HEALING by Debbie Iorliam

Just when you think you have heard it all, you hear something new and you wonder if you ever heard anything before…


He stares at her but feels no longing. Baba Cookoorookoo has advised that a virgin of rigorous innocence is paramount.He makes certain his wife has gone for her usual Wednesday vigil. To be double sure he doesn’t get caught he waits for thirty minutes after she is gone. He advances towards her bed and grips her by the shoulders. His hands tremble but the demon in him roars swallowing his soul. He throws apart her skinny legs and penetrates her tender pelvis forcefully.

Her scream drowns any pleasure he might experience. He runs out of the house allowing his legs lead him. He runs almost endlessly, disgust and shame eating his soul. So profound his pain he thinks of a noose.

The zeal for a cure losing its appeal. He rolls on the ground allowing sharp stones and shrubs bite into his skin. How could he face his community? How could he tell his wife he ripped their daughter’s innocence in hope he would get cured of HIV?



Debbie Iorliam is a script writer, editor and model who lives in Abuja. You can read her blog here. 

For whatever reason, rape and every form of sexual molestation is WRONG! Let’s speak out against rape and sexual molestation in every form. Spread the word and speak. Take action in every way!


THE MAN WHO MOVES (Flash Fiction) by Gabriel Agema


HIS MORNING James took his time thoroughly in front of the mirror placed at the back of the door of his room. He put his red tie excellently like he had learnt in the video. On a navy blue suit and trousers with light blue shirt, he decided he had made a statement and everyone from the front of his house to his office would take note of “the man who moves.”

He goes to the table in the kitchen and sets his food down to eat. He made sure it was cereals with milk and sugar so he does not have to stain his cloth.  James swears that by the time he is done today, people’s heads would move. He eats and then leaves to stop a taxi. On his way, down the street to where he could get a taxi; he starts to feel something is wrong. After eating, he had gone to the toilet and came out, so what else could be wrong?

Anyway, he does notice people looking at him…some with eyes bulging, most especially the ladies. Bulge your eyes out, he says in his ears; you have never seen me kill like James Bond in a party at night. He wasn’t friendly with the neighbors so
 they only wave and he waves back, says some good mornings too.

He stops a taxi, enters, hoping for the taxi driver to turn around and look at what he wears or how good he looks. Nothing. Unserious driver he thinks. Drops and pays the demanded fair as said by the driver who seemed more concerned with the cleaning of the inside and outside glasses of taxi.

He enters the building and every lady coming ahead of him, have their eyes away from him. Some keep the stares, start adjusting their shirts and walk away quickly. James, James, you just are too handsome for your skins. He laughs and then…

‘James, can I have a minute with you?’ Finally, his female colleague who has been secretly admiring him now would tell him the truth.


‘Yes, dear.’

‘I like your outfit.’

‘Wow, thanks…’

‘You ate cornflakes with milk this morning right?’

‘Yes, how did you know?’

‘That’s what you bought yesterday evening and brought to the office before leaving…’

‘Okay, I bought that but still how did you notice that…’

His colleague becomes uneasy and decides to tell him what she really has in mind.


‘I know, I know…’

‘No, you don’t know anything; you don’t need a mirror to notice…’

James interjected ‘That I poured milk and cornflakes on my clothes instead of rice and stew?’

‘James, I wish…please try and fix or put your zip properly, no one wants to know if you wear sponge bob under pants!’ with this, his colleague, walks out shoulder high; at least she has done what his friends couldn’t do instead of laughing behind him.

(From A Basket of Tales: A Benue ANA Anthology which can be downloaded for free by clicking HERE)



As with most of my friends especially writers with whom I have grown a deep bond, I cannot exactly say the first time I met Dul Johnson… There’s been this contact for some time. One of my first memories with him was when he had a reading with the Abuja Writers’ Forum; he was to be a facilitator at their workshop and also a guest writer. I told my father where I was going and he smiled. He said he had worked with Dr. Johnson in NTA and that the man was a rascal. I smiled… I passed the greetings of my father to Dul and he took it with good humour and yabbed my father back. Since then, there were different meetings including a memorable talk at the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) convention in Minna in 2009. Other areas and yup, I attended his reading at the Abuja ANA where he read from Why Women Wouldn’t Make it  to Heaven alongside 2013 Caine prize shortlister, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. IT was a fun read and the joyful noise in the air was testimony…

I remember when he became my client…The link was another good associate of mine, Salamatu Sule. She gave a referral and voila, I was in Dr. Dul’s office trying my best to sell our work. He had a work that had

Dul Johnsonbeen done, Deeper into the Night, which needed some rework. Well, long story short, SEVHAGE published the novel (Deeper into the Night) and a play of his, Melancholia (which was shortlisted for the Association of Nigerian Authors’ 2014 prize for Drama).

