“Clarity” by Priscilla Adipa.

It happened unexpectedly. Eventually. Unlike his commitment to Augusta, the discovery took time. When he uncovered the reasons behind her phone calls and averted eyes, he saw that this point would have been reached sooner, if only he had not been overly confident in his ability to hold Augusta’s attention.

He stood in the rain, his temper rising as the raindrops on top of his head grew heavier and heavier. He opened his mouth and received the rain. The weight and saltiness of the water in his mouth brought on memories of tongues locked in passion, bodies pliant to the desires of the other. Hungry for more, he pushed out his whole tongue and held it still in space. When recalling became painful, he pulled his tongue back into his mouth.


Augusta returned home to find Kwasi’s drenched form stretched out on their doorstep. As soon as she saw him, she knew their journey together was over. She hesitated in the car. Somewhere deep inside her, a breath of relief and of regret came alive. Being in harmony with Kwasi had become tedious, so tedious that she had looked elsewhere for what he no longer provided. Yet Augusta wavered. She had to be sure she was ready to let go.

Slowly she turned off the engine. She opened the door and placed one foot onto the wet ground, and then the other. It had stopped raining. She walked towards Kwasi, her face filled with sorrow. She tried to read his thoughts, but this time it was impossible. The force that had connected them was broken, and his mind was shut from her probing eyes.

“Kwasi.” His name escaped quickly from her lips. She was breathless, as though she had run a marathon and was struggling to get her words out. “Kwasi,” she called again.

He said nothing. On his face was etched a hardness Augusta had never seen before.

“Say something.” She searched for absolution, a sign that all would be well between them.

In response, there was only the heavy sound of breathing and the cricket song that filled the air when the rain clouds receded.

He decided to help her out. “As long as you are happy,” he said, almost too softly for Augusta to hear.

She waited for him to say more. But these were the only words that revolved around them in the growing darkness.

They stood on the doorstep, framed by the arches of the veranda. They had stood there countless times on days they escaped outside when their small house became too hot inside. The doorstep was Augusta’s favourite spot. It was there they sat on Fridays after work to eat kelewele bought from the woman down the road. It was there they spent evenings with no power, and, with just a candle and a mosquito coil between them, cursed ECG and anyone else responsible for the unending dumsor.

Augusta walked past Kwasi towards their front door. He had anticipated what she would need. Four suitcases stood near the door. One of the suitcases was made from a synthetic beige material with red stripes. It had remained pristine over the years. It was the suitcase Kwasi’s family brought to her parents’ house the morning of their engagement. It was the one they had packed with kente and cloth she hadn’t yet taken to her seamstress. All these years she’d kept the suitcase covered with a large see-through plastic bag. Now, she had to drag the suitcase on the muddied cemented ground to her car.
Again, Kwasi thought ahead of her. He grabbed hold of the bags and packed them into the car.

“Goodbye,” he said, as he slammed the boot shut and made to walk back towards the house.

“I’m sorry,” she said, as she placed a hand on his arm. Then, encouraged by the softening in his eyes, she leaned over to trace the angry lines on his forehead. He flinched when her hand touched his face.

“Just leave,” he said, and Augusta quickly got into the car, realizing his patience would not last.

She pushed the gear into reverse when he entered the house. Her left leg shook as she lifted it off the clutch. She had all her belongings, but still it felt like she was leaving a part of herself behind. The car stalled. She put the gear again into reverse, and pulled out of their yard. She did not stop even when she looked back and thought she saw Kwasi step out onto the doorstep.

“What’s in a Name?” by Amanda Olive Amoah.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Rodney found this out the hard way when he broke up with Amanda. His reason? She somehow managed to manipulate him into spending every single second of his life with her! Ah!

Amanda – one who is fit to be loved, lovable. Rodney translates this as someone with the power to hypnotize you into caring about and doing things for them even when you don’t want to; and that’s not very convenient, is it?

He loved Amanda more than he cared to admit, and it scared him silly. People were starting to notice that there was very little he wouldn’t do for her, very little that he wasn’t willing to give up – for her. His friends were calling him otoolege now. He knew they were just envious and yet, it got to him. He couldn’t afford to lose his place as the ‘leader’ in their group. That was the real reason why he broke up with her.

Fast forward to two weeks after the breakup, and enter Esi Belinda. Esi Belinda had a good enough face; he could work with that. Her personality was a bit flat, but surely, he could change that.

