The Stolen Heart

‘He is the one, he is the one, he can’t leave me not like her, not like the woman that calls herself my mother. He loves me, I’m his princess, he can’t, he can’t, he can’t leave me.


After being single for years, she had finally met her dream man. He was just the perfect man for her, everything she had ever wanted. Bimbo spent her days dreaming and her nights fantasising about him. His name is Chidi; a wealthy businessman based in London with businesses in Nigeria. He seemed like a dream come true…he had the perfect lines for wooing a lady like her.  She had always had a thing for Prince Charming with nice vibes and a slight British accent. When she was younger, her mother laughed at her cravings and thought it silly. It didn’t matter that she had to work extra hard on her accent to produce that slight lilt she found sexy. She was proud of that accent because being a Yoruba girl and growing in Lagos hadn’t helped.


That was why she liked Chidi. Although he was Igbo, it didn’t show one bit in the way he talked. And he was oh so handsome. He was tall and had the body of a model; she especially liked the chocolate colour of his skin. She never tired of staring at him. Whenever they were together, he said words that sent a tingle down her spine.


Her friends told her she was crazy to be in love with him, she paid no attention to their words; they reeked of jealousy. Although they refused to admit it, she knew they were dying to meet him. Soon, girls, soon.


She sighed deeply as she cast her mind back to when they first met. It wasn’t love at first sight. No, if anything it was crash at first sight. She was already having a bad day; work had been crazy, it was one problem after another and then mid-way through the day, her female time kicked in.  She was glad to leave the office but then came the traffic on Third Mainland Bridge. She tried to relax turned up “Oliver Twist” playing on Smooth FM, when all of a sudden her body jerked from the impact to her car. She stepped out fuming to see a man dressed in all white with the most alluring eyes she had ever seen. His suit reeked of taste. She’d never seen a man who wore a white suit so perfectly. It was crisp and neat…well ironed in the right places.

Oh Christ

‘Hey Princess, I’m so sorry about that, was just lost in my own little world. It’s just a small dent, can be easily fixed.’

Who was this person calling her princess after driving into her car? She wasn’t in the mood for this, please God not today she prayed. Then he smiled and truthfully at that moment some of her brain cells went missing.

‘Why don’t you give me your number and home address and I’ll get one of my workers to come fix your car.’ Again that smile, again a part of her brain died because she found herself writing her number and home address. He left her standing there holding his business card and wondering what just happened? She knew she wouldn’t see him again, knew he had just…like her people say; “419-ed her.” So she was surprised when two days later a man showed up at her door claiming to work for him and he was there to pick up her car.

She called to say thanks for sticking to his word. Men like that are hard to find, that was when he asked her out on a date. One date led to another and another and finally on the fifth date while having a private dinner at the rooftop in Marquee nightclub. He hired a band to serenade her and ask that all-important question.

‘Will you be my lover? Yes, No, Yes, No, Yes? Will you be my lover? No, Yes, No, Yes, No?’ To the tune of Banky W’s Yes/No.

Yes, it was cheesy but that smile of his confused her.


How could she say no? Even as a part of her brain warned her that she was treading on dangerous ground…she refused to heed to it. She had never been happier in her life. Every moment with her Prince Charming was golden, he took her through wonderful moments and she was more than ready to give her all to him. After all he deserved it. He deserved her body and much more…a body he made her feel good about.

He thrilled her beyond her wildest imaginations and called her ‘Princess’. How she loved that name! It was an instant turn-on for her. No one had ever called her ‘Princess’ so she found it very flattering.


“When do we get to meet your dream man?” Anita, one of her friends kept asking. “Abi, are you hiding him from us?”

Bimbo sighed. She knew they wouldn’t understand what she and Chidi shared. That special bond between them that was hard to break was what she couldn’t explain to them. They would only laugh at her and she couldn’t blame them …they had never known a love so real.

“I’m talking to you.” Anita shook her.

Again, Bimbo sighed. She had drifted off again as she usually did. It was becoming more of a frequent occurrence since she met her dream man.

“Soon, Anita.” She replied. “He’s a very private person and a bit shy.”

Anita snorted; a sound that annoyed Bimbo. Wait and see. She thought. You’ll meet him soon and be amazed at how perfect he is.


