Excerpt of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(Page 3 of 4)
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"Yes, sah." Ugwu
watched him leave through the back door. He was not tall. His walk was
brisk, energetic, and he looked like Ezeagu, the man who held the
wrestling record in Ugwu's village.
Ugwu turned off the tap,
turned it on again, then off. On and off and on and off until he was
laughing at the magic of the running water and the chicken and bread
that lay balmy in his stomach. He went past the living room and into
the corridor. There were books piled on the shelves and tables in the
three bedrooms, on the sink and cabinets in the bathroom, stacked from
floor to ceiling in the study, and in the store, old journals were
stacked next to crates of Coke and cartons of Premier beer. Some of the
books were placed face down, open, as though Master had not yet
finished reading them but had hastily gone on to another. Ugwu tried to
read the titles, but most were too long, too difficult. Non-Parametric Methods. An African Survey. The Great Chain of Being. The Norman Impact Upon England.
He walked on tiptoe from room to room, because his feet felt dirty, and
as he did so he grew increasingly determined to please Master, to stay
in this house of meat and cool floors. He was examining the toilet,
running his hand over the black plastic seat, when he heard Master's
"Where are you, my good man?" He said my good man in English.
Ugwu dashed out to the living room. "Yes, sah!"
"What's your name again?"
"Yes, Ugwu. Look here, nee anya, do you know what that is?" Master pointed, and Ugwu looked at the metal box studded with dangerous-looking knobs.
"No, sah," Ugwu said.
a radiogram. It's new and very good. It's not like those old
gramophones that you have to wind and wind. You have to be very careful
around it, very careful. You must never let water touch it."
off to play tennis, and then I'll go on to the staff club." Master
picked up a few books from the table. "I may be back late. So get
settled and have a rest."
After Ugwu watched
Master drive out of the compound, he went and stood beside the
radiogram and looked at it carefully, without touching it. Then he
walked around the house, up and down, touching books and curtains and
furniture and plates, and when it got dark he turned the light on and
marveled at how bright the bulb that dangled from the ceiling was, how
it did not cast long shadows on the wall like the palm oil lamps back
home. His mother would be preparing the evening meal now, pounding akpu
in the mortar, the pestle grasped tight with both hands. Chioke, the
junior wife, would be tending the pot of watery soup balanced on three
stones over the fire. The children would have come back from the stream
and would be taunting and chasing one another under the breadfruit
tree. Perhaps Anulika would be watching them. She was the oldest child
in the household now, and as they all sat around the fire to eat, she
would break up the fights when the younger ones struggled over the
strips of dried fish in the soup. She would wait until all the akpu
was eaten and then divide the fish so that each child had a piece, and
she would keep the biggest for herself, as he had always done.
opened the fridge and ate some more bread and chicken, quickly stuffing
the food in his mouth while his heart beat as if he were running; then
he dug out extra chunks of meat and pulled out the wings. He slipped
the pieces into his shorts pockets before going to the bedroom. He
would keep them until his aunty visited and he would ask her to give
them to Anulika. Perhaps he could ask her to give some to Nnesinachi
too. That might make Nnesinachi finally notice him. He had never been
sure exactly how he and Nnesinachi were related, but he knew they were
from the same umunna and therefore could never marry. Yet he
wished that his mother would not keep referring to Nnesinachi as his
sister, saying things like "Please take this palm oil down to Mama
Nnesinachi, and if she is not in leave it with your sister."
Excerpted from Half of a Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Copyright © 2006 by Chimamanda Ngozi
Adichie. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House,
Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or
reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.