Aside

“20 Years” by Tsiate Totimeh.

Akosua Yanteh, No 2 Aburi close. That was the address she gave me. I folded the page I had extracted from my diary and tucked it back into my breast pocket. I got out of the jalopy that my wife is so ashamed of and stepped
onto to the exquisitely checkered block-work for the walkway leading to the solid wooden door. It was an imposing house. It was one of those mansions that
make you think life is unfair. In the blinding sun of the typical Ghanaian 2pm it stood tall and colossal. Its tinted windows seemed to wink at me, reminding me that the coolness inside would not only be due to the split unit air-conditioners.

My leather soles squeaked against the tiled walkway and as I looked down at them and saw my face staring back at me, I was struck by the acute elegance and subdued extravagance. Akosua had never struck me as a modest person, but this was definitely another realm of luxury. My former classmate and close friend had definitely made it; like she had always said she would. She had always been that kind of person. Akosua, beauty and brains, then more brains and then even more beauty.

The first time I met her I was speechless. She offered her hand first. I am sure she realised from the stare in my eyes that I had forgotten I had hands. It was our first day in school and that euphoria that comes from having a full chop-box and a full pocket at the same time was rich in the air. She spoke first, with a bemused smile on her face, and in all the years of school after that, she would end any serious argument we had with her impressions of that confused person she met that day.
Her voice was deep, and yet feminine. I have never heard a voice like that anywhere; 20 years down the road of this temporal journey we call life. I know my wife will get jealous, but that voice… that day… there is magic in
strange places in this world. Akos was magical in her own way, and the fact that she was brainy gave her a little something that some beautiful ladies do not have.

As I knocked on the solid mahogany door, I remembered the good times we had had. School and its pressures has its strange way of bringing people together, making friends closer than they would ever have been.
I remembered Akosua most for her beauty, but this was the one thing that had gotten her into the most trouble.
The boys… oh the boys. They chased her everywhere she went. I am sure I must have had a crush on her at one time or the other… I think I accepted on more than one occasion, that her friendship was too good to lose.
She would tell me about this guy whom she had to bounce and the way that other guy talked and sometimes I would wonder whether she ever saw me as a guy at all!

The teachers joined the fray once in a while… the huge host of male species chasing the trophy;Akosua. A few times I know, for a fact, that she had to accept bad marks in a subject she would normally have excelled in… because of a disappointed elderly teaching Romeo marking her paper with extreme absence of bias.

One day, in our final year of secondary school, I was sitting behind my books in the classroom when she rushed in, her hair in disarray and eyes awash with
tears. She spent the afternoon on my chest weeping uncontrollably, pushing my books aside and telling me the story.
A teacher she had been running away from for the last two years, had finally caught up with her and made a pass. A struggle ensued… and she had freed herself and ran like the wind – with evidence. She had the chewing gum that had fallen out of the teacher’s mouth in an ill fated kissing attempt. It was badly chewed, but it was all she had. She would not tell me who it was, but I found out later… it was Mr. Odenke. Our school’s august English professor. The language seemed to flow out of his mouth like choice spring water. When she got over this event, I remember her vowing never to go near English in her life, in university, in the world.
I could now hear her footsteps… the reminiscing faded into the past, as I looked blankly at the expensive door… wondering how she would look like when she opened the doors.

I held my flowers up like an expectant school boy. The door swung open and there she was. After 20 years she had not changed… she was still as beautiful as ever. She screamed like a banshee –and hugged my flowers into a paste between us. After a century of moments we finally separated and then she was screaming urgently for the husband to come and see the naughty classmate she had been incessantly talking about the whole day.
He came down the stairs. A broad smile on his face. He had not changed much. I kept a fixed smile on my face. It was Mr. Odenke.

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