We hang on everything. On branches disconnected from stems and leaning on walls. Like lolling tongues hanging at mouth corners. We have an abode. Billions of us. We leap around. Then we fly a little with the two light feathers attached to our backs. We eat flakes of clouds and snows. Our voices are murmurs like a distorted buzz from bees. When we laugh, we sound like pebbles being offloaded at a construction site. We visit families and beg to be accommodated. Some of us are let in while some are sent back. We are the most sought-after yet the most abused. Our weeping sounds like a drunken man’s song at night. At dusk we sit out on our rooftop and stare at the painting called sky. We watch the artist add the dots called stars. We watch the morning peel off the night. Our handicapped colleagues are especially cared for. We cry with them. When they leave and return with the scars from a knife or from something else, we mourn with them. We love cribs and hospital beds because there our life begins. Like hawks we hover in the sky. We await a chance to be born.
Frances Ogamba won two #WriterPrompt events on the SSDA Facebook page. Her micro-fiction ‘Hospital Beds’ won the 11th prompt and, two weeks later, ‘Golden Cake’ took the 12th. She is a Writivism 2016 mentee.
You have also been an active participant in a few of our #WriterPrompt online workshops. What, if anything, have you gained from the experience?
FRANCES: I have learned things that mere reading does not give. Like when you read books so much that you start writing beautifully without knowing why you write like that, it is another form of plagiarism. Like copy and paste. We should all know why we write short sentences or long ones, why we put our dots and the hyphens or which word goes with which and why. That is what #WriterPrompt has given to me: the chance to know why.
You have a background in self-publishing your work. Many writers find the self promotion and marketing side of the business the hardest part of all. In your experience, what methods have been the most effective?
FRANCES: I advertise my books on every social platform like Facebook, BBM and the others. When I have them in print, I sell them on the streets of Nigeria. It is quite tough but turnout isn't bad.
Look, Nkili. Look at the picture. Do you see the golden ribbons pressing into the emerald coated cake like pathways down a hill? Do you see the butterfly wings flapping like the little bride’s flay dress? You are one month old now. You are old enough to hear this tale. I had these same butterflies flutter excitedly in my stomach that morning. Mother and sister were there to convince me that it was a mere cold feet. My wedding gown swept the floor gracefully and I looked out for your father throughout the trip to church. I was pregnant but we did not tell. We laced fingers at the church entrance especially when the butterflies returned. Your father was handsome. You have his cheeks.
The insurgents surrounded the reception hall with rifles that could pass for water pipes. The bullets pierced the thick louvers before reaching us. This golden cake like soapsuds on water floated on the pool of our guests’ blood. But long before all of that, we were exchanging rings. We were kissing. We were eating from the crockery. We were dancing to country music – to azonto, to skelewu, to shoki.
Frances Ogamba is a graduate of Foreign Languages and Literary Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She is currently running a masters degree programme in Professional Translation (French&English) at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She works as a Customer Service Officer at Advanced Maritime Transport, Port Harcourt. She speaks French and English fluently. She is an aspiring writer.
Participate in #WriterPrompt by following Short Story Day Africa on Facebook.
Interview by Tiah Beautement a.k.a. @ms_tiahmarie