Monday 26 April 2010

Cooking and Dodo Ikire

Heyy blogsville,
So its been a while since I did a post on cooking. I was supposed to go to Nigeria for a few days but my flight got cancelled thanks to the stupid volcanic ash so I have had a bit of free time on my hands. And when I am bored, I COOK (and eat, but that's a different story for another day!)
As I mentioned in my earlier posts, the movie Julie and Julia encouraged me to buy a bunch of cook books and I have been trying them out. Here are some pics of things I have recently cooked:

Salmon Fish Cakes

Strawberry and Almond Cake

KFC Style Chicken

Which of these would you like the recipe for? I will tell you the recipe for making the one with the most votes. They are all tasty, although some are more challenging than others!

The recipe I would like to share today is one I saw on African Pot on T.V. It is called Dodo Ikire. It originates from the town of Ikire in Osun state and as I am sure you can tell is made from plantain aka "dodo". It is very similar to the ghanian Kelewele which is also fried chopped spiced plantain.

The ingredients are 1)overly ripe plantain, preferably turning black so its very sweet.
2)Palm Oil 3) Onion 3) Chilli Peppers(Ata Rodo)4)Salt to taste

1)Blend the onions and peppers until smooth and fry in the palm oil
2) Chop the plantain in cubes and season with salt
3)When the onions are dissolved, fry the plantain in the oil until black, not brown, but black almost burnt. This gives it that very sweet sticky toffee taste. The sweetness, saltiness and peppers give it a very unique combination of flavours that I did not know could be achieved with plantains.

This recipe is VERY fattening, and all that frying in palm oil will soon give you a heart attack so I definitely do not recommend it eaten all the time!! When you do though, the taste is worth that extra 15mins on the tredmill!

Miss B

Saturday 24 April 2010

The Northern Prince Part 6b

Jamal Mujahid was sexually frustrated. Rabi worked the morning shift now, making it hard for them to spend time together. Dirty talk on the phone was not the same and eventually they both had to concede defeat to her crazy schedule, his workaholic attitude and cancel their room in the Hilton. Jamal had become accustomed to their routine: last room on the 14th floor, sex, wake up to her beside him, order room service, more sex, freshen up, shower sex, kiss goodbye, groping in the car. Sex with Rabi was amazing and the most potent high he had ever experienced. Deprived of it Jamal suddenly found himself with nothing to occupy his mind but thoughts of when next he could strip her naked, touch her till she quivered, suck on her nipples. He was losing his marbles. He needed a way to blow off steam.

With nowhere to go, Jamal found himself home more often. At first it was awkward Nabila had obviously cultivated a routine that involved her being alone in the house. They stared at each other like children who needed to talk but had nothing to say. Slowly as his presence became more regular she relaxed. He had to admit that she was no longer so annoying; and had taken it down a notch. Gone were the tantrums, sulking and complaints. She smiled when he ate at the table and didn’t bother him if he was in no mood to talk. She was also very concerned with his headaches

“It is not so bad now. You were right it was dehydration. Why are you smiling?”

“You just said I was right” Nabila grinned. Jamal shook head for her, and in that fraction of a moment he figured he probably didn’t hate her anymore.

A hot Thursday afternoon Jamal returned from work to find Nabsy taking a nap on the couch. She slept a lot these days; or maybe he just noticed that because he was home more often. Normally, he would walk past her and up the stairs but her face looked puffed up

“Nabila me ke damun ki- what is wrong with you?”

“I have a headache” she said stirring awake

“Since when?” Jamal peered closer; she looked awful and was breathing heavily

Tin tini fa- a long time”

Asibiti- hospital” Jamal reached for his car keys

Ba na so- I don’t want to”

“Nabila you have been inhaling fertilisers for weeks now. It could be any one of those chemicals you use in the garden. Dan Allah mu tafi- lets go.”

If Nabila wasn’t so lightheaded she would have heard the shadow of concern in her husband’s voice. Jamal heard it; he definitely no longer resented his wife. They lived together peacefully and she actually bid him farewell to work each morning. Nabila tried to rise up but fatigue kept her grounded. Yanzu- now” he ordered beginning to fear the worst

Jamal drove Nabila to the hospital, having to stop along the way as motion sickness prompted nausea. He parked and held her head as she threw up on the side of the road. He handed an almajiri 500 to clean it up and continued on his journey as slowly as possible. He was really worried now. What does she have? Is it contagious? Patiently he sat in the waiting room outside the doctors’ office; glad he knew the GP and could call ahead. Jamal thought about what his father in law, Dr. Danjuma Bello would do to him when he found out Jamal let his daughter get sick, inhale those bloody gardening fumes all day.

The man would have him assassinated; his body would be publicly burnt or drowned at the bottom of Jabi River. Jamal suddenly felt very hot and he pulled on his collar. He jumped up when the nurse informed him the doctor would see him now. Walking in he found Nabila sobbing into a handkerchief and the doctor consoling. Seeing Jamal’s frightened face the doctor spoke “It is good news Jamal. Do not look so worried.” Jamal glanced from his face of mild amusement to Nabila’s of sadness. He did not know who to believe.

