from the day Ikem heard screams at midnight and the hushed voices that followed, he knew something terrible had happened. Afterwards, he searched for his father to ask what happened; he found him sleeping on his bed. There was something strange about the way he slept on his back with his hands stretched by his sides. He was so still. 

‘Come out. Go to your room.’ Someone had said. 

In the morning, lots of people gathered around a long brown box and his stepmother wailed like she had gone nuts. He didn’t see his father in his room and never saw him again. 

A few months later, when he got hungry and wanted to eat, his stepmother said, ‘ Tell your father to give you food to eat.’ When he asked where he was, she dragged him by the collar of his shirt to a mound of red dirt and let him slump on it. ‘There he is. Ask him for food.’ He had laid there for a while and wondered if his father was down there. 

The days that followed were terrible. His major problem lay because his stepmother, whom he called mother, had a son. He was his half brother, but evil, more brutal than his mother. He mocked him, called him an orphan and beat him and sent him on difficult errands. Ikem allowed him to do all the evil things to him, until one day, the unimaginable happened. 

As soon as his mother gave him his bowl of rice with a drop of stew on top, his brother followed him and hit the food off his hands.

 What made Ikem’s heart char with excess anger was not that his food had scattered on the sandy ground but the roar of his mocking laughter and the hands he kept on his hips as if daring him to a fight. Ikem picked something which felt heavy in his hand. And by the time his stepmother screamed and neighbours gathered, he was looking at his brother, who lay still on the ground. He was panic-stricken.

 The brick in his hand seemed to be glued to it as he ran through the gate and into the bush. No one chased him. They were all by the side of his brother, calling his name and pouring water on him.  

Ikem crouched on the ground and peeped through the long grasses behind their mud hut. His wide eyes depicted horror.

He heard them say, ‘Where is he? Where is he? Where is the evil child? He did this to his brother. He must face due punishment.’ The sudden screams of women and the wailing of his stepmother slashed his heart in two. Those noises sounded like the end of his life.

Night came and mosquitoes attacked his legs, arms, and face. They cried in his ears and seemed to mimic their voices. ‘Where is the evil child?’ 

His stomach gnawed as he looked for where to sleep. He walked far away to a lonely house in farmland and slept on the veranda of a small house. 

When the sun flooded into his eyes in the morning, a voice so soft asked, ‘Who are you, my child?’ He sprung to his feet. 

‘Please don’t take me home. They’ll kill me.’

‘Who will kill you?’

‘My stepmother and everyone.’

‘What did you do?’

‘I hit my brother, and he fell.’

‘He died?’

‘I don’t know.’ The old woman picked him up, gave him water to take his bath, and gave him a satisfying meal. 

‘It’s time to return home.’ She said when evening came. ‘I’ll please for forgiveness on your behalf. I’ll make sure they don’t touch you.’ The horror returned to Ikem’s face. 

‘No. I can’t go home.’

‘You can’t stay here. If they find you here, they’ll say I kept you because I don’t have a child of my own.’

So he left. 

But he did not return home. He walked a long distance, day and night, in an unknown direction, until he collapsed in front of something that looked like a house. 

‘My child, who are you? Where are you from?’ A woman said when he opened his eyes. She wore the most beautiful gown and a crown, and her smile gave him little hope.

‘I’m lost.’ he said as his eyes scanned his surroundings. It’s the kind he had not set eyes on, beautiful, rich and clean.

‘Where are you from?

I don’t know.’

‘You remember nothing?’

‘No,’ he said this because he knew that if she found where he came from, she would take him back.

‘Ok. We’ll keep you here until we find your family.’ Ikem knew that day would never come. Nobody would look for him.

The woman took care of him, sent him to school.

 Ikem grew into a handsome young man with a dominant personality. But when the King gave him preference over his two sons, who were a lot older than him, the queen’s attitude towards him changed. 

He was twenty-five when the queen sent him away with lots of money.

