Detail. Illustration by Mugabi Gabriel

The Burden of Silence

Mike’s phone starts to ring. He picks the call.

Hello? Yeah, he says. The way he lowers his voice, you no longer have any doubt as to who it is at the other end. Mike quickly apologizes for not calling as promised. He blames his tight schedule and says he is in a meeting now —an important meeting with some contractors, so he has to hurry.

—Tell the kids daddy loves them, he says between pauses. Yes I love you too. Bye. He ends the call and heaves a deep sigh. Neither of you exchange a word in the false silence which prevails. You are feeling unnerved, but you don’t have the energy to do anything.

The God of Death

The God of Death

By Sima Mittal

“Who should I take away from you this time?” The God of Death asked in a small voice, “How about your brother’s son?”

“That Uncle Manju is a beast. He beats up his wife,” Sunitha accused. “He doesn’t deserve to live, take him instead.”

your-heart-should-skip-a-beat

Your Heart Should Skip A Beat

By Uzoma Ihejirika

“As you eat, you cannot help listening in on the banter of the other men. You listen to them recount stories: funny stories, scary stories, crazy stories, you-must-be-joking stories. A man laments the robbery he faced in the hands of traffic officials; another man narrates how he had sex with a ghost posing as a prostitute; another man recounts his ordeals with a female boss; yet another narrates how he had finished, wait for it, not one, not two, but seven cartons of beer.
Your phone rings. You retrieve it from your breast pocket and glance at the screen. Unknown number. The restaurant has become too loud to answer a call. You hurriedly wash your hands and go outside.”

Illustration by Gabriel Mugabi

Plastic and Glass

I still ache for home. For the cold, biting dry Harmattan, dusty and cloudless sky. My ears still long for Hausa music, their thin soups made of vegetables with little oil and meat, and spiced with dawadawa. I really miss fura da nono, mia kuka, pate and masa. I wish I could apologize to Juju, hug papa once more and rub my face against his stubbly chin. I miss Halimat and how we used to talk. But now I feel something akin to hatred for her. When I think of her, the hole where my heart used to be widens, and I feel a deep kind of pain tear through me. My eyes water and my head pounds. My hands shake, and then breathing becomes a chore. My lungs begin to feel heavy and so I stop. I try not to think about Halimat. And I don’t feel much anymore, for this feeling has slowly consumed me.

The broken Shell image .resized

The Broken Shell of Aunty Nike

I don’t think Uncle Dele died on the day he slipped and fell in the bathroom. Aunty Nike and I had rushed him to the hospital even if we knew it was futile. While on the way, Aunty Nike had calmly told me that many years before I came to live with them, Uncle Dele had kicked her in the stomach. She had lost her second pregnancy, and that was when he had first died in her mind. So when he fell down in the bathroom on the morning of his second death, Aunty Nike just watched him beg for his life. He spasmed, clutching at his chest as her smile curved into a plastic smile. As far as she was concerned, the corpse only awaited burial.

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The Book and Its Cover

By Sunday Eyitayo Michael I walked around, neatly tucked in, Trouser to my belly and my bible to my chest As I sang ‘Hallelujah’, heading for church- again Then a cry from a corner halted me It was Emeka, the class’ bad boy, saying the Lord’s Prayer in tears Unknowingly, tears began to rush down…

Nameless

Nameless

By Sunday Eyitayo Michael His name was- I needn’t tell you Cos you won’t know him even if I did I don’t know it either He was not like Gates, Jackson or Mandela He was nameless, a nobody. I watched his wretched wife weeping and cursing Like that was all she lived to do Actually,…

My Sleepless war

Who Am I?

Am I the soldier who never fought, the heart that was never broken abroad? Am I the TV that broadcasts visions of a world deranged? A dream that never came true, that spitting image of a fake you, An empty promise that was never seen through. Will it suit me if I love and hate,…

Money shot

The Money Shot

By Amy Heydenrych

They have a checklist that demands scenes of abundance, women being employed and hands holding fountains of grain.

These pictures will be emailed to countries their subjects will never see. They will be placed on billboards and websites by men who believe their USD 100 000 grant is enough to transform entire communities.

“Karibu!” The owner of the factory I am visiting clasps my arm with chapped hands. The dank, malt scent of the animal feed they are processing coils into my lungs. I hold in the urge to wheeze.

Biafra.resized

1968

By Okwudili Nebeolisa

He took his army bag and stuffed it with a few clothes and shoes, for himself and his son. He had money in his pocket. He took the keys to his motorcycle and went out to look for his son. “We’ll be travelling tonight,” he told his son, in Igbo. When the boy asked about his mother, if she wasn’t going to leave with them, he was shouted at to shut up.
Quietly they left for the next village after he draped a bedspread over Gladys.