Short Stories

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Wow! ‘Stories without Border’ has been upgraded to serve you better.

-This means more commitment to improved writing and professional blogging.

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To a more professional blogging,

From me to you.

-Hope.

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Short Stories

Nightmare

It was was not the first time the door bell rang; it had been ringing for the last few minutes and Chudi ignored it.

 

As Jane walked from the kitchen to where he sat, face buried on a foreign magazine, he looked up and she meant to ask if he hadn’t heard the bell but on a second thought, she walked past him.

The Piggy-Bank.

The visitor must have been certain that someone was in the house as she pressed it simultaneously. They could almost feel her impatience and annoyance from the way the sounds came.

 

Just before the huge brown doors swung open, she wondered what kept him from opening the door. Jane looked at him once more and politely asked if he was expecting someone. He merely shook his head and returned his gaze to the paper on his hands.

 

She was greeted by a young pregnant woman and her twin sons as the door was opened.

 

”Yes, can I help you?” She inquired.

 

”Is is this Chudi’s house?”

”I am his wife…”

 

Jane would have slapped her for insinuating that her husband was also hers but held her peace seeing her condition.

 

A second look at the boys revealed a much younger picture of her beloved man.

She became more confused.

 

”So Chudi had a family outside and hid it from me all this while; despite all I have done for him.

I will teach him a lesson he will never forget!”

 

She smacked her lower lips as pondered on the new development.

 

Had she not met him at a shop where the shop keeper almost assaulted him but for timely intervention.

She paid for his grocery and he in appreciation offered to help carry her heavy bags to

her car.

 

They got talking and met a few more times before he moved in with her.

He professed an undying love for her but she was sceptical at first. There was no other woman in his life and he will never look at any other while he lived. He claimed.

 

Jane wanted to shut the door and walk away and pretend as if she never had such meeting that day.

Yet, her hands were frozen and too heavy to move. Her legs too. Only the eyes went to and fro the woman and her children and back, mouth agape.

 

”Please come in”.

 

She motioned to them and helped the boys climb the stairs in the front of the door.

 

By the time she returned with the visitors, Chudi was no no longer at the living room.

They sat down and I went to fetch him to explain himself.

 

He was in the toilet so she went back to keep the visitors company until he finished.

Yet, twenty minutes later he had not shown up.

 

She went back to the toilet and knocked, he didn’t answer and after some time, she turned the door handle, it wasn’t locked so she opened the door.

 

He was sweating profusely and his eyes were red as though he had been crying for many days.

He must have over heard the conversation and knew he could keep the secret no longer.

 

”Please, I’m sorry, let me explain, it’s not what you think”

 

He muttered words amidst tears and begged to be heard.

ol

Jane tried to control her emotions and motioned him with her trembling hands to come down to see his guests.

 

She was heartbroken put promised herself not to weep before them.

 

”Daddy, daddy, where is the helicopter you promised to buy for us?”

 

The boys ran to him and was all over him.

 

He said nothing but asked them to sit down.

 

”What are you doing here?” He asked the pregnant lady.

She ignored him and looked away.

 

There were more sweat on his body than a football player in an extremely hot weather.

 

Jane got tired of the suspense and though she knew they were his children and mistress she wanted to hear from him.

 

He explained that he had known her before they met and he fell in love with her.

He didn’t love her but because of the children he visited her occasionally which resulted in another pregnancy.

 

Chudi and Jane had been married for two years yet he didn’t deem it fit to tell her about his past.

 

Now she knew where he rushed to whenever they had a misunderstanding.

What a grave mistake to have trusted him. And to think he wasn’t bothered about Jane’s inability to conceive.

How heartless can some men be!

 

She gave him a resounding slap and asked him to pack his bags and leave her house immediately.

She also took the car keys which she bought for him on his birthday and walked them out of her house.

 

Have you ever been cheated on by your spouse and what was your reaction?

 

Short Stories

Mr Boniface

The news of your sudden demise hit me like a ripe mango fruit falling from it’s tree . I almost didn’t believe it to be true as the news came on first April, April fool day. I could have taken it as one of the expensive jokes cracked on the famous jokes day but it was far too expensive and death is not a subject to make fun of.

