“NOT one, not two, not three, but five!” Meme shrieked while she flung her five fingers at Sani’s face. He knelt on a mat holding his one-year old son, slowly rocking the dead child. His tears came out in little droplets, tapping the young boy’s forehead as he wept silently. It was another abomination, there was no need for loud cries.
“Sani I told you not to marry this woman, I told you she was bad, yet you disobeyed me your mother. Now you see the consequences?” Meme said, bellowing in deep anger.
“Meme stop it.” Responded Sani after a brief pause he had taken to swallow back his tears.
“Why should I stop? This one has not even attained the longest living record, which is of how many years? Three? Five? No, four years and seven months to be precise.” She told Sani but he felt too weak to reply. None of these allegations seemed to disturb Arrey who sat on the floor in an isolated corner of the room. What surprised Meme wasn’t her son’s disdainful spurn but Arrey’s silence after her own son’s death. Her face was emotionless; no anger, no despair, no resentment, and no trace of a single drop of tear. Her facial muscles were let loose, she looked empty inside. This just came to confirm Meme’s asseveration. She concluded by the silence and the emotionlessness that Arrey had killed her own child. What Meme could not see was Arrey’s loud interior cry for help and salvation; her own tears flooded her belly instead of her face as she cried within herself. Arrey couldn’t just put in words what she felt at that moment, she was befuddled and utterly confused.
Arrey and Sani had been accustomed with Meme’s complaints. It became redundant after each loss. But they understood Meme’s frustration of having to get emotionally attached to her grandchildren just to watch them die mysteriously a few years or months later. What scared her most was the thought of the end of the road for her family name.
Sani put the little boy back on the mat and carefully covered him with a white cloth. He moved towards Arrey who was still sitting on the floor hugging her knees. Without necessarily talking to her, Sani knew what was going on in her mind; he felt a great pity for her. He knew she had just withdrawn in her private world in search of some composure. The new loss had shattered her already fragile personality. He couldn’t imagine what she felt; she spent time with the children more than he did. Looking at her, he felt like asking Meme why a woman in her own volition will decide to bring such calamity upon herself. Sani sent his hand so she could grab it to help her stand up. She didn’t see him, from the position of her face she could only see the giant black shadow, a reflection made by the candle light in the room. The giant shadow pointing a huge hand to rescue her from the profound darkness in which her mind was leading her to. She turned her face from the wall and held the hand firm and strong as she took support on it to stand up on her feet. Sani made her sit on the old sofa while he seated himself half-way the sofa’s hand, as he carefully rested his hand on Arrey’s shoulder pulling her closer to his chest and gently massaging her arm to bring her some comfort. Watching this, Meme was disgusted. She looked at them with a feeling of nausea and a heaving stomach which increased her desire to flee. She thought her son had been enchanted. How could he bring comfort to a woman who is incapable of shedding just a half tear when her child dies? To her, he was so pigeon-hearted and extremely lily-livered.
“I’m leaving.” Meme said, accompanied by a long and fierce sigh of disappointment.
“But Meme it’s late. Please sleep here and you can leave early in the morning.” Sani pleaded. He spoke without a trace of dynamism. Perhaps he understood her; maybe it was preferable to keep her out of such despondent way of life.
“I’m going; I’ll never set my legs in this house. If both of you decide to have another child who will die just months after his birth, don’t call me.” She said, then left the room, got to the sitting room and grabbed her handbag on a little table with such ferocity that it put out the lighted candle on the table. She banged the door behind her and disappeared in to the darkness. Sani ran to stop her but she had already disappeared in the absorbing murk. He came back and met Arrey’s face broken into cries. All the repressed tears seemed to have overflown inside her and had no other choice than to bulge out like the waves of an ocean. In her present mood, giving her solace would do more harm than good. He thought it was better for her to pour everything out before she drowned herself from the inside with her own tears.
