Chioma had a problem she could not see

A severe case of empathy 

She forgot- weak needs strong 

She adopted everyone’s struggles to a fault 

That’s why she cried louder than everyone else at Amaka’s father’s funeral 

Louder than the bereaved themselves 

She loved to wrap herself in others’ misery 

Borrowed clothes. 

Her condition worsened after her family got a television

Now Chioma could forget about her own problems 

Her family’s problems 

The war in her village 

And adopt the wars in places far away 

Places she had never been 

She adopted racism 

Although the fairest person she knew was Ugochukwu 

She did not attend her village youth meeting 

Where the women were assigned the task of cooking for the soldiers 

She was fixated on the war in America. 

She painted her lips red 

And her nails blue 

Her hair white 

In blind solidarity with people she didn’t know 

The war in her village was not her problem 

She had gone mad. 

If she wasn’t thinking about possible solutions to America’s problems 

Or creasing her brows at the President’s new policies 

Maybe she’d have heard her mother say 

Don’t go to the stream today

America on her mind 

Calabash on her head 

Chioma died with an arrow in her chest. 

Author: loladeniyi


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