MONDAY CHOCOLATE MELTDOWN – THE SEARCH

 

searchJabulani searched the faces. So innocent-looking, all of them. He doesn’t know what to think anymore. Tebogo had advised him to tear the small, scented card in his hand to bits and imagine he never saw it. But he’d been thrown a challenge. This girl knew no one throws Jabulani Nkomo a challenge and gets away. He was driven.

He’d almost caught her. When she dropped the bag on his front door, it had made a noise. Instinct had told him to get the door. He’d been slow, contemplating, overthinking, characteristic…

Her dressing had matched her mission. Blacks and greys are worn by everyone in winter.

Catch me if you can!

“And I will, girl. Watch me.”

Jabulani pursed his lips and studied the girls again. None seemed to give anything away. He wants to believe this mystery girl is in his church department, protocol and logistics. Or how else would she wind him so accurately. They all knew he loved being teased, challenged, provoked…

The ladies seated around all looked serious, in a spiritual mood. But if she is here, he will catch her.

The leader of the department, Brother Tim, touched on a group of programmes being organized by the church and then shared the closing prayer.

“Before we close today, I have a puzzle for all of us,” Jabu said. He searched the faces of the six girls in the group. No one was exempt. Even Kristel who is supposed to be married.

Jabu smiled. “There’s a phrase I’m looking for. Anyone who finds the phrase will get a thousand rands from me.”

The six girls cheered. The other eight guys chuckled. Brother Tim clapped. “Many of us will have something to use a thousand for, Jabu.”

“Yes,” Jabu smiled. “The magic phrase is, catch me if you can.”

The reaction was the same. They frowned, giggled, teased. But none showed expression.

Jabulani narrowed his eyes. She must be a good actress, or she’s not one of these.

 

TISHA CHAPTER 30 – BID YOU WELL

TISHA is now available for pre-order! And guess what? You set the price! Pre-order here

Tisha 2 darkenedBisi may be in love with a beast but I love her, I know. It’s wrong, and heaven knows I tried my best to control my feelings. If I am discovered, I could repeat a whole year because if the practice period is cancelled, I’d have to take the year again. I am ready to be penalized because I love her. On the other hand, with Steve’s death and Toro’s attack, I may be taken out of the village too, if my department hears about this, coupled with the previous assault on me.

I return to Abagboro but don’t feel inclined to go to school. It’s just noon. School is in session, and the parsonage is deserted too. Probably Pastor is in the church office. I don’t know what his wife does but the house is locked. I sit outside and contemplate. I need to listen to the recording of Toro’s account of the events but I don’t want to be disturbed.

I take a walk to the stream, notorious now for all the evil stories. I find my imagination going wild, thinking of Bisi and Babatunde having an affair, kissing maybe or doing other things.

To make my life more miserable, I go over to the secluded area Bisi uses and sit on the ground.

Toro’s voice is thin but clear. “Is Steve okay?”

The response comes from a stronger version of Toro’s. I assume it’s her sister. “Yes, dear.”

“Why hasn’t he come to visit me?”

“He’s not family, dear. They won’t let him into ICU.”

“But he can come with you.” She pauses. “They cut his head. Are you sure he’s okay. Have you seen him?”

My heart beats fast.

“Yes, I’ve seen him. They stitched the cut so he’s also in the hospital.”

“But you said he’s fine.”

“He is, Toro dear. He is.” Pause. “I need you to tell me everything that happened that night. So the police can arrest the bad boys.”

“But Steve knows.”

“Yes. He has told us his part. After they took you away, what happened?”

I listen with stiff attention. My palms sweat and I shudder at how well Toro recants. Can she ever get over this? Poor girl. I wish I had pursued the application to be removed from this hell-dump, like Toro will put it.

I am sure our departments never investigated the village before sending us here otherwise they would have known about the murder of Babatunde Ajala and any other atrocities committed by Ade.

I tuck my phone into my pocket and stand. I am pushed down. I didn’t hear anyone approach. I look up and stare into the deadly cold eyes of my worst enemy. Ade.

