Posted in FICTION

OLD TIES by Me TSBG

It is only 2:00 in the morning. You wake up restless after failed attempts to fall back asleep since Mama’s call woke you up from that fascinating dream where you had been having a sun tan on the beach in Miami (PS: she had called to ask you if you still remember to say your prayers and read the Holy Book!). You decide to put a sound track to your life and indulge in some cleaning. You vacuum clean the room carpet, and dust the tables, change the bed sheet and oust the dishes into the dishwasher; you wash the toilet, and scrub the tiles, and once you’re done, you smile, feeling a tad more relieved and humane than when you woke up.

You re-arrange your book shelf as you intend to storm the bookstore later that day for some new addiction(s). Then, you stumble upon your old photo album snugged up tightly amidst a bunch of forgotten memories. That photo album had been given to you by your favourite cousin as your first birthday gift at the age of sixteen. You smile as you remember the look on Nlerum’s face when you hugged him and painted his cheek with a pink thank-you kiss; that is a one-too-sweet memory that always leaves you smitten.

Curiosity, boredom and a little too much time on your hands kick in and find you plucking the album out, and seating on your newly made bed to flip through its pages of a piled-up-and-stashed-away past. Every picture of you holds a bright bold smile that is not your own anymore. You remember indeed that the album hosts some of the best days of your life– with or about Nlerum. He had either been the one taking the picture, or the one bombing it, or the reason behind the smile. Nlerum.

He was your second Cousin– the son of your mother’s first Cousin. You had met him occasionally at family parties (PS: Grammy’s birthdays were kind of made in Heaven) where he inspired your heart with his shy familiar smile, and afterwards, you had attended the “family school” and been entrusted to his care. You saw him as a big brother, although he was just three years older than yourself. And he loved you, oh he did. You had known; yet, you had thought it was just as a brother loved a sister– deeply, protectively, and that was that. But it had been more- a rippling-staggering-overfilling more. Nlerum had spoken love to you in all the languages that there were, but you had been too naive to hear it; or maybe you had just been an ardent ignoramus? It doesn’t matter. Hearts are made to be broken, and his had been broken by you.

“The heart was made to be broken” -Oscar Wilde.

You flip the old album cover close now, and rid your eyes of the droplets of water waiting to fall. Nlerum. You remember you had seen the last of him about ten years ago, during his final year in school. You had bathed him with a dozen more pink kisses as you wailed about how you would miss him. That much had been true. He had asked you not to worry, as he would come check on you as often as he could. You saw his eyes, squinted in that manner that said he was dead serious about what he had just said. You had believed him. A few weeks after, Mama had called to tell you he died in a ghastly accident on his way to your school. You had wept, bitterly. At the funeral, and even days long after that. But now, as you remember, your sorrow is deeper. Something unnamed, and immeasurable.

You stare into bright nothingness, wondering if perhaps, there was something you could have; and in fact, should have done differently. And as you wonder, you rock yourself to Birdy’s Skinny Love, as it plays in your head in Nlerum’s voice.

 

 

…………….

Me, the Short Black Girl blogs at Miniscule Diary

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Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, Uncategorized

FOR THE LOVE OF THINGS BETWEEN COVERS (RAMBLINGS)

I am not ashamed to say that I have found the greatest pleasure under covers. Being intimate with just one soul, usually one. But there are those days when there are a number of us. It is always fun. Lovely…lovely, books.

Books are amazing and have done so much for a whole lot of us. Where would we be without books? It has continued to grow from those few papyrus pages of yore.

Take a minute and think – where would we be without books today? They have come together to form the tales that are our lives. We are almost like books in some form of the writing stage.

