By Ezioma Kalu

Heartbreak is painful, sure, I believe. But have you ever plugged your phone at night with the conviction it’d be completely charged by dawn, and when morning greets you like a curtsying teenager, you find out it’s exactly at the point you left it the previous night, unmoved and unshaken like mount Kilimanjaro?And what’s worse is being aware that the power didn’t blink a moment the whole night. Like the power holders in their clemency pitied peasants like you and allowed the power to linger all through the night, yet your phone didn’t make the most of that privilege. Nah, there’s nothing more heartbreaking.

I’m sitting on the closest sofa to the wall socket in the living room, a burning sensation flaring up in my chest, as I glare at this stupid phone of mine, which has refused to charge. A voice tells me to smash it on the wall, but when I remember that I’m a broke girl whose stingy father has refused to change her old, almost-useless android phone to an iPhone, I jejelyunplug it with care and toss it on the sofa. At least, I won’t be addingphonelessness to my unending list of worries.

I login to Twitter, which is also my mini diary where I purge myself of all roiling emotions. A follower posted a thread that boob lovers should open, and a writer I greatly admire has just posted a cute picture of himself with the caption, a portrait of a boy whose dimples are as deep as a well. I chuckle at his cheesy caption, like his tweet, and quote it with the comment,Poets and portraits shaCute thoughand a smiling emoji. I want to tweet something about how stupid my phone brand is, but tweet, Hell hath no fury than a girl whose phone won’t chargeinstead.

My battery is now on fifteen percent, which means it will be dead anytime soon. So, I cuss out Aunty Winifred for being the cause of my current wahala. Of course, that’s the most convenient thing to do, attributing my misery to her because she’s the cause of every misfortune I face. And I can’t stop hurling blames at her for being a suction cup, sucking all the goodness and luxury I’m meant to enjoy in my life.

Yes! Aunty Winifred is a witch; a blood sucking demon. What she did? The question should be what has she not done? What drastic measure has she not taken to snatch the sleep from my eyes? When Daddy said the iPhone 12 Pro Max I demanded for my birthday in March was an ostentatious item with no value towards my life, and that I should give him a list of books to buy me instead, I was certain it was Aunty Winifred speaking through him. It was like hearing Jacob’s voice but feeling Esau’s hairy hand.

You see that Aunty Winifred, God will punish her for me, with her head like Spongebob’s. Everything is wrong with that abomination of a woman, but her body structure is the worst. No one can convince me she wasn’t made in the devil’s image and likeness, because how can God who makes all things bright and beautiful create such a repulsive human? Everything within her and without screams ‘horror!’

 Her eyes are bloodshot and saggy, like they’re already exhausted from being her organ of sight and her nostrilsthat are broader than the roads that lead to hell, sprout hair long enough to be braided with attachments. Her lips are two thin vertical lines, and her boobs only exist as a figment of her imagination. She has an okay-let’s-just-manage set of teeth, which is her best feature but not even her smile is attractive.

So, when Daddy served Mummy the divorce papers five years ago, saying he’d found the love of his life, I wanted to ask “did she use kanyamata on you, or you’re just outright stupid?” I stared intently at the picture of the supposed love of his life, wondering if my father had truly lost it. Why did he choose that goblin over Mummy? Mummy that is a doll of a woman, apunanwu… Mummy that is delicately made, tall, slender, with a lovely figure, black hair, a heart-shaped face and the high cheekbones of a model… Mummy that won the beauty pageant for two years in a row during her undergraduate years.

They say men will stain your white. But even if you wear black, they will still find a way to stain it. And since Daddy left me and Mummy in Enugu to enjoy his ludicrous happy-ever-after with Aunty Spongebob, the hatred I have for him has grown startlingly loud, that you don’t need to strain your ears to hear its echo.


My phone has refused to charge for three days in a row, even after going all the way to Victor’s shop in Ogbete to fix it and spending an hour in his workshop, that tiny compartment that can barely contain two humans, but somehow manages to fit in two stools and a table full of new and old phones and screw drivers and soldering irons and tweezers. Even after squeezing out the two thousand five hundred naira Victor said was for a new charging port, the old one has spoiled and it was God that asked me to come, because if not for my timely visit to his clinic, something worse than the charging issue would have happened to my phone.

