ABBY (his wife)
MA FLORENCE (his mother)
IYA ALA (his mother-in-law)
BAALE (his uncle)
CALLY (his sister)
WOLI NLA (prophet)
AJIGBANA (native doctor)
THE SCENE OF THE PLAY
Duro’s flat in the heart of Surulere.
Kitchen in DURO’s flat; a rather small affair, about as tight as a throat, just enough room to turn your head in. The air is filled with light smoke and the bubbling sounds of things boiling mixing with the hissing sounds of other things frying. Christmas carols on the radio are coming in from the living room. (ABBY, a tall, slender lady in her late thirties, is standing in front of the busy gas cooker, staring emptily through the open window in front of her. Her hands are pressing her stomach, as though kneading dough; squeezing, pinching. DURO, her husband, a fine specimen of a gentleman with the bubbly effervescence of the perpetually young-at-heart, comes into the kitchen, glowing cheerily, smiling as if with his whole body. He stops in the doorway when he sees his wife, his smile dimming.)
DURO (in a quiet voice): What are you doing?
ABBY (startled): What!
DURO: What were you doing?
ABBY (forcing a smile): What? I’m cooking. . .
DURO (comes towards her slowly): No, what were you doing with your hands?
ABBY (looks down at her hands as if redirecting the question to them): Nothing.
DURO (stops in front of her and takes her hands in his): That wasn’t nothing, darling. What was that about?
ABBY (gives a heavy, tired sigh): Nothing much, just asking my womb some questions. . . You know, the usual ‘why’ questions. . . Why, Duro, why, why, why? Why me? Why us? Why, God?
DURO (grips her harder): Stop. Stop. I’ve told you to stop. Just stop.
ABBY: But I can’t! I can’t. Everybody is asking the same questions, and there is no answer.
DURO: Who is everybody? I don’t care about anybody but you, and you shouldn’t care about anybody but me, us. Nobody else matters!
ABBY: But they do, Duro, you know they do; they’re your family, my family; our family. They matter. And they won’t stop asking even if I do. So, I can’t stop, Duro, I can’t stop asking!
DURO: Just do, please. Try. Do it for me. Please, just for today.
ABBY (in a small, pained voice): It is going to be worse today, you know; they’re all going to be here.
DURO (gathers her to himself in a deep embrace): I’ll be here, too.
ABBY (sniffles on his shoulder and sighs): Thank you. Thank you for always being here, Duro. And for being who you are.
DURO: I’m your husband, you shouldn’t thank me for that.
ABBY: I do. I thank God for you. Thank you, God.
DURO: Thank Him.
ABBY: Hold me a little bit longer, so that I don’t fall apart and break into pieces.
DURO: You won’t, not as long as I’m here. I’ll hold you for as long as you want me to.
ABBY: Hold me for ever. And ever.
DURO: I will.
ABBY: Don’t ever let me go.
DURO: I won’t. Don’t ever let go.
ABBY: I won’t, I won’t. . . But, but, the silence is just so deafening sometimes; so much that I can’t hear anything else but my pain. . . This silence all around me, so deafening, crushes my hearing to deafness.
DURO (pulls her away from himself to look into her face): What silence?
ABBY: God’s silence. The silence in my womb. The silence of my suffering.
DURO: Abby. Please, stop.
ABBY: I want to, I want it all to stop, to just go away. I want to stop, Duro, but it’s just so hard to, so hard not to listen to the silence. It gets so hard to keep going, when all I just want to do is stop. And stop being.
ABBY (chuckles): You’re beginning to sound like those red STOP signs on the side of the road.
DURO: Yes, I am. Because I really do want you to stop. To stop killing yourself in bits like this. . . It is all going to be fine.
ABBY: It is?
ABBY: You promise?
DURO: I promise. (He leaves a kiss on her cheek and turns her back to the pots and pans.) Now, get back to your cauldrons and all that magic you’re doing in here, my little kitchen witch, for hunger has arrived at the doorstep of my stomach, crying out with a loud voice!