“I will leave you two to talk” with that the doctor excused them

“Are you sick?” Jamal asked quietly


“Alhamdullilahi” Jamal exhaled the breathe he didn’t know he had been holding

“Then why are you crying?”

“I am perfectly fine. Nothing is wrong with me” Nabila said with heavy eyes. “Nothing” she repeated. For a second there she had thought, with the fatigue and nausea and heavy smells, she prayed that maybe, perhaps.......

Jamal looked confused “Ki na kuka- you are crying” he explained hoping she would clarify that point for him.

“Can you excuse me for a while?” Nabila said politely

Jamal was worried by the formality in her tone, maybe she was in shock or something. He was just glad he avoided untimely death and would live to fight another day. He stepped out and waited for her to calm herself and get ready. As he drove home, Jamal insisted she stay away from her garden for a while and if she must return to caring for it alone, she had to wear a gas mask. Nabila did not argue.

Over the next week he watched his wife go through a variety of emotions. She was herself, then weepy, then sleepy. Jamal did not know how to deal with this complex layered Nabila so he was extra careful. He thought of what the doctor said on their way out “Take good care of her.” Jamal said he would, so over breakfast as Nabila helped butter his toast she asked if he would invite his squash buddy for lunch after their game on Saturday. Squash, the sport he had taken on to combat his intense longing for Rabi. If Jamal were ever to recommend an aid to sexual desire, bouncing a hollow rubber ball repeatedly against a wall was definitely it.

That Saturday Ikenna Nwosu strolled into his new friend’s house. Nabila was in her garden unable to stay away. She held the hose and watered her African lilies, remembering her promise to twine the stems on her baby’s crib. Ikenna called to her

“Mrs. Mujahid”

Nabila waved “Ikenna yade. How nice to see you again” Jamal looked confused, “when did you meet my wife?” Ikenna thought about making a joke but Jamal didn’t seem to have a sense of humour right now.

“Her father consults with the UN and I was with the Minister of Health during a meeting”

“How many Minsters are you friends with?” Jamal asked

“All of them.” Ikenna responded calmly

Jamal focused his attention on his wife, “It was like a month ago. Baba and the Minister left to discuss privately so Ikenna and I had time to talk.” As she spoke Ikenna winked at her to rile Jamal up.

“My friend try that again and you are out of this house wallahi” Jamal warned. Nabila laughed

“The garden is lovely Nabsy” Ikenna continued ignoring his friend. He gazed admiringly at the water feature as it trickled over white stones. The colours were so vibrant and the floral scent strong. He patted her on the shoulder “seriously impressed”

Jamal was yet to get over the fact Ikenna called her Nabsy, what was that? He didn’t remember the last time he called her that. Jamal still didn’t care what Nabila did with her time, but by Allah he was the only one in this marriage that was allowed to have an extra marital affair. He looked as Nabsy excitedly explained her planting technique to a very interested Ikenna.

“That is really cool” he nodded steadily “Do you think this will work on uneven terrain”

“Well not this exact pattern but definitely. You can plant anything once you understand the soil you have to deal with” and Nabsy began to describe what Ikenna could do with his back garden, something about rolling hills, low hedges and climbing vines. Jamal hated being excluded from the conversation

Kai lets go in” he announced loudly squinting at the sun

They sat down at the table when the chef served pounded yam and efo. Ikenna smacked his lips loudly and complimented the cooking, asking if he would be available to take up another shift

“You tried to steal my wife and now you want to steal my cook” Jamal said without a smile

Nabila didn’t understand what had gotten into Jamal. That was the second time he had referred to her as ‘his wife.’ She didn’t want him to wreck her master plan

“Did you get round to calling my friend like we discussed” Nabila asked Ikenna

“It slipped my mind. Give her my number to buzz me”

“No way. You are the guy. You make the call”

“I might forget. I am so busy with work”

“You are always busy with work”

“Beginning to sound like my ex-wife” Ikenna warned

“Maybe she had a point.” Nabsy mirrored his tone

“You used to be married?” Jamal asked shocked. Nabila looked confused “I thought you guys were friends?”

“Guys don’t talk about stuff like that” Ikenna said

“Call Amaka” she ordered

Ikenna handed over his phone and Nabsy imputed her friend’s number along with a reminder to call.

“She must really be something” Ikenna conceded

“She is already too good for you” Nabila said.

“That is true” Jamal agreed. Heaving a sigh of relief that Ikenna would be focusing on other females.

Ikenna laughed good-naturedly and enjoyed his meal. He tipped the chef, and made Nabsy promise to further discuss his landscaping, thanking her for a wonderful afternoon.

