The Atonko Paradox – by Qouphy Appiah Obirikorang

Prologue:

Qouphy’s first test at a satirical dialogue between two middle aged men en route to a place of convenience for the normal ritual of easing one’s bowels. I’mma call them Kofi Yesu and Yaw Abomrik.

 

K Yesu: Bra Yaw, “ye nu ntem”, let’s get going. There’s fire on the mountain.

 

Yaw: Gimme two mins, let me pick the “eburo dua”

 

K Yesu: make sure they are enough, the last time I had to use my handkerchief.

 

Yaw: worry not! Kwaku Ntobro the Zoomlion employed KVIP special assistant will be there selling some old newspapers.

We can use them as “spare”. “3yaa susu di kwadu”, it gives u free bowel.

 

K Yesu: I suspect the palm wine I took last night. I think it’s the cheap type imported from Abidjan. I think they mixed it with gunpowder because of the civil unrest there lately.

 

Yaw: “nkwasiasem”, if it was mixed with gunpowder, there would have been numerous holes in your panty by now from frequent flatulence.

 

[Arrival at Essien’s commissioned special KVIP]

 K Yesu: herh, Kwaku Ntobro, give me 10 pesewas of special cut newspaper. I prefer The Times newspaper. It contains less color and it will not aggravate my “kokobo”.

 

Yaw: give me Ebony Newspaper, it contains a lot of nude pictures and it’s good for a constipated stomach.

 

[Chamber 1 and 2 are empty and both are adjoining. Both men enter a separate “war room”]

 

K Yesu: damn!!! I forgot my Kingsize “jot”. Now I have to endure this stench.

 

Yaw: hahahahahahahahha

 

K Yesu: “aboa funu”, are you laughing at my misfortune?

 

Yaw: no, I just saw something funny in the newspaper.

 

K Yesu: what? Did they put a picture of you in the newspaper? I am sure your picture must have caused havoc, panic and fear.

 

Yaw: at least I have not been restricted from entering any maternity ward in any hospital. There’s an embargo on you.

 

K Yesu: me? Why?

 

Yaw: well, apparently as soon as the newborns set their eyes on you, they die of convulsion, spasm and extreme fear.

The women in labour automatically have forced labour.

 

K Yesu: it appears you are still suffering from dementia.

 

Yaw: the funny article in the newspaper is about a guy complaining of his inability to perform his bedroom chores. Apparently his manhood looks like it was made in China. Very, very small.

 

K Yesu: Well I have one advice for him. He needs to get “ataya”, “esuru wisa”, “hwentea”, “Agya Appiah Aduro Ye “Bitters. Mix all together; let the concoction stand for about a day and then drink. If by 24 hours his “Kwaku azigiza” hasn’t increased ten folds, then he shouldn’t call me K Yesu. He should ask my wife, when I “spark” my “nikanika” it’s like Akosombo Dam has opened a spillway.

 

Yaw: hahahahaha! What advice do you have for one-minute men?

 

K Yesu: tie their “Kwaku little” with “etire bor ahuma”. The poor bastard will last for eternity.

 

Yaw: K Yesu, you are well versed in the art of sexology and other matters. Is that your only field of speciality?

 

K Yesu: “bisa mi asem biaaa”

 

Yaw: a big woman and a slim woman, what’s your choice?

 

K Yesu: “k3si3 50, Kitiwa 50”, why go for the small one when both are the same price?

 

Yaw: Star Beer, Guinness, Alvaro and “apeteshie”, which one is your favorite and least favorite?

 

K Yesu: “apeteshie” is my favourite because it’s cheap and has the same effect as any other liquor. I dislike alvaro because it gives “dwonso yadi3”

 

Yaw: IC Quaye and Mike Ocquaye, who will win most handsome award?

 

K Yesu: none, they both make mirrors crack.

 

Yaw: your favorite tourist destination?

 

K Yesu: Abidjan

 

Yaw: why?

 

K Yesu: Mapouka women…

 

Yaw: but women are not tourist attraction?

 

K Yesu: that’s only if they come from your village. They are seen as gods in your village.

 

Yaw: Your favorite football player.

 

K Yesu: Dada Don Bortey, unsuccessful at landing an international career, successful at stealing international artifacts.

 

Yaw: Favorite politician

 

K Yesu: Tony Aidoo

 

Yaw: why?

 

K Yesu: the only man who is intoxicated in his sober state.

 

Yaw: who is a headmaster’s best pal?

 

K Yesu: bursar and matron. You arrest one, you arrest all.

 

Yaw: How do you call a man who has high affinity for women with big booty?

 

K Yesu: J.A.K

 

Yaw: what’s J.A.K?

 

K Yesu: you want me in jail don’t you?

 

Yaw: who will win a 100m dash? Attah or a crippled tortoise?

 

K Yesu: a legless tortoise will still win anyway.

 

Yaw: how do you call an offspring of a white and black parent? 

 

K Yesu: Jerry

 

Yaw: do you believe the current inflation figure?

 

K Yesu: do you believe in fairy tales?

 

Yaw: favorite pastor?

 

K Yesu: Kristo Asafo, the only pastor who has UB Hair Relaxer.

 

Yaw: Most biased TV program.

 

K Yesu: “mmaa nkomo”, she never talks about skin bleaching and its adverse effect.

 

K Yesu: herh Yaw, pass me the “eburo dua”!!! I’m done!

 

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Day 4 (10 days of fiction): ‘Sup G? – by Poetra Ama Asantewa

When I was little, my dad used to say our house was a potter’s house. And the creator had molded each of us with different elements. My brother was the writer, my sister; singer and I drew.

My brother kept a diary under his wardrobe. I knew I was infringing on his privacy, but once I took a sneak, I couldn’t stop reading. He started one of his entries with the phrase, “troubles don’t come in singles, they come in battalions” I remember 12 year old me scanning through a dictionary trying to find out what battalion meant.

 

But the path to maturity had taught me better what battalion was more than an oxford dictionary ever could.

It had been a difficult week. I flunked a paper, I twisted my ankle, my cousin got arrested for being at the wrong place at the wrong time and I had to settle his bail from hard-pressed cash,  I met someone who reminded me so much of my mum and sadness engulfed me like a blanket of cloudy rains. I wanted to sit God down and have a stern chat with him.

 

I had a lot of questions for him and I needed the answers asap. From the obvious whys to the unbelievable ‘‘the fuck’s?” to the distinct “you’re shitting me aren’t you?” To the murky ‘‘for real tho’s?”

 

Me and him needed to have a long chat.

 

My eyes were burning. I’d been staring at the screen for less than 3 hours, but this LCD wanted to show the membranes that line my eyelids who the real boss was. I told myself I was going to shut down in 30 minutes but the machine had ideas of it’s own.

My screen went blank. There was no panic. This had happened before, all I needed to do was restart my machine. I unplugged the charger from the system and replugged it, in an attempt to reboot it. But it wouldn’t start. I tried again; nothing. My heart started racing in an unfamiliar pattern. I replugged it again. That was when I realized each time I plugged the charger in, the charger’s light would go off.

I paused for a minute, hoping the charger had feelings, and was just bored sick so in attempt to rejuvenate its system, its light was playing hide and seek with me.

 

And after 26 frustrating tries, the light would go off as soon as I plugged the charger in. And the laptop still wouldn’t come on. A sinking feeling set in. I knew what this meant. I just didn’t want to accept it. The laptop had somehow overheated, and the power section of the motherboard was frayed.

This was the worst that could happen to the machine. Anything but my motherboard!

 

I turned it upside down and opened the windows, hoping that the day’s breeze carried a potion of magic in them. I tried again afer 10 minutes. Still

 

I decided to get the rest I needed, hopefully, it would work when I woke up.

Pointless mission. I couldn’t sleep to save an ant’s life. After an hour and a half of tossing and turning, I decided to try again.

 

I felt as if I would be asking too much of God if I asked him to resurrect my motherboard to life. You know? He’s not a magician. But I couldn’t help it.

Miracles do exist, don’t they?

The girl who stretches her neck in the exams room said a woman at her church gave a testimony about how God made it possible for her to blend tomatoes when there was no electricity.

So really, resurrecting a mother board shouldn’t be that hard right?

Right….

I plugged it in again. The psychoanalysis I just performed on God must work.

