“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.

Advertisements

“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.

“Seriously?”

“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?”

“Akple.”

“What the hell’s that?”

I sighed, suppressing my heart warmed smile.

“It’s like kenkey for Ewes…”

“Kuntu’s Halo And A Set Of Devil’s Horns: Part 1” by Nii Moi Thompson.

Kuntu felt his halo turn steadily into a set of devil’s horns. His clerical garbs of neatly pressed Kaspar shirts and pairs of gentlemanly trousers – with lines so sharp they could cut with the slightest brush of one’s finger – were slowly changing into devilish robes.

Butre was alive that morning…it had always been bursting since Crudolle plc, an oil exploration and mining company from Europe started extracting offshore black gold some few months back. At first the bubbliness was with much excitement and hope, as locals would wake up before the first golden ray broke the dawn, to cheer a truck-load of miners bumping along the dusty roads to the mining site. As Kuntu would later narrate , ‘wives danced to herald an era of better jobs for husbands, babies cackled in blind optimism…even the cocks clucked in anticipation of yellow corn.’

He turned left. His eyes caught Asabea’s, the beans and fried plantain seller. She smiled coyly, lowering her gaze unto her bosomy frame standing and serving behind the wooden kiosk. Kuntu thought he should have engaged her traditionally instead of Afrakuma, his present lover who was leisurely dicing his heart valves with a bread knife. Sheer wickedness! Yet a wide-ranging grin lit up Kuntu’s face when he reminisced some of the good times he shared with Asabea. He leaned against the kiosk and covertly rested his hand on her hump.

You see these storytellers, eh…after the vague promises, they are now blowing dust into my concrete”, one old man broke Kuntu’s erotic thoughts. He covered his edible ‘concrete’ as Crudolle’s truck sped by. His food was miles away from rich, Truth; just small beans, lots of oil and gari with two slim slices of fried plantain, yet no one was getting dust into his bowl.

Kuntu agreed with the old chap. A year on, after the sea had been milked of its first crude in thousands of barrels, the roads were still bumpy – even a bicycle speeding off emitted much plume of dust -, the adults largely unemployed, and sites for the proposed health facility and public school still overgrown with nim shrubs, stubs and assorted weeds.

I am gradually losing my patience old man…one day eh…Just one day”, Kuntu was boiling.

Cool your temper, young blood!” the old chap cut in sharply as Asabea tapped his back to calm his nerves. “Blame your chiefs and the government. The dialogue was all about wades of fresh cedi notes in individual pockets. They never thought about you. Tweaa!”

Kuntu suddenly felt the weight of sorrow threatening to break him down. Asabea noticed it too, for her eyes could read his mind and soul, and it was a dark, forlorn soul. As he trod down the sandy path to Crudolle with head hanging low in deep thoughts, the old man whispered to Asabea; “Err. Forgive me o…I’m no gossip, but is he not the young lad whose mother died from rotten legs last five years?”

Hmm…He is!” Asabea recounted. “After his father disappeared soon after his birth, it has been one tragedy trailing another for that family. His mother was the sole bread winner until she was diagnosed with that sugar disease…

Asabea story was truncated by an angry toddler tugging at the hem of her cloth.

You want fried plantain eh…look at your head! Kuntu come and fight your rival oo”, she shouted after him. Kuntu turned to give Asabea’s son a quick wave and a broad grin. That boy could have been his had he not been swayed by Afrakuma’s wild seductive devices. He walked leisurely towards work, inspired by the laxity within his own soul. It was a hopeless situation, he sighed. He took left. It was a longer but tarred road, with no dust to brown his shoes or puddles of sewage to plod in. It was the plush community where managers and senior workers of Crudolle lived, mostly Europeans and a few locals Kuntu described as ‘pawns’. The small river, Obrἐ, snaked through the neighbourhood. It had lost much of its crystal clarity to small scale mining, yet it failed to steal the pomp the neighbourhood was engulfed in. Kuntu thought why the special bank and clinic northwards, with European doctors and city bankers, was only open to workers of Crudolle. The answer hit him without much brainwork. No one in mainland Butre could afford to operate an account at the bank, or pay those European doctors. His mother had been probably the first wretched victim. He raised his head and sniffed to fight back the tears! It was no time for sorrow. He had to be spirited and forward looking. He came across his boss’s apartment. Mr. Cooke!

He should have been named Crook. Mr. Crook!” Kuntu was talking to himself. Kuntu felt he was always overworked, paid less and maltreated. Moreover, since his fiancée commenced work as his office cleaner, Mr. Cooke had been unusually nice to Afrakuma and less kind to him. Kuntu shrugged off thoughts of any amorous encounters between his two headaches.

