Quarter to Eleven

“Baba.” She is wearing a worn-out ankara skirt-and-blouse. It is patterned with many diamonds ringed together in concentric circles that swim in a red ocean of yellow stars.

“Baba.” She taps him twice. He is watching a Nollywood film with his wife and seven other children whose eyes are faithfully married to the TV. A lady is about to find out her mother is the reason behind her barrenness.

“Baba. See. See.”

He changes the channel to NTA Jalingo. Some traders told him in the afternoon, at his fish stall in the market, that there is trouble in Wukari; one said it owes to a bank robbery, another, a riot. He wants to watch the 9:00pm news and find out what happened exactly. The children look miserable. The newscasters say nothing about the matter and so he switches back to the movie channel after some minutes, to the relief of his children. His wife has been enjoying the movie, too.

“Baba. Baba. See.”

“Yedza, my baby. What is wrong?” He has turned to her, smiling. She is smiling too, as she shows him the jagged network of Biro marks on her raised palm.

His smile is broader. He carries Yedza and places her on his laps. He tickles her. She wriggles, laughing hard.


“Yes, Baba.”

“Bring one biscuit from the other room…” Yedza is three years old but she knows that word. Her eyes sparkle. She is rolling her head gently, making squeaky sounds with her mouth and grinning widely. “Let me give my princess.”

“Yes, Baba.” Ngami kicks forward his five year old legs and leaps up from the ground, his rumpled, plain white gown almost felling him because he hasn’t taken his eyes off the TV screen. He wants to see how the lady’s mother, now rolling on the floor under the heat of some unseen fire, confesses her sins before the crowd in the market. Ngami’s reclusive dizygotic twin, Vandinyan, is seated on the ground, too, his head drooping every now and then without letting off the finger-length of saliva hanging precariously from his open mouth.

“Vadinyan, go and sleep,” says Pheetami, the third child. He is ten.

“I am not sleeping.”

“You are not sleeping? Then why is your eye red?”

Vadinyan doesn’t answer. He is now looking at the TV screen as though he has been doing so continuously for the last one hour.

Pheetami glances towards the door of the other room to see Ngami coming with the packet of biscuits. His gaze shifts to Ibrahim, his immediate elder brother, but he quickly looks away. They haven’t been talking for three days. Ibrahim took the bush meat Pheetami’s trap caught, on Friday, and sold it to a woman living two streets away.

“Jamila, did you cover the pot of soup?” She does not answer. The market crowd are about to burn the lady’s mother despite fervent pleas from her daughter.

“Jamila.” Silence.

“Jamila!” A chorus of calls.

“Ehn–ehn…what?” Jamila replies, turning around, startled.

“Mama is talking to you,” says Pepheelo, who is a year younger than Pheetami. She is giggling at her eldest sister’s surprised response. They all know Jamila’s love for movies. Yusuf, who is next to Pepheelo, once joked that the TV has two invisible hands that always cover Jamila’s ears whenever she watches a movie.

“Mama sorry. I–I didn’t hear you.”

“You and film. Heh!” She coughs out a laugh and asks again, “Did you cover the pot of soup?”

“Yes, Mama.”

“OK. Watch your film o. Let the hand of the TV not slap any of my children because of you.” Loud laughter. Even Yedza is laughing. Yusuf just wears a weak grin. His friends call him Rambo.

She looks at Pepheelo, her daughter, for about twenty seconds. Pepheelo is not aware: she is eager to know the fate of the lady’s mother as two brothers struggle through the crowd with clubs, towards her, after she confesses that she killed their mother.

“Oooooh–oh! NEPA!” The kids are livid. Yedza begins to cry. A respected elder in the community had come to the mob scene and was about to say something before the TV screen blanked out. It is raining lightly. The rumblings in the sky filter into the room.

In ten minutes, the drizzle becomes a downpour. Pheetami and Ibrahim try to close the crude zinc and wood constructed window of the living room. Jamila and Pepheelo dash into the inner room to close the window and bring two buckets; water is trickling down from two spots on the ceiling of the living room. Yedza is screaming. She is now in the arms of her mother, who is gently tapping her on the back. The taps are not working.

A loud thunderbolt strikes, mildly shocking Ibrahim and Pheetami. They both scamper away from the windows and hit their father who is about to switch off the socket to which the TV, and DVD player are plugged. Just then, a sharp scream flies out from the inner room.

The central portion of the roof has caved in, letting through a stone about the size of Yedza’s head. It strikes Jamila’s round face, gashing her smooth forehead and the left part of her pointed nose, down through her left cheek. Her body immediately responds with a violent shake of her long legs as she grips her face with both hands, falls to the ground and lets out a piercing cry. Water begins to rush in through the new opening above, over-saturating the small, naked foam rubber beside her on which her parents and Yedza sleep every night. Pepheelo is by the door crying and shouting Jamila’s name. She can do nothing; it is a waterfall that surges forcefully down now, cutting off Jamila from her.

