Yellow Means Stay is a collection of enthralling, sad, humorous, and heart-touching love stories from across Africa and the black diaspora. It features new and award-winning writers from across the African continent and beyond. The stories are a dynamic blend of the poetic and narrative, the spousal and familial, the suggestive and explicit, the dramatic and measured, the straight and queer, the sad and humorous, the past and future, life and afterlife. Through its pages, readers enter the world of African literature, love, and romance.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
To bring together various voices and perspectives on love. The reader is taken on a journey through the plains of Africa and experiences love from a different lens.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters are representations of the everyday African who is in search of love. They cut across various cultures and nationalities.
The wedding procession was glamorous. There was the orchestral accompaniment of I Was Glad and rose petals strewn along the terrazzo floor by beautiful flower girls in front of the long bridal train. Angels were watching them walk the aisle too. No, not the aesthetic effigy of cherubs with unflappable wings engraved on the church walls, keeping silent watch over the Blessed Sacrament draped in white, purple, and red linen in the chancel. No. These were real angels—seraphs in their bright immensities, hovering over the celestial dome of the Assumpta Cathedral in Owerri—who, even now, took note of the echoing footfalls and recorded the symphonic rhythm of flustering hearts.
I knew they were real—the angels—because the demons were very much present too, awaiting impatiently the priest’s call when all seemed
The weird and the wired
solemn and settled, to witness the hallowed union of the two souls
about to tie the nuptial cord.
‘If anyone has any reasons why these two should not be joined in
holy matrimony, speak up now or forever remain silent.’
At first, the silence was breath-taking. Intense. Everyone held their
breath until the screeching of church pews and shuffling feet indicated
that someone was stepping forward. I was stepping forward. The
fragrance of very expensive perfumes wafted strongly along the aisle.
The muffled mutterings of a baffled congregation sound-tracked my
demonic defiance as I walked circumspectly up to the podium where
the priest waited with the now bewildered bride and her gloom-faced
groom. They’d both looked over their shoulders to see who it was
that’d decided to gatecrash their wedding. There was no mistaking the
fact. I was not invited.
‘Sonny, no,’ the bride mouthed at me, lips quivering, hands clutching
fervently at her bouquet of artificial flowers. But I knew I would not
stop. I never did the many quiet nights she cried and told me to. I didn’t
want to stop. Forever.
‘Mooma, you can’t marry this dimwit’ was all I could say when I
stood before the trio, giving Uzoh Ejike a vicious glare, daring him
to try anything stupid. He remained calm—too calm for a practising
barrister in his late thirties. He was her exact opposite: tall, darkskinned,
ugly. Judging by his black, bearded face, I was a maneless cub
confronting an adult lion.
It was not what I’d rehearsed to say. Even my deep baritone was lost
before the words were torn from my throat, and I knew I sounded
like a little boy who’d unwittingly bartered chocolates for bitter kola.
I should have started by calling her by name, Ijeoma—something I’d
34 never done—then tell her how much I wished to spend the rest of my life with her if only she’d waited a little longer for me to grow into a man, her man. But it didn’t matter what I said, wished, or wanted now. She dropped the bombshell again. This time, it hurt more to look into her teary eyes and hear her breathe those words to me.
‘Son, it’s over—whatever we thought we were doing. Uzoh knows we have a history. If you ever did feel anything for me, please save us the embarrassment of this moment and leave.’
She’d called me son, called us history, called what we’d shared a thing, and I couldn’t understand how easy it was to throw away eight amorous years of intimacy. It seemed like only yesterday when I was her little errand boy, her fondling. I was barely sixteen and helped at dad’s provision store at the Federal Polytechnic campus. She was studying for a Higher National Diploma in Computer Science and was the beautiful customer that filled my daydreams, the fairy of my fantasies the many nights I masturbated. I would visualise her fair smile, full lips, perky busts, and naked slender frame, whispering ‘Mooma, Mooma’ over and over again until I blew my load on my palms, stomach, thighs, bed, sofa, the tiled bathroom wall, anywhere the spurts found a home.
During the day, she would call to me from the balcony of her apartment opposite our shop and place her usual orders of packets of noodles, eggs, bread, beverages and, once, Always Ultra sanitary pad. I ran with these trophies, taking the stairs in twos until I stood at her door on the last floor of the two-storey building, breathless. They were cherished moments when I got to behold her cheery countenance and got a whiff of her raspberry body spray. They worked like pheromones on me, turned me on.