The deciding factor was her name combo: Esi-Belinda. Wow! The safest he could have wished for. Esi was simply a girl born on Sunday and Belinda meant beautiful snake. Beautiful snake paaahn?! He had laughed till he had tears in his eyes when he had found that out.

He found snakes disgusting; in his opinion, even the most beautiful snake could not be lovable. He would be safe with this beautiful snake born on Sunday. He would be the man!

The first couple of weeks went great, she cooked for him, washed his clothes; all things that Amanda refused to do.

In the third week, things began to change.

First, he found himself doing her assignments. Next, he was losing sleep because he had to stay up all night, either out with her friends, painting her nails or doing some other activity she had dreamt up. What was all this?! Would he never know any peace?!

That was the build up to him being in Esi Belinda’s hostel one hot Sunday afternoon, but not with her in her room. He was at the back, at the washing area, all alone, sweating half his body weight away. He must have been a sight to behold; a 6 foot 5” “macho man” with charcoal skin bent over a tiny bright pink bucket that his hands seemed to have trouble fitting into. His well-toned abs ,exposed, the racetrack for the drops of sweat that raced to his waistline. Brows furrowed and the tip of his tongue sticking out in concentration, his hands rubbed away at the sudsy contents of the bucket. Satisfied with his work, a small smile tugged at his lips as he squeezed, and then shook out what he had just washed.

And that was how Amanda found him when she click-clacked in her turquoise heels that complemented her form-fitting white church dress to get her towel off the drying line. Tall, sexy Rodney, shirtless body glistening, big smile on his face, holding up the most gigantic, most misshapen granny panty she had ever seen, stretched out between his hands!

“Ei!”, she couldn’t help it. The word jumped out of her throat making him turn sharply.
His face had immediately been wiped clean of the smile and was now contorted in an emotion she couldn’t put a name to. Maybe it was many emotions mashed up into one. She burst out laughing.

Several times he opened and closed his mouth, as though searching for words to explain the situation. He seemed to give up and walked to hang up what he had washed. Struggling to suppress her giggles, she followed him and touched his face.

“I’m sorry.”
He turned his head away from her.
“Rodney, I’m sorry…”
This time, he gave a tiny nod.
“I’m making jollof. It will be ready in 30minutes”

He turned to look at her. A small smile tugged at the corner of his lips.
They both knew he would be at her door before it was ready.

“Just Talking” Andrew Teye.

We are at it again. We start off calmly, slipping in sentence after sentence; phrase after phrase; word after word. You ask why I spoke with a tone of frustration- was I tired of you?

I giggle. ‘You’re overreacting … Relax,’ I say. You smirk and nod repeatedly. Now we’re really getting started.

‘Look, I’m sorry. It’s just that I hate having to repeat things I’ve already told you. You know how annoying that is. You complain when I do it too.’

‘It’s okay. I complain when you do it too. So every little chance you get, you must show revenge. I see.’

‘Oh c’mon. You know that’s not what I mean. Stop overreacting.’

‘Oh yes, Ophelia the over reactor. Ha-ha. You should nickname me, you know. Call me Oh-Oh … Overreacting Ophelia. Double Oh. Ha-ha.’

‘Okay, listen. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.’

‘Slow down on the promises, mister man. We’ve heard them before. “It won’t happen again. That was the last time.” …  Apii.

‘Ophelia I said I’m sorry. What is this! Stop getting so emotional, please!’

‘Ha-ha. Okay. I hear you. I won’t get emotional. I’ll be like you. Mister Anti-emotional-yet-I’ll-snap-at-the-smallest-thing. I’ll be like you wai.’

‘Why do you have to be like this all the time?’

‘Be like what, Kweku? Why do I have to be like what?’

‘You, it’s okay. Never mind.’

‘Ha-ha. I knew it. Mister Kweku-it’s-okay. Mister Kweku-never-mind. I dey feel you roff-roff!’

I smirk at your sarcasm, and sew my lips shut for the rest of the drive back to your house. You get off and we make no effort to say our goodbyes. You slam the door and slip out a caustic ‘sorry’ without parting your lips.  I watch you push your gate open and step into your house. Smiling and chuckling, I turn on the engine and drive off.

It’s not the end of the world. Our world. There is no need to stay up all night wondering if this is the tipping point of our emotional roller-coaster. It is nothing. We were just talking.