He is alone and I figure I can tackle him in combat. He is a little shorter than me and not much bigger. I dart my eyes around. He is alone. Good.

“They tell me you’ve been hanging around the princess,” he says.

His voice is as cold as I remember. Colourless.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never hung around your sisters.”

He lights a crude roll, and puffs several times. I recognize the smell of marijuana. Definitely a beast must have something to get high on. He will kill me too. The ugly thought runs through my mind. I remember my mother and sister. They will be devastated if I die.

“Bisi. Princess Bisi.” He leans back on his heels. “You visited her. Kissed her.”

A huge stone moves into my throat from my stomach. Death where is your sting? If I die, I die. From what I gathered, this evil, ugly thing is my age mate. Why should I be afraid of him?

“I want her out of police custody and you are the only one able to do it. That’s what she said.”

He smiles. A flash of a tilt of his lips that doesn’t near reach his eyes. He takes more puffs. “She knows her man.”

A second person shows up beside him. The whip at my assault. I look at his hand and he has a machete in it.

The hitman’s accent is thick. He looks at Ade. “Should I split him in half?”

I think fast. “Of what use will I be to you dead?”

Ade smirks. “None. You will be useless to my princess too. Alive. Or dead. Whatever.”

“I will leave your village, if you want. But please get Bisi out of the cell.”

He kicks my face and my head rolls into the sandy bank. “Ah, see your blood on my shoe, Tisha.”

I taste blood. I turn my face up. Let him kill me staring me in the eye.

“Tisha, I will leave you for now. Not because you are of use to me, but my princess has an odd respect for you. And right now, she’s confused and unhappy about all that happened recently. If you like yourself, stay away from us. Do your job and respect yourself. You won’t even know I exist if you stay in your corner I stay in mine. That was how things were before you beat my princess. And your friends start to mess around.”

His words swirl around my head. He continues to smoke and talk. I wonder how a man can have so much junk to say. My head feels heavy and I can’t quite comprehend what he’s saying. He rolls another joint and smokes it all.

On his third roll, he says, “I bid you well, Tisha.” And leaves with his executioner.

I get back to the parsonage several hours later. News has it Bisi is back home. I fight the urge to visit her. Instead, I apply to Mr. Akande and the state department for my transfer.

Whether it is approved or not, I’m done here. I must count my losses and move on with my life.

 

THE END.

Watch out for Season 2 of TISHA

 

Image of man courtesy of Photo stock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SATURDAY ROSE THORNS – SECRETS OF GREAT WRITING PART 3 – The writer as a manager

 

ouchManage your time and space

Create your own writing space

Do you have a personal writing space—a cave into which you retreat? Perhaps you’re using the cubbyhole under the stairs or the dining room table or a corner of your bedroom or the living room sofa. With laptops and wireless internet, you can take your cave wherever you go. Eventually, though, you’ll need a permanent place for the equipment necessary to a writer:

Computer. Either a desktop or laptop with a word processing program. Microsoft Word is the publishing industry standard. The brand and type of computer depends on your preference and budget. Save on bells and whistles if necessary, but don’t skimp on storage capacity and speed.

Printer. An all-in-one printer-copier-scanner will save space.

Data backup. This is very important. There are many ways of backup. No matter how sophisticated your computer, data—meaning all your work, all your writing projects—can be lost or destroyed when the system crashes or a virus attacks. Professional writers know the crucial nature of creating regular backup files.

 

FRIDAY CHOCOLATE TREAT: BISI

BisitreatBisi is the student Abbey falls in love with in the series, TISHA. She is a beautiful teenage girl who comes from a poor, and rejected family.

Growing up, Bisi’s family is determined she should get an education so she will live above the poverty her family is plagued with.

She is tagged the most beautiful girl in the village, and this unfortunately doesn’t work to her favour.

Bisi is a very reserved girl, perhaps because of the environment she finds herself in, but she has a strong character, and is determined to succeed in her academics. Her emotions are perfectly hidden and it is hard to know what she has in mind, unless she says it.

