Excerpt - The room quieted down and the gully between Baba's brows deepened. He removed his cap and began to pray. That I would not bury my children, that I would live long, that I would remain the first in my husband’s house. I held out my hands in supplication and said ‘amen’ at every pause.
The in-laws nodded reverentially. To my left on the lone raffia chair, Baba’s younger brother, a man with powdery white hair and quiet ways, chanted softly, "May it be so," assenting to the prayer.
“What will you eat?” I asked, my eyes sweeping across the faces, when Baba was done pronouncing blessings. They maintained a studied conviviality, but I could see they had a serious reason for coming here.
Baba took a shot of the Schnapps in his glass and winced as the drink burned down his throat. “God bless you, Sariatu,” he replied. “Food can wait.”
~ * ~
Petina Gappah is also in the same issue of Per Contra, with her short story, The Annexe Shuffle. A young woman is incarcerated on a mental ward on the orders of her father and must get her life back on track in order to resume her law degree course.
Excerpt - In her room on P corridor at Swinton, she announces to no one in particular: ‘I am going to keep a journal. I am going to write down everything that happens to me. Today I ate my banana,’ she says, ‘so I will write that down.’
‘I ate my banana,’ she writes.
Only it comes out ‘I hate my banana,’ and, seeing this, she laughs hysterically. Then she sees that this is not so funny, this is, in fact, a sign that everything is against her, she can’t even trust her own pen, her own hand, her own thoughts, her very actions betray her, everything is against her, everything is wrong, so wrong, nothing will ever be right again.
She dissolves into tears.
It is as she cries that the Dean of Students and the Warden enter her room to take her back to the Annexe. ‘I know my rights,’ she says through her tears. ‘I am a law student.’