Roseline and Emeka

"He's not picking up," Roseline said to her sister Anu. They were in the kitchen, Roseline was attending to a pan of frying plantains with a fork in one hand and her mobile phone in the other.
"Should I call again?" she asked
"Roseline, his your husband, you should call if you want to call," Anu said her voice slightly tinged with irritation and her eyes watering from the onions she was chopping "It's eight twenty seven," she said looking at her watch "what time does her normally get home?"
"Eight, sometimes nine or ten, eleven..." Roseline sighed "he comes home whenever he wants o"
Are you serious?" Anu asked scattering the chopped onions into a pan of hot oil "Since when? Is he the only graphic designer in the whole of Lagos? What kind of work is he doing that his sleeping at the office?" she said this partly in jest
"Anu, allah I don't know what to tell you." Roseline said turning around to face her sister, she began to say something then stopped and licked her lips "I he cannot be working that late abi, but what can I say...?"she said, with her voice shaking slightly
"Well for starters you can ask him why he comes home so late." Anu responded pouring into the simmering pan a small bowl of pureed tomatoes.
"Anu listen, he works hard, he provides, he does not come home drunk, he has never raised his hand against me, what right t do I have to complain."
"Oh please Roseline, don't make me slit my wrists open" she held a knife to her wrist for dramatic effect "if not being beaten up is all I have to look forward to in marriage, then I think I'll just stay single for the rest of my life."
Roseline gave her sister a dirty look and hissed "You cannot understand until you get married. You've never even being in a proper relationship, you cant understand."
"Oh spare me, if I cannot ask the man I'm with a simple question about why he comes home so late then..." Anu trailed off and looked up in time to see the pained expression on her older sister's face "I'm sorry," she said softly "I didn't come here to fight or-"
"Judge me?" Roseline said cutting her off
"Rose!" Anu said, raising her voice a little "we both know that I'm in no position what so ever to judge anybody, talk less of you."
Roseline stood quietly shaking her head "I don't know what to do Anu, I don't know what changed or what I did wrong..."
"If you've never listened to anything I've said before," Anu said her voice softening again "please, please listen to this," she begged " don't you ever start blaming yourself."
Roseline nodded, she was silent as she took out the blue ceramic serving dishes from the cupboard, dinner was ready.
They had finished their dinner about three hours ago and had moved to the living room to talk. Anu had fallen asleep on the black leather sofa right in the middle of a conversation about their father. Roseline had watched her snoring away for some time. Only Anu could pull lace leggings and a short Ankara dress, only Anu would be brave enough to put it on in the first place; Roseline thought fondly, admiring the orange and green fabric of the dress which had ridden up her sisters thighs.

She got up, stretched and walked to the dining table to clear up they plates they had eaten out of,she placed the plates in the sink and ran some water over the soapy sponge, preparing to wash them. But then she heard the sound of wrought iron gates being pushed opened and a car driving into the compound. She peeked through the curtains and saw Emeka's silver Camry backing up into the drive way. She quickly rinsed and dried her hands and put the plate of food she had dished out for him into the microwave, then she rushed to open the front door.
"Welcome dear," she said, hating how raspy her voice sounded, she cleared her throat and asked "how was work?"
"Um...tiring," Emeka said sliding the strap his heavy black laptop case off his shoulder and giving Roseline a quick kiss on the forehead.
"Eeyah," she said trying to rub his shoulders as he walked ahead of her "are you hungry?" she asked "I fried some plantains and Anu made the stew." Anu was the best cook in the family, nobody could eat anything she cooked without smiling from sheer content.
"She's here?" he asked un-enthused

"Yes I'm here." Anu yelled from the living room, she got off the couch, stretched and walked towards the hallway where Roseline and Emeka stood. She placed her hands and on her hips and gave Emeka a look of deep contempt before asking " how was 'work'?" her tone was clearly sarcastic and it caused Roseline to give her a warning look, to which she said "don't worry I'm leaving." She grabbed her over sized purse from the side table in the hallway, slipped her high heeled sandals on and gave her sister a kiss on the forehead.
"I'll call you tomorrow." she said before brushing passed Emeka as she left the house.

A moment later, they heard her car drive out of their compound, Roseline laughed nervously and said "don't mind her, you know how she is when she just wakes up."
Emeka shook his head saying "listen, I don't care. Shes your sister not mine."
"I know, I know but..." she was walking after him as he walked up the stairs to their bedroom
"aren't you going to eat?" she asked his back
"I'm not hungry," he responded "I already ate."
Roseline angrily wiped away the tears that ran down her cheeks as she ran down the stairs, she stomped into the kitchen, jerked open the microwave and flung the hot plate of fried plantains into the shiny stainless steel garbage bin.

