Sunday, June 12, 2016

CARBO FAN FICTION-Déjà Vu CHAPTER 19



Hope wasted no time telling Bo about her encounter with his father. ‘Victor hates her, really hates her. You should’ve heard the way he spoke about her, it was horrible. You both need to watch your backs, Carly… I mean Clarice… especially. He could easily do something to hurt her, just out of spite.’
Bo, nodded, a scowl on his face. ‘I’ll talk to him. Thanks for letting me know about it.’
‘But all the same Bo… don’t you think you’re endangering yourself by being with her?’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘You needn’t take that tone with me, Bo.’ Hope said coldly. ‘Lawrence Alamain sounds far more ruthless than Victor and very dangerous. If he ever finds out Clarice’s still alive, he’ll come after her… and you. He might even come after the family.’
‘It won’t come to that.’
‘I know you feel like you can handle a man like Alamain but you got to think of the consequences as well!’ Hope insisted. ‘Have you even thought about this at all?’
‘Of course I have, why would you think otherwise?’
At first it seemed Hope was going to regard his question as rhetorical but she replied in a low voice, ‘Your passion for her is clouding your judgment. Like it or not, she’s still that man’s wife and he will come for her the moment he finds out she’s in Salem. Don’t you have a care of what might happen to the family if you and Alamain take your feud really far?’
Bo glared at Hope, filled with resentment. It may be her idea of showing she still cared about him but all the same was talking down to him as if he was some starry-eyed sucker. ‘I’m more than capable of protecting my family… and Clarice. None of them come first over the other, like you’re insinuating. Just like I’m more than capable of handling Alamain if he ever comes back here and this time, he’s going to see just how much I’ll hurt him he so much as lay a finger on her again. I know him but he knows me and just what I’m capable of when it comes to the people I love.’
Hope flinched at the chilly tone in his voice. ‘I wasn’t implying you cared about Clarice above the family.’ She muttered, though that was exactly what she had done.
‘Well, I don’t, just so you know.’ Bo replied, refusing to get into an argument with her. She no longer had the power to make him feel unworthy. ‘I’ll deal with Victor later and I’m prepared for Larry, you don’t have to worry about that.’
‘Listen Brady, I’m saying all this because I’m worried, not casting any doubts about you.’
‘Oh really?’ Bo sneered. ‘You sure have a shorter memory than I do then. And didn’t you say earlier that I was letting my passion as you called it- cloud my judgment?’
Hope blushed red with mortification. She should have known he would bring her unfair behaviour up, and maybe she should’ve put her words more tactfully. She wasn’t doing a very good job trying to adapt to the new situation, but what else did she expect? She still loved Bo and after so many years together, it was far too difficult for her to see him differently. ‘Must you keep doing this?’ she said at last, dark eyes glinting from suppressed tears. ‘Even though things have changed so much between us, I don’t expect you to be so petty, the way you keep rubbing what I did in my face… as if I haven’t regretted it enough. I’m not your enemy, all right?’
Bo suddenly felt ashamed of himself. Hope was right, he was being petty. She had no right to assume he valued Clarice above his own family but all the same bringing up what happened during and after Ciara’s kidnap was downright mean of him. He was in a different place and with a different woman; he shouldn’t be nursing or bringing up old resentments. And he certainly would never consider Hope his enemy. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said, reaching out to her. But Hope, feeling really hurt, didn’t want a ‘pity’ hug from him; hence edged away from him with dignity. ‘I’m said what needs to be said. Just watch your back, that’s all.’ She said coolly before leaving his office, closing the door behind her.
Maybe part of her blunt words had sprung from jealousy but overall, Hope had meant well. Even though she was no longer married to him, she still considered his family as hers, naturally would be concerned about their well being. Bo promised himself he would apologize to Hope properly later. As he resumed his work, his iPhone suddenly bleeped. It was a text message from an unknown number:

