He has learnt the name of the place, impressing it upon his tongue so much that when he mentions it the cabman begins speaking Ibibio. He nods and tries to make sense of the syllables—the nasal sounds standing side by side, the tongue brushing the cheeks.
He has found that on evenings the wind in Nung Udoe does not sit still. When he slips into the street he worries about Identity; twice in one day different women had asked him:
“Are you from Yoruba?”
He has thought for long on this question, on the brutality of this summary of his existence.
He has memorized name after name, entering street after street. Beneath his feet Immapancy burns hot as red coal. He makes out Ikot Obio Odongo, a bend into the depths of Ibesikpo. He notices house after house with plaques in memorial of the dead. Graves lie everywhere—in front of, behind and inside the houses. He thinks of a few photographs of the graves but decides against it. This brief thought of an intrusion into the privacy of the dead fills him with guilt.
In a bush in Ikot Obio Odongo he has found a sculpture the size of a human. The figure is seated inside a small building, staff in one hand and a gong in the other. On the walls are paintings striking in resemblance to Egyptian art. He begins clicking photographs, hoping to study later the reason for this resemblance. A sudden man from the edge of the thicket stands akimbo and says:
“You no dey fear? You wan die?”
He packs his camera and leaves, realizing that this is a place of worship. Or fear.
He has walked hours in Ibesikpo thinking of Mortality. A random man walks up to him and shakes his hand. He fears and thinks of Death’s freedom of random selection.
He has found that in Ibesikpo piles of wood become coffins and do not need sunlight to find their way. The business is brisk and precise—someone may die tonight.
He has learnt the name of the place, impressing it upon his tongue so much that when he mentions it the cabman begins speaking Ibibio. He nods and points his face into the evening wind, glad to be mistaken for once as one of the locals. He wonders briefly how long this stolen identity will last.