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woman pouring brewed tea into glass teacup to ethnic friend

It was another humid morning in Chicago, a small town in Illinois and Annie was so excited. She could feel the tinge of sunlight on her skin as she walked to school that morning, a good sign that the long awaited summer holiday was finally approaching. It was just a month away yet, she felt it was too far. She had been disturbing her parents for as long as she could remember, seeking their permission to visit her Aunt, Becky, her favorite Aunty. She didn’t only like Aunty Becky but also her place. Contrary to the quiet Chicago she had lived in all her life, Aunty Becky lived in New Orleans, a small but festive Louisiana City on the Mississippi River, very close to Mexico-the place Annie had far longed to visit.

For someone who had never been to New Orleans, Annie knew a lot about the city. She had read about the city countless times that she could tell it’s history better than most of it’s inhabitants. She had grasped a lot of information regarding it’s round-the-clock night life, vibrant live-music scene and most especially, it’s spicy, singular Cuisine-one she couldn’t wait to have a taste of! She often wondered why the city was nicknamed “Big Easy”-the one question she has reserved for Aunty Becky.

Having spent her 15years of life in Chicago, she had gotten familiar with everyone in the entire town. Growing up, she had loved the city so much that she didn’t fancy going on holiday. Being the only child of her parents, she wasn’t given much freedom to go anywhere. She soon got used to staying on her own. Since everyone was like family in Chicago, she didn’t see the need for friends. She never talked about changing environment…the reason her parents weren’t taking her new love for New Orleans seriously.

person walking on the road
The typical Chicago neighborhood
people walking on paved road
The typical New Orleans neighborhood

As she walked home from school, she kept comparing the two Cities in her mind, smiling from time to time. She wasn’t bordered by the quizzical stares she got from passers-by. As far as she was concerned, she was having a great time. It wasn’t until she got home that she understood what the stares were about. Her completely burnt house starred back at her. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Lots of questions popped through her head: could fire service not even save a thing? Where are my parents? She stood transfixed for minutes before finally finding her voice: where are my parents?

There was no answer! She looked quizzically from one person to the other but there was no familiar face. All she saw was the usual people of Chicago trying to empathize. She was now scared. where are my parents? She asked again, now screaming yet, no answer. All she got was pity. Some starred at her like they were sorry for her while others wore an expression full of pity. It wasn’t until she made to run into the fire that a young man, presumably one of the fire service squad held unto her and broke the news. The worst of her fears was confirmed: her parents had died in the fire incident!

As she sat on the floor, weeping and thinking about her life, she felt a hand carry her up. She was too lost in agony to check who it was. She was ready for anything, in fact, she wanted to die too. She wasn’t sure why the incident didn’t happen when she was also at home. She couldn’t understand why it would take away the two most important people in her life, leaving her all alone. She wished whoever this was could just kill her too.

The new environment

woman in grey jacket

Annie’s new life revolved around mindless strolls around town in the day time and self isolation whenever she was in the house. She would always wet her pillow with tears each time she lay on her bed. She hadn’t only lost interest in all that life had to offer but in life itself. Even her stay with her Aunt in New Orleans didn’t change anything. She had even refused to speak to anyone not to mention enrolling herself in school to finish what was left of the semester.

Days went by and Aunty Becky was running short of ideas. She didn’t know what else to do. She had only managed to get her to start eating. With all her effort, Annie would only smile at her when she was looking and break into tears the moment she felt she wasn’t. Every attempt by Aunt Becky to connect her with some friends had also proved abortive.

two woman hugging each other

It look a long heart-to-heart talk to get Annie to accept her new environment and agree to resume school. Aunty Becky had packaged and given her a necklace, one that was given to her on her wedding day by her late mother. It was the beginning of their long discussion… growing up with Annie’s mum, their childhood experiences and lots of other things…the only thing that got Annie laughing, momentarily forgetting the heaviness in her heart.


women lying on green surface

Annie had gone for her usual alone walk around the neighbourhood when she noticed a familiar face. She couldn’t particularly remember where she had seen that face but it was the least of her problems. She didn’t care. The only reason she had agreed to continue schooling was to make her Aunty and her late grandma happy. She had no business getting familiar with anyone.

Now that her Aunty’s husband was back from his trip, she didn’t want to give anyone a reason to call her “ill behaved”. Her situation already was bad enough, the last thing she wanted was anyone adding to it by giving her up for adoption. The flashback of the fire incident got her sprawling to the floor and weeping like her last shred of hope had just been crushed. The familiar girl she had seen earlier who seemed to be taking a walk too, rushed to her side and consoled her.