The truth was; Bimbo didn’t see the need to share Chidi. Yes she loved him and yes she knew he wouldn’t hurt her but the thought of sharing him scared her. She had fallen hard for him and she knew it was becoming obsessive but she didn’t care.


Anita once told her, her mother caused her issues. That she was too clingy always showering people she cared for with excess love. She told her it was because her mother gave her away when she was six, so she over compensated with her emotions. That’s total rubbish she had said to Anita. As far as she was concerned she didn’t show enough love. That’s why she wasn’t going to share Chidi. Chidi was hers and she intended to keep it that way.


Some days she sat and thought about what it would feel like having a little Chidi grow inside her. It excited her, excited her so much she stopped talking the pill; not that she would tell him. When he made love to her, she would cross her legs till the next morning praying that his seeds were good swimmers. So far though nothing had worked, but she knew it was only a matter of time.


Chidi sent her one of those sweet texts she loved today, ‘Hello Princess, my Nubian queen to be, just wanted to say a quick HI, I’m thinking of you and can’t wait to hold you later today.’ It always made her smile, these texts from him. The fact that she was constantly on his mind, made her safe.


‘So what’s for dinner? I wouldn’t mind a bit of you on top of me.’ Her smile deepened and she wondered what really would she cook that night? She loved Amala and Ewedu, but as an Igbo boy he preferred Pound Yam and Okoro. These subtle differences made her worry, would their tribal difference endure their love?


Bimbo was sure that if her mum met Chidi she wouldn’t mind their tribal differences. She was willing to risk their love for that. Chidi was everything a mother could want in a son-in-law, so their tribal differences shouldn’t be a problem.

She, on the other hand was going to do some quick adjusting to her Yoruba lifestyle. She and Chidi had different tastes in food and she knew that Igbo women were usually great cooks with a diversity of soups; she could count on one finger all the soups the Yoruba had. She needed to show Chidi that she’d be the best woman any man could have, Igbo or not.

This was why she decided to try out something special for the night. She was going to cook one of those soups he liked, the one he always talked about. The one his mother always cooked for him…Bimbo smiled to herself; by the time she was done tonight Chidi will be eating out of her palms.

She had never cooked ofe nsala before but had heard Anita talk about it, so When Anita came over to visit her she decided to ask her for the basic tips.

“You? Ofe nsala? Wonders shall never end. Whom are you cooking it for?” Anita asked.

Bimbo groaned inwardly, she’d known that Anita would ask. The girl never let anything get past her; she was always sticking her nose in places it didn’t belong. Sheesh!

“I have a visitor coming over.”

“And may I know who?”

“Well, if you insist. My one and only is coming to visit and we’re having a romantic night here.” Bimbo’s face took on an enraptured look.

“Yea, right.” Anita mumbled.

“Whatever. I just need the basic tips for cooking the soup”

“When is he coming?”

“In two hours. I want to make something special and different.” Bimbo was dancing lightly on her feet. “I want him to…you know…pop the question!”

Anita almost spat out the water that she was drinking. “Ooh…it’s that serious. Why haven’t I met him yet?”

Bimbo pursed her lips and blinked. Anita kept talking but Bimbo didn’t hear a word of what she was saying, she was lost in her on little world, one where only she and Chidi lived in


Anita left; she knew there was no point talking to Bimbo anymore not when she got caught up in Chidi. She looked at the clock on the white wall, it was 2:30 pm, thirty minutes before her next appointment, but she couldn’t help but worry about Bimbo and Chidi. It worried her that after all these months all Bimbo still spoke about was Chidi, the man that took over her heart. When she got to her office, she tried to write up her notes to get her mind ready for her next patient but she just couldn’t forget her friend Bimbo.


She met Bimbo about a year ago, just about the same time Bimbo met Chidi. They bonded over their love for books each always discovering the next great Nigerian author. She never did meet Chidi, but she heard so much about him. Six months after Bimbo met Chidi, they got engaged. Anita felt it was strange; it was all moving to fast and prayed that it wouldn’t all go wrong. But it was a prayer that wasn’t answered. One day about three months after they got engaged, she heard an erratic knock on her door. As she made her way to open it, she heard a loud scream then muttering, continuous muttering saying the same thing over and over again,

‘He is the one, he is the one, he can’t leave me, not like her, not like the woman that calls herself my mother. He loves me, I’m his princess, he can’t, he can’t, he can’t leave me. He is the one, the one meant to love me, to want me, not like her, not like her, not like the mother that abandoned me.’