All’s Well; I love you. C

Clarice! He thought, heart clenching. She wasn’t supposed to send it at all but Bo was very glad she did. He missed her terribly, worrying over her safety and the old aching void he’d felt when she walked out of his life years ago consumed him so much that he found himself unable to sleep since she kissed him goodbye at the airport. But it was completely different this time. She was coming back to him, will come back to him. ‘I love you too, princess.’ He said softly, running his thumb over the phone screen as though rubbing her soft cheek. Only when she was safely back in his arms will he feel better. 
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From the scowl on his son’s face, Victor knew the reason for his visit. ‘Before you say anything, hear me out first. You didn’t have to tell Hope what went on between us and Carly. It was a very long time ago, how dare you put me under the bus like that?’
‘Hope had the right to know the truth and exactly what you’re capable of and I wasn’t about to let you poison her mind about Carly.’
Victor snorted. ‘You’ve never believed I’ve changed, have you Bo? To you, I’ll always be the ruthless gangster.’
‘Who once tried to kill me, had my home burnt to a shell and almost destroyed Carly’s life? No Victor, you are incapable of changing who you are. And after what Hope told me, I’m even more certain of it.’ Bo’s eyes were like gimlets. ‘I came by to warn you and it’s no idle threat. Don’t think you’re invisible or above the law. If you do anything to harm Clarice, I’ll make you pay in ways you can’t imagine.’
‘What exactly do you think I would do?’ Victor snapped. ‘I don’t care about that tramp to waste my precious time with her.’
‘Come on Victor, if there’s one thing you have besides this stupid bitterness over your failed marriage with her, it’s spite. And it doesn't take a genius to guess just what you can do to spite her, like say tell an equally ruthless bastard that Clarice is still alive.’
‘Don’t you put me in the same drawer as Lawrence Alamain.’
‘You were once married to the heartless bitch who buried her alive. And I didn’t tell Hope anything about you that wasn’t true. You’re capable of doing just about anything so quit trying to sound as white as snow. This is me you’re talking to remember? And by the way… don’t you dare call the woman I love a tramp in front of me again, ever.’
The woman you love… how could you do it… choosing her over Hope; the mother of your children? Carly left you and Shawn Douglas for Alamain in the first place! She…’
‘She what…she got what she deserved from him, isn’t that what you want to say? Go ahead, finish what you want to say!’ Bo snarled at him. ‘And you wonder why I think of you the way I do. I’m certainly justified!’
Victor turned away, trembling with anger. He hated Carly true enough but for his son to think so badly of him… it wounded him. He knew his conversation with Hope made her warn Bo but in truth they were simply words…. words of anger. He was no saint but he would never endanger Bo  or the family  by informing Alamain about Carly. But his history with Bo and Carly were against him, it was going to be difficult to convince Bo he had no plans of doing what he assumed. He turned back to stare at Bo who was still scowling, his eyes hard. ‘Maybe I’ve not been the father Shawn Brady was to you,’ he said gruffly. ‘But I’m not the man I was several years ago either. You don’t need to waste your anger or threats on me, I’m not going to contact Alamain… or Vivian. You have my word on that.’ He held out his hand for a handshake but Bo didn’t take it, still thinking over what Hope told him, that Victor  had wished Clarice had died in the elevator that terrible night. If it was said out of sheer anger, Bo didn’t believe it, all the more reason to  protect Clarice even more closely. ‘None the less, I’ll be keeping my eye on you, Victor, count on that. I’ll see myself out.’
Victor sat down, for the umpteenth time wishing Carly Manning never came back to Salem.
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 Russia

