Izuchukwu: By Ansalem Alita



When people ask me why I can’t move on, I tell them that longbefore your conglomerate of small bones became a thing you worried about, I was already hooked. I was hooked by your frown: the spontaneous ease with which your face had conjured it up like a magic wand the very day our paths crossed.  It was a Sunday, around Holy Ghost Cathedral. I was still vacillating in making a pick from the heap of sandals the vendor displayed by the roadside when you showed up. Unlike me, you did not waste time, you had gone straight ahead for what you wanted_ a flat brown sandal. 

“I need the size 44 of this”, you said, holding out the sandals to the vendor. 

“This one no be my …” 

“Oga na your size”, the vendor retorted, in the swift compulsiveness of one who had watched numerous potential buyers escape with that lame line it is not my size. 

“It is tight, can’t you see? I can’t wear it” you insisted.

“Oga see eh, you know say tight sandals be like woman’s preek, as you dey run am e dey expand, until em go come gell”

Omo! My head had wanted to burst on hearing that. The sheer casualness and the melodic lyricism of the statement dragged out a loud chuckle from my chest, and that of the women standing about. I guess like me they had for a moment also wondered if they had a preek. The ease and confidence with which he said it suggested it was a hook; a puerile joke he had used countlessly on boys like you, to cajole them into buying his wares. I had expected you to laugh but you didn’t. Your face was set in steel. 

“Please, stop,” you said.

“Oga no dey disguise; I know your type, na una dey do pass”, he said. 

I guess he didn’t get the memo that you didn’t appreciate the joke until you dropped the sandals and began to walk away.

“Oga na play na. Someone cannot play with you again?  The vendor’s plea chased after you, but your mind was made up. 

It was your reaction that brought back my home training. I felt ashamed to have laughed at such a joke that used a woman’s vagina as an advert jingle for its sales, worst still on a Sunday. 

I ran after you. I was not sure what I wanted to say to you. But I pushed through the smelly sweat of the unending tides of the crowd that flowed like a river around Holy Ghost cathedral, in pursuit of you. I struggled to catch up. Your pear-shaped head was the radar that used to keep you in sight. When I got close enough, separated only by two men who thought the world should stop because they had a sack full of groceries, not wanting to miss you again, I stretched out my hand and pulled at your shirt. You’ll later yab me with this when we became an item. 

“Guy, you were pulling my cloth like the haemorrhaging woman.”

“Werey. I no blame you sha. Na me do myself go dey chase big head”

But unlike the haemorrhaging woman, I had pulled harder. You had hit my hand the first time I pulled, maybe you thought I was one of the pickpockets that roamed around Holy Ghost. But I pulled harder before you caught my hand: the incorrigible thief who wasn’t discreet in pickpocketing.

On seeing me, it seemed as though a switch was flicked on inyour head, and you squeezed out a warm smile. I saw how your eyes climbed over me in a brief second. But it was not the reckless glint-full eyes groping, which I have become used to; it was an innocent surprise of one who hadn’t had the opposite sex that up close. We nearly had an accidental first kiss as people bumped into us.

“Go and get a room!” said a man, who roughly brushed against us. We stepped off the way, to the front of a closed shop.

“I like what you did back there,” I said, smiling.  

You casually brushed it away. You were shy and couldn’t stare me in the eye. I knew that instant that you liked me.  But you didn’t ask for my number. You only asked for my Facebookusername. You didn’t give me yours. 

“I will chat you up,” you said.

I stayed up that night waiting for your friend request, but it didn’t come. I invented names and keyed them into my search bar on Facebook, hoping your name would somehow pop up but it didn’t.  A week passed and I didn’t hear from you. I didn’t tell Chinelo. If I had told her, you know what her yeye laughter would have done to me because I was the one toasting you. But I did not bury all my hopes. I believed that somehow, I would still bump into you.

You didn’t send me a friend request. You came directly to my DM. Funnily enough, we never became Facebook friends until you later disappeared. But it didn’t matter, what mattered was that we talked. The first time we chatted on Facebook Messenger, you didn’t introduce yourself.

“Fine girl, did you miss me?” You asked with a smiley emoji. You were that cocky.

I didn’t ask who it was because I knew it was you. I didn’t get mad at you for saying that nor did I snub the chat as I would have done to any random stranger. 

“Idiotu,” I said. 

“It’s like you’re not interested in getting married. You’re chasing away an eligible suitor with insult.”


“Dey play na. We are only two in the world now o, my elder brother and I. My brother sef, is getting married soon”. 

“Abegi, shift. Who wan marry you with your big head? You’renot even my type.”

“LMAO, see this beggar wey get choice. You dey beg for man, come still get choice on top”

Yes. Your jokes were that cruel. You were the king of clapbacks.No one outdid you on that. You already said goodnight, beforeyou asked me you needed to give your mum the name of the woman that made you keep vigil past your sleeping time. It was then I realized that we didn’t even know our real names, but we’ve spent hours chatting.  

“Well, if you are nice to me next time, maybe, just maybe, I will pity you and help your life with my name,” I said.

“Werey. You know what they say about those who wait on the Lord? They wait forever!”


I loved your jokes. I loved how you did not try hard to make them, how easily they triggered laughter. The night before we went on our date, you told me I should not overdress.


“Just in case we are asked to wash plates after eating.”

“Why would they do that?”

