She stared in disbelief as her younger brother stepped on the last charred twig, mixing it with the dust. Her tree was gone. She had protested but her father was having none of that. “It was just a tree” he had argued. Plus he needed the space to expand the house. He knew nothing. It wasn’t just a tree. It was a place where she was free from Father and his mood swings, from Nduka, her younger brother who was always complaining. It was where she had cried when Father told her of mother’s death. It was where she shared that kiss with Arinze before he left for the city with his uncle. It was where she had taught herself to dance like the women at the Village Square. It was where she had sang the songs mother sang. Songs that Father forbade. He didn’t want any memory of mother. And the tree never complained. Instead it gave her shade and shielded her from the prying eyes of Father and Nduka. No. It wasn’t just a tree. It was something that cared for her. It was a friend. And her friend was gone. Burnt to ashes so cold, hard concrete could stand.
“Adanma I’m hungry!!!” Nduka’s voice snapped her out of her reverie. As she turned to attend to the little brat, she wiped her tears. But not her memories.