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A 7 year old boy in primary 3 is making his mother’s stomach tie into knots in worry that he might be a perpetual slow learner, because it is such a terrible thing that he just cannot seem to string letters together in his head and read them aloud as words, she fears he may be dumb.

The 7 year old receives the lashes of his mother’s harsh tongue and most likely a few slaps but try as he may, he can’t read.

It would have been better if school would be his safe haven but the pressure in school surpasses that of home because in truth, his problem started in school when all the students instantly create sentences in a fantastic manner and write with the average speed of an infant where he can’t even seem to read not to mention write.

He feels his esteem eat away like leaves attacked by unrelenting pests. He can’t even be free because the other kids look at him and think he is dumb, especially when the teacher deems it right to punish him for being ‘slow’ and compare him to other students thereby subjecting him to being taunted.

There goes the confidence of the boy and the beginning of his self-doubt and manifestation of other problems most of which will be mental all because of the ignorance of the learning environment in matters of mental health. In another society, it wouldn’t be a big problem to understand that the boy has a learning disorder called dyslexia which makes reading a herculean task to his brain and which may or may not recede and completely disappear with age. And in case it does recede, the ridicule will still linger.

A scenario similar to this that I know of happened in a school in Kaduna, hundreds of scenarios similar to this that we may not know of are still happening all over.

I’ve been meaning to write this proposal for a while but I had to target a willing listening ear first and there’s no better one in a position of power than Gov. Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai.

Over the years, he has proven that Kaduna can be a role model educational reform system and is ever ready to attend to anything education. It is on this basis that I write this.

The inclusion of mental health studies in the curriculum of secondary schools will not start in the classroom as the classroom is a teachers territory therefore, it is subject to a teachers knowledge. That is why it has to start with the teachers.

It is my suggestion that all teachers of government schools be trained in the basics of infant and common adult mental health disorders where the signs and how to handle people with such cases will be taught extensively even if for a week.

Again, every private school should be tasked with training their own teachers be it a mathematics or foods and nutrition teacher and all schools must have a trained Guidance Counselor(s) who is to work directly with a government body.

It is after this foundation has been laid that it will be plausible for mental health to be seamlessly taught in schools.

The rise of psychological disorders and diseases is alarming and the main reason why it’s festering on the society is because of ignorance of the majority of the members of the society who chose to condemn rather than redeem.

I believe it is wise to ‘catch them young’, by teaching the future generation about the complexities in personalities and how the brain works in diverse ways which will be a sure way of promoting and fostering tolerance and understanding among them and most importantly, it will mean tackling mental health issues head on.

It is my plea that this suggestion is heard and worked upon by not only the Kaduna State Governor but all those in power and all those who have a say so that majority of Nigeria’s problems (which is due to deep and raging frustration that has been left unchecked) is put in check.

After careful consideration of all entries by three judges, three top stories have been chosen out of 36 delighful creative pieces of fiction.

Congratulations to the writers of the stories. The absence of your name does not discredit you as a writer, it just means there’s always room for improvement. 

And as a writer who will eventually face the world, it’s all about trying till you make it. I hope this will serve to strengthen your writing spirit to make it. Therefore congratulations to everyone for being brave enough to put his/her writeup out there.

Winners List:

1st Runner Up- Rabi Lawal, Entry 4 (N2,000)

2nd Runner Up- Oyeniran Tofunmi Eunice, Entry 15 (N3,000)

Winner- Ruqayyah Saghir Nabage, Entry 14 (N10,000)

Honourable Mentions:

Annie Ifinedo

Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen

Ishola Ubaydah

Jesutofunmi Fekoya

Dela Azojani Adeorike

Yunusa ibrahim

Gift Ukay

Aisha Mahmud

Watch this space for more contests and mentorship opportunities.

Thank you for your participation.

She dipped the kitchen towel in a bowl of hot water and placed it on her hand. She winced as the heat seared through her tender flesh. There was a cut and several small injuries on the back of her hand and she couldn’t let anyone see it, especially the people where she was going.

