Excerpt from the story “Who Will Greet You at Home”:
When Ogechi had taken her first baby, a pillowy thing made of cotton tufts, to her mother, the older woman had guffawed, blowing out so much air she should have fainted. She’d then taken the molded form from Ogechi, gripped it under its armpits, and pulled it in half.
“This thing will grow fat and useless,” she’d said. “You need something with strong limbs that can plow and haul and scrub. Soft children with hard lives go mad or die young. Bring me a child with edges and I will bless it and you can raise it however you like.”
When Ogechi had instead brought her mother a paper child woven from the prettiest wrapping paper she’d been able to scavenge, her mother, laughing the whole time, had plunged it into the mop bucket until it softened and fell apart. Ogechi had slapped her and her mother had slapped her back, and slapped her again and again till their neighbors heard the commotion and pulled the two women apart. Ogechi ran away that night and vowed never to return to her mother’s house.
From “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky,” by Lesley Nneka Arimah. Published by arrangement with Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2017 Lesley Nneka Arimah