I dismissed the story with a wave of the hand and told Obioma to find another prank to play because that was not funny and Africans are not known to talk lightly about death, especially by a youth.
A corpse was not to be seen by an under-aged child in those days.

The event of my grandmother’s burial rightly came to my mind.
She had passed on in her little hut after a protracted illness which defiled all medications.
The doctors at the University teaching hospital, Enugu said it was better to take her home and find another cure as she did not respond to all the drugs administered to her.

Moreover, there was no name for the sickness, rather, they relied on speculations and guess work and treated her from a physical observation.
It was even insinuated that the illness could have a spiritual root but since it was unprofessional for such speculations, it was never discussed openly.

Uncle Joe eventually drove her home in the company of my mother and other relatives. Sadly, less than two weeks after arrival, she gave up the ghost. Everyone, especially her children wept endlessly since it was a time they needed her most. The eldest son had just landed a top federal job and just when he wanted to compensate her for her tireless efforts in seeing him through the tertiary institution, she died.

I was eight years old and because children were forbidden to hear discussions about the dead, we were taken to the next village where we remained until after burial. As I remembered the proceedings during a person’s death in the time past, a chilling cold swept me off feet.

I called Obioma again, and asked her to tell me it was not true, that she was only joking. Her voice was firmer this time and she broke into tears. That was when it dawned on me that my beloved uncle is no more. I joined in the outburst until I forgot the telephone line remained on. It fell from my hand and scattered into pieces and I didn’t bother gathering it, I was overwhelmed and wept for a long time until there were no more tears left in my eyes.

Though it is three years since I saw you, I recall vividly our last meeting in the village. It was in December at Onyinye’s traditional wedding and I attended with my husband. We shook hands and you told a funny joke that made us laugh for a couple of minutes.

When I heard that you took a second wife without even consulting with mama Amara, your first wife, I was disappointed as I looked up to your family for inspiration. I thought yours was a happy and complete family despite the harsh economic situation. I had never seen you quarrel with your wife throughout the three months I spent in your house.

You were so kind and generous that you went out of your way to make me happy. You wanted me to live with your family even after the end of my vacation. Little did I know that Nnena, your second wife was unhappy with that decision and it even made her not to serve you dinner nor speak to you for days. Still, you insisted and said that I was a part of your family as your niece.

She eventually gave in when it was obvious you will not change your mind. She secretly antagonized and punished me whenever you left for work but pretended to like me in your presence. I didn’t want to complain of her unkind words and treatment to avoid causing more problems. I swallowed it all like a bitter pill but it made my stay an unhappy one.

Soon after, I began to think of an escape route because I wanted to leave quietly without any of you noticing. I was to only inform you when I arrived at my father’s house so you will not be worried. As a result, the secondary school you promised to enrol me in by the next semester no longer appealed to me, in as much as it was better than the schools in our village.

I was not sure I could learn much with all the bitterness and pain in my heart. Do you remember the evening you took me to the tailor to take my measurement for the school uniform and how I told you I was not comfortable in your house any longer? You were upset and inquired what the problem was but just as I opened my mouth to spill the bean, I remembered the negative effect it could have on your marriage.

You went as far as borrowing money from your employer to pay for my school fees and books. The demand for your job was dwindling and you barely earned sufficient income for our up keep, yet, you wanted to send me to school.

I had to run away from your house one morning when you left for work and she sent me to the stream with a keg bigger than me. I complained that I could not carry it when it was filled with water but she threatened to beat me up and starve me until night if I didn’t comply.

I waited until she entered the bathroom to wash Friday and I picked my newest and best dresses including the fifty Naira note I had saved. I left the keg in the bush so she will think I had gone to the stream until I arrived safely to my home.

Knowing you will be worried at my disappearance, I put a call to your neighbour to give you the information so you don’t think I was kidnapped or in serious trouble.

Out of anger, my father sent me to a boarding school and I didn’t hear from you again.

