The Sickle Curse 

 "Hey, Nawa o, wonders will never end. Have you heard?!" She screams at the top her voice, punishing the ground as she runs towards the house of her long-time friend. The child on her back is forced to cling for his dear life as his mother charges like an angry elephant. She halts suddenly and continues shouting and clapping with reckless abandon. "Mama Segun come outside o, gist dey. I told you that family was cursed didn't I?"

 "What is it? Eh? What has happened that you won't let me have peace this evening?" Mama Segun reluctantly proceeds from her house. Her thin legs and pinched accentuation are a direct contrast to the thick richness that is her friend - Mama Dapo.
 "I told you they are cursed, that family! It's why I never sell or buy from them so they don't transfer their ancestral curse to me. Can you imagine, I was walking by the house when I overheard them weeping...." she spits out on the floor.
Mama Segun replies warily "Weeping? Again? Who is it this time?"
 "Their one year old baby and Eldest son."
 "Ahh! Two children in one day? The gods forbid!"

The conversation goes on and on, they only pause at intervals to snap a finger over their heads and spit out, hoping that the evil doesn't befall their families too. All I can do is watch through this window. They're at the middle of the street, shouting so that Papa, Mama and everyone else would hear them. Soon, a small crowd forms and they're all glancing over at my house. I wish it was love in their eyes, or at least pity, but no - It's Hate. A kind of hatred I'm too young to understand. The kind I hope I'll never understand. 

I turn to watch my parents. They don't care what's going on outside - or they act so. The voices don't matter but they wept continously. The tears flow with a smoothness I envy, they fall to the ground and get lost. They are supposed to be the embodiment of our pain, at least that's what Mama says, but they don't seem so. If anything, the drops seem genuinely happy as they roll off their cheeks and leap to the floor in ecstasy. A kind of ecstasy I don't understand.
Watching the teardrops makes me want to smile but my eyes turn to my brothers  - Seun and Tayo - and some tears fall from my cheeks too. I only knew Tayo for a year. My precious Seun was always there, in between his crises and all the pain, he was there. This all hurts; my eyes are tired and my mind is weak. I wish I understood better. Everybody says my parents are cursed, that's why no-one would trade with us. It's why Papa was away at the farm, trying to get things for supper while Mama struggled between Seun and Tayo. I wish Chief would've helped. His van would have gotten them to the hospital in time. Maybe, just maybe they might've been saved - but he couldn't. He dare not bring a curse upon himself so he thrust my mother out like a slave. 

I remember the stories Papa used to tell us, in those moments when all was perfect and it felt like bliss. Of a time when he and Mama were loved and respected. It's hard to imagine, no one ever talks to us, but Papa said its true and I believe him. Both he and Mama were resistant to the disease. They never got sick from malaria and thus everyone respected them. They even brought their children to our home for protection. But then his own children started to die and the love quickly turned to hate. He usually ended the story there but I know the rest of it. Every night before I sleep I recount them. All 5 of them - now 7. 7 siblings - I've lost to this strange illness. The priest says we're cursed by the gods, and no sacrifice would appease them. The hospital says Papa and Mama should never have married and that they're the bearers of what plagues us. The tears are still flowing. It's not fun watching them roll down anymore. The more I watch them, the more I remember every other tear shed and every other whispered prayer. Praying that the gods would save the next sibling - I guess they weren't listening, or I didn't pray loud enough. 

I turn back to the window, out into the street. I see nothing but orange. Orange and red. I call out to Papa. He doesn't hear me at first and I have to scream louder than I ever have. He rushes to my side and looks out. The sadness on his face dissipates very quickly - I get confused. He forces a smile and tells me not to worry. He says everything will be fine. I don't believe him. His brows are twitching the way they do when he's scared and confused. He turns to Mama and they speak in hushed tones. She wails loudly; at this point I'm very sure nothing is going to be fine. I see them both fidgeting. Papa is usually in charge, but not now - right now he isn't. By the time he thinks to try the door they are already there. Amidst the orange and red, I can see faces. People I've known my entire life. The ones who never reply greeting or show sympathy when I stumbled. The ones who laughed when I hawked and decided that I must not attend the same school as their children - I see them. They're all holding torches and they look the same as always -  unveiling and unloving. 

Our hut doesn't leave much room to hide. It doesn't matter anyways. The dried palm fronds on the roof catch the fire quickly and the people make sure to throw more burning objects in. We're all huddled in a corner now. The smoke is burning my eyes and my lungs, and I can barely think. I look at Papa. I say nothing, but he reads my eyes like he always does. He understands that with these eyes I'm questioning.
 'What will happen Papa? What's going to happen to us?'
 "We're going to see your siblings, Angel. We'll be fine."
 They're both shielding me, but it still burns and it hurts to be alive. The smoke is taking that away from us. 

Papa stops coughing, but I dare not look at him. I don't want to see but it  feel his weigh; he weighs more and more and his body is pressing me down but I still don't look.  Instead I look to Mama. She says nothing and just looks into my eyes. I feel my breath slipping as I stare back and again tears begin to flow from her eyes. I watch them flow as far as my eyes can see and suddenly I'm smiling. I feel a peace I'm too young to understand but I know everything will be alright.
I'll see them all soon.

- Victory Wrights

Victory Okoyomoh, pen name - Victory Wrights is an Optometry Student at the University of Benin. A writer,  both prose and poetry, his works have been published in some anthologies and other websites.  He also run an instagram poetry account - @victory_wrights

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