LIFE OF PAINS
The quiet pleading woke him up. He
opened his eyes to the darkness that
was the room. He la-id still and listened,
all signs of drowsiness fleeing in the
sudden recognition that the sound he
was hearing, was not a drum but his
heart, beating fast. He turned and knelt
on the be-d. His knee sank into the
mattress. It was so thin that his knee
t©uçhed the cement floor and he could
feel the sharp stones of ch!pped cement,
b!tt!g into his knee throu-gh the
mattress. He turned in fear as he heard
the sudden movement. He breathed in
relief, it was a rat scampering away in its
own worry at being caught. He stood on
the be-d, then ti-ptoed to the door. He
could hear the voices clearly now;
Maria: “Abeg Papa Abel, Abeg…I tink say
you go come house by 7, as you dey do
normally, dat na why I cook d food by
6:30. Abeg na, you know say I get belle…
Ghenero: “you dey crase? You dey gi me
coal food? I don sufa. Today na u go
know say na me b d man of dis house.”
Sound of loos£ning belt crept into the
room, where Abel stood, shaking in fear.
Then the beating began.
This was not the first time, he has
witnessed his father beat his mother
s-en-seless. He beats her up for any
reason especially when he is drun!kas he
is now. He too, had scars all over his
b©dy to testify to his own share of
beatings when his father was angry.
His mother screamed, begged, called out
to people but no one [email protected]£ to her rescue.
His father was a policeman and he was a
drun!k. The people in the neighbourhood
knew when to mind their business. Abel
felt tears sl!pdown his face to hisl-ips.
His puny arms shook with rage but he
could do nothing. If he stepped out
while his father was in his violent
drun!ken rage, he would get a beating
for his efforts, so he stayed back and
watch his father punch his mother to
When Ghenero was done, he staggered
to a chair, sat down and started to eat
the food, he had beaten his wife, Maria,
for. Abel watched him throu-gh the small
opening in the door. He finished eating,
belched then staggered out of the
house. Abel waited for some few
minutes then rushed to his mother.
Maria was on the ground, pas-sed out.
Her breath [email protected]£ out with a wheeze. She
was bleeding everywhere. Abel started
crying and calling for help. This time, like
rabbits, foxes, rats and other small furry
animals, neighbours [email protected]£ out and
rushed to his aid; the lion was gone.
She was rushed to a clinic nearby but
she lost the baby. Maria looked at her
son in tears. She was tired, very tired.
The tiredness was not physical but took
more strength out of one. She just
wanted to lie somewhere and sleep
forever. She wept silently as she watched
Abel sleep in a plastic chair by her be-d;
his right thumb in his mouth.
Ghenero is a big man or he was a big
man but alcohol and cigarettes have
su-cked away his muscles. He stood now,
like a broken god, his flesh hanging off
his hvge frame like we-t clothes. He stood
looking at his son lying down by the
door asleep. See as e small. He no dey
eat? This police work tire person sef.
Where dis woman go, leave e pikin for
outside? He bent and tapped Abel
r0ûghly. Abel opened his eyes and saw
his father, he quic-kly stood up.
Ghenero: “Vrendo. Where your mama?”
Abel: “I no see am o. Na she I dey wait
for before sleep come catch me.”
Ghenero studied his son for some
minutes, then nodded his head. He went
to where the house keys was hidden,
brou-ght it out and opened the door.
They both entered.
Ghenero:”you sabi on d lampter?” he
asked. There was no electric power,
PHCN has done their job for the day.
Abel nodded his head and rushed to
look for the lantern and matches.
Ghenero went to the pot and opened it.
There was rice and beans but it was
cold. He looked at the boy fumbling with
the lantern and shook his head.
Ghenero: “where this woman come
waka go now?” he murmured. He picked
the pot and placed it on the stove and lit
it. It did not light. He bent to check it and
saw that there was no keros£ne in it. He
grew angry. He turned to see Abel
peering in puzzlement at the lantern.
Ghenero: “we-tin happen? You no fit light
Abel: “no keros£ne for inside, papa.”
Ghenero growled in anger.
Ghenero: “where your mama go?” he
said, walking menacingly towards Abel.
Abel started moving backwards to avoid
the b!ow, he knew was coming.
