“Musings on a May Night” by Ivana Akoto Ofori.

Rain is here. I wash my clothes and I wait in fear for the element that desires nothing more than to prove my work futile. There’s nothing like the paradox of a Ghanaian night in May to spark memories. Indoors- ɛhyew wɔ mu: it’s hot. Outdoors-awɔ de me: I’m cold. Yet I’d rather not wear a cardigan (yes, even in spite of the vicious mosquitoes). I wouldn’t be able to feel the cool breeze. It’s as close as Ghana’s air ever gets to frosty, though “crisp” is a better descriptor.
What I’d really like – forget that it’s late – is a bowl of fufu and steaming hot abɛnkwan, to counter (or complement, whichever you prefer) the cold air. My thoughts take me back to ten years ago, age eight, on a similar May night. Except I wasn’t wishing for palm nut – I was pounding it.
That day, there was a major row in my house. It was the day my mother decided to fight back. To be honest, I was proud. The abuse had been going on for too long anyway with her doing nothing, allowing Dad to smack her in his drunken state. I’m glad she chose that day to do it – a day when he was sober. He’d be conscious; aware of what was happening. Pain felt in sobriety is best remembered.
I didn’t always pound the palm nuts for the soup; only when Mum was busy. That night, she was the most meticulous I’d ever seen her. Scrupulously, she gathered every piece of material he owned, packed it neatly into a suitcase. Of course, in all the suitcases, there was no money. This was how the economy worked in my house: mum supplied the cash. Dad demanded it – then proceeded to spend it all on booze. I was still pounding by the time she was done, when Dad came home to find exactly three suitcases outside the gate and a resolute Mum refusing to let him in.
There was no physical injury that night; only quiet castigations. My mother wasn’t that kind of person. My father? He was utterly broken. He couldn’t have raised a finger, even if he tried. In hindsight, it amuses and amazes me how completely the male abusers forget that the females can fight back through will instead of violence. Upon this realization, they become utterly dumbfounded, speechless, powerless victims, like fish. That’s why, for me, May nights are always gentle. No beating, no screaming; an assurance of the existence of a reticent victory.
Of course, it was a mixed moment; good but bad, depending on how you looked at it. On one hand, the loss of a parent figure; On the other, the attainment of freedom. A paradox, just like a May night: indoors, ɛhyew wɔ mu; outdoors, awɔ de me. Yet, I had always preferred the cold.
He lay on the step in front of the door for an hour, begging to be let in, promising reformation. Then, when his pleadings proved futile, like the rain dousing one’s recently-washed items, he left. Indoors, it was hot. So when he departed, I went outside. Like I’m doing now, I ignored the mosquitoes and savoured the May night’s air. The air was tranquil, crisp, and saturated with the feeling of liberation.I looked up at an overcast sky. The rain was finally here.

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