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BN Prose: Nobody Knew by Atoke



He was in court every day the matter came up in court since they got to trial stage. His hair was always uncombed and his eyes always vacant. He never talked to anybody but sat quietly through the proceedings. His demeanor was mostly the same every time with the only evidence of emotion being the times when the defendant was brought to court. An acute observer would tell you that the man who sat on the last row of benches to the right of Honorable Justice Okilo’s court at the High Court of Lagos was a disturbed man because he was always deathly still but his eyes held something that could not be accurately described with words. He was never dirty and his shoes were always black and always polished to the point that they gleamed. The only thing that looked out of place was his disheveled hair.

“He comes for the armed robbery matter with those three men and that chief that they claim sent them” Mrs Mohammed the court registrar said one morning as the staff had their usual gossip session over a hot cup of tea and Agege Bread.

“No oh I always see the way his eyes move whenever they bring in that woman that they said was a bank manager at Western Bank and 5Million Naira miraculously grew legs and walked out of Mr. Lawson’s bank account” This was Juwon the court baliff who was the biggest news source for the court room staff.

“Of all the people to even try and defraud in this Nigeria, that woman does not have any sense. The Lawsons are not people to mess with. If she had asked me, I’d have given her advice not to do it”

And just like that, they jumped on the topic of the fraudster, their talk once again leaving the man with the unkempt hair.


That morning, as Otu got ready to go to Lagos Island, he brought out his plaid shirt. It was the light brown one that Ansa had given to him on his first birthday after they had met.  He neatly ironed his pair of Jeans and as he did so he remembered how she always teased him for always being so meticulous with his dressing.  He stared at the mirror and the man in there was not him. The man inside the mirror was lost but he had to hold firm and be strong. His hair had grown so much in the last 5 years and for a man who was rather thorough it was the only part of his grooming that never got any attention from him.

“For a man who irons his pajamas before wearing them to sleep, don’t you think it’s rather odd that you don’t comb your hair? The least you can do is keep it really short so we know you’re actually normal” He heard her voice in his head so clearly and he remembered her laughter as she had grabbed a comb and run it right through his head.

He looked at his reflection again and thought. “I am lost without her” and opened the closet behind the mirror.

Nobody asks any questions when one looks odd and out of place. They look at you a little bit and quickly avert their eyes for fear of it being deemed to be staring or not minding ones business. So when the man who seats at the back of Justice Okilo’s court room came in that morning wearing a long trench coat, in the hot Lagos heat, nobody stopped to ask him if he was alright. Nobody gave him more than a second glance. He looked crazy already with his shaggy mane. Nobody noticed his vacant eyes grow wide as the judgment was read freeing the man who ran Ansa over and actually tried to run away until he was caught.  Nobody knew that as a boy he had played with knives and was a skilled marksman. Nobody noticed when Otu pulled out the knife he had been sharpening every day since she died.

Nobody knew how much he had loved Ansa.


Photo Credit

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. dasu

    June 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Nice one, Atoke!

    • Beebee

      June 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Yes Dasu…Nice one.. Beebee

  2. Person pikin

    June 5, 2012 at 10:59 am


  3. hephzibah

    June 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Wow. At least I got the comforting feeling of justice served for Ansa by her love. Good one.


    June 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Wow…this is intense! Nobody really knows the true state of a man’s mind! Nice prose.

  5. Anne

    June 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Fantastic piece Atoke. Just brilliant

  6. Abike

    June 5, 2012 at 11:55 am


  7. love

    June 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    great piece

  8. Bee

    June 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Oh wow! I love it!!

  9. titilayo

    June 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    exceptionally brilliant!

  10. ene e

    June 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Wow!that’s a beautiful prose

  11. Ima-Bee

    June 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    wow! I loved it! loved the suspense, the end, the untold stories, everything. beautiful piece if you ask me. Well done

  12. Aibee

    June 5, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Short and straight to the point. All that a good short story should be, but often is not.
    Well done Atoke.