As Ghenero got to where Abel was, he
saw a piece of paper on a stool by the
chair. He bent and saw that it was his
wife’s writing. He picked it up and re-ad
it. Disbelief spre-ad across his face. He
looked for a seat and sat down. He re-ad
it again, then he looked at his son,
cowering by a cu-pboard. He beckoned to
Ghenero: “Come sit down. I no go t©uçh
Abel moved towards him slowly, doubt
written all over his face. He drew close
then he sat on a stool. He folded himself
on that stool in fear.
Ghenero: “your mama don leave us. Na
only me and you go dey dis house. She
say she love you but she no carry you
because she no want make I come fine
am.” He looked at Abel.
Abel absorbe-d the news in silence. He
didn’t un-derstand what it meant. He was
carefully watching the door and gauging
the distance between the stool and the
door just in case the beating started. His
father did not t©uçh him, he just sighed
and rested his head on the chair. Then
he began to cry. Abel watched his father
in wonder. Papa dey cry? Papa never cry
once before o. he didn’t know what to
do. He just stared then he, too, started to
cry. The reasons for his tears, he didn’t
know. It just felt right to cry.
Chief Bright climbe-d the stairs to his
third wife’s [email protected] He had been out
of the country for two weeks. It would
be nice to see her beautiful face again
and Preye’s too. That his daughter was
growing up so fast. He smiled. Soon boys
will start creeping out from different
holes with lies… he frowned at this
thought. He got into Ebiere’s [email protected]
and he saw his wife on the ground, half
n-ked. He looked at her and sighed. She
is drun!kagain. What will I do with this
woman? You give her everything, yet she
goes on to turn herself into a mess.
He looked at her for a bit, then he
walked out of the sitting room. He
entered his daughter’s room. She was
asleep. He walked to her be-d and
watched her. She opened her eyes and
on seeing him, jumped to hvg him. He
Bright: “How are you, kiddo? Sorry I
Preye: “I’m fine. You [email protected]£ home late.
Mummy was angry, then she started
drinking and dancing.” Bright nodded
Bright: “how was school?”
Preye: “it was okay. I am not friends with
Jane again. She was looking at Jeremy. I
saw her.” She pouted. Bright laughed.
Bright: “don’t worry, in no time you will
forget about Jeremy or Jane. By then you
will have grown br£@st on your che-st
and hair down there. you will be
prettiest girl in the world.” Preye
frowned at the thought then giggled as
her father tickled her.
Bright: “Okay. k!ssme good night and
get back to sleep.” Preye k!$$£d him on
hisl-ips and then he was gone.
He stood and watched Ebiere snore
away on the rug.
He shook his head and
walked out of the [email protected] He was
soon eating in his first wife, Mama
Benson’s kitchen and listening to her
complain about school fees and other
mundane matters. He sighed, home,
sweet home. Benson never comes home
for holidays, he s£nds his mother to
come and disturb my peace, abi? That
young man nee-ds talking to. he thought
to himself as his wife rambled on and
FIVE YEARS LATER
pri-vate Ghenero stood at Enerhen
junction with his colleagues. It was
12:00pm and he was drun!k. He
staggered across the road to the Keke
Park. Touts were calling out to potential
pas-s£ngers; Hausa Quarter! Estate! Ibo
Market! Iyara! and so on. He walked
close to a bus parked just off the road.
Ghenero: “Scott, na wrong parking you
do so o. If I cease your key now, you go
say I be bad person o.”
Scot: “Kpoko for my chair for dere! My
autentic chairmo. Any oda chairmo for
the road na Kantafit. See as your uniform
starch! Jesus! Hice for d man wey sabi!”
Scott saluted Ghenero, who stared at him
with bleary eyes.
He was thinner and older than before.
Maria’s disappearance had dealt him a
harsh b!ow. He was known to be drun!k
every time of the day, he rarely ate and
he no longer took good care of himself.
Ghenero: “you know we-tin to do. I no
nee-d tell you. Just run am come
Scot: “Shuo! Oga see as you dey ginger
for d marra. No worry, I go reason you. I
just come outside so. Make I go my first
Ghenero: “no take me [email protected], Scot. If you
no do well, you no go work today o. I
dey watch you. oya gi me sky first make I
take rush one sh0t to take clear head?”
Scot looked at him for a moment then
di-pped his hand into his front pocket of
his shi-t and brou-ght out some money.
