HERBSTGEBUNDEN

Wer hätte gedacht
Als ich unweit der Mittellinie
Unserer Erde geboren wurde
Zwischen Regenwald und Wüste
Tropenbewässert
Harmattangetrocknet
Sonnensohn und Savannahsäugling
Daß ich einst den Herbst
Lieben lernen würde?
Den fremden Herbst.

Wer hätte geahnt, daß das
Was mich ergänzen und stärken
Beruhigen und besänftigen
Verstehen und inspirieren und heilen
Und fesseln würde
Ganz ruhig
Die ganze Zeit in der Fremde
Lebte und webte?
Erschien und verschwand und erschien
Egal, wer ihn erlebte oder nicht.

Als ich das erste Mal Deutschland sah
War mir alles fremd und abweisend
Außer dem Herbst
Der Herbst war mir vertraut
Wie eine Hälfte meines Lebensgedichts.

Che Chidi Chukwumerije
2019: Das Jahr der deutschen Dichtung

JEMILA’S JOLLOF RICE AND CHICKEN

“Jemila, this your jollof rice and chicken is too sweet oh! Chai! How did you make it?”

“You that can’t even fry egg, how do you want me to start explaining to you how to make jollof rice and chicken?”

Chizo, who was listening, started laughing.

“You people don’t know we are in Africa where you can’t be laughing at your senior anyhow, abi.”

Of course this only made them laugh louder. So I had to take up the challenge.

“OK, next time you want to make rice and chicken, just call me. I will watch, take notes and learn it by force.”

Their laughter became uncontrollable.

Chizo said, “Please, let it be on a day when I am here oh. I have to witness this spectacle.”

It was early 2004. I was abroad most of the time, doing my Aviation Management course. I had given up my flat in Apapa, and anytime I was in Lagos I stayed at Aunty Uzo’s place in Maryland. Jemila, her daughter, had a bad case of sickle cell anaemia. It had taken a slight turn for the worse and she stayed at home a lot. She had bad days on which she lay around and did not say much, but you saw the pain on her face. But she also had her good days. On the good days her voice was loud and her laughter was bright, she would go into the kitchen and cook and there was no end to her cheeky rejoiners and replies to everything she heard. But, good days or bad days, every Sunday she tried her best to get up and go to worship. She prayed a lot and had a pure simple childlike faith. She was 20 years old.

Well, the day finally came. One of her good days. Chizo was there, visiting Aunty Uzo and her younger cousin Jemila like she often did. And I was in the country. I took my notebook and joined Jemila and Chizo in the kitchen.

“So what do you want to learn now exactly?” Jemila laughed.

“That your jollof rice and chicken you made the last time.”

“Everyone makes their own differently oh,” she warned.

“Just that particular one you made, that’s the one I want. It was too delicious.”

“Okay oh. So how do you want to learn it.”

I brought out my notebook and pen.

“Just be doing, I will be watching and taking notes. Anything I don’t understand, I will ask you.”

Chizo had been trying her best to hold back her laughter. At this point she exploded and settled against the doorpost.

“Ngwa nu, let’s go,” she said.

———- ———- ———- ———- ———-

It is 14 years later, I am going through some of my old books and papers, like I am sometimes wont to do. I pick up a little notebook that I have not bothered with for longer than I can remember. Idly I flip open the first pages and suddenly … I freeze. The shock of reawakening memory hits me like a blow. Sadness and joy seize me simultaneously. Slowly, as if in a trance, I start to read:

JEMILA’S JOLLOF RICE AND CHICKEN

1. Put Chicken in small pot with assorted seasoning: e.g. curry, thyme, onions, dried pepper, maggi (1 cube), small salt, any other chicken seasoning. Put everything on fire without water for 2 minutes, turning and stirring. Then add a little water and cover pot on fire. Leave to cook until it gets soft. Along the way keep adding water. Be tasting the broth along the way, adding any seasoning whose taste is missing (e.g. salt, maggi).
– Soft Chicken takes about 10 minues to soften
– Hard Chicken takes about 30 minutes to soften

2. While waiting for Stage 1 to complete itself, grind (or blend) tomato and pepper. Wash the tomatoes and cut them first (if blending). Wash and cut onions also and put into blender. Wash and open fresh pepper (tatase). Wash and remove seeds from Tatase (don’t touch with hand, if possible: tatase seeds peppery). Then cut up and put in blender too. The Tatase is just to make it red, that’s why the seeds have been removed.
We’re cooking 3 cups of rice.
Use e.g. 8 or 9 fresh tomatoes, 1 onion bulb, 2 Tatases, 5 to 8 fresh peppers.
We could have used more Tatase, but because we’re also using tinned tomato, which is very red, 2 Tatases are enough.
NOW BLEND UP! BELND UP!

