The Child and its Many Faces

Karis Onyemenam


The first time I looked at the child was six years ago.

My right femur could no longer hold itself; as a child, it was always in constant competition with the left, a competition it lost repeatedly. When I was two, the left femur was only in the lead by a centimetre or so, and when I walked, my left foot planted on the ground whilst the right remained slightly elevated, as if it were accommodating invisible high heels. My mother’s friends used to think I did it on purpose.

By age ten, my left femur had emerged the clear winner; the right was behind by a good five centimetres. By then it was clear that my legs, through no fault of mine, had decided to grow at unequal paces.

So the shorter femur was broken by a team of doctors using a sterilised saw when I was seventeen.

The break was held in place by six metal rods that were like a family of five brothers, identical in weight shape and length, and a sixth; a sister who was slim where her brothers were wide and deft. So deft that she alone was selected to do what the others could not; while her brothers were arranged to support different parts of my femur, she was given a special task.

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