What’s this growing in the belly of my city? Black at the bottom and gray around its neck. Each time I try to get closer, its face becomes more and more scary. My eyes get soaked with streams of memories that hold burnt photographs of how father once preached about his hometown. It’s now worn out, ragged, and dressed in scary tales that hunt children of a lesser god.

Each street in my hometown mourns boys born of the white soil who had their arms and legs bartered for riches. Sometimes I look around and all I smell are wisps of burning voices echoed from boys and girls whose skin is a dull white. Albinos.

See, in my hometown we grew up being taught how to swallow myths without spitting out a shard of it. We were forced to limp around with man-made beliefs hanging around our necks. Like how we used to spit saliva onto our garments each time we saw an albino walk past our shadows. A sad reality.

Our ears would hear something like; children born of the white soil bring bad luck when allowed to pierce their gaze into yours. And something like; people with blunt skin bring wealth when handed over to ritualists.

Wait! How did we come to this? How did my brother’s bones get turned into ivory to be traded for a few silver coins? The once peaceful serenity and fresh breath of my hometown smells like burnt carcasses and babies who crawled only to be murdered for who they are.

To raise a city is to protect its boys from the vicious forms of the world, and to kill a community is to squeeze life out of a boy who knows not the color of his fate. My hometown has turned into a world of its own. Its garments are stained in thick red blood with names of boys who went out and never returned to bid farewell.

Each wall in our streets looks like a picture frame of an alien world where men crave to bury knives in the flesh of their fellow men. Sometimes I picture myself sitting at the tip of freedom, but each breath I take burns my skin and everything dwindles away. We live not to see the sun smile, we live to see our smiles shine like the sun, but walking between the walls of my hometown is like putting fire between your legs.

Tears run down our cheeks to tell tales of how children born of the white soil are forced to swallow echoes and spit from the lips of death. Every day is a nightmare laced with stitches of oppression and stigmatization. Freedom measured in palms.

I feel lost. It feels like you are walking with a bullet in your chest. The more you try to speak, the more the pain caresses your body.

One night, a girl had her hand chopped off. The other night, a boy was found splitting his identity into two, one with a face painted with grief, the other with a face masked with regret. He saw a beast in himself because that’s what my hometown told him to believe in. Isn’t that the definition of death? Engraving hatred on their bodies and turning their inner spirits into ashes.

There were nights when I thought my hometown was a utopia inscribed onto the face of the earth. But not anymore, because every smell of it is poison to beautiful children born of the white soil.