He returned home at twenty-five. The mud house was still the same and his stepmother was no more. His half-brother lived alone. When he told him who he was, he broke down and sobbed. 

‘She said she regretted having me as a son and spoke well of you till death. But I’m not bad anymore.’ Ikem wrapped his arms around him.

He was the only family he had. 

The Reckless Smoker

Eno glared at the cars stretched ahead of him while impatient drivers manoeuvred their cars, shouting curses, making movement almost impossible.

He looked over his shoulder to spy on his teenage boys sitting in the rear, talking with each other. They seemed not to care about the outcome of the heavy traffic. It should be his headache if they reached school on time or not.

A nonchalant young lady puffed at her cigarette a couple of feet away. Eno knew the smoker was taking an enormous risk. The probability of the cigarette igniting the fuel was very low. A certain amount of fuel vapour existed there.

“An angel of death,” he said. His boys followed his gaze to the girl in her early twenties, puffing at her cigarette.

“There’s no flame in her cigarette, dad,” his younger son said.

“What does she think she’s doing?” Eno almost shouted, and his kids looked at him, wondering why he was overreacting.

“Dad, I think she’s standing a suitable distance away from her fuel tank and meter hose. She should need a good amount of hot fuel vapour to ignite the area. It’s almost impossible for a cigarette to ignite a filling station.”

“Well, that not safe. What if she catches fire doing that? Think about what will happen. If she catches fire, there will be explosions.”

“Not a chance, dad. Stop fretting.” Eno Junior said.

“Do you see that giant cooking gas cylinder over there? Do you see that fuel tanker? They’re going to give the most disastrous damage to lives around here when they blow. Do you see this traffic queue? It’s going to burn to ashes.” Eno said.

“How on earth will all this happen? Eno Junior said.

“It will not happen because of a mere cigarette with no flame,” his youngest son said.

There’s fuel vapour everywhere around that area, boy, including her hands, clothes, car, surrounding and so on,” he argued as the traffic moved once like a snail. Eno sighed again. That meant another couple of minutes’ wait.

Eno watched the smoker puff non-stop. The attendant was about to drop the hose at the meter when he saw the smoker rummage for something in her jean pocket.

“Boys, watch…watch her, she’s fighting another cigarette…oh, the girl is so damaged. How could she smoke like that at that young age? She must be out of her senses. “

“Well… that’s insane. Someone should hurry to stop her.” His younger son said.

“Watch! The security is rushing at her with an extinguisher… wow.. wow, her hands are on fire..she’s on fire….wow….wow. Move out of the car, boys. Run to safety,”

“Easy dad. Stop panicking. This is a filling station. They should sure have measures, perfect measures to stop the fire. Please let’s not run for no reason.” Eno Junior said.

But Eno had no time to spare for unnecessary arguments. He stepped down from the car, opened the rear door and dragged out his younger son, who was giggling at him for his fearful rush.

Eno was fast. He screamed at everyone to run to safety as he ran.

“Dad, everything is under control, look they’ve brought the girl down and have covered her with a fire blanket. The fire has gone off.”

“No Junior, her car is on fire too. Listen to your father,” he said, already dragging the younger one along, screaming over his shoulder at Junior to follow suit. Better safe than sorry.

The smoker’s car blew up in seconds. Many motorists ahead and behind them stepped out of their cars in confusion and everyone ran away from the station.

Eno thought about what next. It could be the fuel tanker that just arrived before the gas cylinder – he was sure both of them would blow up.

“Run! The gas station is on fire! He screamed to others as he ran down with his hesitant boys who thought he should have said fuel station instead of the gas station.

Boom! It was an explosion. Eno looked back at his Honda civic as fire engulfed it. Then something blew up again. This time, anyone and anything, up to ten meters away, wwer3 swallowed up in thick smoke, including Eno and his boys.