She placed a band-aid and covered the small cut around her knuckles with foundation, she was wearing a long-sleeved gown to shade her wound from prying eyes. People, always trying to establish your life is not perfect like theirs.

She wasn’t going to address the cause of her pain until she’s back. He was probably on their matrimonial bed still asleep, but she had to get up, because she had to work, because she had to feed the family while he slept like a bunch of rotten bananas.

She checked her watch, frowned at how the small hand had ticked clockwise faster than she had wanted and hissed. The lecture wouldn’t deliver itself, she said to herself. Domestic violence, it seemed was a much sought after topic. Battered women where having none of the bullshit anymore, and she was proud. She stared at her bruised hand, she was proud of them.

Iridescent flowers that have already started darkening by the edges, that was what they looked like. Their faces lighted up in understanding and agreement as they stared ardently at her, eagerly sucking up each word like a child with an insatiable appetite of milk.

She shivered slightly at the sight of the innocence painted on their faces, innocence that for some, has already started getting tainted with a dark paint. She needed to save them; from themselves and from the others be it their parents, partners or the society… or all.

And so her voice got stronger with each word, with each message, with each example stating a hundred and one reasons why a woman is the owner of her body and why no one, can take that away from her.

‘The word ‘woman’ has, for a long time been taken to be synonymous to ‘weakness’, and that is why the girl child has been conceived of weakness, birthed by weakness and brought up in weakness. It has been drummed in our brains for so long we begin to believe in that and that is why when our husbands batter us’ she cringed at the thought of that ‘it is taken for granted and blame is heaped solely on us, the weakness’ her voice dripped of passion. She needed them to understand that they needed to stand up for themselves, she needed them to understand there in the grand looking assembly hall of the school of the elite children before it was too late.

‘But not anymore’, she went on. ‘The modern woman is strength and power. She understands that she is human before woman, she understands that she is woman and therefore priceless, she understands that dowry is not a ticket to torture, she understands that she is the owner of her body and she will fight to see that every other person accepts same’. She concluded.

The thunderous applause made her jolt a bit in fright. She stood stunned as the crowd of young secondary school girls and teachers stood up and cheered.

It always happened like that and that was why they scouted lectures so much from her for whenever she was delivering a lecture on violence against women, she was never herself. She was a woman from fifteen years ago who had been dragged and man handled, slapped across the face and told to shut up or the knife glistening in the dark will be buried within her. And she had to stifle her scream and lie for hour-like minutes until the deed was done and her innocence, gone. The most painful part being she knew who it was, and she knew he was a coward as only cowards hit women.

She smiled and lowered her eyes as if shy. The rage of being a victim had subsided and she was back to herself.

The admiration in the eyes of the female students and the profusely stated appreciations were enough for her. Her job was done.

She didn’t want to go back home. She didn’t want to face him or anyone. She just wanted to drive away, far away, but she knew she couldn’t, she knew she had to face her worse nightmare who shared her bed every day for 5 years.

The moment she pushed the door open and heard the sound of feet shuffling, she knew he was home. Where else would he be? Useless man.

‘Come here’. Silence.

‘I said come here’. Now with obvious annoyance.

She felt the rage creep back in. He always had that effect on her ever since he decided it was a good idea to rape her. Little did he know, he fucked with the wrong girl.

10 years after the rape, she had bloomed into a beautiful woman,and he had thought that she had forgotten as it happened a long time ago. And so when she did everything young ladies were prone to do to get the attention of men they liked, he had succumbed and had fallen prey. Some months later, they were married, what he will come to discover was her plot for revenge all along.

She had made his life a living hell from the first year of their wedding. She had made him lose his job, distanced him from family and friends and basically made him dependent on her so that all the power were in her palms, the palms she used to batter him all day as she relieved that dark night that awakened the monster in her.