“I like him” Nabila announced as she got ready for bed that night, lowering herself gently to avoid triggering dizziness

“Because you foresee double dates in the future” Jamal responded sarcastically

“Most of your peers just follow you around like lap dogs but Ikenna is on an even keel. You’re good for each other’s ego. Maganin ka wallahi- he’s your medicine”

“How long was he married for?” Jamal asked

“Five years” Nabsy responded

“Where is his wife now?”

“In Switzerland where he left her” Nabila pulled the covers “With half his net worth”

Ki che Allah- swear to God” Jamal exclaimed fully awake now

“Wallahi. You know how it is there now; the wife is entitled to half of everything”

“So he left the country for her as well. Ba zan iya ba- I can’t do that” Jamal shook his head to emphasis his point

“She was the reason he stayed as long as he did. Offers from Central Bank had been coming in for years, but she didn’t want to move here. So when the marriage dissolved...”

Jamal and his wife talked about Western ways till they fell asleep. Gossiping like school children. It was the first time, in a long while they had gisted.

The next squash game Jamal’s curiosity got the better of him so he asked Ikenna if he had a girlfriend, all under the pretence of protecting Amaka

“You are going to have to be more specific. Will this be the IMF contract or the bail agreement?” Ikenna replied smiling

“It’s not like you are short of flesh and blood women. All you do is stare”

Ikenna wielded his racket like a light sabre. “You know how Nigerian women are now; anyone you date at this age will be expecting a ring within a year. As a recent divorcee, that is just not happening”

Jamal nodded in agreement. Any man in his early thirties was not considered to date for fun. It had to be leading somewhere.

“What’s your marriage like?” Ikenna asked

“I am the husband and I have a wife” Jamal answered straight faced

“No aboki” he knew Jamal hated that name “I mean what is it like, the same person for five years. Same face every morning and all that. Heaven or Hell?”

“You were married once. How do you remember it?” Jamal asked back

“I don’t remember much. I worked too hard, sometimes not returning home till midnight.”

“Just as you do now” Jamal added.

“But we are talking about your marriage. I can’t figure it out. Most husbands I know either gush about their marriage mentioning their wife in all conversation or complain and hit on everything in a skirt. You do neither.” Jamal’s blackberry beeped with a text message.

“I have to go” he said suddenly jumping up. Scrambling his things together he nearly tripped on his way out the door.

“Bros is everything alright?”

“Yes yes. Good game” Jamal gave thumbs up yelling as he ran down the hall and out the sports complex. He raced to his car and sped out the parking lot at break neck speed.

The image of the words on his screen was glued to the forefront of his mind.

You have no idea what I would do to you if you were here. Rabi

Jamal grinned like a Cheshire cat and stepped on the gas. Rabi was just getting off work and Jamal was already waiting for her in the vacant parking lot.

“What took you so long?” she giggled as she got in

Jamal put up the tint windows and reached for her breasts. Rabi leaned into his palms and laughed her husky laugh. She purred when he slid his hand down her scrubs.

“Yes just like that” she whispered in his ear. She was always so responsive to his touch and when Jamal found the silkiness of her centre he felt just how eager. Rabi gave a moan and held on to his wrist her nails digging into skin. He turned on the radio when Rabi straddled him and rolled her waist atop his fingers not bothering to bite her lip. She was so vocal

“Just there. Yes! Oh faster.”

Jamal lay back as Rabi bewitched him with her kisses, pulling down the elastic of his gym shorts and releasing the hard on that had been causing a strain in his pants from the moment he got in his car. She squeezed the engorged head and kissed away the grunt she knew would emerge from Jamal. They shed their clothes in seconds; there were no zippers or buttons to contend with today. Rabi bit his earlobe and murmured nasty promises. Things she would do to him, for him, with him. Releasing his touch from within her; she licked her nectar off his index finger. Nestled between pink pursed lips; she sucked with a promise to replicate elsewhere.

“Bee Bee” Jamal grunted her name breathing fast

He grabbed a fistful of her ass and buried his face in her breasts, rolling his tongue on her nipple till she begged him to bite. Hard just the way she liked it. Jamal took each dark knob and sucked and pinched and kissed. He thrust into her. Hard, fast, deep till she clutched her chest, it was hard for her to breathe now. The AC was on but they were both perspiring, skin got slicker and Rabi relished licking his neck and burying her face in his curls. She spun around with him inside her into reverse cow girl and bounced her ass for his pleasure; smacking herself and calling out his name. Jamal growled like an animal. She made him call her name and he made her call his. Taking turns to set the pace they satisfied each other till their bodies unable to cope longer shivered in release.

“I really needed that” Rabi whispered when she came

“Me too” Jamal said sleepily “Don’t you ever leave me again”

“I’ll try my best” Rabi promised as she settled into the curve of his shoulder and slept.

