Hey guys, it’s Monday! Which means new blog post – and me, keeping a promise to myself to be a more disciplined, more deliberate writer (I actually intend to make money from this!)
Here’s an excerpt from a work in progress. It is tentatively titled “Paper Cuts”. I wrote about 5000 words as a short story but I suspect a novel could come out of it. suggestions please (and yes, keep all comments clean)! Thank you and enjoy!
Monica’s mother was a fierce little woman. She was downright ferocious when she was protecting something. Most often that thing was the rights of the downtrodden widows and ex-wives who passed through and broke down in her cramped Wuse II office. So committed was Monica’s mother to her humanitarian cause that she did not deny one of the battered wives she was counseling the right to Monica’s father, her husband – who frightened of such graciousness, skipped town with his new lady love and was firmly ensconced in a rusty red roofed neighbourhood in Ibadan.
For these reasons, and most assuredly more, Monica hated her life. She almost committed suicide twice. She knew it was an exceptionally selfish decision to take her own life because every time visions of her funeral flashed through her mind she wondered how she could put her mother through that pain. Besides, she didn’t want anyone to allude to her inheritance of her father’s selfish gene. Since this past year, Monica had finally accepted that there was always another way out. It is this mantra that Monica was chanting to herself, sitting up cross-legged on her bed as the cackles from the other room swept into her privacy. She shut her eyes even tighter and chanted louder. Not even her ringing mobile phone would make her break the chain of fifty “There is always another way out.”
Affirmation ceremony over, Monica slid off her bed into the messy pile of books, magazines and numerous stapled sheets of paper – a million paper cuts waiting to happen. The cackling continued. Monica picked up the now silent phone and checked the missed call. She didn’t recognise the number. She pressed dial and on the third ring the call was answered.
“Monica Osakwe,” she said.
“Since when are you Osakwe?”
“Since fourteen years ago when you walked out on us and Mummy reverted to her maiden name.”
There was a brief silence. Then: “What’s this I hear about you getting married?”
“Who is he?”
“By your standards, daddy, he’s nobody.”
“Is he somebody that I know?”
“No. you don’t know him and you don’t know his family either.”
“So why are you marrying him?”
“Daddy, no one but you and Aunty Joke remembers your family’s great and glorious past. The history books are written by the rich – a category that the Akinola-Watsons do not belong to at the moment.”
Another silence ensued – longer this time; then: “I ought to have been informed instead of hearing it on the grapevine.”
“Daddy, your email hardly counts as the grapevine.”
“You both could have come to Ibadan so I can assess him and he can ask my permission.”
“Don’t you think that you relinquished that right when you took off with Mummy’s client?”
“No matter what, I am still your father!”
“A fact I try to forget as much as possible.”
“Monica your insolence will bring you to no good!”
“Thanks for the blessing daddy. Listen, I have to go. There’s a god-awful banging at my door.”
“Don’t you dare use that sort of language with me, young lady,” Fred Akinola-Watson spluttered but Monica did not hear it. She had put down her phone and opened her bedroom door. Eva, the source of the banging and the cackling, stood there. She had soiled her blouse with palm oil.
“I need you to get me a change of clothing,” she ordered. Monica observed her for a moment, taking in Eva’s appearance. Eva Osakwe, forty-three years old, had recently lost her mind. In a previous life, she had been the uber-wife to a moderately successful surgeon, almost twenty years her senior. Three years ago, her husband, Monica’s uncle, had died. According to his less-enlightened relatives, it was not a mysterious death, but a suspicious one. A brain aneurysm was as alien a concept to them as little green men. Eva, the wife who had faithfully reminded her husband to pay the school fees of his uncles’ many children, was hauled off to a family meeting where her head was shaved and she was accused of murdering her husband. Any woman with such a vast knowledge of the history of European pagan societies had to be a witch. And those meals that she insisted on cooking whenever they came to visit – who was she trying to impress with her skill in folding puff pastry? Fried goat meat in pepper sauce was enough delicacy for them; washed down with chilled palm wine, of course. Eva was fortunate that her sister-in-law, Chika Osakwe, Monica’s mother, also happened to be spending Christmas at the village when Chief Doctor passed away as he took his afternoon nap. As soon as Monica’s mother found out about the accusations she loaded the newly shorn widow and her three children into her minivan (ideal for ferrying her clients and patients) and drove off to Abuja. Monica followed the next day by public transport sulking the entire trip. Since then, her aunt had lived with them, steadily falling into decline. Six months ago, Eva had suffered a psychotic break – coincidentally, Monica’s Jewish (non-practicing) boyfriend proposed on the same day. Monica shook her head to dislodge the memory of that day and failed. The reel played in her mind: She had joyfully run up the stairs to announce the news to her mother, only to see Eva being strapped down to her bed by three burly men. Chika shut the door but not before Monica had seen the wild animal look in Eva’s eyes as she threw back her head and roared her protest. The two women locked eyes and Eva began to cackle.