“Grandpa’s Face” by Edwina Pessey.

There he lies. He could have been asleep. He really did look like it. Although slightly bloated. His chest area looked robust for an aged, dead man. Grandpa was almost smiling. He always managed to see the humour in any situation. That was something Aba had picked up. It was this face, now inanimate, that raised his granddaughter.

 

When Aba was six, Grandpa’s bespectacled face towered over her’s. He had just found her on his bedroom floor with his upended first aid box beside her. Her lips were chalk-white.

Aaaa,” Grandpa said. “Open your mouth. Aaaa”. Aba opened her mouth to reveal a white mash on her tongue. She unfurled her fists to reveal round tablets with a big ‘G’ embossed on them. Aba’s eyes began to water. He had caught her. Grandpa burst out laughing and offered her a hand so she could stand. Aba’s grandmother would later medicate her with the Bentua to ease Aba’s constipation.

 

Presently, Aba notices the neatly folded Kente at the foot of the coffin. Her cousin told her that beneath the Kente was money that Grandpa would use in the spirit world. She had rolled her eyes at this. “Really?”

 

She turned her eyes to the corner. Grandma sat surrounded by consolers all keeping wake. Her eyes returned to Grandpa…

 

When she was nine, Aba kneeled and faced Grandpa to watch him eat pawpaw. She had her elbows strategically placed on the table to support her chin. This was a tactic she and her cousins devised — silently willing Grandpa to give up his food so they could devour the rest. That day it was soft pawpaw with evaporated milk; the day before that it was Abiba’s Waakye. “Fine. Here you go,” Grandpa resigned and pushed the bowl towards his granddaughter. He chuckled to reassure her that he was not annoyed. Aba grabbed the bowl and dashed behind the longest couch. She would be hidden from the eyes of her cousins if they came prowling.

 

Mourners circled Grandpa’s body. Aba allowed little room between herself and the coffin so the slow march circled her too. It looked like a dance; the kind of dance which involved shuddering shoulders, dragging feet, and the occasional dab around the eyes and lips a handkerchief or the back of a hand.

Some mourner-dancers were more energetic than the rest; they loudly proclaimed their wish to go with Grandpa. Aba’s mother was one of them. “Ei! mini sane nε,” Aba thought, while struggling to smother an emotion that had started to well up in her. She returned to her late grandfather’s face.

 

Her childhood rushed like a flood in her mind as she stared. Aba screwed up her face as though to sneeze, or cry—possibly the latter. The sound that erupted was not of a sob. It was unmistakable laughter.

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“An Occurrence In The Dadzie Home” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

Mrs. Dadzie was first on the scene. Her first reaction was to gasp and then cover her mouth immediately. She turned around and darted into the bedroom to call her husband.

“Come! Come…quickly Fii, come,” she tried to keep her voice down as she hopped excitedly on the woollen carpet.

“What is it this time?” Fiifi Dadzie asked with an air of nonchalance. His eyes remained fixed on his computer screen, punching away a bit more calmly, now that he was being interrupted.

“Ohhh… Just come. You too, you can be someway papa! Just come,” Dzifa Dadzie said, almost pleading.

Fiifi sighed and shifted in his seat. He pushed away the swivel-chair with his backside and stood. He leaned back and stretched. He was definitely going to take his time with this walk to wherever. He knew Dzifa and her drab surprises all too well.

Dzifa tutted. “Where is your phone? We need to video this!”

“Video what?” Fiifi replied, with a loud yawn as he withdrew his phone from his pocket. He handed it over to her.

She ignored the phone, grabbed his arm and yanked him out of the room. He had to hold on to his loose flannel underwear with his free hand.

They finally reached the living room, and as they neared the dining hall, Dzifa paused abruptly, excitedly did a little hop and jiggle, and finally pointed at the dinner table. Fiifi gaped at the scene.

Sitting astride the table, holding a plastic finger of banana in one hand and a plastic apple in the other hand, was the latest inclusion to their family; Maabena Dadzie.

“How did she-” Fiifi started, but was silenced by his wife’s covering his mouth with palm.
“Shh..I have no idea,” she whispered.