  13. Fine Girl Sayz

    June 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Thats it, its cant be any bera than this.

  14. cathy

    June 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Atoke i see you, nice one

  15. NakedSha

    June 5, 2012 at 6:46 pm


    I knew this was your piece from the home page just by the title and that’s why I clicked on it!

    Intriguing story.


  16. bunmi

    June 5, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Very simple, short and on point.

  17. debbie egwuogu

    June 5, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Wow! Me love! Bellanaija how can I be a part of the prose o! I wan send mine too o!

  18. faith

    June 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I like!

  19. iTawa

    June 5, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    wow! fantastic prose Atoke…great job!

  20. Sandi

    June 6, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Nice, loved it.

  21. Ivi

    June 6, 2012 at 5:06 am

    Disclaimer: Sensitive individuals need not continue reading my post. I do not intend to discredit the effort and creativity of the author of this poems and/or Nigerians as a whole. This is solemnly my opinion. Firstly, what is prose? Merriam Webster defines prose as a : the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.. i encourage us to seek a better category for this type of written work. Must everything be termed as a prose? Unfortunately, written works of this nature will continuously be the downfall of literature and creativity in Nigeria. As Nigerians, we have all become complacent with literature and we need to branch and break away from the norm. I too read this poem, alongside every other individual who posted a comment. I respect all of your opinions. How will a writer ever improve and strengthen when the only feedback they receive is “Loved it” and “Good job”. My fellow brother and sisters I ask you, what did you love and what was great? Were you captivated by the vivid imagery or marveled by the writers daring word choice and contradictory comparisons…i ask you to further develop your thought, use your minds and not remain complacent with whatever is placed in your lap. In my opinion, this was a very good start for someone who could be a great writer in the future. But with all good comes the alternative. I was neither captivated nor drawn into this story that was painted for us. In all actuality the simplicity of the writers technique bored me. The transition between scenes in this written work were not clear. I encourage Nigerians to break out of the cycle of comfort and dare to be unique. I appreciate this writers time and effort in providing this for us.

    • Africhic

      June 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Hi Ivi,

      KIndly submit your work so that we critique…………..i hate it when when people go all ITK over someone’s work. you have never written anything that we can compare with……………. you do have a right to make your comment. But your response seems a bit over the top in my opinion.

    • Ima-Bee

      June 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      The first definition of a word is not the only definition of the word or the only way in which the said word can be used. Prose also is, according to the merriam-webster dictionary, a literary medium distinguished from poetry especially by its greater irregularity and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech.
      That was the second definition given after the one you used in your comment.
      I would like to highlight the part that says prose as a literary form is closer to everyday speech. More or less like telling a story or gisting.
      For more proof, even Wikipedia says shorts stories, novels, essays, to mention a few, are a form of prose.

      I would like to think Bella Naija did some research before using the word in the category name and even if they didn’t the definition of the word makes makes it alright to be used.

      About the “prose” that sparked your comment, everyone is good with their own opinion and I am sure your honest critique of the writer’s work will help in their growth and development. I wish you could read and critique some of my humble attempts at writing. If your are interested, my name on this comment should link back to my blog. Feel free to leave a useful and honest critique of my work and not my person.


  22. Teris

    June 6, 2012 at 10:02 am

    i stumbled over that first line, man. a couple times actually just to decipher the Naija English. okay…reading…
    interesting. the story has potential but like @Ivi said his(?) technique needs work. i’m glad it was really short and so i cud spare the time to parse the text as i went along.
    i wud also recommend that the writer pays attention to punctuation.. bounce it around a bit till u can switch between the sound/cadence/melody you wish to create and assure the discerning reader that u can actually differentiate btw proper “prose” and Naija English.

    an example of Naija English: “the under of the ghana is full of ‘kpoto-kpoto'”
    this sentence is so wrong in more ways than i can describe but hopefully u get the picture.

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