3. Wash rice. Put in a pot with water. Put on fire. We are parboiling it, maybe 5 to 10 minutes; so it doesn’t get soft, just white. (It may last 20 mins…).
After parboiling, wash again and drain water away (with sieve, if available).

4. Break Maggi into parboiled rice. Put thyme and curry and also any other seasoning you have into the drained parboiled rice.

5. Make sauce in another pot:
Slice a quarter onion. Put enough oil into new pot on fire.
Add sliced onions and little salt.
(Salt helps onion not to burn quickly – CHIZO’S THEOREM!)
Add tinned tomato. Add blended mix of STAGE 2. (Keep stirring all the while). Now cover pot and leave to cook on fire until it boils – might even dry up a bit – because of pepper and tomato. Also add Chicken Broth!
After some 10 or 15 mins, add a little more thyme and curry.
Add a little more water and then transfer the parboiled rice into the ready sauce. Add also a little more oil (groundnut oil oh!). Cook until it cooks fully. (Never turn)

6. While cooking is on, say about 15 mins before end, slice carrots and green pepper.
Add 2 more maggi cubes, soften with tiny water. Slice the carrots lengthwise and breathwise.
When rice is soft, introduce carrots and green pepper. Now turn, stir and mix. Taste for weak seasoning, e.g. salt, maggi, etc. If needed, add, mix.
Turn off fire.

7. WACK UR GRUB.

———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———-

Quietly I close the notebook and sit still for a long time.

If Jemila were still alive, she would turn 35 today. I remember the picture Yvonne and I took of her. It was at the end of 2004, at Azuka’s wedding. She looked happy. If she was in pain, she did not show it. She was shy, smiled and looked down when she saw the camera. She looked older than she was. A beautiful moment. Our favourite picture of her.

The year after that, in 2005, the bad days came more often. Her face would be contorted in pain. An unending crisis. One round of dialysis after the other. Her eyes wiser, much wiser, than her age. On the 26th of February 2005 , she left. She was 21 years old.

The deepest memories are sometimes stored in the simplest of things.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

In loving memory of Jemila Ibrahim: 25.04.83 – 26.02.05

NOTHING GOING ON BUT THE RENT

—-
A little familiarity with, even if not necessarily proficiency in, “nigerian english” might be necessary to understand this story. 🙂
—-
—-

My landlady was not a very bright person. Really, amongst all the stupid people I’ve met in my life, she must be the daftest of them all, or so it seemed to me at that moment. I stood behind her and saw the danger ahead. But this woman, instead of going left, she actually went right. Was she mad? OK, now that she had gone right, how did she expect to come out of this alive?

The truck was hurtling straight down upon her at blinding speed. Have you seen a speeding truck before? A monster, grim and merciless. The terror it awakens in the heart is raw, real, paralysing. You see death, literally. Death does not smile.

And into the path of this on-rushing death she stepped. Madam, you love death? Then, so be it! But then not even I am so cold-hearted, in spite of all the horrible things this terrible woman had wrought upon innocent me in the past. It would be good to save her life, to spare myself any future battles with my talkative conscience, and to put her in my debt also.

The slap I gave her sounded like a ringing bell proclaiming victory. I relished the slap thoroughly, my palm jubilated, the woman took off like Arik and flew to the left, out of the path of the on-rushing accident. As she went air-borne, she took me along with her, for my palm was still stuck to the side of her face. We crash-landed into safety on the sidewalk and I disengaged my jubilating palm from her warm oily face. The truck roared past. I had just saved a human being’s life.

Life. Is that not what it’s all about? You would have thought that she would be grateful. No, instead she took offence at the joy of my palm.

“Heei!” she shouted, “this my tenant want kill me oh!”

The word ‘kill’ is the code word. And the speed with which the crowd gathered showed practice in such matters. This is the land of jungle justice, staccato accusation and swift execution. Death, who had formerly been sitting on top of the truck, glaring at her as the truck rushed towards her, had now hopped down from the truck which had long disappeared into the wilderness of Ikorodu Road. Now Death sat cross-legged by my side, betwixt the crowd, and stared at me accusingly as if I had ever done anything against him in my life. The thought suddenly occurred to me that he might be upset with me for not having let the truck do his will.

