I see Papa, lying on his bed. His round glasses make his face even rounder as he reads from his big Bible. I swallow my saliva, so I do not say the hurtful things my heart delivers to my mouth. I make my fingers into a fist and struggle with the urge to grab the Holy Book from him and hit him with it. That would be ungodly, and Mama would not approve of it. So, I go into my bedroom and allow my memories to torture me. I see five-year-old me, playing with Chikodi. How he ran that day as I chased him, happy beyond himself. I must have chased him too far and he ran into a pond. I couldn’t swim but my legs could run fast. I ran for Mama and she came for him, but the water was faster. My brother died that day, and I cannot forgive myself. I cannot forget the look on Mama’s face when she said that it was not my fault. She blamed herself for everything, even her accident. Mama gives me hope that someday we will be fine. She rubs my hair after pushing herself up in her wheelchair. She still tries to cook and go to her shop, but sales are lower than they used to be. Oge helps sometimes, but there is a limit to what a teenager can do. She needs schoolbooks and clothes too, instead of those washed-out jeans. When I tell Papa about these, he says we worry too much about money. We should be focused on the Kingdom. It infuriates me to see him, lying down every day, talking about the corruption of the world. How Mazi Okeke’s children now sell their bodies and press laptops for a living. He doesn’t know how we eat. He doesn’t have to know, neither does Mama because it will break her. I have a message from Chief. I tell him I have another vigil. He shrugs and says, “Ijeoma.”
- Ijeoma: safe journey.
Gimbiya Galadima is a fifth-year medical student and creative writer from Nigeria. Her hobbies include reading, watching movies and listening to music. She is very passionate about African literature and mental health issues that affect the youth. Gimbiya Galadima can be reached via mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.