“The Photo Album” by Prosper Kwao.

The two men sat opposite each other at the little round table in the corner of the café. There was a little bustle all around them, but neither man spoke after their earlier terse salutations of ‘Good Afternoon’. Both men avoided each others’ eyes and they had their reasons. One did not want the compunction to be noticed in his pupils. One did not think his umbrage ought to be revealed in his irises. And so they sat in silence, and looked everywhere but at each other.

The young man lowered his right arm to his side, and dipped his hand into the thin briefcase by his seat. He pulled out a photo album with a large-font ‘Gye Nyame’ adinkra symbol etched on the well-worn cover. He dusted briefly, and slowly slid the album to the centre of the table. He started to speak but his first word came out in a croak. He cleared his throat and restarted.
“Mother wanted you to have this,” he said finally.

The old man, still with his eyes shifted away from the reproachful eyes that so resembled his, started to mumble something but stopped short. His voice shook momentarily and he found himself struggling to hash the emotions that were building up within him.

“Your-your-your m-m-mother. How is she?” he stammered finally.
“Died two years ago.” the young man replied flatly.
After that, he probed for a reaction in the old face before him. He found too many cluttered wrinkles to surmise from. The old and parched lips of the man opposite him, had been pulled back into the mouth, and the grey patches in the moustache were now clearly visible. The young man momentarily fumed at the thought that those hidden lips had once proposed love to the woman buried two years ago.

The old man miserably failed to hold back his emotions. He sniffled audibly and the glint in his eyes signalled the impending onslaught of a waterfall of tears. He retrieved the photo album from the table and began to slowly flip through each memory pensively. A continuum of sniffles carried on, and then slowly began to amplify into an easily distinguishable octave of sobs. The young man observed him with an unwavering resentment. After a couple of minutes, the old man wound up his sobs with a long sniffle.

“I’m sorr-,” he started, but he was cut short by a held up palm from the young man before him.

“Sir, you owe me no condolences or apologies. The photos are yours now. I have done as mother requested and there’s no reason for me to still be here. Thank you for coming. ”

With that, the young man stood up and walked out of, and away from the café. He walked away from the ‘Gye Nyame’ album that held memories of long ago broken ties leading to his birth, and out of the grip of the familial eyes belonging to a man who would remain a stranger.

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