14 November 2010

The Rod and the Angel by Kenechukwu Obi

She placed the rod whose size was that of a school pencil in Justin’s hands. Justin was kneeling down with her eyes closed, and her hands extended towards heaven. She had come to Justin looking sleek. Her blond hair stretched down her shoulders. Clad in white gown, long enough that her toes never showed. She was black, and her face carried a broad smile as she looked at Justin in the face. She stood tall and very pretty. Her well set teeth were white like snow. Her eyes were radiating gladness.

Justin felt the rod and gently opened her eyes to behold it glinting in her hands. She looked around and saw the black blond. Justin had never seen a black blond before, so she got struck by huge surprise at once. Her mouth agape, as she marvelled at the wonder that stood before her.

Justin began to look around again. She could see her bed, blanket and pillow. Everything her room had ever contained was intact. But, where did the black blond come from? Justin had two sisters. Blonds though, but she knew quite well they were no black blondes. She finally returned from her wondering journey and took a look again at who stood before her, still smiling.

“Go ahead,” said the black blond to Justin. “You now have it.”

“What is this?” Justin looked at the rod rested in her hands and asked.

“Your wand.”

“Go ahead, Justin. You’ve been taken care of.” Justin was shocked to learn that the blond knew her name.

“Who told you my name?”

“Never mind.”

“And what’s your name?”


“Well, Cookie,” Justin uttered, giggled a little, still wondering what was all happening. “Thanks, Cookie... but... well, I don’t understand. This rod. What...”

“Go ahead now and do what you’ve asked for, Justin.”

“What do I do with this?”

“Exactly what you asked for in your prayers. So long, Justin.”

Cookie turned and began to walk away, and she was gone the next moment. Justin’s attention was now fully drawn to the rod in her hands.

Starring at it intensely, still very much unaware of what it was for, or all about.
It was early in the morning, seven o'clock to be specific, in the home of Mr. Sam Jones and Miss Kumbe. Their daughters Jucy and Jeff, twenty and twenty one years old respectively, were already up and setting the table for a special traditional breakfast, the New Year breakfast of the Jones's. Justin had always participated fully in the special breakfast, but it could not be said for sure that she was into it. Everyone in the family had always suspected she couldn't care less.

Tea cups on saucers, sugar, cream, jugs, spoons, and knives were already on the breakfast table. Peanut butter, bread, strawberry jam and coffee were not missing. Bunches of banana and grape had taken their positions as well. The table had become one big food display that would make anybody starving to salivate for a century.

“Good morning, Dad,” Jeff and Jucy greeted their father together, showing much excitement. Wide smiles on their faces.

“Hello, my lovely daughters. Good morning.” Mr. Jones's response arrived quickly.

“Happy new year,” Jeff and Jucy said.

“Oh happy New Year, my girls.” Mr. Jones hugged his daughters with all gladness and took his seat. Miss Kumbe soon walked out of her room towards the table.

“Hello, Happy new year,” Jeff, Jucy and Mr. Jones looked in her direction said together, before laughing and Miss kumbe broke into a wide smile.

“I love you all, happy new year,” she said before exchanging hugs, after which she took her seat. All then awaited Justin’s presence. The clock in the living room kept ticking away and still no Justin emerged. They all became anxious.

“What is Justin doing?”

“I don’t know.”

“She seems to have forgotten today is New Year's day?”

“Oh, no she has to be here.”

“Come on Jeff, go and check on her,” said Mr. Jones. Jeff was just getting to her feet when Justin’s presence sounded.

“She’s here Dad,” Jeff said and sat down at once. Everyone looked in the direction of the door that led to Justin’s room. There she stood throwing glances around around as if she had lost something. She was looking to see if she would see Cookie, but Cookie was no where to be seen.

“Justin, what are you looking for?” Miss Kumbe said. “Come on!”

“Happy new year, Justin,” Mr. Jones and his daughters said, all smiling.

“Yes,” replied Justin with a smile too. “It’s new year morning.” She walked briskly to the table and took time to exchange hugs with her parents and sisters before sitting down.

The atmosphere that pervaded was one rented by excitement as in previous years. And today, January first, Twenty fifty, wasn't any different. Mr. Jones first led his family in prayers. He asked for God’s mercies and favours to shower on his household like a cascade of water from a waterfall. All paid attention to Mr. Jones prayer, except Justin. Her mind had drifted away the moment she sat down. She could not stop wondering where Cookie had gone. The rod as well, was too intriguing to stay off her mind. Her mind was busy trying to work out what it all meant. Then it came to the part for everyone to voice their wishes after Mr. Jones’s prayers.