Before I knew it, the crowd had pulled the woman, my landlady, up and I was still lying there, feeling the jubilation in my palm tingle away. The crowd crowded itself around me like a crowd. It was crowdy. From crowdy comes, rightly, rowdy.

“Hired Killer!” a strange voice, full of mortification and aggression, barked down at me.

“Eh?!?!” screamed the crowd and instinctively drew back one step. If I had been been Ben Bruce and in possession of any common sense, that’s when I should have made a dash for it – bolted away with the full spring and speed of all my unreduced athleticism, in that moment when the fear of a hired killer in flesh and blood in their immediate vicinity paralyzed the life out of them.

But I was distracted by Death. He was still sitting, cross-legged, there in front of me. As if he sensed the quick escape plan that darted into my mind, he scowled and gave me a very threatening look. If you dare try it…!

And in the moment of my preoccupation with Death’s awful mug, the very moment was gone. I did not see the first slap, I did not feel the first slap. Curiously, I heard it. It sounded like a whistle, but I’m not quite sure exactly what kind of whistle. A slap whistle. A whistling slap. In one register it vibrates the eardrum already one micro-moment before impact. You hear it once and then you hear no more. The first becomes the last.

I was confused. Is this what they call a mobbing? After I stopped hearing, I started seeing. Stars. They kept exploding. Why did they keep springing from place to place instead of just hanging still? That was when the pain kicked in. And not just literally. I don’t know why the government, who likes to ban rice and all sorts of other things, has not yet banned the importation of boots. Because the kick to my ribs, the kick that brought back the consciousness which the sonic slap had robbed me of, the kick with which the pain kicked in, the kick that returned to me my hearing, that kick was executed surely by a foot well lodged in a boot, a big strong boot, definitely imported, made I am sure in Russia or Germany.

“Yeeeeiiii!” I screamed, “I don die oh!”

I could not see the sun; dark shapes hovered all around me, hurting me, harming me. Why? And then I heard the dreaded words:

“Tire!”

“Fire!”

“Tire!”

“Fire!”

They were going to put a de-rimmed rubber car tyre around my neck, drench tyre and me in petrol, juice of the Delta, and burn me alive! My teeth went cold.

“Fire!”

“Tire!”

“Fire!”

“Tire!”

I looked to my right, to where Death was sitting down cross-legged, overseeing my extraction from the physical cloak. There was a peacefulness about his countenance that flowed over to me, into me, infected and affected me, a peacefulness that began to creep into my soul.

I seemed to hear a soft slow voice somewhere in the hall of my mind: Don’t struggle… don’t worry… it’s just a journey…

At that moment the tension slipped away from my body, my dogged determination to cling unto life was knocked out of me, aided by a rock, a rock it must have been, felt at least like a rock to the skull. A liquid running down my face, stinging my eyes, blinding me. Warm sweet blood on my tongue. An intimate smell. My blood. So this is how it feels to die.

That was when I heard her voice again, the voice that triggered this happening, bringing it now to its banal conclusion. The first again the last. My landlady was shouting again.

“Abeg, e don do oh! Thank you! My tenant don enter my trap today. Make una call police to arrest am, dem know what to do. Make una no kill am oh! HE NEVER PAY ME MY RENT FINISH!! My rent oh! Make una leave my tenant for me oh! See me oh. Leave my tenant! Abi, who go come pay me my remaining rent money now? Ah ah! I say leave am! Una dey craze? One year’s rent. See my wahala oh. Who send una sef? Busy body! Na so so busy body just full dis Lagos sef! Mchw! I go wound una oh. Ah ah! Police yee! Wey police now?! Which kind bad luck be dis?…”

**********

– che chidi chukwumerije.

**********

LAGOON

A canoe is floating on a Lagos lagoon
A young lad in a face cap
Holds in his fist a fishing net

He looks briefly over at me
Looks away again
We met and parted in that look

The bus drove off
A brief moment of contact
I could almost swear

We understood each other completely
Without words
Though we think us dead,

We live.
Though we think we different
We more similar than we think.

– che chidi chukwumerije.

A POET’S HEART

SOMETIMES THE night is so incredibly beautiful, I wish it would last a little longer tonight. Everywhere, everything is so soft. The night air is cool, soft. The vibration of the world, of my neighbourhood, has lost its harshness and it seems as though everybody loves everybody tonight. And I am glad again that I was born a poet.