 Two figures strode along a darkened alley between two apartment buildings until they reached a side entrance. The taller of the two punched some numbers on a keypad and they went in after the door buzzed open, glad to escape from the icy cold air. No words were exchanged during the ride in the creaky elevator or the walk down the dark narrow passageway to the far end. The door was unlocked and they entered, firmly locking the door behind them.
‘Risking our necks the way we do, you would think they would provide better digs.’ Agent Dalton, code name “White Fox” said, scanning the tiny apartment with distaste as he took off his heavy jacket. Moving to a desk at the corner, he immediately set up their sophisticated communications system to speak with the Director, while Clarice switched on the thermostat, feeling the cold numbness leave her body as the radiators gushed out soothing warm air. As soon as they were patched in, they both gave a summarised report.  The Director congratulated them on a job well done; addressing them by their code names and looked forward to see them in New York for debriefing. After five days on the move, the tiny flat and the old but comfortable couch she lay on was a huge relief to Clarice And an even better relief… the mission was a success and she’ll be back in Salem, back with Bo… the love of her life. It’s a wonder she was able to concentrate on the mission at all, her time away from him seemed like an eternity.
‘Don’t worry; you’ll be back with him in no time.’ Dalton’s voice broke into her thoughts. She looked up to see him grinning. ‘I’m assuming you’re thinking about the rugged Commissioner Brady.’ He laughed as Clarice’s blush confirmed his suspicions. ‘You kept a good secret, Juno,’ addressing her by her code name, ‘but I saw the light in your eyes whenever you mentioned him. You’re really into him, aren’t you?’ he asked, settling down on an armchair opposite her and began pulling off his boots.
‘We’re in a relationship, yes.’ Clarice said, feeling herself blushing even redder, to her annoyance.
‘Committed?’
Very committed.’
Dalton’s amused expression turned into a frown. ‘Really? But you’re supposed to be in Salem for just a year. What’s going to happen after that… a long distance relationship? That hardly ever works.’
 ‘I’m aware of that,’ Clarice replied coolly. ‘It’s something I’ll have to talk to Bo about.’ She had no intention of doing such a thing but she didn’t want to discuss it further with Dalton. Dalton saw the resolute look on her face and wisely kept his peace, getting up to go to the kitchen to make coffee and raid the stocked larder. Dalton had naturally assumed she and Bo would maintain a “Skype” relationship once her year with Salem P.D was over. What he didn’t know was that she loved Bo more than enough to do something she’d long decided on but was yet to tell Bo himself. A few more days and she’ll see Bo again…
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Using his credentials to enter the customs hall, Bo scanned the emerging travellers, looking for Clarice. She called him from New York a few days ago, telling him when her plane was coming in. The anticipation was killing him. And finally he saw her walking towards him and he savoured  her joy in her return. Clarice’s eyes met his, her face breaking into a smile as she hurried over to him; into his eager, outstretched arms. Not caring people were milling around and probably enjoying the show, their  kiss was deep, feverish and passionate; tightly enfolded in each other’s arms. Bo raised his head, to stroke her hair and look into her vibrant green eyes. ‘Welcome home, princess,’ he said softly before kissing her again. Clarice clung to him, happy tears stinging her eyes.
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Bo showed Clarice how much he’d missed her later that night. Taking her by the hand upstairs, he led her to his room where they shed each other’s clothes before sinking on to the bed. Desperately in need for each other, they skipped foreplay, Clarice thrusting  her body against his as he thrust into her, her nails raking his back as they moved together; their reunion almost unbearably passionate  as they rode on waves of sheer ecstasy until reaching the pinnacle together; Bo pressing his face against the side of her neck.  Long afterwards, they lay against each other in the dark, blissfully content as they talked in low tones. Bo stroked her hair, pressing a light kiss on her forehead. ‘I’ve been thinking a lot since you’ve been away, about us.’
The hand rubbing his chest stilled. ‘What about us?’ she asked, fear in her voice.
‘No, nothing bad.’ Bo squeezed her bare shoulder reassuringly. ‘It’s just the longer you were away, the more I realized I can’t stand being without you. And I kept thinking  about our present situation.’ Clarice moved in his arms, shifting to look up at him.
‘The separate houses thing we’ve got going on. I think we need to put an end to it, don’t you?’
‘You’re asking me to move in with you?’ Clarice asked quietly.
‘Yes I am.’ Bo replied, his voice also quiet. ‘I want you with me, every night; see you whenever I walk through the door. For the rest of our lives, I want us to be together.’
For the rest of our lives. It was something Bo had told her ages ago yet those heartfelt words held an even deeper meaning to Clarice. When he’d first declared his love for her, she’d felt they were moving a tad too fast; since he was just about to end an over two decade marriage. But later she realised just how they were deeply connected on so many levels that nothing else mattered. Her time away from him had further shown her that he was a huge part of her soul.  She touched his face, her thumb moving over his lower lip, loving him so much. She had no doubts about her long unquestionable decision; it was absolutely sealed. ‘I want that too,’ she replied, her voice trembling slightly. ‘So much so that… I’ve decided that after my official time in Salem is over, I’m going to resign from the ISA.’
Bo was silent and she could feel him staring at her in the dark. ‘You would do that?’ he asked at last, his arms tightening round her. ‘Are you sure about this?’
‘I can’t stand being away from you either. You’re the love of my life Bo Brady; my whole life.’
‘Oh, Princess…’ Bo kissed her hard and hugged her close, humbled by the power of Clarice’s love. For a long time he’d agonised over how to put the question of her job to her, but had been afraid she would accuse him of immediately assuming she would be willing to give up it all up for him. He’d never felt so relieved or happier. ‘Thank you.’  
‘My place is here with you,’ Clarice said softly, kissing him again, hooking a leg over his hip. Moving over her, Bo’s hand moved between her legs; his fingers caressing her until she was trembling with desire. Her arms went round his neck, pulling him down and they made love all over again.
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He balefully stared at the image on his phone again. Dark glasses, clad in a black expensive looking coat and looking older but he was more than certain it was her. The bitch was alive