Victor had this aura, a disposition of someone who knew what he was doing, and who had spent years expertly doing that, with forehead wider than a blackboard, and a pair of bulbous, sharp eyes which pierced into yours while talking to you, as if to enchant you. And so, I believed him. Yes, he was a GSM doctor as the sign on the wall of his shop read, and fixing my phone was ofe nlacha to him.But my phone has refused to charge even after undergoing that special repair from a professional.


It’s Monday, and the sun is shining like the ozone layer has finally depleted, and today is the day we all melt. I stroll to the balcony to watch the people of Enugu go about their businesses, because the power holders who take your life the moment you’re in desperate need of it, just seized power. Across the road, a mother is dragging her wailing four-year-old to school, indifferent to the fact that the girl is screaming her lungs out, pleading they go back home. No,she doesn’t want teacher Mmeso to flog her today.The buxom okpa woman who looks like she can comfortably balance her tray of okpa on her buttocks, is passing through my street and chanting “goonu okpa,” and Mr. Mathew, the short, bald man who lives downstairs is beckoning on her.

“Nwanyi okpa!” I scream from my flat, and when she looks up, I say, “O way gi nah.It’s today that I don’t have money you know you’ll come, after starving me for ages.” She smiles and tells me sorry, I should not vex, she was sick the entire time, that’s why she hasn’t been coming. Her two-year-old is dragging the hem of her skirt, whining about wanting to play with sand, and she’s shaking her head, saying “mba, kwusi ihe ahu, stop that thing osiso.” She cuts a small portion of okpa and feeds him with it, and then he smiles, revealing his barely complete dentition. I’m staring at the cute, little boy with his little pair of shorts and pokemon-inspired t-shirt and wishing roles can be reversed. I want to go back to being a little baby who doesn’t care about anything else except to eat and play and sleep. See how wholeheartedly he’s smiling because his only problem has been solved, but here I am, currently dealing with a lot of shege, and still poised to deal with some more tomorrow and the day after that.

My phone is one shege that’s hell-bent on making sure I don’t drink water and drop the cup in peace. That bastard won’t work, except I use it while plugged into my power bank.I hiss, as I remember it has been off all morning, and so I switch it on. The moment it comes on, tons of messages flood in like they’ve been waiting for me to open the door. There’s one from MTN about recharging five hundred naira to qualify for a raffle. I scroll past because what’s my business? There’s another from Facebook, someone just liked my picture. I hiss, and am about to drop my phone, then I see one from my bank.My heart starts galloping, thinking maybe Daddy has finally decided to be the best father in the world and surprise me with the money for a new phone.Odiegwu… Though the credit alert is from him, it’s just ameasly ten thousand naira, with the description, your transport fare to Lagos.Omo, I wan craze


I am now lying in my bed, which is evidence of how unorganized and screwed my life is. My bed is void of sheets because I am yet to wash my one and only bed slip which I mistakenly spilled okra soup on two days ago. My two pillows are on the floor, and I don’t even have the strength to pick them up; my phone wahalahasdrained all my energy. My room itself is a chaotic space, with half of my clothes on the floor, and the other half in the laundry hamper. The cobwebs on my ceiling are enough to aid Spiderman in his climbing, but I deftly avoid my gaze going towards that direction because it’s more convenient to feign ignorancethan actually cleaning it out.

But my room is the least of my worries now. Why would Daddy send me ten thousand naira to transport myself to Lagos? Why must he outdo himself in making sure my life is as miserable as that witch wants it to be? If he doesn’t want to send me money, won’t he just stay on his own?Not like I enjoy visiting him sef. In fact, there are two things that irk me the most in this world, one is visiting Daddy, and two is making a road trip to Lagos to visit Daddy.Yet Mummy insists I always visit him for two weeks, once every year. And for what? “O nna gi,” she always says. “He’s your father and you owe him that much.” Father, my ass.