Mr. Cooke…Mr. Cooke”, Kuntu banged on the heavy gate. The security guard signalled to indicate Mr. Cooke had left for the office. That was remarkably early of him, Kuntu wondered. He had to race, and when he got to the office he was soaked in his own sweat and gasping for breath. He asked the secretary whether Mr. Cooke was in his office.

No…I have not seen him this morning. His door is locked”

It was true. Mr. Cooke’s office door was locked. Before Kuntu decided to hold the knob to confirm, he thought he heard a thump on the office desk, and a little whimper, so he pinned his ear to the door. Yes! He could hear subtle noises from the office. He motioned the secretary; He had caught a thief. His eye scanned the corridor for Mr. Cooke’s abandoned golf club and with weapon in his right hand, office keys in the left; he quietly inserted the key into its hole, before turning it with such swiftness the door flung open in a flash.

His teeth and knees rattled at the sight of his bare girlfriend, Afrakuma, sprawled on the office desk under Mr. Cooke, who was wearing nothing but a confused face which later transmuted into a red one with knitted brows. He could neither cry nor growl. His jaws were on the marbled floor, assuming the same awe-struck countenance as the Israelites when Moses’s rod smote the red sea to divide it.

Get out” was the order. He obeyed like a dog on leash.

“Undying Love” by Jesse Jojo Johnson.

When Matilda and I got married, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into. Ewuramma had just left me. I’d lost my job too.  Akwesi warned me about this; “too soon chale”, he often said when I started talking about Matilda. He’d listen anyway; who doesn’t love sizzling descriptions of a friend’s passionate side? Oh, I went into detail when it came to Akwesi, and he too he won’t stop me, that foolish guy. But after everything, he’ll tell me that he’s been there before, and it doesn’t help at all. Especially when she wants to move things quickly, get married, the kids, settle, that’s how they put it.
It’s not that I was careless – I was desperate at that time. I didn’t want to be alone. I’d been left stranded. I wasn’t myself. And she was sweet, my goodness!

We started dating after three months. This went on for another six. She’s the motherly type; petite, her skin a little lighter than mine, with a laugh that tickles. It was her half-smile and those big bright eyes that first caught my attention. Her body did the rest. Our marriage is stable. A second daughter is on her way. I have a better job too. I should be happy, but I’m not. I know I love Matilda; I said the vows. But something isn’t right. I can’t break her dreams and ruin a family I’ve just started. That will be cruel. She’s a good woman, Matilda. She has her issues, but she doesn’t deserve this.

I’ve tried several times to stifle the thoughts, kill the memories – I’ve deleted all the emails, burned as many letters and pictures as we shared, but Ewuramma just won’t leave me alone. I miss her. I still love her, two years after she walked out that door. I can’t be blamed – she was my first proper one. We’d been together for so long, life looked unfamiliar when she wasn’t around. Ewuramma was – is my life. I’m a father with a good wife, but I cannot live without my ex girlfriend. There, I said it!

I love my wife, but when Matilda makes me angry or sad – when she gets into those her moods – I drive nearly 13 kilometers to see Ewuramma. When I’m with her, I break down and cry and tell her how much I’ve missed her. That she was wicked to leave me alone, that I want her back. I usually spend the rest of the afternoon with Ewuramma, talking until I’m tired. Then I’ll trace her name on the headstone, dust myself and drive back home, wondering if she even heard.

“This Love Business” by Nii Moi Thompson.

Setting:
Amu’s chamber, dirty drapes hanging loosely down the windows, and partly covering the peeling paint of his walls. Clothes lay flung across the floor and on the single, mahogany bed with brown sheets and spreads. A smiling picture of a striking Esenam used to hang up there somewhere, and he used to worship it every sunrise. It was his single photo gallery, and all his friends were forced to see it upon entry. But something happened; he cannot exactly tell what, except to battle with his left and right conscience.

Amu’s soliloquy

“My love for Esenam had drained faster than food in a colander

Yes I adored her hips and curvy contours, Yehowah!

Her lips tasted like fire

Burning with the slightest touch…Liar!

Keep mute, right conscience! Do not call me a liar

I loved Esenam with a desire

Not for curvy contours and luscious lips…never!

