To This God I Will Say

He has his hands on Nii’s throat, and this time I do not stop them. They’re fighting over the last sugarcane, and Nii has it held tightly between his teeth, the juice from the cane dripping down his shorts. I am more concerned about how many more days he’ll be wearing the shorts unwashed, with its stain, than Ayikwe choking him to death. As if trapped inside a curse, my brothers and I have, since Mother’s passing, tasted famine in seasons of abundance. They call it a taboo—that a woman will go into labor and lose her life, especially when the child survives. “How is it possible that the same channel of life can know death?” they’ll say to one another. “The baby must have sucked out her last breath.” Sometimes they’ll curse and plead their favor, “Chai! Between my dead body and a cursed child, may God choose me.” And hence the banishment of my family.

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