Her fists were still sore from the punch she had given him last night and she could see him visibly shake as her palms curled to fists.

‘Bloody coward. I hope you tell this story to your fellow weak men who hit women’. She spat out in disgust and landed him another punch.

The list of the top 20 stories to qualify for the judging stage is ready. The list was compiled following five-day the voting process where some stories had almost 300 votes to their names.

Shortlisted writers for Flash Fiction Writing Contest:

1. Dela Azojani Adeorike

2. Stephen Ezennwa

3. Jesutofunmi Fekoya

4. Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen

5. Umeh Prisca Ijeoma

6. Deborah Johnson

7. Nana Khadija Yahaya

8. Mary Emmanuel Bawa

9. Eniola Balogun

10. Idris Ayanfe

11. Chiziterem Chijioke

12. OYENIRAN TOFUNMI EUNICE

13. Ruqayyah Saghir Nabage

14. Yunusa Ibrahim

15. Gift Ukay

16. Ishola Ubaidah

17. Annie Ifinedo

18. Rabi Lawal

19. Aisha Bint Mahmud

20. Khadija Musa

All 20 shortlisted stories were beautifully relayed but only three will winners will be announced on the 28th.

The judges will judge based on story line, theme, how well the rules were followed, diction, punctuation and many other factors.

2nd Runner up- N2,000

1st runner up- N3,000

Winner- N10,000.

May the very best story win. Best of luck to all.

Title: Different 

By Dela Azojani Adeorike

Samson was Delilah’s little piece of heaven and she was everyone’s desire. The six months with him had been a bed of roses until fourteen days ago.  Samson had invited her for a party. At the party, she couldn’t find him. She asked few people,” please am I his keeper?” said another hissing and cursing…when she found him, “meet me upstairs in five minutes’ time”Samson said giving her a snack. Walking up the stairs, shecollapsed at the door. With nausea, she ran to the bathroom for a puke only to feel something roll down her thighs. Delilah had been waiting him, but he wasn’t welcoming at all. ” where have you been? I have been worried sick about you, don’t you know-” Delilah said but he cuts in ” madam you don’t need to worry about me, hope your whole adventure with those guys was mind-blowing like they said”. He was gone before she could reply. Thinking of the whole incident, she found herself at Samson’s door, he had planned the gang rape and spread that she was a cheerful giver.  She waltzed in with a gun, points samsonand smiling, she pulled the trigger… 

Aisha Madaki

Sandra was raped by some street guys at the age of 14 when she was in High School, she was expelled because of the pregnancy she got. Both her parents were dead so she lived with her neighbors because her relatives weren’t there for her. She was sent out of her neighbors’ house because of the pregnancy and the society wasn’t there to protect her. She took care of herself despite so much difficulties moving from this job to another. After giving birth to her baby girl, Ana, she made it her biggest priority to protect the girl. She met a guy, Andrews who usually visits the cafe she works at then. When the baby was 3years old, They got married. He’s a commercial Driver. He took care of her and her Daughter. Sandra got the chance and went back to school. They were living a contented life.

Ana is now 8 years old, she’s growing well and started going to school. Her Mother protects her in all possible ways. 

One unfortunate Night, Andrews got back home very drunk, Sandra was helping him relax when she found gun inside his pocket. She was deadly scared, he wasn’t in his senses so she hid the gun inside drawer. He woke up later and couldn’t ask her of the gun, he thought maybe he dropped it in the car they robbed together with his friend.

“I’ll get it in the morning” He concluded 

Sandra was in dilemma, she trusted and loved Andrews so much, buh seeing him with gun scared her. 

“what was he doing with a gun?” “How do I know the truth?” She was very confused. 

“I need to protect Ana” She added

Andrew woke up early as usual, he kept smiling without reason. Sandra was scared wether he found out the hidden gun. He cleared his throat and to her surprise he wasn’t talking about the gun

“Today is our 5th anniversary if you’ve forgotten, I want us to go out for dinner in the evening” 

Sandra was very happy to hear that, she hasn’t forgotten about it, but the night was an unfortunate one. 