Sunday saw Nabila in her garden picking flowers for the living room arrangement. “Nabsy are we fighting” Amaka appeared out of nowhere

Ki hakuri” Nabsy apologised rising to hug her. Amaka side-stepped her embrace

“Sorry now” Nabsy pouted “It has been a crazy couple of days”

They made up and Nabsy stepped back to admire Amaka. “You look nice today” she complimented her skinny jeans and red scoop neck top. Nodded in appreciation at the tiny braids and tugged on her hoop earrings. “That reminds me I have to be somewhere. Can you give me a lift?”

“Yeah of course” Amaka answered confused at the subject change. She brought Nabsy up to date on the twins as she followed directions eventually pulling up in front of a large bungalow. The house was startling white and looked like a giant sugar cube. She walked in behind Nabsy and heard her respond to a male voice.

“What a surprise” he said

Amaka was confused, didn’t Nabila say she had to be here. Why was he surprised?

“I want you to meet someone” Nabila giggled excitedly “This is Amaka” she pulled her into his view. What a view it was. He was dark like the Ghanaian chocolates Amaka indulged in. He had distracting eyes; very bright and mischievous like he was always thinking naughty thoughts. In a Chelsea jersey and cargo pants, he hovered above them both and had to lean in to view Amaka properly. It made her feel dainty and tiny. She loved it.

“I have heard so much about you. Informed that it would be my pleasure for us to meet” he held on to Amaka’s fingertips smiling widely. He didn’t finish his sentence. His eyes did.

Amaka blushed like a 14year old. Think of something witty to say...think think think. But all she did was giggle.

“Amaka darling, this is my friend” Nabsy failed to suppress her smug smile

“Okay” Amaka nodded like a bobble head doll

“Ikenna Nwosu” Amaka pulled her hand away like she had been scalded by hot oil. This was Ikenna Nwosu? The little rat bastard that pointed out her lack of dignity. The one who insulted her. The one who made her cry. Amaka turned around and walked out

“Maka wait” Nabsy ran and got in the car with her “What was all that about?”

“Why would you put me in that situation?” Amaka’s fingers gripped the steering wheel

“What do you mean? I thought you liked him”

“Why do you care huh? Nabila why can’t you learn to butt out of my life”

Nabsy stared at her friend shocked. “I’m-m s-sorry” she stuttered

“So he is your friend” Amaka’s voice rose as the events of that night came back to her. “You weren’t there when he said those things to me”

“What things?”

“He said I had no dignity. Me.”

“Ikenna said that? When?” Nabila kept glancing back at the house

“The night I called him...said he had better things to do” Amaka could feel the weight of unshed tears

“You called him?”

“Femi had just hung up on me as well...”

“Femi called” Nabila interrupted “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because!” Amaka shrieked “You would have judged me. All you do is talk and talk but it is not your life. Is it a crime to love the father of your children? You get in your car and drive home to your husband” She gave a bitter laugh “You don’t know what it is like”

“Amaka you don’t know anything about my marriage”

“You and Jamal have worked things out. I had to come hijack you from your house only to be brought here and embarrassed”

“How was I supposed to know what happened? I am not psychic Amaka and I am tired of apologising for things that are not my fault” Nabsy opened her door and stepped out

“Well excuse me for having a bad day. Go back to your perfect life”

“You are acting like a child”

“Maybe it’s from hanging around my children all day” the minute she said it Amaka wished it back. Nabila turned around and walked back into the sugar cube house.

That evening Amaka moped around staring at her phone. She never lost her temper, it just wasn’t her. She had contemplated various ways to apologise, and steeled her heart for the retaliation she surely deserved. God knows, Nabila had the ammunition.

“Mommy why are you sad?” Chiamaka ever observant climbed into her lap

“Because I was mean to Aunty Nabila and I want to say sorry”

“Why were you mean?”

“I was upset and sometimes adults want everyone else to feel the way they feel”

“That’s silly.”

“Grown ups can be silly. Go play with your brother” She smiled and stroked her daughter’s head.

Amaka walked into the kitchen and dialled Nabila’s number

“Nabsy I am so sorry for my behaviour this afternoon. I never should have said those things to you. I don’t know what came over me; I did not mean a word I swear. What can I do to make it up to you?”

“I can’t discuss this over the phone”

A half hour later, Nabila was at her front door. They shared a tight hug

“I am sorry”

“No I’m sorry”

“You love Femi and that is okay. You never have to justify anything to me. Do you understand?”

Once the twins were tucked in, over chocolate biscuits Amaka agreed Ikenna was a hunk and congratulated Nabsy on her good taste “but he is a jerk.”

“Doesn’t that just make him hotter?”

“No Nabsy. It makes him a jerk” Amaka pinched her

“Why haven’t you touched your coffee?”

“I’ve sworn off caffeine”

“Blasphemy” Amaka slapped her hand on the kitchen counter “You sin against Nescafe. Why would you do th...?”

“I’m three weeks pregnant”

Amaka spat out her tea.

By S.B

Friday 23 April 2010


I am sure most of you have heard the terrible news that Yoruba rapper Dagrin aka Emilomo Lan, CEO of Miosofunyin Entertainment passed away earlier today. I am so so saddened by this news as I am a HUGE fan of Dagrin, and have been for a long time.