“I tried Ernie. Goodbye, my love.” He said to his wife, who wasn’t there and fell in the thick smoke, feeling the burns in his feet, and listened to the moans and cries of many before oblivion set in.

~~~~~

Eno stayed calm during the recovery period and thought about what could have happened to them.

He visited the scene of the disaster. Over forty skeletal cars stood there – evidence of the damage that ravaged over fifty people. The filling station looked like history from ancient times. One person and one-act can destroy the entire globe.

Life can end. A time no one expects.. that was his most persistent muse, and he often looked up to whisper- “You who pulled back the furious fire that nearly consumed me and my boys, I live for you alone, my God!”

Toxic Love

Azuka’s roommates had held her back one evening from returning to the psycho, who had on several occations given her a black eye without any remorse. But she had screamed like a naughty child and said they should leave her alone.

She couldn’t keep Jeff waiting in the cold harmattan weather for long. It’s her life, she had said.  Whatever she did with it wasn’t any of their business. They let her go – back to him.

That night at 1:30 am, she returned sobbing, holding the left side of her face. She got hit again – by the psycho.

She got hit again because she talked to her best friend Ola. Ola hated Jeff and his ancestors for the way he treated her soft-hearted friend, Azuka. She had confronted him one day and had sworn to deal with him if ever he laid his hands on his friend again. From that day, Jeff forbade Azuka from moving with her friend Ola.

Ola didn’t know that Jeff hit Azuka again. She hid it from her because she didn’t want to make Jeff angry; Ola would fight him.

That same midnight he came back to the window calling and begging. He needed her to come to him. Azuka’s roommates told him to leave immediately but Azuka dressed up before their glaring eyes and left.

She went down to meet him. She couldn’t bring herself to refusing his plea. She loved him with every drop of her blood!

Azuka’s parents got to know about the toxic relationship through an unidentified person, who said she was concerned their daughter could die in the hands of a brute of a boyfriend if they didn’t do anything about it. But when they went to school, Azuka told them there was no such thing. They shouldn’t listen to anyone trying to make them hate her. They believed her and left.

Things got out of hand when at the beginning of the first semester Jeff took her ATM card from her after a little plea for ten thousand naira. That same day, he withdrew all the money in her account including her school fees and living allowance. When she asked him to return the money, he threatened to leave her. The worst that could happen to her was breaking up with Jeff. She couldn’t afford to lose him. She lied to her parents to have them send her more money, they did. She was their only child and they were well to do.

When Azuka went to ask Jeff to give back her ATM card, he got annoyed.

“I can see that something is wrong with your head, ” he said and walked away from her. She didn’t know what to do.

The next day, Azuka went to the bank and blocked the ATM card and got a new one. She was afraid Jeff was going to react, so she asked Ola to be with her always. Ola was a tiger – two strong men were probably trapped in her feminine frame. Asuka needed not to fear once she was by her side. It’s just that most of the time, she had kept Ola in the dark concerning the toxic relationship.

It was weekend and Ola needed desperately to visit home. Her oldest sister was opening a supermarket and wanted her to be there on Saturday for the event. She pleaded with Azuka to come with her but she said she had to stay to prepare for her test coming up on Monday.

Three days had passed since Jeff had refused to talk to Azuka because she blocked her ATM card with him. He had given her the condition to unblock her card with him if ever she wanted him to have anything to do with her ever again.

“You know it’s not possible Jeff. That particular card can’t be unblocked but I can give you the new one.” She rummaged in her bag for her purse and brought out her new ATM card and offered it to him like an idiot. He had refused it and had walked away.

She was going crazy without him. She had told Ola and Ola had felt like whipping her.

“Stay in your room all weekend. I’ll be back on Sunday evening.” Ola pleaded with her and she promised never to see Jeff without Ola.

But on Saturday evening, around 10 pm, Azuka heard his voice in the dark night calling at the window. Her heart swelled with pleasure. She took off to meet him downstairs, despising her roommate’s plea.

Her roommate heard them giggling as they went away in the dark night. She shook her head and retired to bed.

