Train Juju

The Iowa Review - - CON­TENTS - Iheoma Nwachukwu

Presently, he re­assem­bled his fam­ily. It made Cor­po­ral Nwafanim happy. His three sons, aged five, seven, and eight, re­turned as he had wished. More im­por­tantly, his wife came, too. Where be­fore, when he got off work, he had sat in harsh si­lence in the scratched arm­chair, clos­ing his eyes to re­live the firm weight of his mother’s breast in his mouth at age seven, or, at other times, slowly pitch­ing back and forth in the seat as he watched the jerk of the clay lamp’s flame on the bare ta­ble, now there were the squab­bling cries of his lit­tle boys to sweeten his evenings. The round-bel­lied man who had com­mit­ted adul­tery with Nwafanim’s wife for four years lived in a ten­e­ment on the edge of town. He made a loud scene out­side his own door on the night when Nwafanim ar­rived on his shiny new mo­tor­cy­cle to take back his chil­dren. The man moved the fright­ened boys be­hind the half-open door, un­latched the gold watch from his wrist, thrust it into his pocket, and stepped out on the fish-pat­terned door­mat to con­front Nwafanim. “For your in­for­ma­tion, I just want my chil­dren. I want to put them on the Suzuki I just bought and peace­fully go home. Sim­ple as A,B, C,” Nwafanim of­fered in a firm voice. He eyed the man’s big fist war­ily, won­der­ing if his ri­val knew he was a po­lice of­fi­cer. He did not know the fel­low was this large. At the last minute, he had de­cided to wear this faded T-shirt and cream trousers in­stead of his uni­form, be­cause he planned to in­tim­i­date no one here. Now he saw he had been fool­ish. In a fight, this mid­dle-aged brute would pound him like cas­sava. The man snick­ered. He scanned Nwafanim’s an­gu­lar frame with lit­tle in­ter­est. “Re­mem­ber, no one touches the tail of a tiger’s cub, whether the cub be liv­ing or dead,” Nwafanim threat­ened. He screwed the bot­tom edge of his shirt around a shiv­er­ing fin­ger. The man punched the wall in defiance. “Your wife left you for me—equa­tion bal­anced,” he barked. “Look at you. Poor man like you. I’m a confirmed lo­cal boy op­er­at­ing on a high level. I visit La­gos in a lux­u­ri­ous bus once ev­ery year! Shame on you. You want suf­fer­ness to kill these chil­dren. May abom­i­na­tion flee!”

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