 If I must subject myself to the mind-numbing irritation of visiting him and Aunty Spongebob, then I should do so in the comfort of an airplane, and not some uncomfortable luxurious bus. How much is a plane ticket from Enugu to Lagos that Daddy cannot afford kwanu? He’s just being stingy and wicked to me, no thanks to that his evil wife. I’m sure this is one of Aunty Winifred’s strategies to put me in a tortuous situation, but my chi will destroy her for me. May thunder fire her left nyash. May her stomach run like Tobi Amusan and never reach the finish line. May her breasts shrivel like dry leaves and may her mouth ooze like a ruptured septic tank. Useless husband snatcher.


It is 7a.m. on Wednesday, and I am now in Safe Journey Motor Park, Holy Ghost terminal Enugu. When I go to buy my ticket, the lady doesn’t chew gum boisterously, she’s not even dangling a bejeweled hand, and her eyebrows are deftly filled, not the Eucharia Anunobi’s style like other companies’ ticket attendants. She smiles at me and replies my good morning with ‘fine girl kedu?’

Odimma,” I say.

“Where you dey go?”


“Sisi Eko,” she chuckles.“Abeg which side in Lagos you dey go? Jibowu or Yaba, abi na Volks?”

“Jibowu,” I say, and she smiles again and says,‘seven thousand naira.’ Again, I curse Daddy inwardly for sending a measly ten thousand naira to me quietly. What will the remaining three thousand naira be enough for? Is it for eba? Is it for dodo? I collect my ticket, find my way to an empty bench, then sit and wait for the bus fill.

A broad-shouldered, broad-hipped woman they call Mama Sera, who looks like someone that would rather fight anyone who provokes her, than engage in peaceful negotiations, is asking a driver for her money. Apparently, the driver bought two sachets of Chelsea dry gin from her two days ago and has refused to pay.

The air reeks of urine mixed with cigarette smoke and ogogoro. It’s still early in the morning, so the park is void of some of the beggarswho sing in mellifluous tones, begging you to have mercy on them.They are always accompanied by some kidswhose job is collecting moneyinto the polythene bags that they sling across their shoulders.

The ones I dread the most are the local medicinesellers, with their ridiculous mixtures which they claimcancure over two hundred diseases. They are always dressed in oversized coats and baggy trousers, with the exaggerated confidence of people who can save the world. What is it you’re suffering from? They’d ask, sweat gathering on their noses and foreheads like it is a sign of their drugs’ potency, and reel off names of ailments.

A hawker waves Gala at me persuading me to buy, but when I shake my head no, he brings out biscuits, chin-chin, Bigi drinks, reminding me I’m going to Lagos and will get hungry at some point. I ignore him and bring out my AirPod, connect it to my phone, and Chike’s “‘Please’” fills my ears.

Please, please make something dey for me

At the end of my journey, make something dey for me…

Music is my safe refuge, the only thing that makes sense in this senseless world. Anytime I connect my AirPod to my phone, it’s as if I’m disconnecting myself from the rest of the world. Like the moment I knock on the door of music and it opens for me, as I’m removing my shoes to enter, I’m also stripping myself of myself,the self that is being suffocated by the troubles of the world, dropping it by the door beside the shoes and saying, “Oya wait for me here, let me go and come back inugo.


The journey has started and just as I close my eyes to see if I can sleep, a woman starts the rosary. I open my eyes and look in her direction and let out an ‘oh’ in surprise recognition. She’s the woman that made troubles with the driver a few minutes ago for writing her name in the manifest before purchasing her ticket, making it impossible for other passengers earlier than her to board the bus. The woman, a short, grey-haired lady who would be in her late fifties, snapped at the driver for calling her out.

“But Madam, this thing that you did, is it good? That other lady bought ticket before you, abeg I no like this kind thing o,” the driver said, and grumbled about an old woman not acting her age.

“Go to your house and call your mother Madam, inugo? Anu ofia! It’s like you’re sick in the head this mad man. If you know you have what it takes to be a man, come and chase me out of this bus and see if the lion will not tear your jaw. Ekwensu!” The woman cursed and screamed, raining abuses on the driver and his entire generation, while the passengers tried to calm her down.

Ozugo,” a woman with a black mole on her cheek, said.