After many years, I was told you relocated to the village with your wife and children, unable to cope with high cost of living in the big city. I knew it must have been extremely difficult for you to cope in the city since you hadn’t a steady income as well as being the sole bread winner.

Yet, I was more concerned for the innocent young children who deserve better than growing up in the remote village, a place devoid of any kind of social amenity.
Again, you lived most of your active years outside the small town and it will not be easy for you to adapt to such a contrasting life style in your old age.

You did not have any idea of a village life style. You had no land of your own to cultivate nor do you know how to do farm work. I was truly afraid for you at that point.

Unable to find a means of livelihood, you turned to begging, along with the whole family which was even more pathetic.

Kwashiokor and other diseases over took your family as a result of malnutrition and poor life style.
Soon after, you turned blind from complications and now your no more.

As you journey to the great beyond, fare thee well, uncle Boniface.
Greet my grandmother and our ancestors who went before you.

Africa, Motivations, Short Stories

A Broken Dream

It was an unusually sunny day in early spring. I had just succeeded in putting the kids to bed for their routine afternoon nap. It was a tough job as they preferred to play rather than sleep especially when the sun is up in the sky and other children are running around cheering and laughing.

As I sat on the dinning table reflecting on what had just taken place between us, my eyes were glued to the to the blossoming flowers on the window. I was lost in thought momentarily as my mind wandered away.

It was many years ago when I was  with my grand mother in Afube, our tiny village. I had tried to engage her in a conversation as I wanted to hear her once again tell me stories, stories I and my cousins had listened to times without number. Yet, we were never bored to hear it all over again. Continue reading “A Broken Dream”

Short Stories

Lost in the Ice

Lost in the Ice

“Every where is white!”

“Every where is white!”

Her gaze fixed on the wide open door, Oluebube refused to move. She must not step on that white stuff, she seemed to say to herself.

In the same manner, she had perceived the darkness that had enveloped her surroundings in November. She had woken up one dimly lit morning to see that it was still very dark, as though it were night. Yet she was certain this was not one of her late night awakenings. She went to the window and peeped through the curtains and, to her utter dismay, saw more darkness.

“’Everywhere is dark, very dark!” she had exclaimed, again in her usual childlike tone, with a little frown on her young forehead.

She ran back to bed, sat and stared bleakly through the window. She began to cry, waking her little sister, who soon joined in the outburst.

“Shhh, don’t make a noise, people are sleeping,” cautioned her mother, Ifeoma, and went on to list the names of all those she thought must be in bed at that time (since it was still dark), people she had met at church and at the day-care club.

Ifeoma’s efforts to comfort her daughter were almost futile; she succeeded in getting her to watch a cartoon on the shiny new smartphone for only a few minutes before her attention went back to the darkened room and then to the outside. Every plea to step outside fell on deaf ears. Oluebube held on to the door handle and even prevented anyone from going out, as though she shielded them from stepping onto danger.

Oluebube finally had to be carried to the waiting pram already cold from the snow. She didn’t want to spend the whole afternoon pleading with her daughter as there was still housework to be done before Chidi returned from work. He would be upset if there was no food on the table after a long day at the office. The apartment must be thoroughly cleaned, with not so much as an iota of sand or left-over food visible. If she didn’t want his criticism and endless nagging, then his bidding must be done to the letter.

Ifeoma was still recovering from their last row. He might have beaten her had she not threatened to call the police when he raised his trembling hands to her face. He knew wife battering is a serious crime in western countries, not least in Finland, that might land him behind bars or with an outrageous fine he would be unable to pay. Very different from his home country, where Chidi had never seen a man convicted for beating his wife or children, despite several obvious instances and women going about bearing the visible signs.

Ifeoma must strive to avoid such quarrels from disturbing the peace. She was still the woman of the house notwithstanding the ideas of gender equality and shared responsibility prevailing in their new environment. They were still an African family in which wifely submissiveness was a moral obligation. How could she be like those wives who bite the hand that feeds them just because they are in Europe? She should be grateful that Chidi brought them to Finland with him. A good number of men in his shoes make countless excuses why their family should stay behind. For once, she counted herself fortunate to be in Finland.