To play the role of Bisi, the young and beautiful Yinka Olukunga will be my preferred choice.

Yinka Olukunga

TISHA is now available for pre-order! And guess what? You set the price! Pre-order here 

 

TISHA CHAPTER 29 – ALAS

TISHA is now available for pre-order! And guess what? You set the price! Pre-order here

Tisha 2 darkenedThe following day, I wake up to prayers in the house and a splitting headache. After the morning devotions, during which I expected prayers to be made for Bisi, but was not, I decide to get on this journey on my own. As long as I have a bed to sleep in Pastor’s house, he has done enough for me.

I was offered breakfast, of which I took a slice of bread and a cup of tea out of mere politeness. I am a man on a mission and until I accomplish it, I will not rest. I dreamt of Bisi again, at the stream, taking a skinny dip with me. Though, it wasn’t my face, it was the face of—Babatunde Ajala. Who I had no idea of what he looked like.

Why did I think it was the dead boy? Too much thinking.

First, I head for Ife. It’s Thursday and I have classes but I doubt anything will be in order in my life until my Bisi is out and free. The painful part is no one has even mentioned the boys with the machetes.

At least, if Bisi killed two people, she must have a machete in her hand. And if she ordered the hit, as they claim, then the killer should be apprehended too.

I am not allowed to see Toro because I am not family. I wait outside the ICU for an hour before I take another decision. I could check on Bisi too.

The decision doesn’t pay off. The police don’t allow me to see her. I do the unthinkable, a man on fire, and tip off one of the uniformed men. He leads me to a small, empty cell at the back of the station, and locks me in. My heart thuds. Have I made a mistake? Am I in trouble? Though if I am, the officer would not have locked me in with my mobile phone. I begin to send a text about my location and activities to my sister, but the officer shows up with Bisi.

I put my phone away and glare at her. She looks a little better than the day before. At least, there are no fresh bruises on her face. Her dress is torn at the shoulders and dirty, and she’s barefooted. Still, she looks so pretty.

The policeman opens the cell and she walks in. He locks it behind her and turns his back on us but doesn’t go away. I don’t care if anyone watches. I pull Bisi into my arms and kiss her hungrily.

“Sorry,” I murmur when the kiss is over. I smooth back her hair and place her head on my chest. “You’ll be fine. I promise you.”

Bisi’s hands hang down beside her. I wish she will hug me back, but it’s all in a matter of time. Maybe she’s still in love with Babatunde Ajala. Maybe she’s afraid to love me so Ade will not kill me too. Whatever her reason, I will give her time. As it is, I have broken the code of professional conduct by showing her any affection. I feel bad but helpless, and encouraged that her father has given me consent anyhow.

Bisi grips my shirt front. “Tisha, don’t come here again.”

I lift her face to mine. “Why, darling?”

“I no want you to come here. Is not a good place.”

“But you’re here. If you are here, I want to come and see you.” She shakes her head. I nod. “Yes. And all that talk about leaving you to die here, God forbid. I will do everything to get you out of here.”

She stares me down and finally looks away.

“Bisi, do you know how we can find Ade? He has to come out and confess.”

She snickers. “You can never find Ade.”

“Why not? Did he leave the village?”

She shrugs. “He is there. He is in the village. He is in his house.”

“At the palace?”

“Yes.”

“So I can get police men to arrest him?”

“Tisha, he will kill you o.” She pulls out of my embrace and hugs her arms around her waist. “Tisha, just go.”

“I promised your father I will get you out.”

I thought that will excite her, shock or encourage her. Instead she shrugs. “My father has no power. Ade will get me out when it is time.”

Her words unscrew a bolt in my brain. “Ade will get you out?”

“He knows what to do.”

My pulse races. “He knows what to do? And when will he do it? When is time for him to get you out?”

She leans her head against the iron bars of the cell. “Tisha, please go.”

