Cometh the Girl

“If your name is written on a piece of paper with red ink and burnt, you will die,” said Kashubi, a short, bald man dressed in all white. He appeared to be in his early thirties. His audience, also wearing white t-shirts and shorts, considered his statement for a second then cackled unrestrainedly. Kashubi chuckled after the four of them, revelling in their pleasure, having been the cause of it. Ebi, while laughing, rested his left chin on the table around which they were sitting, and pounded it mildly with his right fist; Justus was neck arched backwards, eyes closed and mouth opened – this deepened the tone of his laughter; Terlumun was in distress – he did not fancy spewing the beer that was trapped in his mouth when his amusement began without warning; he couldn’t swallow it either and Ademola clutched his chest with his right hand, because he was doing more coughing than laughing. They were all drunk, and it showed.

The woman

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First Class Boarder

Everyone has problems; including ten-year olds like me. My problem, that rainy Sunday afternoon in 1997, was separating those filthy beans from my precious rice. Sometimes I wonder why God created some things; things like beans, mosquitoes and flies – they are good for nothing, if you ask me.

Even though mama was well aware that beans and I don’t mix, she, for some reason, could not get enough of them. If it was not beans and rice, it was yam and beans or beans and fried plantain. As my mum got more creative with new ways to prepare beans, I got better at my skill of separating them from whatever combination she came up with. On the days she cooked beans pottage or beans soup, I’d be stranded and father, when he was around, would provide an alternative meal for me (which usually riled my mum) but when he was not, I would starve till the next meal.

Little boys are usually cats and mouse with their sisters; I had two brothers (one elder; one younger) and no sister. However, I wouldn’t say my mum took the place of my sister in my life, as regards the cat and mouse thing but she and I – we knew how to get on each other’s last nerve without much effort. It was her nerve that was on the receiving end that Sunday in August.

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