He selected a fifty naira note and handed
it over to Ghenero, who took it and
smiled, his b©dy waving from side to
Ghenero: “correct. Later now. Park your
bus well o.” He pocketed the money and
turned to walk away.
Scot was alre-ady calling out on t©p of his
voice, ‘Iyara! Iyara! …’
Abel gro-an ed as he lifted the headpan of
sand unto his head. He had wra-pped an
empty cement bag into a support on his
head to reduce the pressure of the
headpan on his skull. His n£¢k ached and
his [email protected]!st was a mess. His 14 years old
legs shook from the effort but he went
on. He nee-ded the money to cook this
evening. Dem neva pay Papa for three
months now. Well even when dem pay am
na drink e dey use am dey drink den e
go begin find small small girls wey e go
sleep wit. He sighed as he watched his
efforts for the past two hours; he had
more to go if he was going home with a
good amount of money. He trudged back
to the pile of sand and shoveled some
into the headpan, lifted it on to his head
and turned back to where the sand was
being mixed with cement to make block.
As he walked, he saw some of the
workmen gathered round a tree. Madam
Amina don come. I no get money to buy
food. I still dey owe am for yesterday
own. How I go take pas-s am now. Abeg,
dem no go kill me because of one
hundred and fifty naira. If Nigeria fit owe
debt, who am i? Make I drop this trip, I
go go meet am.
Madam Amina watched Abel as he
walked to pour sand at the sp©t where
mixing was ongoing. He was so thin.
Scars all over his b©dy. Kai! Fine pikin go
just dey sufa. Him papa fa, na wicked
man. She thought to herself. She
watched him try to dodge pas-s her and
smiled. She served the men gathered
around her. Soon a small shadow stood
by her side. She didn’t look up, she went
Abel: “Madam Amina, good afternoon.”
Madam Amina:” Abel, how you dey? You
wan buy food?”
Abel: “No o. I wan beg you say make you
wait till tomorrow for d money wey i dey
owe you. I never get money yet.”
Amina turned to look at him and smiled.
She started dishing out food into a plate.
She finished, placed a spoon in it and
gave it to Abel.
Amina: “Take, go and eat.” Abel
protested but she waved him away.
Ghenero was flying high. The monkite go
well. Everytin just soft. He smiled and
waved at the policeman, who was
directing traffic. He laughed and crossed
the road. He got to the other side safely
then his baton fell. He turned back to
pick it up when suddenly, there was a
crash. This moment he was bending to
retrieve his baton, the next moment he
was in the sky, flying. He landed on the
road divider and went still. He died
immediately. There was pandemonium, a
policeman has been killed.
Question: Who will take care of Abel now
that his father was dead?
LIFE OF PAINS
Preye’s father, Chief Bright had come in
late from wherever he had been that
day. She was alre-ady asleep when he
[email protected]£ into her room. When she opened
her eyes, she had thought he had come
to k!ssher good night as he normally did
but that night was different. He had
entered her room, alcohol fumes coming
off his b©dy in waves. She had awaken
as soon as he got to her be-d.
Bright: “My Princess, sorry I woke you
up. How was your day?” he said ru-bbing
her hair slowly.
Preye: “It was fine daddy. Mummy is
angry with you o. she was waiting for
you. She wore that red go-wn you
bought her on your last trip to Paris.
Then she started drinking, cursing you
and throwing things everywhere.” She
said drowsily. She perceived the alcohol
fumes and wrinkled her nose.
Bright: “I noticed. I was in her room just
Preye: “daddy you’re drun!ktoo.”
Bright; “Yes princess. I had a long day.”
He got up and moved bent over her and
gave a pe-ck on her forehead, on her
nose and on herl-ips. This was the
normal routine between them. Her
mother was irritated by it but it made
Preye: “goodnight daddy.” She placed
around his n£¢k and hvgged him.
Her father struggled up from the be-d
and looked at her,
Bright: “you’re going to be a beautiful
Preye: “thank you daddy.”
Bright drew close and started ru-bbing
her hair again. Preye smiled.
Bright: “I guess you have started
growing hair and stuff everywhere?”
Preye giggled more.
Preye: “daddy, that’s woman stuff.” Her
father had laughed drun!kenly then sat
heavily on the be-d.
Bright: “Can I see?” he asked. His eyes
glowing in the dark. Preye laughed.