A sudden coldness hits the core of my innermost being. “Okay, I will go. Let Ade come and take you out. The same boy who gets you into trouble is the one you want, right?” I hit the bars. “Right?” She jumps and I curse my anger.

I pace the small space, thinking. How can she say that to me? How can she want this Ade animal instead of me?

“Fine.” I throw my hands up. “Fine, go back and wait for Ade to bail you out.” I grab the cell door and raise my voice. “Officer, we’re done.”

The policeman opens the cell and lets us out. He disappears with her and I find my way out of the station. She didn’t even look at me. Not even a single backward glance.

My trip to Ife is in vain. I want to beat something. I find it difficult to focus. What next, what next? The realization that she wants an evil animal defeats me and I lose the inner energy to fight for her.

I return to the teaching hospital and thankfully, I find Toro’s sister at the ICU. She smiles and welcomes me. At least someone appreciates my efforts. A spontaneous thought occurs to me and I give her my mobile phone.

“Since Toro is talking now, please can you tell her to tell you everything that happened on Tuesday night and record for me?”

 

Image of man courtesy of Photo stock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

TUESDAY ROSE BUSHES – IN TIMES LIKE THIS…

Processed with VSCOcam
Processed with VSCOcam

Itoro endured the tangle of ugly words. Listening as Idaresit rubbished weeks of tireless effort was like sitting through a movie with a whining baby. Every sentence went right through her skin up into her brain and at a point she thought she was going to burst with fury. But long ago she had learnt to put the reins on her agitation. Once upon a time, she would lose it but she had lost one too many.

Being a polygamist, her brother had taken after their father, going ahead, against his mother’s advice to take a second wife. Their father had tried to discourage him also but it had had no effect.

As the first son, Idaresit had become even more influential than the head of their extensive family. He was tall, handsome, smart and intimidating and as soon as he was old enough, he had taken charge of what would eventually be his, their father’s multi-million naira shipping agency.

To establish himself as the worthy heir of the throne, he had revolutionized the agency, introducing management ethics, structure and digital technology which skyrocketed patronage a hundred percent. But Itoro had given him a fight for it. A fight she had been advised was not meant to be fought the way she did.

As the first born child, she had claimed her right over her father’s property. Though there were different mothers in the home, five of them actually, Itoro’s mother was actually the second wife while Idaresit’s was the first. He had taken it as a plus, even though he arrived seven months after his sister.

Naturally, Chief Ubong, their father loved Itoro. She was warm, considerate, and sensitive. Idaresit on the other hand was driven by abilities and attainments. He did not play on position or charm. He worked hard.

The battle line was drawn. As rival as their mothers were, Itoro found she was a sworn enemy of her brother. And really there was no love lost. Idaresit was amongst many other things, haughty. He had very little cares about people’s feelings. Least of all his sister. A car had been the defining moment for them, when Itoro’s patience had slipped in the face of Idaresit’s tongue-lashing. She had lost the car then; a brand new Toyota Corolla Chief had staked for the university. He had given them the assignment to clear up some jobs at the agency. Idaresit had done worse than she did but covered himself with lies against her. The only reason she had lost it was because she had lost her patience, temperance and insulted their father. Several times after that, she had consistently been at the disadvantage. Through the university years, she had learnt to persevere.

And so, as Idaresit employed his usual tactic of mixing facts with fiction on the job, Itoro had reined in. Intermittently, she smiled. She refused to interrupt even once. Idaresit snorted and snickered. He spoke through his nose as he analysed the reason why they couldn’t make the deadline for an important furniture clearance. The merchant had threatened a lawsuit. Demanded a full refund. For Itoro and Idaresit, Chief’s seat as the MD was at stake. For Chief, he was desperate to retire and handover.

Chief was unhappy. Idaresit was livid and lying. Itoro was scandalized and silent.

In times like this, Itoro persevered. The reward for perseverance always came. She would keep your face as a flint, on the prize. Chief would expect her to go her normal route but she had learnt.

When the verdict came, Chief looked her. “Itoro, you’ll take charge of this one.”

