The Fourth Finger

Heartbreak to him would always be Bon Genre by Maxazria. It was the perfume she had on when she finally ended things with him.

She had let him kiss her as they both lay on the bed in his hotel suite which could have been a love haven for both of them that weekend. But she had chosen to lodge in another hotel and visited him only after her meeting with the furniture company executives she had flown in to see.

He kissed her. She kissed back. They kissed each other until his hand found her breast.

She stopped him then, pushing back and leaving the bed. When he made to touch her, she recoiled. And then she gave him the talk. It was a long one, unlike all the others. She talked about Salma a lot and about Folarin too but said nothing about their feelings towards each other. It was as if, to her, the way he loved her meant nothing. In her long speech, she missed out the part where he adored her like she was an old shirt that came out from the wash, smelling fresh and new, yet resting on his form intimately. Or how every morning she was to him like that exhilarating, matchless moment on a rollercoaster ride for the first time where one’s heart lurches and all they want to do is to scream out.

Christie was to him an endless weekend where he woke up in the middle of every night and realized there was no work the next day and he could sleep for as long as he wanted. However to her, they both had slept too long, thus she shattered his heart without mercy. And when he threw away his pride to beg her, he saw in her eyes that she was really done with him.

“For our spouses, Raji. For the kids.”

A cold stare from her met his desperation but beneath it there was pain; and if she had stayed with him in that hotel room long enough, he could have reached in there and matched that pain with his and healed her.

But she walked out the door and never turned back.

No phone calls to or from him. No texts either. No sight of her. She was really gone.

It had been just a day without her yet it felt like his entire lifetime. He was back in Lagos where reality was waiting. Salma and the kids had returned home. Parked outside the house, he sat in his car in silence, not feeling the burning Sunday sun above him.

Christie had instructed him to go back to Salma and make things right, in the same manner she was planning to do with Folarin.

“You love Salma somewhere inside you, Raj. You have to find that place just as you found your hidden crush for me and rekindled it.”

“This is more than a crush, Christie. I love you.”

“Love does not hurt others. It does not throw away family and kids. It is not selfish. We’ve been selfish, satisfying our emotions and temporary pleasures and forgetting the ones that needed us most. I can’t continue this. And just so that we’re clear, you were not a crush either. You held me in the place where I kept that part of me that I could share with no one. You held together the secrets that wanted to pull me down without even knowing what you were doing. You took my sins and loved them the way they were. How could I have not loved you?”

“And yet you want to leave.”

“We don’t belong to each other. We must return to the people we belong to.”

So here he was, returning to Salma even though he was still lost in Christie.

An excerpt from The Fourth Finger by Sally Kenneth Dadzie. The book will be up in Amazon in the next couple of days, but can be found on Smashwords and Okadabooks:

Sally Kenneth Dadzie won the Nigerian Writers Award (fiction writer of the year) in February 2017.She lives in Lagos, Nigeria, happily married with children. Sally discovered her passion for literature since her early childhood days, which blended easily with her colorful imagination. Hence she found outlets of her Crestview through stage dramas in her local church, then short stories, and then a Web series on her blog. The Fourth Finger is a courageous work, the result of an exercised passion and repeated thrive galvanized by her beautiful personality. It is a creative transformation of one of her series into a debut novel : The forth finger.

Nonso had neither been defeated nor humbled by Papa’s comment about his failure of JAMB. He only remained quite for a moment, then continued being himself again when a whiff of malodorous hot lazy air wooshed past our noses, then came back and settled “hummmmn” he started, loud pressing his nose tightly in a firm grip of two fingers “who just messed?” everybody had a hand in nose except Papa who was driving. I was stroking my nose nervously. In that noisy fuss, Papa spoke heavily in a fury-tinged tone “You children are very stupid, you can cause accident, nya-en, nwetakwa the person that mess this kind of mess, mma a dowa y’ike” he wound down his window and threw saliva, his face face had dissolved into a coy frown. It gladdened me that he was addressing those at the back seat, not me. For a moment I contemplated the question “who messed?” because I had not heard it for a very long time, and I had never heard it in past tense “messed?” “Nawa! American food can release evil spirits from people’s anus, god-I’ve-suffered” Obiageli said, half-crying because of the fart, raising her threadbare blouse to shield half her face, her nose served as the boundary. I just couldn’t take responsibility for that powerful fact, it deserved a sudden squeal of brake that could throw our car to crash headlong into the bushes of Ogun State. If the fart had a color, it would be ghastly indigo and dark grey. “Odikwegwu” Mama said and shrugged, with sagging lips and wrinkle jaw, gathering saliva.

