Short Story – Jide Existing as One and Many (2) 

A short story on a young man in Nigeria figuring out his indentity.

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Mama Nnukwu lives in a magnificent mansion, with a chubby little girl. She is the house girl; she assists her with errands because she is old and frail. She has much energy, and the village has not been lonely since my arrival.

I had left the embrace of my mother. She was a strong pillar. Before I left, she cried, watching keenly. I did not know why she does that but to my sister, it was different for her. She wanted I leave the house to the village. In the church, the annoying reverend father told her to pray fifty decades of the rosary every day. At home, she forces me to partake in her rituals. It is tiring as my gaze fixates at the image of the sacred heart of Mary, the falling St. Michael the archangel statue, spittle dawdling out of my mouth before I fall asleep. Mama’s words are incomprehensible rambles.

The little town in the eastern part of Nigeria is entirely different from what I had known it to be. But the last time we came for a holiday, my grandmother was living in a little bungalow, before they finished building the mansion.

I have watched the house girl narrate that I should not kill the python that slithers on the compound’s marbled floor in the afternoon, under the glistening hot sun. She says it is Eke and it represents the second market day. It is the day Mama Nnukwu, my grandmother Ekwunife goes to the market to appease the goddess. The goddess eke the messenger of Ala, the earth goddess of fertility.

Every night, it has been recurring nightmares. There is a spacious compound and in my dream, I don’t fail to see Mama shapeshifting into different forms; taking shapes of the pot, trees… At first, I found it entertaining, but when she shapeshifts into Eke, my mouth drops. I can recognise it because it’s head is unusually big, unlike other pythons I watch on the NatGeo wild…

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