It would take an hour to have me bleed out if I slit my wrists. If I hung myself, I’ll be limp in five minutes, dead in twenty. If I sent poison down my throat, it could take seconds, minutes; hours or days, but death… was sure to come.

I could make it quick. I’d love to know how long it will take to have you intervene. Attempt to pull me out, a woman in transit to the beyond. I am dying to know.

Will you stop me before I begin? Or will you let me savour the inexplicable sweetness of pain? Its rawness, its crescendoing desperation, its own pulsating heartbeat, beating despair into every inch of my body. Will my pain be strong enough to make you show your face? Will you pull yourself from the shadows? Will you marry the light for my sake? Will you come back to me, a groom of light, sacking the darkness of pain with the light of your love? Will you? Or will you rather watch me suffer? They say death brings a certain beauty. Will you rather watch me scintillate with the sparkles of death? Watch me radiate a million colours of the world beyond. What will you do?

This silence is numbing. Chike! It is numbing.

I have never believed in ghosts, but I know you are here. There is a tinge of the acrid odour of wood polish floating in the air; it smells like your hands when they cup my face. There is a trace of the tongue-slapping sharpness of sweat in my mouth; it tastes like you when we make love. There is a roar against my skin, a ringing in my ears, a dance in the atmosphere; curls of light parade themselves before my eyes; colours burst forth in my belly, mimicking the nuisance of fireworks, all of these feel like you when you are mine.

My Ghana Must Go bag—fully packed—awaits your arrival still. I have numbered every breath since your departure. The quiet your absence brings makes it seem as though I’m breathing into microphones. Every inhale is labour. Every exhale, a battle. Nothing is worth your absence, not even the chance of a new life in Ghana, where you went to ‘prepare things’ for our relocation. I begged to go with you. I would have slept, gladly, in the streets of Ghana with you. But, you wouldn’t let me come with you. You loved me too much to let me go through such stress, and I had to take care of our son.  You said five days, five! I took it, and let you go.


I watch you leave. You are the sun, my rising, my light, my brightness. When you leave, my sun sets, never to rise again. You look back before you shut the door, and you smile, you know what it does to me. You say something I do not hear. How could I have heard it? My world stops when you smile. You leave and shut the door. You are air. My refreshing, my life. When you leave, all the air becomes dust. You leave and I sink. I cradle our baby, his skin on mine lifts me from the watery deep, so I float, waiting… waiting… waiting…


I pray to God and to the walls of Ghana to keep you safe. I pluck strands of hair from my head and bury them, pleading to the earth to lead you back to me. I leave the house for the market and the neighbours hail: “Nwanyi Ghana. Ezenwanyi Ghana. Ugo Ghana.” I smile, but I do not want to be Nwanyi Ghana, I want to be Nwanyi Chike, yours and yours alone.

I buy a big Ghana Must Go bag, fitting because like the Ghanaians sent out of Nigeria, it is not my will to leave. It is not Ghana, or the things which you say are in it that I want, it is you and the home we have built here in Aba. I go home, cradle our son, and again, I float. Waiting… waiting… waiting…


The day passes with as much speed as a snail climbing our bare concrete wall. It is unbearable. Our son, Obinna, sleeps as though peace is a medal hung around his neck. I resist the urge to shake him until he wakes. There is no peace. There is a hunger, a longing, a hopelessness, a need. There is an absence of the one I love. There is ache, body and soul. I do not cradle him. I let myself sink. Waiting… waiting… waiting…


I refuse food. I refuse water. I pray; in all the ways I know how. I snatch more strands of hair from my head, this time I make sure it hurts. I need the earth to know I’m serious. I pray for it to bring you to me. Maybe if you had a phone, I’d have called. You foolish man! You should have fixed your phone before you left for Ghana! But you said you had no need for it, there was no one to call. I was all you had and you’ll always be right by my side. Liar!

Now, I’m a mess. This is sickness, a virus. This need for you is cancer to my members, spreading through every part of my body. I run to Obinna, I cradle him but find no relief. I fling your bag of clothes to the ground and take as much as I can. I wrap some around my head. Some, I sniff, others I clasp between my legs. In an instant, there’s a lift. I rise. I do not float but, I do not sink too deep. Obinna awakes, crying. Chills run across my skin. Anguish is the storm thundering within me. Despair is the hail in Obinna’s voice, raining on me. I do not go to comfort him, I stay sprawled on the floor, waiting… waiting… waiting…


I paint my face. I clean it. I do it again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Time grows wings. The sky wraps itself in black and still, you do not return. Heat rises. The sun dons a garment of invisibility and sneaks into our room. I take off my clothes. I pray. My heart grinds stones in my chest. I tie a wrapper around my body and tie a scarf around what is left of my hair. I slog out of the house and into the street. I make it to the junction and I stand there. Waiting… waiting… waiting…

My legs do not ache, maybe they do, but I feel nothing. The wind lashes out at me. I am darkness’s child, for it wraps itself around me. The fleet of cars racing past me turn to a drizzle and then to none. I head home. Maybe I missed you, I think. Maybe you took another route.

I arrive, welcomed by the same heat and stinking absence that plagues me. The metronomic sound of Obinna’s cries scourges my ears. I go to him, I rock him in my arms. He cries still. He understands. He knows. He feels it too. This hopelessness. Chike, our son feels it too! The way the air hangs in the atmosphere: heavy, stagnant, hard. The way the night’s choir of wind, crickets and frogs sing: gloomy, tragic, mournful. The way my stomach grumbles, the way my heart pounds, the way my brows sting with heat, the way boulders of sweat form on my forehead, the way everything attests to the devil’s sing-song teasing which I hear in my soul when he tells me you’re never coming back. I hold Obinna in my arms when I fall to the ground. Crying… crying… crying…


I shave my hair, all of it. I cut myself and sprinkle my blood into the earth. I meditate, my eyes fixed on the sun. I do not blink, I swear it! I do not blink. I pray, fast, make a dress with the pages of the Bible and wear it. I do everything I can, but now that I see them coming (three women, one of whom is our neighbour, Nneka, and a man) all dressed in black, I know my prayers have gone unanswered.

When Nneka calls me Nwunye Carpenter and not Nwanyi Ghana, I scream. They restrain me, but not the sorrow running amok within me. They start talking, I do not listen. Obinna’s cries fill my ears again. I catch the words crash, fire, tanker, Ghana. And then, I scream… and scream… and scream…

Let me tell you a story. Of flowers that ingest time and bloom, only to journey towards withering. Of waters that gush, crying for a destiny other than that of crashing into the same abyss again and again and again. Of tides rising and rising, only to fall. Of the wind blowing, never to be seen, never to stay. Of you, loving me, saving me, changing me, only to destroy me. Of Ghana enticing you, just to crush you. Of me, cradling your son, and hoping to float for another day and then, another and another and another. Of me, breathing, through the wickedness wrought by Ghana’s jaws. Breathing… breathing… breathing… and breathing.

Okafor Chukwuemeka Tom is a Nigerian writer who loves writing and reading dark stories. He studied Geology in Nnamdi Azikiwe University. When he isn’t reading or shuffling between Beyoncé’s discography on Spotify, he’s bringing himself to tears, daydreaming of things that’ll probably never happen. He’s at his most creative space when he’s the noisiest inside, amidst those noises are some beautiful dark stories, brewing and taking form. He won the Prolific Fiction Writers community Romance Genre Challenge in 2022 and came second runner up in The Fiery Fiction Writers weekly Writing contest in 2022 also.