Archive for November, 2014

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The driver was talking on his mobile phone. He was laughing hard till he suddenly hit the breaks. Instead of apologizing for driving recklessly, he began spitting insults at me in screams. It actually hit me, the car. Perhaps, since I didn’t fall and didn’t look physically bruised, he assumed I was the reckless one.

“Didn’t you see the taxi coming?!!!”

I was raged, I was scared, I was sad, I was embarrassed… I wouldn’t stop shaking.

It’s one of those days… Well, ongoing, when everything else doesn’t work in my favour; from health to work, to the need for some TLC (Tender Loving Care).

Before then, on my way back to Accra from Tema, I’d accidentally dropped my mobile phone in the taxi. I had to trace it all the way back to the station I’d boarded the taxi from. I was lucky.

This week didn’t start on a good note for me. This week hates me, at least the early part of it said it to my face.

I have hope, that tomorrow will bring good news, be filled with positive thoughts, and most importantly, productive despite the annoying power outage situation in the country.

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DAY VII

This is exactly what I feared; seeing my living fears and distorted images of myself.

So I am no more alive?

Everything else is dead?

My suffering, my pain is dead?

I am dead? I am dead.

Now all I see is a reflection of my own life – taunting. No matter how close I came to it, it receded before me. I am actually dead for others. They live ignorantly of what is on the other side of the wall; the wall we were all born facing. To think about the prospects of one’s own death is a constant meditation upon one’s own ignorance. Death is not known. Death is experienced only by the dead who remain dead. I wish I could explain to them how it is over here, without instilling fear in them.

I should’ve clearly told my son about Kobbie. I shouldn’t have kept the truth from him anyway, perhaps I could’ve aborted the baby when he wanted me to, but Mallam Yusif’s dubious ways can never be trusted. What if I had passed…

Before I could end my sentence, I felt a pound on my chest… Then another… It sounded louder, then I heard his voice.

Paa? Paa. My son!!!

The next minute, I was back in my body, coughing uncontrollably with water dripping down my cheeks and nose.

They looked surprised, and glad, and frightened.

Paa: Mother!!

He hugged me, weeping bitterly.

Paa: Mother, I thought you’d left me… I thought you’d left me. Don’t ever go mother, I’m sorry, please forgive me.

I couldn’t let go of the hug. So I said calmly

Aku: Hey… Hey… I am here for you, ok? You’re all I’ve got, I can never leave you.

Kobbie was watching, with pity and sadness in his eyes. The light from the lantern hit his face so hard, maybe the reason for his uncontrollable sweat… Besides bringing me back to life. Just then, I knew I had to tell it.

I opened my arms and he held them in a second. Abena, I couldn’t tell what she was feeling, but I cared.

Aku: Paa, here’s your father, Kobina.

His eyes, they lit like the lantern, Kobbie’s. Paa immediately coiled under his arms, ‘Father. I knew it. I knew it’.

Abena run out in tears. I’d wanted to run after her. She was hurting, unfortunately, but I still cared.

I am sleepy now. It’s been a long week.

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DAY VI

I had it all planned out until I saw him approach from Amalia’s Pito stand. No, he wasn’t buying Pito, only passed to check up on Amalia’s son; it was only earlier this morning I heard he’s a doctor.

He’s a doctor, how dumb of me… He can help me, no?

He signalled that we meet under the huge mango tree. There was a huge carved stone where often, lovers sit. We call it the Lovers’ Seat.

Kobbie: Aku, you’re well? You don’t look too good.

I should tell him.

Aku: Yes, I’m well.

Fii: You’re kidding. Tell him about your illness already.

Aku: I need you to listen to what I’m about to say. My son… Our son is all I’ve got, and his wellness and happiness is what keeps me strong. Abena is up to something but I wouldn’t blame her. She wants to erase any memory of the discovery of your son.

Kobbie: C’mon, Abena won’t do that.

Aku: What’s in that bottle?

Kobbie: Pito.

Aku: O! From Amalia then?

Kobbie: No, she was even disappointed that I had some already. Abena made it. I was thinking we could… O! C’mon! She wouldn’t… She…

He stares at the bottle, opens it and pours out the content.

Kobbie: It’s not because I believe you, but just for safety.

Fii: Whew!! Good work, Aku. I didn’t imagine it going down this way though, but good work.