I will live a poet and when I die, the world will say: a poet is gone. And if the world mourns, then I will be glad I disappointed the world and became a poet instead of a lawyer, engineer, banker, doctor, scientist, professor emeritus.

The poem that I wanted to write on the day I took the decision and forsook the world, I have now forgotten. Forgotten if I even wrote it at all or whether I kept it back in, bolted up in the hall of silence in my soul, where I continued to nourish it, and perhaps only wrote it another day in another poem, or maybe I’ve not even written it yet.

And yet, for its sake, and for the sake of a thousand and more poems yet unwritten, I disobeyed, ignored and disappointed the world, I dropped out of school, forsook a supposedly great destiny and became just a poet struggling to get by.

And yet I know, when I die they will say wistfully, with wet eyes: a poet is gone…

And they will feel it in their hearts. –

So poets are special afterall.

Sometimes the night is so beautiful and I wish it would last a little longer tonight, and I’m glad I was born a poet. Even when I’m dead and gone I’ll leave behind upon the sad earth a few lines that will forever move human hearts and they will nod thoughtfully and say: once upon a time, a poet was born… he lived on earth, he wrote poems and he died…
They will say this because poems don’t die and, in truth, poets too are immortal. None is so immortal as they that cook with letters, build with words and touch us not with fingers or lips, pictures or songs, as precious as these are, for who can live without love and kindness, music and art, but there is a special quality of perception that works wonders and magic within us when language, this device we so casually misuse and abuse everyday, is made into the container and preserver for generations to come of something that goes right into our core and makes us glad that the poet did not fail to write once upon a time.

And last night it was so beautiful. I was all alone and only once was I called upon, in the night, by the rain… it was at my window, poetic, heavenly, cold, sweet and temporary… it passed away, and took with it the last traces of the receding harmattan.

And I hoped the night would for once last a little longer last night, yet knew my hope was folly. Twice I slept anew, twice awoke, and the night was still with us and still so soft, and I thought of you, in the night.

And I slept again and when I opened my eyes the sun was shinning, the night is gone and I began to write this story of all that happens and happens never, but remembered ever by the works of the poetic spirit.

Birds are chirping. People are yapping outside my window too. Lagos is beautiful only at night when NEPA provides us with electricity and the fan or A/C is working, or else it needs must rain and the roof better not be leaking. But if you are lucky, you have a generator. Or a guitar. Best of all of course is the cooling cooling rain.

That is when Lagos is most beautiful. When the Water falls…

I thirst after you
Waterfall
I want to
Drink you up

I am
The quivering starving lake
Underneath the Souls of
Your feet

Step on me
I will carry you to your river
I am your horizon
You are my ocean.

The reading is taking place next Saturday. Who will be there? Nobody I know, naturally. Of course they will all think I know them and they know me. We will shake hands and call one another by our names and remember some incidents from the populous empty past.

Yet I know them not and they know me not. We are all strangers to one another. This is the city, where neighbours and friends and strangers are all strangers to one another, and the city is the strangest one of all amongst us, the laughing, mute, cunning, open, mocking, sorrowing city. Community of strangers and, maybe, one friend for a little while, once in a while. Baby, are you still my friend? Friendship dies in the night when no-one is looking and no-one can say later exactly what went wrong.

Why are people always staring? In the bus, on the streets, everywhere. They point their eyes at one and STARE! Walking with her, she said I’ve learnt to ignore them. Well, I haven’t.

I remember, many years ago, when I was a teenager, someone said to me: you’ve got to learn to either soften the look in your eyes or desist from looking too strongly into girl’s eyes. You confuse them. You make them think you’re in love with them. You invite them to fall in love with you. You seem to promise them eternal, warm, caring love with your eyes.

I smiled, slightly confused. But I knew she must know what she was saying. She was my cousin and knew my eyes and what lies ever behind them.

We went to the library, to check up on the progress and make final arrangements. I got there first. Everything, like almost always in Nigeria, is being rushed through in the last moments. The reading is on Saturday. Yesterday was Monday, full of freshly awakened poetry. Everybody full of new lines, composed in their hearts over the weekend, strutting upon the stage, playing their parts, artistically, as though it wasn’t all an act. Yesterday was Monday.