Oluebube could still not understand what had happened to the ground. Had she not gone shopping with her mother the day before and everywhere had seemed normal? Even as Mummy struggled to push the heavy stroller through the slippery snow, she could not help but stare at the unusual white stuff around her. She had been getting used to the fact that her favourite vadelma (raspberries) that Mummy used to put into her tiny hands to eat while taking a walk had disappeared – the snow now covered everywhere, including the leafless vadelma bush.

“No more vadelma, it is finished, loppu!”

She noticed that it was gradually getting cold and then colder. She could no longer play outside without a warm jacket and gloves. At first, she had to be persuaded to wear warm clothes while outside but recently she pleaded with whoever was close by to give them to her from the hanger. She would exclaim, “oyi na atu, tum tum, it’s cold, very cold”, in the same manner as adults she had overheard.

She had observed the changes silently and reluctantly, unable to do anything about them. And yet, the snow covering everything was unacceptable. She must not allow it to happen she seemed to say, by refusing to step on it.

Not that she had known a different climate in her few years on earth. She had seen herself sit, walk and speak the few words she had learned – in three different languages – in this same environment, it is just that she doesn’t remember any of the events from the past.

But now, she can see the snow! Everywhere is white, and she doesn’t like that. As though it is the first snow she has ever seen.

How could she ever forget the very first day she stepped onto Finnish soil (snow)? Alas, she was too naïve to notice anything other than her mother, who doubled as her food and heater. But how could she even think of failing to remember the fateful, darkened afternoon when she almost froze to death despite been wrapped in Mummy’s bosom? Even Mummy shivered in the freezing cold and all the clothes she wrapped her with could not save the situation.

Ifeoma was wearing a dress that still carried the label, Nigerian Wax, on the sleeve. It had been hurriedly sewn by the young apprentice tailor at Ogige market for the very occasion of her departure for Finland. With sketchy information about the prospective new environment, she was determined to make a good impression on the would-be hosts. All efforts to get her to wear the new dress to a church service or an important occasion failed; she insisted on “launching” it on her first travel abroad.

Gnashing her teeth in the chilling cold, she muttered what was certain the baby didn’t understand. The newborn reacted only by blinking her eyelids, which she quickly closed again as snowflakes tried to make their way into her eyes. Even when she felt like crying, because of hunger and cold, she found that her lips were too frozen to weep. She was woken by her mother’s continuous movement, as Ifeoma constantly changed her position to ease the discomfort caused by the baby’s weight..

The mountains of snow on the ground and the heavy snow flakes falling from the sky, as Ifeoma came out of the airport, must not overwhelm her, she promised herself. She had passed the proverbial seven rivers and seven seas to reach her destination, and succumbing to the unexpected weather would be an act of cowardice. She paused to rest from both the chilling cold and the weight on her shoulders and one particular flake which seemed to target her fell on the brand new “Ghana-weaving”, her specially plaited hair, which had incurred Chidi’s disapproval.

Locating the guest house where they were to stay until they found an apartment of their own seemed to be a herculean task. After travelling for over an hour around the city in search of the particular house, the taxi driver, afraid that they might not be able to foot the ever increasing bill, screeched to a halt and removed their luggage from the boot, so overloaded that it had had to remain open. He said he had done more than could be expected in a bid to help, by carrying so much in a single taxi when a larger vehicle was needed.

He printed their receipt and told them the amount in an unrecognisable accent. Speechlessly, Chidi searched his pockets for the exact amount while the driver pretended to look away. He was about to hand over the cash but hesitated, took a second look at the paper note and then at the waiting hands. The older man’s face was expressionless and he neither smiled nor frowned but waited patiently for Chidi to make up his mind, as though there were any other option.

When the man finally received his money, he zoomed off in a manner that suggested he had wasted more time than necessary on them.

Chidi stared at the disappearing vehicle until it was covered by the thick winter clouds and he could see it no more, then he went back to the spot where his wife and child stood, in the open cold.