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From Seun Odukoya (on Facebook) “I wonder which of us he summons now,” one of the figures – one that closely resembles what we call ‘female’ speaks. Several other figures gather around it, looking through the same crack in the wall – a crack that widens itself as more of them try to look. “Be ‘ware – see that you do not out-fall,” a large one cries. As though preempted, a tiny version of the same image forces its way between two bigger figures – and screams; a keening sound, as it loses its footing. “There, there,” the large one that spoke before grabs the tiny one’s foot in time and pulls it backwards. ‘Large’ hugs ‘tiny’ to itself – and makes small cooing noises. It’s a weird image; I know. But it’s a real one. The object of their curiosity is one more familiar – it is a man bent over a book and writing furiously. He looks famished – like the last leaf on a dying tree; something badly in need of a lifeline; water maybe. His clothes look slept in – very much slept in. He probably stinks; I’m not close enough to tell – but with the myriad of stains and stripes that spot his shirt, it isn’t hard to imagine that he is ripe. His painfully-thin frame folds over the back of the chair he’s sitting in – he looks limper than a used rag. His surroundings, however tell a different story. The book he was writing in is neat; his handwriting is clear and beautiful in an unsettling manner. The table itself looks like the survivor of a cat-fight; scratches mar its leather-bound surface. A few candle-smudged burn marks show his tendency to be absent-minded; as the neatly-stacked books and arranged biros attest his attention to detail. A few darker stains – spilled coffee and something else enhance the weather-beaten look of the table. The only thing that seems out of place is the box of pills lying innocently beside the shut laptop. Of course, ‘out-of-place’ is relative. Like almost everything else, really. The room is frustratingly spotless. Clothes are properly hung or folded; shoes neatly arranged in a corner, books stacked underneath the well-laid bed. Dirty clothes make a tidy pile beside the door – the only incongruous note is struck by the pieces of ripped paper that surround the table and chair. They stand out like rash on a baby’s ass. The limp right hand rises slowly from the tired thigh it is lying on – and proceeds to scratch the corresponding side of the head. Heavy eyes flutter desperately – but remain closed. The hand; having concluded its mission falls to its master’s side. And all is still for a moment. And then – with a startling abruptness; as though attacked fiercely in the posterior by an angry needle, he jumps up. The watching figures cower – even I stumble backwards in my shock. But in his self-absorption he takes no notice. He is; after all, a writer. Unfortunately. His limbs straighten – a flame rouses itself in eyes that looked slumberous moments ago. Impatiently he sets himself at the table once again. Grabbing the notepad, he gives it a hurried glance – and discards it. And then, he grabs the laptop, jabs it awake with an unkind finger – and begins pounding the keys; very much like an impatient man who does not wait for his wife to be turned on before… Before. “Ah,” the largest of the watching figures sighs, smiling fondly. “Alas, it is but a love story.” The others turn – and watch; as the tiny figure the giant is still holding begins to shimmer – to glow; throwing all sorts of color all over the vacuum. ‘Tiny’ becomes blindingly bright – and then vanishes altogether, leaving behind a smell we would describe as ‘oranges’ – but is obviously foul to them as evidenced by their frowning visages; what little they have in the way of that. And then; as one they all touch their foreheads and blink rapidly. “So gone is love,” the female-looking one sighs. “Next is who?” Read Tales From The Other Side. Find Out. Or not.
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Anybody remember this video? It was a favorite while I was growing up at the time; with most of us in my age grade choosing sides; Brandy vs Monica… that sort of thing. But the most astounding thing for me (then and now) was how they came together in the end to put Mr. Player in his place.