“We have a long way to go, this kata-kata no fit solve anything,” a man chipped in.

And now, she brings out a long,five decades rosary to lead the prayer in the bus.

I am sitting by the window, because it’s the safest position to be, in case nausea comes knocking. A girl dressed in NYSC uniform sits in front me, and it seems she wants to open a kiosk when she reaches her destination, because why is she carrying a polythene bag filled with gala and meat pies and biscuits? The air-conditioner is whirring softly at a corner, and the bus smells of tangerine-flavored air wick, and not the stomach-tumbling odor of petrol, which I’d endured on past trips. The bus is designed in a way that ensures the passengers’comfort, with only three people sitting on each row and the air scenting sweetly, but I am not satisfied. I still hate Daddy for not putting me on a plane and Aunty Winifred for being the catalyst.

I exhale and whisper, “Everything sucks.” But I guess it’s a little bit louder than a whisper, because some guy beside me hears it and says, “Just kidding.”

“What?” I say, turning to behold my audience, and man is he handsome. Damn! He’s too fine abeg. He has a chiseled face, bright, brown eyes, and a muscular body. He looks like all these ajebo boys that their fathers have bastard money, who live in Ikoyi or Lekki, and at the same time, looks like the kind of guy that can live next door to my flat in New Haven. Though he’s sitting beside me, I think he’s tall, really tall, like 6’3 or more. I wonder what he’s going to Lagos to do and on a bus too. Is his father a rich senator in Ikoyi who has divorced his mother and he’s going to visit him because, O nna ya, he’s his father, and he owes him that much?

“What?” he says, and pushes me out of my reverie.

“I didn’t think I was audible.”

“Me, I thought you were singing o,” he says in that ‘This-is-big-brother’ kind of voice, and I’m thinking if Big Brother ever needs a replacement, then mister I-thought-you-were-singing-o will be the perfect candidate.

“Singing which song?”

“Everything sucks by Vaultboy.”

“Oh,” I say, chuckling. “That viral Tik-Tok sound… Omo, I didn’t even think of it.”

“Or maybe you were thinking about your ex… Fuck, you just did.”

Now who the hell is this guy? I stare at him, a cross between amazement and excitement, and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. Well, if this trip means sitting beside this dude, then it’s not entirely horrible.

The rosary woman has finished by now and is preaching a verse from the bible that says sinners will burn in the lake of fire. “Like some women,” she starts, her voice sounding gravelly like she has hurt her throat.“They will wear tear-tear trousers, revealing their laps and seducing men… You think you’re doing me? Shebi it’s you that will burn in hell. If you like don’t repent now and turn to God. Keep giggling with men who are not your husband, who only want to see that thing between your legs and dump you, who…”

Wait o… Is this woman throwing subtle shades at me? Because I am the ‘some women’ she’s referring to. I’m wearing a ripped jean and giggling with a man.

“Apparently, you’re going to hell,” he says, smiling.

“And I’m dragging you with me.” I pause and think of something cool to add. “Cos my Lucifer is lonely.”

Oshey Billie Eillish geng.”

“That’s my baby girl.”

He shakes his head. “So, who’s your baby boy?”

“Chris Brown, Khalid…”

“Chile! I didn’t ask about your baby boys o. Just one nne,” he says, and makes an I-know-your-list-is-endless-but-can-we-have-just-one-name-please? face, and I burst into laughter. For the first time since I learned about my journey, I place my hands together and laugh like that’s the only thing I know to do, my cheeks moving up high, my eyes becoming damp and gently closing. This dude is as funny as they come, and I’d be the greatest liar on earth if I say I’m not enjoying this moment. This,sitting on a bus, and laughing with a stranger, is a refreshing experience.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re funny? I’m sure you get that a lot,” I say, dabbing the tears that have formed in my eyes.

“Really? If I know I have a feature that makes me funny, then it’s deep in my subconscious.”

“All this plenty talk for just a simple question… Wahala for who no sabi speak English sha.”

He smiles. Oh my freaking jeez, this Mr. Sexy just smiled at me and I think something has crawled from my heart to my stomach, and it’s not some butterfly. It seems like a hyena and it’s laughing, tickling me. I want to say, “Guy, you’re so handsome…” But my tongue trips on these words. “What’s even your name?”

