The Making of the Word, This is not fiction


“Are you not going to write?” Ada-Dadii asked me.

“I am but the writing has refused to obey?”

“What do you mean?” My sister-in-writing looked nonplussed. “Are you not the writer? How can your writing not obey you? Isn’t that your darling pencil in your hand? Ehn, make her obey!”

My gaze didn’t waver from my blank page.

“Ada-Dadii you don’t understand. Writing and I don’t have that kind of relationship; I’m not the boss of her. For instance, the other day, I started a blog post and my writing decided to turn itself into a short story. Next, I tried to write a short story and it refused to go beyond a blog post! Nne, kee ife isim mee? What do you say I should do?”

Ada-Dadii sat down beside me, a pensive look on her face, “Hm, this is very serious o! OKB, this is a curious case of Edemed’itis.”

“Yes”, she answered my unspoken question, “Edemed’itis! It is a condition that afflicts every writer from time to time so that they cannot put form to the many stories in their head. Even if they do manage to write anything down, they never really finish it or they begin another in the midst of one they were writing before!”

After a long pause, in which I ruminated over her words, I raised my head and looked straight into my sister-in-writing’s magnificent brown eyes.

“Does this Edemed’itis have a cure, a solution, an antidote?!”

“I…” A veiled look and those magnificent eyes turned away, “…can’t say, OKB, just write.”

“That’s what they all tell me…”

The Making of the Word

My Blog – RoastCorn&Ube

My blog is calling me.

She doesn’t shout or chant or morph into a giant claw like my pens or Pencil; she just sits there and stares at me unblinking, transmitting those summons into my subconscious.

I hate her!

I hate her because I only created her as an outlet for the maelstrom of ideas whirling around in my head not as a constant reminder that I have to write.

I hate her because she draws people to her and I feel crushed by the weight of their expectations.

“I didn’t ask for visitors, comments or even friends.”

“But you’ve got them” Her silent, unblinking eyes transmit to me.

“So what”? I hiss back at her, saliva splattering over the monitor, who kissed her teeth in return.

“They are now a part of you and you of them. Like it or loathe it, you have a duty towards them. You may not have asked for them but it’s been thrust upon you…”

“…Thrust! See her, Miss Big Words! When did you become philosophical? Hian, my own creation kwa!”

She didn’t even dignify my diatribe with as much as a glitch.

I wanted to suspend her; to delete her like I did her older sister, three years ago. Who was she to crawl her way into my bloodstream, my very nexus, to give me ord…

“…While you are at it, don’t forget you promised Kachi a story…”

“…While I am at what”?

“At thinking your foolish thoughts. Don’t forget that you’re owing our family the rest of ‘Taken’.

“Our family kwa?! Heeeiii! I had to suspend my murderous thoughts to respond to her latest absurdity. “What foolish family?”

“Not foolish, just family – Adaezenwa, Malemika, Kachi, SpeaknoEvil, Ego, Eso, Hrh7…should I continue? We even have a new family member, Naijamum…”

“Shut up! Shut up!! Shut your big mouth up!!!,” I shrieked, kicking my pens and Pencil out of the way. “Don’t you get it? Can’t you just get it? I can’t! I can’t!!!”

“Can’t what”? She inquired calmly like a mother with endless patience for her recalcitrant toddler.

“I want to start writing a piece and finish it! I want to write a book but it’s too much…all those details…I can’t…I can’t…I can’t do it and still have time for you…people are being published…I don’t know what I’m writing…Ten Tips to Writing…How Writers Achieve a Bestseller…How To Have An Online Presence As A Writer..Write in small, short bursts…Write consistently at the same time each day…Have a writing space…Declutter before you write…write about what you know…write about what you don’t know…write this…write that…arrrghhhh!!!

I shrieked myself dry.

I doubted I had any more shriek left in me.

My blog was silent and then she blinked.

“Did you enjoy ‘Things Fall Apart’?”

“Immensely,” I whispered hoarsely

“Purple Hibiscus?”

“Deliciously”, my voice was still hoarse from all the shrieking.

“Who Fears Death?”


I was determined that all my answers would be adverbs for the bizarre reason that it showed I still had some fight in me despite my hoarse voice. What made me think that, only God knows. My blog however wasn’t interested in my adverbial one-word replies.

“All written by the same author”, It was a question not a statement.

“Of course not!”, I snapped back, some of my initial fire being re-kindled by the absurdity of her question.

“Did one stop the other from being published?”


“No, let me re-phrase that, did reading one stop you from reading the other?”


She hadn’t quite finished.

“Did writing one prevent the other from being written”?

I took a deep breath. It quenched the small fire within.

She was trying to tell me something I already knew but refused or was too afraid to acknowledge.

“ọkan’ube,” she looked directly at me this time, “Stop worrying and just write.”

