“Homework” by Andrew Teye.

Assembly.
Arms forward stretch. Arms sideways stretch. One logologo line.
Inspection. Neat collar. Clean handkerchief. Let me smell your armpit. White singlet. White socks. Black shoe. Brown shoe. White socks. Black camboo. Brown camboo. White socks. Black sandals. Brown sandals. Where is your badge? Whip-whip-whip!
“God bless our Homeland Ghana.” “I promise on my honour.” “Our Father who art in Heaven.” “And can it be.” “Fairest Lord Jesus.” “We are marching to our classes.”

‘Good Morning Class.’
‘Good Morning Sir.’
‘How are you?’
‘We are fine, thank you. And yooouuu?’
‘Sit down. Where is your homework?’
‘It was too difficult, sir.’ ‘Father left my book in his car boot, sir.’ ‘Father did not sign, sir.’
Teacher banza. Driver banza. Father banza. Whip-whip-whip!

Morning drill.
Students’ companion. Companion of teachers. Foe of students.
Homonyms. Bear. Bear. Bank. Bank. Homophones. Key. Quay. See. Sea. Antonyms. Arrive-Depart. Adore-Despise. Attack-Retreat.
Synonyms. Abandon-Leave-Desert. Astonished-Surprised-Perplexed. Flabbergasted? Whip-whip-whip!
Collections. A bunch of? Bananas! A troupe of? Monkeys! A bouquet of? Err…err. Whip-whip-whip! You monkey!
Mental. Square root of? LCM of? HCF of?  12 Squared plus 5 Squared minus 15 Squared plus 10 Squared minus 2 Squared times zero? Whip-whip-whip!
Break time please!
Auntie please one bread. One meat-pie. One rock buns. One bofroat. Tampico. FanYoghurt. FanChocolate. Fanpop. Fanice…so nice nice nice.
Green Green grasses. Kwaku Ananse Stories. Change your style. Change your style. Be like that. Be like that. Boys play football. Girls play Ampe. Mother jeega nobody!

Break over please!
School Prefect. Compound Prefect. Bell boy. Cupboard Monitor. Blackboard Cleaner. Class Prefect: Sweeping Rooster. Class Prefect: Names of talkatives. Kojo Mensah-DP. Adwoa Mansa-TP. Your head is hard. Your head is hard paa!

Midterm.
Midterm Break. Midterm Holidays. Midterm Homework. English Homework. Maths Homework. Social Studies Homework. Integrated Science Homework. Agricultural Science Homework. Technical Drawing Homework. Catering Homework. Graphic Design Homework. French Homework. Ga Homework. Twi Homework. No-break Midterm. No-holiday Midterm.

 

You like that paa. You too you like that paa! You are someway papa. You too you are someway papa! I won’t say anything. Me I won’t talk. I’m going to come. I’m coming. I’m coming right now okay? Go tear, it is sweet. Herh! Who spoke vernacular? Only English! Speak only English!

Who Fla-tu-lat-ed? Flatulence. Farts. Boys at the back. Maybe girls at the front. Do females fart? Does Queen Elizabeth fart?  Who knows? We never know. Nobody ever knows.
Farts. Silent farts. Loud farts. Smelly farts. Korle Lagoon farts. Lavender Hill farts. Oblogo borla farts.

Mosquito romance. Tease the girls. Chase the boys. Chase him  all around the classroom. Slap him in the back! Pinch his arm! Oh no! There is a teacher! Oh yes! There’s a teacher! Sir, he was teasing me. He was teasing me, Sir. I don’t like that. I do not like that-o. Yoo.

Our day.
Digestive. Hob Nobs. Rich Tea. Shortbread. Coke. Fanta. Sprite. Oh, gimme some of your Malt ehh?
Speakers. Microphone. DJ. Dancing Floor. Dancing Competition. Jams. Who let the dogs out? Wo! Wo! Wo-wo-wo! Oh nananaana! It is our day.

Vacation classes. Vacation classwork. Vacation homework. Home-work. Go home and work.

 

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“Mama is in The Box” by Myers Hansen.

Mama is in the box. She is wearing a white dress and a chain. They say she is sleeping but when you call her, she doesn’t wake up. She doesn’t even respond when you shake her.