Pheetami is now by the door with Ibrahim, their younger brother Yusuf, and their father, a different patch of fear sewn unto each ones face as they all struggle to look into the room. Without prompting, Yusuf dashes into the room, cuts through the falling water, and crawls towards Jamila, having been felled down by the force of the water as it hit him. Pheetami and Ibrahim follow behind him and the three of them raise her up. They pause, with Jamila in mid-air, wondering how to carry her through the rushing water.

The twins are huddled up with their mother and Yedza their sister, by the corner of the living room, away from the leaks. They are clutching at different parts of their mother’s wrapper and stuffing the air with the loud cries their quivering lips are letting out. Their mother desperately wants to see what has happened to Jamila but her husband adamantly refuses, insisting she focuses on making sure the three kids with her are alright. He glances outside for the third time as he struggles with pushing one of the threadbare settees towards the door and through the rising ankle-high water in the room. The door will give way soon if he doesn’t boost its pressure against the flood of water outside that is almost at the level of the window sill.

Pepheelo leaves the doorway, quickly dries the tears hanging on to the long lashes of her small round eyes, and pulls at the end of the settee towards her, to complement her father’s push at the other end. She is almost by the door when it gives way, hitting and driving her head to the ground under the force of the rushing water which sweeps her, the door and the settee, to the opposite wall along with her father who has instinctively held fast to the other end of the settee. She is stopped abruptly in a seated position in front of the external door on that wall. Her hip bone is broken and blood is flowing from her temple. Pepheelo doesn’t scream. She is unconscious.

Her father is shouting out an incoherent string of words in between his rapid gulps of the brown water he tries to wade through to get to her.

Her mother is weeping but the cries of the three kids with her and the emergency business of keeping them above water, commandeer her attention away from Pepheelo and her father. She is holding Yedza to her chest and helping Ngami to the top of the only shelf in the room, in which the electronics, semira plates and books have found safety all these years. Vadinyan is already up there. His eyes are faithfully trailing his mother whose shoulder is barely above the water.

As the strong hands of their father try to pull Pepheelo up, the weak wooden door she rests on explodes out of the room, permitting the flood to instantly ferry him and Pepheelo to their deaths forty minutes later by a big Dogon Yaro tree straddling the full breadth of a road in the next local government. Two bodies meandering with the massive floods ravaging through the farmlands of the local government uphill, meet with his wife thirty minutes away from the house and accompany her to her death in another local government.

Pheetami and his brothers can’t cross into the living room with Jamila. What remains of the roof has caved in completely, fully blocking access to the other room. The kids struggle to lift the roof but cannot do so. Yusuf and Pheetami help put their eldest sibling Jamila, on their eldest brother Ibrahim’s stout neck and in the neck-high water, they use their feet to find and push the wooden and metal boxes in the room together so they can pile them up and stand on them. It is not enough. They all drown.

The water has submerged the shelf in the living room, and is softly hitting the cold and trembling legs of Ngami, Vadinyan and Yedza, who are all huddled up together. They have been holding themselves, tightly, for as long as they have screamed. Yedza is in between the twins, her dimpled cheeks rubbing the chubby ones of her brothers as all three sob with a roughly synchronous and alternating chant of ‘Mama’ and ‘Baba’, the two names they affectionately called their parents. A sudden surge of the water towards their direction startles them and Vadinyan hits the clock on the wall with his head. It falls into the water and descends to the ground. The time is quarter to eleven.

By 12:30am, the bodies of Yedza and Ngami lie prostrate on the floor of the living room under the weight of the shelf. The ceiling has been raped to total submission by the water. Vadinyan’s body sits by the socket, his head drooping to the side, his eyes open and looking at the clock his fair skinned hands clutch. The clock’s dial still shows the time as quarter to eleven.

108 thoughts on “Quarter to Eleven” by chemokopi (@chemokopi)

  1. Sad, but very vivid.
    You did good with this :)

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting @Olaedo. :)

  2. Sad, but very vivid.
    You did good with this :)

    1. Truly sad @Olaedo. I say this in reflection of what happened in this country last year. Glad you found it vivid: that was the intention.

  3. *exhales*

    Chemo, you deliberately wove this story so we could fall in love with the ordinariness* of this family and then you hit us with the shock of the flood. The feeling of suprise – though somewhat milder, is akin to what the family must have felt when the tragedy began. This paints a vivid story of the loss many had to undergo when the floods reigned over us… I shake my head in sadness but appreciate the creativity it took to deliver this haunting yet beautiful tale. Your attention to detail is to be commended because this reads like you did a lot of work to it and gave us a clean story.

    Bien escritos, Bien hecho. $ß.

    1. Awwww…thanks very much @sibbylwhyte. I am glad you found this work so. I really wanted to capture the horror some families must have experienced during the floods. I read of one Abdulhamid Useni who lost seven children to the 2012 floods. Imagine that.

      Thanks again.

  4. A very sad story. Excellently created, as is always expected of you. You words took me to that sitting room. Too bad they all had to die.
    But these names sha…what tribe are they from?