The SMS (Part IV) – by Francis Doku

While Jacob was talking on the phone with his wife the policeman took the key of the vehicle from Akomea and moved further away from the car. After he had cut the line, Jacob opened the car door, got down and walked to the policeman who held his clipboard and was thinking about stopping another vehicle.
“Boss can I talk to you please?” he asked the policeman when he got close enough.
“What about? That you encouraged the young man to drive without a driving licence?” the policeman snapped back.
“Well, sir, pardon me but I didn’t encourage him, I didn’t even know he didn’t have a lic…”
“Well then that is stupid ignorance,” the policeman told him.
“Excuse me sir, what do you mean?”
“I mean that if an elderly man like you sits in a car with this young man for him to drive you and you didn’t check if he had a driving licence or not then you have shown gross stupidity and ignorance.”
“Sir I concede that I may have shown ignorance by not asking for his licence but I am definitely not stupid,” Jacob tried to explain. “In addition to that the young man has a licence but forgot to pick it when he was leaving home.”
“Okay then that makes my work even easier,” said the policeman. “I am going to keep this vehicle with me, he can go home and bring his licence and I will give him the keys. If he comes here and he doesn’t meet me and the car he can come over to the Madina Police Station. If by the close of today he doesn’t present the licence we shall process him for court tomorrow. Deal?”
“But the law says a person has to produce his licence in forty-eight hours…”
“That law was made probably when my father was in class one. Do you know how many cars were in Ghana at the time? Or do you know the population of Ghana at the time? We have a directive to arrest those who drive without their licence and let them present it and take their cars,” he explained.
“Are you suggesting that the law is obsolete?” Jacob asked.
“I am suggesting that the law is absolutely obsolete and it would not help the course of policing. No wonder we have so many accidents on the road these days.”
“So why don’t you advocate for it to be changed.”
“That is not my job, you have parliament to do that. In any case I am keeping the key so you can go now because I have work to do. Stop a cab and go with it.”
“Please sir, please I beg you I am late for a very important meeting and I need to be on my way right now I am going far that is why I didn’t come in a cab. It’s a matter of life and death. I am begging you,” Jacob pleaded. “Can I see you, please?”
“Am I invisible now?”
“I didn’t mean it in that way. Wanted to know if I could offer you lunch,” he clarified.
“I don’t think you can cook better than my wife,” the police man teased.
“What I mean, sir, is that can I give you something so you can let us go so I can make it in time for my meeting?”
“Do I sense that you are trying to bribe me? Have you heard of the name Rose Atinga Bio?”
“No…yes…I mean I am not trying to bribe you, but I have heard the name,” he struggled to explain. “This is just from a brother to another brother, please.”
The policeman’s superior, an inspector, standing a few metres away beckoned him over. He told Jacob he would be back and left to where the inspector was standing.
“Constable, what’s the matter over there?” the inspector asked in Twi.
“Is it not this guy who allowed this fitter or welder boy to drive him without a licence and now he is talking a lot of legalities.”
“And what are you doing with them?”
“I told him he would have to leave the key and the car and present the licence at the station today or would be processed for court tomorrow.”
“Process for court tomorrow? I think you people have still not understood this job,” the inspector blurted. “What will you get from that?”
“Well sir I thought the directive issued by the Regional Commander said…”
“I know what the regional commander said. You can go perfectly with that and let your children go to the DA JSS or you can think wisely and ensure that you educate them at the best schools and I will say this for the very last time. I am almost due for pension,” the inspector advised.
“So what do I do,” the befuddled rookie asked.
“Use your head my son. Does he seem to be in a hurry?”
“Yes, he said he had to get to a very important meeting.”
“Good. That means he won’t have much time to delay and so would not go into extensive negotiation.”
“He offered to give me something.”
“He is not in the position to determine what he wants to give, you determine that.”
“So?”
“So let him know how much he would pay at the court and get half of that…he is coming towards us go and meet him.”
The constable walked towards Jacob and met him halfway through.
“My superior was insisting that I keep the key. But I told him you were in a hurry and that you seem to be a jolly good fellow.
“That’s very kind of you. Thank you,” Jacob offered.
“What did you say you had for me,” the corporal enquired.
“I have GH50.00 to buy you lunch,” Jacob told him.
“Massa do you think we are joking here?”
“How do you mean, sir?”
“I mean you have no idea what it would cost the young man for driving without a licence and how much it would cost you for aiding and abetting should this case go to court, do you?”
“So how much do I have to give you officer?” Jacob asked almost pleadingly. “I am in a hurry to make it to the meeting, please.”
“You know what let’s not drag this matter, you are likely to pay a minimum of GHC600 at the court so just give me half of that and go your…
“GHC300?!!” screamed?
“Stop shouting. Yes GHC300 and I will even write a note for him to use till he gets his licence.”
“But that’s too much officer. Please come down.”
“Well, you probably would like to go to court. Do you have a lawyer?”
“My wife is a lawyer but let’s not get into that…”
“So you can come with her.”
“Let’s not get into that. You know what all the money I have on me now is GHC200 please take it so I go. Please don’t say anything again, just take it.”
Jacob went to the car looked for his jacket and inserted his hand into the inside pocket and brought out a wad of cash. He surreptitiously counted GHC200 from the stash. The police man was standing right behind him when he turned. He handed the money to him and took the key and a note he had written on a folded piece of paper.
The police constable walked to his inspector to let him know what had happened.
“I have really drained the guy,” he announced.
“How much did you get from him?” the inspector asked.
“I got GHC200 from him.”
“That’s not bad for a Monday afternoon. You are beginning to learn that in the police service you make your own fortune or you retire a pauper.”
“I will remember that.”
Meanwhile, Jacob handed the key to Akomea whereupon they both entered the vehicle. Akomea inserted the key and kicked the vehicle to life.
Akomea tried to apologize “Massa, I am really so…”
“Please Akomea don’t talk now, okay?” Jacob cut him. He took a look at his watch and the time read 1:48.
Akomea drove to the junction and took the right turn went straight and took the turn at the Accra Training College to Madina Estates through Madina Social Welfare towards Ashaley and then took the left turn that led to Adenta Housing.
He took the right turn at the main road towards the old Adenta Barrier and veered to the left on the Y shaped junction towards Oyarifa. A few metres after the Pantang junction Jacob thought he smelt something coming from the engine.
“Do you smell something?” he asked Akomea.
“Yes I do, I think…” before Akomea could finish talking they heard a mild noise then the vehicle slowed down for a few metres and came to a screeching stop. The engine died in the middle of the road.
“What’s that?” Jacob screamed at Akomea.
“I don’t know,” the younger man said as he kept turning the key to try to kick start the engine.
“Blistering blue balling barnacles! What am I to do now?” Jacob said to no one in particular.
“We may have to push it to the side and take a look at what the problem could be,” Akomea suggested.
Jacob was beside himself with grief, despair and surprise. “How do we do it?” he managed to ask.
“I will put the gear at neutral and then we can push it to the side of the road,” he said.
Akomea moved the gear to neutral. Jacob got down and went to the back of the vehicle. Akomea got down and stood by the side of the vehicle with one hand on the opened door and the other on the steering wheel to control it. Thankfully the vehicle was on a little hill hence after a little nudge it moved. Akomea controlled it till they were on the side then he asked Jacob to stop pushing and stepping on the breaks he brought it to a stop.
He pulled the bonnet opening lever from the front of the vehicle, closed the door and went to the front. He lifted the bonnet cover and hooked it. He brought his nose closer to the engine to smell what could be the problem.
Jacob who had moved to join Akomea at the front asked him what the problem was. “I don’t know yet,” Akomea said. He pulled the engine oil gauge, cleaned with a rag he was holding and inserted it back and pulled it out again only to realize that there was not a drop of oil on it! He put it back and pulled it out again. Same result.
“We have run out of engine oil,” Akomea declared and it sounded to Jacob like his death sentence had just been announced.
“We cannot run out of engine oil by this time Akomea,” Jacob said very calmly.
“I need to go get some engine oil,” Akomea said.
“We are in the middle of nowhere,” Jacob seems to have given up.
“There is a Shell station at the barrier where we just came from. I will stop a cab, hop in and go get some oil, please,” said the younger man who realised that he ought to take charge as Jacob had given up entirely.
“Okay. How much will you need?” Jacob asked meekly.
“I think GHC20 will do for both the oil and the taxi fare,” he said.
Jacob put his hand in his trouser pocket, brought out two GHC10 notes and gave them to Akomea.
“I will be back soon,” Akomea told Jacob as he crossed the road to the opposite side to hail a cab.
Jacob saw some shrubs a few metres away that had provided some modicum level of shade. He walked towards the shade and luckily he saw a small brick lying in the shade and sat on it facing the main road. He took another look at his watch and it was 2:30pm.
He thought about how he was going to get to the house, pick the phone, delete the message, put the phone back, get to the office to have the meeting with the CEO, go pick his wife and get back home. “This would be one of the longest days in my life,” he soliloquized.
One thing that would complicate issues is when he gets home to meet his daughter and the house help. Either one of them would end up telling his wife that he came home during the day. “That must be avoided and the reason I need to get home now.”