Thursday, June 09, 2016

NIGERIAN AUTHORS: THEIR TRIALS AND CHALLENGES







It is impossible to discourage the real writers—they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write- SINCLAIR LEWIS
American author, John Grisham reportedly had his first novel, A TIME TO KILL (written in 1989) rejected by many publishers before it was finally accepted and became a bestseller. And afterwards, it was adapted into a movie in 1996 starring Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson and Sandra Bullock.
British author, J.K Rowling was a single mother living on welfare when she began the first part of her successful 7 book series, the Harry Potter franchise, using a manual typewriter. She too faced rejection from several publishers before her manuscript was finally accepted by Bloomsbury. Today she is the highest paid children’s author and each book got adapted into a movie by Warner Brothers; the titular character played by Daniel Radcliffe
In more developed countries, the worst thing  a writer  goes through is his/her manuscript being returned, along with a rejection slip, claiming the story isn’t good enough or it’s not what the publisher is looking for  Yet we hear success stories of writers who suffered rejection and then  eventually went on to sell millions of copies of their works. 
Nigerian authors face more than rejection… they face many issues and obstacles preventing them from selling or getting their works published. Professor Chinua Achebe’s 1958 debut novel Things Fall Apart paved the way for many African authors whose works got published under the Heinemann African Series. Yet, what most people don’t know is that Professor Achebe’s path to getting his book published wasn’t a smooth one. For several months he received no feedback from the London typing service company who was supposed to send him a type written copy after he submitted the only  handwritten copy of his future masterpiece.  His boss from NBS radio, Angela Beattie (who travelled to London for her annual leave) visited the company at his request and found it abandoned at the corner of an office. Even after Ms. Beattie’s intervention, it was still a hard road for Achebe. Many publishers rejected it because according to them, fiction from African writers don’t have ‘marketing potential’. But as fate would have it, it was finally accepted by Heinemann and Chinua Achebe made his triumphant debut. Today, his signature novel still sells millions of copies, translated into several languages and used in schools. Yet, one would wonder if Professor Achebe would have gotten Things Fall Apart and his subsequent books published if he had gone to a Nigerian publisher. He had a literary agent who had the task of taking it to several publishers until it was accepted. Even so, he was initially met with scepticism and ridicule when he began promoting it in Nigeria. Other Nigerian authors came after him; Cyprian Ekwensi (Jagua Nana, People of the City), Flora Nwapa (Efuru, Idu), Elechi Amadi (The Concubine, The Great Ponds, The Slave), Buchi Emecheta (In the Ditch, The Joys of Motherhood, Second Class Citizen) etc.
These days, Nigerian authors are known as ‘hungry authors’ because of the long list of difficulties they face getting their books published. Only a few are lucky enough to get their books out on the international market; writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Purple Hibiscus, Half Of A Yellow Sun, The Thing Round Your Neck, Americanah) or Helon Habila (Waiting For An Angel, Measuring Time, Oil on Water). Linda Ikeji is a successful blogger, her blog posts earning her a substantial income every day.  But sadly, the struggling writers out weigh the successful ones.
The difficulties Nigerian authors face these days are several- from the harsh economy to lack to literary agents, from picky publishers to piracy, from readers who prefer foreign books to low or unpaid royalties.  Established publishers like Macmillan long discontinued the publishing and printing of  novels and now focus more on publishing text books to be used in schools. Other publishers simply refuse to give most Nigerian authors a chance unless they happen to have connections. Even so, it may take ages- like a year or more- before the book is actually published and then they would have to wait longer for their royalties to be paid, as the books have to be successfully sold first, or so they are told.
At this point, most Nigerian authors are forced to self-publish their books and have the backbreaking job of marketing them. They would go to schools, hoping to generate interest and make a good sale or go out in public and manage to sell copies from the boot of their cars. Others are lucky enough to launch their books and get hefty checks after the event. A few manage to sell them online via Amazon, Smashwords or Jumia, in Kindle form; where they barely break even. The online option is now a much chosen one because another sad truth is, most prestigious bookshops in Nigeria  actually refuse to sell books by Nigerian authors.
Sinmisola Ogunyinka, a Nigerian author currently based in South Africa, spoke of her experience and difficulties in an interview a few months back. She now sells most of her books online and while the sales are slow, at least she is not getting turned off for being a Nigerian author. “It’s not easy to write,” she said. “You spend two years working on a book; somebody picks it up and finishes reading it in a day! It’s no small task.” 
Cyril Warmhoney, a novelist and poet, also spoke of his experience and the challenges Nigerian authors face these days. “Many Nigerian authors now use the English version of their native names or abbreviate their surnames to look like foreign ones, so as to attract patronage. Many of us try to self publish in order to showcase our gifts. Unfortunately, many marketers don’t accept local authors as well as self published ones. These include organisers of both National and International writing contests. In all these, the local author comes out as a loser. I have written 60 books, fiction and non-fiction, drama, poetry and motivationals. I could only publish very few due to financial constraints. Let me tell you some of the major challenges of our authors in this country.  Financial constrains; he can’t publish because of poor economy. Nigerians believe our authors have nothing upstairs, so they don’t give us a chance. No market for books. Little or nothing paid to authors. Piracy is uncontrolled. No libraries for research. No means of advertising. Poor government patronage. We are simply hungry authors in this country.”  
Another writer, Lola Leigh said, “We writers say we write for the love of writing but we have to look at the practical side also, making actual money from our work.  We don’t have literary agents here; they approach the publishers and negotiate royalties and all that. We are pretty much on our own here and are the worse for it. And also there’s the piracy issue, how are we expected to be motivated to write and put ourselves out there when there are thieves ripping us off by making cheap and inferior copies of our sweat? It is really bad.”
Unless these issues are addressed, the future of writers in Nigeria is very bleak indeed and Nigerian Literature itself may be in the danger of basking in past glory. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

