What happens when a ship gets disconnected from its anchor? It drifts wherever the wind and tides decide to take it. Life tugged violently at the chains of Esosa’s anchor one cold Wednesday morning after she had gotten up early, to do her chores and get ready, so she could see her sister in the hospital.

OmoSèfè, Esosa’s big sister, who never got sick, woke up screaming one night that her chest was on fire. The whole house rushed to her room to find her writhing on the bed in agony, soaked from head to feet in sweat. Esosa had never heard her sister cry like that before.
The first hospital she was taken to diagnosed that she was suffering from malaria and typhoid, they prescribed some drugs. She was rushed to another hospital. After she did not respond to treatment and prayers, she was diagnosed with something else. Esosa didn’t know what it was, but she could tell it was something serious, and her sister was hospitalized immediately.

Now for over a week, she had not seen OmoSèfè, as her parents didn’t take her along with them when they went to visit her. She was determined to go this time. No matter what. “Mummy let’s go and see Sèfè now. Nobody has gone to visit her since, I’m sure she is lonely and bored now,” Esosa said to her mum, slightly annoyed that she was taking too long to get ready.

Her mother shuffled her thin legs to Esosa, who was standing beside the front door, trying to undo the lock. Her eyes were tired and crinkles formed at the sides, as tear streams ran down her bony cheeks. Her hair was packed in the black hair-net that Esosa hated- the same one Adesuwa, her other sister, used it to hit her when no one was home.

“Esosa,” her mother called.
“Mummy, why are you crying?” Esosa asked, narrowing her eyes. Her mother crouched in front of her, so their faces could be level. “I have something to tell you. Èpa didn’t want to tell you earlier but. . . Esosa.”
Why was she crying? Whatever this was could wait, let’s just go and see Sèfè.
“Um. . . mummy what?”
“OmoSèfè went to heaven three days ago.”
“What?” Esosa asked, not because she didn’t hear, but her brain found it difficult to interpret what her mother just said immediately. She watched a tear journey down her mother’s cheek and land on the tiled floor.
She started to process it slowly. People go to heaven when they are obedient and do good right? Yeah, and Sèfè was definitely a good person but. . . wait. . . don’t you have to die to go there? Does that mean…? No way!

“No no no. . .” she started to mutter and shake her head. “No, no no. . . no mummy no.”
Her mother sobbed and stood upright, then patted her shoulder gently. It felt too unreal to Esosa. Death. . . that was what happened to people in movies, where the person coughs and their children shout for the doctor to come.
Did Sèfè cough like people do in those films? Was anybody even with her to call the doctor? Why did it take so long for Esosa to find out about it?

Tears gathered in Esosa’s eyes and her lips trembled when she tried to speak. Her parents had been lying to her, these three days. She remembered Èpa said he wanted her to rest the day before, that’s why he didn’t go to visit. It had not made sense to Esosa then, and now she could see why.
The woman she still wasn’t sure was her real mother kept patting her and saying it would be fine. Esosa felt a surge of anger travel through her and she retracted. She didn’t want that woman to touch her anymore, or to listen to anything she had to say. She just ran past her to Sèfè’s room. Who was going to read her silly stories now? To tell her that one day she’d be a writer as famous as Chimamanda? Who was going to protect her from Adesuwa, if she started hitting her again?
She collapsed on Sèfè’s bed and tugged at the sheets. It smelled just like her. Esosa had made it the day before and sprayed Sèfè’s raspberry body splash on it. She had imagined how her sister’s big eyes would light up, how she’d smile and express her gratitude to her little sister for keeping her room neat and tidy. Just the way she liked it. She cried into the pillow and punched the mattress repeatedly. They soaked up her pain quietly, and let herself cry some more.

“God. Èpa has spoken about you in the morning devotion and on the pulpit so many times. He said you’re good, that you have lots of power, and that you can bring the dead back to life. So please, you know how miserable I’m going to be without Sèfè. Please, bring her back, please,” she prayed amidst heavy sobs until she fell asleep

Later that afternoon when Èpa announced his arrival by blaring his car horn, and walked into the house, complaining loudly about how bad the roads were and how the government was still useless, Esosa refused to meet his eyes. He quickly picked up that her mother had told her about Omosèfè. Then he shook his head, slowly, and dismissed her grief.

“People die Esosa. It just happened to be her this time. The bible says in all things give thanks.”

That was all he said about it, before giving her his briefcase to take inside. No mention about how he knew and kept it from her for three days. No mention about how she was going to survive now that the only person who truly cared about her was gone. About how she would live with parents who hardly remembered her birthday and a sister who was ashamed to admit they were related in public.

Esosa kept all her feelings to herself. When it was time to eat, she went to the table quietly even though she had no appetite. God forbid you refused to eat when Èpa was around. She sat on the table, across Adesuwa, who also heard about their sister’s death for the first time that day. If she was hurt, she didn’t show it, she hardly showed any emotion, except pure disdain for Esosa.
That night, Esosa slept on Sèfè’s bed and woke up the next morning expecting to see her sister’s smiling face, telling her that God had looked down, seen that she would be hopeless without her, and decided to bring her back.

She didn’t come back, not that day, or the day after or the next week, when her body was lowered into the earth, encased in a shiny, brown casket. The realization fully hit Esosa now, that she would never see her sister again. That was when she started to feel she was truly alone, when she lost her anchor, and then slowly started drifting.


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