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words @queennobo. The names are of the Jenjo people of Karim-Lamido LGA of Taraba State. It was one of the places affected by the 2012 floods, so I decided to use names from there.

      Thanks again.

  5. The story is good, but it lacks the usual ‘cleanness’ I’ve come to expect from you. Take this for example;

    “Her body immediately responds with a violent shake of her long legs as she grips her face with both hands, falls to the ground and lets out a piercing cry”

    If you had stopped it at ‘with a violent shake’ I think it would have sufficed. The ‘of her long legs’ sort of disagrees with the opening lines. I don’t know if you understand what I mean; but when you say her body responds and then you complete it with something a part of her body did in isolation….you dig?

    Check too:

    ““Jamila, did you cover the pot of soup?” She does not answer. The market crowd are about to burn the lady’s mother despite fervent pleas from her daughter.”

    I know the second sentence is supposed to tell us that she is so engrossed in the action on screen – but it could be a lot clearer.

    There are other over-dramatic superficial lines in there – lines that could use some trimming.

    Good job irrespective.

    1. Thanks very much @Seun-Odukoya. I see your points and I have noted them. Thanks again.

  6. I really felt this story.
    You hear about floods all the time and it’s sad and all but this…this makes it so much more real.
    What a horrible horrible thing.

    1. @Yeniee, I am so glad the horror of floods came alive to you through this story. That was the intention. Thanks very much for reading and commenting.

  7. I’ve never read anything this touching.
    The story was aptly illustrated and vivid.
    I salute your writing prowess.

    1. @Estee, wow! You are far too kind!

      I am happy you connected with the story on such a level. Thanks very much. I remain humble.

  8. @chemokopi, you took me with you from the first line. Captivating opening.

    You write well. It was as if the tragedy was unfolding right in front of me. The tragic ending was unexpected and traumatic but yet,you did it so well. You are such a talented writer.

    1. @olajumoke: Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Your praise is making me levitate. Lol :)

      I am so glad you could relate with the story on the exact level I wanted for readers. Thanks again.

  9. @chemokopi My OGA, shey when I call you My Oga, you will say you are not.

    Dude I don’t even know where to start, Like WOW seriously where did this come from.

    I was reading the story and thinking where is he going with this. I pride myself in seeing the plot of a story way early on but this just threw me. The speed in which the flood took over and killed a whole family was just crazy.

    I don’t live in Nigerian but my mum told me about the floods and even how it affected our home in Lagos, so I get the emotions behind this.

    Anyway this is just really good, it is so clean and simple and yet so power.

    I had to bring out my dictionary to check the meaning of dizygotic :)

    However and this is more a personal thing, I am really bad at remembering names so a story like yours with so many names gets me confused as to who is who, so I had to keep going back to when you first mentioned them to check who they were.

    Also there are some things I noticed, again this is maybe more for me to learn from;

    “Yes, Baba.” Ngami kicks forward his five year old legs and leaps up from the ground, his rumpled, plain white gown almost felling him because he hasn’t taken his eyes off the TV screen.

    The word felling in that sentence doesn’t read or sound right to me, but I can’t think of what the correction should be, apart from using a completely different word like tripping, I think that reads better


    “You are not sleeping? Then why is your eye red?”

    I think this is nigerian english, if you say “….. eye red” implies it’s only one of his eyes that is red and not both. But then again it’s kids talking, so maybe you meant it to be like that.

    Again I might be wrong so open to correction.

    That’s all o my OGA and I’m also going to hit the like button now, if there was a love one I’ll hit it also :)

  10. Hmmmmm… @dkny111, thanks so much for your comment. Oga abi…? Hehehe…all of us dey learn jare :)

    I am really glad you were able to connect with this story on a personal level. I should also use this avenue to sympathize with you on the damage to your house by the flood.

    The many names ba? I knew it would be difficult to make readers remember all their names, especially as they will be unfamiliar to many people. That was why I tried to associate each person with something significant to help the reader. But it can also be asking for too much from the reader, I know. Still, I wanted to show that people who die in such calamities are more than statistics: they are people with a name, a life, dreams, and an attachment to loved ones, even if these people are not from a tribe or place we recognize.

    You are very right about “felling”. “Tripping” is sure better. Thanks for that.

    And you guessed well why I wrote “is your eye red?” like that. I wanted to make the dialogue authentic.

    Once again, thanks very much for your comments. Much appreciated.

  11. When fiction became non-fictiion…this sure is it! Vivid? Yes! Love this line ‘…stuffing the air with the loud cries…’

    1. Thanks so much @ibagere for your kind words! :)

      Funny enough, I just read a quote by Stephen King yesterday that says, “Fiction is a lie. The good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” I am happy this quote found expression in this story through your eyes.

      Thanks again.

  12. @chemokopi,

    What I liked about this story was the natural way you introduced all the children of the family one by one to the reader. This is usually a very hard thing to pull off, especially in a short story.