Monday, some say, is a slow day. Others say it is a fast day, hectic, with everything happening too fast for them to follow. It is, for some, a hard day, for others a dreamy one. Monday is an okay day, I guess. Afterall Monday is Sunday’s child. Beautiful, deep Sunday. Land of answers.

She looked charged full of energy, as always. We collected the requisite material, first from the library, then from the publisher, then picked up a part of the decoration and headed for the venue. We spoke of this and that along the way, but said more with silence and thought thoughts than with words, spoken words. We really are close, a closeness many people would not understand. They would think of other things, as usual. And miss the very point.

We separate along the way, and meet again at the sponsors’ and then return to the venue for the press conference.

Flow up and be free and be happy forever.

– che chidi chukwumerije.
from THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE, by Che Chidi Chukwumerije

CHRISTMAS ON GRAILLAND

Ibises of paradise
Crows of light
Echoes of Dove and Rose
Palm Trees and Christmas Day

From high up on a Tower
Bells ringing
Come to rest…
And the rest is Christmas Day

Side by side
We shoulder the walk up
The Mountainstar, unto the
Mountaintop

And peace.
For we are not walking alone
We are walking alone
With nature’s laws.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

A HEADLONG FALL

image

SHE WAS LONGING for the deep. A headlong fall into the dark abyss. There was something at the bottom, the sightless depths, that pulled her with irresistible power, like a magnet. She stood perched on the edge of the precipice and stared longingly, anxiously, searchingly into the waiting bowels of the darkness and felt the pull, the call. If a hand had reached out from the deep, a giant hand, she would have clutched on to it with hers and gone down with it, down to the source of the great pull.

But she could not. The precipice in its precarious noncrossability, the abyss in its treacherously easy availability, were also a wall. A non-permeable wall that divided her from her longing, bound her to her state.

There was a sunlit meadow behind her and to her ears arrived the twittering of a hundred birds. That was her life. The life of which she had tired. Yet the strings of that life bound her fast. She could not go beyond the boundary of the precipice. The call of the deep would remain unanswered. Her longing would stay unfulfilled. But how could she bear it? How could she go on like this day after day with this pull in her soul without being able to resolve it?

She longed for the deep.

The deep was mirrored in his eyes. His look was the reflection of the deep that was sunk into his soul. In him were the deep and the call of the mysterious magnet down at the sightless bottom of the deep. It was in his voice, in the turn of his head, in his hands and the way they first held her. It was in his slow measured walk and accurate mental deliberations. It was on his lips, it was the low-cut hair on his head, it was around him, within him. It was he.

He drew her with such an intensity, such a passion, that she was perpetually on the verge of crying out, loud, sharp, desperate, wired out of control… yet she did not. Because, most of all, he made her calm.

She first met him one day at the beach. It was a public holiday. May 29th, 2000. Democracy Day in Nigeria. It was the first time this day was being celebrated, amidst controversy of course. The labour union bore down heavily on the president for having unilaterally declared, of all days, May 29th henceforth as Democracy Day, a public holiday. The Upper and Lower Houses had a field day president-bashing. But in the end the day stayed.

Uninterested in political matters, she had gone to the beach on this day with her friend, Hadiza, happy to spend time with the roaring, in the sight and nearness, of the ocean. Born and bred in Lagos, the sea had all her life been her secret lover.

The beach was full. She liked the noise that pressed in on the great hall of silence in her centre. The contrast gave her a kick. Here deep within her the silence. Outside, beyond the silence and hall of silence, the noise, not only of the crowded beach, the overcrowded world, but also of her thoughts which had to think extra loud – or was it extra quietly – extra clearly today in order for her to hear them.

And everything was centred on the waves. They crashed, cracked and thundered… yet the sea of silence remain unruffled, for in the heart of the roaring waves too was the silence.

The silence of the eternal sea of life. Deep space bordered by horizon.

She stood on the sand dune and looked beyond the rising shoulders of the waves and out into the Atlantic. Creamy pale blue and watching you.

What was in there? And beyond it, what?

Stirred by this question, her soul was, like a sensitive gland, activated, perceptive, ready.Before she saw him, she sensed him. The deep was coming closer. The deep!

At first she thought it must be the ocean.

That far place. Horizon.

She looked at it… longingly. But her longing met no response from there. It was not the ocean. It was… it was…

Her heart leaped and she looked around wildly. Never before had the deep exercised such a physical presence. So she was prepared for him when their eyes met. The longing and the yearning. By and by.