ABBY (laughs): Don’t let it in yet o, cool it down with a drink or something, I’m almost done. Now, be off – shoo! – an audience spoils the broth!
(The doorbell rings just as DURO enters the living room and ABBY returns to the kitchen and her cooking. It is BAALE, an uncle from Duro’s paternal side, a wiry balding man of about sixty-something with a lecherous air about him. He has a smile that is permanently perched on the edge of a secret lewd joke and is about to plunge into laughter. He has the general appearance of a man who can’t be trusted with anything; a devious man always scheming and plotting, looking for the next opportunity to get something out of a bad situation for himself.)
DURO: Ah, Uncle! Merry Christmas! It’s nice to see you again.
BAALE: Is it? If it is always that nice to see me, why haven’t I seen you this year?
DURO: Uncle, you know how this city life is; work, life, this, that, hustle here, bustle there, it never stops.
BAALE: Until you die.
DURO: Ah, Uncle, we will not die in Jesus’ name o.
BAALE: Everybody will die one day, whether it is in Jesus’ name or not. Even Jesus himself died. . . Anyway, it is Christmas Day, and He didn’t die today, He was born, so we are here to celebrate. Speaking of which, I can smell celebration in this house already, coming from the kitchen. Is that my wife performing her wonders and miracles in there? (Going towards the kitchen.) Of course! Who else! Who else but my one and only sweet wife, Abby-Abby! The miracle worker.
(ABBY kneels to greet him at the door of the kitchen, but he draws her up by her waist and pulls her into an embrace which he holds on to for a bit too long, until ABBY begins to feel almost uncomfortable, not just because there’s that strong smell of a long journey on him, but one of his hands is beginning to venture past the boundaries of greeting. She draws away from him and tries to hold her smile in place.)
ABBY: Daddy, it’s so good to see you.
BAALE: That is what you and your husband say, but I never see any of you. I don’t even mind if I don’t see that one, even though he is my son, but you, you should see me more often, that is what a good wife does. Abi aren’t you my wife again? Let me go and look for another wife.
ABBY (laughing): Ah, no o, Daddy, I’m still your small wife o.
BAALE: Eh-hen! So I should see more of you! You hear?
ABBY: Yes, sir.
BAALE: Good. Anyway, you know even if you people don’t come and see me, I will come down here to greet you; that is what a good father does.
ABBY: Thank you very much, sir, we really appreciate your visit, and it is always nice to have you around.
BAALE: Good. Now that all that is out of the way, (sniffing the air) I perceive the smell of things to come, good-good things.
ABBY (laughing): Yes, Daddy, the food is almost ready, just give me a little more time. I’ll soon be done.
BAALE: Oh take your time, take all the time you need, all the time in the world even, for I know that it is wonders that you are cooking up in there, and such marvellous things need time.
ABBY: Thank you very much, Daddy.
BAALE (dropping his voice): Have I told you before, that your cooking is as if God just gives us a slice of heaven to taste, to let us know what it feels like to be up there with Him.
ABBY: Ha, now you’re flattering me, Daddy.
BAALE: I’m only speaking the truth, nothing but the gospel truth.
ABBY: Thank you for the kind words, sir.
BAALE: Thank me? Don’t thank me o, I should be the one thanking you. Thank you for taking good care of me, my good wife.
ABBY: Yes, sir. May God keep you around longer so that we can keep taking care of you.
BAALE: Amen! That’s a big prayer o! May your own children take care of you, too, before my very eyes, and take care of me, too.
ABBY (a bit subdued): Amen, sir.
BAALE: Ehen, let me go and wait in the parlour, and prepare my tongue for the coming festival.
(Back in the living room, he beckons to DURO to join him at a far corner of the room, out of the earshot of ABBY in the kitchen. They take seats close to the singing radio.)
BAALE (leaning in towards DURO, whispering): It is specially because of you that I came o.
DURO: Because of me? I thought you came to pay me and my wife a visit, your usual Christmas visit.