Aku: Thank you.

Kobbie: What for?

Aku: Oh no, I’m just relieved.

Now, the price I had to pay was telling Paa the truth about his father. I had no option, someone had to fall, Abena will be completely shattered.

My work was done, but I was unsure about the weather. Perhaps the sun is angry at me for changing the course of things, or just maybe, it’s sending me a signal to which I’m finding hard to decode. I could feel my skin scorch in it. But the night was cold, painfully cold.

Fii: She’s getting worse by the minute.

Kwabena: I know!! I can see that too, Fii. Where is this boy when we need him?

Fii: He went for help. Aku, hold on, Paa will be here with help soon. Please, Aku.

Kwabena: Are you crying??

Fii: I can’t stand her in this state. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Kwabena: Aku, breathe… Short breaths… Relax…

My vision was blurred but I could see Fii pacing up and down impatiently. As for Kwabena, he only watched with pity, and wouldn’t let go of my hand.

No one was coming. I couldn’t even hear my screams; I couldn’t let them out.

My head is burning! My head is burning!!
Help… Somebody help… Help me…

Kwabena: Aku.

Fii: Aku.

Kwabena: Aku. No.

Fii: Aku!

I saw Paa rushing in with Kobbie and Abena. Wait… How could I have seen them when I was stuck on my mat? 

Aku: Thank God you guys came. If you’d came a minute later…

They walked by. Ah!! They totally ignored me. Aren’t they here for me?

No. Wait…

Paa: [screaming] MOTHER!!!! MOTHER!!

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DAY V

Yesterday was quite intense, a revealing one. With Abena leaving my hut broken-hearted and Kobbie’s hopes of reuniting his son with him, well… I don’t know what next.

Kwabena and Fii come visiting today. I’m waiting in anticipation. They usually arrive at their own time, entering without knocking. Such manners! It’s the city, I’m sure, civilization has corrupted their senses; they’re blind to our tradition and customs. Hmph!

Fii: Aku, you look stunning! You don’t need that mirror to tell you that.

Kwabena: The hairdo does magic for her

Yeah. There they are.

Abena’s plotting on erasing Kobbie’s memories with some fake concoction. Problem is, I don’t know what will happen to him if it fails. What if the worst happens? What if he…

Fii: You can’t possibly play saviour everyday, ma’am. Besides, before Paa got to know about all this, he was dead to him anyway. Sometimes, you just need to relax and let nature take its course.

Not this time along.

Kwabena: Don’t listen to Fii, he’s just jealous. I, on the other hand, think you can save the situation.

What do I do?

Kwabena: He trusts you and will do anything in your favour most importantly to get his son to accept him. Meet him up tomorrow, let him know about Abena’s plot, as weird as it might sound, there’s some truth in every rumour. He will believe you… Or maybe a little.

Fii: My concern isn’t Kobbie. As for Paa, he’s young, and will grow to understand that not all decisions are made to favour those involved. Someone has to be standing to catch the one who’s fallen; not all can stand. Aku, my concern is you.

No. No. Don’t remind me of that. I know.

Fii: You’re not getting any better. You’re out of medication, and no medicine man over here can heal your illness. Go to the city. Let us go. You can be treated.

I can’t leave my son here on a selfish desire to get treated with the Whiteman’s medicine. I heard there are complications, I can’t risk that. For the sake of a thousand burning stars, I cannot afford it.

Fii: As inappropriate as this may sound, your days are short… Numbered. You’re not even assured of tomorrow.

Kwabena: Fii, you’re wounding rather than healing.

It’s fine. I know I don’t have much time, that’s why I wish for Abena to be happy and Paa as well. I love my son so much. Argh!

So tomorrow, right?

[both men nod in agreement]

What was I even thinking? That one passionate kiss will turn things around in my favour? And that Kobbie will leave Abena for me so we live as one happy family? Things will never be the same. This is the least I can do.

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Abena: Aku, take your son home. Now!

I’d wanted to tell her how sorry I was for how things had turned out, but she wouldn’t have listened, not now. She repeated her order that we leave, this time, she sounded intensely raged with tears stuck in her eyes. I didn’t want to see them fall.

