By Estrella Gada
They have served us a steaming meal of fear;
Empty bullet shells for rice
And bloodied water with severed limbs for protein stew.
For seasoning they have collected our unending tears
And stirred gleefully to make this belly churning meal.
We throw our faces away
And look at each other across the space between your house and mine;
Last week they killed your child,
This week they killed mine.
We saw the bombs falling from the skies
And heard the shrill screams of our children renting the still air;
Our hearts skipped a thousand beats,
But we forced the breath raggedly through throats raw with grief.
You lost your husband last year in the war,
I found mine bleeding to death by the yam mounds in our family farm.
It’s just you and I and this steaming plate of fear,
As the war creeps upon us each passing second from the rear.
Let me dig up the last yam from the yam mounds in our family farm;
Bring that tin of palm oil you’re got left in your kitchen.
Let’s light a fire and pour the oil into the blackened frying pan
I’ll add the last of my onions, while you chop up that pepper in tiny bits and toss it in.
That fish head we found, while we lay still under our neighbours dead body?
It should go in too; a slice of life from that stench of death will have to do.
You can pluck some zogale leaves from the backyard and shred them to bits,
Throw that in too and stir slowly.
Give it some minutes and add a bit of salt.
The yam is boiled and ready Omaye,
Let’s sit and eat this supper
Your ‘Bismillah’ and my ‘In Jesus name’ will see us through;
Maybe we might live another day
To eat the last chicken in your coop…
Glossary of terms
*Omaye- Igala word for Brother or sister
*Zogale- Moringa Olfeira leaves (used to cook zogale soup in the North)
*Bismillah- A short muslim prayer translated to mean “in the name of God”
Estrella Gada is an alumni of the Farafina creative writing workshop facilitated by Chimamanda Adichie and has won several poetry competitions including the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry prize. She is also a spoken word artist in the making and lends her acting abilities out from time to time. Her major loves are natural hair, women empowerment, music and dance.