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She pressed and held so that the honk of her car will rally with that of the ones around, maybe then, the traffic will clear.

She could will all the cars away, she knew she could. But she did not. She wanted- needed- to conserve her new found powers because of course it was bestowed on her by more than coincidence… it was a gift of fate for the greater good.

Lala knew the world was in imminent danger. The signs where there, of things; bad things approaching from different dark crevices.

It was obvious in the shadows that moved anti-clockwise, against the sun,defying light.

It was evident in the children born with their eye wide open, open even in their mothers wombs.

It was apparent in the gait of the trees, more rebellious as against their gentility. Nature was brazen and brash; a tree trunk extending to make her trip, then the winds howling in laughter as she falls.

Somehow, she was the only one that saw them, she was the only one that felt the change so when she told her mother, her mother merely grimaced and looked away staring into the empty sunburnt evening.

Lala had had enough. Surely, doing something to prevent her from having a heatstroke amidst an ungrateful traffic in a state that will get mad at you for dying because you have caused more traffic is part of the greater good.

Eyes closed. Breathe hitched. Zen mode. Concentrate.  It took 10 minutes… it gets easier and faster by the moment. Wielding ones power, like a talent takes practice… Lala was getting a hold of hers.

The traffic had dispersed before her and she easily maneuvered, her heart in her throat, her fists clenching the wheels till she felt like she’d puke. She could do it, she had the power of telekinesis. She could move objects using sheer mental power and that…. that had to be the most heady thing.

She was glad she made it home before fainting. The mental exercise had drained her of all energy and she needed sugar or an energy drink to re-charge. She’ll take red bull, then she’ll tell her daughter all about it now that she had confirmed that she was indeed superhuman.

It all started in the lab, as a scientist working in a high facility government lab, she dealt with major chemicals, and she believed in major abilities but she had never for once thought she’d accidentally develop an ability though it might be that her strong mental believe had attracted that bug to her.

The vision of that multi-coloured, shimmery bug with eyes that looked like they could see right through people and straight into the future hit her again, this time, so hard she had to promptly sit on a sofa.

She wondered-not for the first time- how it had made it’s way past the barricade, past the heavy duty doors that shut so tight even air had to hiss away. The place was highly sensitized and well-lit, surely something as big and colourful as that should not have covered that distance unnoticed.

But fate… laws of attraction… her innate instinct to help must have had a hand in gaming it all. The sting was so sharp and sudden she fainted. That was when she  died, perhaps for a second or its split,but her heart had skipped a beat, maybe two and it had been jolted back to life only because on her way down, the complex chemical she was working on had spilled and burnt deep into the sting that it had prompted her heart to beat. And when she awoke, she woke up a new human.

She could see patterns in life, she could see thought processes. She could see the life in things people think are inanimate not knowing that they retain the hum of life of their raw nature. The furniture still hum with the trees essence, the cars still have elements of steel, so does every other thing; that was why controlling them became easy for her- because she could feel them, connect to them, communicate with them, will them and they bent to her will.

She didn’t hear her daughter come in. She was so in tune with every other thing she started losing touch with humans… they were far less interesting.

‘Mama you look pale’. Her daughter looked at her worried. Her daughter worried unnecessarily.

Lala smiled weakly.

‘I’m okay. How are you? How’s school?’

But she didn’t hear how school was, or how Nana was selected to represent the school in a science tournament, or how Nana’s best friend was caught with a boy and flogged before the class, or how Nana really needed money for a new uniform, because she was communicating with TV vibes and she would have moved it but for the fear that Nana will freak out.

When she opened her eyes, it was night and her daughter was nowhere to be found, she had slept off. There was a plate of yam and beans porridge on the table, Nana must have made it. Her poor child must be confused and lonely but some matters require sacrifice.

‘Mama are you sure you are okay?’ Nana asked again after checking up on her mother to see if she was breathing. Her mother had been delusional since her father left them for her mothers older cousin but it had become worse lately.

Lala didn’t flinch.

‘It’s okay to think about him. But please we have to move on’. She pleaded. She was desperate for her mother to pick up the pieces of her once colourful life again.

Lala tilted her head towards her daughter and smiled ‘Who? It has always been the two of us darling’.

She was, it seemed, stuck in a stage of calm denial- not of the act of betrayal (it would have been much better) but of the existence of Nana’s Dad. It scared Nana to no end.

Then something moved in Nana’s periphery. She turned to catch the object fly out through the window. Her mother caught her looking and smiled.

‘ I was wondering how you’ll find out. It was so hard keeping it to myself for so long. Now you know’. Her smile was so wide, it was the happiest Nana had seen her since the incident.

‘Know what? What are you talking about Mama?’

‘I know it may seem like there’s a plausible explanation, but it’s just that! I have the power of telekinesis… and yes I just threw out that verse through the window with my mind’.

‘Mama!’ Nana half-whispered in an ill-attempt to keep the alarm out of her voice, ‘Mama that was a bird’. And a tear fell from her eyes.

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.

