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Harmattan Rain: A Short Story by Jania Likea

Last night it did not rain. It is December. It is the Harmattan. It did not rain. It is very hot today and I cannot go out because the sand flies bite rather cruelly. My legs are itching and I am inside the hot and small parlor. I have been here for about a week.

When I spoke to them three days ago they asked me what I thought about the weather. I said it was fine. It had not been anything out of the ordinary, nothing to ask about. In fact it was quite strange that they asked, it was like something from an English movie, or a joke an adult or socially awkward teenager tells about English folk. My friend remarked that the Nigerian national anthem was rather British-sounding, maybe the similarities were far more wide-reaching than I thought. Still I ignored it; the weather was fine I said, as I rose to turn up the thermostat in my hotel room. I looked out, it was a fairly sunny day but still the Harmattan had displayed none of its colors. We talked about other things, and I decided to visit the following day.

The weather was ridiculous! It is ridiculous now as I write. It is so hot. It was ridiculous in their house and pools of sweat swam across my pimpled forehead as I waved my hands frantically bemused that I was before the Akiyama fan. It is hot now and as sure as ogun jedi-jedi clears the stomach the fan is on and I have stripped most of the fancy clothes I am wearing. These earrings are quite long and I am worried that the sweat may discolor them. They were a gift from a friend, quite appropriate indeed since my last pair of gold earrings were discoloring. I was not sure about the reason for the discoloration because they were barely a few months old. I liked these new earrings. I could hardly call them new, I had received another new pair, purple and silver ones that could match the many purple outfits I had acquired over the summer.  I have taken the earrings off and I must admit I feel less hot than I did before. My head turns easier now, but I looked so beautiful in them. When I get back into the Camry I will put them back on and then as I stare out into the rising Lagos skyline I will look beautiful once more.

But really this weather does not allow one do anything much. There is a banking crisis here and over two thousand people have been laid off from one institution the week before Christmas. Happy Holidays? It is the white man’s holiday but they have shared with us; they keep Santa Claus and we keep Father Christmas. Jesus Christ came to save us all. And there are dead chickens to show for it.

I used to know a lot about Nigeria, when I visited the cousins in the much less glamorous parts of Lagos. Maybe those too have changed with this wonderful new governor. But then I saw Lagos. I bought water at 10 naira not the 500 that sits on my lunch bill twice each day. This heat is disorienting but I suppose not more so than the daily 25000 naira fee for my meals. I am little sick of the shine nose fish. Efo riro is slightly enjoyable but ogbono soup is still my favorite it seems. The sand flies must be in a festive mood as well; they will not quit at my limbs and breasts too. I have to go to the cinema and watch a few more movies before I leave. There is all that work I ought to do so that my vacation is not a sabbatical. This unlike the pricey hotel meals I cannot afford.

I am spending a little time in my home country. That is what we like to do, us Africans, spend the holiday with family. It looks a little as though we want to be sure we know where and how the families are doing. The ones that stay away do indeed stay away. But we are all here, most of us from last year. I do not want this to become a ritual. Christmas with efo riro is a better option than this yellow fried rice with strange peas. It is hot in here and I have missed the thermostat.

Tomorrow I will call the ones that stayed away. There are of course no hard feelings. I think they might ask of the weather and I shall tell them that it did not rain. It is December. It is the Harmattan. It did not rain. I cannot speak of today then because I will be back in my hotel room, reaching for frosted cereal and 500 naira bottled water. One of the Harmattan colors is showing, there is a dearth of the ajepaki… at least on my side of the island.

Jania Likea
Jania Likea
Born in Lagos, Nigeria. Lived in Ghana, Togo, Nigeria. Interests: Arts, Music, Religion, Philosophy, Cuisine.


  1. I was looking for something that appreciated harmattan. I was searching for something that showed harmattan to be a season of it’s own, something that will tell the seasons in Nigeria, and not try to tell us Autumn and Fall and Summer and Winter. And I thought this was it. But, alas! The outfits acquired over summer has nulled my sigh of relief! I thought I was home, but no, I am not. But this is good. I will take it home, just before Christmas and show it to mama!

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