‘My name is Chuma Nwokolo, what’s yours?’
‘Ifyoulikedie Bassey. I know. I asked Mum that as well as soon as I was old enough to know anything. Must have been ten or eleven and I was back in Primary school, the butt of all manner of jokes. So I asked Mum and she said if she told me, Dad would be mad, so I asked Dad and he said if he told me, Mum would cry. (This was before Catch 22 entered the dictionary so I did the circuit a few times before I grew some sense.) Was fifteen before I figured it out for myself: I’d had five brothers before me who died before their first birthday. My parents figured that I was the same old amanakpa – the ogbanje-abiku demon – tormenting them with multiple reincarnations. So they taunted me with a sarcastic name. Except that I hung around after all.
‘What my friends call me for short? Die.’