When Anita opened the door she saw Bimbo pacing back and forth, she was wearing a torn nightwear, her breath smelt foul, her hair uncombed, a knife in her bloodied hand.

‘What’s the matter Bimbo, tell me what’s the matter?’ But Bimbo never said; she just kept muttering repeating the same sentences over and over again.

Anita somehow managed to talk her into giving her the knife and when she was calm took her to the psychiatric hospital she owned. Three months went by and through counselling and drugs Bimbo got better. Well enough that she wasn’t a danger to her health anymore but not well enough that she would ever leave her new home, Anita Brown’s Psychiatric hospice with its solemn corridors and depressing rooms.

Their counselling sessions were always the same. Anita would sit and listen pretend that they were just two friends gossiping about a man one of them loved. A man named Chidi that called Bimbo his princess, and she was sure she would marry.

She would pretend she was hearing all of it for the first time. That it all hadn’t happened. That Bimbo hadn’t tried to kill herself when Chidi left her, just like her mother did. That Chidi was on his way to eat Bimbo’s food (a meal she would never cook), to ask her to marry him. She would pretend that Chidi was a man; her friend met and fell in love with, a man who stole her friend’s heart but also her mind.

The End


A @Mimiadebayo and @dkny111 colaboration



35 thoughts on “The Stolen Heart” by Mee (@dkny111)

  1. An exciting collaboration this is. Well done guys.

    1. @Jadesola thank you very much for reading and the comment

  2. A predictable plot and lack of emotional depth make this a no-no for me. There is the typo ‘talking’ pills; a passing nod at the portrayal of a lady, insecure from absentee parents but that itself doesn’t delve into anything memorable.
    You’ll do better.

    1. @wendeekay thanks for reading and the comment. If it was predictable to you then men you are operating on a different level to us. But all comments are good and we will learn from it. Thanks

  3. @dkny111 and @Mimiadebayo, this is an interesting story, no doubts. There are a few issues though.
    (1) Last time I checked, there is no soup named Okoro Soup; it is definitely not an Igbo delicacy. Maybe you meant okro soup.
    (2) There is also some illogical sequence. In the first part, Bimbo tells Anita that she wants to cook for her lover so that he’d probably “pop the question”. In the next part, Anita says that Bimbo is engaged six months after she met Chidi, and it is three months after the engagement that she does not cook that meal.
    (3) There’s another thing too: how come she attempts suicide and finds her way to Anita’s door? How did the nightwear get torn? Where did the foul breath come from? Sometimes, we need to do some research to be able to portray some scenarios. People who mean to commit suicide don’t discuss it or make so much noise about it. They just give some subtle signals and do the thing! Bimbo could not have found her way to Anita’s house if she wanted to kill herself. It would have made more sense if Anita had paid Bimbo a visit and rescued her from attempted suicide.
    (4) Then there is Anita Brown Psychiatric Hospice. Do you mean a Psychiatric center specializing in end-stage psychiatric patients?
    (5) I think it would have been nice to read about how Chidi breaks up with Bimbo. One minute, she’s contemplating preparing Nsala soup, and the next she’s a mental case? What happened?
    You invited me to make my comments, good or bad, abi? I have done your bidding.
    On the whole, I like the plot and the collabo, although I wonder how both of you wrote it. Did you share the paragraphs or what?

    1. @febidel, wow nah wah ooo this is what I call leaving a comment. Yes we asked for honest opinions and that’s what you’ve given us and we are very grateful, so thanks.

      Now to answer/respond all your questions/comments;

      1) lol yes oo in my villaga Okoro soup is a delicacy lol, just kidding, mistake by us we will be more careful next time.

      2) How is it illogical? We never said when Bimbo was cooking the food, so it can’t be illogical, all we showed was Anita’s point of view on what happened to her friend, Bimbo got engaged in 6 months and 3 months later she showed up at Anita’s house with a knife in her hand. Is it because she has the knife that you related it back to her cooking?

      3) Again what gave you the impression that Bimbo tried to kill herself, we never mentioned or implied she attempted suicide. What we were trying to portray when she shows up at Anita’s door is her state of mind, when she goes crazy.