Today, I think of all the various books that have shaped my life from the great books of Literature, the Bible, other books of religion, my development books. More than these, I am thinking of the Kobo reader that gave me a vista to new books that I never might have read. I remember fondly now that I read Khaled Hossein’s The Kite Runner and other titles from him plus Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Angel’s Game there. The same reader gave me the chance to share with loved ones, Belle, Debbie Iorliam and a few others. Wait, have I told you of the people I met from books? Kunta Kinte? Okonkwo? Dr Zhivago? Gabriel Van Helsing? Ah! The writers? From Achebe to Hemingway, Habila to Aristotle 😉 Okay, the comparisons aren’t coming out too well 🙂

But before I sound too nerdy and some people start talking of how people are no longer reading or all, let me say that I am also grateful for the gift of the world’s most famous and used book now: no, not the Bible. No, not the Koran or any top book you want to think of. Wait, did Ikhide just say ‘Facebook’? Top marks! Who else would have gotten it? Well, that is one book that we can’t do without, no? I have met so many lovely people after reading from that book.

Books have come to hold a more special meaning for me considering I have had four out and am working on more. As an editor and publisher, there are more that I am playing with too. There is nothing as beautiful as finding life in books. Really, where would we be without books?

Lest I forget, it is also Shakespeare’s birthday! Yaaaaay! I celebrate him as well as my friend, Ozioma Izuora, the amazon that keeps fighting. You don’t need to hear that she is from UNN to feel her lioness roarsShakespeare taught me much and I still remain mesmerised reading him. It is sad that his works are hard to enjoy on stage since the beauty of the words of the maestro are lost while one tries to look at the actions of people. But we will manage. Reminds me of that movie, Shakespeare in Love? Have you seen or watched it? Ah! You should if you haven’t. That is if you appreciate romance, thriller, adventure and the grace of verse. Should I start quoting some Shakespeare now? When it comes, it just feels like speaking in tongues: ‘There’s no art to finding the mind’s construction in the face…’ So, let me hide what else I have in mind.

Okay, two last lines: think of many romances books have brought…why don’t you spark life up some more again with a book or two. Happy World Book Day, Happy Copyright Day and Happy Shakespeare Day!

 

PS:
Special dedication to all those who books blessed me to find, amazing friends: Belle, Hyginus Ekwuazi, DaMore, Servio Gbadamosi, Omadachi Oklobia, Xikay, and the one million and whatever number else of the people on a dial that make my life worth it every day. Thank you, really much. I shall write some tales on books and love found from covers, maybe plus some shared between covers. Aidee thinks that we can be really cliche with our telling but maybe if I do just a few more cliches that come from the heart, we will all be fine. Love it or hate it, the books will still rule! Cheers.

Posted in CALLS FOR SUBMISSION

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: AFRO TALES OF DELIGHT

OKay, it’s time to re-celebrate the black froic essence…

When we look up at the night sky, space is black as far as the eye can see. Yet, when we read novels about it or watch something on TV or in the movie theater, it is white beyond all comprehension. With this collection, we hope to give space some much needed … color, shall we say (and other genres, of course).

A call for Submissions:
Co-editors Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall seek donated submissions for the first in a series of anthologies comprising original and reprinted genre material by, for, and/or about persons of color.
The genres in question include (but are not limited to) science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, weird fiction, and speculative fiction.
Length requirements range from microfiction/flash fiction (approximately 100 words to 450 words) to novelette (7,500 to 17,500 words).

Submissions Specifications:
Files should be sent as .rtf or .doc
Kindly format in 12-point Courier or Times Roman font, left-justified text, double-spaced, with margins of at least one inch; include author name, title, and contact information on the first page; include name, title, and page number on all successive pages.
Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2013.

Check http://mothershipconnect.com/index.html for details!!

What you waiting for?