All through the night, Azuka did not come back to her room. In the morning, she didn’t return. Her roommate had to involve the school security service after searching and waiting into the Sunday afternoon.

When Ola returned on Sunday evening, she went to Azuka’s hostel and was told she had been missing since Saturday night.

Ola knew at the instant that Jeff was behind her missing. She called home but she was not there.

Ola went to Jeff and he coldly said he didn’t see her.

Azuka’s roommates were interrogated. One of them revealed that Azuka went out with Jeff that night and didn’t come back.

Jeff was detained and interrogated by the police. He denied having seen her that night and because nothing could trace her missing to him and the roommate couldn’t prove anything, he was released.

The next day, Jeff disappeared from his room with his valuable possessions – got himself accommodation in the town. Students suspected he had a hand in Azuka’s sudden disappearance.

Azuka’s parents made sure Jeff was tracked down within a month. He was seriously at large and was found at the remote area of Abuja in a one-room apartment. He looked like someone who had sorrowed too much and had not slept in months. He looked unkempt, hungry and worn out.

.

Jeff was taken back to Borno State Police Headquarters and that same day, he led them to the spot in the school garden known as ‘love garden’

“This is where we last met,” he said and begged the policeman to pick up the withered hibiscus from the ground. He moved closer and sniffed it. “She had put this in my hair. She knew how much I hated hibiscus. I had yanked it off my head jokingly and thrown it at her. She got amused and I can still hear her laughter echoing in the night.” He moved closer and sniffed the hibiscus again. “Now that she is gone, I feel I’ve begun to love hibiscus.”

“Where is her body?”

He led them to the nearby bush. They found Azuka’s body in a big sack. A careful look devolved bruises on the back of her neck if the rotting corpse.

“You have the right to remain silent, anything you say from now onward could be used against you in the court of law.” an officer said with his palm over his nose.

‘I dont care anymore. I don’t care if I lived or died. What could life be without my only babe? All I wanted was to kiss her that night. She refused and my anger mounted.”

You have the right…..

“I hit her only once. She wasn’t supposed to die. I’ve hit her more than that in the past and she didn’t even slump to the ground. Oh, my God”

“You son of a ***. All I wanted was my daughter, alive. You have given me a rotten body. What am I going to do with— what am I going to tell her mother?” Azuka’s father struggled with the men holding her from hitting Jeff.

Jeff was put in jail after confessing that he hit his girlfriend, Azuka just once on the back of her neck and she went lifeless. According to him, he didn’t mean to kill her.

“If my babe Azuka were here in this court in death, she would forgive me and let me go. I implore you to please do what she would do for me and let me go. Not for me, I do not want to live anymore but just for her to be happy wherever she is.” This was his last statement when he was given a rare chance in court to say something before the final verdict.

That statement aggravated Azuka’s parents resentment. All they wanted was for the judge to grant their daughter justice.

Jeff got life imprisonment.

THE END

Fifteen Years Later

Steve’s parents died when he was very tender and didn’t realize they were dead. His busy aunt, who couldn’t look after him took him to an orphanage.
As a child, he noticed the difference between his home and the home he had been taken to and all he wanted was return to his aunt.


On his ninth birthday, his auntie visited him at the orphanage. Steve was happy she came to take him back and happy he was leaving the orphanage, a place he didn’t like. Unfortunately, he was led away to yet another home. Even thought it was a very rich home, he wanted to be with his aunt, the only family he knew.


That day, he watched his aunt take some money from them but never knew he was been sold out to another family and he would never see his aunt again. He had cried when she gave him a pat on the back and waved him bye.


He was taken to his new home; where he became the working machine at the hands of grown-ups.


It baffled him that none out of the six children of the billionaire master found the brutal way he was handled loathsome. They all enjoyed the terrible hurtful joke.

The day he made a request to be allowed to visit his aunt, he was thrown into a cell in the basement for 2 days without food nor water just like the day he begged madam he wanted to go to school like the other children.


