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When I was two, I watched Papa die.
That day, I died too, as the happy little girl who loved blabbing gibberish suddenly went silent.

I grew up a bony child while Aunty Nkiru, Papa’s sister, squandered Papa’s hard-earned money on expensive wrappers and blouses.

Schooling was off the list for me, as who would want to spend money on a mute girl’s education?

“How will a dumb child like her learn to recite the alphabet, huh?” Aunty Nkiru had once questioned her friend when she was asked why I sat at home all day instead of joining my mates in school.

under the sheets

“She will learn to speak. Some children start speaking late, you know? Just give her a chance.” Aunty Sarah, her friend had replied.

If only she knows I’d never get to speak.

If only she knows that at the age of two, I watched Aunty Nkiru poison Papa.

First, she had warned me to never tell anyone.
Then, she had cut off my tongue to be sure I stayed silent.

If only she knows.

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