Nosa sat in the boat staring at the shimmering water. The sun was reflected on it, giving it a beautiful, almost supernatural quality. It reminded him of the river in his village where he and his brother bathed as children. His sisters bathed in the river, too, but on the other side, shielded by high untamed elephant grasses and lush shrubs. It was this river that conjured in him a love for swimming. He would go on to become the best swimmer among his friends. There was something about being in water that gave him a sense of freedom. Perhaps the weightless completeness. His mother would say, ‘Sometimes I wonder if you were a fish in your former life. Or the husband of Olokun.’ Even though Nosa found the notion of being linked to the revered river goddess in any way ludicrous, he always liked to think that there was a certain level of understanding between him and the water. But right now, sitting in this boat, he couldn't think of anything more frightening.
Behind Nosa, a continuous murmuring suddenly increased into a loud cry. He didn't bother to turn around. He knew its source. She screamed at the top of her voice, yelling words he couldn't understand, beating her hands against the chest of the little lifeless body on her lap as if the pain inflicted on it would somehow bring it back to life. No one in the boat made any attempt to stop or console her. This was probably because no one really heard her. Everyone seemed to be in a daze, staring into the shimmering sea. He couldn’t remember exactly how long ago the baby had died. It must have been shortly after the boat engine broke down. Throughout the night she had tried to breastfeed him, squeezing on her breast as she muttered ‘No milk’ over and over again, her voice shaking. After crying for what seemed like hours, the baby’s sniffing gradually stopped. Everyone assumed he had cried himself to sleep, including his mother.
Reflecting, Nosa wondered how a journey that began filled with so much hope could have taken such a tragic turn. Maybe… no, there was no point in pondering on what could have been. But what other options are available to you when you're stuck in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea in a tiny dinghy, other than to reflect on your life and how the decisions you made brought you there? His thoughts took him back eight years, to when he was seventeen. When his life was easier.