Uncle Akrofie talks about the night my parents got married every year. According to him, it was the greatest night of his life.
“Kojo, I tell you: that was the grrrrreatest night of my life! No shaking, no lie!”
I love the way Uncle Akrofie rolls his Rs when he says “great”. It’s like his tongue is a speed boat revving on the banks of the Volta River.
Ever since I was a child old enough to care, he would re-tell the story of how my father threw the greatest engagement party Accra had ever seen. Every year the details of the story got more elaborate. Last year he drank 12 bottles of Star beer. At this year’s recounting, he had imbibed 14.
“Hei! Kojo. And there was all kinds of food. Different, different food o! Food we have never seen!” he exclaimed with delight.
“What kind of food, uncle?” I asked in amazement.
“Oh…I mean jollof rice, several kinds of kenkey…and DRINKS!” Uncle Akrofie threw his head back and lost himself in the memory, just as he did in the year 1977. “And the music, Kojo? What! I tell you…any music you wanted to hear, the DJ was playing it!”
“What kind of music, uncle?” I asked breathlessly, knowing the answer.
Uncle Akrofie giggled before he answered. “I mean; James Brown, Ambolley, Kool and the Gang…”
(This was my favorite part, where my elderly uncle would struggle to his feet and shuffle a little two step with an imaginary partner and holler the words to the hit song of the night.)
…Geddown on it. Geddown on it!! Sha , shababadum!
Uncle Akrofie composed himself long enough to get to my favorite part of the story: the end.
“Kojo, I say that night eh? I got so drunk that I couldn’t walk home. I say I slept in the gutter.” Uncle Akrofie clapped his hands on every word for emphasis. “I. Say. I. Slept. In. The. Gut.Ter!!!”
“And no one robbed you?”
“No!” he wheezed in delight, explaining how he woke up with his watch on, tie askew and the bright sun in his eye the following morning.
It didn’t matter that my parents had been divorced for almost 15 years. Uncle Akrofie still celebrated their nuptials on the eve of their wedding anniversary. It was the greatest night of his life, after all. Mehn! I wanted to have a night like that of my own: to have a fabulous story to tell my nieces and nephews when I was 65 years old. I was 23 when I decided to make my fantasy a reality.
My cousin Marvin was marrying one of the Baah sisters. Their father owned a quarter of Ghana, and a small part of Spain. They were (and are) a disgustingly wealthy family. In the face of such wealth, there was sure to be an abundance of alcohol and more different kinds of food than Uncle Akrofie could ever imagine.
My god, I drank in ways I didn’t know were possible.
There were shots of top shelf Tequila, a beer garden (an ACTUAL garden constructed of chilled beer bottles!), jello shots, and kegs of rum. I ate crab legs and king prawns until I became Mami Water or her sidekick Tigali, the ocean god. Marcia Baah had hired some Swedish chef to make little pastries of chocolate and lemon. I decimated the whole display. I was a disgrace and didn’t even care.
Finally, it was 3 am when I decided to stagger home. I was doing it. I was living the greatest life of my life, just like Uncle Akrofie!
The first thing I had to navigate was the road. I only lived three streets over from the Baah family house where the party was being held in Labone, so my journey by my calculations should have only taken 20 minutes.
Everything was so LOUD.
The mosquitos, the guy on the small motor…everything was magnified by a thousand percent. And who authorized the street lamps to burn so brightly? My retina felt like they were on fire. I thought perhaps if I just took a short break and rested, I could make the trek with a little more ease. As soon as I sat down, I puked all over my fine trousers.
“Chale, are you ok?”
A man was speaking to me in Ga, inquiring after my welfare. I waved that I was alright, and then changed my mind.
“Massa, abeg. Help me stand up.”
Seeing that I had lost total control of my faculties, the stranger quickly moved towards me and pulled me to my feet. Then he snatched my cell phone and wallet from my pocket and ran. What was I supposed to do? Run after him? No.
I sat by the gutter and cried.
That’s when the prostitute came by and asked me what the matter was. I thought I sounded perfectly coherent and gentlemanly, but I think I said something about her privates smelling of fish and that her weave looked like a bath mat. That’s when she kicked me into the gutter and insulted my mother.
Oh god. What was that wet sensation coursing down my back? It was sewage. RAW SEWAGE. The city had not come by to collect the refuse and I was literally being shat on by the neighborhood borla. I lost consciousness, overcome by the acrid stench that clung to my body and in the air. Let’s just say it was a night I will not soon forget.
Malaka is a hybrid Ghanaian/American author and blogger who resides in Atlanta with her husband and four kids. Her greatest wish is that Ghana would rapidly achieve its MDGs in order to facilitate the development and creation of the warp core. She firmly believes that an African will usher in the next age of space exploration. She is the author of “The Daughters of Swallows” and “Lover of Her Sole.”