One year old Maabena sat oblivious of her dear parents’ stares of amazement. To any untrained pair of eyes which could have chanced upon the scene, she would seem to have been making an aesthetic judgement of the two fake fruits she had picked from the decorative basket on the dinner table. To Mr. and Mrs. Dadzie, they knew she would push either replica to her mouth in a split second.

“Hurry … take a pic,” Dzifa nudged Fiifi in the ribs.

“No…video first,” he replied with a soft giggle. He set up his camera presently and zoomed in.

By this time, Maabena had seemingly made up her mind. Her grimace cleared from her tiny baby face. It was replaced immediately with a wide smile and a soft giggle. Before her parents had a chance to stifle their loud chuckles, she pushed both fake fruits to her lips and began to nibble away. Still under the watch of her parents and the smart phone camera, she nibbled and nibbled and nibbled at the plastic. She continued this way for a minute or two more till the realization hit her toddler mind; these fruits would not be munched! She withdrew them from her lips. An even stronger grimace appeared on her face. Then, she turned, and met eyes with her parents.

Her eyes lit up immediately. She reached with her tiny arms, presenting the fruits to them. And then, she did something else; Something Fiifi and Dzifa Dadzie would show to their friends and family for weeks. Maabena shouted to her parents in discernible language for the first time ever, “Fooooooooodd!!!”

Before Fiifi could catch his breath or Dzifa could wipe off the first streak of a tear drop, little Maabena slammed the plastic fruits back into the basket on the dinner table and let out a blood-curdling scream. They bumped into each other as they rushed to cuddle her.

“Candid” by Amma Konadu Anarfi.

Dear Lord,

It’s 4am. The entire neighborhood is quiet and those bloody cats are mating right outside my bedroom window, I’ve had to turn the music up although I like to listen to Pachelbel’s Canon with the volume low. Those felines sound too human, Lord, it is very disturbing! Not that I’d rather hear humans do it, but animals should sound like animals.

Anyway about the other day when I wished them dead, I wish I could say I’m sorry. However, I am sorry I am not sorry. Forgive me. It has been hard developing any love for them, those cats; they have lost their sense of decency, it makes me wonder if that is the reason why they sound human. The dogs were much better, why did they have to die when my evil intentions were all directed at those disrespectful scrawny excuses of cats?

Father, I think I need more patience. You keep them alive to test me don’t you? My patience keeps running out. Please keep refilling. I know you are constantly at it. One morning, I was so charged up, ready to poison them and not apologize for it after. When I opened the front door, the tiniest of them all was sitting right there, staring at me doe-eyed. No, it did not break me. Just irritated me!

Which reminds me yet again, I have been meaning to ask you this. If I developed a character in a story, and killed that character, will that be counted as sin? Seeing that I created that character with a real face behind it, and I killed that character so thoroughly, too thoroughly, for it to be mere fiction, and that I relished the kill. I am not a murderer am I? But if I killed those cats I would be, not so? I hate them.

Oh God, about Maurice though, I thought briefly, just a little bit, what a relief it would be if he died. When I heard he had died, I felt like you, yes like you Lord, before I felt sorry. Just a little bit. That is just wrong. I’m sorry. Is he with you in glory? I will be so surprised if he is. I mean he was an ass to his last breath. Forgive me, o forgive these thoughts, but Maurice was the devil.

At the funeral while half the family lied through their tributes and the pastor shamelessly committed him into your hands, I watched; silent, cold inside. I should have read my tribute. But James, who is still not on talking terms with me, tore it to pieces and would not allow me to say it from memory; it was all in my head, word for word. I only wanted to say the truth. Lord he is still angry with me. Is that justifiable? I forgave him a long time ago for not allowing me to vent. I’m still working on forgiving Maurice, so help me. He was after all my brother.

I think that is the only time I have felt that way towards a human, but these cats…these cats bring out the worst in me! Thinking about them has angered me so much I can’t even breathe! I really can’t breathe Father… I should breathe. Lord??? I can’t breathe!!!

