Buchi’s Girls by Lesley Nneka Arimah is one of the stories on her award-winning short story collection, What it means when a man falls from the sky. The short story follows the life of Buchi, who lost her husband in a motor accident.
When Buchi’s husband Nnamdi, a professor of economics dies, leaving her with two young daughters, traumatized by their father’s death, the youngest made incapable of speech by the incidence; she is left with no choice but to survive.
His death had been avoidable, he could have gone pass the couple who flagged them down on their way to the airport to pick a friend, but an idealist as always, he stopped, came down to help and before the eyes of his young family, was crushed to death by a trailer.
Buchi is forced out of hardship to go live with her sister and husband who show no compassion whatsoever, instead, turns her into a house help and when she is left with no choice but plead with Dickson to help with the children’s school fees, she’s met with a violent reaction. Whereas their children are in the UK, in the prestigious Ardingly College, soaring.
When the chicken her younger daughter, Marissa grew fond of and was writing a book about, is killed, on the orders of Dickson; she blames Nnamdi, for not haven done what others did, were doing; STEALING. She is forced by worsening conditions to yield to her friend’s request; ‘she would pick up the phone, call Ijeoma, and do something a mother just wouldn’t do.’ Her friend, Ijeoma, had been requesting she sent her oldest daughter Louisa, over to her in South Africa, to take on the identity of her daughter whom she had lost to sickle cell complications, and whose death is undocumented.
Lesley craftily weaves this story, with carefully chosen words, carrying lightly, emotions that should be felt and understood. In the end, she leaves one with a huge knot in the throat and lots of questions that would never be answered.
Lesley Nneka Arimah is a Nigerian writer, and winner of the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa. She has twice been shortlisted for the Caine Prize