Chocolate Barbie – by Kuukua D Yomekpe

Chocolate Barbie

“Kafui!”  Grandmother yelled from the living room. 

“Yes Ma!   I’m coming!”  She responded with a little bit too much emphasis on the last word. 

“Wo nua no wo hen?”

“I think my sister went to Selassie’s to rehearse for the church play,” Kafui said. 

“Are you sure?”  Grandmother asked.  “ARE you sure?”  She probed as if looking for a sign that Kafui would crack under more pressure.  “Did she say when she would be back?  She should not have been gone this long!” 

“But Ma, she left barely thirty minutes ago!”

“Are you being insolent?” 

“No Ma, but she really did just leave.” 

“Hmmm…Yoo!  Bebia wSa kε shε bia, onwhε  no ho yei!  Ma Snfa nyinsen mba fie ha o!”  Kafui rolled her eyes subtly as she listened to Grandmother’s usual rant about boys and pregnancy as if these were a teenager’s greatest downfall.  Perhaps it was her experience since she raised three children and two-grandchildren single-handedly. 

Anyway, today Kafui hoped she was right about her sister’s whereabouts.  Enyo often confided in her when she needed to go out and meet up with her boyfriend, but tonight she had plainly said, “Selassie and I have some work to do.  I’ll be back.”  There was no hint of illicit behavior, at least none that Kafui could detect.  Kafui wondered if her sister had stopped trusting her. 

She decided to return to her French homework, but before that she thought she’d read a few chapters of her latest illegal copy of Mills & Boon that one of her mates had slipped her in class. She had devised a way of doing so stealthily because if Grandmother discovered her reading these, not only would she be grounded and the book seized, but also her teacher would know about their practice.  By then her mate’s parents would have to be brought into the equation.  The adults made sure that such inappropriate reading material was kept from the hands of these “innocent” adolescents.  She smirked as she thought of this, but the smirk was replaced by a smile at the thought that she and her mates had managed to pass five copies so far this school year.  In any case, she knew she couldn’t afford this drama so she always kept the books hidden in pages of whatever textbook she was using at the moment.  In between the turn of the pages, even as she kept up with the drama of unrequited love, her thoughts kept returning to her sister.

            In the meantime, Enyo had arrived at Selassie’s and the two of them were getting ready to leave for their rendezvous.  Selassie had also told her mother that she and Enyo had work to do, never quite explaining what that “work” was.  Her mother trusted them because she felt that Enyo was a good influence on Selassie. 

Growing up Kafui and Enyo were not allowed to have their hair relaxed. When Enyo told Selassie that she wanted to try it before the semester ended, Selassie encouraged her, and finally got her to acquiesce to getting it done.  They decided that after class one day, the two of them would go to Selassie’s first cousin’s house to get the job done.  The real problem with this act was that, relaxed hair could not be easily returned to its natural state, and Grandmother was bound to notice the very next day. At the moment of making the decision, Enyo, at sixteen, felt legally justified to do with her hair as she pleased. 

As they walked over to the house, Enyo began to ponder the real significance of the act she was about to take.  Sure, it would feel good to not deal with kinky hair—the weekly washing and combing out followed by hours of twisting and squirming under Grandmother’s fingers.  It would also be nice to have hair that fingers could run through all the way without getting caught in a knot of kinky curls.  She would look just like those white girls on TV tossing their hair ever so delicately.  Somehow, she also had the impression that this new look would make her more popular in school.  There was so much riding on this decision!  On the other hand the consequences like the irreversible nature of having a relaxer, the burnt scalp (oh she had heard stories!), and Grandmother’s reaction at her outright disobedience plagued her.  For Grandmother, everything was an affront to her personally, not to mention the family name.  God forbid, anyone did anything for his or her own benefit with no intention of tarnishing the family name!  Unconsciously, she began to drag a bit behind Selassie.  Selassie, whose mother had allowed her to relax her hair at twelve, caught this change in my mood.  She put her hand in Enyo’s and quickened her pace. 

“Ko ko ko.  Knock Knock.”  Selassi’s cousin came to the door and after the usual greetings and hugs, Selassie explained to her cousin that Enyo was fast losing her resolve so they needed to hurry on with it and continue to assure her it would be perfect! 

Selassie helped her cousin set up the kitchen with the hair relaxer crème, the combs, and some Vaseline mixed with pure Shea butter for those unavoidable scalp burns.  Enyo had finally gotten excited about the process, and began helping Selassie partition her hair by holding down portions while Selassie wrapped rubber bands around them.  Selassie rubbed the concoction of Vaseline and Shea butter around Enyo’s ears, neck, and temple. Her cousin came over and began slathering the crème in the partitions that Enyo and Selassie had made earlier, each from bottom to top.  Once the whole can was gone, Selassie’s cousin began combing the crème through taking care not to touch the scalp.    She began to feel the itch and then the burn, just as they had described it to her.  She carefully to swiped the comb and began agitating her scalp to soothe the itch.  Snatching the comb, Selassie stared Enyo down as she sat sullenly in her seat. 

Eventually after what seemed like an hour, but in reality was only twenty minutes, Selassie’s cousin took Enyo to the sink and helped rinse out the relaxer.  She put some conditioner in and then allowed the scalp some rest.  She then walked her to the mirror, showed her the new hair and helped her comb it through.  She couldn’t help but smile at the look in the mirror.  Now she really looked like a Barbie doll…except she was brown.  Enyo shrugged off that feeling and turned around to see her hair fall down past her shoulder blades. They had said the relaxer had the ability to straighten out the kinks and lengthen the hair!  Up until this moment, she had not believed it.  Selassie called to her saying that it was time to go.  Her heart began to beat faster.  Now that the scalp burns were out of the way, she had to contend with the reality of returning home.

As they walked home, Selassie reasoned with her.  Grandmother could do Enyo no harm physically.  The hair looked fabulous; Grandmother might actually want to give Kafui a relaxer too so she would spend less time grooming hair every weekend.  She was not buying it.  Enyo was lost in my thoughts when Selassie gasped.  Enyo looked up.  There was Grandmother.  She was waving her flashlight wildly about with one hand and dragging Kafui with the other.  She began yelling and reprimanding Enyo for staying out too late.  She noticed Selassie and sent her home right away saying her mother was worried sick about her whereabouts.  We later learned that this was a lie.  Grandmother was more furious after Selassie left and she gave Enyo a lecture, not much unlike the usual.  She dragged Kafui and Enyo behind her as she stomped towards home, Kafui looking forlorn because she had gone through her own mini hell when Grandmother had finally lost patience and gone in search of Enyo.  Once inside the walls of the compound, she grabbed the cane she kept for such occasions, and gave Enyo fifteen lashes.  With each one, she winced but refused to cry. 

Enyo had gotten what she wanted.  Grandmother could not take that away from her.  Her hair was like Barbie.  She would have all the boys gazing at her, and the girls dying to touch it, in school tomorrow.  This thought, that everyone at school would be envious of her, kept her from crying out.  When Grandmother felt satisfied, she sent them both to their rooms. Safely inside, Enyo unwrapped the scarf on her head and showed Kafui the hair she had acquired in a matter of an hour.  Of course, Kafui was amazed.  So would the kids are school, tomorrow. 

Enyo fell asleep dreaming about the new day.  She tossed a lot trying to find a comfortable spot because her legs and back stung from the lashes.  She knew that Grandmother wasn’t done.  She had punished her for being out late.  Tomorrow, she would deal with the actual change in hair texture, but for now, she had gotten what she had dreamed about for years.  Barbie-doll hair! Never mind that this doll was brown!

 

About the Author


Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe was born and raised in Ghana, immigrating to the United States at age 19. Her essays, “All Because of a Name” and “Immigrants in a Foreign Land” are published in African Women Writing Resistance. Her Masters thesis, “The Audacity to Remain Single: The Single Black Woman and the Black Church,” won the 2010 Marcella Althaus-Reid Award at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. She is proud to be an African woman and believes in equality for all peoples, especially women. She is currently a candidate for the MFA in Writing and Consciousness in San Francisco. She loves to cook, and choreographs African and liturgical dance forms. She blogs at: ewurabasempe.wordpress.com.

The Secondary School Life – by Samuel Boateng

The engine chugged softly as the car slowed down by the sidewalk. My eyes flashed quickly to the majestic white and black buildings my uncle had ever so fondly described. “Here we are.” sighed my father. I got out and opened the boot of the car, took out my chop box and trunk. Father and I headed off to the school’s administration block and had me registered as a freshman of the Anglican Senior High School. He then bade me farewell after seeing my dormitory and left me to sort my things. We were seven freshmen, so far in the huge dormitory of the Howard Carter House. We exchanged occasional glances which sent across mixed feelings that new comers of a school normally have.