It was the next day in school that she realized where she had earlier seen the girl. They were classmates. The previous day’s event had made them come together as friends…the first person to make Annie open her heart wide enough to accommodate the set of people called “friends”. Lilly, her new friend didn’t let the fact that Annie was hurting come in between their friendship, instead, she helped her heal. She would always make her laugh so hard that she would even forget that she was sad a few minutes ago.

woman pouring brewed tea into glass teacup to ethnic friend

With Lilly’s help and Aunty Becky’s never ending showers of love, Annie’s mind was finally restored to the usual state of positivity and love for New Orleans. It was only at this point that Annie started living again.

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  1. Akuoma

    February 27, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Captivating and beautiful. I could actually picture the story in my head. Keep it up

    • Dera

      February 27, 2021 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks honey. Your support is invaluable!

  2. Lizzy

    February 28, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Dera,you are good……keep it up dear

    • Dera

      February 28, 2021 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks honey.

  3. ViKtorsobe

    March 4, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    Dera come and take me to Orleans I want to live there .

    Thanks for a beaut beautiful story.

    • Dera

      March 4, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      Fasten your seat belt for we are about to take off

  4. Vitus

    March 4, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    As usual, heart touching. It is in our darkest times we find true friends

    • Dera

      March 6, 2021 at 12:24 am

      Thanks for reading through

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Beaten and Untangled




family doing grocery shopping

It was another beautiful morning in Phoenix, Arizona, my favorite state in the whole of United States. In my seventeen years of life, I have traveled across a greater part of the states in US and have succeeded in living in five out of the many I have passed by. My dad is a Civil engineer and his work takes us almost everywhere. Moving to and fro wasn’t easy at the beginning but I guess I have become used to it now.
I smiled as I watched the sun perform its magic on everyone and everything. As I waited for the school bus, I couldn’t help but notice, again, the happy and well knitted family: “The Hunters”. Though new in the neighborhood, I was already abreast with the details of the Hunters. Trust me, they are that captivating and ravishing! I still remember asking the first kid I saw in the neighborhood who they were. Everything about them is inviting. Their house was the best in the entire street, their cars were numerous, I could go on and on.
I kept staring as Mr Hunter opened the front car door of his Ferrari for his wife while their daughter sat at the back. Their affluence apart, the love and unity between them made them the center of attraction; the family everyone wanted to be like.
Whenever I did something wrong, my mum would always remind me of Kathy, their daughter. “Don’t you see your mate Kathy? Don’t you see how good, respectful and well behaved she is? Why can’t you just be like her?”.
The time difference between the onset and end of academic activities for the day was short, brief like a trance. Maybe its because I was lost in thoughts throughout. Mr Hunter’s perfectionism and how mind-blowing he has made his family was all I could think of. Sometimes I wished he was my dad too.
The sudden hault of the school bus jerked me back to reality. I made a quick survey of the environment. We were at my street but not yet at my house. I was both shocked and frightened when I sighted the numerous cop vehicles in front of the Hunters apartment.
I rushed home immediately, banging the door behind me out of fear. Mum wasn’t home yet, neither was dad. I was so frightened and my heart was beginning to beat really fast, heightening my fear. How relieved I was when mum came back.
A middle aged young man showed up at our door later that evening to interrogate us. He introduced himself as Detective Jones. It was on the course of the visit that we realized that Mrs Hunter had been stabbed in her apartment and the murder weapon missing. Kathy was left alone in their apartment as her dad couldn’t be reached.
The shock and flabaggasted expression on my mum’s face was equivocal to the feeling surged in my chest.
The Hunters of all people, who could have done such a thing?
“I just hope Mr Hunter doesn’t commit suicide. We all know how he never leaves her side”, my mum said.
The very month following the incident was grueling. Back and forth confrontation, uncomfortable invasion of privacy and out of the blues accusation by the cops.
We were all angry and stressed out. The worst feeling was the rumor that Mr Hunter had killed himself.
I couldn’t curtail the shock, the surprise and the confusion I felt when Detective Jones showed up at my house two months later to inform us that Mr Hunter was in their custody for the murder of his wife, Jasmine.
“He has given his statement and presently awaits trial.”, he added.
No one in the neighborhood could believe what happened. Mr Hunter of all people!