Preye; “Come on daddy, you nee-d to go
Bright: “So you do not want to show
me? But you are showing boys in your
clas-s, right?” he asked angrily.
Preye: “I am not showing anyb©dy o.”
she tried to laugh it off but the laugh felt
hollow. She was beginning to be
worried with where the conversation
Bright nodded his head and suddenly
[email protected]£d her hand with one hand and
covered her mouth with the other. She
struggled as he placed his heavy weight
on her. Air left her lungs as the weight
pressed down on her che-st. She tried to
wriggle free, fear in her eyes. This is not
my daddy. Daddy!!! She screamed from
un-der him as he used his weight to
press her hands to her side.
Bright: “I just want to see what you are
showing the boys out there.”
Preye: “Daddy plea-se, you are injuring
me. I can’t breathe.” But her muffled
plea-s went unheard. Tears [email protected]£ out of
her eyes, as her wondrous father
r0ûghly pu-ll-ed down her [email protected] and went
on to [email protected]£ her.
As he [email protected]£ inside her, he heard a noise
like footsteps. He quic-kly got up from
Preye and placed his hand over her mouth.
When nob©dy [email protected]£, he got up and
walked out of the room. Preye la-id still
for some minutes, afraid that he will
return. When he did not, she turned to
the wall, curled into a ball and soa-ked
her pillow with helpless tears.
Ebiere woke up late the next day. She
had drun!ktoo much of that vodka. Her
head felt like a rock band [email protected]£ to town.
She staggered into the kitchen to make
coffee. She sat down to enjoy the coffee
and try to regain her balance. As she
drank, she heard a knock on her door,
she walked to the door and opened. It
was Karo, one of Bright’s boys. Behind
him were other guys with mattress, TV,
[email protected]©p, paints and other stuff.
Karo: “Madam good morning o.” he said
Ebiere: “Karo how you dey? we-tin una
wan do?” opening the door wi-de for
them to enter.
Karo: “Oga say make we repackage
Preye room.” Ebiere opened her eyes in
surprise. Karo laughed.
Ebiere: “this man and this e pikin. If no
be say na her papa, I for say dem b
b©yfri£ndand girlfriend.” They laughed
and the men got to work in Preye’s
Preye sat in her clas-s in pain. She had not
gone for break. She felt like crying but
she was holding it de-ep inside. Let
school close, let me go home, plea-se…
she wept in her heart. Soon the bell rang
for the end of break. Students started
pouring into the clas-s in groups. She sat
with her head resting on her desk.
Clas-s Teacher: “Preye!” she raised her
head to look at her clas-s teacher
standing in front of her.
Clas-s Teacher; “Get up and carry your
bag. Your dad is here. Why didn’t you tell
us you were not feeling fine?” She asked
in an accusatory tone.
Preye: “am sorry ma.” She picked her
school bag and walked out of the clas-s.
Godwin, her father’s driver was waiting
for her at the gate. He carried her bag
and opened the door for her. She
collected her phone and switched it on.
She had over 20 messages from her dad.
He was apologizing. She re-ad them
quietly, then opened a box by her side. It
was a new Iphone 7 and chocolates. She
stared at it and sighed.
Preye: “Godwin are we going to daddy’s
Godwin: “Yes. I hear say you no well o.
Preye: “thank you.” she rested her head
on the chair and closed her eyes and she
relived the night before. This is too big
for me, God. I am just 14, I am just 14…
God. She let the tears spill out of her
Bright petted and begged Preye for
weeks. He took her to choice places,
gave her expensive gifts, opened an
account for her in a bank and deposited
hvge sums of money for her in it. When
she made her JAMB and got admitted
into UNIBEN, Bright was ecstatic. He
threw a [email protected] for her and her friends.
After the [email protected], Preye drun!kon red wine
was carried home by Godwin and his
father [email protected]£ to tuck her in. This time,
when he did it, he was not drun!kand
she felt little pain. Preye and her father
[email protected]£ lovers right un-der Ebiere’s nose.
TWO YEARS LATER
Abel lived as an orphan. His father was
dead and his mother had disappeared.
He sle-pt anywhere he could find. Every
morning, he rushed to the Eco Bank
along Enerhen Road to clean himself up
for the day. He had an agreement with
the guards at the gate, so they let him
throu-gh. He worked as a conductor
when the opportunity aro-se. He and the
driver plied Enerhen junction to
Orhuwhorun town and back. He also did
all sorts of jobs to survive. He picked
metals, rolled wheelbarrows, worked at
building sites to feed himself. He lived a
tough life and he really wished he could
have been born to the families of the
rich, he saw driving by in fancy cars.