A few minutes later, Sani took the little boy’s body to bury in the backyard. The backyard was just like a cemetery. It was spooky, with graves in rows; two on the first row and two on the second marked by wooden crosses. The graves had no tombstones, they were simple graves made in bump-like shapes of ground, some of which had been weathered away by the rain, and only the crosses were left to identify them. The night was blustery, there was an impending storm. The stars were beginning to lose their shine in favour of the dark grey clouds, concealing the light of the crescent moon. The sound of hooting owls resonated above him. The soft fertile soil made digging easier. He fastened the digging as the clouds continued their gathering. When the hole was deep enough, he tied the boy in a white cloth and meticulously placed him in the grave as if he were afraid to hurt the dead body. Then he replenished the grave with the ground and began pounding with his legs to strengthen it from rain erosion. The huffing wind came in large and irregular waves bringing fallen leaves and dust to his face, while thunder lightening fiercely pierced through the dark clouds as the first drops of rain landed on his back. He didn’t rush home; he sat on the grave as the wind became wild and blinding while the rain began to crescendo. Sani cried, but it wasn’t sure for his tears dropped like the falling rain on his face.
Seated rigidly in the midst of his dead children, there was something usual, almost familiar like a feeling of déjà vu in the perturbed and boisterous air. He thought about the five children buried there and the fact that he did not have the opportunity to really know those children. They were born, he didn’t spend much time with them, and then they left in the blink of an eye. What was wrong with them? Why should they still have hopes? Wasn’t trying again and again doing more harm than good? Or wasn’t it selfish of them to keep trying? How many children should a man lose before getting to the level of madness? Six? Twelve? Eighteen? He asked himself. The draining and traumatic day had over stimulated his mind creating room for questions and doubts.
What was hope anyway? Hope he couldn’t explain. He didn’t know the origin of the curse on his children, neither did he have any solution in mind to counter it, yet he just hoped there was a child coming to stay. He couldn’t explain, he just hoped. Many villagers thought they had children to kill them on purpose; because of this, they were isolated and treated as outcasts. Others considered their decision to hope as a selfish one.
Seven months later, Arrey was with child again. It was her most arduous pregnancy; she had to go through that alone, Meme refused to have anything to do with another child, and most of the times Sani was at work. When the time had come for her to put to birth, Meme refused to help as midwife as she had always done. “I can’t be part of this masquerade again.” She said. Sani who had no experience in that domain had to help deliver the baby.
She lay on the bed pushing the baby out, sweat ran down her face like water from a source, her teeth gnashing in rage, while her nails pierced through the mattress as she screamed and groaned for hours. Then suddenly she stopped screaming and groaning for a while, releasing her violent grip from the bed.
“Push! Push! Push!” Sani shouted.
“Shut up! That’s all you can say. Push, push, push. Does it look like I’m pulling it inside instead?” She said and sighed then got back to pushing, this time she screamed and groaned longer, her grip on the bed became stiffer, and veins bulged out from her face.
“Yes push…eh sorry go ahead, go ahead. I think I see the head. No sorry it’s not the head.” Sani said. Arrey looked at him with an angry look which made him adjust himself. Then she continued pushing. After a few minutes, there was a sharp deafening cry of a baby which came in as a sound of relief. Arrey made no noise, she stopped breathing, and she lay motionless on the bed. She had given life but had given away hers. Sani didn’t notice she was gone, he kept the talk alone.
“It’s a girl, a beautiful girl.” He said smiling, Arrey didn’t respond. He cut the umbilical cord, wiped the baby and put her in a cloth. He shook the baby gently in his hands touching her cheek with his finger. “Let me take you to mama.” He said to the baby, slowly walking to Arrey who was still completely still.
“What name shall we give her?” He asked Arrey, still not noticing she had stopped breathing. It was when he got closer to her that he noticed her wide open eyes which must have remained as they were when she pushed out her last cry for her daughter. Sani remained silent for a while, the room fell into a profound sadness and calm; the low-pitched, rhythmic and repetitive cry of the baby seemed far distant. He closed her eyes and silently shed tears. He looked at the baby who began smacking her lips. He brought her closer to his nude chest and kissed her forehead. Many thoughts sprinted through his mind at the same time. He thought about how he had to take care of her alone, and the threatening inauspicious dark clouds that gathered over her head. She looked so innocent, pure and beautiful. It hurt him to think that she could die just like the others. The difficult thing about her case was that he would bear the pain alone. Arrey was lying dead, Meme had abandoned him, and the village had turned its back on him. They had to stay strong. “I will call you Amari.” He said to the child who rested on his chest, “because we have to be strong.” He added.
