Shimawa



It is the smell of ogi

Cooking on a kerosene stove

When the house is still quiet

And the air outside still carries the song of crickets

And the morning wind that flows through the open windows is cool

- that reminds you of your grandmother’s house


The house on top of the relief

Where the clear stream flows

And the cocks and hens trot

And the wood cutter hammers from dawn till dusk

It is that house that holds you

And reminds you

Of your days in Shimawa


It was to that house

Your parents sent you and your brother

When Yewande died suddenly from the epilepsy

And the silence crawled into your father’s mouth

And the darkness soaked into your mother’s skin

And nothing was ever the same again


And you did not know

For the longest time

That she was dead

You thought she had been hospitalized

Like in previous years

But on the day she would have turned fifteen

And your parents did not come to cart you and your brother away to the hospital

When the nurses would gather around her bedside and sing for her

When there was cake and Coke

You knew then

When the day swept by without a whisper of Yewande

That something was terribly wrong


It is the smell of ogi

Cooking on a kerosene stove

When the house is still quiet

And the air outside still carries the song of crickets

It reminds you

That life was snuffed out of your sister

And that you never got

To say

Goodbye

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