    I also liked the way that bit by bit, you showed the mounting tragedy, especially through the frantic actions of the family. This really brought home the sadness of the story for me.

    But somehow, I didn’t feel that the narrative flowed as smoothly as I would have liked. I had to re-read the story to get the sequence of actions and to visualise what was happening. Maybe more dialogue would have worked; I don’t know. I feel a bit bad that I can’t be more specific about why it didn’t work for me.

    Anyhow, this was well-written, and definitely one of the better contributions to Naija Stories. Well done.

    1. @TolaO: It’s always a pleasure to read your comment. Thanks very much for this.

      Laugh out loud at feeling bad! :) Don’t o! Trust me, I know what you are referring to, this because there were some experiments I tried with Third Person Limited POV working through present continuous. And you know how experiments can be ;)

      I am also happy you liked the ‘bit by bits’. Lol

      Thanks again.

  13. I LOVE THIS.

    I’m trying to evaluate the energy n time you put to writing this, and I know it would be enormous.

    Good JOB

    1. Hmmm…thanks very much @kodeya. You have said much with little. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  14. bros thanks for inviting me to read your story, i have done the first sweep and if time allows will do again. but right now your story is the typical ordinary rural family trying to come to grips with many challenges- phcn not excluded. leaking roof, powerfailure all gives it the typical naija setting. i have read some of the observations if i were in your shoes i would write just like this. therefore more grease to your elbows.

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting @mikeeffa. We strive to be better so I will need much of that grease :)

      Thanks again.

  15. I have problems with the build up, I believe it would have helped set the pace if you had hinted it was raining. Perhaps you wanted to emphasise on the suddenness of the tragedy but then you also ought to have painted a brief picture of the make up of the house so that when you bring in the flood,the reader is kinda apprehensive, hoping for the best while holding his breath, ready for the worst

    1. Thanks a lot for reading and commenting @Hymar :) I have noted your points; I will ponder them. Thanks again.

  16. This story is too sad. I was hoping that they survived.@Chemokopi.

    1. Yeah @khadijahmuhammad, just the way the deaths of last year’s floods saddened many. Thanks for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

  17. Intriguing and very fast-paced. I loved it immensely. The way you depicted the story from a normal happy family to a tragedy thrown at them in seconds was amazing.
    Just like Tola O said, it could have been narrated better and still the pace would have been kept.
    The part of “they all drown” just didn’t help the flow at all. A play of words would have helped with a more tragic depiction of their drowning.
    But this was splendid, a breath of fresh air from what I have read in a while.

    1. Thanks very much for your kind comments @ellendee. I am happy you connected with the story so.

      Yeah that part of ‘They all drown’; I wanted a very sharp and powerful summary to the death of those four. I guess I was unsuccessful at that.

      Thanks again for sparing the time to read and comment. Much appreciated.

  18. The story is very well written, but then again it’s you. I wasn’t expecting anything shabby. I don’t know how to compliment writers I have already certified good and you already know how highly I rate you anyway, so I hope you see the compliment in my diving straight into the critique.

    I know that it’s fiction, but when unnatural things start to happen…I turn my nose up and say ‘feem trick!’ This story is ‘feem trick’.

    It’s not scientifically accurate. All this happened in a little over 3 hours. A flood caused by rainfall wouldn’t build up to that level so fast. And it definitely wouldn’t recede in that time too as you made us believe in your last paragraph.

    “By 12:30am, the bodies of Yedza and Ngami lie prostrate on the floor of the living room under the weight of the shelf.”
    I assume the shelf is wood and should float in a flood.

    *Dongoyaro is one word…I think.

    In your own words, “I may be wrong.” :d

    1. Hahahahahaha…@Joey! You had to use Nigerian English too—feem trick? :)

      Thanks very much for sparing the time to read and comment, Joey. I think I wrongly assumed people to get that it is an unusual kind of flood that occurred in this story, of the type we saw last year in Nigeria which was the basis and prompt for this particular story. I should have hinted at the dam angle. The funny thing is that I lifted the time frame from a night in Jos, last year, when a man lost seven of his twelve children to the floods within three hours of heavy rainfall that began at 9pm ;)

      For the shelf, I just had this image in my mind of dense wood like teak that doesn’t float. Maybe its because we have one of such in my house..hehehe. I will note that because the water didn’t recede hence, “The ceiling has been raped to total submission by the water.”

      My brother help me o…I thought it was one word but Nigerian sites on google were telling me it is made up of two words. :)

      Thanks again, man. I can always count on you for insightful comments. I very much appreciate the commendations too.

      1. @brizio. I can’t believe I still miss your handle. Lol.

  19. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

    Well done @Chemo . OCAOR.

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting @nicolebassey. Which one is OCAOR again? :)

      Thanks again.

