My writing journey, updates, publications and work in progress.

The Pink House





In 2008 I decided to take a chance and submit a short story to a writing competition, something I hadn’t done since I was about 8 years old. It was the National Words of Wordsof Colour competition and I came first with my short story about a little girl growing up in Nigeria in the late seventies. The story received first prize and it encouraged me to take my writing more seriously and go back to Uni for my MA in Creative writing and Imaginative Practice.

Presenting The Pink House republished by Brittle Paper-


My mother always used to say that we lived on the decent part of the street where the houses had larger yards and cars but smaller families. The other side was for those whose social standing meant that they had no choice but to pack themselves and sometimes their extended families into rented rooms in small squalid bungalows. Opposite us there was one of these unfortunate habitations; painted the exact colour of my favourite bubble gum.

Warm rosy pink, its window shutters and doors reminded me of an old woman’s mouth; an odd selection of different colours thrown together like odd shoes. My father was an architect and believed that the Town Planning people should pull it down and build a decent house. He said it was an eyesore; a boil on the face of humanity and an absolute monstrosity.

My father loved to confuse us with big confusing words.

My mother was a governor at my school, a teacher and lay preacher at the local Anglican Church. She believed that the house’s presence on the street was like the serpent in paradise, a cancerous legacy that lay dormant and if not dealt with might threaten all the decent families and ultimately the whole society.

“I don’t know why we stand for it. We complain and the police promise to deal with it—yet nothing is done.”

I was eight years old then and wondered why she felt so strongly about the house across the road, but I had long learnt that when children asked questions adults did not want to answer they got sent off to their studies. –

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The Pink House | by Ola Awonubi | An African Story






With love from Tuscany





He smiled like a child who has been told that he has passed his exam.


He talked about everything and told her nothing. Did she know that Okada motorbikes had now replaced ordinary bicycles? That the nearby oil refinery had stopped recruiting local labourers and contractors and that Mama John’s daughter had just left her second husband? Was she aware that his mother had the malaria fever so bad that she had to be rushed to Benin Teaching hospital where she had been on drips for two weeks?


His voice buzzed around her head like a demented mosquito searching desperately for a way out of a net.


Are you not happy with this room? Why are you squeezing your face as if your head is hurting you? Are you well? Shall I go and get some food? Is it true that Oyibo people eat food with pepper? Did she miss Nigeria at all?


“Yes. No. Godwin…I’m tired. I want to sleep.”


“Yes of course. Italy is not a village down the road. Get some rest. I will leave you.”


Ese sensed the relief flooding out of him as he closed the door then heard him talking on the phone.  She imagined that he was telling Miss or Mrs Red shoe off, for leaving evidence under the bed.

For more go to With love from Tuscany


Date for a dare part 2 – Excerpt



black couple embracing

Alicia eyed the water chute warily.

“I don’t know.”

” Come on girl…..where’s your sense of adventure?” She could hear people shrieking and see them waving their arms in the air as they slid down the channel chute.

She shook her head.

He laughed. “Do you think I brought you all the way here to sit and watch me have fun?”

She shrugged. “Maybe I’m not a water chute person.”

His eyes mocked. ” How will you know what you like unless you give it a try?”

“I’m not sure.”

” So give it a try… never know. You might get a pleasant surprise – actually enjoy yourself for once.” He took her by the hand and faced the attendant,” Two tickets please.”

It’s not too late girl. You can still say no. Chicken. Coward. What are you scared of? The water chute. Hmmm. Getting my hair wet. This hair must not get wet. It must not get wet. This hair must NOT GET WET! She had said it three times and he still wasn’t listening because the words never left her lips!

They took their seats and were strapped in …..



She had stopped shaking and Anton was helping her out. Her legs felt like spaghetti and she was clinging to him.

She could his heart beating.

He tried to steady her, his hand on her back. “Are you ok?”

She shook her head and stepped away from him. ” I should never have listened to you.”

“Didn’t you find that exciting? The wind blowing in our hands. The shouts and the shrieks?”

She put up a hand to her damp hair.  It had probably gone all fuzzy and would take hours to blow dry.

His eyes went to her hair. “It’s a warm day – let’s walk around, should dry soon.”

She tried to tie it back with a hair band.

“Leave it down.”

She stared at him.” What’s it to you? ”

” It would dry quicker.” She knew he was right and managed a smile.

“Where do you want to go next?”

Home. Did she really say that? Obviously not because he was still smiling. He was being nice and trying so hard to please. Was she being terribly ungrateful, uncharitable and an absolute pain in the rear?

“Would you like something to eat?” She smiled trying hard to remember her manners.

He smiled back. “That’s better. I hardly recognise you.”

