This week, we are proud to bring you “Love is Such a Morphing Thing” by Ugochukwu Damian Okpara, our newest entry into our New Voices catalog. In this story, Okpara’s narrator returns home for his father’s funeral, to a family that’s long disapproved of his sexuality. “Grief drags a body through life like a tired goat being dragged to slaughter.”
It’s close to twenty years since I left home. I am in my car still gazing out towards home, and the distance between where my car is parked and where my trauma was nurtured freeze. I resist the urge of driving out to book a hotel or driving back to Calabar entirely.
Grief makes one oblivious to the loops they long unknotted especially if the grief is theirs to own.
Circa 12:53 AM, the morning is asleep and the road is still, except for the swaying of the trees and me, in a car, driving. I do not know exactly where I am, or rather I do not care. I let the Google map guide me home, its new Nigerian accent feature echoing out of my speaker, and I irritably think of it as silly, as though it were making a mockery of my grief, perhaps the grief Mama transcribed into me like some sort of computer language when she called months back. “Imana, Papa anwugokwa?” she said calmly before bursting into a loud wail as though she just learnt of my father’s death. Later, I will sit like a figurine at the reception in my office and wonder why I had joined her to cry. I’ve long unknotted them like strands of hair even though Mama keeps lingering like Ogbanje.
Grief drags a body through life like a tired goat being dragged to slaughter.
I text my lover, Kene, to let him know that I have gotten to Abia Tower. Kene says it is the only thing that is worth showing off in the whole of Abia State. I want to look out for ‘WELCOME TO ABIA; GOD’S OWN STATE’ but I do not. Kene calls to ask how many hours left before I get to Uli.
“I don’t know, maybe two or three hours,” I say reluctantly. Although I am staring at my phone, and on the left down side of the Google map, two hours, seventeen minutes is displayed.
“Okay bae. Stay safe,” Kene says.
“But I de miss you dieee.”
I get tired of hearing his voice and I drop the call on him. Later in Calabar, he will ask why I hung up on him, and I will sit at the edge of the bed, my head propped up in my palms, wondering how the voice that drew me to him would be so tiny and irritable in moments like this. It was this same voice that made me choose him over my colleague, Ebube, whose singsong voice felt like a joke.
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