  20. Chai, I am heart-broken! How can? You did not even leave one survivor for us to commiserate with and put all his family’s hopes in! I love those names he characters had (I love northern Nigerian languages) and the sudden-ness of the disaster is… quick-paced and got me racing through the lines for the survivor that will be strong and carry on but no survivors….you broke my heart. *going off to mope*

    1. Awww…@jollyone, I am so sorry. My muse didn’t let the flood spare anyone. It kept reminding me of families that had been wiped out by floods and sectarian crises in our country.

      Thanks so much for honouring these thread with your words. I am grateful.

  21. Tragic. Very tragic for such a happy family you painted them to be.

    I know students don’t complement teachers but it’s not a crime if I do. Excellent work Chemo!

    1. @francis: Thanks very much for reading and commenting. Yeah, I feel for them with you.

      Teacher? As we say: if I hear! :) You are too kind with words. Thanks very much.

  22. Bola (@basittjamiu)

    A poignant story with vivid imagery. I almost felt like watching rather than reading the story. This is one of my very best in naijastories, and I love the way you introduced the characters with their characterization.
    More kudi to your Agbada and even your sokoto! lOl
    Weldone sir @chemokopi

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting @basittjamiu. Glad the story seemed that real to you. You are far too kind!

  23. What if this was written in the first person, preferably through the eyes of one of the kids? Would it make the story sadder? More touching? Would it help in putting the deluge of names in check? Above all, would it help the tenses; the constructions @seun-odukoya and @TolaO seem to directly and indirectly point at?

    The story is there, the telling can be better. Great research, fine pacing, good piece.

    1. Thanks very much for your candid comments @banky. Much appreciated.

      Writing in first person is the standard but for me, that mode has been rated too highly in the literary world. Just my thinking.

      Can you help point out some of the tense issues? I would appreciate that very much.

      Thanks again. We strive to be better.

  24. When I mentioned tenses, it was not about them having issues. It was a case of would changing the POV make the tenses tighter, better, stronger?

    I dont believe writing in the first person is over-rated. Really, this kinda tale would benefit from a ‘personal touch’ the first person easily confers on a story. The MC becomes more ‘in it’ than ‘part of it’ and it helps bring the ‘truth’ -or a sense of it- into fiction. My opinion, still.

    1. @banky, thanks again. Sorry I misunderstood you on tenses. I agree with you about that personal touch first person POV brings to a story.
      In this case, I was grappling with a moral question–the truth if you will–of telling a story through a first person that did not witness the event or did not survive to narrate it. And I think this is an issue that needs wider discuss. Does the third person not bring with it an objective window into a story, one that allows the reader judge the ‘truth’ in the fiction?

      @TolaO, @petunia007, @nicolebassey, @sibbylwhyte, your thoughts on this will be appreciated, too.

      1. @chemokopi I don’t think a first POV would have been suitable for the story, because several things were happening at different parts of the house which would not have been possible for the first person to narrate and without which the imagery painted here would not have been complete. The way you told the tale on the third person makes it more gripping and allows the reader to have a sense of being there and seeing it all…
        Js my view

        1. @topazo, I concur, moreover, there was no survivor…

          1. @excellency: my reason exactly, though every narrative mode has the potential to tell a great story depending on the wish and skill of the writer, I think.

        2. Thanks @topazo. You really understand why I chose this narrative mode. I have been thinking for a while now about the most ‘egalitarian’ way to tell some kind of stories.

  25. Very vivid and tragic. Not one survivor?I was almost wondering what the title had to do with the piece until I read the end. This was well-written.The tenses were consistent. But of course,what more can one expect from Chemokopi than the best.
    I’ll definitely learn from you.

    Great job sir!

    1. @Mimiadebayo: You are far too kind. Thanks very much. We are all learning together :)

      Yeah, I like to use titles that come at you from the rear. ;)

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  26. I like the story, I like the descriptions, it was like I was there.
    Maybe it’s the use of present continuous tenses that gives it that “off” feel
    Like the others have said, the name chemokopi is associated with the best.
    Well done

    1. You are too kind @topazo. I am very happy you liked the story, and that I was able to transport you to the scene. Thanks very much. We learn together.

  27. mendel martha (@ihenyengladysusile)

    this story was so emotional for me,i felt sorry for the family,i was at the point of crying while reading,because at first it was a happy and peaceful family gathering then all of a sudden it became a disaster,so sad.

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting @ihenyengladysusile. Glad you connected with the story this much.

  28. nowonder you are one of the world’s upcoming ‘write crafters’…beautiful prologue painted,wonderful blocks of characters created,and the required suspence you created to cement them…what interested me most was how you introduced the wall clock and the time ‘quarter to eleven’…but i think you should learn more of how to play words and their appropriate usage….TAKE FIVE MILLION!

    1. @silvabright: Hehehe…I take the five million joor :)

      Thanks very much for your kind words. They are much appreciated. If you can spare the time can you give some examples of how you think I should “learn more of how to play words and their appropriate usage”?

      Thanks again, man.

