Книга Half of a Yellow Sun. Содержание - 36
Master, Olanna, Ugwu, Baby, and Mr. Richard all stretched out on the living room floor while the soldiers searched the house. Baby closed her eyes and lay perfectly still on her belly.
The one with the green beret had eyes that blazed red, and he shouted and shredded some papers on the table. It was he who pressed the sole of his boot on Mr. Richard's backside and said, "White man! Oyinbo! Don't shit hot shit here, oh!" It was he, too, who placed his gun to Master's head and said, "Are you sure you are not hiding Biafran money here?"
The other one, with the mole on his chin, said, "We are searching for any materials that will threaten the unity of Nigeria " and then went to the kitchen and came out with two plates heaped with Ugwu's jollof rice. After they ate, after they drank some water and belched loudly, they got into their station wagon and drove away. They had left the front door open. Olanna stood up first. She walked into the kitchen and poured the rest of the jollof rice into the dustbin. Master locked the door. Ugwu helped Baby up and took her inside. " Bath time," he said, although it was a little early.
"I can do it myself," Baby said, and so he stood by and watched her bathe herself for the first time. She splashed some water on him, laughing, and he realized that she would not always need him.
Back in the kitchen, he found Mr. Richard reading the sheets of paper he had left on the countertop.
"This is fantastic, Ugwu." Mr. Richard looked surprised. "Olanna told you about the woman carrying her child's head on the train?"
"Yes, sah. It will be part of a big book. It will take me many more years to finish it and I will call it 'Narrative of the Life of a Country.'"
"Very ambitious," Mr. Richard said.
"I wish I had that Frederick Douglass book."
"It must have been one of the books they burned," Mr. Richard said and shook his head. "Well, I'll look for it when I'm in Lagos next week. I'm going to see Kainene's parents. But I'll go first to Port Harcourt and Umuahia."
Mr. Richard said nothing else; he never spoke about his search for Kainene.
"If you have time, sah, please find out about somebody for me."
A smile creased Ugwu's face before he hastily looked solemn again. "Yes, sah."
Ugwu gave him the family's name and address, and Mr. Richard wrote it down, and afterward they were both silent and Ugwu fumbled, awkwardly, for something to say. "Are you still writing your book, sah?"
"'The World Was Silent When We Died.' It is a good title."
"Yes, it is. It came from something Colonel Madu said once." Richard paused. "The war isn't my story to tell, really."
Ugwu nodded. He had never thought that it was.
"Can I give you a letter, in case you see Eberechi, sah?"
Ugwu took the sheets of paper from Mr. Richard and, as he turned to make Baby's dinner, he sang under his breath.
Richard walked into the orchard and toward the spot where he had sat to watch the sea. His favorite orange tree was gone. Many of the trees had been cut, and the orchard now had stretches of cultivated grass. He stared at the point where Kainene had burned his manuscript and remembered days ago in Nsukka, how he had felt nothing, absolutely nothing, watching Harrison dig and dig in the garden. "Sorry, sah. Sorry, sah. I am burying the manscrit here, I know I am burying it here."
Kainene's house was repainted a muted green; the bougainvillea that had wreathed it was cut down. Richard went around to the front door and rang the doorbell and imagined Kainene coming to the door and telling him she was fine, she had simply wanted to spend some time alone. The woman who came out had slender tribal marks on her face, two lines on each cheek. She opened the door a crack. "Yes?"
"Good afternoon," Richard said. "My name is Richard Churchill. I'm Kainene Ozobia's fiance."
"I used to live here. This is Kainene's house."
The woman's face tightened. "This was abandoned property. It is now my house." She started to close the door.
"Please, wait," Richard said. "I'd like our photos, please. Can I have some of Kainene's photographs? The album on the shelf in the study?"
The woman whistled. "I have a vicious dog, and if you don't go now I will turn it on you."
"Please, just the photographs."
The woman whistled again. From somewhere inside, Richard heard a dog growl. He slowly turned and left. As he drove, his windows down, the smell of the sea in his nose, he thought about the many times Kainene had driven him down the same lonely road. Inside the town, he slowed down as he passed a tall woman, but she was too light-skinned to be Kainene. He had delayed coming to Port Harcourt because he first wanted to find her so that they would visit the house together, look together at what they had lost. She would try to get it back, he was sure, she would write petitions and go to court and tell everyone that the federal government had stolen her house, in that fearless way of hers. The same way she had stopped the beating of the young soldier. It was his last full memory of her, and his mind edited it of its own accord-sometimes the sleep-tussled wrapper tied across her waist was flaked with gold, other times with red.
He would not have come to the house now if her mother had not asked him to.
"Go to the house, Richard, please just go and see." Her voice was small on the phone. During his first conversations with her, when they first returned from London, she had sounded so different, so full of certitude.
"Kainene must have been wounded somewhere. We must get the word out. We have to do it quickly so we can move her to a better hospital. When she is well, I will ask her what we can do about that Yoruba sheep we thought was our friend. Imagine the man making us buy our own house. Imagine forging ownership papers and everything and saying we should be happy he was not asking for much; on top of that he took the furniture. Kainene's father is too afraid to say anything. He is grateful they let him keep a house that is his own. Kainene would never tolerate that."
She was different now. It was as if the more time had passed, the more her faith had leaked away. Just go and see the house, she had said. Just go and see. She no longer spoke in specifics, in definites. Madu was staying with them in Lagos, now that he had been released from his long detention at Alagbon Close; now that he had been dismissed from the Nigerian Army; now that he had been given fifty pounds for all the money he had before and during the war. It was Madu who had received word that a thin, tall educated woman had been found wandering in Onitsha. Richard went with Olanna to Onitsha and her mother met them there, but the woman was not Kainene. Richard had been so certain that it was Kainene-she had amnesia, she had forgotten herself, it all made sense-and when he looked into the stranger's eyes, he had felt for the first time a deep hate for a person he did not know.
He thought of it now as he drove to Umuahia, to the center for displaced persons. The building was empty. Nearby, a bomb crater gaped unfilled. He drove around for a while before he found the address Ugwu had given him. The elderly woman he greeted looked completely indifferent, as though it was often that an Igbo-speaking white man came in to ask about her relative. It surprised Richard; he was used to his Igbo-speaking whiteness being noticed, being marveled at. She brought him a seat. She told him she was the sister of Eberechi's father and, as soon as she told him what had happened to Eberechi, Richard decided that he would not tell Ugwu. He would never tell Ugwu. Eberechi's aunty had a white scarf tied around her head and a soiled wrapper around her chest and she spoke so quietly that Richard had to ask her to repeat herself. She looked at him for a moment before she told him, again, that Eberechi had been killed by shelling, that it had happened on the day that Umuahia fell, and that, only days later, Eberechi's brother in the army came back alive and well. Richard did not know why, but he sat down and told the woman about Kainene.