Despite herself she felt her lips curve into a smile and then a chuckle. He spun round and stared into her face.

“Was that a laugh or was I dreaming? ”

“ I do laugh sometimes you know.”

” I like it. It suits you.” They were walking through the crowds and some woman charged into her with her buggy. His hand slipped into hers as he dragged her out of the way of the Mother and Chariot, but he wouldn’t let her hand go.

“Thanks.” she grinned.

“Two smiles in one day and a laugh.” He commented. “I must be doing something right.”

She was silent as she soaked in the sun, the ambience of the day, the happy families and lovey dovey couples, the hum of the crowds. He was still holding her hand and he nodded in the direction of an elderly couple sitting on a park bench. Hands entwined, just enjoying the day and a lifetime of loving each other.

“That’s what I want one day you know.”

She laughed. ” You don’t strike me as the sort that wants marriage and 2.2 kids and a little house on the Prairie.” The elderly couple were engrossed in each other but looked up and smiled to them as they walked past.

Anton turned to her. ” What would it take to make you look at me like that? ”

Alicia looked at him and suddenly everything went quiet. He drew her closer to him, so close that his lips were closer to hers. This guy is going to kiss me. In front of everyone in this park. This guy is going to kiss me….. and I don’t even like him.  Isn’t he the office flirt? Tales of what had happened after the last Christmas party were still circulating.

She felt her stomach tighten as she snatched her hand away from his. Then she heard her name and turned round to find herself looking into the surprised eyes of her Head of Department at Church. Her husband and children were straggling behind.

” Hello.” It was a big smile as he reached out and shook Sister Susan’s hand. ” My name is Anton. Anton Walker.” Sister Susan looked at Alicia. Alicia looked at Anton and Anton just kept on smiling.



Ilusions of Hope – Excerpt from the Wiping Halima’s Tears Anthology


She had known Pat since they were in Form One. They had gone their separate ways afterwards but ended up working in the same school. The first time she saw her again she had marvelled at how Patricia, whose body used to be tattooed with eczema had now metamorphosed into this sophisticated beauty. She wore the latest clothes and had a rich Banker boyfriend who according to him, was unhappily married, with two children.

She had asked whether his wife minded.

Pat had just laughed. “How long have you been living in Lagos?”

“About six months.”

“Stick around. You will soon understand what life is about.

Click here to get the Anthology

An Excerpt from An acceptable Wife – Published in Brittle Paper


You see — as soon as I saw you approaching the house carrying all your load on your back like a tortoise, I knew that you had disgraced us in your husband’s house. Did I not train you to be an acceptable wife? The fire under plantains should not be too high, as it will turn black like charcoal. This is how to cook Moi Moi. This is how to put the pureed black-eyed peas into leaves and fold them into a pot so the steam can cook them into fluffy cakes.

Click here for the rest of the story

A Very Serious Matter

black-red-rose-flowers-34869888-758-635A Very Serious Matter




“Maybe you need to sit down, Ma?”


I stare at the tall young policeman. He has two big tribal marks that run down his face like big black tears but his voice is gentle. I think he is new in this job.

I am sinking. The room is spinning around me. The policeman tries to calm me down, as I prostrate myself across the blackened tiles of the police station’s floor, hands on my head as I begin to rock back and forward silently like someone in mourning. People are staring at me but I do not care.

Later on when they seat me in a chair I let myself think of you.

You were such a beautiful baby. A contented child and intelligent student. Such a loving, obedient and God-fearing daughter.


Yesterday, I had dreams of becoming the proud mother of a Doctor and saturating myself in the glory of having given birth to a child of such supreme intelligence. Voices would lower in respect when I approached. That is Mama Doctor. People would mention their ailments to me at parties and I would tell them not to worry as you would diagnose what their problem was.

Today my dream died.

The accident on the Lagos – Ibadan expressway, had caused a terrible Go – slow. It stretched along like a road, in a multicoloured collection of different vehicles, for hours.

My fingers clench tightly around the clasp of my handbag until they ache. The pain does not help. The Policeman said that the car was unrecognisable. That you both had to be pulled out from it. “Madam, there was blood everywhere.”

The car was headed for Lagos, two suitcases in the boot. They show me your pink overnight bag and point to another much larger one. Smooth black leather with the initials T W. It is the kind of suitcase that a man would carry.

He has been taken to the hospital too.

Security men in black suits are around and they lead us to a room. They ask us questions we cannot answer. They are joined by another man. A big man whose large drooping belly, strains against a jacket, weighed down by medals and commendations. He keeps shaking his head at us, as if we know more than we are telling him. The security men leave and are replaced by a policeman.