Fifteen years later, at twenty four, stunted and hardened, he decided to escape from his slavery. He did with his master’s son’s millions after planning for a month.

It was so easy to leave the house that he wondered why he didn’t do that for the past fifteen years.

He didn’t waste time to travel to a place where no one would find him. He knew that his master would be looking for him.

Four years later, as he was passing by a subway, he met a friend, a 5-year-old homeless boy whose mum had sent to seek for help.


From the first day he set eyes on that little boy, he saw his little self at the orphanage, longing for his mama.

He took them home. At first, Samson’s mother, Janet, was scared. No one could take them home for the past five years and she thought Steve wanted something bad with them. But the next day, Steve found them them a studio flat and gave her some money to start her own business.

Janet was twenty four and had her own story. She was driven from home when she became pregnant because she couldn’t provide the man who got her pregnant. She admitted she lived a very reckless life as a young girl and attracted the anger of her parents.

Janet turned on the TV one day and saw the person at large; he was Steve. Steve robbed the son of a Billionaire. Janet was terrified. All the while she and her child had been living on stolen money. Steve was a criminal. She was disappointed and made up her mind to expose Steves location to the police.

Steve was arrested and Jailed.

Janet packed out from the house Steve found them to another house. She didn’t want to have anything to do with a criminal.

For months Samson’s tears didn’t stop. He would never forgive his mother for helping the police to get to Steve. He would never talk to her.

Janet, on the other hand, felt remorseful for hurting his son and the man who had been kind to her, at the same time, she felt she did the right thing.


Five months later, Samson sat by the waterside feeling depressed. Someone tapped his shoulder and he jumped to his feet.

“Uncle Steve! I thought you went to jail?”

“I escaped”

“But….”

“Where is your mom?”

“I haven’t seen her in days, “

“Take me to her, will you?”

“What will you do to her?”

“Thank her for making me a better person,”

Samson beamed and Steve’s heart melted. He loved him. He will love them forever.

The Brave And The Night

 


It was after midnight when he walked into the night to go home. He had gone out for his usual night out with his friends. At 51, nothing gave him joy more than such outing. It made him feel like a living being.

That night, the full moon lit up the atmosphere and he could see everything in his surrounding as if it was the day.

He was relatively pleased with the moon for advancing his courage and as he walked as though he owned the night, he whistled his favourite tune along.

He approached the path dreaded by women, children and feeble men and intensified his whistling.

The path had thick forest on either side and the branches from both sides found and reached out for each other and entwined to form a canopy for the path.

He was a very bold man. All men should be as bold but it baffled him when men behaved like women.

He walked into the canopy

An owl was hooting at a corner and he had mixed feeling and hoped that nothing bad had happened to any member of his family. He had always known the cry of an owl to denote bad omen.

After several nights out and late keeping, his wife had warned him about evil spirits which roamed the night.

Early hours of the morning were terrible hours. Once it’s 11 pm everyone in Agbiligba went into their homes like fowls to their roosts to come out when the roosters had crowed for the third time.

“The spirits own the night. We owned the day. If you use the night as though its day, one day the spirits will teach you a lesson to prove that they owned it. Stop now, ” His wife had warned him and his five children had supported her.

He had laughed hard that day. What an unfounded myth that was.

It’s absurd to believe such things. He never believed in the reality of ghosts or spirits roaming the night or day. All were conceived and birthed only in the mind of the cowards who dreaded the night and terrified by the tree trunk in the dark.

As he walked on the bright moon began to disappear into thick darkness which gradually intensified and swallowed the entire atmosphere.

All he could see was black. He saw nothing but black. No object in sight and he felt he had gone blind since eyes were open and he couldn’t see.

The cry of the owl had ceased giving way to a frightening stillness. Not the crickets nor the wind sweeping across the forests could be heard

“What is happening to me?” He hushed to himself as he continued to feel his path with both hands as a blind man would to find his way. His whistling became hushed as well.

