Small matters

The picture was brought back by the photographer after five minutes of uncomfortable silence, in my view at least. I stared at Eniola’s flush skin and then mine. I dug my hand into my purse and brought out a crumpled two hundred naira note and paid the over ripe paw paw photographer. He wouldn’t heed my dismissal of him, waving my hands until Eni noticed him enough and agreed to have a photo taken with me. Eni collected the two hundred back from him, put it in my purse and paid for us both with five hundred. The man claimed he had no hundred naira change. Already irritated I was ready to snap at him, he deals with cash of this value, what did he mean he had no hundred naira? He however found two fifty naira notes from the woman hawking ofada rice. As we walked in the dusk, he settled down to eat ofada rice. Something about him irritated me. Maybe he wasn’t the one who irritated me, I knew he wasn’t the one. Eno flagged down a taxi. Then turned to me, tucked a strand of my flying hair behind my ear, gave a small smile which more than reached her eyes. She hugged me. My body felt like stiff starched adire against hers. She held on for so long. I started to do the multiplication table in my head. She held me by my shoulders and pulled back. Never the one to cry, she looked at me intently. I was the one to cry. I cry. It is what I do. Today, there were no tears. In the torrent of emotion, she felt I was excused for not crying. The taxi driver busied himself adjusting the radio volume. It was completely Debby to stop a taxi then have him wait…in Nigeria. She eased herself into the back seat before telling him she was going to the airport. His rough voice asked to confirm if it was drop and she nodded. Five hundred he told her, three she insisted. He changed gear. The vehicle was moving. I saw her change in expression before I saw her mouth open. What? She was mouthing something. Pointing at me. Do what? It must be nothing serious. Else she’ll tell him to stop, else she’ll call me. It must be average, this thing she wanted to tell me. I know small matters, average matters, for they oppose the kind of something weighing on my mind. How do I ever tell her. He died without even hearing, how is she supposed to hear? She would see three years later when she returns. Such things aren’t told to your late boyfriend’s sister, such things aren’t told to your friend, I concluded, my right hand slung across my mid-rift


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