‘Sonny, did you have to run all the way? Who’s looking after the shop? Take them to the kitchen. Do you want some when I’m done
The weird and the wired
cooking? Do you want me to feed you?’ She would ask and whine and
tease and smile, and one day, she sat me on her laps (And was I not
bigger than her smallish frame?) and spoon-fed me, playfully at first,
until I was overcome by shyness at the mother-child role play.
‘Mooma, stop,’ I cooed. It was the first time I called her that aloud.
It sounded sublime. Smooth. Nothing like the usual ‘Aunty Ijeoma’
which sounded even more awkward when I became a freshman one
year later at the nearby Federal University of Technology.
She liked being called Mooma and wouldn’t cease to introduce me as
her son to female friends, roommates, potential dates and boyfriends—
anyone who cared to listen. The mum-son tag had an incestuous ring
to it that fed the fires of my fantasy, and I didn’t care who she told.
I had other worries. Her dates were becoming rather frequent, and
I feared that the day I would be replaced with someone closer and
dearer would come too soon. Those days did come, and we had our
cold wars and silent debacles. But they ended when she broke up with
them for ‘wanting sex and nothing else’, and then the weaker party
would sue for peace, and we’d go out on eating sprees to soothe our
It was during my second year that Uzoh Ejike came along and tried
to turn the tables around. He did turn the tables around. Mooma loved
him. Loved him so much to move to an apartment he rented for her
somewhere at the heart of the town, far away from school and me. It
meant war, and this time, I allowed the incommunicado that again set
on our platonic relationship to wear on for months until the evening
she called and said Uzoh had slapped her in bed.
I got to her apartment at the municipal as quickly as I could. The door
was not locked, so I let myself in. I found her in the misty bathroom,
sprawled in the soapy pool of a white bathtub. Warm water ran from
36 the faucet, as endless as the tears streaming down her reddened cheeks.
‘He left. I told him I was not ready yet,’ she said without formalities. She did not look up, and when she finally did, her eyes had a sullen distant look in them. ‘He paid mum’s hospital bills when she fell ill. He pays my fees, rent, takes care of me. I love him, but I do not understand why that is not enough. Why sex must be the recompense I must pay for the love and care he shows me. He said why should I call him boyfriend when I can’t let him touch me.’
She looked forlornly at me and clasped her wet arms around her breasts as though in sudden awareness of her nudity and my presence. ‘What’s with men and sex?’
I did not know. ‘You look beautiful in tears,’ I remarked. A teary chuckle escaped her throat, and she rolled her eyes. It was the first time I’d complimented her beauty, the first time I’d seen her astonishingly flawless nakedness. With such features as hers—curly hair, light skin—one would think her father was not Ibo or that the thick Enugu dialect of her maternal home was not inflected in her voice until you heard the liquid accent when she spoke.
‘Rapu m aka. Leave me alone.’
‘Please, don’t make me leave you again, Mooma.’ I was already enchanted by her olive-green eyes bespeaking of cats and witchcraft. Brows, half-bowed in stately grace, were half-concealed by strands of jet-black, mussy hair. The tub seeped with an Irish Spring of foamy seduction that sought to drown you steadily when your lip’s last hold was her taut nipples at ease on dark-brown areolas of fair velvety breasts hidden behind the lathery mask.
Unannounced, I unbuttoned my shirt and slipped out of my pants. She gasped when I freed my boner—hard twitching thing already dripping with precum. Her eyes darted about nervously, furtively, not
The weird and the wired
wanting to rest on the erection before her. I slid into the bath pool,
brimming with guts and desire. Gone was the boyish timidity that
looked away when she changed, that tremored when she asked for
help with her zip, that tensed when our bodies touched. This time, it
was her turn to be all of those shy, timorous things.
There was not enough room in the tub, so I sat astride her
outstretched laps, hands curled around her neck, holding her gaze.
‘Son, no. I’m afraid.’
Warm air rushed from her nostrils when she confessed her fears,
but it was too late. Our lips met in a crushing kiss, bodies entangling,
fingers tracing sensual courses over skin, tongues tasting, teeth biting
and teasing and nibbling, hip rocking and driving into hip, slowly at
first, then feverishly, breathlessly, when we could no more stifle the
moans of ecstasy which filled the timeless night.