Dul Johnson is a man easily spotted with his huge beards, which sadly have been trimmed. With a rich voice and a joyful personality, he is almost always noticeable in any crowd. Did I mention his glasses? He has written much across the genres but there’s some history to him…

He started early life as a farmer, then apprentice blacksmith, something he carried to his school where he succeeded in at metal works. He was meant to go to a polytechnic but providence played its hand differently… Well, he ended up in the Abdullahi Bayero College, the Kano campus of the Ahmadu Bello University (which is now the Bayero University, Kano). Now, by 1976, Dul had started writing plays, with radio plays for a radio station in Sokoto called Rima Radio. It would take two years before his first play was performed on stage. In 1978, as an undergraduate, his first play was performed in the Abdullahi Bayero college. [I tried getting the title of the play from him many times but the man’s memory decided to play a game that didn’t produce it… So, we can be resigned to the fact that it is a title lost in the archives of forgotten memory] He wrote and produced many television plays for NTA Jos in the 80s and 90s before turning his attention to film.

The last time we had a major event together was the twin launch of Deeper into the Night and Melancholia. Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi — a mutual friend of ours who is a great poet, academic and film person – was meant to present the review for Deeper into the Night. For a million reasons, Prof Ekwuazi couldn’t make it and asked that I help him. So, I wore two caps; as reviewer and publisher. I presented the piece while tweaking some parts. I got positive reviews for the presentation and I was all smiles. I can’t remember now, but perhaps I thanked the heavens that Professor Ekwuazi couldn’t make it J

The launch was not as well attended as I would have thought – which is not to say people didn’t come, we had over a hundred people… But it was a great event. There were more than enough chops. People got free copies of the book in the benevolence of the Dul, and *coughs* his publisher. After the whole event, we had time to chat on a whole lot of things… I also got the chance to meet the Dul family; Chalya, the guy Duls and Mrs. Ruth Dul Johnson.

Dul Johnson
Dul Johnson

We laughed as I left that day, but I couldn’t forget the warmth that I felt in the office with Dr. Dul and his family.

But this isn’t about us or mushy stuff… Oh! I didn’t mention part of his creative writing publishing history:

Dul has published to his credit, two collections of short stories, Shadows and Ashes and Why Women won’t make it to heaven; a novel Deeper into the Night (SEVHAGE, 2014) and a play, Melancholia. Dul Johnson is also a seasoned scholar and academic who has taught at the University of Jos; the National Film Institute, Jos; the Television College, Jos and Bingham University, Karu.

I did an interview with Dr. Dul Johnson last year shortly after the shortlist for Melancholia. The deep man had much to say… His interview marks the first of our now to be regular SEVHAGE Reviews Interview that can be found at…Specifically, find the interview by clicking HERE.

Enjoy him and please drop a comment… Many thanks and cheers!


SHADOW KISSED (‘Flash Life’) by Yvonne Onyinye

4:10pm, Lekki-Ajah Expressway, opp. Ikota Shopping complex.
‘What’s this stupid girl doing?’ Bus driver Y is yelling. ‘She’s about to get herself killed’, that’s a passenger talking. ‘She has no earphones on, is this a suicidal attempt?’, another passenger.
‘Get out of the way, omo ale’, a thug grabs the stupid girl’s arm and drags her to the paved sidewalk.

My arm did hurt, but that jerked me back to reality.

Was I about to get myself killed? On Valentine’s Day?

My palms were dry and cold and very pale. I looked like death warmed up, as a matter of fact, in just 10 seconds of my life, I got kissed by death. What would the headlines have said? Would my story have appeared on Linda Ikeji’s blog? And I haven’t even gotten to my golden age yet. I didn’t even get to wish Ikhide R. Ikheloa a happy birthday or ask Chris Ogunlowo out for dinner. No, I wasn’t ready to die.

Six hours later, I was sitting in a fancy restaurant, excited about the soup I was having with someone I had just met.
Barely an hour later, I was receiving a gift of Macy Gray’s album.
And this morning I’m not doing the walk of shame.

What can I say, it was a good Valentine after all.


CONQUEST (Old Fiction) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Couple Cuddling
From YNaija

Viashima heard the voice again. What was that song she was singing? He smiled. No I shouldn’t be smiling. I should stay put. He rushed to the window and saw her pass by. It was the beginning of the traditional tale of a man looking at a lady’s buttocks and swallowing. He had read much of it, had even been a victim in some time past. What is it in those butts? Well, whatever it was, it sure sent adrenaline rushing. But this time it was different. He wasn’t meant to be looking. Take your eyes jor. Kai. She must be fifteen. No, he couldn’t do that. That was the same age as the other girl. But she’s been in my brain since forever. No, he couldn’t. He wished he was a drinker. Maybe this would be the time to start. Which kind of temptation is this? Natural one. Take your eyes Viashima. But she looked edible. Edible? Damn!

