She had given up on attempts to dress in the traditional style. Her cream coloured shift dress was sleeveless and stopped above the knees. Her hair was pulled into a tight bun at the crown. She had padded barefoot into my room and her toenails were bright red. Blue eyeliner lit up her lower eyelids as she beamed at me from a face the colour of Milo chocolate before milk. She looked so young. Why shouldn't she reach for her own Kilimanjaro? I asked myself. Clara stepped away gingerly to peek out of my door, to be sure no one could hear, then she turned and came further into my room.


"Senior, have you noticed that our husband is walking with a limp?" she asked, her voice lowered conspiratorially, a mischievous glint in her eyes. "He's obviously in some pain from the fall and you know he won’t let me come anywhere near him. Perhaps you could help him with it? Some heat compression, a rub-down maybe?"


I shook my head and in spite of myself, I smiled. "His sister Hafsanat is visiting at the weekend. She can help him with it; let them sort it out." I closed the drawer and went back to sit on the bed. I waved Clara to the stool by the dresser.


"Thank you, Senior," she declined, "but I still have a bit of packing to do. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate everything." She made to leave, then paused. "I hope you understand, Senior, why I have to go back to school?"


I nodded. "You have been like a daughter in this house, Clara."


A broad smile and a courteous dip of the knees, and she was gone.



I sometimes caught Gani looking furtively my way in the week after the fall. But he didn't bring up the fight, and one shouldn't admit the inadmissible.


The baby snuggled up in my arms as we waved Clara's taxi off. I could see that this was the beginning of her long farewell to this house. Amina relieved me of the baby and disappeared inside with her sisters. She would miss Clara the most, my Amina.


Gani and I watched as the taxi disappeared from view. He placed a hand on an aching hip and winced as he moved closer to me. His other hand went around my waist. A car sped past and trailed a cloud of dust.


My husband waved a hand in front of his face.


“Let’s go inside,” he said and we turned. “Will you come to me tonight, Sari?” he asked, his breath warm on my ear. He always shortened my name to Sari in the early years. Then he seemed to forget, until now. "It would really please me if you could come,” he added, “we have so much to catch up on."


I smiled and met his eyes. “One of these nights maybe.” I shrugged. “We'll see.”


“I will wait,” he said as we crossed the threshold.




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Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas

Gani’s Fall by Molara Wood

Page 5