What hurts me the most is that I have been meaning to do an article on break out stars of 2010 about him, Nneka, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz for a while now, and I have just been procastinating as usual. This WAS HIS YEAR!
I cannot stress how HUGE a fan I am of him, all my friends were starting to say I have found my new 9ice. I love people that rap in local languages as it gives it a great flavour.
Actually, one of my twitter updates a couple of weeks back was "I think I officially own Dagrins songs just waiting for him to release some more". He was one of those artists who sounds great on other peoples tracks because he always brings a certain raw edge to it, which is why he was so in demand.

He was a lyrical genius as well, so gifted with sending across raw life lessons and telling his life stories, on a mad beat and packaging it as a "party song".

His best song WITHOUT QUESTION is Ghetto Dream ft Sossick, the title track of his album below:

It tells of his life struggles and the different dreams he had to leave the ghetto. For those who do not understand Yoruba, here is what the song is saying:

Verse 1
There have been countless times that I have gotten up and fallen down
Countless people have called me useless
Countless clubbing where I could not afford one red bull
Countless coloured t-shirts but only one red shoe
Countless witches and bad belle people
Countless times I played free shows
Countless times people have told me to give up, told me I am local and my way isnt hip-hop
But I was determined and I was focused
That is why my name has spread like staphylococus
Countless troubles, countless insults, countless times I have eaten concoction without no salt
Countless times I slept dreaming of being a celebrity, when I wake up I continue my hustle on the street
Its a pity, when will I be able to buy an Infinity or Amanda, to invite you all to ride

Verse 2
I have a dream to live in Aja as my resident
I have a dream to be Nigeria's president
The money they get is what encourages me
The curses people reign on them is what discourages me
I have a dream to be a pastor or priest
But I cannot stop drinking and smoking
I have a dream to be like pastor Chris
But I am carried away by the "effizy" of Ludacris
I have a dream to be smart like Wole Soyinka
But the problem is these ladies seem to distract me
I have a dream to go to school and be a professor
But lack of money stopped me, like bus at its stop
I had a dream to play football like Kaka
Maybe someday they can sign me to Barca
But everytime there was training they would need money
And at that time my pocket was empty

The words sound 100 times as better in yoruba and flow poetically. DEEP STORIES OF STRUGGLE.

Another song of his I love is Thank God with Omawunmi.

His feature on Champion by Pype is outstanding, where he calls him self "Barack O'Grin"(He seemed to have an obsession with Obama, but who doesnt?)

The first song I ever heared him on was on KSB's Turn me Around with Sheyman, I loveddd him on this, and the line where he says "God I want to drive a bently, and have money like Mike Adenuga, all the things you have done for me are not enough, its not that I am greedy, but you said we should as and we shall recieve" Genius:

He has a number of features, but Pon Pon Pon is his first official video from his debut album Chief Executive Omoata(CEO) which recently dropped.

And of course his most popular song KONDO! The song that took him from a wannabe to a true club banger. The most popular chorus this year:
"Mumy has gone to the market, Dady has gone to Lokoja, my siblings have gone out, I;m the only one at home, come and get some KONDO( which means "batton or stick" literally but I am sure you get where he's
How many guys have invited girls to come and get some Kondo because of this probably countless......

It is not often that we hear rags to riches stories in Nigeria, where hard work actually pays off, but Dagrin showed that anyone can do it, as long as they are persistent and talented. He created his own unique style, flowing in Yoruba, one of the very few rappers today that do that. He did not imitate anybody and this is what lead him to success. I am so deeply hurt by his tragic and untimely death, especially at the height of his success. As you can tell I am a big fan.

May his soul rest in eternal rest, and may his music live on.


Miss B

Saturday 17 April 2010

The Northern Prince Part 6a

Published Northern Prince on for a competition and got bad reviews from the judges ;-((

Oh well, you guys seem to really like it, and J.K Rowling got rejected by 14 publishers before she made it so we'll keep writing! Enjoy

Nabila Mujahid blinked against the light as she arose. The morning unfurled in all its glory splashing red and gold beams on white clouds. She tossed the sheets off her like a woman with something to accomplish today. Mentally going over her chores: exercise, weeding and watering her garden, buying bedding plants...Unconsciously she ran her fingers through her hair, perhaps she should get a steam treatment. Maybe a sauna massage also. Will that heat be good for the baby? She had to check first.