  29. You crafted a very good plot, @chemokopi, and you did well with it. You’ve already got lots of praises and criticisms, but I’ll still add mine. I like the fact that you humanized the flood. You depicted the impact, such that one can no longer think of the flood as mere inconvenience, but as a threat to life.
    But, the story could have been more fluid. I think it was too wordy – over description. I also think that it was too clinical in a way – very dispassionate – which can be good or bad.
    But then, as I often say, the writers write, and the editors fine tune. You have written well. If our works are perfect, then we will run the editors out of business!

    1. @febidel: Laugh out loud at running out of business :)

      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. I am happy you connected with the primary intention of the story.

      On the dispassionate narration you rightly pointed out, I was actually aiming at the good. For a grim theme as this, I didn’t want to be accused of melodrama. More like the reader should make out his emotions himself.

      Thanks again for your very insightful comments. Much appreciated.

      1. You’re welcome. Duly noted (with regard to the dispassionate narration).

  30. sambright (@sambrightomo)

    Where the space to write put now? Oga @chemokopi… I duff my hat. YOU SABI THIS THING SIR..

    1. Hehehe… @sambrightomo. Thank you wellu well. I take am say you feel the tori be that. You ma you too mush for as your take commenti. :)

  31. Whao! Whao! Whao! This is good, intriguing is what i will say. Definitely you have scooped the writer of the month award (as far as I am concerned).

    1. Hmmm…you know what @elovepoetry? You are far too kind! Glad you found it intriguing.

      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

  32. Effortless mastery shines through! The clinical, impersonal or detached feel does well to project the tragic breakdown of things.

    I noted some things that seem to be errors:
    I feel ‘the taps are not working’ is a bit crude, contextually.
    I also reckon it’s ‘felled’, not ‘felled down’ since felled is ‘cutting down’ in one word.

    I missed the meaning here ‘Her father is shouting out an incoherent string of
    words in between his rapid gulps of the brown water he tries to wade through to get to her’ which would only be clear to me if a ‘.’ is placed btw ‘words’ and ‘in’

    The other things I noted weren’t errors but things not to my preference, things I’d write differently.

    Great work!

    1. Thanks very much for your encouraging, humbling and insightful comments @wendeekay. Much appreciated.

      Yeah, the tap thing, even though crude, just looked like a deeper irony when I wrote it. Like we have this heavy flood causing damage and in most parts of Nigeria, taps meant to give us safe drinking water are not working. :) But maybe I goofed with that line of thinking sha. Lol.

      Now that I read the ‘incoherent string’ part again, I realise that even though it is correct, you didn’t get it because it is too wordy as @febidel pointed out some parts are.

      So, really, thanks for highlighting these points. They only make me better. Thanks again. For the praise too.

  33. ‎​ℓ☺​ℓ, I get the ‘tap’ part now… I thought it referred to the ‘tapping on the back’ of the child not working… I also get the ‘incoherent’ part too. True, it’s kinda wordy.

    1. @wendeekay: Hehe…thanks, man.

  34. My favourite part was the end, your choice of words there was superb. A very tragic tale. I really like some of your sentence constructions. Nice one.

    1. I really appreciate your reading and commenting on this story @Olan. I am glad you found things to like in the story.

      Thanks again.

  35. Okay I’ll skip the pleasantries and get to the point. Lemme just chip in this one: your description is on point.! That said, there were few moments in there that could have been better.
    Seun-Odukoya expressed these issues in ways I would not have been able to put down. Take heed of those points. Well done bro.

  36. Hmm…thanks very much for reading and commenting @midas. Glad you found the descriptions so. @Seun-Odukoya‘s point is stronger now. :)

  37. Uyiosa (@wordsfromuyi)

    @chemokopi I finally read it. tragic..the twist was swift and unexpected. To be honest, I could not invest for all the characters, mainly due to the length of the story. All in all, your message was received, and your feelings felt, my first thought upon reading this was the recent flood that occurred in Nigeria. Enjoyed the work. Emotionally heavy

    1. Thanks very much for reading this, enjoying it and dropping your comments. You connected with the intention, and that makes me happy. Thanks again.

  38. @banky best captiures it. Good story, not so good ‘telling’. Characterisation was spot on.

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting @jaywriter. As I would say, @banky‘s point is stronger now :) I am glad you found the characterization so.

      Thanks again, man.

  39. Thanks 4 inviting me 2 read d story.It was intresting n touching.
    Do keep up d gud work.Am really impressed by ur work.:)

    1. Thanks very much for your kind comments @jade69. Much appreciated.

  40. You broke my heart into tiny pieces! @chemokopi. You introduced the children one by one…..I was enjoying the different mini characters you gave each of them and brought them alive and I fell in love with them. I like this because you reminded us that those kids, the family had identity, they existed once and that mattered.

    You weaved a story within their story. Their names were not names I’ve heard before……please could you enlighten me on the origin of those names?? This is unraveled in the present participle as it was happening, like ‘an eye, a watcher’ narrated it as if they were there. It brought this story right to my face and rendered it immediate which in turn made this story so poignant.
    “You are not sleeping? Then why is your eye red?”…..are you implying here that its only one of his eyes red?? lol…because I’m sure sure he’d had both eyes closed when sleeping.