I released the breath I didn’t know I was still holding.

“Just write. Write big, write small, write when you can and read when you can’t. Write in bits and pieces until it makes a whole. Write when you read and read when you write and when you can’t write, write.”

And with that, she went back into her static unblinking mode.

“Thank you,” I whispered silently.

“You’re welcome”, she transmitted, her gaze unblinking.

“Oh, one more thing”, she turned a micro inch to the left, “Never, ever threaten to suspend or delete me again except on the pain of hacking or I will fill your head with so many ideas that you’ll burst trying to express them. Now, write.”

The Making of the Word

My Pens…My Fears…All The Things That Hold Us Back

My pens are calling me.

The Felt tips, the Roller balls and the Ballpoints; the Blacks and the Blues.

They are peeking out of my white and lilac pencil case; out of my Bought-In-Gambia, pencil case.

They are screaming, silently.

Their ink, dripping like blood from an open wound.

Their nibs, agape in agony.

“We are drying out,” they howl in pain. “When are you going to use us?”

Black and Blue Paper Mate Flair® glare at me accusingly.

“You bought us as a pair”, their eyes bore into me, one dark, one light. “You choose us because we didn’t come as a quartet with the obligatory Green and Red. You claimed that you didn’t like writing in Green; that Red is for writing dead people’s names”.

Black and Blue Script® laughed in derision, “A pair”, they chortled, “We came as a quartet, no Reds, no Greens and does she use us? No! Does she write with us? No! We’re wasting our time. Let’s all dry out, see what she does without us!

A bubble of hysteria formed at the back of my throat, a low pressure began to build at the base of my skull.

This couldn’t be happening. The pens can’t possibly dry out. It may not seem like it, but I need them; I really do!

I turned frantically to Pencil, to urge him to speak. To explain to Pens that using them meant leaving the known for…

He just shook Rubber at me. What did I expect? He didn’t want to be abandoned. If he spoke up for Pens, what will happen to him?

I turned to Bic®. I had used them all my life. They knew me when I could barely form a grip with my fat, chubby fingers; when I took their side in the Revolution against Fountain Pens. They had stuck by me, when all others failed; they lasted when all others finished. They were the only ones with a see-through barrel and a removable plug, perfect for a place to put the slip of paper with my name on it, when I had to identify them as mine in a sea of other Bics.

But today, the pack of ten turned their dispirited gaze away from me. Too loyal to add their voices to the growing dissent of all the others, they remained mute.

“B…Bu…But…”, the bubble of hysteria had transformed my usual articulacy into the sound of uncertain hailstones, striking a corrugated iron roof-top.


A chant began.


It began to rise and rise… the pens, all Blacks and Blues; Felt-tips and Ballpoints too.


It rose and rose and rose like a monstrous wave… My ear drums threatened to rupture…


The pressure at the base of my skull refused to remain low any more. It began to swell and swell and swell to meet the monstrous wave of chanting ‘Buts’

I screamed like a banshee over the wave.

“My job, it takes too much time…”

“My commute, it wears me out…”

“My fears, using pens means writing longer… writing longer means having a goal…”

I screamed louder than I ever had, hoping to be heard above the deafening sounds.

“…having a goal means being open to failure and rejection…”

“…being open to failure and rejection means…”


The chant slammed into me with a force of a tsunami!

The force of it knocked me off my writing desk.

Pencils, papers, rubbers and writing pads flew everywhere. I tried to scramble to my feet but my left foot was caught in a vise-like grip. I looked down to see what was holding me so steadfast. My pens, all of them, even Bic, had formed a giant claw; they pinned me to the floor.

I wriggled, writhed, kicked. Nothing.

I cried, pleaded, begged. Nothing.

They held me down, unmoving, unyielding.

Then I saw Pencil. He was moving across a fallen sheet; forming words with great speed. I tried to make the words out but they were too faint; I tried to stretch and pull the paper to me but the giant pen-claw dug even harder into my foot.

Then I felt the floor undulate, a strange sensation washed over me; I felt fluid, I felt solid, I felt nothing.

Then I felt my eyelids fly open.

I let out a shaky breath of relief. It was a dream…no, a nightmare. It was all over. I rubbed my face with sweaty palms, swung my feet off my bed to the floor. I needed to relieve the pressure that fear had placed on my bladder. There was a loud clatter as something or some things fell off my bed.

I looked down.

I could make out dimly, a shape of some sorts. I switched on my bedside lamp to see it clearly. It was my pens, all of them, Bics, Paper Mates, Scripts…it was also a giant claw.

Mums Pen Claw3

The Making of the Word

My Pencil


My pencil guffawed.

It was a loud, harsh, grating sound.

It reminded me of the spirits, in the story, ‘ The Flute‘, by Chinua Achebe.