Excerpt from Because of Bread, by Anthony Nonso Dim.

Free Mixtapes

They say Love is a thoughtful mixtape, today Afreecan Read is showing u some love! Here are two free mixtapes for you to downlad and have fun on this valentine’s day.The Herbsman’s Love Potion & Valentine Love Lines!

Also check out our valentine’s day love poems: What love Would Be Like in Ten Years; She Smiles and Naked Parables.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

What Love Would Be like in Ten Years

Among the many things I still remember about us is what you once told me

That you wondered what love would be like in ten years

And I still remember where I found you, among the backyard junk

Your face a folded expression and your hair like the dirty things around you

 

You wouldn’t speak except to say you thought of the easiest way to self-denial

And your face remained half buried between your knees

Until I told you I was like you in several ways and you looked at me, disbelieving

Till I stooped and brought my lips to yours, pressing gently

 

I remember the night we passed them under the lamppost

Two figures kissing, and the world cared nothing about what they did

How you spat and said it was a shameful thing, but I understood better

I could feel it, the hurt in seeing what you were denied unrestrained in others

 

Like you, I felt the world should also hurl stones at them

 

Now I think about what love will be like in ten years

And I know there may still be this constraint on our love

That cares nothing about the similarities between our bodies

But then, the world will be achieving little

 

This seeming silence between us, I know, is the coefficient of our voices

And in ten years, love will rise with it to tire every opposition

 

Ebenezer Agu lives in Nigeria. He is in his early twenties and has a degree in English and Literary Studies, from University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves listening to music and reading novels and poetry; Rilke is among his favorite poets. He is presently working on compiling an anthology of contemporary African poetry.

She Smiles

Ok, this is awkward…

I used to love our vibe and how we would connect so intimate, relate the physical approaches to a spiritual resonance,

Take a deep breath like underwater sentiments, I would swim deep too kissing your secondary lips with a tongues technique,

Tasting your Pureness with a touch of pure intent,

We had a spark that would ignite fires A dance choreographed only beneath bed covers,

Under the skies as the angels blushed,

Stars aligned to showcase our chosen path,

A forbidden art from ancient of times, we practiced love in one act,

Defining unity without a sense of seperatedness… No glove!

It’s true, I, once a fool never knew the true meaning of such moments,

Carried past the waves of emotions,

Thinking the heart had spoken ignoring the minds wisdom,

Fingertips, skin soft as I caressed it,

Our lips locked and we broke the chains of societal settings,

Lost in you, a goddess, I king placed my lips on your canvas,

Painting classics as my paint brush delivers poetic strokes… Magic… So creative.

A masterpiece in the making as I created,

A composition of genius as you delivered, note by note, entrancing, captivating, beyond the physical senses I found us elevating into a meditation,

At times I step back and retrace the footing of where I used to step at and find we moved in unison and I could never recapture that,

It’s silly now it seems, it’s obvious as life’s spontaneous like movements never choreographed,

I, lost amidst my memories and constructs, from heartbreaks that reveal my hidden monsters,

They revealed the missing dance steps, and my sweet ballet ended so tragic…

Common as sense is, #Love was challenged and you chose to surrender your senses to ideals not direct,

Alone I try to recall the melodies, I try to analyse the prospects… Only to end at nothingness…

The future seems hopeless, faith constructs lost and I too felt lifeless,

Weakened by own heart, left seeking that I cannot find, without reason yet with a great mind… I felt lifeless

…. But then, I saw an image, a memory of what was as a lost thought was caught in transit,

I once fell in love with a goddess and at one time she smiled at our madness,

Just Once:- she one time smiled at our madness… And that, that is all my dying heart needed-

She smiled… Then we lost it… So tragic.

