Dearest Precious, wake up.
My first deployment had come. However, before this business of war, that May morning, I listened to her snore, scratch and whimper. The hollow room played tricks with the preemptive blue-purple chill of dawn. The room was stale from bodily gases and unspiritual from chronic bedwetting. Carefully, I inserted a love letter underneath the heavy lid of Uzoamaka’s sewing machine [a threading contraption and habit she inherited intact from Maman]. Bright white did it shine in the purple of dawn. Hard to miss in the perfect timing when she would come wide-awake speedily from an outlandish nightmare as if to repair something significant she had forgotten to get to the night before. Her waking ritual would include the scratching at her neck and bony ribs. She would sprout from the slack mattress, flat as ground, to see it. It will be news to her. The poor thing.
Dear Uzo, guess what? — the letter announced. I am off to war! Yes, real war! Don’t cry for me. I will be back. I promise.
At the ripe cusp of teenage angst, age 13 or 14, she will pounce with rage, I will be told. She was so angry she spat, ran into walls, punched a window, beheaded lizards, kicked chickens and went hungry for days. Then one evening, with the wisdom that comes after a long cry, she made peace with it, she forgave, and just simply forgot why it was she was angry. I asked her prayers and forgiveness by way of good penmanship. This was in another letter I sent five weeks later, from war.
Excerpt from an in-progress novel.