Saturday, 26 February 2011

On Black Sisters’ Street

by Chika Unigwe

This book traces the stories of four African prostitutes working in the Antwerp’s red light district. It has everything that Bonjour Tristesse does not: real women (that I end up liking, not just sympathising), real life, real sadness. (You understand, the only reason to oppose these two books here is that I happened to read one after another. Sorry, Ms. Sagan.) And, to quote the oldest of the “sisters”, Efe, ‘it make me tink’.

The three women laugh.

At the end of it a thoughtful silence swallows them up again. When it spits them out, it is to hear Efe say that she always wanted to be a writer.

‘It was my biggest dream. I was going to write books and become famous.’ She laughs. ‘At school na so so cram I dey cram my literature books.’ She stands up and begins to give a performance.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so.
‘I like the way incredulity and epoch dey drip commot from the mouth. I like the way things wey dey opposite, salt and pepper, dey side by side. Best of times. Worst of times. Light and Darkness. It make me tink. Tink say how dat for happen? And when I read am, I jus’ wan’ write like dat. Words wey fine so like butterfly, fine sotay person go wan’ read am again and again and again.’ Her voice dims and she sighs. ‘But dat one no go happen now.’

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