Nkem


by Nwanne Agwu

You had known her since you began your kindergarten classes in the school. A normal classmate was what she was until you began to admire her.

Every evening you would go to the shop to help Mama out and sometimes, she would go home to rest for the day. You had read that stress caused stroke and you told Mama to always rest. Whenever you met her doing some chores, you would cajole her and make sure she left the work for you.

Mama knew about Kasie, the girl you had been friends with since grade ten. ‘She is now growing into an agbogho,’ Mama would say. ‘Make sure you both don’t do anything wrong.’ You knew you would never put your thing into hers, you only held hands and talked about what you had heard, about the proposed change which you preferred corruption to. About Naira’s depreciating value towards the Dollar. About fuel scarcity and the Dictator’s, sorry, President’s childish and non rhetoric speeches. You always laughed at the President’s accent  because he talked as if the words were so hot and he had to keep his mouth open, for the air to go in and cool them while he spoke, he sounded so hollow.

Her father was a University professor who had invited you to his house, after you had helped him take the bag of garri and tin tomatoes he had bought from your store, into the boot of his car. That was when you began to admire Kasie. She was chocolate-skinned with big eyes that made you think she could see what you thought. Her lips were pink and you had to ask her if she applied lipstick, the type that your cousin would always line her lips with and begin to rub her lips together, releasing them as though they were sticky. Her breasts were gradually increasing and you were amazed to hear that she hated using relaxer on her hair—she preferred her afro. Her legs were straight, so straight that you began to compare which was more straight between yours and hers.

Her leg kept you warm during the cold mornings of the rainy season and the harmattan. You both removed your socks and made your feet touch, caressing each other. You would stop and lean your leg on hers, you always looked at her face to see if she smiled or not. You knew she didn’t know you looked at her from your isi-anya. Sometimes she would lean on your shoulder and you had noticed that her body felt so warm that you used to ask if she had fever, until the day she told you that that was her normal temperature. She in turn joked that you were cold blooded, because your hands felt cold. You wished to become as warm as she was. You wished for the day you would sleep with her, sometimes you were frightened if you will be shy about her seeing your manhood that day; it was so big. You had heard your friends talk about how the girls moaned and cried as they were thrusting and withdrawing, and the way they jerked. They walked home through the akwuna lodge, the place where harlots lived; no one called it a brothel.

You hardly thought about other girls because that was something you should never do, but whenever you thought about kissing, sucking and having sex you made sure, you didn’t visualize Kasie in your mind’s eye, it was done only with other girls in mind.

Kasie was a different girl, you always walked her to the bus stop before you joined your other friends. She was one of the most important reasons why you always looked forward to Mondays during the weekends. She made your weekdays, adding a certain sort of flavour to your life. You had begun loving unrelaxed hairs and her ideologies and her thoughts were always yours. You knew what she could and couldn’t say. You would watch her mount an okada, before you would turn to go home, sometimes you both walked till you’d reach the junction of your street.

She waved bye as you turned to leave. But you were not feeling alright. You wanted to walk home with her. Something was happening inside of you, something that seemed listless and unfathomable.
‘Whrrrrrrlll…tsssaah’ You heard it, the sound of a crash. Kasie and the bike rider lay on the road with blood on their heads and legs and and hands and mouths. Blood was flowing. You could see as it gushed like water from the yellow plastic container you used to fetch water. It was as if sacks of sand were tied to your calves, you could barely move and you could not even think. You couldn’t believe that it was the same Kasie you had just talked to that lay on the road. Only then did you know why a man who was suddenly met by a fierce lion would only stand and look in fright; your mind ran away. Some kind hearted people helped to get a taxi which conveyed her and the okada rider to the hospital. You were in the taxi with some other woman. You didn’t walk home with her—you were driven to the hospital with her. She was unconscious.

Nwanne Agwu is a Nigerian writer and poet. He is an introverted extrovert, a teenager, so shy. He has published at Brittle Paper, Flash Fiction Press and Pengician. His poem was among the top ten entries for the Chinua Achebe’s Iconic Ceremony, Awka, 2016. He lives in Abakaliki and blogs at nwanneagwu.wordpress.com

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