“Year twenty fifty. I will work to have a home where more love abides,” Mr. Jones said first.

“Peace and prosperity here, one happy home. There it is. My twenty fifty wish.” said Miss Kumbe next.

“Long life for us all,” said Jeff.

“In this year twenty fifty. I wish my sister Justin to start thinking right,” Jucy chipped in. Then it was Justin’s turn. Her parents and sisters were watching and waiting. Justin’s eyes were on the bunch of grapes on the table.

“What are you looking at, Justin?” Mr. Jones snarled when he had lost his patience. “I can bet with my whole life that you’ve seen grapes before. So stop starring at them.”

“The rod,” Justin said after being jolted from the journey of his wandering thoughts.

“What is that?” Miss Kumbe responded, obviously dismayed. “Oh... my daughter, when are you going to stop talking silly?”

“Sorry, Mum,” Justin said and smiled a little to put them at ease.

“Now talk, Justin,” said Mr. Jones. “Stop wasting time. This breakfast must not get cold.”

“Twenty fifty,” Justin began as the rest paid rapt attention. “Who has seen the wind?”

“Neither you nor I,” said Jucy.

“Justin, stop talking nonsense,” Jeff waded in. “Keep to the point.” Her patience had totally waned. Justin continued with another question. “Who has seen all the wishes? Yes! Twenty fifty! I want to see all I wish!”

“Nonsense,” Mr. Jones thundered.

“Justin, are you crazy?” Miss kumbe asked. “You’re nineteen. Stop those silly talks! Don’t mess up this breakfast! What’s the matter with you? Stay off drugs! I think it’s time to invite a psychiatrist to have your head examined!”

Discontentment fuelled by waned patience had set in. Everyone was fed up with Justin and her utterances. Anger was alive with so much temper already lost. The possibility of a breakfast not taken, becoming real, as everyone continued to make utterances that meant nothing else but the fact that they wondered if Justin had gone crazy. Mr. Jones got to his feet, storming to the phone, to get in touch with a mental hospital only one mile away. The breakfast tradition was crumbling now, as all but Justin was railing and walking away from the breakfast table.

Justin felt bad. She didn’t want to be the reason why the breakfast would not hold in twenty fifty. She didn’t know what to do. She wished the situation would reverse itself. She was scared to see chaos disrupting the place she had as home. The thing she did not want was for her father to reach the phone. Her attention was drawn to the rod in her pocket. She thought she had lost it. She quickly reached into her pocket, felt it, and brought it beneath the table. Justin observed the rod, which suddenly glinted more than she had seen it do before. The rod became bright, so bright that Justin couldn’t sustain her glare on it.Three seconds later, Justin gently opened her eyes. And her father was no longer going to the phone. No more screams, no more railing. She was now seated with her parents and sisters, eating peacefully, just as they had done in previous New Year's days.

Her thoughts ran to and fro after the breakfast. She had now returned to the solitude of her room. What was that? Justin thought, while sitting on her bed. What happened? One moment, Jeff, Jucy, Dad and Mum were all storming away. Then next, we were all eating peacefully as if nothing ever happened. What happened? Justin kept wondering. Her mind came up with many different suggestions as to what happened, but none made sense. None was slightly close to yielding even little explanations as to what brought the breakfast back on track. Justin emerged from her confusion to heave a sigh of resignation. “Who on earth can tell me what happened,” she said in a whisper. Cookie open the door, but did not enter this time, and stood by the door.

“Cookie,”Justin called gently, ‘what are you doing here?’

“Hope you had fun,” said Cookie with a smile.

“I don’t get it. What fun?”

“I mean with your rod.”

“What is the rod for?”

“Have fun, Justin. Bye...” Cookie left and shot the door behind.

Justin ran after her. “Wait,” Justin screamed. “Who are you?” Justin got to the door and opened it. She saw her father and mother kissing and hugging. Jeff and Jucy having a gist and laughing. The only cat in the house sleeping under the breakfast table. Cookie however, was nowhere to be seen.

Justin shut the door and went back to sit on her bed. Her mind busy once again, wondering. Cookie talked about having fun. With the rod in my pocket? What is the meaning of that? Thoughts ran riot in Justin’s mind. How can one have fun with a rod that can shine so bright? Oh! I get it now. I now know it. What I know is that Cookie must be crazy. No she probably is not. I don’t know. But the rod? Somehow it got back our breakfast.