There has to be a reason why that memory particularly stood out for me. Most likely, it is because I had on some level started expecting two women to always be in opposition to one another. (Pray, who was teaching me these things then? I been small that time na… Okay Ekenedilichukwu, back to regular programming). First of all, go down low welcome to my today. Here’s to the prayer that it be your best Thursday yet. Amen. Okay, back to the matter. As far back as in 1998 when “The Boy is Mine” was a huge hit, I had  witnessed women show dislike for their fellow members of the fairer sex. Fast forward to 2015, and I see it happen a lot more often. I could not understand it then; and I sure as hell can’t understand it now. You see a gathering of 3, 4, 5, 6 women and more often than not, there’s a “mean girl’ type among them; who is either spewing vitriol at one of them who’s present or others who are absent. Reason for her lashing out? The friend is not dressed up to standard (in her book). Or maybe, she showed too much interest in a guy seated across from them and thus, made them look uncool. Met that type?
Or how about the women who look at you from head to toe with disgust in her eyes as you walk past each other in the mall; simply because you’re walking with a very handsome friend/boyfriend/husband/brother and laughing in conversation? Maybe you wore a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt to see the movies; that draw another lady’s ire; yes? These last two scenarios have happened to me a-plenty. Let’s not even discuss the ones who judge you for giving someone a hug in public. It will seem like you offended Ani, the goddess of earth or Adugbe, the river goddess in my town…
More recently, it has proven true on social media even. Girls bash one another simply because they share boobs and a vagina in their comments, tweets, etc. They tend to be kinder when it is a member of the other sex. Guys who meet some ladies in customer service departments are met with a smile and courteous service; the ladies are met with a frown and a ‘devil may care” attitude. I know this for a fact; it has happened to yours truly in a bank and at a telecommunications firm. Not to generalize, but hey…
The questions that remain beggared for answers remain; “Why?” “Do women truly hate each other?” It is worth looking into; because I truly do not understand why when men are having a go at their friends, you hear things like, “you kick/punch like a girl.” Then when it’s a woman’s turn, she goes (with feeling, mind you) “She’s a slut.” Woah, calm down girl. It is never that serious. In my experience (which psychological research corroborates by the way; yeah, am the next Fraulein Freud, grinning), this attitude is stemmed from an inferiority complex. That is the only reason why a woman will feel the need to pull another lady down in order to feel better with/about herself.‎
For all you guys jumping in glee in your closets, please note that the malaise has spread to your folk o. We’ll do that matter justice another day. For now, I’ve got to go and keep some clients happy (women more so). Let it not be said that I did what I claim to hate.
Have a fabulous day, lads and lassies!
  [color-box] Eky Shirley is an unrepentant Liverpool FC Lover. A girl who loves words, books, and good music. She blogs at Eky’s Corner. [/color-box]

Fiction, Series
“You’re unusually close-mouthed for a guy,” Idowu said. The restaurant they were in was nice – and quite quiet for that time of day. Frank nursed the bottle of water on his table and stared at the woman sitting opposite. He couldn’t help but wonder why he wasn’t feeling more irritated than he was. “There’s nothing quiet about you – typically,” he retorted and almost raised his hand to slap himself. “That was unnecessary,” he continued. “I’m sorry.” Idowu waved his apology away, smiling graciously. “It’s okay – I understand. It would be nice to hear some voice other than mine though.” Frank took a swallow of his water. “I’m not an interesting person – I like work and sleep and food.” He paused. “I only recently started smoking again.” She squeezed her nose at him, looking quite young all suddenly. “How come you don’t smell – like most of them do?” Frank made a rattling sound that was supposed to be laughter. “You hang around smokers abi?” Idowu nodded. “1 – 1.” Their laughter was soft and careful – if jovial. Frank kept catching himself staring at her chest, and looked away every time their eyes met. He didn’t mind her company – it wasn’t like he was getting anything done at work in