K

Kiah | Klo4

He speaks about her in present tense; like the present still holds her presence and there is a future somewhere with her in it. I want to yell at him. I want to shake it out of him. I want to scream at him until his ears are bleeding and the tears he is yet to shed finally begin to fall.

But I listen instead. I listen to his love for her that will live forever in the timbre of his voice. I listen and sometimes I lay my head against his chest. Other times, I hold his hand and let him talk about a dead woman as if she were still in the room with us.

‘Papa, what will you have for dinner?’ I ask, breaking his otherworldly stare

‘Ada, stop fussing. I am a grown man and will let you know if I am hungry.’ He answers, lifting up his gray head to smile at me.

I smile back.

‘You have your mother’s eyes. She always says how she can’t wait to carry your children on her back. You must be sure to bring a man home soon.’ He says winking at me.

I squeeze his hand a little tighter and join him in his blank stare. Maybe if I sit still long enough, I will see beyond the cold mud grave that sits in front of our home. Maybe if I follow my father’s stare, together we will summon life back into the woman that was our soul, our heart, our present.

She comes to me later that night. I open my eyes and there she stands, as beautiful as the last time I saw her. It was at the bus park as I boarded the bus that would take me into the future. A future we had dreamed of together. A future beyond the borders of the village, into the realms of learning. A future she had since left me to face alone.

‘I miss you Nne’m’ I whisper.

She points in direction of my father’s room and shakes her head. I wake up and run to the room; my footsteps muted by the mud floor. He stands in the middle of the room, a rope in his hand and a goodbye in his eyes. He stands broken and lost. In the past.

‘Papa!’ I scream and run to him.

‘You want to leave me too, eh Papa? You want to leave me? For whom? For what? If you go, then I go too. If you want to kill yourself, kill me first!’ I yell at my father.

The rope falls from his hand and he clutches me instead. We stay like that as dawn breaks, my head on his chest, his tears receding with the streams of light that filter into the room.

‘Ada!’ He calls to me when all the shadows of darkness have found their way home.

‘Papa!’ I answer.

‘Yam and fish pepper soup sounds good.’

The present begins.

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