    “his rumpled, plain white gown almost felling him”…….First, does the word ‘felling’ exist as proper English?? Instead, you can say ‘almost made him fall’ or ‘almost tripped him over.’

    ‘Vadinyan doesn’t answer.’…..I’m not sure if the ‘doesn’t’ in this sentence is wrong but I would have said ‘did not’ answer. However, I think ‘Vadinyan ignored him’ would have been better.
    I see you neatly maintained your present participle flow faithfully, you tried not to disperse this by using obvious past tenses etc but instead used continued sentences.

    ‘Just then, a sharp scream [flies] out from the inner room.’…..maybe try ‘Just then, a sharp scream [emanates] out from the inner room.

    I had to read this story the second time so I could look for errors which was hard because its so gripping and tragic.
    I actually thought that a surviving kid or their mother was telling the story but nobody survived….this is awful, such a beautiful, happy family despite their poverty. Even though using the present participle type narration made the story more imminent, I do think it would have looked better in places if it was narrated in the past particle.

    If not that I had to re-read I wouldn’t have noticed anything…..This spoke to my heart and that’s the power of a good writer!

    I’m learning from you! …….and sorry I’m late.

    1. Awww…I am so sorry I broke your heart @Zikora :) The muse just wanted the story to unfold so. ;)

      Wow! Thank you so much for such insightful observations. I am glad you noticed I wove a story within their story. The names are of the Jenjo people of Karim-Lamido LGA of Taraba State. It was one of the places affected by the 2012 floods. I decided to use names from there to introduce readers to some of our minority tribes.

      The ‘why is your eye red’ dialogue was written so on purpose to reflect the wrong (and innocent) way it is said among children in Nigeria.

      Be sure I have taken all the other observations to heart. I wrote this the best way I could but posted it with an open mind; to communicate a message, and get better were the objectives.

      Thanks again, Zikora, for reading and commenting. We learn together :)

      1. I like that @chemokopi……the introduction to some of the other less known tribes. That’s great as I like people, history and cultures.

        Your piece is a tribute to the victims of that flood….thoughtful of you. I saw that flood in news blogs and other avenues….I wept with them, it was terrible. Even though I dnt live in Nigeria, one can’t help but feel hopeless.

        We thank God for the ones who survived.

        1. Honestly @Zikora, we thank God for them, and for those whose livelihood weren’t destroyed. The sad thing is that the poor among us were hardest hit.

          I do think that our 521 languages and 250 or so ethnic groups present writers, filmmakers and every other field of art in Nigeria, a vast pool of inspiration that we can tap from. Unfortunately, globalization is making us unaware of what rich heritage we have.

          Thanks again…and for seeing this as a tribute to the victims.

  41. Too damn sad.
    Nicely told.
    Brings back memories.

    1. Thanks a lot for reading and commenting @itsabum. Hmmm…I am curious about the memories…

  42. @chemokopi…at some point, when a work is so awesome it defies being simply praised, one just whispers…”wonderful”…this is a work like that. it is organic, original and easy to read. Well done bro. keep delivering

    1. @ayomitans: Wow! Thanks a lot for such kind and encouraging words, man. By God’s grace, I will keep delivering. Thanks again.

  43. This is not bad for a migration from poetry to prose on NS.

    You definitely worked it when it came to getting vivid with your scenarios and painting out the imagery of the serenity to disaster.
    You’ve only just proven that you’ve got some stuff up your sleeve in the world of prose.

    However, I just want to point that you should be careful about your transitions. At some points I got lost and confused; I didn’t know the scene had transited from the family to the scene they were watching on TV. You let them fall into each other without defining which was which appropriately.

    Another issue which shouldn’t matter but I was just wondering was the names of the characters…are those really names that Northerners bear? They sound kinda odd, perhaps a Northern minority? -apart from names like Ibrahim, Yusuf…the others sounded odd. Are those names that really exist? They kind of sounded like pet or nicknames names rather than real names – Pepheelo, Phetami, Yedza, Vadinyan, etc.

    Also, be careful when you’re establishing the beginning of stories like this so that you don’t bore your readers. Don’t spend too much time establishing the scenario so that you don’t dissipate your readers’ interest. A good story must build and gather interest till it reaches a good climax. Your story did build and climax alright…but it crawled a little in the beginning.

    Still…it was a powerful and tragic one…a very commendable attempt – if its really your first.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and provide candid comments @Afronuts. All your observations are noted and much appreciated, man.

      Hmmm…it might surprise you to know that North-Eastern Nigeria has more languages than all but two countries in Africa. But the dominance of Hausa has made many people unaware. So yeah, they are real names, from the Jenjo people of Karim-Lamido LGA of Taraba State: it is one of the areas the 2012 floods affected.

      This is my fifth fiction short story piece on NS.

      Thanks again, man.