Yes, Itoro thought. Finally.

Idaresit did what she’d done in the past, cursed and stomped out of the office.

Double yes, Itoro smiled.

 

 

MONDAY CHOCOLATE MELTDOWN – THE HUSTLER’S GAME

By IFE OGÚNYINKA

Hustler croppedMpho was not your regular protagonist. He was the cheerful, white picket fence, home at 5pm kind of man. To his lovely wife, Primrose, he was the perfect husband, always tucked their six year old daughter, Lerato, into bed with a peachy bedtime story. A true model-man!

At night however, after the whole ‘sweet-daddy’ act, Mpho was the boss. Gangster extraordinaire. The sneaky, brutal assassin who killed and stole from families like his own, never looked back.

He had it all! The drugs, the money, the girls. But Mpho wasn’t happy. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t rid himself of the guilt.

That’s why Mpho decided on a last mission. The plan was simple, rob a bank, and he had done it a lot of times; get-in, take R50,000, clean his tracks, get-out. But Mpho found about R200,000. Greed is a funny character and decided to play with Mpho’s mind.

That explained why Mpho sped home with a silly smile on his face and the prize in his boot.

He threw the door open. “Honey! I’m home!” he cried out dramatically.

The shock Mpho got could light up a city!

Primrose and Lerato lay dead in the living room, with a note on his wife’s chest.

“Do me, I do you.”

Screams Mpho could not recognize as his own, escaped his lips and he clutched Primrose.

If not for that blasted mission, he would have been home to fight this!

“Dad! You are screaming again,” Lerato said, shaking him awake.

“Oh!” Mpho smiled at her. Bad dream, he thought. Thank God.

Mpho left his home hours later. He still had his last mission to prepare for.

Ife cropped

 

TISHA CHAPTER 28 – BISI

TISHA is now available for pre-order! And guess what? You set the price! Pre-order here .

Tisha 2 darkenedWe arrive my block at a quarter after five. My bones are weary, and I am drained of any motivation. The block I deserted and I wonder how much could have happened in such a short period of time. How life and death has changed everything.

Pastor magnanimously wait for me to pack my bags. I look at the food Bisi brought last night, now sour, and tears gather in my eyes.

“God, please help her. Help Bisi.”

I throw the food away, and wash the bowls. Then I tidy the room and rush back to Pastor.

Close to 6p.m I finally enter Pastor’s house. It’s my first time there. His wife, a frail-looking woman who serves in the prayer department of the church welcomes me. I am taken to the room Jang used, which I discover is being used by three other young men from the village, stewards in the church.

The parsonage is a small modern bungalow, painted blue inside but left plastered alone outside, and situated at the back of the church building.

I find Pastor seated outside the house with his wife. “I need to go and see Bisi’s family, sir.”

Pastor’s wife looks at me. “Food is almost ready.”

“I will eat when I return, ma. Thank you.”

I walk to the hut at the backside of the village. Everywhere is quiet.

“Knock knock.” I call out. “Who is in, please?”

Bisi’s father steps out. I have seen him only a few times and from a distance. He looks in his fifties but today, like thirty years has been added. I respect him. From the tales Ajao told me, his father has fought many wars to marry his wife and keep his home.

“Tisha, welcome,” he says in a low gruff voice.

I prostrate in the cultural manner. “Good evening, sir.”

He pulls up a low bench and sits. “They say my daughter killed the two Tishas.”

I sit beside him. “She did not, Papa.”

“Ajao has gone to Ife. To the big brother. To look for her.”

My heart bleeds. “She—”

“She is a precious baby. When I met her mother, they were living in the forest. Her grandmother gave birth to a white baby and was thrown out of the village.” He sighs. “I fell in love with her the first time. She was just the way Bisi looks now. Even prettier.”

Bisi’s mother comes out with a bowl of water. “Good evening, Tisha.”

I bow. “Good evening, ma. Thank you for the food you sent to me yesterday.”

“My son, thank you.” She mumbles something to her husband. He grunts.