By Samson Mandhla Moyo, a Student at the University of Livingstonia, Malawi. Check out his blog for more exciting reads 

Naked Parables

Good evening blessed earth,

I stand naked though dressed in your radiance,

In your presence, I, lost in moments present,

I find your curves haunting,

My words are wanting they lack proper content to express this, to express you, goddess before my iris,

I used to commune in thought patterns, born psychic with an intellect beyond what genius thinks, addicted to meditative habits,

Sophia’ first born, I was blessed with esoteric and ancient knowledge,

I spoke with Solomon on Masonic precepts, he wrote his songs as I recited poems for my princess to a court full of queens from all traditions,

We burnt incense and sat with the transcended, they spoke of your pureness, you, the vessel of gods children,

I traced my thoughts back to my hearts intents, I found a void within with traces  of your scent trapped in that emptyness,

I searched my surroundings but Gaias environments left no record of your creation,

In truth, my souls presence felt connected to your essence,

Your spirit hidden past the ages, so ageless, a beautiful infinity with the creators graces, my sweet Isis,

A creator in all sense, Love personified in curves,

I have stood on this stage and memorised men’s many plays, my mental state socialised all doctrine,

 

Tired and broken I sat on Mount Zion and watched civilization as I dulled my human found emotions,

A craving for the unknown, I found pain in my wanting, searching, from caves to lunar stone paintings,

I watched Venus past Mars as the stars aligned, her falling light caught my Eye by surprise, at blind sight I found your hideout beneath the night skies,

I nearly cried out but my Joy was already too loud,

I learnt your paths fast like these arts patiently learnt while pacing most Lives in their last tracks,

Then, as the morning fog cleansed my Dusty eyes…

I saw you,

 

Felt like I’ve always known you, always loved you as I remained loyal and true, like royalty do – you saw my crown and smiled, that’s when I smiled too…

We found our eyes meeting,

Conversating on how long we’ve been waiting, how long should we wait still and why do you remain hidden?

Why is our union forbidden?

What is this we keep feeling? I mean, look at me lost Love: you’ll find my spirit as I in you find my meaning,

We left without leaving, floated past all that is thought living,

We embraced the cosmos teaching of our humble beginings,

Lost in ideals that defy reason, how did we find meaning in such a connection,?

Logic lacks in philosophy- We live faith constructs,

We Defy gravity as we undress sailing on a slow wind as it blows,

What beauty is this? Beyond the iris as you capture my every intimate thought patterns,..

God I want this,

As you appropriately respond to this, moan sounds that awake the sleeping heavens, these intimate trumpet sounds to awake the sleeping conscious,

‘Make an angel blush’ sentiments, and we haven’t even touched yet,

I stand lost in your iris trying to break eye contact, hypnotic, I see us beyond all that is, beyond all this and all that has been- I just want to hold this… moment,

A distant noise erupts the silence into chaos, I stand and meet you half of the hallway,

We walk in silence, you bite your lips to my shy advances,

Flirt with your breath patterns as your heartbeat sweetly beats a rhythm so tantric,

So abstract, the colours of your radiance so vibrant, it has to be magic,

I caught my first flight and we found us only in each other’s presence,

Alone amidst them, daughters and sons of a fallen creation, we engage in creative rituals,

I find my brushes touch on your canvas so colourful, so fine this art we create, priceless engagement in this lesson of hearts and this flesh’ functions, with these minds- Our Souls elevate into a spiritual resonance…

What beauty is this…?

Past mornings to these evenings,

Good night blessed earth.

Written by Samson Mandhla Moyo, a Student at the University of Livingstonia Malawi. Visit Samson’s blog for more

Time of Death

The words had been circling in her mind for so long they were almost unnoticeable. Like her own heartbeat. The words were like background music so unobtrusive and with no obvious source. Just omnipresent, oppressive and if she tried to make sense of them, suffocating. It felt like the same sequence of neurons had fired so many times in her head that the pattern had worn grooves in her skull. The words repeated unconsciously, constantly, unbidden even in her dreams and with every breath. The words were always there but they made no sense.