Eniola and Banke

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!! Eniola's mobile phone rang loudly jerking her from sleep, she sat up abruptly and grabbed the phone from her nightstand. She squinted against the blinking neon blue lights of the small screen before flipping the phone open "Banky its two a.m." she said groggily. She normally did not take calls that woke her from sleep, but she made exceptions for her best friend.

"Eni,I...I.." Her Friend was sobbing so hard Eniola could barely make out the words between the sobs "Banky what is it?" she asked alarmed she was trying not to panic, but a lump of fear was rising in her throat. "Listen, calm down and tell me whats wrong"she said after a moment of trying to decipher the meaning of Banke's blubbers and whimpers.
"I, I...I c-cant." she managed to say between convulsive cries "p-p-please c-come here," she begged "you h-h-have t-t-to come please"
"I'll come okay" Eniola said in a soothing voice, trying to calm her friend down "I'll come as soon as I can tomorrow, but tell me whats wrong."
"I c-cant..."
"Are you in trouble?"
"Are you in a safe place?"
"I'm f-fine, b-but I...I'm dead Eni, m-my life is so over...I..."
"It's okay Banky, whatever it is, I'll be there, I'll take the first train after my exam tomorrow, okay?"
She heard her friend mumble something before she broke down into sobs again,
"I'll stay on the phone with you okay?"
She did not get off the phone until she heard Banke's soft snores after her sobs had slowed and then stopped altogether. She flipped her phone shut and curled up under her black and red striped duvet but sleep would not come and worry kept her wondering what was wrong. She got out of bed, sat at her desk and turned on her computer, she might as well study while she was up.

"Oh. My. God. Eni, could you please keep it down" Jules her roommate said curtly, before ducking back under her covers. It crossed Eniola's mind to apologize and maybe move quietly to the common room to study, but changed her mind after considering the fact that Jules' boyfriend Andy practically lived in their dorm, despite the fact that his was only two doors away, had terrible aim and never quite managed to pee right into the toilet bowl, and left his dirty boxers on the futon which she paid for if she remembered correctly. And lets not forget that they kept her up with their noise, either the fighting or the moaning most nights, she preferred the fighting. Thinking of all this made her type a s loud as she possibly could without breaking the keypad. . She heard Jules' grumbling and almost smiled to herself.
"Eni, are you sure you're okay?" Ephraim asked squeezing her hand, they were at the train station waiting for the boarding announcement. She looked at him and tried to smile "Yeah...I don't know, I'm just so worried I called her like eight times and she hasn't called me back. I'm really really worried"
"I can tell, I'm afraid you'd have chewed your fingers off by the time you get on your train." He said with laughter in his voice and a little smile, he then gently reached for the hand she hand in front on her mouth as she chewed on her nails.
"Babe, should I bother asking you not to worry?" he asked and she shook her head. He bent slightly to kiss her forehead "she's fine, there's nothing to worry about" he said reassuringly.

She looked up and caught a few people staring at them, she would never get used to that, she would probably be staring to if she were an onlooker herself.
But Ephraim did not seem to care, he was always so affectionate wherever they were, holding and kissing her hands, her fore head, wrapping his arms around her waist.But it was not just the PDA that drew peoples attention, it was the fact that she was a chubby black girl with long braids and cowrie ear rings and he was a lean ginger haired white boy with green eyes and a smile too big for his face. Some people tried to be polite and looked only from the corners of their eyes but look away when they turned; others just stared unabashed, almost without blinking. And some of them had disapproval written in bold CAPITAL letters all over their faces, especially the older people.

Eniola had despised him intensely on their first encounter, he was her first college roommate's cousin and had been helping her move into their new dorm. He had let out a bothersome "Oh..." when his cousin introduced her as her new roommate. Eniola had been convinced it was because she was black and "from Africa" as the girl had announced enthusiastically. And Eniola had tuned out everything he said or at least she had tried to, but months after that first meeting she ran into him at the Asian food market across the street from campus and remembered his name was Ephraim and he went to the Medical college a few blocks from her school.

Their relationship had pretty much progressed naturally without any of the anxiety or head games that often comes with dating. Eniola had never been in any sort of romantic relationship and had not expected everything to run as smoothly as it did, especially knowing all the gory details of her girl friends' dating experiences. Her and Ephraim had so little yet so much in common, it was always a thrill. They were genuinely interested in and curious about each other and in the eight months of 'hanging out' before they made their relationship official, they had become such good friends that he listed her as a reference on a job application. It was simple, what they had, and Eniola liked it very much.

