The Sister



The air was moist and momentary blasts of hot air saturated the woman. She picked up her already moist handkerchief and squeezed it before using it to mop her face. The noise playing behind the driver irritated her. She got a quick look. It was those passengers who delighted in making life miserable for their fellow man. ‘STOP PLAYING THAT SILLY MUSIC AND SWITCH OFF THE… THE (she got a closer look) UGLY LOOKING PHONE!’ Everyone stared at her but she maintained the gaze. Many thought the usual thing. It was possible she was under an intense psychological problem. They all asked the culprit to switch off his phone and with assuring eyes, a man nodded that it was okay. She rolled her eyes and looked out the window.

The bus stopped, she alighted and headed towards the train station with the burden on her head. ‘iyaibeji, careful over there, the railing is slippery.’ someone cautioned. She smiled her thanks and held onto the wooden rail then climbed the steps gingerly and sighed when she reached the platform. She collected her ticket of N150 at the ticket point and showed the ticket to the checker who must have seen it being handed over to her. ‘hanhan, move jor. No press the tin for my face’ he said. She sucked her teeth and spat into the grass then tottered towards the train. Her first impulse was to turn away and look for another alternative but she had no choice. She had no problem. Pregnant women always got a place to seat. She walked down the aisle and everywhere was full since it was occupied by tickets representing vague passengers. She was sweating heavily now and it was no use mopping her face then she heard a beckon that sent airs of relief saturating her body in the midst of the treacherous heat. ‘iyaibeji, come and sit here!’ ‘ha, thanks a lot sir. See as I’m sweating and it’s only the tickets that get to sit.’ The man nodded.’ Abi, even the heat is just unbearable. They just use these fans for decoration.’ He added and nodded towards the grease-filled fans. She hmmnned and resettled in her sit, waiting for the train to blare its horns and move towards Ebutemeta junction.

Sweaty bodies, smelly ones and injured ones were occupants of the train. A few number of clean bodies sent a faint aroma of hope and she savoured each moment passionately. Although she appreciated the kindness of the man beside her, the thick smell from his mouth made her regret accepting his invitation to sit beside. She was acquainted with it at first when he talked about the fans and she hoped he wouldn’t talk anymore but the usual discussions in the cramped train excited him and she had to endure the stiffening smell. Everything nauseated her. She wanted to throw up; the impulse was high but she checked herself. Dupe had taught her a technique she must have read from stupid books. The fear would ease away as it came. She smiled, her pretty sister with her dimpled cheeks. ‘Thank God for that job of hers. At least, our palms won’t be dry anymore’ she thought aloud. ‘What?’ the man asked. She shook her head. Her waiting was not in vain. God’s time indeed was the best. A familiar smell came from her neighbor, she averted her face. He was itching for a conversation but the feeling wasn’t mutual.

The train stopped mid-way. The news spread quickly throughout the coaches. A boy had fallen off the moving train and was chopped underneath the train. People shook with terror: women were aggrieved with maternal sorrow. Different versions sprung up but the ‘surest’ she heard from the checker walking around was that the young man had found no space and sat on the iron pedals enjoying the evening breeze. He must have been enjoying the evening breeze so much that he fell asleep and fell off. Choi! She shuddered. Just like that? Humans die just like that. She eased her stuff and squeezed herself through the mass as she got to her stop.

‘E sun fun iyabeji o. E sun o.’ people adjusted for her and she squeezed her way through the mass of humans. A boy’s elbow nudged her stomach. She opened her eyes wide. ‘ ofepamini? You want to kill yourself?’ ‘ha, sorry ma.’ ‘oloshi’ she moved away not necessarily moving, she was being pushed. She couldn’t control herself, the current of humans propelled her forward, she plunged her hand towards the bannister, it did not reach it. She was being pushed, harder this time. ‘ Let me alight carefully!’ she screamed. Her pleas fell on ears struggling to hear each other’s complaint and seeking adequate replies. She lunged forward and was caught by the granite-bed. Her frame landed gently and her stomach plummeted to the piercing made by the thick iron beside the rail tracks. Blood splashed onto the faces of the onlookers. The train moved, her legs wobbled under its bosom and every scent of life vanished from her. It moved on and carried the pieces of her body, leaving behind the trunk-less corpse of Olurombi.