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Nague and the snow

A mini story about a big life

By Salomé SaffiriPublished about a year ago Updated 4 months ago 2 min read
Nague and the snow
Photo by Pieter Bouwer on Unsplash

I cried for three days when I first saw the snow. On the first day I shed my tears out of joy. On the second day my eyes were wet because I was cold. On the third day my tears poured because I saw people poisoning the snow with salt, while my village didn’t have any water.

My name is Nagueh. My palms are orange and dry, like the land where I come from. Sometimes I look at the lines of my palms and imagine the roads I walked, engraved into my memory forever. I carry Africa with me wherever I go, and the spirit of Babi, my Grandmother, is always with me. I can feel how she sits down next to me, when I feel especially sad, and runs her fingers along my cheek.

“Nagueh..” She whispers through the breeze from the window “Don’t cry child, you carry Africa within you, you carry great power”

People here pronounce my name harshly. Too quickly, as if embarrassed to acknowledge me. They make it sound like NAQve.

“NAQve, check the restrooms. NAQve, room three needs cleaning”

Mitchell is also a janitor. He often calls me “Nagueh, a queen from far a away”. I don’t know if he loves me or teases me. But I often feel Babi's presence when he kisses my neck. I think, she doesn’t approve of him.

“He doesn’t mean anything to me, Leileih” I tell her in my mind, and re-assured, she steps away into the shadows. I address her as woman addressing a woman. Not as a child addressing her Grandmother.

I think Babi's parents wanted to appeal the colonizers and gift their baby daughter a European-sounding name. In hopes, perhaps, that the Germans would look at her with benevolence. But the seeds of Swahili sprouted in her name and “Lily” became “Leileih”. Despite the tenderness of her name, Leileih was a fierce woman, a fighter. Defier of men.

“Men have evil between their eyes and between their legs” Babi would say staring off somewhere beyond the horizon with her milky-white blind eyes.

I came here to learn to be a doctor. I helped deliver thirty five children in my village. And only one was born dead. He came out with the umbilical cord tying his neck and arm together. The mother died soon as well. Her husband buried them together, wrapped in a crimson cloth.

Right now I am a part-time janitor at the hospital. Sometimes cry at night thinking that this is as close as I will ever get to my dream. Babi softly sits on my bed and whispers through the tv static:

“NA-aani, you carry the life of all the women in Africa in your blood. Don’t waste your tears, child” My tears dry, and I get back to studying.

When I come back to my village I will not be able to bring the snow with me. But I will bring a snow globe, to show them what it was like, living in the fury of the storm. I will come back as Doctor Nague and new roads will be carved into my palms.

Short Story

About the Creator

Salomé Saffiri

Writing - is my purpose. I feel elated when my thoughts assume shapes, and turn into Timberwolves, running through the snowbound planes of fresh paper, leaving the black ink of their paw prints behind.

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Comments (1)

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  • Mackenzie Davis4 months ago

    Oh, this is sublime! You capture the narrative voice so perfectly here, and I can't get over how well the snow works to frame the story. Poisoning the water of Nague's village. That is one hell of a metaphor. I really hope this places in the challenge.

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