Chicken by Emmaline Elvis


This isn’t a story about love or heartbreak or even trust.


This is a story about hate.

Will it be too much for you handle? I don’t know. It isn’t for me so I’m feeling the need to tell you.

Also I don’t know how to keep my mouth shut.

You’re probably wondering who I hate and why I have to let you know. Well it’s very obvious and if you’re still racking your brain on who, I’ll save you the trouble and just tell you.

It’s me.

Yes. I hate me. Even more than I hate mud on my slippers, and that is the biggest thing I hate in this world.

‘Why do you hate yourself?’ I’m guessing that’s the question you’re asking me.

I’ll tell you in a second. Chill.

Let’s talk. Let’s have a conversation.

My name is Jasmine Oluwabidemi. What’s yours?

That’s a unique name. I’m sure a lot of Nigerians have that same name.

Oh what I do? I’m doing my NYSC service in one of the biggest oil company in the country, Shell.

How old are you? I’m 24.

My CGPA keh? Ah me I cannot tell you that one oh.

Okay I think that’s enough getting to know one another. You have off me already.

No I’m not angry. I’m still going to tell you why I hate myself. Isn’t that why you’re still here?

Now, the reason why I hate myself is because, dramatic pause for a better effect, I chickened out on committing suicide.

I’ll wait for you to widen your eyes and stare at me with horror.

You’re done? Okay.

Before you call Yaba Left on me, let me explain.

My parents Mr and Mrs Oluwabidemi are what the Americans would call extremist parents but to an average Nigerian, they are good parents.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve always had a book to my face where I would read for tests and exams. And it didn’t help that the schools my parents put me and my siblings in always had welcome tests.

Oh you’ve never had welcome tests? Well allow me to explain what they are to you. You see during the end of the term holidays, when some schools are sending their pupils and students home to rest after reading social studies and mathematics and such, the schools I went to gave us books to read. Not novels or whatever you want to call them but actual school books. We were given topics on our subjects to read and then we would be tested on what we read when we resume.

I’ve been doing that since I was 6.

Don’t give me that sad look, it’s all in the past.

My parents, because they didn’t want us to be punished for failing the tests, would teach my siblings and I (and by that I mean ask us questions and if we fail it, we get flogged) and ensure we knew it.

And we never failed.

I never failed. Till I entered SS1

My first failure was when I got my junior WAEC result. I had 4 Cs and the rest were pass except for yoruba that was an F.

I remember going home with shaky hands, my result hidden in my maths textbook incase my mom decided to check my bag for anything that didn’t belong in our house. That result definitely didn’t.

I knew I was punished and I have never felt my heart beat that fast before. Luckily for me, one of my mom’s sister from Calabar came to see us and my parents never raise their hands on us when we have visitors so I thought it would be a good time to tell them.

“Mummy, my waec result is out.” I remember blurting out during dinner.

“Really? That’s nice. What were your grades?”

“4 Cs, 8 Passes and an F in Yoruba.”

“Ahn ahn. That’s good oh,” my aunty says. “Junior WAEC is very hard.”

My mom hums in agreement.

Long story short, I forgot my aunty was leaving our house the next day very early in the morning and by the time she had left, my parents woke me up with a belt on my back and they didn’t stop till my sisters screamed that they saw blood on my bed.

So yeah, traumatizing.

And I’ve been failing ever since. But I wouldn’t say failing. More like not meeting my parent’s’ expectations, which gave me a massive headache and huge insecurity by the way.

I barely passed WAEC and my 220 in JAMB was not good enough for them.

But I took an involuntary gap year because my parents wanted me to write JAMB again.

So while my sisters were going to school, I was at home reading.

I did nothing but that.

It was exhausting and when I take my phone to respond to my friends, my mom always chose that exact moment to check up on me.

“You are always on your phone you this girl. Read because I will not beg for you to go to school.”

‘Then maybe I don’t want to go school.’ I would always think.

It was around this time I started having these thoughts.

With my parents choking me with their expectations and my feelings of not being good enough, I wanted to leave. Permanently.

I think I wanted to know their reaction to my permanent absence if I actually did it because they never failed to hide their disappointment.

‘Would they be relieved to have such a disappointment daughter off their back?’ Is what I would ask myself everytime I caught one of them looking at me with pity and annoyance.

Now the day I chickened out:

I was home alone and my mom texted me to cut some chicken and put it on the fire.

I was slicing through the chicken and suddenly the thought of stabbing myself came to me.

And before I knew what was happening, I was raising the knife, ready to end it all.

But I didn’t.

I stopped myself before it could pierce my skin and dropped the knife.

‘I’m even a disappointment at the face of death.’ was how I felt.

My parents came and didn’t suspect anything. And I vowed to never try to kill myself again. Not because I didn’t want to but because I knew that I would chicken out again.

And I hated myself for it. A lot.

I got 234 the next time I wrote JAMB, got admission into university, came out with a 2:2 because that was the best I could do and I’m proud of it.

My parents weren’t happy though and didn’t come for my convocation but all of that one does not concern me. I did what I did and I’m proud of it.

“But who is going to hire you with that disgusting grade?” my mom asked me one day.

“It will shock you.” was my response. At that point, I didn’t send either of them and I didn’t care that it was their money they were using to sponsor me. That one was their choice, not mine.

And now look at me, a graduate with 2:2 doing her youth service in Shell, a place that they even plan on recruiting me.

So that’s my story.

You’re asking me don’t I hate my parents?

Me? Hate the people that fed me? Haba.

Yes. I hate them a lot. I’ve forgiven them for the trauma but I don’t think I can ever forget it. I even still have scars to show it.

I hate my parents for making me feel worthless and feeling like I wasn’t enough.

But I hate me more because that day holding the knife, I wanted to die. I wanted to be no more. I was ready. but i chickened out because I didn’t want to leave the same people who made me think those thoughts.

I might be grateful that I didn’t stab myself but I’ll forever hate myself for that being the first thing that came to my head. That stopped me from actually doing it.

Anyways, that’s all.

You’re crying? Was my story that sad? Trust me, I won the lottery at parents. Not even trying to cap right now.

Here, here, here, abeg, have a tissue. If people see you crying they’ll think I’m breaking up with you or something.

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.