Excerpt from “Soup”
The catfish in the basin stared up at Akwaugo, its mud-grey flesh glistening. It was as big as a grown man’s thighs, placed end to end and lay still as if to save energy. There was barely enough water in the basin for it to swim about. That was the best way of keeping a creature of its size submissive. Killing it would prove difficult otherwise.
Its tail hung over the side of the basin. Akwaugo prodded it with the square head of the blade, but the fish paid her no mind. It had grown weaker in the hour that she had waited for her father to come home and tell her what to do with the gift his friend Onuigbo had dropped off.
“Useless man,” Akwaugo muttered under her breath. She saw through Onuigbo. He only brought the fish so her father would forgive Onuigbo’s debt — which her father would probably do, because he was bad with money. Worse, the “gift-giver” had returned with her father to fill his stomach. Akwaugo kissed her teeth. What kind of person did that? Now, the fish would be finished today. If it were up to her, she would have saved a great deal of the meat for smoking. The woodsy flavour went better with her favourite palm oil-based stews like ora and egusi. Her mouth watered.
Akwaugo was tempted to spit in the pot, but why? She was a good cook and the fish would still taste divine.
Chikodili Emelumadu is a Nigerian writer, broadcaster, and blogger living in London. She has a BA in English language and literature from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and an MA in Cross Cultural Communications and International Relations from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Apex, Eclectica, Luna Station Quarterly, menana, One Throne and Sub-Q magazine. She’s currently a Shirley Jackson nominee.
Image: Flickr / Adam S