BAALE: Ehn! Yes. But this one is a different type of visit this year, this Christmas is different this year. . .
DURO: What do you mean by that? I don’t see anything different in this year’s Christmas.
BAALE: You won’t see it. You cannot see it. A child can never see what an elder sees even with his eyes closed.
DURO: What is the meaning of all this, Uncle? Is something wrong back at home?
BAALE: No. It is here that something is wrong.
DURO: Here? Where? How?
BAALE: Good. I told you that you cannot see what is wrong. But I will show you. Because everybody can see it, and they are talking, asking, but nobody has answers. So, I have come to you today with an answer to your prayers.
DURO: What prayers?
BAALE: Good. You know you are the only surviving son of your father’s line in the family, the only direct bearer of his name left. He was my only brother, so that makes you my son. One day I will follow him down that dark, unknown road. One day many years after, you will join us. If you leave this earth without somebody to carry this name on, that will be the end of it, for your father’s line. It would seem as if none of that lineage ever existed. Do you now see how important children are, especially sons? Now, why I said this Christmas is a special and different one is because, we have waited for years; asked, prayed, made sacrifices, begged, cried, yet nothing, and by next year, this woman you call your wife will begin the end of a young woman’s journey, the last few years that draw her closest to menopause’s door; you know what that means. . . And as a father, I cannot sit down and fold my hands, watching my son’s life come to nothing.
DURO: With all due respect, Uncle, my life will not come to nothing. Because my life is not defined by my ability to father a child.
BAALE: That is where you’re wrong! It is! Every African man’s life is. And his life would mean nothing if he can’t do what a man is supposed to do!.Anyway, that is why I have come today, with a solution.
DURO: I hope this is not headed in the direction I’m thinking it is. Because, I’m not going to let anybody bring any stray woman into this house. If it is Mama that sent you, because she feels that I respect you too much to refuse a request from you, tell her that this one is not going to work.
BAALE: First, your mother doesn’t know anything about this. Secondly, nobody is bringing anybody into your house to cause any trouble for you or for your wife. Do you think we’re acting Nollywood film here? No! This is a serious matter, and I am trying to approach it with the wisdom it requires. (whispering) Your wife is not even going to know about it. . . This is all you have to do: pay a small visit to the village, maybe one weekend, I have a young fertile girl ready for you, all you have to do is lie with her. You don’t even have to know her name or anything, all you have to do is just do your job as a man and put a child inside her, and I’ll take care of the rest. Your wife will never even know you have a child in the village. All you need to do is just keep taking care of the child, I will take care of the mother. You don’t even have to visit them!
DURO (sighs and bows his head): Baba, I have heard enough out of you this afternoon to lose all the respect I have for you, but I am exercising so much restraint right now not to disrespect you. I guess it just shows how much respect I have for you. Because I look at you as a father, even though I’m very certain my father would never have descended this low. But while I am not surprised, I am disappointed, more so because you call this woman your wife, your daughter, treat her as if you love her, yet you want me to partake in an act of deceit that would break her heart, kill her.
BAALE: Ah! My son, it is not like that o. I love her o. I really love her, and that is why I am doing all this, because if you’re happy, she’ll be happy, too. And I want her to be happy.
DURO: Oh I’m sure she would be very happy to know that her husband who vowed to stay with her through thick and thin has gone to get himself a child outside, with another woman. I’m sure she would be elated.
BAALE: She doesn’t have to know! What you don’t know cannot kill you! Ah-ah, why are you talking like a small boy?
DURO: You haven’t conducted yourself like an old man who should know better, Uncle. You know, I would have asked you to leave, but for the spirit of Christmas, and I don’t want to have my wife wondering why you left so early. But I have to state it once again, without equivocation, that I am utterly disappointed.
