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A Life Elsewhere

by Segun Afolabi

Seventeen short stories by a Nigerian writer about a wide variety of different characters who come from all points of the world. What they have in common is that they are trying to create a 'home' somewhere else. The stories are not happy but they do show an uncanny insight into human frailties and make you look at your fellow humans in a different light.

Extract

The man knelt at the edge of the grave. He dusted away the leaves and the muck with his clean, bare hands. Even though it was warm he had worn his wool blazer. It seemed to wheeze as he moved his arms, his shoulders; he had put on weight when the boy died and now all his clothes complained. A film of perspiration coated his face and neck. His skin sizzled in the unceasing stare of the sun. The roses he had bought at the train station he lay to one side while he worked to make the place neat. The leaves he scattered on either side of the grave. He snatched a fistful of dead grass and leaves and wilted flowers and stuffed them into his jacket pocket; he could find no other container for these things. He stood and with a handkerchief and spit he wiped the top of the gravestone until it gleamed. He cursed himself for arriving unprepared; there were utensils idling in the kitchen cupboards which would have been useful now. The place where the boy's name was etched he dabbed and smoothed with the remaining clean patch of cloth. Moses - the name shone in gilt lettering - Moses Lanre Akande.

Parallels

Face by Benjamin Zephaniah
Marcovaldo or Seasons in the City by Italo Calvino
 

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