I have always liked the clever ones.
Mother said I pick the weirdest. The mad, mad girls – the wild and unrestrained. They are the most interesting, I should admit, though I’ve heard it whispered that they make an unwise pursuit. Things get complicated easily, they really do. But what I must correct is the wrong perception that I do this intentionally. On the contrary, I avoid them like a plague. Or I try to. I don’t know, whatever I do, I end up with one worse than the previous.
Take Serwaa. When I first met her, she was a scruffy toddler in the habit of deliberately sniffing out trouble. Every single time. I remember one episode: The Baiden’s had moved in a week ago and were familiarizing themselves with the neighbourhood. Their ambassadorial visiting rounds brought the small, affluent returnees to Serwaa’s. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, the sort that wears the life out of you for God knows what.
Serwaa’s parents hosted the lawyer, his civil engineer wife and their twenty-something year old medical student son in the living room. Mrs Dorothy Baiden left her handbag on the floor beside her seat. The Sunday family movie played muted as the lawyer dished out his favourite courtroom episodes, applying a London accent generously when he meant to imitate a client or an opponent, interjecting with Fante obscenities where appropriate.
The laughter and wine must have blinded them as Serwaa went through Dorothy’s bag unchecked. My little girl found a treasure, walked up to her mother (a newly trained nurse, I forgot to mention) with a strange contraption and demanded the truth “Mummy what is a pregnancy test?” She announced.
Daniel Baiden’s conception with a toothless smile and there, won my heart. I’ve spent more time with Serwaa Adomah than I thought I would. I usually get tired of playing with them. Girls grow up fast and they quickly learn what this and that means, and when to stay away and when to give in. But Serwaa was different. She was a good book that never ended – a story that will not grow old. Mother said I pick the weird ones.
I must have stumbled on the maddest, cleverest girl in Accra. I stuck with her through pre-school, kindergarten, Christ the King and Wesley Girls. I didn’t only have pleasure watching her sleep at night. No, I was good to her. I taught her music and how to sing. I helped her in every exam she sat. I gave her wit when she needed it to get by. I always told her what to do, when to do it, what not to do – and she always listened.
It was like she knew me, that I was there. Whatever she thought of me I can’t tell. Some parts of the mind are always hidden, if you must know, but we had an unspoken contract, and understanding each other was enough to get by for twenty seven years.
Until her twenty-eigth birthday, when that same Daniel, the one from earlier, had the nerve to walk up to her with much more than a birthday gift. Poor boy, I smiled, waiting for the sarcastic rejection that never came.
We had been through several crushes and five failed relationships. Daniel was different. The pair had a connection and, knowing Serwaa, I knew something was wrong. She was happy. With another guy.
Serwaa started seeing him. First it was once a week in his room. Then every Tuesday and Saturday. In two months, Friday nights were booked at Eddy’s Lounge. Now she was too busy to talk; absent minded during holiday-classes, slacking in her studies because lover-boy next door with his iPhone and hoodies was too much for her silly little heart.
Panicking as I never should, as Mother has explicitly warned me never to, I took matters into my own hands. Dramatic as I am (I do have a fine instinct for such) I waited for the eve of his birthday. They had been texting all night – he across the street in his dingy bedroom pretending not to realise it was only minutes till he reached twenty-six, she waiting to spring the birthday wishes on him – general lover’s play. As midnight drew, I sneaked back into her room and sung our favourite song in her ear. The trick never failed.
In a moment, Serwaa was with me in the little odd world we shared. She said she’d missed me. I said she lied. We had an argument. Then a long conversation filled with reflection on what we had been before all this. She woke up at eleven in the morning with a headache and thirty missed calls to worry about. Frantic (and mad at me, I swear) she rushed out in her nighty to his house.
Mr. Baiden greeted her. “Daniel left before breakfast. He said something about meeting his boys for a drink.”
She was stunned.
“I know. Something happened last night eh? Don’t worry. His temper will cool soon. Come inside.”
Serwaa slumped in the chair and browsed through channels, waiting for her phone to vibrate – calling and scolding herself for acting too desperate. “Maybe I will surprise him when he finds me home, with the family and all.” she thought to herself – or maybe said to me. She felt my deep regret and shuddered. Minutes later, her phone buzzed with Daniel’s number.
“Ermm…do you know the owner of this phone…” and Serwaa Adomah blacked out.
It’s been four years but Serwaa still cries every August 3rd. Our conversations have been infreqent and cold. Subjects seem harder to find, now that things are…complicated. She says she’ll never love again. I tell her she’s mad. She says it doesn’t matter anymore. I insist I was only jealous – I messed up but that’s just the way I am. And when I leave her alone, all she does is cry.