“In the beginning, the deception was straightforward. Her assignment was to root out any political radicals, and report back. She found spying on the academic set to be easy. These scientists and doctors weren’t as self-involved and closed off as she’d worried, they were too trusting.”

“Where was her badge? That invisible insignia that had inspired a relentless neighbour to creep up on her and later lament to the deemster that it was indeed they who had been stealthily hunted and subjected to terror and obsession.”

“‘We have to ask the ancestors to open the way.’ We knelt on the muddy ground and she sprinkled black snuff, speaking in low tones. When she was done we cupped our hands and clapped. Bongi and Tembi ululated.”

“The specificity of that critique. I looked down, becoming increasingly self conscious of standing up there next to Marinette. I began to imagine how the students in this class would remember this moment.”


“He was like a diseased cow. The water and blood kept flowing and flowing and I begged him to tell me what to do. But you know how your brother is.”

“Hang him?” and he laughed, kicking the ball from below my feet, dribbling it into the makeshift goal post of arranged stones. Surely, after all these years, the people of Makutano would want something to thaw away the silence which had wrapped itself around the town. Surely, music played from a guitar would be welcome, just in time even, I thought.

“I remember the first time I went to the battlefield. I could smell everything. From the antiseptic”

“He couldn’t run away. He had contemplated the idea deeply before. He was a wall on which his family leaned.”

“It occurred to me then that Kemi was unlike any person I knew. I’d never known anyone to trick a pastor like that, and have him not see through it; never had anyone sneak into my bed without warning and steal my sleep, disappearing by morning and causing me to doubt the verity of the memory.”

“She was unnerved, snappy—it was unfamiliar to her, being scared like this. I didn’t like it. Moraa was never scared. I’d had all the fright in the family and she, all the belonging.”