Sani was a teacher in a small primary school in the village. It was the only school with three teachers for six grades. The headmistress was a short dark woman well known to be strict. She was almost always absent. She lived in the city; her trips to the village were few and far between. She came down to the village occasionally to supervise activities. She had given a three-month leave to Sani for him to take care of Amari. For three months he had taken care of his daughter, she had grown into a beautiful healthy baby, but the ninety days were over, he had to look for a way to take care of her without losing his job. He knew that no one in the village would consent to help him, but he resolved to ask Meme, even though she had denied any contact with the baby.
“Didn’t I tell you to count me out of your nonsense? Were you deaf or what?” She asked, scolding him while she held her ear in sign of cautious warning.
“Please Meme, I have no one else, you are the only one who can help me now. Please I need your help.” Sani pleaded, changing Amari’s position from one arm to the other.
“Are you even my son? I’m sure that baby has more courage than you have ever had in all your existence. Tell me; why do you like suffering so much? Have you forgotten she will die in a few months like the others?
“Meme we are not sure about that.”
“Oh you are not sure…Five deaths didn’t convince you ein? Two of them died in my hands, I am not touching this one. Now leave with her.” Meme said moving towards the door, she opened it and waited for him to leave impatiently. He took time to change Amari’s position to another arm again. “I said go! Let her not die here.” Meme shouted. Her dislike of him and Amari was becoming obsessive, there was more than hatred in her voice. Maybe it was just the result of several years of disappointment both from her son and life. Arrey was dead, Meme had categorically refused to take care of her grandchild, and no woman in the village would sympathize to help. Sani was left alone. He thought about resigning from his job, but he wouldn’t take the risk to lose his teaching job which he cherished so much, for a child he wasn’t sure would live more than eighteen months. Having no wife, no mother, no friend, no child, and then no job was unthinkable. The only solution that came to him was to take Amari to school with him.
On a Monday morning when he was set for work in his well-ironed khaki short, white t-shirt, shiny black shoes and his socks dragged to knee level, he put Amari in a lidded bamboo basket. He tied the basket on the carrier of his bicycle then verified if it were steady enough. When he was sure the basket couldn’t fall, he climbed his bicycle and pressed the pedals gently. He rode slowly and carefully, it produced a squeaking sound on the back wheel which he tried to avoid.
When he got to school, his pupils were so happy to see him; they welcomed him with warm embrace, screams and songs. They all rushed to see what was in the basket on the bicycle’s carrier. When Sani got to class, he kept the basket at the front corner of the classroom and began teaching normally. A few hours later, Amari cried, he got to her and gave her some food. She slept immediately after eating. The class got noisy and the students were agitated.
“Stop noise! He shouted. “If she wakes up again because of you, each and every one of you will carry her till she sleeps.” He said. He knew it sounded stupid but it worked; the class suddenly became calm, there was a chorus of silence, an awkward silence. It was so calm that even the noise of a writing pen could be heard. Sani was surprised by this. He didn’t expect his pupils would give up so easily. It became clear to him that they were afraid, scared to carry the cursed child. What if Amari died in their hands? Or worse still, what if she transmitted her malediction to them? He knew these thoughts made them cold with fear.
Amari’s presence in school went on for weeks, the young pupils watched Amari grow bigger and healthier. The fear they had nurtured from home eroded from their minds when they came to school, their innocence was revived when they played with Amari, even though some were still skeptical and scared of her. Sam, Sani’s colleague, approached him to express his concern about the child.
“The curse won’t kill this baby. It’s you who’s going to kill her.” Sam said as he sat on a bench closer to Sani watching the children play with Amari.
“What do you mean? Sani asked
“The way you walk around and swing her everywhere, she’s too young for that.”
“I have no other choice. There’s nobody home to take care of her.”
“Yes I know. I will ask my wife if she can take care of her when you are at work.”
“Really? You will do that for me? Sani asked with much enthusiasm.
“Yes of course.” Sam said. The next day, Sam told Sani his wife had refused to take care of Amari. Sani expected such a decision. It would be a miracle for a woman in the village to accept taking care of the cursed Amari.
Sani went through strenuous nights. Those were the moments Amari cried the most. He tied her on his back when he had to cook or prepare his lessons. Sometimes he slowly moved around the house with her, telling her stories and singing lullabies till she slept. He often watched her sleep; he admired her beauty and the innocence on her face. She had done nothing to the world, yet she was already feared and hated. Dark thoughts of death always flooded his mind when he watched her sleep. That was inevitable. He had gotten emotionally attached to her, the thought of losing her made him shiver, frightened down to the tip of his nails. But what could he do? He could only hope she didn’t die. The fact that he had hoped five times but they all died got him half-crazed. Why should her case be different?