Honestly that confuses me too. I dream for myself a good life, I never dream small. Inference: I dream for myself a big good life and that requires happiness, contentment and money so I look for it the halal way because I believe that if it’s haram, remove contentment out of the picture.

Sometimes all I think about is how to make more money, be financially independent, make enough to explore the world so when I’m in that phase, I’m all money, money, money.  But some people don’t appreciate that, to them, I just love money too much and it’s unhealthy… especially for a girl (how my gender has anything to do with that baffles me) because apparently guys are intimidated by rich ladies. Okay!

When people ask me why I want to make money or what I’ll do with it I always say it’s because I want to be comfortable.

I want to be able to do stuff for myself without begging for it. I want to give out to others, I want to buy what I want without fear of running dry. I want to live knowing I can sustain myself and those around me for a while without running out.

I want to travel placessss; Italy, France, Beverly Hills, Qatar. 

I don’t want to live in rented places,I want to own it. I want to just halal-own my stuff. Is that me being over-ambitious or realistic “especially for a girl”.

People say ‘kadan mai albarka’ meaning ‘a few blessed coins’ but how about ‘plenty blessed coins’. Islam said nothing about having many properties except the fact that you must account for it and that is scary yes but better to have a good account Alhamdulillah than the other option.

They say you shouldn’t be too ambitious, you are not married and I’m just even taking baby steps now, what will happen when I decide to soar?  I’m sorry if my quest for a good life is off-putting to you but you either join forces or stay away because I’m not putting my life on hold nor will I hibernate my dreams. I mean it’s one life for Allah’s sake, why so uptight?

They say you shouldn’t be more ambitious than your husband but now that isn’t my fault is it. Besides I think my ambition is standard I’m just willing to push it where many aren’t. So if my husband-whosoever that may be- is or wishes to make it in that aspect of life then fine, let’s keep moving, but if he doesn’t, just support me and don’t stand on the way. As long as you try, I’ll appreciate it. 

Besides in case I’m richer than my husband, he will never ever know it. I know how the ego of men work and to make peace reign, unless it is unavoidable, you are richer. I’m not one to flaunt money and wealth, I’m one to use it.

Finally, money is NOT everything. It’s not even half of everything in life honestly so if I put so much effort in making money, then that means I put more effort in making other things work. So why is this one now chucking your eye?


                                    I
  You were far more interesting as a mystery The perfect profile with a fine faceOn your adventurous timelineYou had sensible picturesAnd captions that said you were nice


                              II
You were far more fun in my imagination Witty linesAnd cheesy repliesYour eyes in that picture Suggests so much humour Our conversations were so funny in my mind.


                         III
You were far more reasonable by my thoughtsSensitive to the feeling of othersSober when seriousSensible when soberYour views were very matureBecause in that picture You had on a turtle neck sweatshirt And some nerdy glasses.

                              IV
You were far more intelligent in my spurnsYou effortlessly brush through art, music and sportsYour views are philosophyYou cherish historyAnd are always hungry to learn more.

                           V
You were far too sacred in my thoughts Then I made the biggest mistake, your fallI ruined our unrelationshipBy sneaking in your direct messagesAnd discovering that you were just another flop.

I

She was the first person he saw after buying his ticket and proceeding to the waiting area.   His sense pricked up on high alert the moment he laid eyes on her and the first thing that came to his mind was -soft. She looked so soft and fragile like a delicate cluster of cloud or cotton candy.

It seemed like she wasn’t walking, she was gliding through and she had a meek demeanour but exuded confidence.  She looked like a no-nonsense lamb. He couldn’t help but stare at her, eyes filled with wondrous confusion.

She softly landed on a seat almost opposite his, looked around disinterestingly before whipping out her phone.  He was holding his phone too but it was only so that it wouldn’t be too obvious to her or anyone the fact that he was staring at her from above the phone

Then it was time to board. He watched her struggle with a medium sized box, a small luggage and her hand bag over the flight of stairs that led to the platform where the train awaited them.

His gentlemanly instincts which was otherwise dormant but for the sights of damsels in distress and a few choice moments kicked in and he approached her. He was nervous.  He had never been that nervous to approach a girl. Not even the fiery ones. But he had sweaty palms in anticipation of talking to a lamb.

‘Do you need help with that’?   He asked her, his faint British accent becoming more accentuated by the lob-dob of his heart.

She turned to him, a sweet smile already plastered on her face.

‘Don’t worry, I’m good. Thanks though’. Her voice was like he imagined.  Cottony. Soft and melodious like she was singing softly in speech.

How modest, he thought. The baggage was obviously dragging her back. He had to help. He wondered why she didn’t take the elevator instead but he wasn’t complaining, it was his grand opening.

‘I know you are.  But it seems unfair, I have just a laptop bag and you have three bags. It’s just fair to share’. He flashed her his most charming smile.

She looked at the bags as if in contemplation, turned her gaze to him, then wordlessly extended the big box to him. He collected it, thought fleetingly of how he just acted like a bellboy and hoped she won’t attempt to give him some change after they reach their seats.

‘I can help you with that one too’. He motioned at the smaller hand luggage. Her eyes widened in an emotion he couldn’t decipher, she stared down at it and shook her head.