A part of her knew that she needed to try to understand them. It had been almost six months. She wasn’t sure, maybe it was six months, she hadn’t really been paying attention. She had told herself when it all started that she would keep track of each minute. Consciously living through each day and surviving and breathing through each hour as though that would somehow validate the words and make them make sense. Counting the days had seemed so logical since all of time had ended and begun on that day. But she hadn’t kept track. She had lost count at some point and simply allowed the days to drift. Letting the words lull her into a sense of numbed acquiescence.

She functioned and participated, she had even started to go to work a few weeks ago, but something vital had been switched off and she didn’t quite know what it was. The words had turned off something in her but they seemed to have turned on something in Mbongeni.

She wondered idly if her husband, had slept in the last 48 hours. He looked fine she thought. His face was perfectly clean shaven, civilized in stark contrast to his haunted, gaunt, blood shot eyes. He had lost some weight recently, she was surprised to realize, and his cheekbones had remembered his much diluted African heritage giving him a savagery quite disturbing in contrast to the civility of his surroundings. He was talking to her about the improvements he had been making to the car. Something to do with detaching sensor lines and removing speed limiters and perhaps adding an illegal gasoline engine to the electric vehicle. Or had he said that yesterday?

“There was a message earlier about the house’s environmental monitors not working. If you keep pulling the sensors, we might get fined or get a warrant for an inspection,” she told him. Only realizing at the end of her quiet sentence that she hadn’t added any expression to her face. She spread her lips, smiling without any emotion touching her eyes. Mbongeni noticed the effort but did not smile back. She let her lips drop back to a neutral line.

“I was trying to link the sensors in the house with the sensors in the mobile home,” He said. “I filed the permits yesterday, those sensors won’t be working until I can figure out an upgrade that will link the software between the two. I don’t want to have to always manually sync everything just to be compliant. And anyway, we don’t have to have all that information reported to the main net no matter what they say.”

He was wrong. They did have to report all environmental sensor data to the main net. It was the law and he knew it.

“I suppose not,” she said softly, choosing not to argue. He was picking a pointless fight. He didn’t seem to hear her. Something in her mind triggered and she remembered she had been drinking tea. This led to the realization that her fingers were apparently already wrapped around the cup. She lifted it to her lips. It was cold. She got up from the breakfast table and placed the cup in the microwave.

Mbongeni continued to talk. The words a buzzing dissonance with the other words that marched tirelessly through her mind. The microwave dinged having reheated the tea to the perfect temperature. She retrieved the cup and took a sip. Only then noticing that the little display on the front of the microwave was blank. The time and Wi-Fi uplink symbol that were normally there replaced by dashes. He must have disconnected that too, she thought idly.

She decided not to worry too much about it. Mbongeni was still talking. Something about going to the gym later. She sat back down at the table passively taking in the cozy breakfast nook set into the corner of the kitchen flanked on two sides by massive windows that looked out onto the savannah. With houses seemingly sprinkled haphazardly on the landscape, it looked like an idyllic African postcard.

“…. the thing is, I’m not sure if I should bother configuring the network in the mobile home at all. I would have to re-work all the synthetics and remove too many of the organic pieces you like. I mean you can’t sensorize a ceramic sink or a ceramic toilet bowl for that matter and it is all about the look and feel of the entire finished piece. I mean, I’m no architect and even though it means this might not pass some safety standards, I consider this more like living art than anything….”

She drank her tea. She ate her toast making sure to lean in to avoid any crumbs getting on her blouse. He had no such concerns, chewing and talking with his mouth open in a widening circle of crumbs. She watched him passively listening to the rise and fall of his voice as he spoke. He needed a haircut, she thought. She would schedule him one as soon as they were done with breakfast. His constant talking was only slowed by his constant eating. He had moved the toaster to the table and had plowed through nearly half the loaf of bread thickly spreading butter on each slice before consuming it in one bite. She wasn’t sure, but she suspected he had drunk at least five cups of coffee. He had un-synced the coffee pot sometime last month, she remembered, it wouldn’t log his caffeine intake.

“I’m going shopping today,” she said when he took a pause to swallow. “Do you need me to get you anything?”

