“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.

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“Why” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

It is times like these that remind me every day. Each night when we have to buy our Kenkey from different sellers, because you like your bolus very light and soft to touch, and I like mine heavy with a single grain of maize lingering in the cooked dough. Each night, like tonight, I am reminded in too many ways, that I am not like you. I like extra onions with my pepper, you don’t. I like my pepper salty, you don’t. I like my tiny Keta school boys, with a few crispy shrimps sprinkled on my pepper. You prefer a large piece of Red Fish or Tilapia or Kpanla with its gaping mouth begging you to chomp it down in your loud and uncanny eating ways. You will eat noisily, like a newly weaned piglet. Then, nearing the end of your meal, you will crack the fish bones as if you were striking bars on a xylophone. As for you dierr… I just don’t know!

You don’t mind gulping down the fermented milk from Amina’s Burkina and then letting out silent farts in my room till my acrobatic attempts to let in fresh air through the windows attract your unjustified wrath. I am proud to declare that I have never so much as belched in your presence. You often deride my strict adherence to propriety. Do you remember the week before my birthday last year, when I had caught a very bad flu? Remember when I refused your handkerchief and asked for tissue to blow my nose? You remember, surely. No? Well, you dryly reminded me that the pioneer of personal hygiene was knocked down by a borla-car. Ah! Ah! Ah!
Why can you not be like me? Eh? Why? Why?!

Why don’t you call to find out if I’ve gotten home safely after our little smooches in your stuffy bedroom? Don’t you fear God’s wrath might strike me dead before I get home? What if the trotro runs into a tree? Or some drunk driver is used as a vessel of God’s righteous indignation to mangle my body into unrecognisable pieces?  What if some sakawa spiritualists ambush me on that dark and narrow meandering footpath that leads to my house? What if they slit my throat and take out my tongue, or cut my chest and take out my heart? Who else will whisper ‘medofo pa’ as softly as I do, which other heart will beat rhythmically for you like mine does? Eh? Who?
I always trumpet my adolescent warnings to taxi-drivers to get you home safe. And when they speed off in anger after snatching the fare from my fingers, I wave contently at you in the clearing mist from their screeching back tyres. I wait for a few minutes and then I call you to find out if you’ve gotten home. I do this all the time. All the time! I do, don’t I? Yes, all the time. So why can’t you learn from me and do same? Eh? Why? Why?!

Why do I always have to be the one calling to say ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Good Night’? Are ten pesewas too much to spare from the airtime I get you every day? Or do you just find these greetings too formal for your boyfriend? Well, you can just say ‘Hi babe’ and ‘Sleep tight babe’, can you not?
Oh, I forget- you’re not sentimental. You hate all that mush. “The sentiments don’t matter, loyalty and truth are the most important things in a relationship,” you say. Loyalty eh? Loyalty to whom?  Yourself, evidently. And truth? Ah yes, another thing- truth.
You sit there and preach truth because you know you practise it much, much, much better than I do. Of all the things you do, I’ll grant you that. You stay true- true to yourself. You stay true to yourself while I painfully alter my genes to please you. While I constantly fight the need to stay true to who I really am, you waltz through this relationship staying true to yourself and doing everything within your power not to change for me. A bit of me dies every day just so all of you can live freely. You slay me afresh every day and use my blood to wash away the selfishness from which you never repent. Me: Your sacrificial lamb.

There is too much to write, too many emotions to be contained in nouns and verbs and adjectives. My condition is simple. I am tired. I am lonely. I chuckle out my sorrow. I smirk out my resentment. I bite my lower lip to keep me from yelling at you. I clench my fists and push them deep into my pockets till my trousers sag below my buttocks. I am an angry boyfriend. I am a sad boyfriend. I am a pitiful boyfriend.

I wish you would love like me. I wish you would understand like the way I do, what it means to love someone; what it means to give yourself out for the joy of the one you love. I wish you were like me. I wish you would love some of the things I love and hate some of the things I hate. I wish you would share in my interests. I wish we had more in common than our religious love for Kenkey. Even in that, you are not like me; Even in that.

“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?