Green, yet dry

you won’t need that suit again when you get to spain. in spain you will find ones of better quality, like the navy blue piece uncle stanley wore in the picture he posted on ig last christmas—you envied the smile plastered on his face. a tell-tale smile that spoke volumes of a man free from the incessant power cut in nigeria, the fuel scarcity that made the whole country sigh with distress, the ravaging anxiety that came with being unemployed—bad governance, he was free. you have lost count of your classmates who left the country in like manner since the past three years, their exit was always heralded by posts with high definition shots taken at an international airport or a scantily wooded neighborhood with neatly paved sideways. you have learnt to ghost their posts and their chats, in which they make it a point of duty, at the slightest chance, to draw comparisons with your outstanding performance back then in school and how it has amounted to nothing. you have given up on the applying for scholarships and having your hopes subsequently dashed by emails laced with glib honorifics, when that call came. in the excitement, you left the heated electric iron to burn the suit you would wear to another interview at a primary school down the street, the burning smell of the fabric strangely smelt pleasant that moment. few years later, standing on a platform and waiting to catch a train in a subway at manchester, you would loathe that excitement. you would loathe uncle stanley and everyone, for not warning you beforehand about what being black meant, for not telling you how much was concealed with those smiles, those shiny pictures on instagram. glancing at the pale faces that milled around the subway, you would wonder if everyone else there had that invisible yet permanent lump lodged halfway down their throats. did they all have unpayable student’s debts? does their heart skip a beat whenever they hear the police siren or hurry past a crime scene.

* *. *

when you chatted with uche, your younger brother, and he calls europe the greener pastures you can’t help but to think about the small plant you by your window at gregory street. so green, yet dry and dead. he said he was working hard and saving up to apply for a student visa like you did. you were scared you saw yourself in him. that moment, he said the only thing that could make him change his mind was acquiring a place in asaba for his art studio—and art was his life. getting on a train you dialed his number and without waiting for pleasantries you say: i will give you the money for everything, uche, everything. there would be an awkward silence, which would be replaced by an joyful scream from the other end, so loud you yanked the phone from your ear with a smile. when he finally had his joy under control, all he could say was: thank you brother, thank you! imela!

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