“No, I think I can cannibalize stuff we have here, I’m recycling old school.” He said. He smiled. Almost a real smile that made his face handsome and his eyes crease, reminding her of the boy she had fallen in love with 10 years ago, and someone else… someone who had inherited those expressive brown eyes. “It’s really quite astonishing the kinds of things you find when you take apart some of the old obsolete tech.”

She tried to mirror his smile, consciously creasing her eyes to show him she was glad he found such fulfillment in his projects. The words in her mind got louder, making her wince a little at the end of her little performance. It was as though even pretending to feel an emotion was too much like actually feeling it and her body was shutting that part of her down in self-defense. She stopped trying to smile. The words circled like vultures in her mind, waiting to settle into a pattern she knew she would understand. She didn’t want to. Her heart started to beat faster and her palms began to sweat. She stood up and started to clear the table. Everything else drowned into the background as her heartbeat gave rhythm to the words.

“Tapiwa.” Mbongeni said her name softly, touching her arm to make sure she heard him. She stopped and looked at him, and for a moment, they shared an exquisite moment of blinding pain.

“There is a reason for everything,” he said, repeating the lie more to himself than her, his voice quiet and hoarse as though restraining himself from screaming. This time, the lie, the words he said when he thought he could get through to her snagged in her mind. She finally made a connection between what he had just said and the words that had been repeating in her head on a loop for so long. She felt herself begin to descend towards comprehension. Her breath came in small gasps, her lungs failing to fill themselves as something constricted her chest.

The words already knew their place. They had been weaving through each waking thought, each sleeping dream for so long… she just hadn’t understood them. Couldn’t allow herself to understand them. She stopped trying to breath and just stood there watching his face. ​​Somewhere a tea cup broke and she raised her hand to touch his hair. It was bristly and curly without a hint of the soft curls that had covered their son’s head. She touched his brow, hard lines, angular and gaunt where their son’s face had been round and soft.

Her body realized it would die without air and she inhaled, breaking lose something that sounded like a sob and he pulled her into his arms. The words descended like vultures on an unclaimed carcass. The words made sense now.

Time of death eight thirty-two am.

She looked at the clock and the long minute hand shifted into place. Their child, her baby, he was gone, just like that. The clock had shifted and death had taken him.

Pain. It hurt. She started to scream. Mbongeni was on top of her, holding her down. They were on the floor somehow, surrounded by pieces of shattered tea cup. Their shattered life.

They screamed!

Written by Bubile Victoria Lessley, a clinical laboratory scientist working in molecular microbiology. A Malawian born American, an inveterate writer, a mother, a wife and a terrible cellist.

AFCON 2017: The Dying Minutes

The temperature is humid and the atmosphere is tense. This is not an
ordinary night in Gabon’s capital Libreville. Tempers are high and the
tempo of the game is temporarily calm, but otherwise, burst of speed,
flurry of tackles and sinew mostly ensues.
Supporters are making as much noise as they can; drums made of antelope
skins are taking a well-deserved beating. Patriotic fans are lungs out
blowing their own trumpet, sounds of battle cry, which compliments a
tussling mood in the arena.
Radiant faces painted with colours of red, green, yellow and many
other shades are reacting to every effort being made on the pitch with
thunderous eruptions of cheers and sometimes jeers. Stade de L’Amitie
is on fire.
For all to see, the huge screen in the stadium is projecting images of
nervous of substitute players with their officials sitting on the edge
the benches. Coaches, of either side, cautiously pacing here and there
inside their demarcated lines shouting instructions.
The fight for the prestigious continental title is on. The Indomitable
Lions of Cameroon and The Pharaohs of Egypt are neck-on-neck, a goal a
piece with only 3 minutes of regulation time remaining.
Millions across the globe are riveted to their screens to witness with
their own eyes the crowning of the new Kings of African football.
Meanwhile, in the outskirts of Chinamwali, a boy is watching the game
in a fully packed dark video showroom, made of thinly sliced wooden
planks with a roof that hardly supports the satellite dish. “The
Emirates”, this shack of hall is fondly known.
He holds on to his urine, he doesn’t want to miss any piece of action.
He places one leg on top of the other, fidgeting steadily as he watch
youthful Cameroonian side piling waves of pressure on the
well-decorated Egyptians.
Coming into this final as 7 times champions The Pharaohs are on top of
the pyramid as the favorites to win this part 2 of 2008 final, but not
until recently!
Its 88th minute; the indomitable Lions are roaring. Central midfielder
Siani let loose a flying ball towards substitute Vincent Aboubakar who
is surrounded with three defenders, this is right on the edge of
the box. There, the moment of brilliance, that will forever shine in
the annals of African soccer has begun.
The stadium is silent, Aboubakar kills it with his shoulder, flip it
over the head Egypt’s Gabir, he twists his frame to hit a bouncing
volley into the left corner of net while the 44 year old goalie El
Hadary looks emotionless
Oooooooooooh it’s a gooooaaaal!! Its 2-1 to Cameroon! The crowd is euphoric. The entire bench runs into
the pitch, supporters can’t believe it, ladies are jumping into hands
of the unknown men. Aboubakar is running towards the dressing room,
his teammates are after him.