Justin dipped her right hand into her pocket and did not feel the rod. Where is it? She knew she had put the rod in her pocket. But where was it now? Her right hand slid into her pocket again, and the rod still wasn’t there. “Cookie, did you take the rod?” Justin whispered, “you took your rod back?” A thought then stumbled upon her mind. A thought faint on impact that got Justin to see a reason to act on it. The thought told Justin to reach into the right pocket of her jeans with her left hand. She did, and the rod was right there glinting as usual. Justin took it in her left hand and went to sit on her bed again. So she had learnt the very first thing about the rod.

There was nothing else in the whole wide world she wanted to understand more than the rod. “What are you for?” Justin whispered to the rod. She knew she was going to get no answer, so she didn’t bother to ask further.

Justin turned on her TV. It was Oprah Winfrey doing her thing. Her guest was a man. He was a man whose fan base was extending in leaps and bounds throughout America for he could fart more than ten thousand times a day. And he was right there in the show demonstrating it. He had only cracked it off ten times, and people in the audience were already chocking with what smelt like rotten eggs, and the vibrations seemed about to blow off the studio roof.

“Stop it now,” Oprah said to the farting man. She had a gas mask on now. Smart move. She realised early on that what her guest issued was capable of corroding one’s entire respiratory tract. “Stop it now!” Oprah commanded in a shrill tone. “Before your own hurricane Katrina rocks the whole of America this time.” Her studio audience was in great danger now. Oprah knew it. She loved her audience. Of course she loved them so much that she ran out, returned with gas masks, which she began to throw them in their direction.

Justin wasn’t pleased at all with the idea of one man polluting a studio as renowned as that of Oprah. A frown came on her face. She wished the show would begin to feature something else. The man on the Oprah show had detonated ‘bombs’ from his buttocks for the twentieth time now, and the whole studio as rowdy as a battle scene. Lack of interest drew Justin’s attention to the rod again. her stare traversed its whole length. In a time much shorter than the twinkle of an eye, the rod yielded a very bright illumination that forced Justin to shut her eyes quickly. The light rose and made for the TV and emptied into the screen. Justin opened her eyes to see the rod just glinting in her hands once more.

“Justin! Justin,” called out Mr. Jones’s who had been passing by her room.

“Yes, Dad.”

“Did you see lightning?”

“No, Dad.” Mr. Jones was sure he saw one, and only wanted to hear from Justin for confirmation. He wasn’t now sure.

“Well, I thought... what then did I see? It flashed and no thunder followed.”

“Thunder and lightning go together, Dad.”

“You’re right. Sorry for my coming this way. I think old age is catching up with me. How are you doing, my young girl?”

“I’m good.”

“And what the hell are you holding in your left hand?”

“A rod,” Justin answered.

“What rod? I see nothing. You had better stop acting crazy. I want to believe you’re not about to learn how to get so high on Indian hemp!” Mr. Jones left and banged her door shut behind him.

Thunderous laughter erupted from the direction of the TV. Oprah’s show now had a new thing. A new guest. A new man. A new very fat man sitting beside Oprah, on his way to eating several tons of fried turkey. His name was Eat, eat and eat. Eat, eat and eat was renowned throughout America for literally eating his way from skin and bones as unknown Texas boy to becoming America’s heaviest man. His chest would say he was female, for his breasts had bulged out so much. So massive they looked like they would feed a thousand babies at a time. No woman in America, even in the whole world, with fat breasts, would dare to think of competing with Eat, eat and eat in any fat breasts contest. Dangling pair of mammary structures that made America believe he was awesome, for no bra would contain it. So nice for national geographic sort of display. A monument so unbelievable that it would make tourists pour into America from all over the globe.

Justin laughed as she watched Eat, eat and eat, do his thing naked before Oprah. No clothes could contain the ‘elephant’ any more. The crème of American designers had run out of options that would clothe the man. The world’s biggest potential supplier of body fat.

Something struck Justin’s mind and she stopped laughing, her attention on the screen. Justin was thinking now, trying hard to link up some things. Something had happened. She knew it. But what? Justin thought further. The TV, the rod. No. The rod, the TV. No. The Eat and eat man, the TV, the rod. “This is useless,” Justin snarled out of frustration. Then it came to her at last. The link had come. The rod, the TV, then Eat, eat and eat.

The Oprah show had become as Justin had wished. Eat, eat and eat was exactly the kind of man and character Justin had wished to see on the Oprah Winfrey show. He didn’t appear on the show immediately Justin had wished it. Justin began to see him on the screen after starring at the rod. She now remembered the breakfast incident. Therefore the rod must have had something to do with them, Justin concluded, getting more excited about the rod now, knowing for sure that there must be more to it. A smile full of the growing pleasure of discovery flickered on her face. She was not about to stop now.