“Underneath the Stars” by Fui Can-Tamakloe.

Sometimes she didn’t like to talk, and I knew better than to interrupt the silence. I enjoyed it. It gave me the concentration I needed to study her facial patterns, to try and determine what she was thinking. She had never been able to hide her emotions properly. They’d always find some way to seep into her face. We were sitting on a bench at the back of my family house. We were completely alone. Everyone had gone to sleep a while ago, tired from the performing of funeral rites for my dead uncle. The only company we had was the clothes on the clothesline, slow dancing in the village wind. Someone had forgotten to take them down.

“Yao, have you noticed the stars?” she asked me, breaking the silence.

“Of course I have, love. They are…a lot.” I said, pretending the first thing I saw when I had looked up was quantity, and not beauty. She got the joke, and I saw her teeth flash in the darkness.

“But I don’t get it. I mean, it’s all the same sky that covers Ghana right? So why is it that the stars are so beautiful and ‘a lot’ out here, but we hardly see them in Accra?” She asked, the question directed more to the wind, than to me.

I thought of Accra. I thought of the hustle and bustle that we knew to be everyday life. The honking and cussing drivers, rude pedestrians, slow traffic, the general noise. The answer appeared.

“Maybe…Maybe it is because we are too busy handling what’s down there to notice anything up.” That was my answer. She didn’t immediately say anything, but I could tell from the furrowing of her brow that she was contemplating what I had said. Silence once again engulfed us.

“Promise me,” she said, turning to face me properly, “that we will never be that couple. The ones that are too busy with life to appreciate the things they appreciated when they first met. Promise me, Yao.”

“I promise,” I said, chuckling. The intensity with which she had made the request was slightly funny.

“Thank you,” she whispered, smiling softly. The comfortable silence appeared again, and in the darkness, I felt her hand search out mine.

“Another Love Story” by Antony Can-Tamakloe.

The Man:
There is a scent that follows me anytime I have a cold. But I can’t explain why it is here now. I don’t have a cold. Maybe it is because I’m nervous. Yes, that has to be it. My colds make me nervous around people. This is because of how embarrassing my sneeze has always been. It’s a high pitched sneeze always followed by a loud, involuntary snort that has plagued me since childhood. I used to get laughed at when I was a child, yes. Even up till now, I still get smirks from people. It has to be the fact that I’m nervous.

But why am I nervous? Is this not what I wanted? I look around me. I’m in her house. That’s where the knocking ceremony always is. The girl’s father’s house. There are two canopies arranged to face each other. One for her family, one for mine. It isn’t a big ceremony. Just a small one for both families to get rid of their children. The canopies were a terrible idea I think, as I run my handkerchief repeatedly over my face. There was as much heat inside as out, and less room for wind. I’m sweating profusely. On a normal day I’d joke and say that it was because I was about to give up my bachelorhood for a woman. But then today I can’t joke. Jokes are meant to be either untrue or exaggerated. This was no exaggeration. This was the real deal.

She was sitting between her parents, looking less pretty than the day I first met her. Had I been tricked by false advertisement? It was too late to find out. I smiled at her. She smiled back. My smile was only dutiful. People were watching. I didn’t love her, but that was for only me to know. Yes, I didn’t love her. Of course not. She was older than me by four years, and more successful, and when we were children she used to laugh at me. I don’t forget easily. I cannot remember what she used to laugh at. Just that she used to laugh. Now I had to pretend to love her for the rest of our dying days.

This wasn’t supposed to happen—my marrying her. This was only a correctional measure. Two months ago, Cecilia had come to me pregnant, claiming that the baby was mine. Knowing Cecilia, that baby probably had about five different fathers. That girl, she’d open her legs for just about anybody who had a third leg and could smile. But then she threatened to go see my uncle, and I panicked. My uncle was no fool to believe any story, but these days he had been pressurizing me to get married and would probably have made Cecilia marry me. The choice was simple. Better marry a woman who used to laugh at me, than get laughed at by the whole community for marrying a woman who had seen more beds than a roaming mosquito.

So here I was, bearing gifts of kind and cash, about to marry a woman I didn’t love. But I’m sure other men have had worse reasons. I look at her again. She is looking at me. By me, my uncle rises, walks to the front of our side of the canopies, and in a bid to call for silence cries out his loudest, “Agooo!…” I smile at her.

