Monday, September 22, 2008

Short Story: Ghosts by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Anyone who has read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would agree that she is not a writer to be missed. Her writing is so good that we are propelled towards it. I found Ghosts online at Zoetrope: All-Story. Do check it out by clicking on the title.

Like Purple Hibiscus and Half of the Yellow Sun, it too has references of the Nigeria-Biafra war and the after-effects of it.

James Nwoye, a retired professor of seventy-one, has gone to the University bursary to ask about his pension, whih he has not received or a while now. Here he meets another person Ikenna Okoro, whom he had known long time ago before the Nigeria-Biafran war. Everyone had assumed that Ikenna had dies in that war. So the professor is shocked to see him/ They get around talking about the olden times. Ikenna says that the red ross helped him escape to Sweden, not letting out reason for it. He does speak of his family whih he lost in the war. He asks James Nwoye about his family. The professor tells him that his daughter Zik, died in the war but he and his wife Ebere, had another daughter Nkiru, who is now a doctor practising in US. During the war, they had escaped to US. Although they did come back but they never could visit their old house.

"In fact, Ebere and I came back to Nsukka right after the war ended in 1970, but only for a few days. It was too much for us. Our books were in a charred pile in the front garden, under the umbrella tree. The lumps of calcified feces in the bathtub were strewn with pages of my Mathematical Annals, used as toilet paper, crusted smears blurring the formulas I had studied and taught. Our piano—Ebere’s piano—was gone. My graduation gown, which I had worn to receive my first degree at Ibadan, had been used to wipe something and now lay with ants crawling in and out, busy and oblivious to me watching them. Our photographs were ripped, their frames broken. So we left for America and did not come back until 1976. We were assigned a different house on Ezenweze Avenue and for a long time we avoided driving along Imoke Street, because we did not want to see the old house."

James Nwoye's wife Ebere, is dead. Still he can feel her presence. As he says, she comes to visit him, rubbing Nivea on his skin, the way she used to do when she was alive. Although dead, she is tangible for him. However, he can't speak about it to his daughter.

Here we have to speculate who is the ghost----Nwoye, his wife or Ikenna. In a way all three are. Dead or alive, it does not matter.....