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Dear Daughter




man people woman hand

It was another beautiful day, bright enough to brighten even the most troubled heart yet, intertwined in the midst of an avalanche of stress. It had been a long day and all I longed for was my bed. The academic stress was really taking its toll on me. I had known it wouldn’t be an easy process but I never knew it would be this difficult.

I had always been a star student, among the best in my class throughout my secondary education and even during my one year pre-JAMB class before getting into the University. It had always been my passion to study Pharmacy, the reason I didn’t mind staying back after my first Jamb result couldn’t get me the course I wanted.

My love for academics had never been hidden. I wasn’t just a lover of knowledge but one who loved to read. At a point, I could feel the fear in the eyes of my loved ones as they watched me twill into a world of my own, burying my head deeply in studies with little or no attention to human interaction nor friendship.

I still remember going through secondary school without a single person to call “my friend”. It had been hilarious then because I didn’t see the point of having friends, I couldn’t just understand why everyone placed so much emphasis on the word “friendship”. Now that I look back, I smile. The thought of how deep a transformation my thought process has undergone marvels me.

I haven’t only bought the idea of friendship but have grown so attached to mine that they could easily be mistaken as my sisters. We have gotten to the point of sharing and doing everything together. We even happen to share a room right now. How the friendship started, I can’t really tell. I just feel the universe decided to be merciful unto me. The Lord has really blessed me through those.

As I walked into my room, lazily dragging my feet out of tiredness, I managed to drop my bag to the floor before going for my bed. I was hungry but too tired to think about it. I needed the feel of my bed against my back for a while before paying attention to anything else. I took a deep breath as I stretched out my limbs.

My thoughts suddenly drifted to Ebuka, a final year law student. He was running his second degree program in Enugu Campus, the second branch of the prestigious University of Nigeria. He was one of the few guys who were bound on braking through my defences no matter how tough I make them. I had made up my mind, even before getting into school to focus on getting my degree first before anything else.

There was this saying in town that men love female pharmacy students. Better put, men love female pharmacy students because of the license they are to acquire. A saying I had brushed aside and considered trivial until it played out right in my face a few months in the department. I also got to confirm the rumor that hardly any female pharmacy student becomes a Pharmacist without already being engaged.

As I thought about Ebuka, I was at a loss on what to do. I had tried everything I know, every trick I have learnt yet, the young man wouldn’t just leave me alone. “I’m just a 3rd year pharmacy student for crying out loud, why don’t these men understand when a woman says she doesn’t want to get into a relationship until she finishes school?” My head was beginning to ache. I could literarily feel the throbbing like I was being hit with a hammer, a good reminder that I had starved myself for far too long.

As I staggered up to my feet, I blindly kicked my bag, causing the crashing of my plastic reading chair and a few of my books scattered to the floor. I sighed as I picked them up one after the other while supporting my head with my left hand as though it will stabilize the pounding I feel. As I picked up the last book, I noticed a folded piece of paper at one side of the table. I was sure it wasn’t mine as I hadn’t turn out any piece of recent.

“It must be from one of my mum’s old books”, I told myself. I had been told she died giving birth to me. The only way I had ever felt close to her was by going through her things in the house.

I was transfixed to a point the moment I saw the heading of the letter. I quickly went for the last page to be sure I wasn’t mistaking but no, I wasn’t. It was a letter from my mum. I sank to the floor as I read through, tears pouring down my eyes as I read.

My dear daughter

Dear daughter, you are the apple of my eyes, my joy of motherhood, my seed in whom I am well pleased.

You are stronger than you feel, smarter than you think and wiser than you know.

You are an epitome of beauty, a combination of beauty with brains.

Your elegance stands you out amongst your peers, you speak and they listen.

Your carriage, your humility yet strong stand for what you know is right distinguishes you.

Your good attitude, intelligence and domesticated lifestyle attract people to you.

But here is one thing I want you to always remember: “books before looks”. This is the principal foundation to a good life and the best start for the journey towards harnessing your skills and fulfilment of your destiny.

Be a woman of impact, be a woman of purpose. Be a woman who leaves a mark, a transformation on the lives of others.

You have all it takes but remember, the strength for these can only come from the lord. Make me proud!

Love, Mum.

