THE JACARANDA TREE

 

Chinelo Achebe-Ejueyitche

Achebe-Ejueyitche teaches and writes in New York State, where she lives with her family. Daughter of Chinua Achebe, the famous Nigerian novelist, she has also worked in publishing. Her first book, The Last Laugh and Other Stories,was published by Heinemann in 1992.

 

It was hot. And like pieces of yam roasting over slowly smoldering coals, people cooked in the unrelenting heat, fleeing into their homes when they could no longer bear it. Hoes lay forgotten on farms, foodstuff covered and abandoned in the marketplace. Lethargy settled over the tiny village; only the buzzing of insects and an infrequent pestle pounding a late meal could be heard in the stifling silence. 

In a small bungalow, a mother and her three young children tried their best to ward off the heat while an ancient fan creaked ineffectually from the ceiling. The children fidgeted; just before dawn, they had been woken from an uneasy sleep by the sound of low flying planes and sporadic gunfire. It was quiet now, but the heat kept them on edge. 

The youngest child played on a raffia mat piling wooden blocks on top of the other. From time to time, he would swipe at them, uttering a shriek of delight as they tumbled to the floor. But tiring of the monotonous game, he was soon diverted by the sight of his older siblings in a kicking match. 

Their mother raised her head with an effort. “Alright, you two, that’s enough…” 

She sat at the dining table, fanning her face with a small handkerchief, and then, sighing, turned to stare out the window beside her. Shading her eyes against the sun, she peered into the distance; there appeared a faint rippling of the leaves of the Jacaranda tree in front of the house. There it was, again; a barely discernible draft. She listened intently. Around her, it was still and quiet.  CONTINUE READING>>>>

 

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