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Darkest Africa

Emma Lee

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing


I hold Ayo’s hand as we walk across the parking lot, watching his face

as he focuses on staying upright, one foot in front of the other. We

reach the trolley line and I crouch down next to him with a smile,

placing my hands on his tiny waist.

Ayo’s precious little laugh rings out as I swing him up into the

shopping trolley, making sure he’s sitting, before pushing the trolley

towards the supermarket, sending Ayo into another fit of giggles.

The people we pass smile at us. Most of them know our faces

from our regular Sunday visits to the mall, and all of them love Ayo.

Every week we are stopped by people who all wish to talk to my

gorgeous six year-old brother. They smile, and tell him he must have

grown a foot since they last saw him. To this, Ayo responds with a

puff of the chest and a solemn, ‘I know,’ that makes every-one laugh.

The little stops prolong our trip but I don’t mind. I love talking to

people. The market run is normally the highlight of my week.

‘Dela!’ Ayo’s call pulls me from my thoughts, and I look down

at the trolley to see he has turned around and is now kneeling,

facing me.

‘Dela,’ he repeats, when he’s sure he has my attention, ‘can we

please get something special this week?’

The hope in his face is heart breaking and I’m instantly angry at

our impoverished state. There are kids all around the world who

would get an easy ‘yes’ in answer to that question. Kids who will gain

access to so many opportunities, opportunities that will always be

just out of reach for others, like Ayo and me. I wish I could grant

Ayo this small happiness, but I know in my heart we would need a

miracle for that to happen. I would give anything for that miracle.

‘Ayo, turn around,’ I say in an attempt to distract him, but I can

tell I haven’t succeeded, by the way his face falls in disappointment,

converting my answer to a ‘no.’

He rebounds quickly though, rocking back onto his heels and

replying with a cheeky grin, ‘It’s more fun this way.’

My mind searches for a strict answer but my heart isn’t in it. He

knows I could never be mad at him. My cute little brother knows

just how to manipulate the world around his little finger. Ayo is only

six, but dad seems to think he will be the one to lift us out of poverty.

Personally, I think it’s a ridiculous weight to place on his young, frail

shoulders, but Ayo definitely has a special spark. Maybe he could

make a better life for himself, for our family.