Jamal Mujahid sat at his dining table scoffing down fried plantain while reviewing a new contract deal. Unexpectedly his wife joined him for breakfast, singing her greeting. He glanced at Nabila as she stroked her hair. She had no idea how much she looked like her sister when she did that. Sipping his tea, he wished it was Rabi wearing the ivory silk chemise and staring at him
“Kin tashi - You’re awake” he said in mock horror.
“I wanted to see you off to work” Nabila answered acknowledging it was 7.00am
Jamal wanted to raise an eyebrow but his head felt heavy. It hopped between numbness and hyper sensitivity. If he didn’t know better he would think he was waking up with a mild hangover but all last night afforded him were flashes of a vivid sexual dream he had about Rabi. Jamal squinted and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Are you alright?” Nabila asked concerned
“It’s just a little headache”
“I think you should drink some water. Maybe you’re dehydrated”
Jamal considered the possibility. Nabila sipped on her glass of water as the cook promptly laid out a plate setting for her. Minutes later he returned with the pancake and scrambled eggs she had requested
“That was quick, thank you” Nabila said smiling. Both the cook and Jamal stared at her in shock. Nabila unaware munched on her breakfast heartily, humming as she refilled her glass with orange juice.

Amaka Nwafor cursed silently under her breathe as she dumped Chiamaka in the bathroom to have a shower. Urging her daughter to brush like the wind and insisting Chibuzo dress faster. They were running 30minutes behind schedule and that meant they were very, very, late. Those minutes would have been spent setting up lunch boxes, running the school bag inspection for pencil cases and homework, preparing an omelette for breakfast and leaving the kids to enjoy their fruits in front of the television while she put on her makeup. The new time constraint would not allow for normal procedure today. Instead they would all have to munch on meat pies in the car while she prayed they made it past rush hour traffic.

By 12.00 noon Amaka was worn out. She conceded that she would spend the remainder of her day chasing the lost half hour, desperately trying to claw it out of every spare minute. The twins were irritable on the school run, grumbling about missing their show and asking if they could have ice cream instead of the cold meat pies she rummaged out of the fridge. Stuck in traffic, Amaka applied her makeup in the rear view mirror and the twins were 12 minutes late into their first period. She rushed to the school hall to see that the non-teaching staff meeting had begun without her and had to remain behind with the Headmistress to review minutes she missed. This in turn made her late to her first admission visit with the Al-Bashir’s from Kano. Hausa royalty did not take kindly to waiting around so she spent longer explaining the school facilities to them and insisted on showing little Aisha around herself. It was Amaka’s break time but she had a stack of paper work to go through. Although she worked at the school her children attended Amaka hardly set foot in their classrooms in light of being fair and minimising bias. She was grateful for her job which accorded that the twins be granted immediate admittance, school fees at a generous staff discount and the gift of spending all day with her babies. For this reason, Amaka avoided using her position for leverage whenever she could help it.

It was more appropriate for the children to come into her office; as was allowed with every other pupil at Elite Primary School. At 12.01pm Chiamaka came in, followed 5 minutes later by Chibuzo. Amaka had insisted they be placed in different arms so they made friends outside of one another, this sometimes meant different break times. They sat on her chair and played with the lever, took turns spinning each other around and conned her out of lollipops. For a while Amaka watched them and felt angry at Femi. How could any parent choose to miss out on this? Because Femi had a choice, they were not living in squalor. He did not have to go America to make his fortune. What drove him away was his ego. A need to prove his parents wrong, that he could make it on his own. Four years later and he was still trying. He had not even called his children in over five months. It was alright now, when the twins thought mommy was a superhero and daddy some sort of prince in exile but they were getting older and soon “daddy will be back soon” will cease to be enough.

After the twins left, Amaka allowed the feeling of loss to overcome her, engulfed in all she had to do on her own. All that had to be accomplished before she could put her feet up today. She missed Femi and wanted him home. But all she had were stories buried in nostalgia. Living her life for what once was. Amaka wanted her children to know how funny and charming and handsome their father is. How he was always the life of the party.

Femi, the only man she ever hugged, kissed, made love to, bore kids for. He was her first everything. And he could not find the time to send a bloody email, a ‘thank you for raising the kids’ text. The last time they spoke, she chastised him for not checking in regularly enough, inquired as to why his number never went through. What if we need you? She asked him
“Maka it’s you hun. As long as you’re with them I will never worry” he replied confidently.
Amaka sighed. She just wanted the chance to feel like a woman after a day of being a mom. It has been so many years since she felt sexy or went out on a date. She flipped to the next page in her day planner and saw Chibuzo had written in purple crayon I Love You Mom. Amaka wiped a tear from her eye and went back to work.
At the end of the school day, Amaka walked her children to their respective after school activities. Chiamaka had changed into her uniform for girls scout and Chibuzo excitedly ran into his music class. With a wave at their teachers, her colleagues, Amaka walked back to her office. The end of the day finally arrived and Amaka drove home exhausted. The kids had their baths while she stirred spaghetti, blended tomatoes for the sauce and fried meatballs. She tossed salad, knowing she would have to threaten before its eaten. The twins told her about their day and re-enacted the scene from Lady and the Tramp; slurping the spaghetti strings one at a time and making a mess. “As long as you clean it up” was her only warning. After homework they were awarded one ice cream scoop each and watched Jungle Book till bedtime. All three knelt by the bed to pray and Amaka remembered how frightened the twins used to be of ‘Now I Lay Me down To Sleep’ because the final line spoke of dying, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Seeing no reason to put her babies through that, Amaka suggested they recite personal versions, of what they would like God to do while they slept. On their insistence, she helped make it rhyme.