      4) OK this one I can’t answer because I don’t know the difference :) basically it’s a hospital for crazy people

      5) What happened I have fully explained in the reply to @Olan below but basically there was no Chidi he was all in her head.

      In terms of how we both wrote, we both came up with different ideas then decided to go with this one. Then we decided on a word count and split it up into smaller chunks, I wrote a part and sent it to Mimi and then she read and tried to grasp where I was going with it and then wrote her own part. Hope you can see why this is confusing lol

      1. @dkny111, I perceived the illogicality from your last paragraph:
        “She would pretend she was hearing all of it for the first time. That it all hadn’t happened. That Bimbo hadn’t tried to kill herself when Chidi left her, just like her mother did. That Chidi was on his way to eat Bimbo’s food (a meal she would never cook), to ask her to marry him. She would pretend that Chidi was a man; her friend met and fell in love with, a man who stole her friend’s heart but also her mind.”

        I’m not relating the knife to the cooking. I am relating the reference to the statement you have in parenthesis about the “meal she would never cook”. Since Bimbo is expecting the proposal to come after the meal, it is safe to infer that he hasn’t proposed before the meal. And, since she never cooks the meal, the inference is that the proposal never comes. If this is the case, where is does the engagement come in?

        In answer to your question on what gave me the impression that Bimbo tried to kill herself, my understanding is that attempted suicide = attempt to kill one’s self. From the paragraph I quoted above, the inference is that for Anita to plan to pretend that those things never happened, they actually happened. And if those things happened, it means that in the story, Anita is not hearing about Chidi for the first time, Bimbo tried to kill herself when Chidi left her, Chidi is not on his way to eat Bimbo’s food, Chidi is not on his way to ask Bimbo to marry him, and that Chidi is not a human person.

        Even if Chidi was all in her head, something must have transpired to make her imagine that Chidi was leaving. Maybe she prepared food and her friends make her realize that the food has still not been eaten, or something. Even if you were trying to describe her derangement, how many bloodied mad people have you seen on the streets? How many of them find their ways to their friends’ doors? You may not agree with me, but I think you could tweak that part a teeny weeny bit, so that you can enhance the credibility.

        Kudos on the collabo. You did well, especially with the spatial constraints. And not surprisingly, it is a good and interesting read.

        1. @febidel just saw this ooo sorry for the late response, I think we have learnt from the mistakes on this and we will take all your comments on board and work on it. Please can you also comment on my latest story

          I really value your comment and opinion because they are so insightful

  4. When I saw that it was a collabo between two great writers, I was really excited to read this.

    Its an intriguing story. However, I’m not sure I understand it, but here’s what I think of it:

    Bimbo’s part seemed… Off. I don’t know if it was intentional. I want to believe it was. That you were perhaps preparing us for the revelation that they were the thoughts of a deranged person. I think.

    And I’m also thinking Chidi was imaginary. That that’s why he never met any of her friends. I hope I’m right.

    So from Anita’s part, at the end, I’m guessing it means the whole beginning were the thoughts of her deranged friend, Bimbo. And everything only really happened only in Bimbo’s head.

    I hope I got the story right.

    1. @Olan Thank God that finally someone gets it. I will not dispute the fact that it is confusing and I’ll be truthful we planned for it to be that way (at least I did) and also being in two different countries and only using email didn’t help either.

      But yes you are correct on all counts. Bimbo went crazy, everything she thought that happened to her really didn’t. Yes her mother left her and that messed her up a bit but the rest was all made up in her mind.

      So the first part, Bimbo’s part, talks about her relation with a guy that no one meets because he was all in her head, and Anita’s part talks about a girl she met, called Bimbo, and how she slowly lost her senses.

      Hope this helps clarify it?

      What I love the most about writing is this, that each reader gets to take a different meaning to your stories, so I’m glad in this case that the boundaries of interpretation is wide open.

      Thanks for the great writers comment, I don’t know if we are ooo (@Mimiadebayo are we?) :) we are just learning and building our craft so one day we can actually justify to be called great

      1. @Olan I forgot to say even Anita doesn’t know if Chidi is real or not because she never saw him, she just heard stories about him from Bimbo, hence the last paragraph

  5. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

    I love the collaboration idea. Well done.

