English, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 2011


The Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 87, No. 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 102-109.


Copyright 2011 Chigozie Obioma. Published by the University of Virginia.


We were fishermen.

Father first called us so after he whipped us sore for fishing at the Ala stream in the summer of May 1995. Earlier that year, the bank had transferred him from our hometown of Akure to Yola, a volatile and violence-prone city in the north of Nigeria. Father wouldn't move us with him so he lived apart and visited only once in two weeks, always coming at midnight on Fri- days and disappearing at dawn on Sundays. Each time he returned, mother would detail how the house had fared in his absence - a breakdown of home needs and how they were met, of whom she had borrowed from, of our school reports, of the church, of street happenings (like the thief lynched by the mob, his horrifying scream as the fire engulfed him). She remembered everything, and we often joked that if she'd been schooled, she would have made a great historian.