“An important man has been shot and is fighting for his life. Your daughter is found lying besides him in the car. I find out that she recently purchased a jeep with his card. His bank book was found in her bag with a drivers licence.”

I stare at the superintendents heavy jowls. They are shaking now, along with his head as he pounds the desk. I am shaking too, with disbelief.

You don’t even know how to drive.

He turns to your father. “Mr Oni. I am sure you understand the seriousness of this matter. I need you to co-operate and tell me everything you know.”

Your father sighs. “We have brought our child up as a studious, hard working God fearing young lady. I am perplexed myself as to what has happened here. She came home a few weeks ago. He puts his head in his hands. “I don’t know. I just don’t understand.”

The Superintendent points upstairs. “My boss, the Oga pata pata at the top, and the secret service people want me to send you people to Alagbon CID, pending further enquiries. This is a matter of national security. What do you want me to tell him?”

Your father throws his hands up in defeat, showing his palms. “Our hands are clean. We know nothing. We are just ordinary folk.”

The Superintendent signals to his sergeant, a small man whose uniform is several sizes too big for him. “Sergeant Innocent! Go and bring the case.”

Sergeant Innocent whose duty is to uphold the law and treat all suspects fairly until proven, to be not so innocent, has already judged and sentenced you. I can see it in the twist of his lips as he scurries to his boss’s side like an obedient child.

“Yes Sah! Which case Sah?”

His boss seems to glow from within. His eyes bulge out of his head. “The case that your mother brought here! What kind of a question is that? The case of the suspect of course.”

“Sorry Sah.” Innocent bows himself out of the room. Silence swallows us up and as we wait I hear steps echoing on the hard concrete floor.

He comes back with your pink travelling bag, which he presents with a dramatic flourish and opens it slowly, like a magician with a box of wonders and tricks, ready to tempt the imagination.

“Open it.” The Superintendent is waiting, eyes on our faces as if they would reveal the information our mouths refuse to deliver.

Innocent opens the bag, and brings out a red bra covered in black lace and matching panties with most of the area that was supposed to cover a woman’s decency, missing. It was like a rat had chewed at it and any hope I have – that this is a nightmare – that will end, the minute I wake up, dies a quick and brutal death. I remember the story I learnt in my secondary school days about a woman called Pandora who against advice, opened a box that brought calamity upon the world.

Innocence runs his hands over the clean neatly folded skinny jeans, which I brought for you last time I travelled to New York. They linger over the silk of a short red dress.

The quiet in the room is deafening.

Click to read the rest of this story

The Guest – A short story by Ola Awonubi

The Guest


Moisture covered everything – and just like the little beads of water running down the walls of the front room and the mildew forming dark spots on the carpet; it ran down my face into my mouth making me want to spit. My linen sleeveless blouse and jeans offered little protection and stuck against my skin

The door opened.

He wore a clean white vest and Sokoto; loose trousers made out of traditional cotton print. My father walked slowly now and was much thinner, his hair totally white but his eyes remained the same in that canvas stretched tight by living, his eyes youthful pools of light, searched mine for answers.

Your mother was dying…why didn’t you come?

“You look just like your mum.” He lowered himself onto a chair.

I had to swallow back another chunk of the past and felt it slide from my tongue into the pit of my stomach and I winced like a child after it had swallowed bitter medicine.

I knelt to greet him.   “Good afternoon, Father.”

“Welcome. How is your brother?” he held out a hand and I took it noting that his hands were hot and he was shaking as if he had a fever. Aunt Lizzy pressed a cool glass of water into my hands. We chatted about my work as a lawyer. We touched on the weather and the current state of the British Monarchy, which I knew he had keen interest in since his days as a student in England. Then I stopped, having run out of any more words to fill in the gap that years apart had widened.

I could hear the last words I had with him. Words oozed out of me like poison from a festering boil. He stood there with his new bride and told me to shut up but I had carried my mother’s burden for too long and now – all that needed to be said – had to be said and when I had finished, the room was silent except for my mother’s tears.

Click here to read the rest of story

Pests and Bookworms – An excerpt from my book ‘Love’s Persuasion’

She kept on typing hoping he would take the hint but he just stood there, rubbing his chin.

“Ada, Ada, why are you franking your face, eh? Is it a crime for a man to like a woman?”

You no dey shame. I am an employee here and you are a married man.” She shook her head.

He laughed at that. “That’s what I like about you. You are not the kind of girl that makes things easy for a man. You want me to really chase you and shower you with gifts.” He scratched his head. “I know you Nigerian girls – suppose I get you a nice gold necklace?”

Lola ignored him and kept on working.

He cocked his head to one side. “You just want to suffer eh? I heard you are trying to pay for your university course. I can pay that, one time. Put you up in a nice flat. Get you a little car?”