One day after working all day as a helper
at a building site, walking back to the
bus st©p to hitch a ride back to where
he would sleep, he saw Madam Amina.
Abel: “Madam Amina!” He called out.
She turned, covering her eyes with her
hand. The setting sun reflected off cars
and the light blinded her to the person
calling her. She squinted and looked
closely. It was Abel .Small Abel, all grown
Amina: “Abel? Abel! See Abel o!” she
They both st©pped close to each other
and stood talking.
Madam Amina: “Since your father die,
you just lost. We haff not see you since.
Where you dey?”
Abel: “I no fit pay rent na. So naim I
move comot dere. Na anywhere I see I
dey sleep o. you know d mata na.”
Madam Amina:” You mean dat you no
haff house where you dey sleep?’ she
asked, in surprise.
Abel nodded his head, watching people
rush for a bus heading to Orhuwhorun.
Madam Amina looked at him, up and
down. He don grow o but see as e lean.
He is not eating well. She sighed.
Madam Amina: “I get buka for Deco road
now. If you dey dat area or you dey
hungry, just come meet me for dere, you
Abel: “Ehen? So you no dey roll
wheelbarrow again? Dat na good news
o. I still dey owe you money abi? No
worry I go come pay.”
Madam Amina: “Abel you be mumu
shebi? I no want your money. Come
chop food make flesh for dey dis your
Abel looked down, smiling shyly. He
heard a conductor call out ‘Enerhen
Junction’, he raised his head and saw a
bus driver he had worked with before.
He looked at Madam Amina
Abel: “Abeg make I go join dat bus. Naim
go carry me go where I go sleep.” He
started walking away.
Madam Amina: “Abel no forget o. try
come see me o, you hear?”
Abel waved as he ran towards the
alre-ady moving bus. As he crossed the
road, a Toyota Rav4 swerved to avoid
hitting him. He jumped and turned to
look at the driver. The girl behind the
wheel didn’t even acknowledge his
existence. She shifted gears and sped
off, her shaded eyes on the road in front
of her. He held a curse back, rushed on
to the bus, jumped and was soon
bouncing along the different portholes
along Udu road, on his perilous perch on
the open door of the bus. He and the
conductor joked and laughed as he
headed home for the day.
Preye hissed in annoyance. Look at that
inbred idiot. When you hit them now,
they will say reckless driving…blah blah
blah…She was not in a good mood that
early evening. So Dave thinks he can fv¢k
me and leave me without giving me the
money he promised shey? That nigga
does not know me. She applied [email protected]
to the car as she got to the gate of her
father’s house. What I nee-d now is a
bath, food and wine… lots of wine. Am
so tired. The gate opened and she drove
The house was quiet. She walked
upstairs to her mother’s [email protected]
Preye:”Mumsy, am home. School su-cked.”
She got no reply. Was she drun!kagain?
Mumsy and alcohol sha. I hope I don’t
end up like her o. she walked to her
mother’s room but she wasn’t there. She
shrugged her shoulders and turned to
her room. Her room door was open. She
entered and met her mother [email protected]
She screamed in terror; her mother was
dying. She rushed to her and held her.
Her mother was trying to speak but
couldn’t. She looked around for her
phone and saw her digital [email protected]£ra on
the be-d. It was on and pla-ying a video of
her and daddy at a h0tel in Enugu,
pla-ying and k!ss!ngin the pool. She
rushed to the be-d, picked the digital
[email protected]£ra and switched it off. She turned
quic-kly to her mother, her once beautiful
mother, wasted by alcohol.
Preye:” Mummy what were you looking
for in my room, ehn mummy?” she wept
as she spoke. People were alre-ady
rushing into the room. She stood, her
hand ti-ghtly gripping the digital [email protected]£ra,
and watched them as they carried her
mother out. She bur-st into tears again in
the silence of her room.
Some of her family members murmured.
Too much of a good life and no
ambition, this is what you get. Woman
will be drinking like a man.
Question: Will Ebiere survive the heart
attack? Will Abel go to see Madam
Life of pains Episode 1 & 2