  44. Where do I start? Okay, the names. Where did you … how did you …. Beautiful names. I wondered if I had lived in the same Nigeria. I am still trying to figure out how you packed so much action into this piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    However, I got a bit confused when you started mentioning the names of family members one by one. I had to go back and re-read that part several times before I understood who was who. But then again, it’s a short story. I think you managed it well, but it could have been a lot smoother.

    I did not expect them all to die. I hoped there would be survivors, but this is reality. A whole family wiped out in one day.

  45. Hmm, @chemokopi, why did you kill them all?!
    If I were you, I might have orphaned the twins, and hope for them to live to see a glorious tomorrow.

    The truth though, allowing them to live would be tantamount to palliation, and the ‘disease’ still shall find them for harvest.

    Yeah, they should all die! Rightly, the fate they met was the ideal, in a nation where we are never proactive, never decisive, and never conclusive!
    Had you allowed some members of the family to live, you still would have subjected them to the very lethargic state the whole nation is.
    Where, because we were never ready to hit the nail on the head, we keep patching, roughing and managing things.
    Now that they are dead, we hope that the concerned would have seen where they have failed them. We hope the authority would by now, have completed new measures to avert a ‘complete’ disaster of similar measures in the future.
    I still hope too, that the entire actors in the common wealth of this great nation, have seen through the eyes of your pen while you must kill these your fictitious characters, and use their blood to dot some pages in our national history.
    You have written a good story, albeit sad. It is timely, just ‘quarter to eleven’.
    Let us hope, still, the next 75 minutes will be sufficient for the people at helms of affairs to block the holes (of corruption), dig gigantic dams (of fortunes), construct drainages (that will carry away our national mess) and put round pegs into the round holes, to give us a perfect edifice befitting of a nation that we all truly deserve!
    Keep writing, hopefully, someday we’ll have educated ones steering the affairs of our nation, read through some of these and take a clue from them.
    And as we write, let us pray that a deluge of misty eastern and western wind will help us to blow away the present generation of vipers crawling over our state house.

    1. @Babalolaibisola: Wow. Wow. Only a poet will do this. Thanks so much for reading, interpreting, symbolizing and commenting so. We pray, we hope, we keep believing that the storm will pass.

      1. @chemokopi; It was so moving and vivid that I almost cry, considering how many lives are wasting away every day in this Nation.
        Of course you painted a fraction of the destruction that the flood brought and still there are other numerous aspects of our national live that is seriously leaking, needing urgent interventions!
        I just wish someone somewhere will also put ink on paper to tell the horrible state of our roads and how many lives perish repeatedly on these death traps.
        You have done well, and I sure expect this to be the least in your literary exploits. Kudos!

        1. @Babalolaibisola: once again, thanks very much. You might want to read a quintet I titled Poems from the Road, here on NS: http://www.naijastories.com/2012/03/poems-from-the-road-a-quintet/

          Our roads kill and maim people everyday and it so sad the calibre of our population we lose to the land beyond on account of this.

  46. @SharonWrites: Thanks very much for reading…and commenting so. Much appreciated. Yeah, the names shey? While I was researching the names, I was shocked at their uniqueness and beauty of sound. Nigeria is a wealth of experience and cultures.

    I take note of your observations. I know they will make me better.

    Thanks again.

  47. I finally got around to this. I only just saw your message.
    The work is good. Others have said many things and repetition would not benefit you.
    Could I just suggest that you add some darkness to the first part of the story? The disaster is completely unforeshadowed. If this is to be a standalone story you can’t just go from bright to dark, full stop. There should be some manner of foreshadowing in the bright/’family’ part of the story. You might want to put something light in the dark part as well. For balance.
    It’s fiction, not reportage and as such you can take liberties.

    That said, our house in Lagos got flooded when I was 8 and this brought it all back. Kudos! :)

    1. Hmmm…thanks a lot for reading and commenting @tadethompson. I hope those flood memories of yours are not anywhere as gruesome as this! :)

      You know what? I actually thought about that foreshadowing thing, and that was why I featured that incident at Wukari, at the beginning, to serve as an indirect pointer to a coming doom. I guess I didn’t handle it well or I was too obsessed with creating a sharp turn in events. :)

      But I have taken seriously, all you said. Thanks very much.

  48. Nice…Nice work.

  49. So many comments. Kai! Such a sad story. Well done, Chemo, you tried well.

    1. Hmmm…@babyada, thanks for blessing this with your eyes and hands. Much appreciated.

  50. Wow. This is heartbreaking. Such a tragic end to a beautiful story

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting @sidhartha. It’s heartbreaking what horrors pervade our world daily.

  51. Great piece! very emotional and touching.
    Everyone who considers the story so, should not only comment but try their best in their world to put up solutions to stop such hazards!
    Great one here boss!

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words @Levuz. And yes, we should all do our best to prevent the disasters that visit many of us in this country.

  52. making my day reading @chemokopi‘s works………… really intriguing collection…………..

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