Yaa doesn’t know how to do hair at all! She only knows how to do a ponytail. And she doesn’t even know how to do it properly. She doesn’t even know how to comb an Afro or tie three balls. She pulls my hair very hard and she says “Sorry, sorry. I won’t do it again.” But she does it again. Look, look at how loose and crooked she has made my hair. And she has hard palms too. When she touches my forehead, it is like she’s scratching it.

I like it better when Mama does my hair. Mama can do the afro and the ponytail far better. Sometimes, she plaits two big horns at the sides of my head and she ties colourful ribbons around them. When she combs my hair, it is painful but not as painful as when Yaa does it. All I have to do is to make a tight fist and the pain will go. As for Yaa, the more I tighten my fist, the more it hurts.

Yaa is our maid. She is tall and fair and very quiet. She doesn’t go to school and her English is very bad. She used to come to our house on weekends to clean the house and wash our clothes. But since Mama became sick, she has come to stay with us. She sleeps in the sitting room. She rolls out a mat in the evening when she wants to sleep and in the morning, she folds it and leans it in the corner under the bookshelf beside the small rubber bag. She keeps her clothes in the rubber bag. She cooks the food and boils Mama’s herbs. She doesn’t eat with us at the dining table; she eats in the kitchen. She sits on a small stool and sets her plate on the floor. Now she does my hair and sometimes, it is she who comes to pick me up from school. Daddy always takes me to school before he goes to work.

Mama doesn’t like Yaa anymore; I don’t know what she did or why Mama’s attitude towards her has changed. Now she calls her “Hɛh” or “Kwɛ”. Even when she screams her name from the bedroom, she says “Hɛh Yaa” or “Kwɛ Yaa”. Mama says not to call anyone aboa. She says Jesus doesn’t like us referring to other people as animals. But when she’s angry at Yaa, she eyes her and calls her aboa. When Yaa says good morning, Mama doesn’t respond, she only waves her left hand at her. Sometimes I watch her when she cries in the kitchen but she doesn’t know that I’m watching her. One day I asked her why she was crying and she said that she wasn’t crying. She wiped her face with the dirty wrapper she had on her waist and smiled.

But Daddy likes Yaa very much. He smiles and says good morning when Yaa greets. He also asks, “How are you doing?” When he returns, he asks her if she has eaten and sometimes he buys her gifts. You see the red blouse Yaa wears now to the market? It was Daddy who bought it for her. Her new sandals too, it was Daddy who bought them. When Daddy gives Yaa something new, she says, “Thank you Daddy. Thank you very much. May God bless you Daddy.” Daddy is not her father but she calls him Daddy. Her Mama and Daddy live in the village.  Daddy said we might visit them this December. I can’t wait.

 

As soon as I get home from school, I run to the bedroom to greet Mama. Sometimes, she’s asleep but I shake her and she wakes up. I sing the songs Auntie Rhoda taught at school that day. She helps me with my homework. She says I’m clever and she wants me to become a lawyer. But I want to become a doctor.

I want to wear a white coat and inject people. I wanted to be a teacher before, like Auntie Rhoda. I wanted to lash all the bad boys who sit at the back and disturb and bully, like Attoh Graham and Quaye Michael. But the last time Daddy and I took Mama to the hospital and I saw a doctor wearing glasses and something around his neck, I just wanted to be a doctor.

Mama knows all the rhymes Auntie Rhoda teaches us so she sings along. Mama can sing oh, she can sing very well. Yaa too can sing, but she doesn’t know rhymes.

Do you know Auntie Fofo? She’s the best aunt in the world.  She visits us often, especially since Mama’s sickness. She brings fruits and herbs for Mama and biscuits for me. Sometimes she brings biscuits for Yaa too.  She has big eyes and big cheeks. She’s fat, but not obolo.  I like her car very much. It’s a Benz. I’ll buy one when I grow up. I love her very much. She calls Daddy Ken and calls Mama Adoley.

On the day of the funeral Auntie Fofo asked me, “Where is Mama?” and I said, “Mama is in the box.” Then she was smiling but tears were flowing from her eyes. She pulled me to her chest and hugged me tightly. I asked her why she was crying and she said she was not crying. I also began to cry and she told me to stop crying but she was still crying.

“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.”
Right?
Right…?
Wrong!
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.

“The Handshake” by Jude Davids.