BAALE: You would have thrown me out of your house, Duro, you! Because I’m trying to help you. Ah. (Rises to his feet and dusts the seat of his trousers.) Well, before you throw me out, I will show myself out. I have done a bad thing by trying to help my brother’s son. . . Ehn, but before I go, a thought just occurred to me, that maybe the problem is even with you and not your wife, that is why you’re against this good idea I brought. So you’re trying to hide the problem, because if you try that one in the village and it doesn’t work, your sickness will be exposed, that you’re not a man where you should be a man. Well, if that is the case, I have one final suggestion. . . I don’t know how you will take this one, but what do I even care, you have already said you will throw me out, so what do I have to lose if you take it the wrong way, a man dies only once. . .
DURO (shaking his head): Please, Uncle, don’t.
BAALE: Ah, hear it first. (lowering his voice) So, let me try to help your wife, you know, to check if she’s okay; it will be within the family, nobody will know, you know, since I’m like a father to her, it will be easy, and if it works it is just me helping her, and helping you at the same time, to hide your shame and —
DURO (in a low voice that sounds like a knife): Get out. Get out of my house. And I don’t want to ever see you again.
(BAALE scurries out of the house. After the door shuts behind him, ABBY comes out from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a napkin and looking around.)
ABBY: Ahn-ahn, Duro, where is Daddy?
DURO: He had to rush off, he got a call from home about an emergency.
ABBY: Ah, I hope all is well o.
DURO: Well, who knows?
ABBY: So that means he won’t be coming back?
DURO: He won’t.
(The doorbell rings. As ABBY makes as if to go to the door, DURO waves her off to the kitchen and goes to open the door. It is Abby’s mother, IYA ALA, followed by a man in a flowing cream satin robe whose voluminous hem pools at his feet in folds and sweeps the floor as he walks. He has dirty shoulder-length dreadlocks and a bushy beard and eyebrows. There is a large bible wedged in his right armpit, a large bell in his left hand, and a rusty unlit censer swinging casually from his right hand. When he gathers his gown up to cross the threshold, his bare coarse feet are revealed. When he speaks, his voice is rough and loud.)
WOLI NLA: Peace unto this house o, and unto its inhabitants. (He rings his bell loudly twice, as if to announce his presence.)
DURO: Good afternoon, ma. Good afternoon, sir. Merry Christmas, ma.
IYA ALA: Merry Christmas, my dear son. How are you? Erm, this is Woli Nla, the prophet of the Lord. . .
WOLI NLA: The Most Senior Superior Prophet of the Most High God of Moses, Lazarus and Jehosaphat! I have come with the word of the Lord Himself for this household, as spoken from the mighty holy mouth of the Great God Himself through my mouth!
DURO: Thank you, sir. Good afternoon, sir. You’re welcome. Merry Christmas. Come in.
WOLI NLA (leaning towards IYA ALA to whisper in her face): Is this the one that is the husband?
IYA ALA (nods): Yes, my lord.
WOLI NLA (puts the censer down, takes Duro’s hand and shakes it vigorously): Congratulations, my dear brother! Congrats!
DURO (looking confused): Th. . . Thank you. . . But. . .
WOLI NLA (raises his hand and closes his eyes): No! Don’t doubt the power of the Most High One! Don’t. Yes, congratulations! For I can see a child in your arms, yes! Yes, yes, yes. Not just any child, a son! Yes! Yes, Lord. A sonnnnn! (Gives a raucous laugh.) Yes, a Christmas gift! Unto you a son is born as it was born to Mary.
IYA ALA (throws her hands up): A-men! Hallelujah!
WOLI AGBA (opens his eyes and turns to DURO): You have a son, sir.
DURO: I don’t.
WOLI AGBA: I say you do!
DURO: And I said I don’t!
IYA ALA: The prophet said you have a son, you say Amen! That is how the power of the Lord works!
(ABBY has come out of the kitchen to see what all the noise is about. She is greeted by the comical sight of the prophet hopping about the room on one leg, eyes shut, speaking in strange tongues, interspersed with off-key singing, and clanging his bell violently, while her mother and husband stand aside and watch as if hypnotised. ABBY sidles up to her mother and greets her with a frown.)
