Fall 2012 • Vol. XXXIV No. 4 FictionOctober 1, 2012 |

Ezekiel

You sail at dusk, not knowing one from the other. Moonlight leaks across the water like an oil spill. You see their faces bathed in the greasy glow: children, infants, women, mostly men. You cannot count how many people are in the boat, but you estimate at least thirty, perhaps forty. When it lay near-empty you couldn't imagine how all of you would fit inside. But here you are, bumper to bumper, as Gertrude says of the downtown Dakar traffic, its hot-city stink, the sweat of a million bodies. "Move your leg," the woman beside you says in English. She sits, knees akimbo, sheathed in a wrapper the color of flowering pineapples. She wears a mauve shawl tugged up to her neck as if the sea breeze is too much of a balm for the heat. The shawl fails to mask the extent of her condition—six or seven months, you think. You couldn't envisage Gertrude like this. You wouldn't allow it. Not on this boat, alone, without her people around her. Then you remember—it will be roughly only one w

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Segun Afolabi was born in Nigeria and is the author of Goodbye Lucille, a novel, and A Life Elsewhere, a short-story collection. He was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2005 and is currently working on a new novel and a collection of stories.

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You sail at dusk, not knowing one from the other. Moonlight leaks across the water like an oil spill. You see their faces bathed in the greasy glow: children, infants, […]

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You sail at dusk, not knowing one from the other. Moonlight leaks across the water like an oil spill. You see their faces bathed in the greasy glow: children, infants, […]

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