At a point , he couldn’t walk anymore. It was absurd to continue to walk like the blind. He had to wait with the hope that the darkness would clear.

He thought to himself, waiting in such thick forest could mean harm. Dangerous snakes could be around the corner and a bite could send him to his early grave. So, he decided against waiting.

Fortunately or so he thought, someone whistled from a distance and in no time the whistle sounded close, closer than normal and he felt goose pimples all over him.

“What is happening to me? Why should a brave man like me quaver for nothing? I hope my death is not approaching.” he hushed to himself and looked at the man. He was a palm wine tapper or so he thought.

“Greetings! Happy to come by someone,” He greeted the palm wine tapper. Who else could it at such unholy hour if not a palm wine tapper, walking from palm tree to another to check if his wine has collected.

But the so-called tapper did not talk to him. Instead, he glided past him like someone floating in the air. His headlamp lit up the vicinity as he was passing. He held his climbing rope and three kegs tied around his waist.

When he passed him, the thick darkness took over again, even thicker than before. So, he decided to follow the wine tapper to see and to ask for help.

When he looked back, the thick darkness gave way to a kind of day – a very strange day.

There was something about the source of light. It didn’t look like the sun. Even though it was spherical, the colour was light green and he saw two eyes on it glowing white and staring at him and was something sinister about it.

He withdrew his eyes from the source of light to look at the man he saw earlier but he had vanished and the whistling had stopped and another bizarre silence had descended once more.

He looked in his direction, it was still thick darkness.

With an unusual feeling, a gutless feeling already taking hold of him, He stood and closed his eyes, and waited for his mind to stop playing games with him. He must be hallucinating or better still dreaming. But it felt so real.

He decided to continue in the dark path. So he stepped into it. As he was about to step the second stride into the dark, he heard his mother’s call.

His mother died mysteriously some twelve years back.

She slept and didn’t wake up. Before her death, she was vibrant and full of life up to the time she went into her hut to sleep.

Everyone who heard about her sudden death was sure she was murdered spiritually by evil men but he didn’t believe such things.

He believed death could come at anytime and anyhow. No one should be accused of someone else’s death as long as it’s not a physical killing.

He heard her call again.

He knew better not to look back. It could be a trap.

“What trap?” He laughed athimself.

It was all in his mind. He overcame the temptation to look back and continued to walk into the dark.

But unseen hands took hold of him and dragged him back to the day.

“Good, you didn’t answer your trespassing mother. She’s the good one and we don’t like her?” The voice didn’t come from the ones holding him but from the source of light. It sounded like a very bad woman’s voice.

They were many hands on him. They lifted him up the ground and took him away farther into the day.

“Okezie!” His mother called from behind but then, he couldn’t answer. He was so weak and gasping for breath.

Could this be how death comes? Dying must be terrible. He thought weakly.

Suddenly he heard screams and they left him and he fell with a thud. From their voices,he sensed they were running away from the unseen.

He regained a little strength and stood up, dusted his body and looked around frightened. He saw no one.

The strange day had disappeared with the voices to give way to a normal day and he found himself on the path to his house and voices approaching.

He could see them but he couldn’t open his mouth to talk either could he thinks straight.

He reached home to see his wife and children and all his extended family members with their hands under their chin and the women consoling his wife.

It was noon and he had been missing for three days.

The whole thing was a mystery to him but one thing was sure, he would never keep late nights again. He had started to believe such a myth as the night belonging to the spirits.

When he told his closest friend what happened, his friend said something that sounded like reality;

“Have you not heard that the night is the battle hour between the good spirits and the bad ones? They both fight over us. The good ones fight to protect while the bad ones to destroy. The winner is determined by the state of the man being fought over. If the hands of the man are clean, the evil ones are defeated. If the hands of the man are soiled, the evil spirits win – that’s the end for that man.”

Okezie believed every word!

© Florence Ezekafor