The girl under the mango tree. (1 min. read.)


What happens to salt without its savours? Under this mango tree, lonely like the moon I sat, gazing pensively at the football pitch, the guys playing, and my boyfriend dribbling like a snake. The skill he told me is called snake bite. My phone buzzed, then rang, letting out Passenger’s Whispers of love. The phone had finished ringing before my thoughts relieved me so I could notice I had missed a call.
I saw nightmares at noon, I reminisce those times that I was a celebrity, here and there, my was a candy enough for kids, an ear alert for teens and gossips for my country men. What do you expect my father held a breathing position in this country, I know you know me now, I know you know him too. I remember how I was everybody’s friend and got tired of men’s proposals. I cannot forget how I was given a princess welcome after my convocation from Harvard University. I cannot forget those envious looks of my classmates at Royal kiddies primary school, when I stepped out of dad’s Ferrari with his driver on the day of my graduation. I can recount how I met Emmanuel that evening that seems like it is today. The way we bulge into each other at Shop rite’s entrance, how we said;  Hi! Hello! I am sorry! I am sorry! Can I meet you?
“Emmanuel” He said and smiled. We chat and chat and exchanged contacts. I remember telling his mother behind the door that day I visited him, how much he loved me even when this had happened, I mean…
I cannot forget that sunny afternoon, the day I was happy the most. My get-together with dad. Myself and dad in his car, the driver driving us to a family friend’s birthday. I was imagining how big she was, compared to the last time I saw her. I was still lost in that thought, when a blind man led by a boy, came after our vehicle , saying prayers while begging for alms. Father shoves a one thousand naira note at them as we drove off. They were very gay at this, waving at us. Then I asked dad;
Are there people like this?
…Living like this?
Where do they live in this country?
Why do they live like that?
He only cuddled me, and told me not to bother about them. I remember that Imam’s preaching on giving, making dad an example at the launching of the building project of the central mosque in our town. I remember how dad’s seats in churches he visited were even well furnished than the pastor’s. All these challenged me; I really want to emulate him. How he taught me virtues, loyalty and even gave me a recorder to remind me of those virtues while I was in Harvard.
I respected those teachings until a court messenger brought an enveloped letter to dad one afternoon. He was not at home when the letter was delivered but being his child, I was given the letter. The words on the letter read out loud to me themselves “Court summon”.
Why will father be summoned? That was the stream of thought I swam in until he got home that night. I gave the envelope to mum and went to bedroom. When he arrived, it was his car hoot that woke me up. I left my room and stayed in the library because, it is close to our sitting room, so that I could quench my thirsty mind and answer my questions. I listened through the door as mum handed him the envelope. The only thing I heard was:
“I am only being persecuted by the opposition party. They are goats, there is nothing they can do to their owner.” That watered my burning mind.
It took the court many months that seems like decade to decide the case. Father was charged with thirteen count charges which include embezzlement, money laundering etc. all of which he pleaded not guilty. All these time I was relieved while following the case through NTA broadcasts. It was a herculean fist among the legal luminaries. Until, the final whistle was blown and I became a basket that has nothing to show for its long years of packing. All the effort was like sieving pap with a faulty sieve. Father lost the case. As if it was not enough, as if he was a seer and had known he would lose the case. Or because, I did not visit him in prison which I regret now or maybe, he just can’t face the shame. He swallowed some pills right inside the dock, at first I thought he was sick, until he dropped from the chair, started foaming and convulsing. Then, I forgave him and only wished he wouldn’t die, I couldn’t hate him. He died before he got to the hospital. The whole mansion, is now ashes. None of us could access his bank account. We only know he had bank accounts in China, Dubai, Cuba and maybe, some other places. We don’t know their net worth.
Three weeks later, his corpse was brought to our house for burial. The funeral was only attended by relatives but well wishes were sent by his friends. Few reporters wanted to cover the funeral but, they were barred. The dead is gone but passed their burdens to the living. So it seems to me.
I remember that night playing in my memory like Adele’s Hello song. Emmanuel’s voice echoing in my mind, a melancholic note.
“Me…You, I think we should quit it. You see, I am a lawyer and if we continue like this, it may tarnish my image. Well, we never can tell what the future holds, we might still come together. But, let us stop it for now.” He said, tears rolling out of his eyes.
I saw Emmanuel chatting with his friends, staring at me often, trying to avoid getting my attention. I wiped my face free of the tears and check my missed call. It was mum. I called her back, after some buzzing, mum’s voice came out. Then, the usual “hello!”.
“Where are you? Don’t leave me alone, don’t weary my heart, you are my only joy that remains.”
I picked up my bag and forgot ever wanting to meet Emmanuel and left.
©Akinkunmi Adewumi 2016

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