Akwaeke Zara Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria. Her first full length novel, Somadina, was selected as a finalist for the New Visions Award by Lee and Low Books.
Published by The Sable E-Mag, her latest short story:
I took one of my taxis to the estate so that no one would recognise the car. The security at the first gate waved us in with a cursory flick of their torchlights, not bothering to bend to the window. After all, the taxi was only a common yellow, not the oil black that would tell them they could smile with expectation and not the shiny sugar red that would merit at least a curious glance through the glass. I did own cars like those, but I’ve long found the poor man’s yellow to be the most useful. I inherited them all with my father’s company when he stumbled to his knees and quietly died during a morning jog two years ago. My mother became a muted and folded woman after that, thinning out until I grew concerned about her fragility. Every time she blessed me, her palms felt like spun paper about to flake gently over my scalp. It had been nothing to do my duty, to ease her mind, to come home and take over.
As we pulled through the second gate, I turned over the invitation in my hands, feeling out the weight of the heavy paper. The driver spun the steering wheel slowly and drove the taxi into a corner of the sprawling parking lot. He was one of the few that I trusted, a sour old man with sharp ears, selective hearing and he was a beast behind a steering wheel. I handed him a fold of thousand naira notes and he handed me a mask in return- soft leather, made in battered oxblood. When I held it briefly against my face, it felt like another skin.
Aima had left me five weeks ago, after I watched her crumple against a wall while sobbing that I would never marry her. I didn’t mean to just watch, I knew I was supposed to pick her up, cradle her against me and tell her that I loved her, that of course I would marry her, but the raw bitterleaf truth was that I didn’t recognise the hysterical woman she had become. The things she said sounded like another woman’s mouth had eaten hers. When she finally stood up and looked at me with completely betrayed eyes, I didn’t recognise myself either. Tonight, my intent was to forget about both of us, the interminable drive to the airport and how she didn’t even turn around for a last look … (keep reading)
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