ABBY (whispering): What is all this about, Mum?
IYA ALA (keeping her eyes forward): Desperation.
IYA ALA: Since you have refused to follow me to the man’s church, I have brought him here for you, and he brought his church with him, and his power.
ABBY: Mum? It is supposed to be Christmas!
IYA ALA (gives her a look of disdain): Eh-hen? Then? What does that have to do with your time running out, and me, as a good mother, making sure that it doesn’t run and leave you behind. You think I will sit down and watch you bring disgrace upon my head? Or you don’t know that all the shame will eventually become mine, the mother of the barren daughter. (Snaps her fingers over her head.) Never! I reject it. . . Then people will start saying, Maybe she has eaten her daughter’s children, witch. Never!
ABBY: Mum! But this is supposed to be a Christmas get-together! Not a church crusade!
IYA ALA: Look at you. Christmas get-together. What are you getting together? What do you have that you’re getting together, tell me! Other women are getting together with their children and their children’s children all around them, you’re here talking about Christmas get-together with only you and your ears. The Christmas you’re celebrating, is it not the birth of somebody’s child that is being celebrated? When are they going to join you to celebrate the birth of your own, ehn? And you’re here talking about Christmas get-together. Better gather yourself together and stand well, because this is your own Christmas get-together this year o, as this year is your last chance.
ABBY (raising her voice): Mum, this is my house, and I’m not going to let you bring a crazy circus in here in the name of-
WOLI NLA (stops abruptly, raises his hands): In the name of Jesus! Be silent! Be still! I bind every evil spirit! Jah! Hey! Yes. Silence. Stop talking, the Lord is speaking! Yes, there is an evil presence in this house. It is dark and it is not letting light enter the house. This spirit. And it is inside somebody. Somebody. . . Somebody is carrying this spirit inside their body, and it is not letting the person carry another body as she should. But today, today!, today-today, this foreign spirit will be chased out of that body! Yes!
(He rummages through the pocket of his robe for something. When his hand comes out, a half-smoked stick of weed falls to the floor from his pocket; he doesn’t notice it. ABBY’s eyes widen in surprise, and she is about to say something but her mother pinches her on the arm and she yelps in pain.)
WOLI NLA: Yes! Yes! The spirit is beginning to reveal itself small-small. It is beginning to cry out in agony! But wait, you spirit from the pit of hell, there is more pain coming for you! You just wait.
(He lights the incense in the censer with the lighter he produced from his pocket and the smoke rises grey and thick to the ceiling, choking everybody except him. He swings the censer back and forth, round and round, all over the room, as the three of them cough and splutter, their eyes turning to water. He stops in front of ABBY, making circles with the censer around her head; lost in this thick cloud of smoke, she is contemplating whether to just knock the thing out of the man’s hand or knock some teeth out of his mouth. Just as she has made up her mind and is making a fist to be deployed, the front door flies open with a bang. MA FLORENCE, Duro’s mother, and a fierce-looking native doctor burst into the living room and stop, partially blinded by the smoke in the air, trying to wave it off.)
MA FLORENCE: Ah! What is all this? (Clapping) You people want to finish my son finally! You want to kill my son for me! It is not enough that your useless daughter has reduced him to a mere boy, by not making him a father, now you want to eat what is left of his bones! The gods will not let you o! (She turns to the native doctor, AJIGBANA, an elderly man, though bent, but looks as if he has fire in his bones, and carries a certain wicked light in his eyes.) Baba, you are looking at me like this ni, until these witches destroy me completely! Deliver my son, please.
AJIGBANA (calmly): Put your mind at rest, my daughter; nothing will happen to your son. (He reaches into the goatskin bag slung across his bony shoulder.)