Chibuzo led the first half of his prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
See me safely through the night,
and wake me with the morning light.

Chiamaka continued with her second verse:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.
May angels watch me through the night,
and keep me in their blessed sight.

Amaka kissed each forehead goodnight and retired to her parlour to watch Grey’s Anatomy. She prepared sandwiches for the lunch boxes tomorrow, placed ice lollies in the freezer, ironed school uniforms, Nabsy called to chat, a quick double check that all the doors were bolted and she soon knelt by her bed reciting her night prayers:

This night I lay me down to sleep
I give the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the lord my soul to take
Four corners of my bed
Four angels over head
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Bless this bed I lay upon
I lay my head on our lady's knee
Jesus come this night and save me
Heart of Joseph I adore thee
Heart of Mary I implore thee
Heart of Jesus pure and just
In those three hearts I place my trust.

Amaka had barely settled beneath her duvet when her phone rang. Not wanting to wake the children she answered immediately. Lo and behold it was the prodigal husband
“Maka” his gruff voice clearing the day’s exhaustion from her bones
“Femi. What is going on? Where have you been?”
“It’s okay. Everything is fine. You worry too much” he sounded like she was overreacting
“It has been three months Femi. Three months!”
“I just ran into a little problem that’s all. I did not want to worry you darling”
“When are you coming home?” Amaka asked like many times before
“Soon” Femi replied like many times before
“Please just come back. I miss you. The kids miss you”
“When it all works out; it would all have been worth it. You’ll see”
This was not about her. It was about his stupid battle of wills with his parents. Amaka could not believe a man who had not seen his children since they could barely make sentences, was talking about his absence being ‘worth it.’ Where was he when Chiamaka ran a high fever at 2am? Where was he when Chibuzo fractured his arm playing with his friends? Where was he when her parents told her she would always be alone? Amaka had a long day and could feel the bile rising in her throat.
“Femi don’t bullshit me. I want a specific answer”
“Amaka what has gotten into you?”
“You Femi. You have gotten into me. You don’t seem to appreciate me or how hard this is”
“Of course I do sweetheart. I love you and I wish I could be there but...”
“But what? Eh Femi? The only person preventing you from being here is you”
“That is not fair”
“What is not fair is you choosing your ego over your responsibility as a father”
“Why are you saying these hurtful things?”
“Femi come home. Please I am begging you.”
“Maka let me just hammer this big one.”
“Let me wake the kids then. So they can hear your voice”
“I have to go” Femi interrupted her. “We’ll have to continue this another time. Take care.” With that the line abruptly cut. Amaka stared at the receiver in her hand and felt engulfed in hopelessness. She did not know when next Femi would call and she for one was tired. She had to face the fact that Femi may never return; at least not until he was good and ready never mind those who needed him. Amaka was tired of putting her life on hold for someone who wasn’t even her husband. It has been four years and while she had kept her promise, could she really say the same for him? Before she knew it the twins would be off to boarding school; she would have to learn to have a life.
Inhaling a deep breath Amaka dialled the stored number on her phone.
“Hello” a tenor voice answered
“Hel-lo” Amaka said slowly her voice shaking. She had never done this before
“Am I speaking to Mr. Nwosu?”
“This is Ikenna. Who is this?”
“I got your number from...”
“Oh my God another one!” He exclaimed
“What?” Amaka sputtered confused
“Listen lady. Get a life. Have some dignity for Chrissake.”
“Dignity” Amaka echoed
“Yes dignity. It’s what prevents women from calling strange men at work”
“Work?” It was 10.30pm
“I am a very busy man” Mr. Nwosu continued. Hinting at Amaka to go away
“I’m so sorry to have disturbed you” Amaka apologised out of habit
“Don’t be sorry. Don’t call me again”
There was a click, then dial tone. Amaka stared at her phone. “I have suffered” she whispered to herself before turning to sob softly into her pillow, careful not to wake the kids.