He had promised to be different in Mbanor. Why was this being difficult? Why was Kano pursuing him?

Flee the Devil and he would flee from thee.

Viashima thought about it and in the end decided that the best way to conquer evil was to face it squarely. Whatever one runs from comes back. After all, one of the laws of engagement was direct challenge. Challenge then conquest. He had been in a few situations to know that. Why else was he in the army? Yup, he would.

The song heralded her passage. He was out in a moment.

‘Hey!’ He called in as calm a voice as he could.

It took six days to get a reply. IT was worth it. They were in his room now. She was a bit older than he thought. Seventeen. They had been talking for a full month now and he knew a lot about her. He always looked forward to their meetings. It was fortunate that the country was a bit peaceful. At least, there was time. She was a worthy companion and his views of her improved. From a pastime, she became an aspect of the day he looked forward to. She was talking at the moment:

‘That is why I am always alone. It is also why I sing. I get sickly sometimes too. So, it would seem I am denied most of the pleasures of life.’

That seemed to click something in his thoughts. He looked at her and the first thoughts came rushing in torrents all the way.

‘There is a certain pleasure you sure wouldn’t want to miss.’

It was a year. He still thought they should wait. She didn’t:

‘Promise it wouldn’t hurt.’

Who usually taught them that phrase? It seemed all of them usually said something of that like or similar. He had heard several people say they had heard something like that on their first.

‘Maybe, we should wait.’

‘You are a very different type of soldier. Come on, this is your last night but one. Who knows what would happen next?’

‘I would come back.’

‘If you don’t, I would come and take something of yours.’

Take something of yours. His mind wandered to a few other things, to different people and different stories. It went mainly to Kano and he winced.

‘Maybe we should wait.’

She looked at him and in her eyes he saw pools of love. Pools of trust. It seemed no hex could stop them that night.

‘Viashima.’ She always got the pronunciation perfectly – Vi-a-shi-ma. Like most times, he became weak.

She stooped, he conquered… and time stopped.

(‘Conquest’ is an excerpt from a work in progress by Su’eddie Vershima Agema. ‘Conquest’ is published here for the first time and appears in February in a new collection edited by Su’eddie Vershima Agema)


FIRST TIMES (FLASH FICTION) By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

As he kissed her hands, he carried his eyes up and looked into her eyes. Deep within the filmy glints, sat sadness. She laughed but the innocence of her cheer wasn’t there. He blinked as he smiled to wipe the looming sorrow that he felt in her. He laughed but this time the tears were no longer in her eyes alone. They reflected those twin lines streaming from her face into the deep recesses of their hearts:

‘No one deserves your tears.’

‘I know. I just don’t understand. I just don’t.’

‘Find someone who loves you for you. Whatever you do, be happy.’

‘I will try.’

He walked her outside and flagged down a commercial bike. He asked the cost and turned his attention to her. The unshed weight laid a burden on his thoughts. He wondered if he had killed that which he had prayed for. More words poured till she climbed the bike.

He took her hand, and in the second prayed all the fortunes and joys of heaven upon her.

‘Aôndo una lu a we.’ She didn’t hear him. He repeated himself changing the ‘would be’ to ‘is’: ‘God is with you.’

He paid the fare despite the disapproval she showed. She was too weak to argue. He noticed and knew she wouldn’t fight. He placed the small change from the notes. It wasn’t a gift, just a gesture:

‘You might need the change. By the way, you are my guest.’ He flashed a huge smile ‘You look tired.’

‘Physically and emotionally.’

‘Aôndo una lu a we. Aôndo would be with you.’ As the bike took off, she nearly fell off and there was that look on her face again: fear. Again, he wondered if he hadn’t made the biggest mistake of his life. It was the gazillionth time he confirmed that he truly loved her. The last time he saw her. The first heartbreak that never healed.


THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD (Flash Fiction) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

You raise your thoughts to the highest heavens, even though you are at your lowest. You drink of the wonders of so much written, yet find no merit to quench the thirst that is drinking you up. You hear more words, and see much more evils …

What should be, what should be?

The puzzles turn on and on in your head till your every thought becomes a mass of unanswered questions, much like wires turned loose.

You have stopped watching TV, you have stopped reading the news, you have struggled to leave the world. But somehow, the troubles still get to you. The news you refuse to find, the realities of the time.

You pick your pen to put into action once more that blood that bled so much to create weapons that left everyone marveled. You want to bleed out all the evils that have now become a monster in you.

It flows and you smile, but not for long as you find more of those villains coming to get your people. You discover that your leaders are complicit…

Then you go to Opi, kiss the junction and remember that one who wore the eagled insignia. You pick his mantle and make the sign of the cross.

Suddenly you realize you no longer believe that the pen is mightier than the sword.