Evenings with Nkansah would always culminate like this. With horseplay fuelled by alcohol and other substances, sitting in his car parked outside my house. He would talk excitedly about how beautiful the country was becoming, that he felt like more and more like a stranger every time he returned. I would laugh and remind him that the rubbish heaps behind McCarthy Hill were still high as ever. He would smirk and pinch me chidingly.
I sat idly peeling at the corners of sticker on a mug- a tacky gift from the wedding we attended hours earlier. Managing a large rip across the face of the bride and groom, I squealed with joy as he snatched it away from me.
“Why would you do that?” He asked, feigning anger.
“What? It looks better now.”
“Don’t be a hater, Sefakor.”
“Ah? Why would I hate on that sham of a marriage? Everyone knows he’s been sleeping around since they started dating. ”
The mug went limp in his hands.
“Eeeeverybody knows. I give them 5 years. Less than 5 years kraa, you watch.”
Nkansah remained silent.
“So negative. This is why my mother doesn’t like you.” He said finally, smiling coyly.
“Nonsense- my mother hates you too!” I giggled, pinching him back at last.
I changed the subject back to Accra. His gestures became animated again, exaggerated in the moonlight as he explained his ideas. This was an exciting time, he said. There was so much industrial potential- acres of arable land that stretched from the motorway to the borders. He would bring investors back the next time around. He was already drawing up contracts and making phone calls to his father’s friends. I smiled faintly.
“You’re not the same anymore, you know.” He stared intensely at me.
“What? I’m a beautiful young woman now?” I said innocently.
“Mtchew. Seriously, I don’t know… just different.”
“Look, I’m proud of you, Nkansah. I always have been. And I have your back… but…”
More silence. I began to feel guilty.
“Your food is in the back seat oh- don’t forget.”
I already knew he wouldn’t. Nkansah’s love for Fanti kenkey was both amusing and endearing. His curious enthusiasm for the world he had missed out on growing up in New Jersey rang to me, as experimental, almost tourist like- for the sake of storing memories one would soon leave behind. It was neither a fair assessment, nor a rational train of thought. But nowadays, I didn’t know what to think.
I stepped down from the car and exchanged one last long glance with Nkansah, in the way that old lovers do. He pulled my cheeks finally, trying to distract me from the fact he was unnerved. A little disappointed too, I noted, maybe.
“I have to make some akple for you when you come back…” I said, stroking his shoulder gently.
“What the hell’s that?”
I sighed, suppressing my heart warmed smile.
“It’s like kenkey for Ewes…”