No one knows how it happens. No one knows how it
happens. No one knows how it happens. It happens
like this: a father builds a pond in the red earth. Fills it
with fish—half a year's savings—which will sell for
more in a few months. Rain washes poison off their zinc
roof, killing the fish, but he tries again: builds a rack,
runs a length of fresh tarpaulin over the side. Within
days the fire, envious, comes. His oldest daughter runs
up a slope, a girl on her back, her brothers close behind
and carrying whatever they can. There is no saving
the house, or its treacherous roof, even the fish, that will
be singed into the earth. For years afterwards he drives
the graveyard shift, watches the sky for rain, saves
the pomfret at dinner once a month for his littlest one.
Or so my mother, who still loves the fish, remembers.
By Theophilus KwekQLRS Vol. 20 No.1 Jan 2021