“Un-Memory” by Kwabena Agyare Yeboah.

You get home and ask of your sick ma.

She is with the traditional priest.

You sigh. These people have not changed. It has been fifteen years since you left the village. Your kid sister stares at you. She misses you. You tell her to prepare something for you to eat. She smiles. She is a woman now. She will be thirty years old next month and is still waiting for a husband. The village folks say she is either cursed or you sacrificed her marriage to get wealthy. It baffles you that human beings with brains can think like that.

The children of your ma’s neighbours run around, playing. They remind you of your own childhood. You used to be like them. Well, that was years ago – twenty years ago. You used to play with your friends, Aluta and Virus on this same park, you called it. You were called Oman. You remember. This space you called park is just opposite your family house. Other kids came here to play too. Your pa used to sit on a kitchen stool watching you kids play. He would teach you how to kick the polythene bags stuffed with grass and rags. You called it football. Few of the times, you would argue with your friends about football when you watched “Football Made In Germany” on GTV at your uncle’s place. He was also the chief of the village and owned the only black-and-white TV that you ever watched in your childhood. The screen would drift sideways, flapping like a bird that is struggling to fly. For the love of Tony Yeboah, you sat for minutes, waiting for normality after several slaps on the side of the set. You had dreams of playing football to the highest level in those fanciful stadia in Germany like the man nicknamed, Tony Yegoala. So did Virus and Aluta. The last time you heard about Aluta, your ma said that he had impregnated a girl from a neighbouring town where he taught as a pupil teacher. You wonder what Virus, that fool, is doing with his life. He might be rotting somewhere. It is good that in life, there is a window, an escape from reality called dreams and as kids, you and your friends actively participated in it. It was your peep into the world outside the village Nyan, which you thought existed. One thing is sure; none of your friends became footballers, at least not you, Virus or Aluta. That is where reality begins. You remember a boy from your childhood. He was variously referred to as “Booklong”, the local name for book worms. You wonder what happened to him too. Before you could enter your uncle’s room to watch TV, you were required to have an evening bath. You queued up for inspection before entering. Your uncle was a tall, lanky man with a moustache. He was in the military so he was called Soulja Man before he was enstooled as a chief. He would grow side burns later in life. You discovered in your adult life that he voluntarily retired from the military as a captain to become the chief of Nyan. On the one or two occasions you failed to bathe, he howled insults at you, calling your pa names and cursing your ma for bringing a useless man home. He was a woman in a man’s skin; he loved profusely and nagged like a parrot.

A voice is hollering at you. It feels gravely familiar. It cuts a chord. On your side, a yellow beam of sunlight knifes you sharply. House flies freely dive in the wind. It dawns on you that you miss home. The feeling is utterly atmospheric.

Agya Koo staggers. It is often said that old habits die hard. The truth is old habits kill faster, except Agya Koo’s drunkenness. He is a drunkard by intuition. He often says that witches and wizards do not like the flesh of drunkards. In his view, drunkards live longer. Throughout Nyan and its environs, he is known by his alias, “Telephone No Wire,” a tribute to his extraordinary powers as a gossip. Take the day you were leaving the village for example. You had met Adobea your childhood sweetheart the previous dawn. You were caressing her when she lowered her lips into yours. It tasted sinfully delicious. It was your first time kissing and it still maps your memory. The wind blew the cloth that draped her curvy body, revealing the contours that adorned her thighs. It intrigued you. Then, there was a coarse, bumpy voice. Agya Koo’s. To keep his mouth shut, you negotiated a bribe.

For old time’s sake, he brings Adobea. It is your elders who say that debt does not rot.  You give him a few cedis. Adobea winks at you. You remember what it means. You will meet her this evening. Agya Koo traces your eyes. You stare at her sagging buttocks that pierce the skirt that covers them. He begins to lecture you on morality. Adobea is married, he tells you. You remind him that everyone needs a pep talk on morality but not when it comes from the brothel. He laughs it off and takes leave of you. Adobea does the same.

Your sister is serving you the food she prepared early on. You cannot wait to taste the woman she has become. Suddenly, your ma emerges with different groups of abrafoɔ who are singing war songs. They have come to take you as a chief, to succeed your late uncle. You heard of his death and that of your pa. You could not come for their funerals because you were struggling as a student in New York. You realize this has been a conspiracy to bring you home. Your ma is well. And effectively, you are the next chief of Nyan. You embrace ma for the first time in fifteen years. It feels like you never left her. You miss her.

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