BOUND

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I rode the ‘borrowed’ bicycle down the dirt road to where they said Fuseni had laid bleeding to death after the mob had lynched him with the very scrap metals he had stolen from the dealers in the market. Fuseni! As I neared the spot, I could see the stones the zongo boys had left behind, a discarded chalewote, what looked like a piece of someone’s jellabiya, stained with blood; my brother’s blood. I looked closely at the piece of cloth. Of course! It was the jellabiya he had stolen from my husband’s tarpaulin bag the night he snuck in and robbed us about two months ago. Fuseni! They said the police had come for the body already. I looked ahead towards the main road. The police station was right at the junction. I hiked my dress up, wrapped the mayaafi tighter, framing my oily face and got back on the bicycle, hoping the owner had not yet noticed it was gone.

The news of that afternoon’s lynching had reached home alright, but no one cared. I had just finished soaking the last olonka of millet when my sister rushed into the out-kitchen, dry-eyed, with the news. I stilled, waiting to hear my mother wail or any of my sisters. I stepped out into the compound to what looked like a solemn celebration. No one cried. My mother had broken out in song and my sisters were humming along as they sorted peanuts and roasted some on the side. Not a word was said. The men of the house, my husband and father, were still out in the market where they sold fresh cow meat. Someone had to follow-up on it. I don’t know what came over me, I just hopped on our neighbour’s bicycle in search of the body of a brother no one else in the family cared to show face for. Fuseni! Our father had disowned him the day my cousin Hafiz paid my bride price of 3 cows and one Hausa goat. That was almost 3 year ago.

By the time I got to the police station sweat had stained the underarms of my dress and my feet were red with dust. I walked in.

“Ohh that thief boy?”

the uniformed man behind the counter asked in a thick northern accent similar to my father’s. I nodded.

“The thief boy no die o! As we dey carry im body go mortuary, then im start to dey cough.”
Fuseni was not dead after all! The next few minutes almost got me arrested. It was some fierce love that got me screaming

“Why? They should have burned him! They should have burned him along with all his troubles and mine!”

I got back on the bicycle after being literally shoved out the station. I stopped by the market to buy some dry fish on credit and continued home to an angry-looking Baba Suleiman who had been ready to go to town with the bicycle when I borrowed it. I mumbled an apology as he rained curses on my head.

I went into the kitchen without a word to anyone. They needed not know he was alive. What for? The police were going to let him back onto the streets soon after he was well enough to be discharged from hospital. Some said Fuseni had been cursed, and I believed it. What else could make him so wayward? Fish light soup was his favorite. I hummed a song I had heard on radio countless times as I prepared the soup for him.

“Fusena…”

I could almost hear him whisper again as we laid awake on the same mat just some 10 years ag0 – we were barely 11.

“Fuseni…”

I responded.

“Do you love me?”

He asked.

“I love you Fuseni”

And I could see his white teeth as he bared it in the dark.

“I love you too”

He had said and wrapped his arms around me.
That night, he kissed me…on my lip. Fuseni! My sweet, sweet Fuseni!
I wiped the tears with the back of my hand and felt an eerie chill in the room. I knew it. My brother had just died.

“Fusena! Are you crying?”

My husband’s voice boomed from the entrance to the kitchen and gave me a start. I shook my head

“No. It’s the onions.”

“Good! That brother of yours dug his own grave!”

He said and walked off, whistling, like it was a perfectly normal day.I chopped the last of the onions and reached for the box of matchsticks.

It must have been the sadness that had settled over me, or the tears that had blinded me. I had totally forgotten I had turned on the gas and a burner several minutes ago, but death came quite quickly as I burned.

Look at them tearing at their hair and crying, deep in their hearts they know they are crying for both of us.

“Fusena”

“Fuseni”

“Do you love me?”

“I love you Fuseni”

“I love you too”

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8 thoughts on “BOUND

  1. Amma, it’s been a while since I last came here and trust me, I am happy I came back. You seem to have stepped it up several notches. Keep it coming, gal!

    Like

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