MA FLORENCE: Thank you, Baba. Please do something quick o. These witches want to see the end of me, but the gods will not let them. They have brought their fake prophet to start performing magic and blowing juju smoke everywhere to hypnotise my son so that they will keep sitting on his head and he won’t know what to do! They have forgotten that he has a mother! A strong mother o. It is where your witchcraft ends that my own starts o! Ah! I will show you today! You will see me well. . . (Gives sardonic laugh) See me o, I had just brought Baba today to come and help me deliver my son from the clutches of the enemies, I did not even know that they had already started the war! Wi-tches! Wo, your plan will not work!
AJIGBANA (still rummaging inside his bag): I said put your mind at rest! Victory is yours today.
MA FLORENCE: Ase! Yes, Baba.
(The old man pulls his hand out of the bag with a sharp movement and blows something in powdery form into the air, which turns into smoke, thicker and greyer than the prophet’s, such that everybody is now blinded and coughing, except the native doctor, who is spitting some fiery incantations into the dense cloud of grey. It takes a while for all this smoke to clear; when it does, the prophet is seen sprawled out on the floor, as though in a coma, his bell, censer and bible lying next to him on both sides, his robe a huge pool around his motionless body. Everybody stares at him. AJIGBANA’s laughter shakes in his throat, filled with conceit.)
AJIGBANA (turns to MA FLORENCE): What did I tell you? Didn’t I tell you, that I am the man that bathes with fire! When you came to me that your son was in captivity, didn’t I tell you to put your mind at rest, that victory would be ours?
MA FLORENCE: Ah, you did, Baba, you did o! You did tell me and you have done as you said. . . Ah, thank you, Baba. . .
AJIGBANA: Thank the gods, the gods that strike like lightning, thank them not me. . . But! But, the victory is only half won at this point.
MA FLORENCE: Ah, how do you mean, Baba?
AJIGBANA: We have only delivered your son; the ultimate goal is for him to become a father, which will give us complete victory.
MA FLORENCE: Ah, yes o, Baba! Yes, yes!
AJIGBANA: And a father he will become.
IYA ALA: Amen!
MA FLORENCE (turns to IYA ALA): ‘Amen’ kill you there! What are you Amen-ing to? Abi you think you can fool us? You and your witch daughter.
AJIGBANA (to IYA ALA): Don’t be mistaken, it is not the fake god of this your fake prophet that will do it o, no, this one is not the job of a white god that resides inside your head, it is the gods of my fathers that will give this young man a son.
MA FLORENCE: Ase Edumare!
(Duro’s sister, CALLY, comes in. She stops at the door, her eyes darting from the man lying lifeless on the floor to the native doctor with the wild look in his eyes.)
CALLY: What is going on here? Duro, Mama? What’s happening? (No answer) What is all this?
DURO: It’s nothing. . . They were all just leaving. . .
CALLY: That man lying there doesn’t look as if he’s going anywhere; he looks as if he is gone!
DURO: It’s just a bit of misunderstanding. . . I’ll sort it out. . .
CALLY: All of this mess is a bit? This is not a bit of anything!
MA FLORENCE: Wo, it was a battle, that is what, and what you met here is the defeat of our enemies, and victory for us! Yes.
CALLY: Mama, what are you talking about? Victory, defeat, battle, who is fighting who?
MA FLORENCE: Wo, that is it. Sebi you, you have been looking away since, they put your brother’s head under their buttocks, and you have been acting as if you don’t know or you don’t care, so I decided to come and fight my fight by myself.
CALLY: What fight?
MA FLORENCE: The fight to liberate my son! From the devil. And we’ve won!
CALLY (sighs and shakes her head): Mama. Mama. . . (She turns to DURO) It is you I have come to see.
DURO (in a tired voice): I can’t take any more interventions today, please, I’ve had enough.
CALLY: We need to talk.
DURO: About what?
(A boy of about ten comes in through the front door. He stops. Everybody turns to stare at him.)
CALLY (whispering): I told you to wait in the car.
BOY: I need to use the bathroom.
DURO: Who. . . Who is this?
CALLY: That is why we need to talk.
DURO: Talk. I’m listening.
CALLY: Not here. Let’s go outside.