It is seven-thirty in the morning. Lomotey is strolling out of the house with his bucket; he is going to fetch water. He has a wedding to attend. As he makes his way out through the gate that never closes, he drops the bucket, rotates a full one-hundred-and-eighty degrees on his left foot and is dashing back into the house, “Wɔn mo ba oo! Wɔn mo ba oo!”

He hurriedly opens his front door and disappears behind the closed door. He dashes underneath his bed and covers himself with the blanket that is now covered in bed fluff.

“Okay, sika no nie,” says Senyo outside and bids farewell to the TV license collectors.

“Next time wai.”

As Senyo returns to his room, he puts his face to the window of Lomotey’s room and says, “Lom, they’re gone now; I paid for both of us.” He strolls into his room.

Patrick arrives at the auto-mechanic’s place. The auto-mechanic is not there. He snorts in exasperation.

“Oh, you dey search Aka? E no dey o; e say e go e hometown for funeral. Buh me I see sey de only funeral wey e dey be de one e dey run from – de one give e moni. E know sey de TV license people dey com today so e run,” supplies the shopkeeper who sells nearby.

“I have a flat tyre and he has my spare.”

“Oh Chaaale!!! Den you for wait am. I sure sey e go com by twolve o’clock. Make you wait am. See, make I giv you seat make you wait am,” offers the shopkeeper as he goes to get him the high stool he has by his shop.

“No. I will go and wait for him at home. Please tell him to call me.”

Patrick leaves with his face contorted by exasperation mingled with indignation.

Naa is climbing the stairs to the chapel. Her right leg buckles on her ankle. Her heel is broken. She rushes out to a nearby store to find a replacement.

“Sister, wei deɛ me hu sɛ ɛsɛ sɛ wo kɔ fie o. Wontumi nhyɛ chale wɔtey ne w’atadeɛ wei. Ɛnfata wedding no nso,” says the shopkeeper.

Naa sighs, thanks the lady and finds her way home to replace her broken footwear.

Lomotey emerges from his house dressed in a purple lace top and trousers with matching purple shoes. “Senyo, com see. How I dey look?” he requests.

Senyo peers through his louvers to see the attire. “Well, you look posh. It’s nice. All the best Chale,” furnishes Senyo.

Lomotey departs – through the gate, around the bend and to the bus stop. He stops a taxi and boards it. He arrives at the wedding reception grounds – Naa and Patrick are waiting.

“We’re all late,” both chorus as Lomotey approaches them. They’re about to explain when Lomotey waves it all away. They shake hands. They find a table and sit.

“We picked the wrong table oo,” complains Lomotey. Naa and Patrick nod as they reach the serving table to find that the food is finished though they are not the last in line. As they go back to their table with their soft drinks in hand, they see other tables with plates half-empty. Lomotey frowns; Patrick pats him on his shoulder.

“Cynthia, send us the photos on WhatsApp,” Patrick requests.

It’s two days after the wedding. Patrick and Lomotey send Naa the photos they have just received, both with the caption, “Can you believe it?”

“So I broke my heel just for a handshake?” Naa replies to the photos that show Cynthia’s hand being shaken by her groom during the kiss-the-bride segment of the ceremony.

“Ambush at Sunset” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

The sun was setting and the natural light was slowly giving way to the natural dark. We should have called it a day, but it was unanimously agreed that there was time enough for one more round of gunfire before the darkness enveloped us. We split into our designated groups, clutching our weapons tight and disappearing into the dense thicket of plantain and banana trees. The trumpet sound was mouthed loudly to call both sides to combat.

I emerged from one of the many trees supplying a jungle ambience to our combat zone. I imagined the impending spillage of blood on the green leaves and how the stems would be ridden with bullet-wounds. It made me chuckle, but not loudly or long enough. A true commander knows such reveries are not strange on the battlefield. However, they have to be quelled so the mind can concentrate fully on dangers on-hand.

It was hard to spot them at first. They had worn black t-shirts and we had stuck to our brown. In the shade of the setting sun, both troops were almost invisible. That was where my work really began. As commander, I had to be able to spot the enemy’s positioning and then covertly signal my troops for an appropriate attacking strategy.