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, FICTION, TALES

Colourful Threads in the Nigerian Literary Fabric: A Review of Naija Stories by Unoma Azuah

Naija Stories makes a rewarding read because a sizable number of the stories in the anthology beam beyond the imperfections of the weaker stories. This collection adds a unique design to the tapestry that makes up the layout of the Nigerian literary fabric. The stories renew our plush tradition of yarning and knitting of anecdotes. The anthology is divided into four sections with the subtitles: Tears, Kisses, Heroes, and Villains. These subtitles pretty much represent the contents of the sections.
Stories that beam with the brilliance of precision, include, “Blame it on a Yellow Dress,” “Showdown at Rowe Park,” and “One Sunday Morning in Atlanta,” among others. These stories glitter with vigour. “Blame it on the Yellow Dress,” explores incest. It reveals how a father sexually abuses his young daughter. The writer makes the reader empathize with the main character, and effectively rouses our anger and succeeds at evoking our sense of pathos. “Showdown at Rowe Park,” chronicles the conflicts of secondary school students. It is quite a simple story, rich with humour with a well-developed suspense. Though the language is near banal, the writer is able to capture the mood and setting in a way that effectively enhances the theme of the story. He is further able to make such a familiar story, especially to Nigerians that can identify with life in secondary school, vivid and definitive.
“One Sunday Morning in Atlanta,” is another engaging story in the collection. Though some actions in the story are called to question when it comes to verisimilitude. For instance, the strong influence the protagonist’s mother has on him, seems rather far-fetched and the childishaltercationbetween the protagonist and his sister in the church makes one wonder if they are adults or teenagers. Nevertheless, the gradual build-up of the story makes it more convincing. The paradox in the fact that the protagonist, while in a club, dancing and socializing, could not get the attention of a girl he wants, but was able to get her into his house through the guise of evangelism adds a plus to the account because it makes the story emblematically charged. Additionally, the writer’s ability to lay bare the contrasts of Nigerian idiosyncrasy and American exclusive traits heightens his effectual use of wit.
The very first story in the collection, however, sends discouraging signals to the reader. The premise of “A Glimpse in the Mirror,” falls flat because its theme of death is redundant and melodramatic. Qualifying it within the context of a meal or a broth makes it taste like an over-salted soup. The central character, a coffin maker, loses all the father figures in his life and ends up losing his life as well. The sardonicism in the fact that one of his customers wants a plane-coffin for his late mother who had always wanted to enter a plane, but never did, almost elevates the story. But this boost fizzles out because that is all we see of this secondary character in the story. There is no employment of variety in the story’s mode of delivery—no humour, no suspense and no re-channeled digression. Stories with the three E’s are always a pleasure to encounter: entertainment, education and expansion of one’s scope of life. As Stephen Minot puts it, “When you turn from literary non-fiction to fiction you cut the tether with the truth.”
My hope for the three E’s dimmed as I read from the first section towards the last section. Some of the contributors to the anthology are amateur writers who have little or no idea of what a short story should be. Hence, brevity among other flaws becomes a challenge. For instance, the story, “Can I Please Kill You,” is a mere didactic story about abortion. The story does not achieve much except attempt to sell a moral. The emphasis is on the fact that the protagonist decides not to go through with an abortion, while a nurse who is symbolic of ethical precursor praises the character for her wise decision. There is nothing crisp in the story’s structure, theme or style. Another story that does not succeed at its rendition is “Seeing off Kisses.” It drifts from one unfocused point to another. The inconsistency in characterization does not help.
Though some of the resolutions of the stories are loose, they nonetheless,bear conclusions that fall within the standards of well tied ends. That is, some wind-up with optimistic outlook to life, while others culminate quite unconventionally, which in itself is positive because most unconventional or disturbing resolutions force us to re-examine some of the stubborn beliefs or expectations we hold. Naija stories has done a successful work of showcasing new and emerging voices in Nigerian literature.

Unoma Azuah is a prolific Nigerian Benue born writer of many dimensions. She lives in Jackson, TN, USA.

Of Tears and Kisses, Heroes and Villains can be bought online at http://www.naijastories.com/amazon-store/.

If you live in Nigeria and want the book delivered in PDF to your inbox, please contact admin@naijastories.com for payment details (via Zenith Bank and GTBank)