When the headmistress came back from the city, some parents and other teachers sent complaints about Amari’s presence in school. She called Sani to her office for questioning.
“Mr Sani what am I hearing?” she asked.
“What have you heard Ma’am?” Sani asked back.
“I hear you’ve been bringing your child to school, you feed her during classes and you even permit the other children to play with her? Do you think this is a nursery?
“I’m sorry Ma’am…but…” Sani said, but was cut short by the headmistress.
“Mr Sani there’s no but…I don’t want that to happen again, not in my school. Have I made myself clear?” She asked, throwing an unflinching glance through her lenses.
“It is clear Ma’am.” Sani said, and then left her office.
On his way back home, he pedaled the bicycle in a fearful speed, forgetting about Amari on the carrier, thinking about what he would do the next day. He couldn’t take Amari to school, he couldn’t take her to Meme and he couldn’t quit his job; maybe Amari had come to make his life a living hell before disappearing, by the way how many days or months did she have left? Why should he go through all these pains and humiliation for a child destined to die? Nobody cared about them, especially Amari, nobody cared about her. So he could just throw her in the bush and continue his ride, nobody would ask “where is Amari?” or “is Amari ok?” As Sani’s thoughts became darker, he pedaled faster, his knees moving in the speed of light, as if he consciously wanted to kill Amari.
Back home, Amari had a slight fever. Even though Sani had wished her death, fear paralyzed him; he didn’t want her to die. He regretted his dark thoughts and promised never to wish her dead again. He knew it was just a slight fever and that it wouldn’t kill her. He believed it was just Amari’s response to all the bad thoughts he had had. The fever had nothing to do with the symptoms the other children had before they died. And that was not what Amari was going through. Sani had a mastery of those symptoms; he had seen them five times, he knew the order in which they came and their intervals. For the first and second children, he was still ignorant; they both lived for a year. The third child had shown the same manifestations and died when she was just nine months. They had a fourth child, who lived for four years, they were so happy he wouldn’t die, he had lived longer. Sani was so happy to tell his colleagues in school his child was coming to grade one. Just a few days after the little boy’s anniversary, he manifested the symptoms. They thought the fourth child had paved the way for greater hope, so the fifth would live longer, but unfortunately the fifth just lived for twelve months. There he was with Amari, he had gotten so attached to her and he loved her so much, he feared she would get to an older age then suddenly die. The pain would be unbearable for him.
Sani found another way to keep his job while still taking care of Amari. He decided he would feed her well in the morning then lock her in the house before leaving for school, and during each break which lasted just thirty minutes; he would rush home on his bicycle to feed her and change her napkins before going back to school. Every day at twelve noon, Sani had thirty minutes to do that. He could be seen riding his bicycle in great speed, his shoes pedaling heavily, passing people, trees and buildings. He covered miles as he pedaled faster than his mind could go; his legs remained in constant motion as the tree branches whipped his face, while his thoughts focused on Amari; whether she had cried or if she had been hungry. His ride took fifteen minutes of his time. He was just left with half the time to feed her. It was a strenuous exercise which went on for months then years, but he successfully did this till when she could talk, and feed herself alone.
Amari grew up into a healthy young girl. At six years old, Sani stopped hoping, he was sure, sure she would live longer; the curse was broken. None of his children had ever gotten to that age. His face glittered, and when he walked around the village with her he flushed with pride, he walked with his head and shoulders high up. For a long time, no one had seen that expression on his face. Sani had forgotten what it felt like to be happy, free of doubts and fear. His facial muscles had even forgotten the moves to take for a genuine smile. He felt like cold air had visited his lungs after a long period of heat, or that he was relieved of the heaviest load, a load he carried for so long. His heart was finally at rest, he slept without worrying about what would happen to Amari. Finally, he had a child got to school, he could also teach his own child. Some villagers were still dubious about Sani’s claim of a broken curse. Meme was still hesitant and in six years she didn’t change her mind, she didn’t visit her grandchild or ask about her.