The announcer made the boarding calls and Ephraim kissed her before handing over her duffel bag. "Call me when you get there." He said still holding her hand "I will" she stepped forward and gave him a tight hug, then she left to board the train.
"Try not to worry so much" he yelled after her.
Banke was sitting on a very uncomfortable bench at the train station. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying herself to sleep, crying when she woke up, crying as she was bent over the toilet failing to keep her breakfast down. Her nose and cheeks were red as well, it seemed her light complexion was doing her a disservice, she thought bitterly, remembering that she had onced considered it her best feature. She did not want to think about the reason for her tears, she could not afford to break down in a place as public as the train station. It was unusually busy and that annoyed her, all those happy people, kids her age coming home for the weekend. They were all blissfully ignorant to the turmoil that boiled away in her chest, just thinking about it made her eyes well up with tears again.
She looked at her purple watch; 3:15. Eniola's train should have arrived by then. She took her mobile hone out of her purse and was about to call when she heard her best friend call out her name. She looked up and saw Eniola with a Grey duffel bag and a worried expression on her face.
"Banky baby, you scared me half to death." She held her in a tight embrace "Oya what is it? Tell me now"
Banke broke down into sobs and they stood there, arms around each other, Banke bawling as Eniola rubbed her back soothingly. She did not care that it was a public place anymore; she needed to cry so she was going to cry.
"Are those what I think they are?" Eniola asked alarmed "Whose are those?!" her voice was rising in panic. They had taken a taxi back to the off campus apartment Banke shared with four other girls. Two of her flat mates were also Nigerian and the other two were Sri-lankan and Peruvian.
Eniola had asked Banke a few times to explain what was happening, but all her friend had said was "I'll show you."
Banke led her straight to her bedroom, without bothering to introduce her to her flat mates who were gathered in the tiny living room watching what seemed to be Micheal Jackson's memorial service on CNN.
She pulled her by the hand without saying a word and lead her to the window sill beside her unmade bed. There, in almost perfectly vertical lines, lay seven white and purple pen sized sticks, they looked like they were made of plastic and it was not until Eniola looked closer and saw double pink lines on the small oval screens on all of them that she realized what they were. She looked up at her friend "Are you joking?"
"Are you mad Eniola!Do I look like I'm joking?" Banke shouted, tears streaming down her face.
", you're didn't tell me you were having...Oh my God!!" It really had not crossed her mind, they were best friends, they told each other everything, she did not remember Banke ever telling her anything about having sex with anybody. They were smart girls, they did not make mistakes like this.
"Jesu, Banke..." her face was crumpled up in what looked like anguish "Banky, what is going to happen now?" Eniola asked
"Eni... I don't know, I don't know how I'm going to open my mouth and tell my father that I'm..." she felt like the word was forcing its way from her stomache through her throat to her mouth. She had not said it, she had even tried to prevent her mind from forming the word, afraid that it would some how make it more real
"that I-I'm pregnant." she finally spat out, it was real.

Mr Haruna

"Sei gobe" said as she waved him off, her heart heavy- it was hard to watch your husband go to work everyday with no guarantee that he would come back.

It had been four months since Mustapha put down half the money for the motor bike, okada as it was popularly called in Lagos, she still couldn't help but look at the thing for what it was, Danger on wheels. But in those four months they had moved out of the one bedroom apartment- if you could call it that- in mile 12 to a small two room apartment in Yaba. They were happy as they always were, four children to thank almighty Allah for and a roof over their heads. She couldn't help but exclaim Alhamdullilahi!

She went back into the house to get the children ready for school.


Mustapha rode the okada towards tejuosho market. Fati hated it when it went there, it was too crowded making it a perfect place for accidents but what could he do? it was also the most lucrative spot. A throng of people needing quick transportation within the market, students always shopping for clothes, wives for food and the occasional foreigner seeking Lagos thrills.

It wasn't as if he loved the job either, there was always a Bismillah being whispered under his breath before he set about on each journey, the LASTMA officials were a constant pain and the danger of it all was at he always at the back of his mind. He loved the people though, how he loved the people!- right from the school girl giving herself a treat of okada instead of taking the bus to the "big oga" just trying to escape Lagos traffic. He also loved the solidarity between all the okada riders- ever since he and Fati had moved to Lagos they had not made any friends- they all seemed to truly care for each other.

He spotted one oyimbo man looking lost and proceeded to drag the motor bike towards him

"Oga where you dey go?" he inquired from the white man.

"Just to Lekki, the mobil around there..." he replied although not too confidently

Mustapha thought about it for a few minutes, this one ride would enable him go home early for the day, although he felt bad ripping these people off. After justifying it in his head he realised that it was fair game the white man was probably exploiting someone else somewhere too... little did he know how right he was!

"ok oga that one na 700 naira" he told the white man

they both climbed the motor bike and sped off towards third mainland bridge.


The children would get a lovely treat tonight, once again Alhamdullilahi!


How does one dress for such events?
Chidinma was having a difficult morning. she had made up her mind on what she was going to do and now she lay there worrying over the most trivial thing- what to wear. It wasn't as if she didn't have clothes- thank goodness for people like Bayo who sold second hand baffs at tejuosho market, they suplied her with the latest fashion for a decent price.

