Almond Tree

The dry leaves of the almond tree front of the house are blown by fleeting winds into the compound. Sometimes I just sit and watch as the leaves flutter. I watch as the sun scorches the green into golden brown. I watch as the rains take over and the same bereft leaves happen upon their beauty. I watch through the season because I have nowhere else to go. I watch because I can’t walk, so I have to be good for something. I also watch the neighbor’s kids play and blabber. I wish I could walk. I wish I could touch the tree anytime I wanted without the help of someone.

I can pick the dry leaves and crack them. The sound is soothing. I wish I could match on them, but I can’t. I am tired of this compound though. I am tired of listening to Mrs. Ibinabo’s children blabber all day about sweet nonsenses. Why do I even come out to the open? I could be indoors all day and no one would expect more from me. But because of the tree, the almond tree, it soothes me. When the winds blow the tree dances, and sometimes I get to see a fruit fall. I imagine how they hit the ground, the blemish. Would the kids still eat a fallen fruit that has been on the ground for hours?

Sometimes the kids drop by to say say their hi’s. I make up a smile for them, they mustn’t know how deceiving life is. The kids always smile, they smile while I’m rooted to this wheelchair. What’s so happy about life? What if they could feel what I feel right now? Why if they couldn’t use their legs like me? What if each time they tried to stand, they fall? What if they knew my pain? What if I could make them know my pain?

No. I’m thinking silly thoughts. ‘Look to the almond tree, let it dance for you, let it make you forget your pain,’ I say in my thoughts, ‘Look to the almond tree, let it save your soul.’

Bobo’s coming home soon from work. He’s my helper and my brother. He has always been there for me. He carries me wherever I want to go, especially to the almond tree in front of the house. Bobo always asks, “What’s so gluey about the almond tree? It’s the most common tree in Nigeria.” And I reply, “It is common, but this one is different.”

I don’t know what the future holds for me. Bobo has to start a life soon. Who would help me? Would I have to start a life too? Would any girl like me this way? Or would I have to get a girl like me? These thoughts depress my mind. Why can’t I walk like Bobo? Why me? Why am I the one that deserves useless legs? What if it were Bobo? What if we both had useless legs?

No. I’m thinking silly thoughts. ‘Look to the almond tree, let it dance for you, let it make you forget your pain,’ I say in my thoughts, ‘Look to the almond tree, let it save your soul.’

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