STEPHEN KESHI... GONE TOO SOON!



My 'PEOPLE' page is getting filled with more and more obituaries, which is really heartbreaking. But there was no way I could ignore the tragic passing of a national icon; former player and (several years later) Coach of the Super Eagles; Stephen Keshi.It's bad enough we lost  Rashidi Yekini a few years back (who shot the first goal for Nigeria in USA 94 World Cup), then we receive the news of this tragedy. 


Stephen Keshi achieved so much in his life, along with the other members of the 1994 Super Eagles squad- during that time he the team Captain- did the country proud by winning the Nations Cup in Tunisia '94. I remember him featuring in a Bournvita commercial at the time (had a bit of a crush on him then), regarding him as a handsome  man full of confidence and determination, the best traits of a team leader. And at the end of the tournament, when he lifted the cup- I could almost feel the triumphant joy he and the team members felt at that moment. Then there was USA '94 (which they didn't win but still played very well) and he went on to play in several international football clubs. 



And in 2013, he led the Super Eagles to victory again, this time as Coach, by winning the AFON Cup again in South Africa; a really major victory the entire country celebrated. 
But Keshi  was not immune to tragedy, last December his wife Kate succumbed to cancer after a three year battle, leaving him a widower to console their 4 children. And now, Keshi himself has passed on from the world, leaving his family and a whole nation bereft. 
This is truly a very sad day, as we mourn the loss of such a good man, who did so much for the Super Eagles both as a player and coach. I pray for his family; that they turn to God for the strength and fortitude to bear this great loss. 
"Big Boss", we love you and will always love you; God knows best. Rest in Peace. Amen.