“I’m Chris. Not Chris Brown sha, so don’t fall in love yet.”

I stare at him like ‘are you for real?’ and say, “you don’t even look like a Chris.”

He chortles and caresses his beards. Oh, I forgot to add he’s bearded, like someone who would be the secretary of Beard Gang; Sweet Boys Association. “What do I look like?” He’s staring into my eyes now, like he’s the boy in Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ and he’s looking for his treasure in my pyramid. I quickly look away,else he’ll be able to really see that thing he’s looking for.

“Well, names like…” I bite a corner of my lip.

“Hmm this one you’re thinking so hard, don’t tell me I look like an Uwaezuoke or Ogbunambala?”

This is the part I say to my home training and the anger I’ve accumulated from hating Daddy and Aunty Spongebob, ‘I think we should break up… It’s not you, it’s me…. Lose my number and never contact me again…’ Because I tilt my head backwards and burst into a guffaw, and I don’t realize how loud my laughter is, till the NYSC girl looks back and casts me an ‘are you okay?’ glance. The rosary woman, who has finished her obnoxious preaching and nowgisting with the lady with a black mole, turns and stares at me long and hard.I don’t realize that my laughter is so loud till the avuncular-looking man, who was snoring peacefully beside Chris, jerks and says, “oginidi? What’s making you laugh like you picked up a penny?”

I put my hand together and mutter “I’m sorry” to everyone still glaring at me, while I try to stifle my laughter. This guy should tell me he’s a comedian already. Make he no dey disguise….

“That rosary woman will soon visually shoot daggers at you,” Chris nudges me, smiling like he’s not the reason my life is at risk.

Abeg forgetthat one, na she sabi” I say, still trying not to laugh. “But who still names their child Uwaezuoke? And what the fuck is Ogbunambala? I haven’t heard of that name.”

“Me neither… Saw it in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and it hasn’t left me since then. I think it’s one funny name.”

“I swear down… So you read too? Is there anything Mr. Chris-not-Brown doesn’t do?”

Oleku… Tell me something wey I no fit do…”

I fold my arms below my breasts, as I watch him burst into an unrehearsed “Oleku” by Ice-Prince and Brymo.This guy na big case, I think and shake my head. I’m enjoying this game of music he’s playing, and I want to join in, to show him I know songs too.

I smile and sing Omawumi’s “If You Ask Me.”

 It’s now his turn to laugh. But he does it calmly, like a principled guy who knows his worth, and not like some agbero girl that opens her mouth waa.He eyes me with a look that says, bring it on girl! and breaks into “What’s My Name” by Rihanna and Drake.

Yay! I know that one, so I quickly sing, “That’s why you take me way past the point of turning me on…”

Ehn?” He says, clasping his hands over his mouth, eyes widening. “My hand no dey o…”

“It’s not that deep oga.”

He says okay, and starts singing “Playboy” by Fireboy.

“Girl don’t flex with a boy, your body is a mad ting.”

“She wanna roll with the mandem, when I drop you know it’s an anthem…”

We look at each other and chant, “Oof!”

“Playboy” is my favorite song currently, and this boy just stirred me up. So, I take it up from there and start singing the song to Chris’ amazement. He folds his arms and watches me keenly, his eyes gleaming in adoration while I sing.

I sing the first stanza and he joins in the chorus, and I don’t realize I’m performing a concert for the passengers, who have now become my audience, till I reach the part, “… Don dada, godfather, none badder”

And everybody on the bus, including the rosary woman, and the sleeping old man, starts clapping for me. Well, I’m not sure if the rosary woman really joins in clapping, but I see her smile at me, maybe it’s a sneer though, I can’t say. Na she sabi sha… All I know is I’m the artiste of the moment, and if she’s not impressed, then I have one question for her. Are you not entertained, simple yes or no?


Ezioma Kalu is a fast-rising Nigerian writer and book blogger. When she’s not watching Kdramas or listening to Rihanna’s songs, she’s writing book reviews on her book blog,