“Ajeiiii!!!” Ama squealed as her ear was grabbed and twisted by an unseen hand. Efforts to free herself made her invisible attacker twist harder.
What at all had she done to deserve this torture? She’d been playing by herself on their porch, minding her own business. Usually such an attack would have caused her to mentally run through the list of mischievous things she had done on that particular day. But today she had been very good; she could think of no reason why she would be punished in such a terrible way.
She smelled her mother’s signature scent lingering in the air; a mixture of spicy kitchen aromas from the hours Mama spent cooking up meals for her seven children and husband, and the scent of the Saturday Night powder she dusted herself with after every bath.
Ama attempted to turn once more and her ear was twisted again bringing tears to her eyes.
“Mama I’ve been good today I promise!” she wailed.
“You’ve been good eh? You’ve been good eh?” her mother’s shrill voice asked accusingly, further punishing her already tortured ear.
“Yes, Mama I have! My ear will tear!” Ama cried, trying to cup her ear with her seven year-old hand.
“Yes, I want your ear to tear today! After all I brought it into this world!” her mother tightened her hold on the ear. “What koraa did I do to deserve such a wicked child? Eh? Oh Awurade, hu me morbor!” She stared helplessly at the sky, seeking answers that were not forthcoming.
Ama knew better than to interrupt her mother when she brought God’s name into such situations but she couldn’t help the sob that escaped her wobbling mouth.
Almost as though her mother had been waiting for it, the cry was met with a sharp smack on her tiny buttocks. The smack meant that her ear was finally freed and Ama took the chance to put as much distance between herself and her mother. Her skinny legs had taken her halfway across the dusty compound, scattering the few chickens pecking for food when she realised she wasn’t being pursued. She stopped and turned back to find her mother watching her in tired annoyance.
“You’re very lucky! I’m too tired to chase you. Your father will deal with you when he comes back!” With that threat her mother adjusted her ntama where it was tied on her ample bosom and went back into the house, slamming the trapdoor behind her.
As Ama tried to catch her breath from her run across the compound, a snicker from the side of the house drew her attention. Her dark brown eyes met her twin sister Awurama’s identical ones. As the realization of what had happened dawned on Ama’s face her sister stuck her tongue out at her and disappeared in a fit of giggles, leaving her no time to react. Yet again she was to take the fall for her twin’s misdeeds simply because she was the noted troublemaker of the two. Her face fell as she remembered her mother’s parting threat. She heaved a world-weary sigh and sat on the front porch. She peered into the harmattan haze, watching for the two orbs of light that would signal her father’s return home from work and with him the punishment for a crime she knew nothing about and didn’t commit.