The weekend meant one glorious thing to Amaka. An extra pair of hands. They came in various forms; a neighbour, a best friend. This Saturday it was the honour of her would be in-laws, The Cokers. Femi’s parents lived in the centre of Abuja, not far from Nabila’s parents, The Bellos. The twins went to visit roughly once a month and were always excited to go, mostly because of the swimming pool in the backyard. They packed their swimming trunk and swimming costume complete with inflatable toys before Amaka had even gotten up. They assaulted her in bed jumping and chanting “mommy let’s start going.” Amaka too tired to argue, called to say they were on their way and only offered an apple for breakfast knowing the kids would want to jump straight in the pool once they got there. She drove in and was met in front of their impeccable home by both Kunle and Lade Coker. As always Amaka was embarrassed by the act, it always felt like she kept them waiting. She strolled to the couple, knelt good morning and stood aside while they fussed over the children. The twins stayed long enough not to be rude before running towards the pool and diving in without a care in the world. Lade Coker shouted for the housegirl, Bisi, to take station by the water and watch over the twins. Amaka was led into the house and placed on the sofa like a trophy.
“Thank you so much for letting the twins swim around”
“Why of course” Kunle Coker said. He spoke what Amaka liked to call Old English. Dragging the last syllable of every word and ending it with a lilt. The first time she met him, she knew he was an Oxford man
“It is lovely to have the children over” Lade chipped in softly. Her non-verbal communication being she would like to see them more. Amaka did not know how to explain her need to be the primary care giver so she didn’t bother
The silence went on for longer; but it was not uncomfortable. That was what Amaka liked about the Coker residence; there was never any useless chatter. If there was nothing to say; nothing was said and it was perfectly acceptable. She laid her head back and closed her eyes
“When last did you hear from Femi?” Lade asked with slightly wet eyes
“Last night”
“Oh. So he is alright?”
“Yes ma. He sends his love”
“No he doesn’t.” Kunle said “No need to be polite my dear, we know our son. He is an egomaniac, not even his children could make him return”
“Big Daddy...” Lade cautioned
“It’s true” Kunle insisted. Amaka did not protest.
She watched Kunle reach across the sofa and pat his wife’s hand. It was brief but filled with affection. He was so tender with her. Amaka always told Femi that he took his parents for granted. He insisted that based on the Nwafors every family looked golden, Amaka did not argue.
However years later saw an absent Femi and still she stuck to her guns. The Cokers were good people, genuinely good people and it was unfortunate they were blessed with a son that refused to acknowledge that. Kunle Coker was a retired lawyer, a self-made millionaire, and tried really hard to instil the lesson of hard work but Femi wasn’t interested. He was surrounded by peers who spent their parents’ political and ill-gotten money without a care in the world and labelled his father as a kill joy because he was kept on an allowance. Fast forward to University and Femi paid no attention to his studies, too busy on the lookout for the next big thing. He barely graduated very nearly getting kicked off the course.
When Amaka fell pregnant, Femi pushed his father for a loan totalling millions of naira. Kunle instead offered him a job. Femi viewed this as a clear power play and the discord began. As Amaka waited to be rescued from her parents’ house in Anambra State by her knight in shining armour, and married to the love of her life. Femi continued to argue for money, calling his father unsupportive of his dreams even pushing for his inheritance upfront. Kunle refused each tactic, insisting Femi grow up and with that battle lines were drawn. Femi promised to return from America wealthier than his father, he swore on it. “Then I will marry you,” he said to Amaka, “in a big wedding that all your sisters will be jealous of.” Amaka didn’t care about that, but Femi obviously did.
Lade got up to fetch Amaka something to drink ignoring her offers to help. She could tell how lonely the woman was. She just wanted her family all together, Amaka could relate with that.
“Where is Sade?” Amaka asked Kunle
“Ah she’s resting” his eyes lit up when he spoke of his daughter.
“Is everything alright?”
“Eh her Autism is more manageable now” Kunle cast his eyes to the ceiling
“Or we’re better with dealing with it. We’ve had eighteen years of practice” he laughed. Amaka joined in. For all his money and good intentions in the world Kunle was given two children: a son allergic to hard work and a daughter who was confined to her own world
“Here we are my dear” Lade dropped a tray of wafers and a bottle of Fanta with a glass on the table beside Amaka. She made to pour
“Ah Big Mommy please” Amaka rushed to stop her nearly toppling the tray in the process.
“The girl can pour her own drink” Kunle scolded gently and patted the cushion next to him for his wife to sit”
Lade was so eager to please that it ended up putting Amaka on edge. She sympathised with the woman’s pain; her only son never contacts her and her daughter had good days and bad. She viewed Amaka as a surrogate and sometimes was too kind, almost as if to make up for Femi’s flights of fancy. It always seemed like the woman was grooming her for something, it took Nabila to help Amaka see it.
“You are her saviour” Nabila said that night two years ago
“She is hoping you’ll be the one to tame Femi and bring him to his senses”
“I have no control over Femi” Amaka protested
“Not the way she sees it. You are the good girl that will help her son settle down. As long as you are around, Femi will come home. That is why she is so nice to you. You are her life line to her son. The day you leave, you take the grandkids and him away”
“She has Sade”
“You know it’s not the same”
“I’m going to check on the kids” Lade announced gravitating towards the sound of laughter
“More like watch over them” Kunle said when his wife was out of ear shot. Amaka smiled
They sat in silence, with occasional chit-chatter about work and the twins and current affairs. Kunle spoke slowly and without burden. There was no emotional blackmail involved, nor exaggerated lip service. Mostly it was silence, beautiful calming silence that Amaka rested in. She liked Kunle Coker. Just as she did the first time she met him, he pointed at her four months pregnant tummy and said boy-girl twins. He was right.

By S.B