“Having fun now?” asked Cookie from behind her shoulder.

“Just on my way.”

“Are you going to think of stopping now?”

“For what? No way!”

“Consider giving the rod back to me.”

“Are you crazy? No way! But who are you, Cookie?”

“That shouldn’t be in the list of what matters to you now, should it?”

“Who are you?” Justin screamed.

“The one who got you the rod.”

“I already know that. I need to know more.”

“That would be of no use to you now. You have the rod, Justin. It’s fun using it, isn’t it?”


“Then go ahead as you please.”

“But you can’t be popping in and out, stalking me, without letting me know who you are.”

“Justin, do you know that time does work to clarify all things?”

“Yeah. Sure. I know, and I understand that. But-”.

“Then let time go to work.”

Cookie left fast, slamming the door behind her. Justin knew it was utterly useless to run after Cookie.

Justin got up to go to the fridge for a drink, and while she was drinking her attention was caught by the presence of her parents in a corner in the sitting room. They were holding hands, smiling and whispering into each other’s ears. It was as if they were once again very young lovers savouring the newness and freshness of their romance.

Justin stopped drinking, watched her parents for a while, and suddenly was hit by the thought of how she came to be. She knew for sure that sex started it all but wished to see more. So she left the rest of her drink and stormed back to her room for the rod. When she stared at it, illumination blinded her vision for a while as usual. And when she could open her eyes, she saw that time had gone back to the very moment she was made. The very coital act that yielded Justin, replayed right before her eyes, in her room. It proceeded from the beginning to the end, with all the moans, the whisperings born by coital pleasure, and all the peaks.

Justin laughed and felt good that she could see the past with the rod as well, just by wishing it. Many ideas of what to do with the rod were rushing into her mind now. Her excitement enlarged and took up the massive size of the entire United States. But she knew she had to take time off her excitement and articulate her ideas, getting them ready for execution, one after the other.

By the time Justin, with the aid of the rod, unleashed the first item in a repertoire that emerged to contain her plans, the business of print publication and its associate, the electronic media were never the same again. Readers and viewers were introduced into contents they never believed their favourite media houses would ever churn out in their lifetime. These media houses had an international readership. So it was not uncommon to see people having problems with them. Justin laughed so much. She was extremely excited to see people grumbling and wondering what had gone wrong, faces on which disappointment was as massive as the size of the Amazon jungle. Some even took time out to laugh, with their mouths as wide as that of a billboard, in spite of the new look products of their favourite media houses had taken up.

“What is this?” Thousands of questions like this were echoing.

“What is wrong with CNN?”

“Look at the Time Magazine! It’s now a crazy stuff!”

“CBS and Newsweek too!”

“The Economist is no longer talking business and economic matters!”

“The New York Times and the Washington Post are now something else!”

“What the hell is going on?”

“I saw Fox News the other day and all it left me doing was to salivate and hop off to Las Vegas in search of whores.”

“Wow! Damn! Did you see those pictures?”

“Of course! That’s all they show on their pages and screens now.”

“All sorts of healthy looking succulent flesh.”

It went on like this. And Justin almost laughed her head off for turning the contents of these media products into places where pornographic acts were rampant in living colours.

Justin saw Cookie the next day, standing by the door in her room. Justin was seated on her bed. She saw Cookie smile. Justin had not yet rested her quest to uncover Cookie’s identity.

“You’re yet to tell me who you are,” she said to Cookie, who said nothing in response and just smiled.

“You can do virtually anything you wish with the rod, isn’t it?” Cookie asked.

“Yes.” Cookie then went ahead to tell Justin the rod was a way of showing her, that right inside her were all good qualities she needed to achieve anything she wanted. Justin was getting more confused now. “You have all it takes to achieve anything you set your mind on,” Cookie further said. Justin quickly scratched her head in confusion.

“What are you talking about?” She screamed in her deepening confusion. What she needed now were clear-cut answers to satisfy her yearnings. However, Cookie was not about to do that. She gave Justin a book in response. Justin accepted the book, wondering why Cookie had brought it.

“What is this?”

“A book.”

“I know it’s a book. What is it for? What am I to do with it?”

“Anyone can bring change.”

“What change?” When Justin looked at the cover of the book, she discovered that the book’s title was ANYONE CAN BRING CHANGE, as Cookie had said. Justin then looked up to Cookie for explanations. She wanted to ask questions. Plenty of questions.

“You’re the leader of your country,” Cookie spoke before Justin could speak further.

“Nonsense!” Justin screamed.