Since it was our first day there, it wasn’t much of a day. We had breakfast with the rest of the school. The older boys and girls in Form 2 and Form 3 gave us looks that were not so hard for us to read. “Welcome to servitude, bullying, punishments and a whole lot more right here at ANGLISCO.” The rest of the freshmen and I sat at a table together with our House Prefect who was to orient us little by little. Food was fairly good and so on. Our House Prefect introduced himself to us as Kofi Lawson. He shared a joke about him being considered for the prefect’s position just because he had LAW in his name. Imagine that!

Normally, on the first day of school you might want to check out the school and see the facilities available such as the washrooms, laboratories, sport fields and swimming pool, if the school had one. We visited the laboratories first and looked around at the equipment and apparatus. We were joined by freshman girls from the Adelaide Asiamah House. Then, we visited the sports fields and looked around. My, my! What a park! The school could have hosted the Nations’ Cup and generated some profit! Our last stop before the dormitories was the washrooms. It was there that the boys and girls had to split up. The girls’ washrooms were at their side of the school which was east of the school. Overall, the washrooms were not that bad, I mean how do you expect the washroom of a senior high school to look like? It was neat and you could sit on the seats and attend to nature’s calls unlike most schools where, going to ease yourself was like attending kung-fu or yoga meditation classes. You would have to stand bending your knees and balancing yourself over the toilet bowl at the same time keeping watch over your bottom from the huge patrolling flies!

Soon we were settled and got to know each other. I found myself a companion who was called Jonathan Darko. He was from a school somewhere in Accra and gained admission along with a friend of his from junior high school named Caleb Kotei. They complained that my name was too common and “had no taste” and that if they visited my hometown in Kumasi they would find not less than 50 Kwame Mensas!

 

We were just starting to feel at home and loosening up when the seniors arrived from wherever they had been. They gave us a saucy welcome and started to check out our chop boxes. You couldn’t say no and act all protective because that would surely spell doom for your freshman years in the school. We obediently opened our chop boxes and let them pry into our private properties. A senior would occasionally take something out, be it a canned sardine or some biscuits and inspect it as if it had been stolen, then tell the unfortunate student that he was “borrowing” it for some hours. Of course, anybody who had his item taken would know that the senior was taking it for good. I was one of the unfortunate students. Two seniors “borrowed” a can of sardines and two tins of milk respectively. I was not bothered in the least because I had more than enough to last me the first term, and a can of sardines and two tins of milk would not raise inflation costs in my edible provisions…. To be continued

About the Author

Samuel Boateng is a Junior High School graduate of the St. Bernadette Soubirous School in Dansoman, Accra. He likes to read, write, draw and use the computer. He hopes to become an investor, part-time artist and author. 

My Twenty-One Changing Seasons (an extract) – by Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng

In this forthcoming novel set in the 1980s in Ghana, ‘My Twenty-One Changing Seasons’, Gideon, who has just completed his ‘A’ Levels, looks back on his seven years in boarding school. The book is planned to be published by summer 2012.  Below is an extract, which recounts his day with the seniors.

                                                              *******

Monday afternoon looked like the scene of an invasion as the senior students descended on campus. We were terrified, of course-we had all heard stories of how a form one student’s life could be made very miserable. We cowered by our window, where we had a clear view of the foyer and car park. Car after car arrived on campus and disgorged the students- from gleaming Mercedes Benzes, BMWs, ordinary Toyotas or Datsuns to rented taxis for those whose families had no car to their name. But wave after wave came and we wondered whether there would ever be an end. Campus was noisy as old friends greeted each other with the boisterousness that teenage students are known for. Of course there was no parent in sight-after all, these were no novices.

By four pm all of the form one boys in my dormitory were kneeling down in the form five room upstairs, and I am sure a similar exercise was being repeated in the other five houses.  We had not committed any offences but for the simple one of being new boys.  The seniors sat or lay on their beds and interviewed us, firing humiliating questions from all angles.

‘Hey you, yes, thick lips. How many times does your father fuck your mother in a week?’

‘Kwaku Nsemfo. What kind bush name be dat?’

‘You chop pussy before?’

‘You from Tiwa? Where in the name of Jesus is that? Do you guys have water and electricity there, and how do you get there? By canoe?’

‘My God, your face no fine koraa. Your mother must cry every day’

‘Do you have any beautiful sisters I could marry?’

‘Who did you inherit your ugly, mango-shaped head from?’

And on and on the stupid questions went. Senior James Fynn, otherwise known as Joe Capito, seemed to be in charge of the pack of baying hyenas in the room. I will never forget that face and name for as long as I shall live.  He is forever seared into my memory. His questions always elicited laughter from the other seniors, however stupid or banal it sounded. He had the annoying habit of constantly picking his nose and then sticking his finger in his mouth. His voice was high pitched like the shrill of a football referee’s whistle. Tall and lanky as a pole with eyes like a cat, he had a sinister smile that sent a chill right down your spine, for you could tell that the smile was simply a preamble to some dastardly comment or act rather than any act of warmth or affection towards a fellow human being. I avoided those icy eyes.  He was perched on the edge of his bed, his long legs dangling and swaying like weeping willows in the breeze.

‘Hey you, funny ears, what is your name?’ A set of keys landed on my ears with the precision of a guided missile almost as soon as the question was asked. I yelped both in pain and surprise. In primary school I was nicknamed ‘adanko’ meaning rabbit, because of my protruding ears. Of course I hated it. Laughter erupted in the room as soon as the keys clanged against my ears. I am sure I saw a couple of my mates trying to suppress a snigger.

‘Senior, please I am Gideon Asomaning’, I replied meekly.

‘Asomaning’ He rolled my name over his tongue for a minute or two over whilst scratching a rather ugly pimple located on his left cheek. Then his face seemed to light up as if in recognition.

‘Is your father that ugly minister for urban regeneration? You look like him, rabbit ears and all.’

 ‘No, senior. My father is a mining engineer.’ It always gave me great pride to reveal my father’s profession

‘Foolish goat, so what? Is my father a village blacksmith?’ clearly the question was meant to be rhetorical, for he did not wait for a reply, neither did I dare offer one.

‘So you are a mine boy. Which one?’

‘Tarkwa, senior’

‘Your father is a gold thief. How many bars of gold are hidden under his bed?’

‘None, senior.’ I swallowed hard, affronted that this guy had the nerve to besmirch my father that way. But who was I to talk?

 ‘Come here’, he beckoned with his right index finger.  I rose to make my way to him as ordered. The room went quiet.

Who asked you to get up?’ he barked at me. ‘Crawl to me’

I looked at him, not believing what I had just heard and rooted to the spot as if my feet had been nailed to the hard cement floor. There was a good six feet or so between us, and the floor was rather pock-marked.  Within a split second, a hard cover Collins Advanced   English Dictionary was flying in my direction from his bed with the speed of a bullet. The missile narrowly missed my head and slammed against the wall on the other side of the room with such force that the back cover came off. In a flash I was back on my knees and crawling towards Senior Capito with great alacrity.

‘Open your mouth wide and close your eyes’. His left forefinger was stuck in his nostril, scraping, exploring and excavating, and that sinister smile played on his lips. I did not need a second invitation and had no idea what to expect.  My lower lip trembled, and I steeled myself for whatever this evil senior had decided to visit on me, wondering why he had singled me out for whatever he had in mind.

I drew a sharp intake of breath when I felt the forefinger of Joe Capito firmly lodged on my tongue and realized that this was his filthy finger when I felt some foreign matter in my mouth. My eyes flew open immediately and my body recoiled in disgust.  Joe Capito’s finger remained firmly lodged in my mouth, pressing down hard on my tongue. My lower lip trembled vigorously and my mouth began to fill with saliva.

‘Get up. If you are man like me with pubic hair and solid balls and who has fucked more pussies than I have, spit it out and let me see’, he challenged, fixing me with a stare that could melt seventy-seven demons.  Well, my closest experience of sex had been a sloppy, messy fumble back in primary school with Oparebea one hot sunny afternoon after extra classes, so technically I was still a virgin. However, even though I did of course have a solid pair of balls between my legs, I did not dare rise to the challenge, neither could I of course muster the nerve to swallow. I rose slowly and stared at him. As I came up his finger dislodged itself from my mouth. I knew boarding school life entailed some bullying and was prepared to take it in my stride, but this was madness.

‘Close that big smelly mouth of yours’. His shrill voice permeated my eardrums.