DAY IV.
Paa hasn’t spoken a word since we left Abena’s. He didn’t even wish me a happy birthday yesterday, and he’s still tongue-dead. I watched him leave for school without eating breakfast and saying bye. No mother’s happy to see her child going to school without having breakfast, especially when she’s made it all ready for him to reject it. How long will this… Oh God!! What have I done?!

Agoo… Agoo… Agoo, Aku!!

Aku: Abena hi. Umm… Come in. Come.

She wouldn’t sit. She insisted.

Abena: This is what’s going to happen; this, yesterday’s dinner, this meeting, never happened. I’m getting married to Kobbie in 2 days and we’ll move to the city the day after. Let’s just say I forgive you for involving Paa in all this.

She knew about it all this while? Wow!

Abena: You never loved him anyway. He was young and foolish back then. For God’s sake Aku, he thought you’d gotten rid of the pregnancy 13yrs ago.

Should I be astounded or just confused. She knew all along??

Paa won’t forget about this. He’s too smart and intelligent to let this go. All the while, I kept staring at Abena in complete dismay. This wasn’t what I envisioned when she came knocking at my door. I expected furious screams accompanied by little spits of saliva in an intense setting. Far from that.

She knew all along. Ei!

Abena: I came here to make things easier for us. See, I met Mallam Yusif, the medicine man who’s a few meters away from the town square. He gave me these herbs and said to pour it in Kobbie’s drink on our wedding day; he’ll forget about last night.

Mallam Yusif? His being defines fraud itself. The same medicine man who made a boy identify a red cloak after he’d healed his eyes. Who identifies a coloured cloak after being healed from blindness since birth?

What of my son Paa?

Abena: As for Paa, he still thinks you’re imagining things. I bet he’d want to seek the truth from Kobbie. By then, the medicine would’ve taken effect and we’ll both be safe.

It’s as if I never learned how to speak or express myself. I was dumbfounded. This was someone I thought I’d hurt and disappointed, not knowing she on the other hand kept me in the dark.

Agoo… Agoo… Anyone home?

Abena: Kobbie?

Aku: Kobbie???

She immediately hid herself in the other room just when I stepped out to receive Kobbie.

Kobbie: Hi

Aku: Hi

Kobbie: I like what you’ve done to your hair. I couldn’t get the chance to say it last night after…

Aku: Thank you, Kobina, I mean, Kobbie. If I may ask, why are you here?

He steps closer and hugs me tight, whispering in my ears, “I miss you, Aku, I never forgot about you. Forgive me. Mother and Father found out about the pregnancy and decided it’s best if we were apart. Please forgive me. I’m sorry you had to find out this way”.

I could’ve stopped him talking but for some reason, I wanted Abena to hear him. Was that mean on my part?

Aku: No. No. Do not complicate this. We had a thing in the past, it ended. After years of no communication, we moved on individually and you met someone else you chose to spend the rest of your life with. What’s stopping you?

Kobbie: You are. The moment I saw you, everything changed. You… You still have my heart and I…

Aku: Nothing. We wouldn’t want to make Abena unhappy, would we?

Kobbie: And Paa? You never got rid of the pregnancy, did you? Paa is my son. Tell me he’s my son.

Aku: He’s not your son!!

Kobbie: I will leave and never bother you again if you look me in the eyes and tell me again that the boy who looks like me and has my hair and eyes is not my son.

Aku: You should leave.

Before I could feel my heart’s next beat, his lips were on mine. It’s been so long that I even forgot how to kiss. It felt good. Really good.

O! Abena’s still in there.

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DAY III

I got my neighbour to stretch my hair with the new black thread on the market. The market women said it’s an effective way of straightening the hair since the black hair naturally shrinks; we wanted our hair to look straight, if not close to straight, like the white women’s, we wanted to feel it being blown by the wind. It’s my first time trying this. Abena requested I did it so I have a closer resemblance to the foreign wig she’ll wear on her wedding day.

Now, I could only see 6 shiny long stretched strands of my hair hanging on my head. It looked different. I looked different, at least that’s what I saw in the mirror. A birthday gift from Abena, the mirror; 2 inches long with an orange painted wooden frame. I can see my image exactly as it is, clearer than I did in the water. The first time I looked into it, I thought I saw my soul looking back. Now, I’m contemplating telling her the truth. Will she believe me? Even my son doesn’t. He thinks I’m making it all up, like I’ve made up Kwabena all these years. Kwabena is real. He was disappointed, my son, but I felt bruised. He said I’m lonely and unwell in the head, and can only have imaginary friends who won’t tell me the truth in my face. He said discussing his father was too sensitive for me to be playing games with. Paa didn’t believe me; he’s everything I have now, and he just won’t believe me.

