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Edition 20: Nne: Mother by Shawn Frazier

Fa’izah dreams of the mother who disappeared out of her life into the forest long ago. Her father has never stopped searching. Seeking her mother out in her dreams, Fa’izah encounters more than she bargains for. SY

Each time Father went to West Africa—Igerbian—he searched for my missing Mother. A remote land surrounded by rivers, valleys and rainbows, where fog blanketed the water. Don’t look for it on a map; you won’t find it. Father brought many things back, but never her. He found her brown sandals, a red scarf and an untouched white sundress hanging on a coco tree in the forest. The last time Father went, he never returned.


I went to Igerbian without ever leaving my bedroom in New York. I made a pot of soup—just like Mother taught me when I was a young girl—and placed it beside my bed. Inside the pot was a liana; a long woody vine that is hollow and native Nigeria. I brought it at the African market on 116 Street. The stems were dry, unhealthy, but I had nothing else to use.

Liana grows in the tropical forest and ensnares other plants. It is too complicated for the white man to understand, so they ignore it. The vine grows unpredictably and is known throughout West Africa for its wondrous abilities.

I chopped and boiled it in a huge black pot; it must be in a black pot. Before going to sleep, I wrapped my mother’s red scarf around my head and dressed myself in her white sundress—the one Father found. I placed the black pot beside my bed. My spirit flew upwards, through thick gray smoke, before landing safely in Igerbian—a place I have not visited in years.

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