With great effort, I managed to bring my lips pressed together, but prevented my tongue from touching any other part of my mouth. At this point all the other seniors started laughing- a raucous laughter that reverberated beyond the dormitory walls.  Only Capito remained impassive, as if he was wondering what on earth the fuss was about. My fellow form one students, all still on their knees,  kept their eyes glued to the floor. They could clearly feel my pain, for they must have realized it could have been any of them. None of them dared laugh even if they wanted to, for that would surely have been an invitation to have something worse dished out to him.

My throat seized up and I felt as if a big lump of charcoal had been placed in its narrow confines. I blinked rapidly, forcing myself not to show any weakness and thereby give this idiot any pleasure. In my head, I rained curses on him as I stood there thoroughly humiliated. I invoked madness and disease and blindness on him. In my impotent rage, I wished he would die a slow painful death and that his rotting flesh would be picked clean by vultures and dogs and hyenas.  

Then, almost as soon as these torrential thoughts crashed through my mind with great intensity and my soul blazed with anger, I felt a tidal wave of shame wash over me for wishing these things on a fellow human being. I asked God for forgiveness. I had been brought up to believe fervently in the Lord’s Prayer: And forgive us our trespasses even as we forgive those who trespass against us.

 

It was at this point that the dam in my soul broke and the tears began to flow silently like hot lava down my cheeks- salty tears of pain at the humiliation that I had suffered, tears of frustration that I was unable to do anything about this or question why I had been singled out, and finally tears of guilt that I had allowed this senior to push me to the point where I had developed impure thoughts and had sinned against my God in the process. These three rivers of tears joined hands and flowed freely as one unto my white shirt.

Eventually we were released, and I headed straight to my trunk to grab my toothpaste and brush. I spent the next half hour or so vigorously scrubbing my mouth, until my gums were flooded with blood. Then I rinsed it with some dettol, like the victim of a horrendous rape who seeks to wash away with soap and water the disgusting ordeal she has just been subjected to, for I had just been violated in a like manner. And yet I continued to feel dirty, and for the next few days, eating or drinking was a horrendous experience. Whenever I did, I felt I was swallowing the filth from Capito’s nose.

 About the Author

Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Ghana and postgraduate qualifications in law from City University and The College of Law, both in London, UK. He currently lives in Accra, where he runs Walworth Consulting, a specialist UK immigration consultancy.

He has two books to his credit. His first book, Ghana at 50: A Trip down Memory Lane, was published in April 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence. Abrokyir Nkomo:Reflections of a Ghanaian Immigrant, was published in June 2009. He is currently working on his first novel, My Twenty-One Changing Seasons. He can be reached at rodboat@yahoo.com

Face to Face: Trotro Palaver – by Nana A Damoah

The engineer who designed the bus would have surely been surprised to find that one of his handiworks was still on the road years long after the assembly plant had been decommissioned.  There was the likelihood that he might not even recognize it as one of those that left his factory. A new guy at Kokompe had left his mark on the old Morris bus. The troski, with registration number ABC 4037.

“Lagos Town, New Town, Circle! Lagos Town, New Town, Circle, ready going!” Akwasi shouted, calling out in all directions, his towel on his shoulder, already soaked with sweat in the 30 degree centigrade sun. Intermittently, he would wring it to squeeze out water.

                                                                                       “Yeessssss ready going. Only two more to go, come, are you going?” crossing the street to help a lady who ended up going to another vehicle; she was headed for Maamobi rather.

Even though there were six people seated in the trotro, only one of them was a real passenger. The rest were mates and drivers in the Abedi station. Sitting in the bus was a ploy to encourage commuters to join the bus, thinking that it was almost full.

Abedi station was situated in the Pig Farm area, the area’s name dating back to the days when a nearby joint was the best place in Accra to get domedo, fried and spiced pork. It was a pork factory. Lines of frying pots could be found at the joint, and one could get the domedo hot, spiced, with accompaniment of ringed onions and pepper powder. The station was managed by the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), an affiliate of the Trades Union Congress. Some called the union Gepretu of Tuk.  The executives were usually retired, old drivers. Efo Gayon was the station master.

“Yessssss, Circle, New Town, Kokomlemle, Lagos Town, air-conditioned bus, away bus, ready going!” There were twelve people now, and the other mates and drivers gave each other cues to begin getting off strategically as the bus filled up.

The bus was actually a lorry which had been converted into a passenger bus. The capacity of the bus was written as part of the particulars of the bus on the driver’s door: nineteen, which included the driver. In the lingua of the station, the sitting arrangements were distributed sixteen back, two front. The driver’s seat was not included in the tally.

The driver was separated from the back compartment by a wire mesh. This compartment contained two wooden benches, arranged parallel to each other such that when the passenger sat, they faced each other. Even though the driver’s mate admitted sixteen passengers to occupy the benches, he would insist on sitting as well.

“Master Kojo! Master! The car is almost full, we can go now.”

The driver walked slowly to the bus, a toothpick busy in his mouth; he was using it like a ceiling brush to remove scattered cobwebs of meat stuck in his teeth. He had just completed a meal of fufu and akrantie, a specialty of Daavi Ama, who had been operating her chop bar in the station for decades.

“Mate, we are seven on each bench already. Is it not full? Are you going to sit yourself?”

“No, we are not full. It is one-man-one-seat, eight on each bench.”

“Ah mate yi paa, what one-man-one-seat? Do you understand what that means? Hahaha!”

The other passengers joined in the laughter. Soon, a new passenger joined the bench behind the driver.

“Mate,” the latest passenger, a man dressed in factory overalls, enquired, “there is no more space on this bench. How can I fit?”

Akwasi ignored him and called out for one more passenger.

“Mate, are you not going to answer my question?” The factory guy shouted. “And where are you going to sit, won’t you sit on the last available space on this other bench?”

“Ask and ask again, massa,” the lady who had asked Akwasi the same question earlier on interjected, “I asked him the same question earlier on and he told me this rickety bus of his is one-man-one-seat!”

A lady who was clearly in a hurry came running and was grateful when Akwasi asked her to sit on the little space he indicated on the bench.

With the touching of wires, the driver got the engine running. At the cue of ‘Away bus’ from Akwasi, Master Kojo took off and braked suddenly! The dilemma of inadequate space on the benches was solved immediately, as each passenger was thrown in the direction of the driver and the packing was completed!

Akwasi squeezed himself by the last lady to join the bus, half sitting, half perching, with the door slightly opened.

“Mate, I will alight at Robert Motors, how much will that be?”

“Madam, that will be the same fare as if you were going to Abavanna Junction.”

“What! Driver!

“Akwasi, what is the matter back there?”

In troskis, it was usual for the driver to communicate through his mate, like a chief via his linguist.

“Master, it is this madam here who doesn’t want to pay the fare!”

“Hey mate, did I say I won’t pay? I just questioned the fare from Pig Farm to Robert Motors. Just a stone throw, I could even have walked!”

“Akwasi, change her the fare for Abavanna Junction!”

It wasn’t a happy lady who alighted at Robert Motors. And so when Akwasi told her he didn’t have exact change for her, she blew her top. Another passenger, a mechanic who appeared to work in the workshop, also alighted at the same spot, so Akwasi gave them a combined change to divide between them.

“Hey, small boy, where do I know this man from? Is he my brother or husband? If you don’t give me my change now, you will smell pepper!”

*********

“Why do people chew garlic at all?”

“Adɛn, Auntie, why do you ask that question?”

The lady who asked the initial question tried hard not to look straight ahead, and the gentleman who sat directly opposite her on the other bench also avoided her gaze, electing to concentrate on the front of the bus.

“My brother, poverty is expensive o. Otherwise, why would one have to endure all sorts of smells in this enclosure of a bus?”

“Baaaaaaas stop! Abavanna!”

When the ‘garlic’ man got down, everyone exhaled audibly. Apparently, everyone knew why the lady asked the question about garlic. Typical of Ghanaians, everybody knew what was on everybody’s mind, yet when the question is posed, a question is asked to clarify.

At Abavanna, Master Kojo realized that most of his colleague drivers were joining the Nkansa-Djan-Pig Farm road from the road coming from the Maamobi Polyclinic, instead of the usual route from the Kotobabi Police Station. He got suspicious, and guessed that the police were at it again at the Catholic church junction.

He took off and turned right, towards Abavanna down, via Waist and Power junction.

“Yes, front…froooont, please.”

There were two passengers sitting in the front cabin and one of them, a lady, passed her fare through the wire mesh. The note was passed along to the mate. The second passenger turned to look at the driver, who kept his eyes dogged on the road ahead.

“Massa…yes, you in front, your fare please!”

“Mate, my change, before I forget it.” That was the lady in front.