Her clothes were strewn all over the room -when Bisi came back she would be angry, but she couldn't wory about Bisi today, today was an important day- she had tried on numerous outfits, all skirts of course and now she was exhausted. She still had to go for lectures and at this rate she would be late. she removed the thin blue towel and looked at herself. Rich caramel skin, soft round breasts, she tugged at her stomach a little bit and smiled, all that running across campus was paying off...

Blue skirt, white blouse, black ballet flats and a little make up professional yet not too flashy she didn't want to entertain Nnekas questions today.
But as soon as she entered the lecture hall, Nneka beckoned her over to sit where she was, she had to be careful so that the long benches didnt get their splinters in her skirt, this one was quality oh, marks and spencer and she paid Bayo good money for it

" Ah ah see as u con be like babe" Nneka accused her friend before she even sat down.
"Abeg leave me oh, i no fit fine again?" Chidinma replied her with a smile.

This was going to be one long lecture and she, one of the most brilliant students in class was actually not paying attention. As soon as class was over she and Nneka slowly shuffled out with the other students and went to stand under the tree where the fan yogo man usually posted himself. He already knew what they wanted and Chidinma gave him 80 naira.
"Aunty make i keep the change?" he asked with a shine to his eyes
" Oya keep am, i know say na thng wey u like be that" Chidinma replied with a laugh.

Nneka's boyfriend had arrived to pick her up just like he did every thursday, as usual she asked her dear friend to come along and as usual she declined, but for a good reason today. she waved as Tito and Nneka zoomed of in his white camry.

Chidinma opened her bag and looked at the white card sitting at the bottom "Lanre and Sons" it read, she pulled it out and looked at the mobile number scribbled at the back. she began to dial on her purewater phone 0803...
After only one ring he picked up "hello?"
"Hello this is chidinma, I..., the..." her voice trailed off
"Oh I know who you are, when are you coming? he asked
"Tttoday, now" she stuttered
" Ok, i will send my driver"

That was it, the first day of the rest of her life

Toyosi and Emeka

The smell of fried plantain wafted into the room and roused him from sleep. Fried plantain and beans with onion and crayfish, he could already picture it mounded on one of Toyosi's yellow ceramic plates, the steam rising slowly from the dark yellow and brown hunks of food. His mouth watered and he sat up on the bed, rubbing his eyes, he could hear her moving about in the kitchen, the clanking and scraping of stainless steel cutlery on ceramic. He got out of bed and pulled his t-shirt over his head ,it had managed to find its way onto the green sewing machine in the far corner of the room and he had had to untangle it from the red thread Toyosi was working with . He groaned as he stretched before walking towards the kitchen
She hated frying plantain, she hated frying anything really. Something always ended up burnt and tiny droplets of hot oil always sizzled and splattered on her arms, sometimes her face.But Emeka like fried plantain, so she endured the stinging pain of hot oil splashes and the frustration of throwing out the occasionally burnt batch. She enjoyed cooking the beans however, the slow boiling, spicing and stirring worked fine for her. The food was finally done and she served it on her favorite yellow and black ceramic plates. She licked some oil off her fingers and was washing her hands at the sink when she felt a hand on the small of her back. It startled her, making her jump. She turned around to find Emeka standing close with a wide grin plastered on his oddly beautiful face.
"Whats the matter, did I startle you?" he asked jokingly, leaning in to give her a kiss.
"Yes you did," she said playfully punching his shoulder "I didn't hear you come in."
"This smells really good," he stood over the pot of beans on the stove with a fork in his hand,
"Don't do that," Toyosi said grabbing the fork from him before he could violate her pot with it, "I already put some for you on a plate."
They ate huddled together on the couch, the news was on and the presenter was constantly tugging at his powder blue tie as he read out the latest headlines. Another strike was being declared by the university staff union.
"Na wa o," Toyosi said frowning slightly "the poor students are the ones that will now suffer for it."
"Well, hopefully it wont be in vain," Emeka said in response "if the senate improves on university funding, then..." he left his sentence unfinished, assuming she would figure out what he was not saying. He did that often and she almost always figured it out right.
"I understand the reason for the strike, but does it ever work? Are their demands ever me-"
she was cut off by the melodious ring tone of a mobile phone, accompanied by the buzzing sound of the phone vibrating against the wooden surface of the table beside her.
"Its your phone" she said reaching towards the table where both their phones sat
"Who is it?" he asked. She was silent for a moment after she checked the caller ID. "Who?" he asked again.
"Its your wife." she said pursing her lips and handing him the phone with an expression resembling one of discontent. He took it from her and threw it on the red couch at the opposite end of the room, he gave her a small somewhat apologetic smile and filled his mouth with a forkful of food.