We talk about corruption a lot. Sometimes we even discuss its causes, but often in very abstract, macroeconomic and historical terms. We talk about corruption in a very “big picture way.” However, for a time, I’ve wondered why we don’t zoom in. But not too far so that we are looking only at the psyche of the singular corrupt-or, but just far enough that we look at his family too. How does the African family contribute to corruption? This year we were given front row seats to the breakdown of football legend Emmanuel Adebayor’s family. In a move that many … Continue reading How does the African family contribute to corruption?
It felt as though I had been sitting in the car for hours. My eyes fell to my wrist-watch and registered that fifteen minutes had passed since I’d left her side. Only fifteen minutes. It felt like it had been hours since she’d planted a cool kiss on my shoulder. Days since she’d driven a soft palm into my rear. Weeks since I’d felt the sweet moisture of her inside. Years since she’d whispered my name sweetly into my ear. Decades since I’d stood outside on a doorstep contemplating whether or not to knock on the door. The more I … Continue reading Bargaining (Part 1)
Nonofo pushed past the large figure that had planted itself in her kitchen doorway. The wall-clock hanging above the framed image of a five-year old girl beaming over a pot of flowers, read twelve-forty-five. She shook off her jacket slowly and increased the pace with which she was walking away rather unsteadily from the voice that was yelling behind her. She realized that she was not walking fast enough as bits and pieces of it’s sentences landed sharply in her ears. An exclamation ending with what she thought to be “…at this late hour!” here and a question starting with “What kind of mother…” there. Feeling the exasperation of the regular listener of a radio station that seemed to only play one song over and over and over again she marched steadily to the master bedroom.
She had heard it all before. This was the third time this week she’d come home late from a night out with Judith. But the way her husband behaved one would think she’d just come home from a five-month-long stay at a whore-house.
By the time she’d reached the bedroom she began to feel the exhaustion that a night out dancing inevitably resulted in. She sighed loudly as she plumped herself at the foot of her bed and then immediately proceeded to scold herself internally for the umpteenth time that night for allowing her vanity to delude her into thinking that six-inch-high platform heels would be appropriate attire for a night out dancing. She moved her eyes from the fingers that were struggling with the shoe-buckles beneath her to the full-length mirror that faced their bed. She imagined that her reflection was the version of herself that had chosen the shoes at the beginning of the evening and she was the one in pain now. She opened her mouth to begin reprimanding her own reelection. Thinking of saying something like “you’re not a teenager anymore, ngwanyana!” she was surprised by the cascade of laughter that escaped from the pit of her stomach before she had a chance to go ahead with the act of scolding herself. Before she knew it her back had landed on the bed behind her and she was holding her stomach in as if to stifle this unbearable laughter that was streaming from her lips.
“Look at you.”
The deep authority of his voice penetrated through her laughter and she was stunned silent. She kept her eyes closed. She didn’t have to look at him to know he’d be standing in his regular scolding pose: folded arms and a stiff shoulder resting, solidly against the inside of the door paneling.
“Look at you!” His voiced bounced off the stone walls and landed sharply in her ears. She did not move. He made a long clicking/hissing sound with his mouth which they both understood to be his expression of incredible disgust.
“You’re not even ashamed. Coming in at this time on a fucking Thursday. Sneaking out before I get back from work…”
He paused. The brief silence was a “What do you have to say for yourself?” to the room. Nonofo remained still. Her eyes screwed shut, she could feel the room begin to move beneath her. He continued,
“What kind of wife are you?”
This is my first attempt at a fictional piece for the internet. I haven’t done much editing. Or plot-planning. I wanted to focus on the language for this one. Allow it to tell the story. Feedback would be awesome.
The Grandmother was standing in the doorway. Her fists were planted on her hips whose girth forced her elbows to jut out in an awkward manner. From where she was seated, The Niece could see the slow up-and-down of her chest — could imagine the old woman’s lungs expanding hungrily as she took huge gulps of the room’s musty air. For some moments The Grandmother did not speak. Instead her eyes were all over the room. First they darted from wall to floor then from the night-stands to ceiling. Then they crawled slowly over the inanimate inhabitants of the room – for they were so many, piled up in corners, flung over headboards, crowded on every above-ground surface, hanging over closet doors. Her eyes drank in the layer of desperation that seemed to cling to each of them. The Niece had imagined that The Grandmother had planned to speak as soon as she arrived. She imagined that the opening of the door, the positioning of hands on hips and the darting of eyes around the room had been actions that were scripted by The Grandmother as she walked up the steps to The Niece’s room. Actions that would be immediately followed by some words. But she instinctively got the feeling that this part had not been on the itinerary. The slow sweep through the room carried out completely by her eyes had resulted in something neither of them expected. With every part of the room that The Grandmother’s eyes went over her face changed.
When she had first arrived, and The Niece suspected even before that, she had had the face of a fighter. An expression that made it clear she had little patience for foolishness. The Niece’s hand had instinctively flown to her back as she recalled the childhood beatings that often followed such a look from The Grandmother. But the look on The Grandmother’s face was no longer that of The Grandmother that had beaten her all those years ago for stealing sweets from a tuck-shop. This expression was one The Niece had seen only once before. At The Grandfather’s funeral three years ago. Hopelessness. It dawned on The Niece that The Grandmother may have underestimated the gravity of the situation. She may have been told details by The Step-Mother but clearly she had needed to see it for herself to truly understand what it had done to The Niece lose everything. When The Grandmother finally spoke her voice was raspy and quiet — decibels below the level both women were accustomed to. To the room, she whispered,
“How long have you been living like this?”