To Quench

To Quench

It was the time of bombings, the morning after the Emab blast. Martha came out of her house and found on the veranda a bundle in black polythene bag.

“Blood of Jesus,” she said, and flew back in, losing in flight the ankara wrapper worn around her waist.

In white t-shirt and white, silk underskirt, she stood contemplating the fate of her wrapper, her luck should she return for it, her life, her body, her entirety, blown into bits. Head in the backyard, fingers in a neighbour’s room, viscera roasting, blood seething, spirit adrift. She went and kneeled on the couch by the window and peeped out through a part in the curtain. She saw the sun rising without fire. Not even enough light to brighten the room. She saw her wrapper wave to a wind that passed, but the bundle was out of sight. She drew the curtain wider and craned her neck

She shuddered, thinking she saw the bundle stir. She did hear a sound, though, of movement. She froze and listened more intently. There was in her mind an interval of absolute quiet, a moment when the air stilled. Martha lived in a one-bedroom flat on the ground floor of a two-storey apartment building enclosed in an unpainted concrete fence with two gates, one permanently locked, the other guarded by Ade. The compound was often quiet this time of the day, 9am, when students and workers have departed for school and office. Then came the sound of the wall clock ticking and of feet marching past, oblivious of the danger by the way. She leaped from the couch and grabbed her cell phone from the centre table. Her battery was low but she could still manage to call for help. Her index finger hovered over the keypad, knowing not which number to dial.

She went to the bedroom and returned with a wrapper around her waist and a bottle of consecrated olive oil in her hand. She poured some oil on her head, on the corners of the parlour and at the door. After mumbling some prayers, she opened the door, hoping the bundle would be gone. She sidestepped it and hastened towards the gate where Ade sat on the step of the guardhouse smoking a roll of marijuana. He promptly dropped the smoke and squashed it under his feet, greeted and stood at attention as she instructed him to take out the trash on her veranda. She then took a stroll.

Ladi Opaluwa is a Nigerian writer based in Abuja. She was shortlisted for the Morland Writing Scholarship in 2015, and is a 2017 MacDowell Fellow.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *