The blaring of sirens was the only sound in the air that night.

Strangely enough, the ambulance had arrived early, as if they were aware of what had happened even before it did. Onlookers threw themselves around the place, in a manner that seemed more out of curiosity than genuine concern. Yeah, some went on to take pictures, eager to breathe life into their social media newsfeeds.

Melvin grimaced repeatedly as he crawled his way from beneath his banged-up Kia Picanto. He moved slowly along the cold hard tarmac and cursed himself for going beyond the 60 km/h speed limit that night. He knew he shouldn’t have had too much of that bottle of Magic Moment at the party. He wished he had listened to Sade’s warning. She was his fiancée. They were going to get married in about three weeks. He wished he had let her drive, or, at least, been less stubborn and allowed his friend Patrick take over the wheels. He wished he had not tried making out with Sade while the car was still in motion. His car had been damaged, but then there was a lot of room for things becoming much worse.

As he watched the paramedics try their best to salvage the situation, his mind drifted to Sade. His heart skipped a beat as his imagination worked out possible outcomes of the crash. Had she gashed her forehead? Had she sustained an internal injury? Had the impact flung her out through the window, or worse still, the windshield?

But one thing surprised him in all of this. No one was coming his way to help him up or express any kind of sympathy.

“Stick with her! Make sure she’s alright!” He heard a paramedic shout

The headlights on the ambulance came on and rested on Sade. He caught a glimpse of her pretty face, adorned with dimples, the very dimples that first drew him to her two years earlier. She was sobbing uncontrollably. Her yellow top shredded at an angle below her left breast . She probably had not set eyes on him yet. He began to call out to her, screaming, “I’m here! I’m here!”

“She can’t hear you, boy. Stop disturbing the night’s peace.”

Melvin looked up. An old woman, clutching a broom and a mat, was standing at the other side of the road, opposite the spot where the ambulance had been parked.

Melvin scowled. Who was this woman. What did she mean when she said Shade could not hear him? What was that talk about disturbing the night’s peace, and what on earth was she doing with a broom and a mat. He stared at her, scorn in his eyes.

“You heard me. I said she can’t hear you,” the old woman repeated, laughing in between words.

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Melvin queried.

“Wetin concern agbero with overload, or ashawo with belle?”


“Person wey don kpef nor fit relate with person wey still dey tanda.”

“Dead? What do you mean?”

“Bros, abeg look that side well.”

He stood up and walked in Sade’s direction. On getting closer, he understood what the old woman had meant. He also realized why Sade was crying. He could see his body, mangled and motionless, lying on a stretcher. His right arm looked like it was about to detach from the rest of his body, and his eyes popped out of their sockets. Contrary to his belief, he had not survived the crash.

“Cover the body! Secure the perimeter! We need to clear this place!”

He looked on as his body was covered with a long white cloth and lifted into the ambulance. He heard Sade weep louder as two men led her away.

The gap in communication would never be bridged. He turned to ask the old woman a few questions, but she was gone, though her mat was on the ground. He felt lost. Tears began to find their way from his ghostly eyes.

He saw Sade move towards the direction of the ambulance, sobbing uncontrollably as she did so. He took a few quick steps forward, with the aim of looking at her one more time, albeit in a different state. As she tore at her hair, resisting the efforts of the paramedics at restraining her, he stared into her eyes, and what he found saddened him all the more.

The last flicker of hope was gone. The eyes he met were those of one who had resigned to fate, who had caved in to life’s eventualities, and who was slowly coming to terms with his demise, just as he now had to.




Post image by Elmer via Flickr.

About the Author:

Portrait - ChiemekeIfeanyi Jerry Chiemeke is a lawyer and freelance writer who lives in Lagos. A sports enthusiast and foodie as well, Jerry equally loves to try his hands at amateur photography. His works can be seen on his blog at pensofchi.wordpress.com )

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

9 Responses to “Coming to Terms | by Ifeanyi Jerry Chiemeke | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Amaka Anozie 2016/05/30 at 2:03 pm #

    I´ve read your story and Kalahari and now in Brittle. And not yet have I been disappointed. Good job, Chiemeke

  2. N'austin 2016/05/30 at 3:36 pm #

    I love this.

  3. ifeanyi Ogbodo 2016/05/30 at 3:53 pm #

    This reminds me of a recent accident I read in paper that claimed 13 lives. Life is too short but dying this way is surely aweful. In a drunk state, everything is predicted on luck or miracle and Irrational optimism is best adopted as the first operative rule to survival. This should not be so. Thnx Jerry Chi for this masterful piece

  4. Onyinye 2016/05/30 at 4:43 pm #

    Beautiful, Sad, and interesting.

  5. Michael Ogah 2016/05/30 at 6:00 pm #

    Sighs. Sad.

  6. Oge 2016/05/31 at 2:18 am #

    Sad sad tale.

  7. Mifa 2016/05/31 at 6:13 am #

    Wonderful write-up. I really enjoyed the piece. Props.

  8. Emmanuel Okoro 2016/06/01 at 5:26 pm #

    Sad, but beautiful

  9. Ehi Melo 2016/06/02 at 12:13 am #

    Beautiful piece. The art to paint a mind blowing piece obviously at your fingertips. Kudos my friend.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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