Her change was exactly the amount the man in front needed to pay. Driver’s mates were experts at what was termed Kweku Ananse mathematics, substitution by shifting around.

“Madam, please collect your change from the man sitting by you, it is exactly the amount I need to give you.”

The driver still didn’t turn to the passengers’ direction at all. The male passenger in front started fidgeting – that was not how things were to happen: the driver was his neighbour at Kotobabi Down and he expected him to exempt him from paying the trotro fare.

Immediately after the male passenger gave his fare to the lady, the driver turned right after the SWAG park, towards the K1 and 2 schools, and for the first time acknowledged his neighbour’s presence in the car.

“Ei, Opia, is that you? I didn’t notice you had joined koraa o.”

Apuuu, wicked man, thought Opio. See his face like a goat! Azaa man!

The troski went past Honesty, so named because the owner of Honesty Transport used to live at that junction, his articulated trucks marked ‘Honesty’. Whether or not it reflected his personal philosophy was another matter.

Past the Providence School signpost, Master Kojo stopped at K1&2 for a passenger to alight. At Prempeh hotel, a new passenger joined the troski. Whilst waiting for the passenger to settle, Massa Kojo flagged one of his colleague drivers.

“Dovlo, are they there?” It was obvious to the other driver who ‘they’ referred to.

“Yes o, ma broda. At the Catholic church junction, just around the corner from Agbajena. They dey there. Today, there are collecting twice the normal rate. Atta Papa just got charged for not having a torchlight in his bus, this hot afternoon!”

Ewurade medaase! I could smell them from Abavanna!”

*******

“Please, can you pass your money from the left? Please don’t give me small notes.”

“Why shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t you have coins for change?”

“Madam, I think it is just a polite request from the boy. Please allow small.”

“Mate, I will drop at the Catholic church junction.” It was a sleepy voice; the passenger, an elderly man, had gone to sleep as soon as he boarded the troski at Abedi station.

“Oh Papa, we didn’t pass there o. We are now at Nkansa-Djan.”

“Ah, why didn’t you pass there?”

“Papa, I asked at Abavanna whether anyone would get down at Roman, but there was no response.”

“It was because he was busily snoring and hitting people’s shoulders with his head!” The lady who sat on the old man’s right didn’t sound amused. The other passengers laughed.

“Driver, please turn the car, I have to get down at Roman. Driver!”

“Akwasi!”

“Master!”

Wetin again? Asem ben?”

“Master, is it not this man? He has been sleeping aah, now that we have passed his stop, he wants us to take him back.”

Opanyin,” Massa Kojo tried to be polite “you know we can’t take you back, not in this traffic, even if I want to do it. I will let you get down right here. Akwasi, open the door for him. Papa, next time, please stay alert.”

“Ah, but I need some balance to take a new troski back to the Catholic church junction.”

“But you have not even paid me!”

“I paid you!”

“Ei, you this man, you have been sleeping throughout this trip, when did you pay me?”

It quickly became obvious that the old man didn’t have money on him. A good Samaritan paid for him. When he insisted that he be given money to take a bus back to his original destination, all the passengers broke down in mirth and called him Papa Oliver. The good Samaritan had to come to his aid, again. 

*********************

“Mate, why should I pay the full fare to Circle? I am using only half of my allocated space on this bench!”

The speaker was seated by a plump lady; she looked like a Makola woman who was on her way to the market. Her load of dried fish in a basket was placed under one of the benches.

“Owula, are you referring to me?”

“Mate, I say I will not pay the full fare! Take the balance from wherever you deem fit!”

“My view is that some people should pay double the fare, for the space they actually occupy, otherwise they cheat some of us.” That was Opia, who had recovered from his anger to contribute to the discussion in the troski.

“True. It is supposed to be one-man-one-seat, but for some, it is one-man-two seats!”

The Makola woman kept her cool, only a foolish dog ran after a flying bird and this was a topic she wouldn’t win.

“Lagos Town wo mu o, mate!”

At Lagos Town, Massa Kojo got down to open the bonnet of the Morris troski. A steam of vapor exuded from the engine, and the driver had to step back, almost jumping. Akwasi knew what to do, retrieving a 5 liter gallon from under his bench and crossing the road to get some water.

“Driver, what is wrong? We are in a hurry o!”

“Oh, nothing is wrong!”

“How can it be ‘nothing’ when we have been here for almost five minutes?”

“It is small ‘overheating’, we have to let the engine cool down, it is normal.” 

“Mate! Please give me my balance, I can’t wait, I have an appointment I can’t miss.”

“Oh bra, wait small, we will finish noor, and we will be going.”

Soon it was obvious that the problem was more than engine overheating. Massa Kojo took a mat from under his seat and spread it under the car, vanishing under the car. The passengers could hear some hammering.

“Ei Driver! If the car cannot move again, give us our money la!”

Massa Kojo didn’t respond. He went back to the front of the car, poured in some more water, and climbed back into his seat. After the third attempt, the troski came to life, and the journey could continue.

“Hey, keep your dirty hands off my suit! You gat me?”

“Massa, watch how you talk to me! Who do you think you are?”

“Who do I think I am? Do you know who I am? You fitters just get out of your workshop and come and sit in cars, can’t you change your overalls if you are going out?”

“I agree with you, boss. Hey fitter, see how dirty your coat is. Do you want to soil the man’s nice attire?”

“Did I not pay the same fare?” That was the mechanic. “If he thinks he is a big man, he should buy his own car and ride in it!”

“Baaaasssss stop! Mate, I will drop down at Malata!”

When the man in suit got down, Akwasi spoke what was on his mind. “Eish, these myself people! Nsem piii!”

From Malata through Kokomlemle to Circle, the journey was smooth. Almost. The fitter’s attire was the main discussion point, and he agreed that indeed he needed to have a spare attire to wear when leaving the workshop to buy spare parts. He was on his way to Abossey Okai.

Just before the station at Circle, around Odo Rise, the Morris troski came to an abrupt halt. Aponkye brake.

Reason? The fuel had run out. Finito.

With one voice, the passengers chorused “One gallon!”

Fortunately, the last stop, the Circle station, was a walking distance and as they alighted, Akwasi retrieved another gallon, he knew what to do.

About the Author

Nana A Damoah is a Chemical Engineer by training and a writer by calling. He is the author of two non-fiction books: Excursions in My Mind (2008) and Through the Gates of Thought (2010), and a contributing author to the anthology of African stories: African Roar (2010). He is working on his third book, Tales from Different Tails, a collection of short stories. He can be reached via ndamoah@yahoo.co.uk

The SMS (Part III) – by Francis Doku

“Holy Shinto! What am I to do now?” he said to no one in particular. The mechanic had promised to return that car at 3pm. “I will go in a taxi,” he said to himself and stormed out of the office.

When he stepped out of the office Jacob whipped his mobile phone from his pocket, searched the number of his mechanic and dialed. The voice response told him that it was either off or out of coverage area. He tried the second time and got the same response.

He decided to go to the mechanic’s place and get the car regardless of what state it was in. “I am sure he can continue from wherever he may have reached when he comes for it tomorrow,” he said to himself. Still standing by the street in front of his office Jacob saw a taxi approach and he hailed it. The taxi stopped right in front of him.

Bending his tall frame and looking at the driver through the front window Jacob said in Twi “How much would you charge me to Bubuashie.”

“Which part of Bubashie?” the cabbie enquired.

“There is this big fitting garage directly behind the Accra Academy School, that’s where I am going.”

“I have seen the place. Give me 30 Ghana,” the cabbie said.

“What!” Jacob almost screamed. “30 Ghana Cedis from Asylum Down to Bubuashie?”

“Massa, I am sure you have not “taken” a taxi in a long time…yes it’s 30 Ghana.”

“Can I give you 20 Ghana Cedis,” Jacob said.

“Big man, I am sure you are in a hurry, I am also in a hurry, so let’s not waste each other’s time. Meet me halfway with 25 Ghana, and I am not taking anything less than that,” he said with finality written on his face.

Jacob knew that any minute he wastes haggling with this stupid cab driver will delay his objective. “You let’s go,” he said as he opened the back door of the Toyota and sat in the back seat. Jacob looked at his Police® watch and it was 10:30am. The driver moved his automatic gear lever to D and drove off.

Jacob started to think through his itinerary for the rest of the day. First he has to get his car from the mechanic, drive home to Aburi, get Rebecca’s mobile phone from the dining table, delete the message, place it back, drive back to the office – and he need to be in the office by 3.00pm so he won’t miss that management meeting with the CEO – finish off his day and go for Rebecca so they can go home together.

“God please let this plan work perfectly,” he said.

“What did you say?” the cab driver asked.

“I said don’t you have air con in your car?”