The Dying Minutes was written by Paulstolic, a Storyteller based in Malawi. You can find him in Zomba (Mataware) telling stories to his family and friends

Eyes of Age

Youth waxed us with ideals

But age has shown us the real

 

Love is a maiden’s song

Of an eagle beyond the clouds

 

Beauty is a boy’s dream

Of a dove beyond mountains

 

Generosity burns to stumps

Fingers trying to stretch out

 

Charity is the arrogance driving

Those who keep others indebted

 

Unity is a shadowy pool where

Minorities are silently drowned

 

Truth is what lions posit

And that which guns guard

 

Lies are the bulwark of power

Crowned with a veneer of gold

 

Equanimity is the diamond tip

Tapering arrows of suffering

 

It draws out poetry from anger

Coiling out of incinerated hopes

Bruce Zondiwe Mbano (Mzuzu, 1984) is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Communication Skills at Chancellor College. He has authored short-stories, plays and poems, some of which have been published in The Fate of Vultures (BBC prize-winning poetry), Heinneman and The Haunting Winds (published by Dzuka). His poem The Viphya won second prize in the 2000 Peer Gynt Literally Award.

When Dying Becomes a Metaphor

Every morning, Ma Akudinamma checks her countdown

It is ten days to her death today

Not as if a doctor had numbered her days

She believes death is not unexpected for a woman her age

 

Six days ago, her late cousin walked into her dream

Ma Aku knew she would answer the call in sixteen days

It was her dead relatives checking up on her

 

But this morning, she feels the street below her balcony differently

It always offers its noise right through her window

A wake-up call for each morning

Today, it seems it will show her something off the routine

 

She stands right where the street wants her to, at her window

The kiosk comes first, directly opposite, and she knows the drill

A regular stream of sinewy figures, stale breath, and stained teeth

Each person receives the gin in meekness, then pours libation

A drop or two to a god who is always absent

 

They don’t care about going places, about seeing the world

What does it matter to these folks? Life is a waste for them

And they love to have it so. Yet they know much laughter

The people of this local gin kiosk

 

She could have missed the kids at the borehole

But then one raises his voice high enough to lap at her window

Three kids, two wondering about the gender of the third

And then one reaches down to where the proof should be

His fingers do not linger, just a brush and he turns to the other:

O nwoke!” The genitalia is like what they have

 

The clergyman’s little girl comes around, the one next door

And the other kids reserve a place for her, then she speaks

Tiny words she says her mother told her:

“I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star”

The third kid joins the others and they laugh at her:

“Stars don’t shine in the morning,” they tell her

 

They are only kids and understand neither metaphor nor scripture

They cannot believe, cannot reach out to the sky to feel the cloud for stars

 

It is the street right there with a tribute to her death

And she knows the play of the kids is about life and death

Because she is old and understands allegory

And the metaphor of the star, which is that need to feel before believing

 

Ebenezer Agu lives in Nigeria. He is in his early twenties and has a degree in English and Literary Studies, from University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves listening to music and reading novels and poetry; Rilke is among his favorite poets. He is presently working on compiling an anthology of contemporary African poetry.