the first place. But he was feeling awkward around her and it wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t done this in a while. “I haven’t done this in a while,” Frank said. “I don’t know how it works anymore.” “It’s simple. You talk, I listen – I talk, you listen. It’s basically a ‘getting-to-know-you’ kind of exercise.” “Hmmm,” Frank said. “Okay. Why do you want to marry me?” Idowu coughed into the glass of juice she was just drinking from, hastily putting it down as she started to choke. Frank looked on, horrified as she continued to cough and beat on her chest, attracting the stares of other customers at the restaurant. A serving girl bustled over, opened the bottle of water she was carrying and shoved it in Idowu’s hands. “Here ma – drink a little.” Idowu nodded, weave bobbing as she took small sips of the water. Slowly, her coughing subsided – and then stopped – but her chest continued heaving. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and then she raised her face slowly to look at Frank. “Nice question. That would make it 2 – 1, abi?” Frank hesitated, but when he saw she was smiling he smiled back. “I cannot allow you to be shinning off me like that na,” he joked – and then his tone became sober. “Are you okay?” Idowu coughed softly before nodding. “Yes, thank you.” She pushed her hair back and smiled. “Really not the best impression for a first date, right?” Frank looked blank. “Who said anything about a date?” Idowu blushed. “3 – 1. Well done.” Frank smiled, moving his bottle of water aimlessly over the table. He let his shoulders sag and he slumped into his chair. He was starting to enjoy himself – he was starting to enjoy the company. “Do you have a car?” “Sure,” Frank answered. “I drive a Corolla. Has some issues concerning the wheel shaft and so on – so it’s been at the mechanic’s for a while.” “I understand.” She paused. “So – so I heard you recently got divorced.” Frank sat up and frowned at her. “Yes I did. So?” Idowu waved long, tapering fingers in front of his face. “Look, I’m not trying to fight you. Getting a sense of you however; is important. I’d like to know you before I decide if I just want to sleep with you or keep you.” Frank sniggered, intrigued in spite of himself. “And I don’t have a say in the matter?” She smiled at him. “How well do you know women, Mr. Frank?”   ***********   “…lot of pressure from both our families about her – our – childlessness. And honestly, I think somewhere along the line, we started to grow apart. I just didn’t see any reason to continue a lie so I …” Frank shrugged. “I cannot imagine what that must feel like. Pele.” There was a pause – and then, “So what happens for you now? I mean, do you want a wife or do you want a child?” Frank sat up – and then back down. He hadn’t really thought about it. “I haven’t really thought about that – about moving on or what the next thing is supposed to be. It’s my first day back at work after so long, I’ve started smoking again after so long…” he shrugged. “I’m still missing my wife – a lot – so for now I’m just taking it one day at a time.” “Work – that’s tailoring, right?” Frank nodded. “Can you actually sew – or you just own the business?” “I’m an international tailor,” Frank remarked dryly. Idowu chuckled. “Male or unisex?” “Actually, I cannot sew male clothing to save my life.” Idowu’s mouth dropped open. “You cannot be serious.” Frank shrugged. “I thought guys were more sexist that women. Another stereotype, right?” Idowu held up her hands in surrender. “I surely apologise. I find male hairdressers and guys who can make female clothes fascinating – I just have never met a male tailor who can only sew female clothes.” “That should help you remember me,” Frank said. “Oh, I don’t think I need any help with that!”   **********   “Oh – I promise. I will call you.” “You better.” Frank froze as Idowu leaned towards him – and then he relaxed as she kissed his cheek softly. “What did you think I was going to do?” She asked as she leaned away. He shrugged. “I try not to think that far.” Idowu laughed – and then shivered. “The weather’s changed.” “Yes it has,” Frank answered, and then stepped off the restaurant’s sidewalk and towards Idowu’s CRV. “Unpredictable as always.” She opened the door and got in. “I meant what I said about you calling,” she warned. He nodded. “I know – and I meant what I said about promising to call.” “Okay.” She waved and drove off.   *********** “But Afo, you said my car would be ready yesterday. I didn’t even call you then – so that it wouldn’t be as though I was disturbing you. And now it’s still not ready?!” Calm down, Frank told himself, snapping his fingers to resist the itch for a cigarette as Afo his mechanic mumbled an explanation. Not having a car was becoming a pain, a bother – an inconvenience. And he told the mechanic same. “My not having a car is becoming a problem. There are only so many places I can take a taxi or jump on okada to now.” He went quiet – and then said, “Okay, alright. We’ll see.” And hung up. Poking his head around his office door, Frank called to James. “James!” he yelled. And when the boy came scampering up he said, “Help me find a cab that can take me home.” He cocked his head sideways and then asked, “Anything happen while I was away?” James nodded. “The Alhaja don come collect her clothes – and she don pay balance. Some new orders came too – mostly school uniforms and choir gowns. I thought you’d want to look at them tomorrow.” Frank nodded. “That’s till tomorrow then. Please get me a cab.” James nodded and ran off.   ********** “Fola!” There was no answer. His knuckles smarting, Frank lifted the front door carpet and took out the house key. And then he opened the front door. “Fola!” he yelled again, snapping on the hall light. The other parts of the house was in complete darkness – and the sitting room was silent; highly unusual if Fola was in the house. And his wife wouldn’t be back yet. But what about the kids? He left the hall light on and made his way towards his room upstairs, careful not to bump into anything. He was fiddling with his room key, trying to find the lock when it occurred to him that his phone had a flashlight. Just then, the key slipped in and he opened the door. The room was cold in spite of the AC being off – so he threw on the light switch and shut the door. The AC stayed off. He put his phone on the bedside table, and then his keys – and was reaching for his wallet when he remembered Efe’s invitation to dinner. Frank groaned loudly – but continued unloading his pockets. I hope she doesn’t think I intentionally freed her o. I just forgot. He was removing his trousers when he heard the main door open. Hastily he slipped back into his pants and stepped into his bathroom slippers. And then he hustled out of the room, buttoning his shirt as he went. “Fola!” It was Stella yelling. As Frank got to the stairs he heard her say; “Oya go and sleep. I don’t have the strength to supervise you bath yourselves – so we’ll do that in the morning. Goodnight.” He heard some mumbling of what he imagined to be ‘goodnight mummy,” but didn’t know for sure. He waited until the children’s rooms closed – and then he continued downstairs. “Good evening, Stella.” Frank said to the woman who was stretching and yawning over the kitchen sink. She whirled around, and her frown deepened when she saw who it was. “I thought you and Fola went out together – went out and forgot to go and pick my kids. Where is he?” He couldn’t hide his surprise. “Forgot to pick the kids? Are you saying you’re just getting them from lesson?” She didn’t answer him. “Where’s Fola?” she asked again. “I – I haven’t seen him all day. I went to work!” Stella looked at him – and then she exhaled, all the animosity leaving her body with a rush of air. “I’m sorry, Frank. It’s just – “ she sighed. “I don’t understand how he forgets the children in school!” She shut off the running tap and wiped her hands. “So you’re not one of his drinking buddies?” she asked. Frank turned away. “I don’t drink.” He stopped at the doorway, and then turned back towards the disgruntled wife. “Have you tried to call him? Something might be wrong – “ “There’s nothing wrong, Frank. Your friend my husband is just irresponsible. This isn’t the first time.” Frank surprise was evident in his gait as he suddenly seemed to lose air like a deflated balloon. “Wait – what?” Stella chuckled as she took a pure water sachet from the fridge. “He’s been coming home early since you got here because you stay at home most of the time and he didn’t want you to be alone. So he gets the kids and comes home to stay with you.” She cut the water sachet with her teeth and drank some; dentures gleaming like neon in the dark. “The moment you started work he returned to his old habits.” She looked at Frank. “You told him you were starting work today, abi?” Frank nodded. “Ayuwa,” Stella said and snorted. “At least you aren’t as irresponsible as he is – or maybe your wife would say different.” She trudged past him out of the kitchen, and as Frank looked on thunder rumbled in the distance. *********** Directed by @seunodukoya