I kept crying, not just because I missed my mum but because I had long walked in the footsteps that she would have directed me in. I cried because her words, even though as old as I am, sounded like they were just spoken. My heart ached from longing for her, but at the same time, I was glad to have heard these words. Even though not directly from her, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

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grayscale photography of woman

Laura woke up perplexed. The last thing she remembered was getting drunk in a restaurant on a bid to escape the fraustration that sorged her system. Everything was unusual about this strange environment. Ranging from the sweet fragerance of fresh roses to the elegantly decorated bedroom with magnificent pieces of furniture lying at strategic positions.

The size of the bedroom alone surpassed her entire house put together. She was lost in awe as she starred from furniture to furnish, almost drooling. The sound of someone clearing his throat alerted her. She turned briskly to the direction of the voice and froze. She wasn’t sure but something about this young man sitting comfortably by her bedside looked familiar.

“Who are you and what am I doing here?” She asked, guarding herself on the bed, ready for the worst. The guy said nothing but only pointed at a shirt hung at a corner of the room. Laura looked from the guy to the shirt, back to the guy. It wasn’t clicking. She couldn’t tell what was going on.

“Use your words mister!” She screamed at him, rolling her eyes.

The young man cast a quizzical glance at her. For a moment he was silent. When he finally spoke, he pointed at the shirt again. “Doesn’t that shirt strike a cord?” He asked, calmly at first before raising his voice when Laura just starred at him without saying a word.

“That was the shirt I wore last night and I doubt if I would ever wear it again, no thanks to ill mannered simpletons like yourself!”, he yelled.

Laura was shocked and scared as the memory of the awful encounter flashed through her mind. She quickly covered her mouth with her hands, expecting the worst.

A knock on the door by Raph, the young man’s driver and personal assistant took Laura off the hook. She immediately took a deep breath and retracted further from the young man.

“Boss, the witch is here!” Raph announced the moment he entered the room. The young boss whom Laura got to know was called Leo, jumped to his feet, agitated.

“Is there a problem?”, Laura asked when she noticed the sudden focus on her.

“Mrs Gladstone is here. I know you don’t know her but the summary is that she is Boss Leo’s biggest business partner and she is trouble. Boss Leo is forcefuly engaged to her grand daughter Lucy, even though he has no interest in her. It’s the only reason their business relationship still waxes stronger. She is equally boss Leo’s mother’s closest friend. They have the same character. I know you are from a poor family. Let’s just say that if she singles you out, you are as good as dead!”. Raph explained.

Laura’s mouth was wide open. She wasn’t sure what to say. “Hey, is that hereditary?”, she said after the pause, looking at Leo who cast her a warning glance, then looked away.

Mrs Gladstone walked into the room with her head high. She always carried herself like a queen. “Who is she?”, She asked without even a response to their greetings. Leo immediately cooked up some lies about Laura’s background. Laura was terrified. She had been scared at first but seeing how Mrs Gladstone kept every other person on their toes terrified her. She couldn’t wait to run away from this oven called home!

Laura ran off the moment she got the chance. She never stopped running until she got to the bus stop where she boarded a bus. As expected, her mum and her younger brother were already parambulating around, walking to and fro their little compound wearing the typical hopeless countenance.

“Where did you sleep last night? Do you know how worried we were? Your father even had to go to work late all in the name of waiting for you to return. We haven’t even gotten any edible ready for your grandmother who informed us that she will be paying us a visit today simply because we were worried about you!”, her mum sighed. Laura didn’t need a suite Sayer to inform her that her mother’s bag of questions were rhetorical.

“Did you say grandmother, what grandmother?” She queried, turning to look at her mother.

“Which other grandmother do you have if not mine, or are you ready to resurrect your paternal grandmother from her grave?”

“Mum, that is not funny at all. The point is, I have never seen your mother!” She complained and made her way into the house.

“Well, you will see her today. It’s about time” her mum said to the already closed door.

The sound of the approaching vehicle alerted everyone in the house. “Your grandmother is around” screamed Laura’s mother.

Laura was shocked to see the same woman she had seen earlier that day. “Mrs Gladstone!”, She screamed before she realized it.

“Yes, that’s your grandmother. I’m sure you are taken aback by the fact that she looks almost my age. She had me when she was sixteen, that’s why.” Laura’s mum explained.

Laura was speechless. She had no idea what to say. Lots of questions to be asked. How could a woman as rich and accomplished as Mrs Gladstone be her grandmother yet, they have lived in abject poverty for as long as she could remember.

One thing was certain, Mrs Gladstone wasn’t exactly an easy person to deal with but that notwithstanding, her mum had a lot of explaining to do.

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