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Night is my Companion: Fiction by Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

night lights
Photo by Thong Vo on Unsplash

Before I begin telling you how I survive in this town, I want to make a few things clear to you. We all know that in a day, there are three phases— morning, afternoon and night. And I am quite sure you are aware of morning and afternoon being tagged one. Night is on its own like a loner. It is morning and afternoon against night. Knowing that, you should also know that night which is part of a day is not regarded by most people as part of a day. People normally zero the three phases—morning, afternoon and night—as day and night. In this way, they make day longer than night. In the same sense, day takes up more hours than night. Maybe it is a sign that people should work more and rest less; that is to say people should work more than they rest. Unfair as this may sound, it is the fact.

But I rest more than I work because my job starts at eleven p.m. till six a.m. This my job is a night thing, and that is why I must say to you that night is my companion for without it, I wouldn’t be eating or drinking or paying rent or buying clothes or giving you some money when you ask or even sending money back home. Without night, I wouldn’t be living in this town. This town we are in bubbles at night. Night is its core and life. What you see in the day is a glimpse of what happens in the night. Night is the belly of this town and I will tell you how.

First, you should know that —to me —there is nothing beautiful as this town at night.  At night, everywhere is perfectly lit. At night, every corner of this town is filled with people, activities, exchanges, transactions, fun, pleasure, laughter, and noise. You hear music blaring from movie stores, cars honking loudly, people calling other people on top of their voices; and you also hear voices of night commuters, night travellers, night hawkers, night children, and night anything. At night, clubs are filled; people go there to have fun or to empty the worries they had gathered in the day. There you also find people whom you have never seen smiling at you each time you make eye contact with them as if you have known them for years— an old way of meeting. At night, bars are filled— there you find people who soak their sorrows with beers and wine and meat, and listen to karaoke to assure them that the following day will be better. Movie theatres are filled as well, there most people— especially lovers—wake up their emotions and feelings to purge them at last. What about the eateries, the night stores, the car parks, the night markets… They all give life to people in this town at night.

I must tell you one thing about night in this town which you don’t care to know and recognize— do you know that almost all the people living here war in the night? Please don’t look at me in that way. The war I mean is sex. I prefer to call it war, that is to say night war between lovers or non-lovers or strangers. Hotels, motels, bedrooms, sitting rooms, rooms, toilets, bathrooms, corridors, under the beds or trees, dark corners… are the war zones. And don’t forget to add rape to the war thing.

Night in this town has a lot of lives to it. I don’t want to talk about the night thieves because they take night to mean what I can’t explain at all. Well, have you ever walked any night with all streetlights on like you see in the movies?

You see, that was why I made sure you leave that forsaken village for this town yesterday.

That is by the way. When you walk the night with all the streetlights on, you definitely will marvel at its beauty and splendour and exquisiteness and gloriousness. Those billboards, signboards, notices, caveats you see unattractively during the day are so pretty and magnificent in the night. They are decoratively and sexily lit. In the night, when all streetlights are on like in this town you will understand that most people walking it are mostly lovers or non-lovers locked in arms; are mostly people looking for chances to steal; are mostly people heading home after work; are mostly people which I am part of coming out for job; are mostly people seeking places to buy food; are mostly people waiting for other people to be off the streets so they can find a place to sleep; are mostly people who just want to walk the night…

Oh! I am sorry for deviating. You come asking me how I survive in this town. I will surely tell you right away. I will say it is a story about how night became my companion. I will be brief because long talks bore me. But you must promise that it is going to be between us, just between the both of us. Promise! Promise! That’s better. I wouldn’t take much of your time. What I am about to tell you is as old and familiar.

Well, just like you, my problem started when I had nothing— before night became my companion— this town sucked me dry and gave me no hope. There was no job, and the ones I managed to secure didn’t pay well. I had no place to sleep then. I jumped from one friend’s house to another till I discovered night through not-a-close-friend. One funny thing about those jobs I managed to secure—which were day jobs— was that most managers of the jobs were males and they always demanded sex. They demanded it all the time as if it was part of the job. I had no choice but to quit those jobs. It was very difficult for me then but now I am happy and living well. I have no regrets, not even one.

You see, the night became my companion after my not-a-close-friend had told me that I shouldn’t allow my beauty and body to waste. She explained that my beauty and body were given to me for a reason and should be used as I deemed fit. At first I didn’t understand her. But after much explanation, I understood the meaning behind the meaning of her words to mean that I become a night worker and satisfy clients whether man or woman.

That night, she got me two of her clients. I found it very shameful… Let’s jump this part because I can’t find the right words to explain how I felt that night, but then I became used to it. I started handling up to three clients except on special occasions when I was booked all through the night. Since then I started keeping night things with the night. That was how I made night my companion up till now.

Please stop staring at me in that manner. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel like a sin.

That’s better. I am sorry for being so direct.

Now that you know how I survive in this town, will you stop asking me for money and make night your companion too?

Ok. You have all the time to make up your mind. But remember you don’t have to be ashamed. It is fine to be shy at first but definitely, you will get used to it. It is the fact. I am going to get you two of my clients in the night of the day you make up your mind. Also remember it is best looking catchy and sexy and demanding doing this job. Don’t forget that this town we are in bubbles in the night and you must always keep night things with the night to survive the day.

You can leave now, Nancy. I have to sleep.


Photo by Thong Vo on Unsplash

Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto
Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto
Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (@ChinuaEzenwa) is from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria and a lover of literature. He has won the Mazariyya ANA Teen Poetry Prize of the Association of Nigerian Authors, 2009; Speak to the Heart, Inc. Poetry Competition, 2016. He became a runner-up in Etisalat Prize for Literature, Flash fiction, 2014 with I Saved My Marriage. Recently, he won the Castello di Duino Poesia Prize for an unpublished poem, 2018. And some of his works have appeared in Lunaris Review, AFREADA, Kalahari Review, Praxismagazine, The Rising Phoenix Review and Raffish Magazine.


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