“Ei massa, 25 Ghana with air con? I don’t have but if I did you would have paid more for it,” he teased.

Jacob dipped his hand into his trouser pocket and brought out a handkerchief, dabbed the beads of sweat forming on his forehead and put the handkerchief back. The driver saw him through his rearview mirror.

“Massa, I think it will be better if you took off your jacket,” the cabbie advised.

Jacob thought about it for a second. “I think you are right,” he said as he adjusted his body and took off the jacket and placed it on his lap.

When he decided to raise his head to check where they were Jacob realized they had been stopped by the red light at the Nima Police Station junction. “Charley, where are you going to pass? Why didn’t you make the U-turn back there at the Swiss School?” he screamed.

“Massa have patience, I am sure you have not driven here in a while, huh? That man with his long beard who thinks he knows everything has blocked almost everywhere you can make a U-turn in Accra. Didn’t you see those multi-coloured plastic blocks where we used to make that turn?”

“So where are you going to turn now?”

“Well I think I will go round the police station and come back to these lights.”

“My God! Do you know how late I am?”

“I don’t know but, what else could I have done?” the driver asked with a shrug of his shoulders.

“You could have used the Fox FM traffic lights to Calvary Baptist Church and then go through Circle. Couldn’t you?” Jacob asked.

“I hear there is a lot of traffic at Circle and so I want to go through Joy FM, to Avenor, to Melcom Plus through North Kaneshie to St. Theresa’s School to Mother’s Inn Roundabout through Kaneshie Presby Church to Cocoa Clinic to….”

“That’s okay let’s just go,” Jacob cut him short.

The light changed to green and the driver sped off. As he had promised Jacob, the cabbie went through his planned route without meeting any traffic, at least not until they got to Avenor and headed towards Melcom Plus. There was a huge traffic that had formed from the main Industrial Area street. The blue uniformed community police were trying to maintain order at the junction that led from the main street to Avenor.

“Have you seen what you have put me into?” Jacob said.

“Massa this is not traffic, it will move soon.”

“Pray it does!” he looked at his watch and it was 11:15am.

“We have spent 45 minutes already and we are still nowhere,” he said to himself.

The traffic actually moved very fast and within the next ten minutes they had gone through North Kaneshie and were at the Mother’s Inn Roundabout and before long they were at the garage.

The cab came to a stop right in front of the garage and opening the back door, Jacob stepped down. He put his jacket under his armpit, pulled his wallet from the back pocket paid the driver GHC25 closed the door and walked into the fitting shop.

He was greeted by the usual chaos that happens at fitting shops: grinding, sawing, welding and sparing. He walked over to one of the garage hands in dirty apparel “Where is Mumini?” he asked the young man.

“Master Mumuni is gone to Abossey Okai,” the apprentice said.

“How could he have gone to Abossey Okai by this time,” Jacob said more out of desperation.

Just then a grey Honda Civic entered the premises of the garage.

“That’s Master Mumuni coming,” the apprentice told Jacob as he pointed to it.

The car drove to where Jacob and the apprentice were standing and parked. The lanky man who got out in his surprisingly neat mechanic’s overall was Jacob’s fitter – Mumuni.

“Ei, Mister Jacob what brings you here by this time?” the surprised Mumuni asked.

“I tried calling you but your phone was off. I need to go home badly to pick something very important. You can have it tomorrow if you don’t mind,” Jacob cut the chase to the subject.

“My phone fell in water when we were removing you engine block….”

“Removing my engine block?”

“Yes we removed your engine block in the morning. You know, I put it on the machine to identify the faults when I came back in the morning and it detected a few things that required that we open it up. So we had to take out the engine block,” Mumuni explained.

“So have you put it back?” Jacob asked although he knew the answer.

“No we have not put it back, my people were working on it as I had to go to Abossey Okai to get some parts.”

“So what do we do now? I need the car badly. Can you put it together so I can use it now and then you pick it up tomorrow?” he sounded desperate.

Mumuni shook his head, “it will take us another two hours to put it back together.”

“I am dead! So what do I do Mumuni, what do I do?”

“Well, we can do one of two things: we either get you a cab or we arrange one of the cars we are working on for your use,” Mumuni said.

Jacob pondered over the two options for a minute – although it seemed like eternity – before talking. “I can’t stand going with a taxi driver all the way to Aburi and back so let’s see what you can arrange.”

“I can give you this Honda Civic, you only have to fuel it and use.”

“Can you go with me, Mumuni? I don’t want to drive somebody’s car,” Jacob said.

“That makes sense but, I am very busy now Mister Jacob,” Mumuni almost pleaded. “I will ask my chief apprentice to go with you.”

“He knows how to drive”?

“Hahahahaha…Mister Jacob paa, which mechanic doesn’t know how to drive? But to answer your question, yeah he does. And I believe your car will be ready by the time you come back.”

Mumuni called his chief apprentice Akomea and briefed him on the task ahead. “You will drive Mister Jacob here to Aburi and back. You know there right?”

“Oh master! I come from Tutu,” Akomea said jovially.

“Can we go now?” Jacob asked to put pay to any long conversation between Mumuni and his chief apprentice.

“Sure,” Mumuni said as he handed the keys to Akomea.

Akomea sat behind the steering wheel and Jacob sat beside him in the front seat after he had hanged his jacket on top of his seat.

They drove off from the garage at midday exactly – according to Jacob’s designer watch – towards Aburi on a journey to save Jacob’s marriage.

Just when they got out of the garage Jacob heard his phone ring. He pulled it from his pocket and the caller ID said “Becky”. “What does she want,” he murmured before picking the call.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hello Jake, how are you doing?” Becky said.

“Well not much. I have been going round and round since I last spoke to you,” Jacob said almost pitifully.

“Doing what exactly?” she asked.

“I want to get home to pick the phone and delete the message and get back to work. Unfortunately my car has gone to the mechanic and I just got a new car and leaving Accra to Aburi,” he explained.

“Wow, that must be hellish,” Becky said.

“It’s more than that. You know what, let me sort this thing out and get back to you okay?”

“That’s okay, just let me know what happens,” Becky said.

“Okay, bye,” he said and he cut the line.

It was obvious from the onset that Akomea knew his way around Accra. He took the road that led to the North Kaneshie area to Kaldorf through the Tesano Police Station traffic lights and then took the turn on the Achimota overhead through the former Dimples Junction to Dzorwulu Junction to Tettey Quarshie. He took the right turn at the Shiashie taxi and “trotro” station towards the Lagos Avenue (or what Jacob refers to as Roast Plantain Avenue) and very soon they were at the Bawaleshie traffic lights.

They drove past the ICA and CIB buildings as well as the new office complex and went past the Mempeasem junction. Just when they crossed the main entrance of the Trinity Theological Seminary Jacob saw many cars parked at the junction that led to IPS. Akomea also saw it and his heart leapt in fear.

“What’s that?” Jacob asked.

“I think it is the police on operation,” Akomea said as they approached the scene.

Jacob almost fainted “Oh no, I hope they don’t stop us!”

“I hope so too because if they do we are dead.”

“How do you mean?”

“My driver’s licence expired last week and I am yet to renew it…”

“What?!” now Jacob was hyperventilating.

They got close to the police and the first one raised his left hand with the clipboard and signaled Jacob and Akomea with his right hand to stop. Akomea went forward a bit and stopped.

“Goddamn it I am dead, goddamn it I am dead!” Jacob almost shouted.

The policeman went to the driver side of the car poked his head in the open window and said to Akomea “Can I see your licence?”

Jacob heard his phone ringing but ignored it.

“I said can I see your licence?” the policeman said to Akomea again.

Jacob’s phone was ringing again. He pulled it out of his shirt pocket this time and looked at the screen. It was his office line.

“Hello,” he said when he picked the call.

“Hello Mr. Asante, please hold on and speak to your wife,” Ama said and without waiting to hear him say anything she gave the receiver to Rebecca.

“Jake where are you?” Rebecca bellowed into the mouth piece.

“Is that you Bekcie?” was all Jacob could mutter.

“It’s me, who else?” his wife said.

“Why are you on this line?” he still sounded confused.

“I came here to take you out to lunch but was told you had gone out and you know I could not have called you with my phone as I left it at home.”

“Yes sure, silly me.”

“That’s okay, but where are you?” she repeated.

“I am in the middle of something, Beckie. Can I get back to you shortly?”

“Middle of what?”

“I will get back to you shortly, please,” Jacob said and then cut the line.

The SMS (Part II) – by Francis Doku

Rebecca Asante had arrived at the work place tired as usual from sitting through traffic all the way from Aburi to Accra. When she bid her husband goodbye and closed the car door, she walked to the swing glass door that leads to the main reception of the law firm.