“I heard you are trying to pay for your university course. I can pay that one time. Put you up in a nice flat. Get you a little Ada stopped typing. “Please try and respect yourself, Mr Obi. You are old enough to be my dad. Let this be the first and the last of this kind of harassment – if not, I will have to report it to management.”

He shook his head and laughed and laughed, doubling over.

“Every woman has her price,” he said when he’d finally stopped laughing. He leaned over the desk and touched her face; she reared back – swatting his finger away. “Give me time. When I discover yours, I will get you,” he snapped a finger. “Just like that.”

Ada smelt the alcohol mixed with cigarette that clung to the man like a second skin and her stomach instinctively tightened in nausea. Then she felt her heart beat accelerate when she realised that she was alone in the office with a lecherous man who had been drinking. He had motive and now he had opportunity.

She was amazed at her how firm her voice sounded. “In your dreams.”

His eyes mocked hers. “ Eh? You have bewitched me Ada. Dreams can become true you know. Don’t make me go and see a Juju man to get you o.”

She heard him laugh once again and leave the room a bit unsteadily. When he left she shook her head and felt her heartbeats begin to return to normal.

He was now threatening her with Juju. It was a good job she didn’t believe in all that, but his words had certainly unnerved her. Maybe she should consider talking to somebody in Human Resources?

Then, the door opened again and all her irritation and anger erupted.

“Just go away and leave me alone!”

“Ada?” The voice was confused, a bit hesitant.

She turned round and saw it was Tony Okoli. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it.

Her heart was in her mouth. The last person she had expected to see. What had he seen? What had he heard?

“What was all that about?”

“I – I thought you were someone else,” she said, suddenly embarrassed.

He looked at her. “There is hardly anyone about.”

Mr Obi must have been quicker on his feet than she gave him credit for as he seemed to have disappeared. She tried to focus on the screen in front of her. “I’m fine.”

“I understand. Colleagues do that to you sometimes. I’ve worked with a few in the past, harbouring those kind of sentiments, sometimes.”

Ada found herself relaxing a bit and managed a smile. “Don’t mind me. I guess it’s been a long day.”

He looked at his watch. “Do you usually work this late?”

She nodded. “Sometimes.”

“Why is that?”

“I leave work early on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to make classes at University. So I clock out late to make up the time.”

He nodded. “Yes. I remember you told me you were studying for a degree part time at Unilag. Business and Finance Management – wasn’t it?”

“Yes”. Ada was surprised that he had remembered their conversation. He must have spoken to hundreds of people last Friday.

“That’s one of the things I would like to change around here – get more people working part time so they can improve themselves professionally. I know there are a few in the Personnel Department studying for their Nigerian Institute of Personnel Management Exam.”

“That would be really good.”

“I’m glad you think so.” He smiled then, looking down at her and Ada felt a bit self-conscious, then realised that he was looking at a book on her desk.

“You have great taste.”

She followed his gaze and picked up her copy of Half of a yellow Sun by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“You started reading it yet ?”

“I’ve read it twice.”

Ada nodded. “I think it is brilliant but then some might say we are biased. It is our story. I just love the attention to historical detail, the way she uses words, the characters and stories. It reminds me of all the stuff my parents told me about Biafra.”

He looked at her. “My parents hardly talk about it.”

She shrugged. “It’s always been controversial. People see it different ways – for some it was a part of history we are supposed to have moved on from.”

“I went searching for my history. It didn’t come looking for me.”

Want to know what happens to these two bookworms –  click on link below to find out!

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Love's persuasion        lagos_broad_street

The Kings Wife

african woman

Tonight again I find myself walking to your house. The moon hanging in the sky lights the way as I run through the bushes along the back paths, my feet heavy, beneath ground dampened by the night rain.  I wrap my cloth tighter around my head as I watch as the sun creep up out the morning’s mist, and knock on your door.

Your mouth drops open as you rub your eyes. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

I smile. “When did I need an invitation to visit?”

You blink. Twice. Like you are seeing a spirit. “Yesterday ……..”

“Yesterday when you saw me in the market I was tired from sleepless nights from feeding our son.”

You smile but your eyes are hard like black stones, just like your heart. “He is our son now eh?  This morning he was the Kings son.”

I smile. “I have thought about it. I am not an unreasonable person.  The King is old and as you said why choose an old bent tree to lean on when a new one full of sap and energy is much better.”  I smile back. “I have made my choice.

I watch the muscles standing like rocks tighten in your neck as you face me, smiling sheepishly.

“I really wasn’t going to tell the King about ……..”

I push my body close to you, feel you tremble. “I know you will never tell the King.”

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