It was easier than I expected. I squatted under the nearest dense group of trees and squinted into enemy territory meters ahead. Nothing moved for minutes, but when I saw trees walking like men, I knew I had the enemy in sight. They looked about in the shade, just as confusedly as my troops. They would soon be at the mercy of our gunfire; these dark figures gently pushing away branches with the barrels of their guns.

My troops were taught to keep their eyes on me and await my silent orders. I immediately signalled with my right index and middle fingers by pushing them towards my eyes, almost poking my eyeballs. My troops understood instantly.

I knew the black troops would stay true to their aggressive strategies. We had long since figured how intently they held on to their ‘Forward Ever’ mantra. We had suffered many losses in their previous waves of attack. When my troops froze in their spots and stared for my next order, I raised my trigger finger and spun invisible circles. They began moving into their positions for our ambush.

I inched a foot forward and could see them clearly now as they drew closer, tiptoeing on the dried leaves and soft tropical soil. My troops had deftly formed the circle of ambush I had ordered for. I nodded my satisfaction thrice.

We started firing away as we hopped from behind the trees, staining them red-blood red, bright even in the near darkness. We watched them humbly fall to their knees, and those who could manage, fell on their faces. We shot them all. Every single one of them in black t-shirts. A perfect ambush.

“Chale, let’s go. Mosquitoes are here,” I called out, and began trotting out of the thicket.

I was closely followed by my troops, happily holding their guns and sporting their brown shirts with no red stains.

Then, the black team emerged, their t-shirts spotted with the poster paint I had brought from my Father’s art studio. They slung their guns by their sides and sauntered along like zombies from some old time horror movie.

“Purgatory For The Innocents” by Akosua Brenu.

Hurry up, Kofi,” the girl said to her little brother. He was always doing this, but she had learnt to remain patient with him. He was still only eight years old. He trudged along behind her, stopping and swinging his foot at stones and watching his feet slip through them each time. They got to the T-Junction.

“C’mon Kofi” Naana called out to him yet again. The red car they had come to see was approaching from about 500 metres away. Kofi glided nonchalantly to her side, still trying to kick at stones.

“Why do we have to come here again?” he asked, after slipping his feet through another small mass of little stones.”You know why Kofi. We have to find out what happened.””I don’t like coming here,” shrieked little Kofi. Then he stared at his feet and pouted his tiny lips.

“I know Kofi … I know,” Naana replied in sympathy. She slid her palm into his and held on tight, “It will be over soon, I promise.”

She spoke the words with little confidence. It was simply to soothe him. She had absolutely no idea when it will all end. She hated living this nightmare over and over again each year. You have to find out what really happened, The Master had said. She didn’t understand it. They had been coming on the same day for the past five years. Still, there was nothing different to see. She had no new revelations and neither had Kofi. He had always shut his eyes at some point, yet she reasoned that if there was something to be seen they surely should’ve seen it by now. After returning nine times already, The Master’s insistence was becoming tiresome. Naana doubted if there was indeed anything that had escaped sight.

As they stood holding hands, the red Toyota Corolla was now within 200 metres of the T-Junction. On cue, the Tipper Truck poked its front bumper up the horizon of the Hill, from the right connecting road of the T-junction. The voices in the car soon became audible to Naana and Kofi now, and they could hear their mother singing from the front passengers’ seat.

They saw their father nodding in that eternally funny way- his head bobbing up and down just like the bobble-head dog toy stuck to the top of his dashboard. And in the back seats, flailing their short arms all over the place and chanting to their mother’s singing, sat Naana and Kofi from exactly ten years ago.

Kofi wore the same Ben 10 shirt he was wearing now. Naana, wore the same pink t-shirt with the big red love symbol embroidery on the front. Naana leaned forward from the side of the road and readied to peer carefully at the imminent scene. She felt Kofi try to slip his hand from her grip, but she held on tight and squeezed softly.The climax was staged in all of thirty seconds. Their father had spotted the Tipper Truck coming slowly from his left side and he judged accurately that he could move on ahead before the truck got to the intersection. Also, he expected the driver to slow down. But he had succeeded in getting to the midpoint of the crossroad before something punched the back side of his head above the head-rest of his seat. His head jerked forward and he lost control of the steering. The car suddenly spun to one side and lay directly in the path of the truck as the engine died. The shrill screams from within the car blocked any impulsive decision. The crash was as loud as Naana and Kofi remembered it, and the screams as piercing as ever. Naana turned away from the scene and dropped to her knees. She felt Kofi’s hand slip out of hers, but she didn’t try to hold on this time.
She covered her face and began to weep into her palms, but there were no tears, only sorrowful gasps.