“Thank you Andrews, we’ll be ready by 7PM ” She said 

Ana was very happy, it’s the first time she’d be having dinner outside with her parents. 

Andrew went back home around 6PM, Sandra and Ana were already set to go. He went to change when someone called his phone. The phone kept ringing, Sandra took the phone and at that instant a message popped in.. 

“You can never disappoint us after waiting for good 5years, it’s either you bring that girl to us or we kill your wife together with your 3 kids” she couldn’t stand again, she fell down in tears. Ana rushed to her asking “Mum what happened? Is anything wrong? Tell me please”

“Ana you must leave this house, go to our Neighbor Miss Blessing, I’ll come and pick you there” 

“What do you mean Mum, we are going out for dinner with Dad”

“Don’t call him Dad again, He’s a wicked Person, listen to your Mum okay. We don’t have time, tell her that she shouldn’t tell anyone you are there, I’ll come myself to take you, if I didn’t she should keep hiding you there please” 

“Mum…”

“Ana run, we don’t have time, he can be here any second. Just run” she pushed her out of the house

“Let’s go, wait where’s Ana?” Andrews interrogated 

“I sent her out” 

“What do you mean?”

“What are you planning on doing with my daughter? Who are you giving my daughter to? Did you married me because of my daughter? Who are you?” Sandra Shouted in tears giving him his phone

He grabbed her by neck and said “Now that you figured it out tell me where that girl is, it’s the only thing that will spare your life” 

“Even if you’ll kill me I won’t tell you”

“You think I won’t? Let me tell you, I’ve never loved you for a second, I have a woman I love with 3 Children. Can’t you see I couldn’t have a child with you. You are nothing but trash, with nobody in this earth to help you, I want your daughter at this age to make sacrifice and become billionaire, after that I can think of making you my mistress”

Painful tears kept dropping from Sandra’s eyes. She regretted the whole of her meeting Andrews. Her heart was shattered. Her breathe seized. She was in all of Shock and Agony. Five years of marriage, only to find out the Person she sees as Husband is a monster. She kept solving puzzles; He works every day and night, sometimes for a whole of a week, month and even more. He’s been definitely going to his Family. Not only that he’s a Robber, he now wants to sacrifice my only child, the only reason I’m putting a strong face as if my heart isn’t burdened..

“Where is the Bastard??” His shout brought her back to life. 

“Kill me and I’ll tell you in Hell” She muttered 

“I’ll end this today” He angrily went to the car he drove. She ran and brought out the gun she hid. He came in with nothing only to find what he was looking for in her hands. He’s now the one in shock. How did she get this? What the hell is this? He suddenly remembered last night; she took it then, he concluded. 

“Don’t think of pulling this trigger, you don’t know the consequences” 

“I don’t care wether I’ll end up killed or imprisoned as long as I’ll protect my daughter”

“Sandra don’t, remember how I took care of you, I was the only person that took you in. I protected you and provided you with everything you wanted…” He kept reminding her of the good deeds he did to her

Sandra was confused, He showed her love and care, He gave her so much Happiness, Her only daughter sees him as Father…” But it’s the same daughter he wanted to sacrifice now, he’s taking her away from you, he’s going to kill her and then kill you” she told herself 

She looked at him as he knelt pleading her to spare his life. She finally made a decision…Smiling, She pulled the trigger….

By Stephen Ezennwa

I thought we were done;

She said I was gonna miss her; no doubts I did, but this?

No, I didn’t bargain for this, none of this.