” You can’t write?’, he spat at me. “You can’t write and it’s all my fault???

Well, whose fault was it then?

I haven’t been able to put pen to paper…in this case, pencil. Surely it must be pencil’s fault.

I didn’t articulate my thoughts but he read them all the same. Were we not one?

I conceived my thoughts; he brought them to life. So it followed that if I couldn’t write, he wasn’t playing his part.

He spat at me again. This time, lead flew all over the page leaving thick, black marks.

“Write, you fool! Write until you can write no more! Write until your fingers cramp up and your eyes bleed but don’t sit there holding all those seeds of thought and blame me for not birthing them.

Why should I not blame him? I needed to blame someone! If not him, then who?

“Blame yourself!”, He spat again. This time, large chunks of my journal were gouged out by his lead missiles; he was taking no prisoners.

“Blame your foolish fears! Your foolish excuses! “…I have to sleep early”…”I’m working tomorrow”…”I’m not in the mood”…”My mind is blank, blah, blah, blah”, he finished off in a perfect imitation of my ‘whiny’ voice.

And yet he wasn’t quite finished.

“You think writing is a joke? A task for the faint of heart?” He snorted and shook his rear at me. The eraser looked redder than it normally did; like the baboon at our local zoo.

“If you don’t use me, someone else will…to measure planks of wood or to add up rows of digits… and then when there’s nothing  left of me but a stump, I wonder how you’ll bring your thoughts to bear.”

A horrifying darkness descended upon me…how can I not write?

My head will burst open like an over-ripe paw-paw if I didn’t use pencil to birth my thoughts.

I rummaged furiously through my black, leather bag: the one with gold-plated buckles. There was a fish-shaped sharpener at the bottom.

I shoved pencil into fish-shaped sharpener’s mouth, twisted him until his mouth was a sharp point, then I wrote and wrote and wrote…

The Making of the Word

Help! There’s A Teenager In My Home

Help! There’s A Teenager In My Home





Where’s my vest?

My shoes are gone!

My trainers have disappeared!

Standing by the window

Eyes on the clock

Eyes peering through the curtains,

Into the darkness.

Help! My fridge was full…


I thought I had a full bottle of pink nail varnish…

Did I leave my hair band on my bed?


I don’t know what’s happening to me

I can’t find anything!

There’s a party going on in my back garden

I am not invited

It’s my house!



My questions are replied with grunts


Eyes on the phone,






Or rolling in their sockets…



There’s a teenager in my home!




There’s a teenager in my home!


The school called again today

Sassy, back-chatting, lippy


The teacher is wrong and doesn’t want to admit

I was just pointing it out

Voice raised


Muttered curse

Not to his ears though

What’s his problem?

Well, you’re not my dad!

Head of Year’s office

Stern looks

               Eyes everywhere but us

Muttered apology

Spat out like broccoli


There’s a teenager in my home!


Skirt rolled up

Is that a weave or wig?

What happened to your own hair?



Doc Martens


School shoes?

What happened to Clarks?

Hush Puppies,


Good old Bata?

School bag?

That’s my handbag!

Your handbag?

My school bag

Everyone has it!


Everyone has this

Everyone has that

Everyone does this

Everyone does that


Everyone is about to jump off the cliff!

Not even funny, mum…


There’s a teenager in my home!

I’m going to Jack’s

I’m going to Jill’s

Did they go up a hill?


You know Jack broke his crown, right?

Well, they’re my friends not yours!

And Jill came running after… what? Why judge her?

Not bringing friends home

Not talking about them either

Chatting with them

Fingers flying over phone keys

Fingers fly over my dishes and wash them please

Thunder and brimstone

Dishes are in trouble


Go to the shops for some milk please

Fire and lightning

Stomping and storming

Dark clouds are hanging

Hope the milk doesn’t curdle



There’s a teenager in my home!

Mother’s day

Cleaned room

Washed dishes

Vacuumed carpets

 Invasion of the body snatchers?

A favour soon to be asked?

Mother’s day meal

A choice of three different dishes

My favourite dark chocolate

 The car is sparkling

Inside and Out


I’m hyperventilating

I’m dreaming

I’m hallucinating

I’m eating ice-cream and pop-corn

On the sofa

Legs tucked under; covered with throw

Watching my favourite program

No battle over the remote!



There’s a teenager in my home!



A hug before school

A kiss on return

Hunched over the computer

Homework…no hassle

 Taking baby sister out

Emptying the bin; the recycling bin

Using bike at last

Calling grandma on the phone

Calling aunty on the phone

Having a conversation with sister

No arguments


Having a conversation with me

No grunts

No groans

No mutters

Real speech

Eyes on me

Not on the PSP




Mobile phone…

On me

Smiling, eyes twinkling

Love you mum; you’re the best.

Thank God!

There’s a teenage in my home!