“Writing na lazy man work. I go see where them wan pass give you award for this writing.” Comments like such would break your backbone, and you'd feel a painful sensation running down—subway surfer style— to the sole of your feet. Your nose would twitch and a sorrowful dirge would start playing in your head. You would vow to prove him wrong. He says you can never win an award with writing right? He shall see. Your father shall see. You would take on a job as a ghostwriter, because your Tecno Y2 device, which has an already damaged touchpad cannot help you type the award-winning story that would take you out of the country. You would start with charging N1/per word. It's small but it's something. You'd take small jobs like 2000-words because your phone cannot handle a 10000-word gig at a go. You'd ask the universe to send you more gigs, and it would oblige. Furthermore, you would grow distant from your father like two parallel lines that never meet. Soon, you'd start charging N1.5/per word and when you finally buy yourself a brand-new phone, your father would wring his nose in disgust, but he wouldn't say a word to you. Your mother would ask you where you got the money from, and you'll tell her; “Ghostwriting.” She would lose her temper. “Ghostwriting?! Is that what you're studying in school? You are an engineer!” “Mummy I know I am, I can handle bo-” Lights are going off in your head and your right cheek is burning hot even before you complete the sentence. “You can handle what? You’re 21 years old, you’re still in 200 level! Do you want to fail? This is the last time I'll hear about that! Now, give me your phone.” “But mummy, no, please!” “I want to see your phone on the table in my room before today runs out! You will get it back when you're going back to school. You are very stupid!” You're sobbing, sobbing hard. Your siblings are watching from a distance. They are just as helpless as you are. “And by God, if you return to this house with less than 4.50GP, I'll kill you with my own hands!” She would say and walk away, her behind, bouncing and synchronizing with the rhythm of her temper. You would be without a phone for two whole weeks. It would fuel your urge to prove them both wrong. You would never stop fantasizing about receiving that award for your stories. You would begin writing on paper, and when you receive your phone back, a day before leaving for school, you would not thank her. Furthermore, you have crossed her off as your mother. “Your father has sent you 50k as your allowance this month. I don't want to hear about writing.” “Okay.” You would say to her before leaving the house. At the bus park, you would sniffle non-stop. Inside the bus going to Nsukka, you would cry into your handkerchief. When you arrive at UNN, you would go straight to your hostel; Mary Slessor. You would clean your tears with face wipes and would begin writing again. You would submit your works for possible publication by online and paperback magazines. Some would accept, others would reject, but you would never stop. You would now charge N3/per word and get direct links to the clients. You would buy yourself a fairly used laptop. You would still be able to graduate with a 4.30 CGPA. Writing would become a secret. Your inability to openly express yourself and, or, identify as a writer (lest your parents find out and go the extreme mile by emotionally abusing you) would infuriate you all the more. It would be during the two-week orientation camp for NYSC that you would finally write the award-winning short-story. You would title it 'With All Due Respect' and after a few days of intense editing, you would send it as an entry to the short-story category for a contest by an international literary firm; We Write Therefore We Are (WWTWA). It would be four months into your service as a Corps member when you will receive an email from WWTWA. Dear Amaka, We are pleased to inform you that your story 'With All Due Respect' has won the prize for the category of Best Short-Story by an African author. You have automatically qualified for an all-expense-paid trip to the beautiful city of Geneva, Switzerland to receive your award and cash prize. More details would be contacted to you in the following days to come. Congratulations once again. Editor, WWTWA. You would scream at the construction company where you intern as a Civil Engineer in the city of Lokoja. You would go on your knees, with misty eyes and say, “I did it, I did it. After all these years, I did it.” Two months later, you would be seated in the front row of an events center, surrounded by people of all races and genders. You would go alone even though they said you could with one person. Dressed in a scarlet maxi dress with a thigh-high slit, your 4C thick hair would be tied up and adorned with beautiful pins, you would feel famous and important. Just before they call you on stage, you would send your father and mother the link to LIVE stream the event telling them that it is a video of you handling a cement mixer at one of the construction sites you visited. You would walk majestically as you climb up the stairs to the podium. Receiving a plaque with your name carved unto it, you would begin your speech: “With all due respect, dad, mom, kiss my ass.”
Kathryn Olushola is a 22-year-old Engineering Student from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She is passionate about writing and photography. Kathryn’s works has been published on FictionWrit, Nantygreen and has one forthcoming on the Kalahari Review.
She questions everything. She’s probably asking the universe why unrepentant abusers are still out there, living their best lives.
You can find her on Facebook; Kathryn Olushola.