She learned to live with mechanical precision. Each day dragging into the next, in the grand picture she was a speck of dust floating, unheard and unheeded by the universe. In her family picture she stood in the middle, gaze fixed on the camera, a wide smile.

To her she had always been a swimmer, in life’s murky waters, everything had an end.

The weekdays, holding breath under water, 1,2,3,4,5…. Then up to the surface, gasping for air

On the weekend she would become whoever she wanted, the woman searching for a nice flat on the banana island, particularly interested in a beautiful kitchen, telling realtors about her Italian boyfriend’s obsession with oregano. Then she was pregnant woman, the only child searching for love telling drunken strangers about her father who never returned, the banker about to lose her job, the upcoming actress willing to do anything for her big break.

She was all these women in quick succession, one weekend after the other, never fearing insanity. For the weekend, life was a book with blank sheets and she held the pen, treasuring each second in the company of strangers before disappearing, never exchanging contacts. There were 7 billion strangers in the world and not enough lies.

This weekend she was the hotel manager who fucked the owner. She was 21 again, her twist out falling down her neck as she told of Fridays at the hotel penthouse, licking her red lips as she gave details, his large palms, his warm tongue in her. He wasn’t happily married of course, a wife was just something of necessity even if it had been 35 years. She had no regrets, she performed resurrections and enjoyed being his savior. She told how he sounded most alive during orgasms.

Her drunken companion today had a deep northern accent, he talked about living most of his life according to God’s script, believed he was determinism’s little puppet. Today he just wanted volition, the ninth bottle, and his hand around a strange woman’s waist. The ring on his left rubbing against her dark skin. This weekend none of them would care.


Bush Bar

Madam Tinuke’s backside was one of her most prized possessions, it swung proudly behind her as she moved from stall to stall on hot afternoons. On a good evening in Labake’s bush bar, if you were lucky she would retell the story of how she shook her ikebe to Fela in the 1970’s. She would tell it after 2 or 3 cups of palm wine.

The deeper the keg went the louder she spoke, her deep voice and laughter mixing with the various tales of other drunk customers.

Cup 4 was for her son in America, why he hasn’t returned.

Cup 5 was for the 20 thousand he sent last week, how she was hard working and didn’t need the money.

Cup 6 was for her daughter who spends more time with her mother-in-law, doesn’t have her own money, how her child has been bewitched.

Cup 7 is for her dead husband, how she doesn’t remember how to cry.

Labake never served eighth cups.


Itunu was born an escapist. Three dead siblings, the third made it to four. Itunu arrived quietly on a rainy Sunday night along with rumbling thunder and her mother’s scream of pain. A midwife gently tapped under the newborn’s feet, one after the other, willing her to cry.

Her mother who swore God was present at her last child’s funeral named this one Itunuoluwa: ‘Comfort of God’, but she would grow to escape God too. Her father couldn’t stop staring at the quiet newborn, her eyes as large as her mother’s, another fragile thing. When Itunu gets home they would pray for many more sons, a daughter was enough.

Two years after their  “Amen” had been said, Motunrayo came to stay, her name a fulfilling prophecy.

Motunrayo was nurturing and kind from a tender age but Itunu always demanded greater attention. Escaped childhood at thirteen, stubborn as a man, ill-mannered and talkative. She refused to be quieted by her teacher’s chastisement and often got in trouble for skipping mass.

The final straw was when she started to ask the nuns who created the nothing God transformed into earth, she went on for weeks searching for answers. Unsatisfied she grew curious, drilling holes and picking inconsistencies from sacred teachings.

Two suspensions later Itunu was sent to military school where she first felt lust, she often thought of Kanayo the boy 3 levels above who had started growing a beard and liked the warm feeling it gave her between her legs. Months later she would kiss him underneath the staircase, his breath heavy and arms wrapped around her waist, she moaning without guilt.

Years later she meets Laura, a sophist with a head full of red hair and shelves full of books, but when they kiss it’s something different. Laura fills all the holes inside of her and drills new ones.

Itunu calls her mother by 6 pm every Friday, she never tells her she’s in love.