Read ‘Cupboards in the Dark’ – a new story by Yewande Omotoso for How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa
This Fiction Friday, read an excerpt from Yewande Omotoso’s short story “Cupboards in the Dark”, as featured in the new, free to read anthology How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa.
The anthology has been published by Arterial Network and includes articles, poems and works of fiction by writers such as Albie Sachs, Chenjerai Hove, Koleka Putuma, Lauren Beukes, Sylvia Vollenhoven, many more.
The book is described as “a meditation on the artistic health of the continent”.
Yewande Omotoso is a Barbadian-Nigerian who has spent many years in Johannesburg. An architect by day, she is the author of the acclaimed Bom Boy, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the MNet Film Award and the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature and won the South African Literary Award for First Time Published Author.
Cupboards in the DarkYewande Omotoso
Suppress – to inhibit the growth and development of(Merriam-Webster)
THEMBI COULD HEAR it. A knock-knock. She thought to get out of bed and put her ear to the wall between her room and her parents. She peeped over the top of her duvet.
The big shape was the cupboard, but in the dark it looked like a ghost, a giant tokoloshe, a monster waiting … one of those things from the horror movie she was not supposed to watch but did anyway.
The dark shape looked as if it could talk, as if it had moving parts and if she stared long enough it would start walking. It was on nights like these that Thembi wished she had a sister, older or younger didn’t matter. There was that sound again. Knock-knock.
She would even be happy with a brother on such nights.
Her parents had told her she was going to have a brother and her mother’s belly grew a bit and then after some time it became small again. And still she had no brother.
Thembi ducked back underneath the duvet, and to really feel invisible she closed her eyes. The noise continued. The reason she wanted someone else in the room with her, someone like her not an adult, was because on nights like these she wanted to be able to talk, get through the darkness and the unnerving knock-knock.
She wanted to be able to say, “That noise again, can you hear?” and “Can you see the tokoloshe?”
There was no one to talk to right away. And talking about what happened at night the next day was not the same. But it was better than nothing so Thembi spoke to her only friend, Esther.
The following day at school, during playtime, Thembi looked for Esther. She wanted to ask her to come to the far-off swings that scared the other children. There was a story that if you sat in those swings – the ones with rust and not nice paint – an evil spirit will enter through your toes, move up your legs and never leave your heart. Thembi didn’t believe in things like that – not during the daytime anyway. Swings could not send spirits up your toes, it was stupid.
with rust and not nice paint – an evil spirit will enter through your toes, move up your legs and never leave your heart. Thembi didn’t believe in things like that – not during the daytime anyway. Swings could not send spirits up your toes, it was stupid.
Cupboards in the dark, though.
- How Free is Free? Reflections on Freedom of Creative Expression in Africa
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- The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
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