Sani and Amari still went to school together, but this time, she wasn’t in a bamboo basket tied on the bicycle’s carrier. She was bigger; she sat on the carrier with her little school bag. To be steady, she held her father firm around his waist as he pedaled through the long road to school. Amari was a beautiful girl whose face sparkled with a childlike and charming smile. In school, she noticed the other children avoided her, but this didn’t affect her everlasting radiant smile. She didn’t complain or show that she was saddened by all the stories she heard about her. She spent most of the breaks with her father. Sometimes they played riddle games, told stories, sang songs or read poetry. Her best were the riddle games because she was naturally inquisitive; she always beat her father on riddles when they played on their way back home. Sani didn’t ride the bicycle when the returned from school, they walked home together while he pushed the bicycle. These were the moments Amari loved to play the riddle games.
“A teacher and a girl went to school. The girl was the teacher’s daughter, but the teacher was not the girl’s father. Who was the teacher? Amari suddenly asked her father.
“Hum! Difficult one… let me think… the teacher is…the girl’s step father? Sani responded hesitantly.
“Oh no! That was a simple one… the teacher is the girl’s mother.” She said, chuckling in a sharp voice, mocking her father.
“Amari has ten brothers and sister, four boys six girls; she has a mother and father. How many people are in the family?
“It’s simple… they are thirteen.” She answered, very sure and proud of herself. Then she smiled.
The fact that their riddles on that day were only about family was a sign that Amari wanted to know more about hers. She had grown up with her father; he had been the only person who gave her love and affection. Sani thought Meme would love to see her granddaughter after such a long period. Maybe she would finally accept Amari when she discovers the curse had been broken.
On a Sunday morning, he decided to take Amari to Meme’s house. She was so excited she would meet her grandmother. When they arrived at Meme’s house, she was welcoming as compared to the last time. She offered them a seat, but she looked at them strangely. She simply didn’t want to react violently in the presence of the child. They sat in her sitting room, and for a long time, it was calm and no one seemed anxious to break the silence. Meme avoided eye contact with Amari who sat on a small chair beside her father; she starred at Meme with unblinking eyes, paying attention to each curve on her grandmother’s face. An uneasy feeling grabbed Meme; she looked elsewhere to avoid eye contact. The silence was aloof, Amari made an effort to break the silence.
“What is this grandma?” Amari asked, pointing at a sculpture which stood just beside her.
“It’s wood!” Meme answered swiftly, trying to avoid any long exchange.
Meme felt a familiar warmth deep in her heart when she heard the word “grandma”, the last time she heard someone call her like that was the fourth child. She showed a lack of interest in Amari and avoided all her questions or gave straightforward answers that wouldn’t lead to longer discussions, but Amari’s innocence didn’t make her notice that, she asked more questions. Amari’s little voice, her innocence and her inquisitiveness attracted Meme. Meme stopped avoiding eye contact and from time to time she gave a quick look at Amari before turning her head. She was marveled by the young girl’s beauty, but Meme felt she had to be distant. She asked to see Sani in private. They moved to a corner in the sitting room.
“Why did you bring her here?” Meme asked.
“I thought it would be good for her to know her grandmother.” Sani responded.
“Know what on me? I don’t want to get attached to this one again and then she dies – noticing that she was talking aloud and that Amari heard what she said, she reduced her pitch- Sani I’m an old woman, my heart can’t take this anymore.” Meme whispered.
“Don’t worry she just wanted to see you. She didn’t come to beg for affection. She has seen you now we will be on our way.” Sani said walking closer to Amari; bent down and tied her shoelace, then he held her hand and asked her to say goodbye.
“Goodbye grandma!” She said waving her hand and smiling. These words brought much warmth to Meme’s heart. She couldn’t admit it but she had fallen in love with the child, but she had to retain herself. She would never see her again, she thought it was better.
“Yes bye!” Meme responded.
On their way back home, Sani noticed Amari’s dejected look. She didn’t talk as she usually did. He had never seen her so worried, the first thing that came to his mind was that he had just introduced his daughter to the hate of the world; he feared her innocent face would vanish so early.
“What’s wrong Ama?” Sani asked as they walked.
“Why did grandma say I will die? Why does everyone say I will die soon? I am not sick.” She asked with the same expression of sadness. These questions perturbed Sani, he was troubled, and his voice numbed with shock. What troubled him was the fact that his daughter was getting affected by the bitterness around her.
“Ama!” –He called her, bending down to face her-“You are not sick. And you will not die. I am your father and I will take care of you. Nothing will happen to you. Don’t listen to what people say.” He said as he tried to force a smile to reassure her.