A shock wave arose from the deep, the earth at the precipice trembled.
Later he found an excuse to saunter up to them.

He spoke about the beach, the water, the public holiday. He spoke intelligently. He spoke to her. His name was Anosike, he worked in an oil company, he said, played the guitar in his spare time. She got up and they went on a stroll. Patiently they sought out the quietest, most secluded area of the rainforest beach. She put her hand in his. It was large and enclosed hers completely. The sun was high and bright beyond the fronds. Then. Everything has a boundary, if not an end. It was clear right from the very first that he had come to get her. She did not think of resisting. Unhesitatingly, unafraid, she stepped forward and fell into the deep.

And all the while, his voice. It was an unending process.

The ties that had hitherto pulled her back, they were no more. Nothing stopped her. Nothing inhibited her.

Only once, for a wisp of a microsecond, did she remember the sunlit meadow. Then the momentum tilted her gently forward and, headlong, the blood rushed up and she fell…

A desperate cry floated up… and that was the last that was heard of her.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

LAGOS

And then I remember Lagos
Red calabash and clay potholes hollow enough
So the colourful depth of abstract density
Can find its feet –

They are iodine feet, will crush
Every wound that opens its mouth
Don’t believe every boast you hear, or
They’ll laugh at you for being a fool

If you must believe, then follow
If you dare, the labyrinthine lagoons
One thing for sure, you will get lost in their veins
But, courage! – They all flow into the sea

Lagos, I miss you like a shark misses blood
Your wild rush, your noisy music, your
Unapologetic pride, your slang, in the heart of which
I fall silent and breathe, as one among friends.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

TWICE IS NOT ENOUGH – pt. 7

Ada slipped open the sixth and final poem in the small collection –

YOUNG AGAIN

Those were the words, that was the title.

“Were we ever young?”

“Did we ever age?”

Neither replied the other. Each had spoken for the other.

This last poem, for some reason, was italicised from first word to last. We shall be young one day again, younger than we ever were, young as ageless eternity. YOUNG AGAIN.

It becomes simple
Crosses threshold
Mortality into immortality
Denseness into quickness
Old into new, call it young

The good become older
Grow younger
Younger and younger and younger
The better you
Lighter and truer
Younger grow

Let us all grow young again
Fill the Earth with laughter
With truth, with youth –

Ngozi looked into Ada’s eyes and said:

“I want to see Tony again.”

There was a pause. But did a spell break somewhere quietly? Or were we never there?

“Do you have a telephone?” Ngozi pressed, trying to interpret Ada’s silence. It must mean something.

Suddenly Ada was taken aback.

A spell seemed indeed to abruptly lift itself off her and, in its place, her thinking cap, invisible on her head but visible in the sudden, guarded look in her eyes, treacherous windows, descended, full of fears and cleverness and innumerable bad memories, upon her. She was suddenly appalled at herself, and the last twenty minutes swiftly took on the aspect of a fairy-tale, a dream. Had it really happened? Who was this strange woman beside whom she was sitting, sharing the intimate poems of her brother with, like old friends. She experienced the sensation of having been swiftly disarmed and intruded upon, and even, oddly, deceived.

Her head moved back a fraction of a unit of precise measurement and re-appraised Ngozi with suspicious, half-friendly, half-unfriendly, unsure eyes. Like it was in the beginning. – Yes? Who are you?

The returning silence, cold and dividing, began to mature.

Ngozi suddenly understood Ada. She smiled tenderly. Into her handbag she reached, extracted a black, silver-capped pen and then a tiny slip of blue paper. Carefully she balanced the little paper on the side of her bag and, luckily, the bus was temporarily caught in a traffic-jam at Ijaiye. The type that Lagosians call the Standstill, in contradistinction to the Go-Slow and the Hold-up.

Quickly she wrote her name and telephone number down, then wordlessly handed it over to Ada.

“That’s my office telephone number. Please tell him I said Hi.” She smiled again, then turned her head forward; then turned back again, smiling even more disarmingly and added: “and, oh, by the way… Merry Christmas – one day in arrears.”

“Same to you too…”

Ngozi had turned her face away. She didn’t speak again. At the next bus-stop, Iyana-Meiran, she alighted from the bus and left a thoughtful Ada again without her presence, as it was in the beginning.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

(This is the end of the excerpts. The whole  book can be obtained via Amazon)

Read the full book:amazon cover copy twice is not enough 2015