It’s about 7 pm and you can hear the excited intrusion of sirens blasting in the distance. I move away from the window and my eyes catch the strenuous rise and fall of Baami’s chest. Baami had come down with a strong fever, but we cannot get him to a hospital. We do not want to risk getting the virus. He says he will soon be fine, but he sleeps too early and wakes too late. I have never seen him so weak. He can’t get food into his mouth, and the ‘Lumartem’ is not working.
It’s in the air, they say – the virus. The number of cases increases every day. People are dying, but I reckon some are probably dying from hunger as much as the disease. Things were much less complicated before the pandemic. There was school, and we didn’t have to worry much about food.
The Hausa lamp is lit so dull in the contraption of our living space. It is not our lack of furniture that buggers me or our ceiling sparse but for a burnt bulb right in the middle.
I stare at the object of my present discomfiture; a piece of rag crass against my skin. “You bleed way too much. You’ll manage rags”, Maami had said. As if it was my fault I had to bleed every month.
“Sade!” Maami’s voice rings now, “bring me a stool”. My body reacts in a jolt. I should be helping.
Outside, Maami is crouched on the ground, placing dry wood under the ‘Adogan’. “E kuu ise ma”, well-done ma. “I should get more wood tomorrow”, I say. She regards me with a nod.
“Mama Kunle wants me to wash her clothes tomorrow. You will stay with your brother and father”. I can see the worry and frustration etched on her forehead. My younger brother is bent beside her. His curious mind does not mind much the smoke that goes into his eyes. He does not seem too worried about anything; that we have stopped going to the market every day after School; that we are indoors most of the time now.
“I want to make akara and ogi. Maybe he will eat.” She does not look at me when she says it.
I know she is referring to Baami and I wish too that he would eat it, but I say, “What about rice?” Maami rises to stare at me, then shakes her head and looks away.
I should not have mentioned rice and I knew it. All we really have is garri. She had gone to beg for the beans for ‘akara’ from our neighbours. Slowly, I walk away from her- the memory of rice teasing my taste buds- while echoes from my belly ring through my body.
I look at the sand so calm and restive, or maybe it is as sad as I am; sad about the hunger and anger floating in the air; of the quiet and boredom.
© SALOME OLOROGUNSO, June 2020.