:”Thank you Papa.” Amari said, the expression of her face changing, gradually becoming radiant, and then she suddenly began running. “Let’s see who will be the first to get home.” She said.
“That’s not fair. You started before me.” Sani said as he began running too.
As time went by, Sani became convinced the curse was finally broken. What he regretted was Arrey’s absence. He wished she were there to see her daughter, how beautiful and intelligent she was. He thought that Arrey’s death might have been like a sacrifice for Amari to live. And with this, he was convinced the more, he was free from doubts and fear. Free from the lump in his heart which always made him anxious, now he could breathe fresh air. Even though he couldn’t explain what had happened, he was happy he would keep the promise made to his daughter.
After her encounter with Amari, Meme couldn’t take the little girl out of her mind. She began to have hopes too. She hoped the little girl would live, and she wanted to be part of her life. Meme was hesitant, but she finally made up her mind to go for the little girl.
“Papa! Grandma is here.” Amari shouted, running toward Meme who was getting into their compound. She hugged Meme then welcomed her with a huge smile and excitement.
“How are you Ama?” Meme asked as she caressed Amari’s hair with a hand while she held a basket of food with the other. Sani immediately came out of the house, he looked puzzled by what he saw, but he was happy.
“What are you doing here?” Sani asked.
“What type of question is that? So I can’t visit my granddaughter?” Meme answered, holding Amari’s hand. They all laughed.
Meme’s visits became regular. She always made sure Amari had all what she needed. She became part of the young girl’s life. Both of them were happy about that, they both filled a gap in their lives. Meme was always amazed by the young girl’s inquisitiveness and intelligence. She spent time with Amari until she had forgotten about the thought of death that loomed over the child. Sani had forgiven her, and they lived a happy family life. The villagers began to be friendly with Sani and Amari. Meme spent most nights with them, and this went on for months. For once, happiness became a routine in their lives.
One night, Sani was in the sitting room working while Meme and Amari were asleep. The night was blustery, there was an impending storm. The huffing wind pricked through the window and put out the candle light. Sani was in the dark, he felt chills run through his skin, and he froze in horror, there was feeling of déjà vu. He lit the candle again and hurried to check if Amari and Meme were fine; everything was fine, they slept comfortably. He sat in the sitting room and continued working. When the wind became blustery, the sharpness of the cold wind penetrated and put out the candle light again, he felt a bad feeling deep in his blood. He remembered he had not locked the window. When he got to the window, he looked outside; he saw the stars losing their shine in favour the gathering dark grey clouds, which concealed the light of the crescent moon while the sound of hooting owls resonated outside. Fear took hold of him; it was definitely a feeling of déjà vu. He knew exactly what that could mean, so he rushed to the room to check on Meme and Amari. There she was; quaking, shivering with terror, with a sudden increase in temperature, sweating enormously. He had seen that before, he couldn’t feel his legs anymore, but he rushed to the kitchen to get some warm water which he used to wipe her forehead. It didn’t change anything on her condition. He could hear his own heartbeats pounding from his chest, controlled by fear, he too began to quiver. Sani had never seen her in such pains, he held her by the arm and tried to talk to her, but she couldn’t speak. She tried to speak but only weird babbles came out. He couldn’t even hear her call his name for a last time. She suddenly stopped breathing, and the black in her eyes was gradually disappearing. Sani began compressing her chest with his hands to revive her “Please you can’t go just like that, you can’t leave us now, please come back to us, you can’t do this to me now.” He said while he compressed faster, but it was over, she was gone. He stopped the compression with eyes full of tears, and he kissed her on the forehead. He couldn’t control his tears, they all poured out as he knelt just beside her dead body, crying silently. They were just beginning a new life and she was just beginning to discover happiness in a family.
“What’s happening here? She asked, looking surprised and puzzled by the state in which Sani was. Her heart too began to beat faster; she could already guess what had happened when she saw Sani crying beside a motionless body. She was terrified.
“It’s grandma my princess. She just left us.” He said, and then he burst into silent sobs.
“Grandma is dead?” Amari asked, running towards her father, who welcomed her in his arms. She looked at Meme’s body which lay still. She too began crying. She gave a warm embrace to her father. “Papa I’m here, you don’t have to cry.” Amari said.