“You’re much more than that, Justin.”

“No!” Justin kept screaming.

“Change comes to those who think it and aspire to make it happen.”

“Who are you?”

Cookie had gone away in her usual manner even before Justin could completely voice her question. She had left Justin a book written by a late famous author whose name was Jack Cucumber. The title of Jack’s novel had caused much controversy and debate. Many critics dismissed it as mere amusing title without a place in reality. They simply didn’t believe anyone can bring change. “Perhaps only in a fairy world,” were the words of one critic. “Change is one constant thing we all have to grapple with in life, but not anyone can make it happen. No! I totally disagree with Jack’s title,” were the words of another critic. Scathing reviews and comments deluged Jack’s title but they could do nothing to stop it. It climbed to the very top of the New Times bestsellers list.

Justin looked at the book in her right hand and randomly selected a page to look at. And a voice came to her hearing before her eyes could see one word. It was the voice of Jack Cucumber. It came aloud and read a portion of the page already opened by Justin.

“Bringing significant change is not for the faint of hearts. You must be fearless and ready to step on toes to bring far-reaching change. You may try things that may fail, but don’t ever give up. Don’t let anything or anyone define your limit because of where you come from. Your only limit is you.”

Justin looked up from the book as soon as the voice of Jack Cucumber had faded away. She then saw Cookie again, standing right in front of her. Cookie began heading for the door once again.

“Who are you?” Justin screamed and stood up, watching Cookie as she reached the door.

“What do you think?” Cookie said with a smile.

“Tell me who you’re.” Justin threw the book on her bed.

“Call me angel of possibilities.”

Justin ran after Cookie at once, and rammed into the door with her head, and sprawled to the floor in pain. She soon began to laugh at her folly, her voice quickly gaining crescendo. She was laughing on her bed now.

Then her eyes opened. There was sweat all over her face. Justin had been sleeping in her room, but in Nigeria. Her mother left Nigeria for the United States in search of a better life. But she ended up in the streets of Las Vegas when her high expectations of financial success proved elusive. Survival became so tough that she had to resort to selling intimacies to men for the United States dollar. She met Justin’s father on the job. They started living together, and had three children with time, without actually getting married. Justin’s mother known as Kumbe, however, returned to Nigeria with only Justin, when her relationship with Mr. Jones became sour. It was only Justin that opted to follow her mother back to Nigeria to start life anew.

Justin lay on her bed and pondered her vivid dream. She found her encounter with Cookie and the rod particularly striking and informative. She was inspired not to let her background determine her destiny. She became fully determined to work and make something great become her future. “If Barrack Obama could dust off his funny background and make it to the White House, I can make change come as well,” Justin said. She began to believe that becoming the President of Nigeria was something she would accomplish someday and bring about badly needed change. But only one thing was all she didn’t have yet. Jack cucumber’s book! She had to read it! Justin then got out of bed. Her destination was the next book available store.

The Rod and Angel was written by Kenechukwu Obi.

Copyright © Kenechukwu Obi 2010.

I am a Nigerian writer of the Igbo extraction. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where I attended Pedro Primary School. I attended Nnewi High School, in Anambra State of Nigeria, from where I proceeded for further studies and obtained a degree in Crop Science at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.

My very early writings started in my high school days and soon after leaving high school, I wrote a number of articles in 1991 on the Gulf war, published by the now defunct Daily Star newspaper, then based in Enugu, Nigeria.
My works now include novels, plays for the stage and radio, short stories, poetry collections and children’s stories.

Some of my short stories have been published online, in magazines (including The New Black Magazine and Echoes of Tomorrow Magazine) and in anthologies. Some of my poems have also been published in anthologies as well as magazines and online.

I am one of many Nigerian poets recognized in 2009 (June 3rd) by the Cultural Department of the Italian Embassy in Nigeria.

I am also a lyricist and the author of the novel entitled A Bond That Crumbled Tradition, available at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.co.jp, amazon.de, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, abebooks.com, lulu.com and many other leading online book stores worldwide.

I worked with Simon Brett in Enugu, Nigeria from the 31st of March through 4th April 2008, to create a short story (Who’s Better off Now?) for radio broadcast, during a Radiophonics workshop. Radiophonics is the African new writing initiative of the British Council, and Simon Brett is a renowned British Crime Writer, Playwright, Broadcaster and Former staff of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

I still write prolifically and envision exposing my works internationally. I am willing to work with honest, dedicated and focused professionals and organizations that are inspired to add value to my writing career by tapping into my reservoir of creative talents for the benefit of the creative industry.

Email Address: kencel65@gmail.com


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