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BN Prose: Showgirl by Osemhen Akhibi



The woman sitting on the balcony railing took two quick puffs of what would at first glance, pass for a cigarette. The furtive light in her eyes gave her away. Her stark nakedness gave her away. And when she closed her eyes and raised her arms as if to fly, and hence drop five storeys to an untimely death, I figured I better intervene. Today was Friday, her preferred suicide option was self-defenestration. Sure, this didn’t exactly count as a window but Mama wasn’t one to split hairs.

 “Good morning, Mama.”

I strolled onto the balcony, pretending a yawn with my hands in my pocket. She frowned at me and hissed, not fooled for one second by my casualness. Defiantly, she took one last puff on the rolled joint before tossing it over the railing with a regretful wince.

“Baba Lekan won’t be happy.” My tone was mild. Our landlord had threatened to evict us just last week. Mama’s antics had taken a turn for the worse; she’d painted Eyo masquerades on his car’s windshield with TipEx. It had taken an hour of grovelling and promises for his ire to subside. One of those promises had been that she would never again smoke marihuana on his premises.

“He can kiss my bum.” She got off the railing and walked into our apartment. I followed her, glancing at my watch to confirm that yes, I was running fifteen minutes behind schedule.

“I have to go to school, Ma.”

“What you have to do, Lola, is get married and leave me in peace. That’s what you should do.”

“I’m fifteen, Ma.”

I combed my hair in the chipped mirror as she plopped down on the worn, torn settee to eye me belligerently.

“Have you taken your medicine?”

I kept my tone friendly like they said to on the internet when dealing with schizophrenics.

“Yes…” Her eyes darted nervously. “Yes! Stop looking at me.”

“I’m your daughter. I will look at you as long as I want.”

I counted her tablets. The same number as yesterday. I advanced with the obligatory two tablets. She flipped me the bird, but she swallowed them. Her hair fell in untidy, dirty-grey braids around her drawn face and I pushed them back. She shrank from my touch.

She wasn’t always this way, my Ma. Once she was beautiful, a showgirl with big hair and arrogant make-up. She had been a great dancer; I have newspaper clippings of her in a tin under my bed. She had been loud, and clever as anything…and she had been one of forty wives to a legendary musician. To hear her tell it, life had been one big hippie party before he died. She assured me he wasn’t my father though. I wish he was, I might’ve been some kind of famous.

I locked down the bars on the windows, did one last sweep of the room for razors and knives. Mama tried to slit her wrists only on Mondays but I didn’t see the point in tempting fate. Satisfied, I grabbed my satchel and headed out the door.

“Bye, Ma.”

“Don’t come back. I won’t be here.”

For good measure, I went back and locked the metal gate to the balcony.

But she got me. When I returned home, she was lying in a pool of blood, with mirror shards  everywhere. It wasn’t Monday, but Mama had never been one to split hairs.

Follow Osemhen on twitter Twitter: @OsemhenA

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Osemhen is Chief Ginger at Blazers & Baby. Blazers & Baby provides the community, strategies and resources that young working mums in Nigeria need to achieve work-life balance and thrive in their careers and at home. Find your tribe at: and @blazersandbaby.  We reply our DMs :)


  1. edwin

    July 20, 2011 at 8:22 am

    nice write up. How do I get mine put on the site?

    • paula

      July 24, 2011 at 2:53 am

      i know right!! i want to put mine up too… 🙁

  2. maameodk

    July 20, 2011 at 8:26 am

    How sad. Could have done with something cheerful this morn. Too heartbreaking

  3. Cutie Toxie

    July 20, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Oluwa iye!!!!!!!!!

  4. kiki

    July 20, 2011 at 8:43 am

    really nice and sad

  5. Bisbomz

    July 20, 2011 at 8:44 am


    • Mademoiselle

      July 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Lool. Exactly how I felt! Damn… nice write up 🙂

  6. Sanmi

    July 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

    for once i read a bn prose and felt i have a threat. i know i’m good but i’ll love to deny that you are better. lovely work Osemhen Akhibi. lovely! there was not a point where i felt i could have written it better. wao!!!