MA FLORENCE: Wait! Wait, wait, wait. . . (She opens her bag, brings out a wallet, and takes a photograph out of the wallet. Looks from the boy to the photograph and back; goes back and forth like that a few more times before screaming.) Hey!
DURO and CALLY: What?!
MA FLORENCE (her voice low, her eyes wide and on the boy): It is as if I’m looking at my son.
MA FLORENCE: My son, my son, I am looking at my son ohhhhh. . .
DURO: Mama, what is all this? What are you talking about? Which son? Do you know the boy from somewhere?
MA FLORENCE (hands him the picture): Take.
DURO (takes the picture, looks at it and frowns): This is me. On my tenth birthday.
MA FLORENCE: Yes, my son, yes, it is you. (pointing to the boy in front of them) And it is him, too. Look at it well. (DURO stares at the picture closer and longer) Do you see him? Now look at him. (DURO looks up at the boy) Do you see you? Do you see that he is you?
CALLY: That’s what I came to talk to you about.
DURO (sinking into a nearby seat): It. . . can’t be.
CALLY: It is.
DURO (in low hoarse voice, his head bent): Who?
DURO (raises his head, eyes red): That was nothing.
CALLY: But it became something – him. (pointing to the boy) Something she was willing to hide till the end, but I couldn’t bear watching you suffer the way you were anymore, the agony I knew you were going through, so I took him and brought him here without her knowledge, brought him physically so that there would be no doubts. . . Besides, you can’t hide blood forever, it is bound to spill out into the open someday; blood is blood, and the bond is too thick to ignore. . .
DURO: All these years. . . Why now? Why ever?
CALLY: She didn’t want to break your family, but is there any family without a child in it; but now you have one, and you can have a real family.
DURO (head bent): You shouldn’t have.
CALLY: I should have watched the silence kill you? Let the silence of your sorrows press you to your grave? When you already had what you thought you didn’t. You just didn’t know. I had to let you know.
DURO: No, you should have just let me die in ignorance; you should have let the blissful quiet of not knowing kill me. . . You should not have let me know.
CALLY: I couldn’t have done that. It was killing everybody – you, Mama, me, Yewande. . . (looks at ABBY) her. . .
(ABBY begins to move away from the crowd, in the direction of the door that leads into the inner parts of the house. Her eyes are blank, not fixed on anything, and she’s walking as if floating. . . DURO leaps up from the seat and goes after her. He takes her hand, stopping her.)
DURO: Abby. . .
ABBY (turns to look into his eyes, her voice is a whisper): You promised it would be fine.
DURO: It will be. I’ll make it fine. It will be fine, I promise.
ABBY (smiles): Yes, for you, it will be; not for me. It’s nothing for me. There’s nothing left for me.
DURO: No. I’m here.
ABBY: I’m not.
DURO (crying): Please be, please. . .
ABBY: I can’t. I’m no longer here. I’m going to find silence.
ABBY: I’m tired. I want to rest. (DURO lets go of her hand) Goodbye, Duro.
(The whole room is silent as ABBY walks off into the dark corridor. They hear the sound of the bedroom door close, and nothing else.
The boy has wet his trousers. There’s food burning in the kitchen. But nobody moves. DURO remains standing where his wife left him, the tears streaming down his face. He knows that it is the end of things.)
writes plays, screenplays, and short fiction. His debut collection of stories, Smithereens of Death, won the ANA/Abubakar Gimba Prize for Short Stories in 2015; his debut play, Every Single Day, was selected by the British Council for production as part of the Lagos Theatre Festival in 2016; his children’s book, I’ll Call My Brother for You!, won the ANA Prize for Children’s Literature in 2020; his poetry chapbook, Love is a Profusion of Roses Growing from the Barrel of a Gun, was second runner-up for the Libretto Chapbook Prize 2020. His works have appeared in Bakwa Magazine, Panorama Journal, Afridiaspora Anthology, Jalada Africa, Kikwetu Literary Journal, Ake Review, Agbowo, among other publications. He lives and works in Ibadan, Nigeria.