Date released:
September 15, 2021
October 2, 2021
Short story
Photo credit:
Pexels Pixabay

Light in living

My name is Ahamefuna, "my name will not be lost," & I have Chelu and Elozona, two friends I love. We survive together in this community. Elozona is the eldest of us, and Chelu is the youngest, although the biggest by size. I am the smallest, maybe because my Ma gives my sisters and me tiny meals to tease our empty bowels so much as once in a day. She says that's the much she can afford. And we believe her because since our Pa left that rainy morning, things, as Ma said, have been difficult. And we could see this in how much she works & in how little she gets. We could see how so much work and almost no food had rid her body of skin and blood. And sometimes, I cannot blink back the tears that pool at the shores of my eyelid when I look at how frail her body has become, so weak her breasts are now like saggy balloons hinged on both sides of her bony chest.

One time I heard our Pastor's wife, Mummy Love, tell her plump children that my sisters and I looked like starving crayfishes, & so they shouldn't play with or come near us at the church's playground. And I see, in their arrogant eyes, the gratifying discrimination that their toothy laughter could not mask. But I don't care; I have Chelu and Elozona to play with, and I know they like to play with me too.

I know they want to play with me because I can see the light that fills their eyes when we roll those sooted roadside tyres on the community's football field. Then afterwards, we would hurry to the river where we eventually wash and rid ourselves of the brown sweat that balms our tender skin & the earthen grime that colours our tired and spindly feet as our bellies hummed with melodies of hunger.

I see it in the way we sing our way back from the icy-effort-at-education that is our school, with our voices very loud & righteous until the veins on our thin necks look like electric cables purveying energy to our parched throats. I see it sparkling bright as they offer their voices to the wind in interwoven cackles as we swim on Fridays under the fading evening light. Even the exuberant current of this abundant water cannot quench this light that pours from their immaculate eyes. I saw it shine brightest today when we stood, like stubborn hairs, on the scalp of Okuata Hill as I told them how dearly I loved them both. It was as if I gave them an electric bulb, and they swallowed it. I think that when I no longer see this light in their eyes, it must be that I am dead, for it is when love is lost that people die.

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