BREADWINNER – By Ibrahim Oga


I remember falling into the gutter when I was seven.

Returned home soaked and smelly, dripped in dirt.

Told mama the neighborhood dog chased me,

And I was sorry I lost the bread she sent me.

It is ok, she said: You’ll buy plenty of bread for me one day

I didn’t understand what she meant

But these days I do

I am eighteen, no longer seven,

Now a breadwinner.

Our dinner is bread and Lipton water

The bread is swollen by bromate and has little butter.

Father isn’t a person

If he is,

I’d see him, I’d know him.

Winning isn’t liberation

If it is,

I wouldn’t feel so responsible.

Losing is freedom

Mama lost her responsibilities when she was freed of her tough job

She never felt so irresponsible.

I hear what she doesn’t say

These days I understand

The language of the eyes

Portals to the soul.

She wishes she isn’t free.

If she isn’t,

We would have sliced bread with butter.

We would have cooked meals with goat.

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