Kofi stood with his mouth blank open. He had seen it. The scene had stayed the same for ten years, but he had finally seen it today. He had always shut his eyes just before the crash, but not today. Today, he had watched and finally seen it. Guilt enveloped him as he sunk to his knees by his sister. He wrapped his arms around her and sobbed out the tearless pain. “It was me, Naana. It was my fault!”

“Noooo. It’s okay Kofi. It’s okay. We’ll keep trying. We’ll come back again. Next year.” she tried to calm him, empathizing with his exhaustion.

“It was me. I d-d-didn’t know! It was me!”

She hugged him tighter, “It’s okay. It’s okay. We’ll be fine. We’ll-“. He gently pushed himself out her arms and stepped a couple of feet backwards. He covered his eyes as he spoke.

“No Naana! Listen! It was me, Naana! I looked! I saw it! IT WAS ME! I-I-I WAS THROWING MY HANDS AROUND. I HIT DADDY! I HIT DADDY! MY HAND HIT DADDY’S HEAD! OH GOD, PLEASE FORGIVE ME. IT WAS ME, NAANA!”

Tyres screeched all around them as cars broke into a halt around the scene of the crash. His little voice sobbed above the wailing voices. He dashed to her and she collected him in her arms. The world suddenly began to grow silent around them, and the air around them began to spiral into a ball of spinning wind. They were swept up in their lock-arm posture, soaring into the clouds and fading into the sky above.

“Jato’s Box” by Prosper Kwao.

They shook him awake. As he groggily opened his eyes and began to adjust them to the dim light from the aged incandescent bulb in his bedroom, he felt a strong blow against the side of his head.

“Ow!” he shrieked.

There were strangers in his room- Robbers. The pain at the side of his head increased and he quickly realized he had been struck with the back end of some heavy metal. Armed-robbers, he now confirmed. One of the robbers who stood close to him pointed the weapon in his face. He could not remember ever being so close to a gun.

“Shhh. Any wrong move, you go chop bullet. You understand?” a cold voice from the dark figure towering above him announced.

There was really no need to make any move. They were in his one bedroom self contained home. There were no other rooms in the building. There was no one to call out to. From what he could remember, his next door neighbours had made the trip to their village the night before; there was mention about a funeral in the family. He was truly on his own against these men.

He slowly leaned against the head post, sat upright and finally made out the figures of the two robbers who now occupied his room. Both men were at least six feet tall and wore black tank tops. Their bulging biceps poured out of their shoulders.

“Boss, I beg, my name bi Jato. I no-”

“-My friend, you better shut up,” the nearest robber with the gun said softly. The mixture of alcohol and marijuana sprayed out from his breath into Jato’s face.

“WHERE THE BOX DEY?” another of the robbers bellowed from across the room. He had stepped back and was now leaning in the corner close to Jato’s wardrobe, hidden from the dim light pouring out of the bulb.

“Boss. I no get any-” Jato began to plead but stopped short when the gun was again pointed squarely in his face.

“I go ask you for the last time. Where the box dey?” the same man called out from across the room.

They shot him twice in the head. And his brain split open, spilling fluids and the invisible memories of where he had dug out the soil and hidden the box containing the stolen gold.

*******************

For years, everybody wondered about Jato’s death.  The body had been lying in his bed for a week at least, before it was found, the policemen had said. Questions had been asked, sometimes with the intimidation tactics that were typical of small town policemen. Young men were rounded up and physically abused for answers. Slaps across both sides of the face and the back of the head were distributed freely. Still, nothing concrete was gained. Jato’s death simply remained a mystery.

But the June-July rains came heavily five years after Jato’s death. The weather-people said it was the highest to be recorded in a decade. The floods had carried few electric poles and cables away. Kiosks were uprooted and dragged away by the currents. The soil had eroded and the ground had split in many places. As people stood in the safety of stronger grounds, pointing and identifying the debris being washed away, Jato’s box floated along unnoticed and its black padlock swung with every movement. The rhythmic clanking of fifty bars of pure gold, inaudible to the observers who were too busy identifying their own properties, silently marked the drift of Jato’s box.