MY PEN SPEAKS - THE SICKLE CURSE

FRIDAYS 10AM
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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