She exits and returns with food, which she places in front of us. I protest but Bisi’s father will have none of it.

“Eat, Tisha. Even if it is small. We are not rich but we are good people.”

I open the bowl. I should have brought the bowls they used the day before but I forgot. The bowls contain the same soup of yesterday and a mound of garri. I cut a small morsel, and eat slowly.

“I know you like Bisi. I see the way you look at her.”

I nearly choke and take a quick sip of water from the cup in front of me. I feel shy to take any more food.

“I want her to have a good man. Like you.” He nods. “I told you earlier that she’s special. I had my first son and ten years later before Bisi came. And she opened the way for Ajao and the other girls.”

“She’s very special, sir,” I say, for want of what else to say.

He sobs. “Ajao say they lock her up like a criminal.”

His sudden outburst takes what little is left of my appetite. “I will get her out of there, sir.”

“Please, please do.”

He bends over and covers his head. I stand quietly, distraught. I walk out into the night. I don’t know what to do with Bisi now. Pastor doesn’t seem interested in getting involved. The barrister, I don’t know. I can’t leave her in police custody and there’s no way to get her out without the services of a lawyer.

Many thoughts cross my mind, and the final one leads me to the last place a sane mind will advise.

The Abagboro clan head lives in the largest compound in the village. The main house, a bungalow surrounded by a thick mud wall fence is surrounded by three smaller bungalows where I’d presumed his wives and children lived. When we first arrived, Mr. Akande had taken Toro and I to visit the old man in his palace.

At the time, we had been expected and a guard had waited outside to take us in. Now, I’m alone and the surrounding is deserted.

I stand before a wooden gate painted green and contemplate if it’s not rude to bang on it. I may enter the palace, and end up in trouble. I don’t want that. I walk around the mud fence but meet no one and my intuition advised I leave.

I feel broken inside out, helpless, frustrated. What can I do? My mind zigzags toward thoughts of the worst possible outcome. If Bisi never gets out of prison. But my resolve takes me back to what I must do even if it costs me my life.

I consider visiting Mr. Akande or Iya Elemu but doubt it will be of any use at this time. Maybe tomorrow morning I can convince Pastor to take me to Ade’s father. Ade has to come out and own up to what he did.

I return to Pastor’s residence at about midnight. I have not slept in close to twenty-four hours. When I lay on the bed, a few words run through my mind and I grab my diary.

Bisi

I see, you have taken me over

Bisi

I hear, you are a jewel and a prize

Bisi

I know, I will never find joy

Bisi

Unless I find it with you

Bisi

 

Image of man courtesy of Photo stock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SATURDAY ROSE THORNS – SECRETS OF GREAT WRITING PART 2 – The writer as a miner

 

blueyDig deeper

Ideas are nuggets—bits of something. Your job is to uncover the whole. Writers dig until they find answers and aren’t satisfied until they do.

Where can you get the answers to make your writing come alive? To get the story behind the story that gives your writing credibility?

Research. The internet is a gold mine of information. So are your local library, historical society, and newspaper archives. Experts abound on any and all subjects. So dig, discover, and deepen your writing with the details you unearth.

Record and store. From notebooks to voice recorders to paper napkins to the Sunday church bulletin to sticky notes to . . . the list is endless. No serious writer is without a system of recording and storing those ideas so vital to the profession.

Continue to mine ideas. Once your filing system is in place, continue to mine for ideas:

  • Clip newspaper or magazine articles.
  • Copy information you find online and remember to copy and paste the URL.
  • Use your notebook or smart phone to list good books, television programs, or movies someone recommends. Check them out and make notes as soon as possible afterward.
  • Get to know your reference and periodicals librarians. They will prove helpful when you need information quickly.
  • Build a list of contacts at newspapers and radio and television stations.
  • Follow groups on twitter, facebook, pinterest, tumblr and other social sites. Also subscribe for newsletters of writing organizations like Writers Digest online, Novel Rocket and so on.

Be alert every day for article and story ideas, useful and unusual information, and better ways to find materials.