She trudged, light and heavy, happy and sad, up and over the hills again, back towards the house. It was always hard to part from Chagonu, Nneni and the three cubs. Chagu was making progress. Today he had stood on all fours, the first time she’s seen him manage that ever since the shooting. He would live.
As soon as she thought this way, she saw it… the Wolf-soul. It appeared. It disappeared. Somayinozo hurried back home.
Why was there pain in her heart when she arose the next morning? She did not know. She prayed hard and plunged herself into her duties. Aunty Ngozi seemed harsher than usual today. The tall, dark fourteen year-old was driven like a mule.
“Clean the kitchen!” – she did so.
“Clean the top floor!” – she did so.
“Go and wash the Madame’s clothes!” – she did so.
“You good for nothing waif!” – her lips became straight and hard.
“It’s not your fault. It’s because you were born and bred in that foolish Lagos. Nonsense.”
It was now two o’clock in the afternoon. Somayinozo was hungry, but her appetite was nowhere to be found. She avoided the kitchen. She slipped out through a side door. She knew that Madame Ude would would be waiting for her in her bedroom upstairs, so they could converse, read or just nourish silence together. SOmayinozo sighed a deep sigh. That woman was so kind. Kindness flowed out of her like her breath, enveloped her like an aura. Again Somayinozo wished she could do something for the sick Madame Ude.
But not now. Now she yearned for aloneness. She waited by the side of the door until Ikem, the driver, had walked out of sight. Then she set off. The sun was high and hot, blazing in unrestrained ardour, happy and content in doing always and only this one same thing: shedding light.
Somayinozo could daily feel herself growing older and older. Everyday the world changed. Everyday she saw people differently. Everyday she grew wiser… sadder… more hopeful… stronger… lonelier. She was changing from one person to another and, in between, she did not know who she was.
She did not feel the heat of the sun. She yielded to the urge to move, move, move, seek, find… find a new destiny. But how? Where?
Suddenly the Wolf-soul, as she called this strange canine apparition, was before her again. It was moving. She followed.
… to be continued.
– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.