Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Image by Myra Siason via Flickr.

THE DOCTOR says I’ve got a hole in my heart. I tell him that I am aware. I tell him that it is you who dug it in there.

He sits opposite me, the doctor, a clean-shaven man with warm eyes that gather moist whenever he blinks. His eyes, they look like yours.

He looks at me with worry furrowed on his forehead. He makes to say something but changes his mind before the words take flight. He scans through my form a second time.

—You’ve been married for how long? he asks.

—Ten years, I say. I do not take my eyes off his.

—Any kids?

Silence.

—Does your husband abuse you, Madam?

Silence.

—I do not mean to pry, I’m only trying to understand what you mean.

I look away. I do not want his pity.

He waits a few more seconds, and when I still do not answer, he hands me a scribbled note and a printed copy of my enchocadiogram in a white envelope.

—The medication should ease things for now, but at this point, I’m afraid surgery is inevitable.

The words float out of his mouth, each like warmth encased in a bubble. They float in the artificial cold of the room, and when they find me, they burst open.

—He never hit me, I say, not once.

If the doctor is taken aback by my sudden response he doesn’t show it. He listens uninterrupting, a silence that nurtures the words out of the hole in my heart and I purge, same way I do standing before my mirror on days when agony calls me by name; days when I clutch my belly with nails digging deep, mourning the seven foetuses that long fell from within it, unbaked, never finding a home in my arms.

The doctor only lets me go when I have nothing more to say. He makes me leave with a promise to come with you for my next appointment.

No. I do not tell him of your happiness, of a second home with your mistress and three happy children, or that you only return to me once in a week out of some unsaid obligation.

I was once this happiness until I was not.

Outside the doctor’s office, I squeeze the paper and the envelope. I toss them in a bin and I head home.

*

Months later, on the night you are to find out, you would feel anger first, and then despair, at my refusal to speak to one of your many doctor friends, at my refusal of life. You would go on a calling spree, asking family and friends, anyone, asking them to beg me, talk some sense into me. You would refuse to return to your happiness, your mistress, your kids, choosing instead to not leave me by myself. And for the first time in years, before happiness, like water dripping into a sieve, sipped from our lives, you would touch me. You would hold on to me and cry. You would apologise for all the pain.

—I do not want your pity, I would try to say, but the words would never find voice, they would trip over and over into the pit you’ve dug in my heart.

 

 

About the Author:

Eric Atie is a graduate of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is a creative photographer and a short story writer who is passionate about African Literature. He is currently working on his debut short story collection.

Tags: ,

5 Responses to “Home and Holes | Eric Atie | Fiction” Subscribe

  1. Abby 2017/09/05 at 05:59 #

    Beautifully short and loaded. Nice work Eric

  2. Deechan 2017/09/08 at 07:41 #

    I love this!!

  3. Wisdom Nemi Otikor 2017/09/09 at 01:40 #

    Deep…

    Happiness is an ambiguous word. Home is where ever we choose.

    Thank you for this read.

  4. Your biggest fan 2017/10/19 at 19:55 #

    Eric I totally love you!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Let’s Talk Text: DITABA | Naane le Moya - 2017/09/12

    […] by Eric Atie. The piece highlighted the extent to which women make sacrifices in marriages. Read it here. * Story […]

Leave a Reply

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.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Mabanckou, Mengestu, Shoneyin: The Caine Prize Recruits Big Names as 2018 Judges

Alain Mabanckou - Afropolitain

For its 2018 edition, the Caine Prize has recruited a host of big names for its panel of judges. Alain […]

Nnedi Okorafor Releases First Issue of “Black Panther: Long Live the King.” Long Live The Queen.

Black Panther - Long Live the King

The forthcoming Black Panther movie, starring Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, has generated a world of hype. […]

Paris Review Editor Lorin Stein Resigns After Accusations of Sexual Misconduct at Work

Lorin Stein

American critic Lorin Stein, editor of the prestigious, career-making literary journal Paris Review, has resigned from his job after accusations […]

Revisiting Childhood | Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau | Poetry

5570178377_ca5e11db25_o

in church today/ the pastor mentioned the twelve ways to burning in hell/ he did not mention love/ i began […]

Photos | Happy Birthday to Ainehi Edoro, Founder and Editor of Brittle Paper

Ainehi Edoro 2

One evening in mid-2010, in her apartment in Chicago, Ainehi Edoro, then a PhD student at Duke University, looked up […]

Lola Shoneyin Is a Cover Star on Guardian Life Magazine

lola

It’s almost two years since Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation, graced the cover of Guardian Life Magazine, […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.