Through My Strange Eyes

Through my strange eyes



I have a strange gift. Four days before my mother died, sitting in front of a TV that drowned all pretenses of conversation, I saw her dead. It was not a vision. It was not a dream.

One minute, she was smiling and nodding at the scene playing out before her on the widescreen. The next minute, her head was swollen and all maggoty, her eyes two dark pebbles of death. The minute after that, she was smiling and nodding again.

All of fourteen years old, already well schooled in discipline and a veteran on unspeakable floggings, I told no one about the strangeness of those three minutes. But terror took up a semi permanent residence somewhere in the region of my heart.

When she slipped in the bathroom, developed a concussion and died thereafter, the terror billowed over me and almost drowned me.

Of course, I did not tell my father of the premonition I’d had. Neither did I discuss it with my three brothers and one sister.

It has been two years since my eyes saw that strange sight and the terror has not left me in its entirety. Today, I am accustomed to foreseeing but I have not grown to become comfortable with this strangeness. Thrice, I have had premonitions of death.  Thrice, such premonitions became reality.

This hot afternoon, now sixteen, wiser and even more quiet than I had been before my mother’s death, I sit with my four siblings on the verandah, swatting flies with hand fans that do absolutely nothing to give one respite from the heat. We await Father’s arrival.

We know he will not be alone. Today, we are meeting our future step mother.

At sixteen, I consider myself too old to be acquiring a new mother but the last thing you want to do is argue with my father. So, we wait. The three boys, all younger than me, converse in low tones. I know they miss our mother terribly. She’d been the one to shelter us from Father’s unexplainable rages, his violence, his wickedness. At her death, we’d lost not just a mother but a defender.

The Peugeot 505 raises a cloud of dust as it roars into the compound. Parking directly in front of us, my father does something he’d never done for our mother, something that is as strange as it is funny. He hurries out of the car to the passenger’s side, cracks open the door for his fiancé, flourishes a smile that is as huge as it is repulsive.

She is tall, as dark as the midnight sky, with huge white eyes that are at odds with her small round face. One would think that a prospective step mother would smile at her prospective step children on the day that they first meet, but this woman’s face is as hard as granite.

When Father introduces us, she does not shake hands. She does not clap our shoulders. Instead, she nods at a distance. In the ten minutes of introduction, I do not see her teeth. I do not know if they are white, or yellow or green.

But I see something else.

For a minute, I turn to look into Kunle, our youngest’s eyes. I want to feel what he is feeling at this moment. I want to communicate to him that I will not allow him to suffer at this woman’s hands. When I turn back to look at her, my soon to be step mother is hideous to behold.

On her shoulders sits a small dried skull.

I know without a doubt that she will not be with us long. Perhaps she will not even live long enough to become our step mother.

And for once since I got this strange power, I am not saddened at the premonition of someone’s death.

Perhaps this is benevolence’s way of preserving what little family life we have left, no matter how sour.


21 thoughts on “Through My Strange Eyes” by Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

  1. Beautifully rendered
    I love the flow

  2. Beautiful yet so sad!!!

  3. This is nice @folakemi, flows beautifully.

  4. This was read on Smooth fm 98.1 tonight. As soon as I heard the name Folakemi Emem Akpan, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.
    The radio listeners that called in said they loved it too.
    I knew I had to read it.

    Fab work.

    1. @olajumoke you people are enjoying this smooth FM 98.1, Let me join too.
      When and on which show do dey read the stories.
      Who anchors it please.

    2. thanks @olajumoke for your comment. I am going to make the same request that @ameenaedrees did. Please when and on which show are these stories read and who anchors? Make we follow enjoy na

  5. Hi @ameenaedrees and @folakemi, I have listened on the odd Mondays but I believe the show is aired at 10pm on Smooth FM 98.1 (Lagos) from Monday to Thursday. It is read by Jumoke and Phisayo and they select stories from Naija Stories. It is called Tales at Night/ Midnight?

    Hope you get to check it out.

    1. Tnx @olajumoke will surely check it.
      In fact I’m glued to d radio now.

  6. @olajumoke is that so? that is really cool. Mow I’m curious to know if theyve ever read any of my stories lol. @folakemi this is so great. Same great flow you have with all your work yet this one has a vastly different topic. The topic of premonitions is of great intrest to me as it steps a bit outside of the daily Norm. I strongly believe in them and dare I say I have experienced them as well.

    1. thanks @ivie9ja. I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone when I wrote this. It was one of the shortlisted stories for the African Writing Prize for Flash Fiction in 2011.
      @olajumoke, @ameenaedress, I listened to the program yesternight. Four poems were read.
      Thanks once more for the info @olajumoke

  7. @folakemi, nice one. I haven’t listened on a Tuesday before. Hope you were able to listen last night @ameenaedrees as Wilted Flower (s) was read.
    I haven’t heard yours yet @ivie9ja. I haven’t heard any of mine either. I don’t listen to the show regularly. I sat down to listen one Thursday and found out one of mine had been read on Wednesday night.
    I will let you know Ivie if I hear any of yours.

  8. @olajumoke , @folakemi I also listened., his father’s son was read.
    True wilted flowers was read but I lost connection before the ratings, was so annoyed.
    Big thanks to @olajumoke for introducing us.
    Would you mind telling me how many stars it got. *wide grin*

  9. @olajumoke, @ameenaedrees, @ivie9ja, I was not able to listen another day this week. Very busy throughout and usually asleep before 10. Will find time to listen next week though. Cheers

  10. Ok I havent posted any recent work and I dont have access to the station but keep me posted on it. Its so exciting to know that our works travel beyond NS

  11. @ivie9ja, it really is exciting. I listen online- live. I actually didn’t know I could get the service on my phone. Ended up on their website by accident and it had to live link
    @ameenaedrees, you got top marks. A couple of nines and a seven, I think. It wasn’t the night Folakemi’s work was read though. I can’t remember when. I have been busy lately.
    *smiling* Knowing my luck they have probably read one of mine. Are you on Twitter @folakemi? If you are, follow smoothfm98.1 because they mention you when they read your work. I have seen your name on their Twitter feed.
    Have a lovely week ladies.

  12. hi @olajumoke, thanks. I have been listening more. If i hear any of yours, i’ll let you know. Unfortunately, I am not on twitter. I am not really a social media person, as I find them to be terribly addictive, and not a good idea for someone with extremely busy days like me. Asides NS and another writing site (, I don’t really exist online. hahahaha. Cheers

  13. Perfect! What a beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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