For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Ghosts”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Excerpt

Today I saw Ikenna Okoro, a man I had long thought was dead. Perhaps I should have bent down, grabbed a handful of sand, and thrown it at him, in the way my people do to make sure a person is not a ghost. But I am an educated man, a retired professor of seventy-one, and I am supposed to have armed myself with enough science to laugh indulgently at the ways of my people. I did not throw sand at him. I could not have done so even if I had wished to, anyway, since we met on the concrete grounds of the university bursary.
           I was there to ask about my pension, yet again. “Good day, Prof,” the dried-looking clerk, Ugwuoke, said. “Sorry, the money has not come in.”
           The other clerk, whose name I have now forgotten, nodded and apologized as well, while chewing on a pink lobe of kolanut. They were used to this. I was used to this. So were the tattered men who were clustered under the mango tree, talking loudly. The education minister has stolen the pension money, one fellow said. Another said that it was the vice chancellor, who deposited the money in personal high-interest accounts. They cursed the vice chancellor: his penis will quench, his children will not have children, he will die of diarrhea. When I walked up to them, they greeted me and shook their heads apologetically about the situation as if my professor-level pension is somehow more important than their messenger-level or driver-level pensions. They called me Prof, as most people do, as the hawkers sitting next to their trays under the tree did. “Prof! Prof! Come and buy good banana!”

We read it in Zoetrope: Vol. 8 No. 4.