Thursday, January 7, 2010


Freedom is a man with one arm,
a happy smile showing perfect white teeth,
a man who answers the phone in Maintenance with a chirp in his voice.
I am asking for my window to be raised.
After years of being shut against the noise and chaos of the city
it’s rusty and won’t budge.
But Freedom can’t help, will have to call someone.
I only have one arm, his smiling voice says.
Hurriedly, I put some levity in my voice too.
Ok, thanks, whenever.
But no-one ever comes to fix the window.

Some accident in a lift shaft, says the secretary.
He was alone in the lift, had his arm out,
the lift suddenly fell, his arm ...
Workers’ compensation.

Months later I still see Freedom walking
around the building, face still set in an endless smile,
arm still bandaged, the stump ends below the elbow.
Sometimes it dangles, the bandages crisp and white.
Sometimes he uses it rakishly, crooking into the corner of his waist,
and always that smile as he saunters around the building, helps out
where only one arm will do.

(Published on African Writing Online)

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