    1. @nicolebassey thanks for reading and the comment

  6. @dkny111 has done justice in answering the questions.
    Like he said earler;It was really hard writing this cos of the distance etc. We just communicated by mail,so there will definitely be some…er…issues.
    Do bear with us and enjoy the story.
    Thanks everyone for reading.
    And as for @Olan, I totally agree with @dkny111, we are still learning to be better at our craft,but many thanks ma’m.

  7. albeit my not grasping a lot of stuff since i am not nigerian, i enjoyed it… keep it up, nice work

    1. @vincentdepaul thanks a lot for reading and the comments

  8. Em. Well…

    Honestly, a lot of what I think has been covered in the earlier comments. I think it’s really cool that you guys came together to do this. I think you should take it further – and more people should take a learning from this.

    I did think you did more of ‘telling’ than showing – but that might be from where I’m looking. The story itself is so saddening…

    Well done. Move ahead with this – and consider all the comments; whether you disagree or not.

    1. @Seun-Odukoya thanks a lot for reading and yes we will take it all on board and improve. Thanks man

  9. The major problem I have with this is plausibility – there are a lot of holes. It’s an interesting although common story – we see it in movies and read it in stories or it happens to someone we know which means that we writers steal too. Lol.

    What sticks out to me is the fact that even though you try to give us an inkling of the etiology of Bimbo’s illness, which is the fact that her mum left when she was 6,(which is about the only thing we know of her past), this doesn’t explain why she would wait after how many years to make up an imaginary man in her head to date. You might say, it was when the time was right for her that she decided to do that. So, I have to ask, what prompted her to make this Chidi guy up? In my opinion, if you had made it clearer to us that maybe she had really met this guy in ‘real life’, then started all d making up in her head, then that would be more plausible.

    Now, the part about him sending a message that now spurred her into making a meal for him, doesn’t seem ‘real’ because, if he is just a figment of her imagination, you can’t explain away how the text got in2 her phone. But if you say a message did enter her phone, then some parts of the story have been contradicted…

    Lastly, did the main plot(the cooking, supposed jilting part and going mad) happen in just one night? If yes, you need 2 work on the part where Anita left the house… What follows after that, confuses the reader in a way that can’t be anything but unintended. Because you wrote it in dis manner; anita leaves bimbo, anita flashes back to when bimbo turns up mad (whc contradicts her leaving the house), and finally, anita is thinking about her friend that has been treated for something close to three months yet still talks about Chidi. Something is definitely off here, and I think it has to do with the first paragraph after the break that starts with ‘Anita left’… If you can take out the first sentence and then make the rest seem like Bimbo is the next patient she is about to see, then it would go a long way to adjust the story – that way she can comfortably think of Bimbo like you had her do there…

    This might help you craft this better or not…but I know this story can be made better than it is presently.

    A colloboration is always a good idea. But the fact that two people co-wrote the story isn’t a reason for one to overlook the loopholes. I have worked on a story where 5 different writers in different places collaborated on a piece and there were lesser loopholes…
    You did well however, so keep collaborating and learning as U go. Well done, mimi and mee. $ß.

    Phew! This is the longest comment I have made this year. Lol.

    1. @sibbylwhyte Wow I don’t even know where to start. First of all thanks for reading and the comment, this is what I call giving feedback.

      Yes I agreed there are lots of holes, I think because we decided to make it a short story and not a series we left out quite a bit of Bimbo’s story. Her mother left her and that made her not trust people, always thinking they will leave her. Why it manifested then and why she made up Chidi, I guess only God knows :) I know someone that was fine one day and next day crazy. Talking about people chasing him and seeing things.

      Remember this is a story and characters can be misleading also in real life there are people that make up fictitious stories when gisting their friends. So that’s my attempt at explaining the text. :)

      Now this is where I need to clarify, Anita is not only Bimbo’s friend but also her doctor, which is why the hospital has her name. So when we said Anita leaves her, she is leaving Bimbo in the treatment room/her bedroom where Bimbo has just been telling her again about Chidi and planning to cook for him, why she hasn’t been cured in the time she is there could be due to anything, maybe the extend of her madness.

      This is my attempt at explaining :)

      But really thanks for the comment we will take all the feedback and work on improving it and be better next time.

  10. Okay…I felt this was a predictable story though I see the attempt to give it a twist at the end. The idea behind it is nice but I feel the execution could have been better.

