Written by Timi Sanni
In my tribe, there’s a proverb about the grass and two elephants.
I don’t remember it now, but I remember the sound father’s hand made on mother’s face. I remember her shriek. I remember fear, the fleeting colours that raced across her face after she had blinked away the stars. I remember the crash of the dish that fell in the kitchen as Mutmainah ran out to the scene.
I remember many things from that night. They remain etched in my memory like intaglio. But I don’t remember crying. Mutmaina said I did.
In my reminiscences, I’m away from it all. A big silent eye, a heart wrenching into bits and pieces.
Yesterday, I found courage amidst tears to speak of it with Mutmaina.
“You’re a boy, Adam,” she said. “Boys don’t cry.
Then she let out a soft laughter and ruffled my hair. But I saw the pain in her eyes too. I saw that she was just trying to be strong for me, so I smiled back.
Today, when father and mother began to quarrel again, I plopped myself between them, between father’s face that roared ‘rage’ and mother’s that had begun to spring tears, and screamed ‘stop’.
But father’s fist was already moving, it slammed into me. My world began to spin, and in between spinning and crashing onto the concrete floor, the proverb filled my mind.
“When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”
I am the grass stuck between two elephants at war.
Timi Sanni is a coffee-loving poet, writer and literary enthusiast who bends and blends genres in his writings. His works have appeared or forthcoming in literary journals like Writers Space Africa, Rather Quiet, Fitrah Review, Nanty Greens, Praxis, African Writers, Fiction Limbo and elsewhere.
He is a SprinNG Fellowship Alumnus. He won the Writers for Humanity poetry contest in 2019 and the Fitrah Review writing contest in 2020. He was also the first runner-up for the Splendors of Dawn Contest in June 2020.
When not studying or writing, he is either painting or exploring new places. Find him on twitter @timisanni.