Moments later, she swooned in my arms, quivering with orgasmic
relief. Her breaths came in quick, short rasps until they receded to
normalcy. She became silent. I knew she was rummaging through her
thoughts, seeking that point where all these became right or wrong. I
expected regret—the post-orgasmic depression that came from giving
in to lustful romance albeit unplanned—anything that would mean
that this was never going to happen again. Anything but the next thing
she said: ‘Take me to bed.’
The request came as a total surprise, and I didn’t think I’d heard her
clearly. I’d expected guilt even. Something to account for a pricked
conscience. She was dating.
‘I don’t know why I’m doing this. Just take me to bed,’ she repeated
and started to push me gently away. This time, her voice had a
commanding snag to it. I towelled off hurriedly and felt the arousing
impulses flood through my spine all over again.
38 In bed, when I finally slid into her, we had the rustiness of first-timers—the naivety of an eighteen-year-old and the inexperience of an older virgin girl. She was flustered I had the will to pull out when we both came. ‘Who said you could pour your jizz on my boobs?’ she sneered. ‘We can always have another bath.’ I winked conspiratorially and kissed her lips. We did it again in the shower. And again at midnight, until we learnt to pleasure ourselves in more explorative ways.
At first, I thought it was sheer rebellion—an act of wantonness to get back at Uzoh for slapping her and leaving for nothing—that made her choose to have sex with me. But then Uzoh came back, this time as a fiancé, and she forgave him but still refused him sex. But us, we did not stop.
‘I don’t know why I can’t refuse you,’ she said one November night, my birthday’s eve. ‘I find it hard to resist your tender lips, beautiful eyes softened by innocence, and muscles teeming with every coquettish guilt. You are like a bad habit I don’t wish to quit, my chocolate soldier.’
Sometimes, I felt jealous that I shared a part of Mooma’s heart with Uzoh, an infrequent visitor. She told me she felt the same way too when I started to keep girlfriends. I wondered if she told him about us because I never told Veronica or Adaugo or Omolayo. Sex with the others was nothing like with her. No cravings, no passion. I was always in control and I did not like to be in control. I loved to be tamed by Mooma’s ferocious vulgarity when she dominated me: ‘Eat my honeypot.’ ‘Suck my nipples.’ ‘Harder! Son, harder!’ So, each time, I grilled my guilt and ate it. We were not cheating. It’s not called cheating until you’re caught, right? And we left our relationship at what it had become at best, a secret affair.
By my final year in the university, she was working with the Union Bank branch at Okigwe. Our bedding skills were honed by numerous
The weird and the wired
nights spent on porn sites together when she came back from work.
It was obvious we couldn’t get enough of each other, as true as the
fact that we would never get married. ‘You can’t stand it when I love
you wholly, Son. You will die from the excessiveness of my undying
love,’ she said, but I did not understand. Never tried to. She was six
years older than me; the age difference became a number we hoped to
make up for in the bouts of sex we had each time—on the couch in
her sitting room, on the fourteen-inch bed in my self-contained room
at school, in the bathroom.
‘Son, I’m afraid one day we’ll both find ourselves in my husband’s
house,’ Mooma intuited one rainy night in bed, and we laughed it
off—a kinky laughter hollowed out of fantastical delight and filled
with the saddening realisation that she was getting married soon. I
was sad that I would watch her from the sidelines tie those knots with
another man, and her affections for me would fade into obscurity.
‘Promise me you’ll not invite me to your wedding, Mooma.’ I was
being serious and she looked at me with unbelieving eyes. ‘It would kill
me to watch you . . .’ I trailed off. Her smooth palms drew me closer
and wordlessly wiped my cheeks. One year later, during my National
Youth Service, she’d kept that promise. That day was today. I was not
invited. I couldn’t stay away.
‘If you ever touch her, I am going to kill you.’ I looked squarely at
Uzoh Ejike, the lucky lawyer. His blue tuxedo fit his manly frame. I
had no reasons not to let them wed, save for my insatiable sex drive
and undefined infatuation for Mooma’s dominant sensuality. Heaven
would not heed these twisted reasons. I was barely twenty-four and not
even ready—won’t be for the next couple of years.
When I finally left the church auditorium, I was not oblivious to the
numerous disenchanted eyes that bored holes through my back as I
40 half-walked, half-ran down the aisle. The priest’s husky voice declared my defeat: ‘I now proclaim you man and wife. You may now kiss.’
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