“Because we might eat above our budget”

While at the restaurant, you didn’t look me in the eye no matter how hard I tried to maintain eye contact. Your shy smile was a stamp on your face, announcing that you were a first-timer. We were on our way out of the restaurant, when the man we’d later label the “nine months” because of his heavily protruding stomach, grabbed my wrist into his large palm. His eyes bolstered with that familiar glint I have seen in the faces of many men who thought I was something they could own. The man was yet to say a word when you cut him shut. 

“Oga abeg, na my kid sister. Our Mama dey wait us for hauz”, you said, snatching my hand away.

I repressed a laugh so that I don’t make a mess of the show you put up.  I held it in until the restaurant’s door closed behind us.

“Alaye, no dey drag me like that. Who be your kid sister?” I said, and we burst into laughter.

“I was saving you from that old man, na”

“I hear you, my personal lord and savio…”

“Jesus Christ”

“You are forming strong boy for an old man, but you no fit look woman for eye”

“Who is the woman?  I can’t see any o”, you said, engaging in a mock search.

“All the time we ate in there, you didn’t look me in the eyes for once.”

“Omo! Wahalur o”

“I’m serious. Why didn’t you look me in the eye”?

“Well, if you must know, in my village, it is disrespectful to look a goddess in the eye” I blushed. 

Yes. Jokes came that easy for you to crack.


The first time we made out was on Easter Sunday. I was 22. You were 25. But I was virtually coaching you through the wholeprocess. Even as my face came close to yours you stared at mesteely as though you didn’t know what I was trying to do. 

“Izu, when you’re about to kiss someone, you close your eyes.”

“Well, one of us has to keep their eyes open to make sure our faces don’t collide in the process.”

I laughed hard. It was the silliest thing I have ever heard.

Your teeth were all over the place when we kissed; you were licking my lips. You were all over me in seconds. It seemed something in you was woken. A hunger that has been bottled for so long, you never knew it had a place in you. I had to explain to you that it wasn’t a one-man thing, that the goal was for us both to have a good time. So, you must wait to get me in the same tempo with you.


A week after we made out, you told me you’ve been reading up things about menstruation, ovulation and pregnancy. 

“Why?” I asked, confused.

“Well, just making sure that there are no chances that I became a father after the last time.”

You tried to sound funny, but I knew deep down, that you were scared. But you’re struggling to cloak it with humour.

“Guy, this is not how these things work, so calm down.”

“But I released”

“Before nko, why you no go release, you dey impotent? 

“Guy, be serious na. I released. And we were both naked.”

“Oga, na only you bin dey naked o. And you released outside not inside me. What we had was smooching and there was no penetration. So, there was no way I could have gotten pregnant.”

Your fears still held you hostage. You never stopped asking me if I had seen my period. Once you asked me “how far”, I knew it was not about me.

“Have you seen it?”, you’d ask.

“No, bring touch and help me find it.

It was frustrating but I indulged you. I liked this about you: yourchildish naivety. I was baffled at how you were so book-intelligent yet so naïve about basic biology.



It’s been eight months, two weeks and five days now. When people ask me why I haven’t moved on, I tell them that the evening breeze still reminds me of you. Each time I watch it seize the paper kites of young boys in the street, like a bully, brutally fleecing them off the paper they were crafted, with a grudge, to expose the freckle broomsticks that spun out their kitelike outline, I remember you. Watching the broomsticks of the mangled kite flailing powerlessly downward reminds me of you.

It makes me imagine how powerless you must have felt when the mall incident occurred. Its brute force confined you to yourroom for days, before it finally took you out without my knowledge.  I knew that incident broke your spirit. It had groundand brewed you into a mess. I imagine, sometimes, how many times you replayed that incident in your head before you decided to end things: the pity and muffled laughter in the eyes of the ladies in that section of the mall, who with helpless curiosity watched the condescending ease with which the man’s strong arm had chucked you away, like a piece of dirt the time youraged towards him, with all the strength in your small body.How like the freckled broomsticks of the boys’ mangled paper kites, you had flailed weightlessly to the floor. 

I had seen the tears in your eyes that day. I saw how they stood in solidarity with you and didn’t run down your cheeks. On most days, I wish I had not winced loudly when the man’s large palm so confidently groped my backside, as though he was taking his pound of flesh. But I couldn’t have helped it. His hands had felt like a crown of thorns. Still, I wish I had held in my helpless yelp as I have always done on other occasions when your attention wasn’t standby police, maybe, you would have still been here.


I did not call you for two days after the incident. I didn’t callbecause I know you. I know how pity irritates you. That youcame around only when you’re done nursing your wounds. So, I waited. I waited for a week, but you didn’t call. It was the longest we’ve stayed without speaking. I was breaking too. I was breaking because it was on my account that you underwent the crucible of that ridicule. Yes, I was breaking for staying that long with no words from you.

I was on my way to your house when I got your text. 

“I can’t do this again. It’s over….” 

It numbed my hands. It read you were tired of fighting. That you’ve fought one too many for a person. But it is here I feel pain. You did not give me the chance: to tell you how I also fought off men from my body. You forgot that I chose you too,but I couldn’t stop my boy from being a magnet. I cannot help my body from becoming the Nile every Moses wants to stretch out his staff and rip it into two. I called you, guy. I called you. I sent texts but all of them kept a poker face. I reached out to your friends, and no one agreed he knew where you were.                         



It’s been three years, four months and two days after you left. Afriend sends me a picture of you in a gym. I see your arms painfully ribbed with muscles. I smile. I feel sad for you. It seems you have had a terrible deal with nature. It took all your beauty and left you with an abundance of inflated bones. I stab the voices in me urging me to reach out to you. Instead, I reach out to my phone to delete: your number, your pictures and everything that reminds me about you.