“Good morning to you all,” she greeted the receptionist and two other colleagues standing and pouring through the morning papers.

“Good morning,” they all responded.

“Auntie B, you look so sweet as usual,” said Barbara the receptionist, “I hope you had a wonderful weekend.”

“Well, I did and though it was also tiring. How about you?”

“Mine was good as well. Can I help with your bag,” Barbara said as she extended her hand.

“No thank you, I can handle it. I will see you later,” Rebecca said before walking through the reception to her office.

“Good morning Amerley, I hope you had a great weekend,” Rebecca said to her secretary as she entered the main office and stopped at the latter’s desk.

Amerley Wellington got up went round the desk and gave her boss a hug pulled back before replying: “I am very fine Mrs. A and I indeed had a great weekend. I hope you had same with Mr. A. and Maame.”

“Well Jake travelled on Saturday and came back late last night but it was okay,” she said as she walked through the adjoining door to her office with Amerley in her tow.

“What do we have today,” she asked her secretary.

“You have partners’ meeting in 20 minutes after which you would have to call the Attorney General on the Stephen Ayisi issue then a conference call with Eksom at 2pm,” Amerley said.

“Thank you very much Amerley. Now leave so I can prepare to go into my meeting. Can I have a cup of tea before that?” she asked as Amerley turned to go.

“I need to call Maame’s school to find out how she is,” Rebecca said to herself. However, when she rummaged through her bag for her phone it was not there. “Oh no, I left it on the dining table,” she almost screamed. She tried to remember the teacher’s number but could not.

Twenty minutes went very quickly and Rebecca went into the partners’ meeting for an hour. When she came back to her office Amerley gave her the information that her husband had called on the office line.

“Jake called here? What did he say?” the obviously surprised Rebecca asked.

“Well I didn’t speak to him, I told the receptionist to tell him you were in a meeting.”

Call him for me please. After speaking to his husband Rebecca sat in her chair for about two minutes thinking of the conversation she just had with him. She then walked from her desk to her secretary’s desk.

“Would you believe what Jake just said? He said he called to find out how I was doing and I can’t believe it,” she said.

“Why can’t you?” Amerley asked her.

“Because he hasn’t done that in so many years,” she exclaimed.

“But people do change.”

“He said exactly the same thing!”

“Well then he probably has changed. What was your response?”

“I was jolted, Amerley and though I was happy he did that I pretended I wasn’t. This was a surprise and I want to reciprocate it,” she said.

“How do you mean?” Amerley enquired.

“I mean, Amerley that, I am going to give my husband a surprise today. You see, he hadn’t done what he just did in a long time and I also did not do much to bring it out of him.”

Amerley look confounded. “So what do you intend to do?”

“I intend to appear at his office at exactly 12.30pm and invite him to lunch. Good idea, or?”

“What if….”

“Amerley, there are no ifs or buts, I have a lunch date with my husband. When you read my schedule today did I hear you mention anything that would have my attention between 12noon and 2pm?”

“No, you did not but there is a conference call at 2pm which you cannot miss,” Amerley answered.

“Well I don’t intend to miss the conference call as I will be back before 2pm. That settles it then,” she said as she walked to her desk.

“Should I call him in advance,” Amerley asked.

Rebecca stopped, held her waist and turned to face her secretary. “Read my lips Amerley, it is a surprise,“ she said teasingly and walked away.

Back at her desk Rebecca looked for the remote control of the radio and she tuned to a station playing soul music. She sat down and started going through her mails. The remaining hours went very fast and at 12.05pm she asked her secretary to call her the driver of one of the chamber’s pool cars as she went into the washroom to freshen up.

At exactly ten minutes past twelve Amerley told her boss that the car was waiting.  Rebecca put on her jacket, carried her hand bag and walked briskly to the waiting Mitsubishi Pajero and lumped herself at the back seat.

“James, how are you today?” Rebecca asked the driver.

“I am fine madam. Where do I take you, please?” he asked.

“You know my husband’s office, don’t you?”

“The one at Asylum Down?” he asked.

“Yes, that place. Kindly take me there. We’ll pick him up and go to that restaurant near Metro TV…errrm what is the name?”

“Melting Moment?”

“No not that one. Marquis Tante Marie,” she said.

“Okay, so we go to Asylum Down and come back to Labone?”

“Yes. James, let’s go I am getting late.”

“Okay madam,” James said as he changed the gear into drive.

Thankfully there was no traffic on the way hence within 15 minutes of leaving her office at Labone Rebecca was in her husband’s office at Asylum Down.

She got down from the vehicle and walked to the reception. “Hello good afternoon,” she said.

“Good afternoon madam, how may I help you?” Ama asked.

“I am here to see Jacob Asante,” she responded.

“May I kindly know if you have an appointment?”

“I don’t have an appointment. I actually want to surprise him,” Rebecca said teasingly.

“I don’t think you can do that madam, you need to have an appointment.”

“Too see my husband?”

“Oh sorry,” Ama said embarrassingly, “I honestly didn’t recognize you Mrs Asante. I’m really sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

“But unfortunately he is not in the office at the moment,” Ama told Rebecca.

“Where is he gone?” thinking she probably should have called.  

“He left about two hours ago and he said I should tell anybody who calls that he would call back when he returns.”

“He didn’t say where he was going?” Rebecca could not hide her frustration.

“No he didn’t.”

“Can you please call him for me? I left my phone at home.”

“Okay.”

Ama dialed Jacob’s number and it rang to the end without a response. She dialed again and this this Jacob picked the called.

“Hello Mr. Asante, please hold on and speak to your wife,” Ama said and without waiting to hear him say anything she gave the receiver to Rebecca.

“Jake where are you,” Rebecca bellowed into the mouth piece…..

Project Akoma – by Nana A Damoah

With editorial inputs from David Donkor.

=======

He was pleased with himself for making it early to the classroom. The morning was good and the milieu, silent. It had rained the previous day, so the air blew humidly into the classroom, turning the peaceful ambience into a soothing balm. For the umpteenth time that morning he was grateful to be alive.

He was alone and the lecture would not begin for a half hour yet. This was a good time to think about Akos, the second year beauty on Continental Block. It was time to reflect, to take stock, and then to re-strategize how to win that lovely girl’s love.

The heart decides, but it is the mind that plans. His heart had decided to love Akos two semesters ago. His nerves, couriers for his heart, sent the message marked “Urgent” to his busy brain. It simply read: “I have found my desire—my missing rib,” and set his brain in motion.

It had seemed impossible. Akos was hard to get—a quintessential “no-go-area.” And, what is worse, she lived on the last floor of Continental Block, where male visitors are prone to surveillance from the lodge of her uncompromising Hall Tutor. That is not all. She was already in her second year, and he a mere freshman. She took her classes in the Faculty of Arts, but all of his were in the Science. How would they find common ground to meet?

When the heart decides and the mind is in motion a course is set to reach its fruition, finding avenues, exploiting ways and creating means. Thus Project Heart was born. He recruited friends to form a team: to review extant knowledge on the object of his interest, to consider the best methodologies for securing her heart and to estimate potential gains against his likely costs.

Project Heart recommended an expensive gift. It seemed a good start because it won him her time, and the more gifts he brought won more time with her—a visit this week, two the next, then three and more. Her roommates’ attitudes were encouraging and her reception wasn’t bad, she even offered to see him off—he jumped at the chance for a quiet night stroll–everything seemed perfect and according to plan.

Project Heart said it was time to spill the beans. The moment seemed golden. The stars were in the sky. Night birds tweeted him luck. Crickets chirruped a moonlight serenade. Shrubs danced around them like cherubs in the night. And when she stopped and said, “I have to go home now, this is how far I can bring you,” he held her hand and let out, “I love you.”

The whole world must have stopped to listen: the night birds, the cherub-like shrubs, the crickets, moon and the stars; all the members of Project Heart, ears intent hiding in the shadows; his heart, his brain and the nerves that had paired them in this mission. All waited an eternity of the second before she said . . .

“No, we can only be friends”

The mind makes the plans but when it fails it is the heart that hurts. His heart had lived the hurt but it still dreamed of living its hope, and if there was any sign of hope it was in the soothing solace of the classroom in which he sat, in the refreshing air the rain had cleansed, and in the simple fact of being alive for which he still felt grateful. He had loved and lost and lived to love again. Someday there might just be another Project Heart.

 

About the Author

Nana Awere Damoah is a Chemical Engineer by profession and a writer by calling. He is the author of two non-fiction books – Excursions in my Mind (2008) and Through the Gates of Thought (2010), and a contributing author to the anthology African Roar (2010). He is working on his third book, a collection of short stories. He lives in Tema, Ghana, with his family.