The lights of the sun were hiding on the other side of the world and the birds were retiring to their nest by the time Ejima decided that it was time to go home, having fed enough on the bread of affliction. She tried to swallow but the fluid in her mouth was all gone. Her lungs were like the face of two stones rubbing over each other and her stomach hadn’t rumbled in protest either. She wasn’t hungry; the sorrow had made sure of that. What kept flooding her mind was all the time she had spent with Uche.

He was her first love. They had met on the eve of the new yam festival after she had danced with some of the virgins that were not betrothed. It was love at first sight. He too had performed that day. He had wrestled with Dinta—who turned out to be Nneamaka’s husband—and had lost. The villagers had been angry with Uche, for losing the crucial wrestling match. Most people called him a coward. But Ejima had seen his failure with one eye closed. Even though Uche had denied it, Ejima coul
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