The Woman:
The smile I have plastered on my face reminds me of the time when I was a child and it was my 18th birthday. That day had coincided with an event at the National Theatre that all my friends were going to, and where Thomas had promised to give me a birthday kiss if I came. I hinted to my father for weeks that that was where I wanted to be during my birthday. I’d never been kissed before. And Thomas was the guy I dreamed about. It would have been the best birthday gift.

We spent the birthday at the bedside of my grandma who had suffered a stroke. And later on that night, when my father had asked me whether I had enjoyed the day, I smiled and forced out a joyful “Yes!”

That’s how I felt like. My conscious effort to keep the smile on my face nearly had me forgetting to respond to the greeting the old man had just thrown at the two families.

“Amɛɛ…” I mutter.

I looked at my future husband again. Is this what you are marrying, Awo? Is this who you would spend your life with? His shirt was half covered in sweat, and he had a permanent wrinkle on his nose as if he couldn’t stand his own scent. He had a goatee. Lord knows I hate goatees. We are going to have to work on his image. Shave off the goatee, make him look presentable if he is going to be my husband. This man was a gold mine, no doubt. He may not be worth much now, but that his uncle he always tagged along with had a factory on the outskirts of town that would be his one day, by customary law on their side. That’s why I’m marrying him, I reminded myself. Not because I love him. If there had been other suitors, I wouldn’t have even thought about him. I had allowed for myself to get older, while entertaining thoughts that one day Thomas would come marry me. And as you get older, the suitors all drop off one by one. Till you cannot get to make a choice anymore. But I’m okay with this man. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be compensated. And I will still be happy, anyway. After all, Thomas will still get to see me. Unfortunate that we couldn’t get married. But he had to marry someone else because of his father, who was a chief. But he still swears that he loves me. And I believe him.

I smiled, aiming the smile at him. But it wasn’t him I was smiling at. Thomas was on my mind of course. The funny thing is, my goat of a future husband smiled back. If only he knew…

“…My dear brothers and sisters, we are all gathered here on this day, for a simple cause…to help in the writing of yet another love story…”

“Faults” by Kojo Nyatepe.

It was all my fault. It has always been my fault. It was my fault since the first chuckle at your cheesy one-liners and it has remained my fault since then. And now, especially now, it is my fault. At times, we like to go with the flow. You know, treat life like a pot of watery Tom Brown; swirling and swirling to the rhythm of the wooden ladle. And then we go with the flow for so long, we forget to boil and sputter for the ladle to be withdrawn and a lid to be placed firmly above us. We were supposed to be best friends; To be platonic enough to rise above the stereotypes erected in our society. We wanted to remain the example; To teach people that a man and a woman could simply enjoy each other’s company without straying from the narrow path of companionship.

I am tempted to call her. But there is really no need. I do not have the courage to tell a tale that should be kept secret. And even if I tried, I wouldn’t have the right words for an explanation that should follow. The facts are not so simple. Yes, you disarmed me with your tears and your declarations of “I can’t take it anymore.” I had never seen you like that. So distraught that you couldn’t bother to pull out your handkerchief, but rather wiped your soggy face on the sleeves of your Joromi shirt. Again, really, you did disarm me. Coming to me in that shirt I bought for you on your birthday. An innocent present, but a constant reminder of how much you matter to me. Its sea-blue and dirty black patterns on the cuffs depicting our respective favourite colours and suddenly shoveling fantasies into my subconscious.

I should have asked you what she did and at least tried to play Devil’s advocate. But I ignored all the unwritten rules of sisterhood and in unthoughtful haste, sided with you without hearing her crimes. And now, you lie behind me. With your chest bare and heaving harmoniously with your snores as your lower body remains hidden under my sheets. I want to turn around and fall back into your arms. I want us to lie in bed all night and wake up to the sounds of Wofa Kofi’s cockerels competing for the crown of Town Crier. But each time I turn around, the future frowns forebodingly at me. I worry about her. I worry about what you and I have now done to our friendship. I am able to convince myself that you disarmed me, but the truth floats to the surface easily. It is all my fault.

“Kenkey For Ewes” by Edem Dotse.

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…”

“But what?”

“…never mind.”

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.

“Some what?”


“What the hell’s that?”

I sighed, suppressing my heart warmed smile.

“It’s like kenkey for Ewes…”