We’re at Abena’s at the moment for a dinner party. Abena suggested we celebrate my birthday and her upcoming union tonight. Baby-daddy sat next to me on my right hand side. I don’t know what that signifies. In this community, nothing happens by chance or luck. It’s either the work of the gods being manifested or it has some mysterious hand around it. Paa sat right across Baby-daddy and kept staring at him.

Kobbie: Hey kiddo, you’ve got something for me?

Abena: Yeah Paa, you seem to have something under those sleeves, literally and figuratively [smiles]

Paa: I’m 13, Auntie Abena, please slow down on the grammar.

All laugh, except me, obviously.

Abena: You can ask Kobbie anything, ok? C’mon, what are you curious about?

This is where I go numb, praying for the rapture to happen, now.

Paa: I’m worried about mother. Do you know a friend of hers called Kwabena? What of Fii?

Abena: Your mother can have friends besides me, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Paa: This is where you’re wrong. She’s the only one who sees them, and yesterday, I overheard her talking to Kwabena about my father. She said my father is here with us.

Abena: Wait… Wait… Huh?! Aku, is this true? I thought Kobina was dead. I mean, I never got to meet him but… He’s here with us in Kusiman?

I… Well… Yes, but…

Paa: No, I think mother is sick and needs medical attention.

Kobbie: C’mon kiddo, don’t say that about your mother. Wait… Did you say you’re 13?

No, Kobbie, don’t do this.

The tension couldn’t have risen any higher. The stars were too bright and looked too close. It was beginning to get cold outside.

Aku: I’m sorry Abena, but it’s late now and Paa has school at sunrise. We should take our leave.

Just when I take Paa by the hand, he turns and screams in a loud voice.

Paa: She says Uncle Kobbie is my father!! Uncle Kobbie, are you my father? This is all confusing but I have to know. Did you abandon me all these years to come back and marry mother’s friend? Or is mother just making up this like her imaginary friends?

At this moment, it’s as if the gods and the heavens held their breath to listen to who says what next. I couldn’t describe the dead silence any better.

Paa: Why is everyone quiet? Say something.

Abena: Aku, take your son home. Now.

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DAY II:

The central question here is, if it’s biologically healthy to share and confess our secrets, what is it about human nature that fights so hard to keep it?

Kwabena: You mean to ask, ‘should I keep torturing myself, keeping the truth about my son’s father from him?’ C’mon Aku, he’s not fathered his son for 13yrs and would blindly pass by him without recognition. As for the bride, well, people hurt and get hurt. People offend and get offended; there’s no perfection in this world, darling. As your friend, I’ll advise you to let her know. Abena won’t blame you for not knowing she was going to marry your baby daddy.

Kobbie. His name is Kobbie. I hear he wears polished shoes everyday while his son still walks in the 5yr old Blue Bird Chale Wote, and has a white collar job in the city. I try for my son. For a single mother disowned by her parents after giving birth out of wedlock and being the talk of the town, I sure do try; at least he goes to school, and I provide him with the basic needs any parent would.

Kwabena: Except for having a father to look up to. He doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle, and walks like a girl. He can’t even climb a tree or uproot cassava from the ground. I’ve watched him, Aku, he’s an intelligent child, but it’s never the same when a male child doesn’t have a father to nurture him.

…or a father figure, ideally.

Kwabena returned from the city during vacations to spend time with his folks and friends. Apparently, he cannot get involved with my son because then, he’ll have to marry me and take care of us all. Thing is, he’s younger; our culture is different, we’ve only heard stories of the Whiteman marry older women in the Western world. Here, it’s different.

Abena must know. Although I may be desperate to keep this secret, the harder I bury it, the higher it rises to the surface after time. It’s like I’m compelled to confess, neurologically eventually. It’s good for the body, and the soul, I guess.

Paa: Mother!!! Mother, who are you talking to? There’s no one here, mother. And what was it I just heard you say about my father? Auntie Abena’s fiance is my father?? Mother, say something. What is going on? You said father’s dead, what is going on, mother??