‘I’m fine really. Thanks’ another smile.

They were both in first class. Good. First class tends to have empty seats so even of they weren’t seat mates, he hoped the seat near hers will be vacant. The connection he felt with her couldn’t just be lost on the train.

‘What’s your seat number?’ He asked, he willed her to say seat 31, the one near his.

’54’ she replied. Dang!

He hauled her box up the rack. She smiled in appreciation.
‘Thank you. Where’s your seat’. She was just being polite.

’32’ he said motioning with his head to the rows of seats behind.

She nodded, he stood still for a  bit waiting for an invitation from her to join the seat but she had already settled on her seat and was rummaging through her handbag. The hand luggage was wedged between her leg and the seat in front of her and it looked uncomfortable.

He bent to help her put it up also on the rack but was cut off by an alarmed sound the moment his hand touched the bag.

‘Don’t touch that!’ She exclaimed.  Then realised her voice was a notch higher than cottony. She lowered her eyes in shyness and looked away. ‘I want this one beside me’ she explained further.

He nodded and left wondering about the very sudden outburst. His mother had always warned him to never open a lady’s bag, he may be surprised at the things he might find. His mother never said anything about touching it.

He settled on his seat but his mind was restless and soon enough, his body grew restless too. Something was enigmatic about her. He wanted to find out.

He stood up and pretended he was going to buy something in the corner canteen . He wanted to see if the seat near her was like his, empty.  But there was an elderly man seated there struggling to settle his laptop on the small fold-in table attached to the back of the seat in front of them.

He passed by them. She was still typing on her phone. He bought two meatpies and two drinks them came back beside the man who sat beside ‘his lady’.

‘ Sir if you want to work on your laptop you could have my seat. It’s that one in the middle by the charging  point.  If the lady assents of course’.

Both he and the man turned to look at her, both with pleading eyes. She smiled for a fraction of a second then shrugged.  The man thanked him, carried his bag and headed to the table spot. With the charging point near him, he could finish his preparing his presentation long enough to have time to hack into his girlfriend’s instagram account.  He had a feeling she’s doing something fishy over there.

‘I’m sorry. I hope I’m not imposing myself’ he said, he didn’t sound sorry.

‘I don’t mind’ she replied. He extended the snack and drink to her, she shook her head. He insisted,  she collected it and kept it near him. Then they started talking.

Because her speech is soft, one will hardly notice how much of a conversationalist she was. But he noticed,  as he noticed everything about her. Like the way her gze kept gliding by the bag.

They spoke about plenty things, their family, their early life, University.  She didn’t go into depth,  she avoided some aspects, he noticed that too.

Before he knew it, they had arrived. Ut was the shortest Abuja -Kaduna train ride he had ever been on.

He helped her with her bag. They went down the stairs and stood at the end waiting for their rides.  Hers came first and he was ad to say goodbye. At least he had her number. Our love story started on the train. It was a classic one. That was what he’ll tell their kids and grandkids,  he thought.

It was only when he heard a phone ring beside him that ge realised in horror,  she had forgotten her lady bad.

He picked it up. Moved forward trying to see whether they were still in view or had turned back to get it but the cars and people where fewer then. It was already past 8:00 pm. Last train for the day.

He decided to open it and answer. No doubt it was she trying to get her phone back.

He opened the bag, reached for the phone, froze. It was no lady bad, it was a death bag. There was a sleek metallic gun, some bottles, three fingers wrapped in something like cling film, some clothes stained with blood and by the side, huddled between the clothes, a human skull stared at him with empty hollowed out sockets.

He dropped the bag in fear and turned around in confusion hoping no one had seen him but he saw her. She smiled,  itbwas everything but warm and fluffy.

‘It’s quite unfortunate.  I really liked you. Didn’t your mother teach you not to open a lady’s bag?’.

Before he could move, a car stopped behind him. He heard the door open and all in a split second with shock rendering him immobile, someone covered his face with a cloth heavy with chloroform and he sunk into it’s intoxicating lure all the while staring into her eyes. Her hardened, lifeless, scary eyes.

He should have heeded his mother’s advice.

I
It came wrapped in ribbons
Bright red ribbons and cheap glossy paper wraps
The first time it came
My mom beat me up blue
She said you are only in primary 5
What do you know about love
I still hate that boy till today
His unsolicited attention caused me pain
I remember it was on a valentines day.
II
It came wrapped in spiky ribbons
This time it had a face
And a very beautiful face I must say
It placed itself in my way all day
Till I took notice of it and called it bae
And bae made sure he left my heart a wreck
III
It came wrapped in a brown sheet
With a tie hanging from it’s square neck
And it had a voice of authority
Which affected me like a placebo
It was time, they said
To accept the gift that came
But they didn’t know I had already accepted me.
IV
We are to ourselves, gifts
Others, a bonus
Large bonuses
Negative bonuses
Beautiful bonuses
Life-changing bonuses
But first, you are the gift
And without them, you still exist
But with them, life has a much deeper meaning
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