  7. gbemi

    July 20, 2011 at 8:56 am

    very good piece, Osemhen!!!

  8. Jide

    July 20, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Would it be odd if I said I saw this kind of ending coming? I am not taking anything away from Osemhen’s writing but 3-|

  9. Hot-Angel (Hottu Babe)

    July 20, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Ha! Eleyi ga oo.. La’ro kutu-kutu.. This is too sad, for this early morning now. 🙁
    Very well written, but Bella, There be something somewhere on your site this morning to pick me up from this Sad story oo.

  10. holatanwa

    July 20, 2011 at 9:41 am

    so sad

  11. uzor

    July 20, 2011 at 9:49 am

    speechless………. i don’t even understand the write-up

  12. Chidz

    July 20, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Aww this is soo sad.
    Love how you don’t just dump everything about her condition on us in one sentence. The blanks are gradually filled in. NICE!!

  13. awe

    July 20, 2011 at 10:29 am

    me likey!!! First to comment

  14. PhatFab!

    July 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Wow! Didn’t see that ending coming. Thumbs up!

  15. PhatFab!

    July 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Wow! Didn’t see that coming. Nice write up!

  16. Tobi

    July 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Nice work! I love it!

  17. Ronnie

    July 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    very depressing but so nice. well done!

  18. Funto

    July 20, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Really really good job!!!!!!!!!! Keep it up..Happy endinga are kinda nice
    Proud of you!!!!!!
    Yes BN ppl, I knw her she’s my padi lyk dt 😉

  19. Stephanie Oki

    July 20, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I am very proud of you… Carefully written. I understand all of it so perfectly. AND I LOVE THE SAD ENDING! Very captivating!!! When i grow up, I WILL be like you.

  20. Nnamani Chiemerie

    July 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Osemhen, maybe this is because there was a word limit, but mama’s death came too quickly. There was no suspense before lola saw mama’s dead body. Well, maybe that was why i did not feel the suicide. I mean…you have a flair for things like this-murder, assassination, death, suicide. It could have been much better…i trust you

  21. pearl

    July 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    This is a WOW! Beautifully.

  22. nwando

    July 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Good work. Please write some more!

  23. Adia

    July 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm


  24. fokasibe

    July 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Really sad….

  25. fokasibe

    July 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    And is it not supposed to be by Osemhen Akhibi? You have Glory Edozien up there…. its confusing….

    • Cutie Toxie

      July 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

      But u sha still saw that they wrote ‘by Osemhen Akhibi’ shey? shey?

  26. Uduak

    July 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    How sad.

  27. Nomy

    July 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Is it just me or was she Fela’s wife? Great write up as always! Thumbs up Bellanaija, i wish i could explain how much i look forward to your prose!

    • fenty4eva

      July 21, 2011 at 1:44 am

      i ws thinkng d exact sme thing!!

  28. onyi

    July 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Osemhens got it to d world.proud of u.

  29. Godlovesme4me

    July 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    i actually saw it coming n i was looking 4ward 2 reading how it actually got done…nice story. thumbs up osemhen.

  30. Myne Whitman

    July 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I know this is a short but it kind of left me cold. Who is this showgirl, apart from being a showgirl I mean. Are we to assume the marijuana is the cause of her schizophrenia? And she still committed suicide after taking her pills?

  31. biola

    July 21, 2011 at 12:08 am


  32. Adeleke

    July 21, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I am just not convinced that she is not the daughter of the musician… and I wouldnt be surprised if it turn out the landlord killed mama o. Please, writer… give us part 2.

  33. jhummie

    July 21, 2011 at 9:06 am

    nice write it

  34. Bimbo S

    July 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Very well written!

  35. miss B

    July 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I’m quite sure she used to be married to Fela!!!, nice write up tho…………..;)

  36. cathy

    July 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    awwwwwwwwwww!!!! beautifully written. touched by the ending. lovely!

  37. boo boo

    August 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I love it very original and sad. Beautiful

  38. BigTee

    May 31, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    my love lol…bravo thumbs up

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