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A Story written by Gaglo Blessing (blessinggaglo@yahoo.com)

At the far corner was my sister who had been doing the wailing that had woken me up. She was rolling hard on the ground, banging at the furniture with her body. She was surprisingly shaking away people who tried to restrict her. Where the strength came from I don’t know.

“Just let me die. Just let me follow him. I cannot live without my father. I want to join him. Oh father, how can you do this to us? How can you leave us so? Who will look after me? Who will tell me it is okay?”

She kept on screaming and crying.

“She must have loved her father so much. Poor girl.”

Those who were consoling her kept saying. She lifted her head and looked in my direction, our eyes locked against each other. Maybe her lips curled in a smile, maybe it was in pain, I just couldn’t tell at that moment.

“Dantata, baba is dead.”

The way she said it sounded like I was just hearing the news for the first time.

“Who will take care of you and mummy?”

Attention moved from her and mother immediately to me.

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“How I wish your father will continue dying over and over again.”

My mother said looking at the money in front of her. We just came back from the cemetery where we had gone to raise a stone in honour of Alhaji Aliyu my father. Even though no grave was dug, my mother and sister acted like they should be the ones whose names was being chiseled on the stone instead of my father. It took a lot of energy to keep them on leash. I believe if corpses could talk, many of them dead guys would have come out to complain of headache. The screaming was just much.

It was also there I discovered that there are professional mourners aka wailing wailers. This lot sang songs and told stories of my father like he was their brother. Stories I have never heard before. Stories of bravery and horse riding and heroic feats and daredevilry. My father’s story sounded so much like the story of King Jaja of Opobo, what I had read about in my Intensive English textbook.

“Mama, ya za ki ce haka? Father has not been dead for too long and you are wishing him to die again?”

I asked my mother.

“Dantata, when you grow up, you will understand.”

I nodded in agreement. I looked at the wads of cash that was in front of her, then at Suresh who was busy chewing gum and making clit-clat sound.

“With this money, we will send you to school after you attempt your senior certificate examination this year. I know my son is not dull and he will do me proud. Will you?”

Mother asked looking at me. I quickly nodded my head in agreement.

“Suresh will also get her school fees and other necessary allowances since she is in her final year. Immediately she comes back, she will get married to Otedola’s son or someone with same amount of riches. This will make us rich forever. Or won’t you Suraiyya?”

My sister blew air with her gum before replying.

“Don’t you trust me mum?”

Typical Naija.

“So Dantata, wipe the tears from your face, read your book and make mamma proud.”

She said looking at me. I only managed a nod. She must be going through a lot, I thought in my mind.

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Seven years later I was back home, armed with a degree in Computer Science. Suraiyya who had finished before me was still at home chewing her bubblegum and waiting for the son of Otedola to come sweep her off her feet.

To Be Continued…

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