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Joy Isi Bewaji



Joy Isi Bewaji

Bewaji is author of Eko Dialogue, a collection of short stories that has been interpreted on stage by The Crowne Troupe of Nigeria. She is an editor, and has edited lifestyle magazines in Nigeria. She was a part of the 9-writers-4-cities tour in Nigeria, and is currently working on her second book.


 Night of Callous Thrust

The night is black, like troubled death seeking a spouse. Ukpa’s lips quaver as darkness summons its escorts – a bat peeking through the thatched window, male crickets chirping, contemplating delicious sex. Anxious sweat dance in a pond formed close to her head; her trembling right hand clutches on to a wrapper, dragging it from its wearer; the left digs up moist sand from the earth. Her wail is cowed by rough hands pressing her down, causing sweat to surge.

‘No cry,’ the old woman says, wiping off sweat from her brow, ‘no cry’.

Ukpa dances to the pain thumping behind her back, her waist, her joints.

A small breeze arrives, alarming the candle light gleaming from the corner. She can hear her heartbeat, and the whispers around her. They hold their wrappers to their chest, these women, shaking their heads, beating their breasts, mournful voices.

This soot night, one can not make out faces. The women loiter in every corner of the tiny hut.

It is the same coal darkness that overwhelmed that night, at the pathway. Ukpa could not make out his beastly face; his arms had grabbed her from behind.

‘Ye!’ Her exclamation was greeted by a slap so stinging it threw her to the ground. She dug into the earth, wet soil crammed in her nails; pounds of sweat dropped by her side; chills of horror remembered, made worse by this night, a night as black as death.

It is the same feeling – of life and of waste.

‘Push!’ the old woman cries, holding on to Ukpa’s legs; she is one of the strong-willed ones who did not stand afar but held her down with legs wide apart watching her uterus.

Agonizing. Like that night, her fingers dug into his back as he smothered her beneath his mass. Equal pain.

She hears thunder; will it rain on a sad night such as this‌

Puuuuush! another command, the voice as severe as that night. The night when he ordered her, ‘open your legs!’

‘Eeeeeee!’ throbbing headache. Pain stabbing in all directions, just like that night of callous thrust.

‘Eeeeeee,’ again, biting the rough hands, blood spewing, but this time no slap. The old woman did not slap her like he did.

‘I see the head,’ the old woman shouts; a smile, at once, wiped away by sorrow heavy as lead.

Ukpa is pulling at her wet hair, soft in her palms like cotton wool; she pulls harder so the pain measures with her torment. Until a nippy blop spews the baby out.

The tiny thing lets out an ear-splitting shrill, Ukpa shuts her eyes, and again she hears herself screaming as he pounced on her, ravaging her, eating her soul.

‘A girl,’ the women whisper.

Another victim.

May her breasts shrivel like a cursed vine; may her buttocks be as coarse stone, repulsive to touch; may she be ugly as sin, like debris there is nothing left to ruin.


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