Salma folded the letter and placed it back into the chest that contained other stuff that had been her daughter’s. A year gone and she still could not let go. She could still remember that morning, exactly at 6am, when she had gone to her room and found her face-down on the floor, naked, her eyes wide open.

She closed her eyes and fought back tears.

“You really are a scrawny excuse of a thing!”

She whispered, stroking the back of the black skinny cat on her lap.

“Every Other Night” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

Every other night I would escape the shouting. I would find a safe and quiet spot  in the corridor, place my little sketchbook on the hard floor and begin to draw. I would draw out the wedding, as Mother fondly described it. I would draw her in that elegant kaba and slit hanging in her wardrobe. Then I would draw Father too, in his golden kente cloth, shining like a true royal. I would draw them sealing their love with a kiss … every other night.

Last night was good and bad. I think I drew my best picture last night. That was a good thing,I suppose. Somehow I did not feel so good about it. But like I said, last night was also bad. The shouting was louder. The words were more offensive. I heard father use words he had warned me never to use. I heard mother talk back in tones she had advised me not to speak in.

Did I already say that last night was good? That I drew my best picture by far? You should see it! I finally etched the right pattern for Father’s kente and I shaded tiny roses on Mother’s kaba. Then I drew something else. I drew Father hitting Mother.

But wait! Did I not tell you last night was bad? Well yes, it was bad. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I should not have drawn Father hitting Mother. The policemen took the picture I drew, you see. They showed it to Father. Father was crying, but they took him away. I think I made Father cry. The ambulance came for Mother too. Maybe it was all my fault. I should have drawn the same picture, every other night.

“Open Closure” by Maame Abenaa Agyekum.

Konadu shifted from one foot to the other. She stared, confounded. This was not how she had imagined it.When she was buying her plane ticket, she had imagined him being remorseful, beside himself with grief and unable to bear the pain he had caused; full of excuses, none sufficient. When she boarded the flight, she dreamt of him offering the heavens to make amends, which she naturally refused. She didn’t want anything from him- or did she?

Right now, face to face with her father after twenty-seven years she realised she might not really know what she wanted.
But she didn’t want this – The man who was her father, had been indignant that he had done no wrong! Saying he had done the best he could have afforded to do in the circumstances.

“Ehn? The best?!” She echoed, incredulous.
Unconsciously she scratched her head, puzzled. He did the same, unsettled.
They went back and forth for a while, till Konadu unexpectedly burst into tears.
He offered a hesitant embrace and his reward was a stinging slap.
She was immediately sorry and moved towards him to comfort him; then flinched, instantly upset with herself for harbouring a shred of pity towards this cruel man.
Overwhelmed by her emotions Konadu sank into a settee and cradled her knees, tears falling silently.
“I’m sorry M’ewura,” he said, using a pet name she thought belonged only to her grandmother. The fact that he knew it and had used it angered her more.
“For what?” Konadu spat out, venom colouring each word, “You did the best you could, didn’t you?”
He hung his head and wrung his hands.
“For causing you pain” he offered in a small voice, as if afraid.
“Pain?!” Konadu laughed, a bitter sound she didn’t recognise. She felt as if she was having an out of body experience. She shot out of the seat,
“I’m so past apologies Dad! I just want to know what happened…what went wrong! so I can explain it to myself and move on with my life!!”
‘Dad’ had been hurled out with such scornful force that she had no doubt his shocking reply was the truth:
“I honestly dunno.”
Her sails lost their billowing wind. Even her tears evaporated. She sank back into the seat.
She hadn’t been expecting this. She had expected a story. An incident. An explanation! Something! Not this…empty victory.
What was she supposed to do with this? How would she heal or construct anything from that?
She thought he would give her something. Why after 27 years of virtually nothing she expected so much she did not know.
This was worse than square one. It was ground zero – that awkward moment when the much hyped confrontation brings no closure… only questions no one can answer.

“Okay”
And that was it.
Who knew? He might even allow her to leave peacefully, without further conversation. She picked up her bag, what else was left to do but to walk away?