Книга Half of a Yellow Sun. Содержание - 21

Everything changed when he was inside her. She raised her hips, moving with him, matching his thrusts, and it was as if she was throwing shackles off her wrists, extracting pins from her skin, freeing herself with the loud, loud cries that burst out of her mouth. Afterward, she felt filled with a sense of well-being, with something close to grace.


Richard was almost relieved to learn of Sir Winston Churchill's death. It gave him an opportunity to avoid going to Port Har-court for the weekend. He could not face Kainene yet.

"You'll have to lay your awful Churchill joke to rest now, won't you?" Kainene said on the phone, when he told her that he would be going to Lagos for the memorial at the British High Commission. He laughed and then thought of what it would be like if she found out and left him and he never heard that sardonic voice over the phone.

It was only days ago, but even the memory of Olanna's flat was hazy: he had fallen asleep afterward, on her living room floor, and woken up with a dry headache and a keenly uncomfortable sense of his own nudity. She was sitting on the sofa, dressed and silent. He felt awkward, not sure whether they were supposed to talk about what had happened. Finally he turned to leave without saying a word because he did not want what he imagined to be regret on her face to turn into dislike. He had not been chosen; it could have been any man. He had sensed this even while holding her naked, but it had not marred the pleasure he found in her curvy body, her moving with him, her taking as much as she gave. He had never been so firm, never lasted so long as he had with her.

Now, though, he was bereft. His admiration had thrived on her being unattainable, a worship from afar, but now that he had tasted the wine on her tongue, pressed himself so close against her that he too smelled of coconuts, he felt a strange loss. He had lost his fantasy. But what he worried most about losing was Kainene. He was determined that Kainene would never know.

* * *

Susan sat next to him at the memorial service, and when parts of a speech delivered by Sir Winston Churchill were played, she clasped her gloved hands together, tightly, and leaned against him. Richard felt tears in his eyes. This was perhaps the only thing they had in common, their admiration for Churchill. Afterward, she asked him to have a drink with her at the Polo Club. She had taken him once before and had said, while they sat by the expanse of green lawn, "Africans have been allowed in for only a few years, but you wouldn't believe how many come now, and they show such little appreciation, really."

They were seated at the same spot again, near the whitewashed railing, by a Nigerian waiter in a tight black suit. The club was almost empty, although a polo game was on at the other side. The sounds of eight shouting, swearing men galloping at full speed after a ball filled the air. Susan spoke quietly, full of the dulled grief of mourning a person she had never known. She said how interesting it was that the last commoner to get a state funeral was the Duke of Wellington, as if it was news to him, and how sad it was that some people still didn't know how much Churchill had done for Britain, and how horrible it was that somebody at the memorial had suggested that his mother had some Red Indian blood. She looked a little more tan than he remembered; he had not seen her since he moved to Nsukka. She became animated after a few glasses of gin and talked about a marvelous film on the royal family that had been screened at the British Council.

"You're not paying much attention, are you?" she asked after a while. Her ears were red.

"Of course I am."

"I heard about your lady love, Chief Ozobia's daughter," Susan said, lady love in the comic caricature that she assumed was an uneducated accent.

"Her name is Kainene."

'Will you make sure always to use a rubber? One must be careful, even with the most educated of these people."

Richard looked out at the calm unending greenness. He would never have been happy with her-life would be gossamer, all his days merging into one long sheer sheet of nothingness.

"I had an affair with John Blake," she said.

"Did you?"

Susan laughed. She was playing with her glass, running it along the table, smearing the water that had collected on it. "You seem surprised."

"I'm not," he said, although he was. Not because she had an affair but because it was with John, who was married to her good friend Caroline. But this was expatriate life. All they did, as far as he was concerned, was have sex with one another's wives and husbands, illicit couplings that were more a way of passing heat-blanched time in the tropics than they were genuine expressions of passion.

"It means nothing, absolutely nothing," Susan said. "But I did want you to know that I shall keep busy while I wait for you to finish with your dusky affair."

Richard wanted to say something about her disloyalty to her friend and then realized how hypocritical it would sound, even if only to himself.

5. The Book: The World Was Silent When We Died

He writes about starvation. Starvation was a Nigerian weapon of war. Starvation broke Biafra and brought Biafra fame and made Biafra last as long as it did. Starvation made the people of the world take notice and sparked protests and demonstrations in London and Moscow and Czechoslovakia. Starvation made Zambia and Tanzania and Ivory Coast and Gabon recognize Biafra, starvation brought Africa into Nixon's American campaign and made parents all over the world tell their children to eat up. Starvation propelled aid organizations to sneak-fly food into Biafra at night since both sides could not agree on routes. Starvation aided the careers of photographers. And starvation made the International Red Cross call Biafra its gravest emergency since the Second World War.


Ugwu's diarrhea was cramping and painful. It did not get better when he chewed the bitter tablets in Master's cabinet or the sour leaves Jomo gave him, and it had nothing to do with food because the sudden dashes to the Boys' Quarters happened with whatever he ate. It was about his worry. Master's fear worried him.

Since Mama brought the news of Amala's pregnancy, Master half stumbled around as if his glasses were blurred, called for his tea in a subdued voice, and asked Ugwu to tell the guests he had gone out, even though his car was in the garage. He stared into space often. He listened to High Life often. He spoke of Olanna often. "We'll leave that for when your madam moves back" or "Your madam would prefer it in the corridor," he would say, and Ugwu would say, "Yes, sah," although he knew Master would not bother saying any of that if Olanna were really coming back.

Ugwu's diarrhea got worse when Mama visited with Amala. He watched Amala carefully; she did not look pregnant, still slender and flat-bellied, and he hoped that the medicine had not worked after all. But Mama told him, as she peeled hot cocoyams, "When this baby boy comes, I will have somebody to keep me company and my fellow women will no longer call me the mother of an impotent son."

Amala sat in the living room. Her pregnancy had elevated her, so she could sit idly listening to the radiogram, no longer Mama's help but now the woman who would give birth to Mama's grandchild. Ugwu watched her from the kitchen door. It was a good thing she had not chosen Master's armchair or Olanna's favorite puff because he would have asked her to get up right away. She sat with her knees pressed together, her eyes focused on the pile of newspapers on the center table, her face blank. It was so wrong that such an ordinary person in a nondescript dress and a cotton scarf around her forehead was in the middle of all this. She was neither beautiful nor ugly; she was like the many young women he used to watch going to the stream in his village every morning. Nothing distinguished her. Watching her, Ugwu suddenly felt angry His anger was not directed at Amala, though, but at Olanna. She should not have run away from her own house because Mama's medicine had pushed Master into the arms of this common slip of a girl. She should have stayed and showed Amala and Mama who was truly mistress here.

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