I broke up with her over the phone and thirty minutes later she was at my apartment;

We talked it out;

She told me that it wasn’t going to be easy for her to move on;

But she promised me she’d be fine;

I made her promise me that she won’t do anything drastic;

She left with tears in her eyes;

Even at the moment I broke up with her I loved her;

Seven months later, I’m at Kilimanjaro getting myself treated to a nice meal, courtesy of Phay, my new girlfriend;

After not seeing her for so long, She walks out of nowhere looking like she’s been on some strong shit, wearing a pair of boots and raggedy clothing;

Merely looking at her I knew she hadn’t gotten over it;

I rushed over to where she was and gave her a hug;

Phay opened up for one but she wasn’t taking any of that;

She joined us at the table, we talked, ate, laughed just like old times but she carefully avoided talking directly to Phay;

She said it was time for her to leave;

She stood up and told me to look her straight into the eyes whilst bringing something out of her bag;

“Don’t worry dear” Phay said, thinking she wanted to foot the bill.

Still looking at her, she brought out a pistol and pointed it at Phay and asked me 

“Is she the reason you left me?” 

“I was willing to change for you but I guess you wanted someone else.” 

….. Smiling, she pulled the trigger.

TAKEN

By Jesutofunmi Fekoya. 


Rukkaya adjusted, looking for a comfortable position. It was hard to find one with the ropes tightly binding her wrists and legs. For several days, she had been kept in that foul smelling house with the same cloth they had taken her with. 
The day another girl was brought, Rukkaya’s once forgotten plans to escape were revived. The girl looked like a seven year old and yet she had suffered much. Her eyes were swollen and her face was covered in bruises. She was thrown to the floor and left there. 
When Rukkaya asked her to help release her bonds, she didn’t expect much. But the young girl still had fire in her. Groaning in pain, she sat up and crawled towards her. It took several hours to untie her, hours which felt like days to Rukkaya. Finally, the ropes were off, just in time because one of her captors entered. Like a bullet, the little girl pounced on the man, taking him unaware. He tripped and something slid towards Rukkaya, bringing her out of her shock. 
A smile spread on her face as she picked up the gun and trained it on him. Smiling, she pulled the trigger. 

By Jummai Umar

“Greetings, Jonathon.” She patted her purse, making sure all her belongings were inside and smiled. Jonathon was surprised to see her—how would she know his business at the port? 

“What a welcome surprise.”, he said in a friendly tone, trying to conceal his nervousness. “What brings you here?” 

“I never thought you would disrespect our mother so openly.”, she said, gesturing to the bodies on the ship, being transported to a life of servitude. 

“You know I have no choice. Business is booming, and you see what types of returns these good provide me.”, Johnathon said in a patient, yet condescending voice. He was the wealthiest man in town.

“Have you forgotten who we are? Those people are our brothers.” she said calmly. She looked into his eyes, searching for any remorse, any excuse for her to delay his fate. She adjusted her purse. 

“It doesn’t matter. Money is money.” He turned and waved as he walked towards his ship. 

“And your money– and life shall come to an end.” She reached into her purse. Her mother always told her that she would have no choices in life, just things she had to do. Smiling, she pulled the trigger.  

An Act Of Mercy

By Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen

She’d always known that it would come to this.

Since she was six and innocent, before she saw her father gather her mother in his arms, pepper kisses down her neck, encouraging her to press the razor on her skin so it would send blood flowing; ever since his eyes gleamed when her mother’s blood flowed down her arms.

The first time she made a bullet puncture flesh and spill blood, it was her mother she shot.

“It’s an act of mercy.” Her father gathered her into his arms, “She thanks you, I’m sure of it.”

She giggled and blew him kisses, her eyes, bright, staring into his fearful yellow eyes. “Please.” He pleaded and she laughed, “Spare me.”

In that moment, she remembered her mother’s eyes and how her father had sucked out all her happiness, how he coaxed her mother to tear her skin to please him, how her brother screamed when her father stubbed his cigarettes using his skin, she withered each time he coaxed her to split her skin open or spread her thighs for strangers.

“It’s an act of mercy.” His eyes widened, “You’ll thank me. I’m sure of it.”

Smiling, she pulled the trigger.