    The transition to reality from Bimbo’s dream delusion was not smooth and comprehensible enough. I feel that part needs more work. There are loose ends that need to be tied up for a smoother narrative. I hope it wasn’t the collabo that affected it because I’ve seen stuff that both of you have written individually which were better.

    Well done on the effort though…’cause I know a collabo is not an easy thing.

  11. @Afronuts thanks a lot for reading, we will take your comments on board and improve. Thanks men

  12. nice story, nice theme and well developed plot. @vincentdepaul… you didn’t have to say that, you know i do help where i can

    1. @elovepoetry thanks a lot for reading and the comment

      1. you are welcome, and thanks you for sharing such a nice story

  13. This story did elicit some long comments :)

    I am always of the opinion that if a work of art needs long explanations for clarification, rather than intensification of experience, its brilliance becomes questionable. That’s why the classic term, denoement (The final resolution or clarification of a dramatic or narrative plot) exists.

    I feel for Bimbo. This story makes me think of schizophrenia, taking my mind to the Indian film Woh Lamhe, and the American one, A Beautiful Mind. It must be painful to enjoy fantastic dreams then have them snatched away when they have become the core of your existence.

    Well done @dkny111 and @Mimiadebayo. Please take the various comments people have made seriously. Keep improving your art. There is no end to learning.

    1. @chemokopi thank you very much for reading and the comment. Yes ooo I completely agreed with you, once people started asking loads of questions I knew we definitely missed a trick, but we are learning and taking all comments seriously. Thanks again my Oga

  14. The editing errors (especially regarding spelling etc) are obvious, so I won’t flog a dead donkey. It was interesting, and the characters were engaging, with just enough backstory to help my understanding. But, personally, I didn’t care for any of them. And maybe it’s just me, but right at the end I felt like I was reading the synopsis of Shutter Island.

    That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as the Inception-like “reality as a waking dream” trope was handled beautifully. Thank you.

    1. @hotchocolate thank you for reading and the comment. We will take the emotional aspect on board and improve

  15. @dkny111, I get what you and @mimiadebayo were trying to do – using the “unreliable witness” device in telling a story. I tried to do something similar in my Maiden Voyage series.

    This was a very sad story, but it’s odd that you say Chidi was just in her head. Usually, when people have breakdowns, they are triggered by very real traumatic events involving real people.

    I felt the telling of the first part was a bit ‘scattered’, but I really felt the poignancy of the story written from Anita’s POV.

    Well done.

  16. @TolaO thanks for reading and the comment, yeah I agree that maybe the first part didn’t flow quite well. Will take the advice and improve. Thanks again for reading

  17. I enjoyed this and I expected a sting in the tail as the story progressed and you didn’t disappoint and it was just sad to know that the Chidi was an imaginary character/a figment of Bimbo’s imagination and that she lost her marbles after it all. Great work, Guys.

    1. @LEROY thanks a lot for reading and the comment, glad you liked this, please can you read and comment on my latest story


  18. finally, I get to read this. I must say it was a nice attempt and good collaborative effort. one thing is obvious to me from this, poor research. when writing on themes you are not an expert at, then you need to read up on it, ask questions and try to understand it before trying to build a story around it. that affected the plausibility and the overall enjoyment of the story. @efadel and @sibbylwhyte have echoed most of my thoughts, so no need to go over them again.

    I think you gave the plot away by introducing the rambling in the opening part. it was pretty obvious where you were going with the story.

    The narrative was not fluid enough and there were a lot of contradictions. for example you said it was not love at first sight but then you went on to describe an instant attraction where her brain cells were going missing. even if she was making it all up, it should be consistent.

    then one could not understand the intensity of the emotions displayed by bimbola. she was heads over heels in love with chidi, how so? what was her dream man? we didn’t get enough description of chidi to have that idea.

    why did she break down? she had everything going for her. usually there are triggers or stressful life events.

    the transition to the doctor’s POV was not smooth enough. and yes, a hospice is not the same as a psychiatric hospital. a hospice is like a home for old people, not mentally ill people.

    I feel this needs a total reworking. it has a lot of potential and I believe another look by you guys will bring out the lustre. well done guys! @mimiadebayo I saw your signature on the writing and I wasn’t surprised when I finally saw the note at the end.

Leave a Reply