I speak of bells, gowns, and a priest at the altar”

“O laka lɛ! ….daabi, mi laka ko lɛ; you know

I like fair women with tall legs and long hair, although

Esenam’s skin should glow

Have blue eyes and lashes that show

Whiter teeth and fuller lips or so

Maybe I was carried away, tonight will tell…”

Setting:

Esenam’s mirror; with her reflection staring at her, wanting to burst forth and slit her throat with a broken piece. She admired the nakedness of that young, dark woman in the mirror, who had grown slender for her lover, Amu. Esenam envied her curves…maybe her freedom, for she was stuck in the mirror and away from the work love burdens its captives with.

Esenam’s soliloquy

“How such brawny arms turned so old

And the red hot flame, go cold

Is best left a story untold

I loved him…Liar! You loved his apartment and the cars he sold

Even a gold ring does corrode

But first cut was deepest; I feel it in my node

Or maybe I should hold

Tonight will tell…

Tonight, somewhere around Osu

Amu threw on a crumpled polo shirt over faded jeans, paying little attention to the Nike sneakers caked in layers of mud and filth. He chuckled and shrugged as he took his seat at the table of the eat-out where he first took Esenam. He remembered how he had ironed his shirt back then, and traced his trousers with the tip of the iron to avoid double-lines. Now he cared less, and as Esenam appeared, he realized she too could not be bothered

There was no hug, no greeting…

“How long have you been waiting?” Esenam asked perhaps innocently, while hanging her bag on the seat and straightening her messed-up hair. Two months ago, she had braided the latest, most complex rasta with expensive Brazilian wig.

“What time did we agree on?” Amu retorted.

“Let us make this short,” Esenam advised.

“Don’t worry,” Amu cut in sharply. “I have better things doing with my time as well”

Esenam rolled her eyes in disgust at Amu’s sarcasm. She hated him for that.

“Oh, like milking cows?” she wanted to hit back at him, but realized it was not working, for he just blew his nose and feigned indifference.

“I realized that we are no longer compatible. Fine, we like the same food, the same music, can carry on a conversation for hours…” Esenam started. “But that connection is lost”

“Guess we were all attracted by the wrong elements,” Amu shrugged, and that was it. They hugged and locked each other in a passionless embrace for a second or two and parted.

As Esenam left the venue, she had Bra Kwami on her mind, and yes, his brawny arms, accent, the sleek Chrysler PT Cruiser he drives and his tall stature charmed her most. Amu was on his way to Odornaa, and then head on to Nima to meet Aisha, who had fascinated him three weeks earlier with her fair complexion, near-green eyes and a curvy frame crowned with well-greased lips, as though they had just been dipped in frytol.

‘Such vain cycle; this love businesses’, the wind sighed, but they both were ear-clogged!

“That Day At Kluu’s” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

I loved Kluu’s. It had taken me daily visits for two weeks to fall in love with the place. I loved the affordable yet delectable food served, the ever-grinning waitresses and the free bottled water for each plate of food bought. I loved the idea of a cafe where I could eat outdoors and enjoy free wireless internet connection. Determined to be stingy about my new discovery, I always waited for all my co-employees to leave for lunch elsewhere before I sneaked my way out to Kluu’s.

Today was no different. I had managed to get out of the office just after everybody else and ordered my usual lunch: Chicken and Chips with dessert of Peeled Bananas. I sat in my favourite seat far enough towards the roadside to enjoy the view of slowly moving Ring-Road Central traffic but just close enough to the café to get a strong wireless signal for my smart phone. In a matter of minutes, my lunch was served by a smiling gap-toothed waitress. I said my ‘thank you’ brusquely and instinctively concentrated on my food. As per personal routine, I had to turn my attention to ongoing traffic and gesture a playful invitation to any commuter inquisitive enough to look my way.

It was then that I saw her. For whatever reason, she had her eyes fixed right in my direction and I observed them move from the plates in front of me to my face, until our eyes met. She smirked shyly and nodded as if to say, “go ahead, enjoy.”
I nodded in comprehension and picked up the peppershaker. What looked like a cell phone was clutched to her ear when I looked back at her again while peppering my plate. She was extremely beautiful and her laid-back hair brought out her charming facial features more distinctly. I continued to sprinkle even as she got off the phone with a slight frown on her face, obviously angered by her caller. Realizing my inquiring gaze, she smirked and shrugged to convey a message I understood- some idiot had called.
Right away, the traffic began to move along and she licked her lips jokingly before waving goodbye.
I waved back with a smile, dropped the shaker and checked my watch only find out I had just about ten minutes to rush back to the office. Swearing silently, I began digging into my food. The Chips and Chicken was done with in record speed. I picked up one thin finger of peeled banana, slid it into my mouth and froze. In one swift and bizarre motion, I leapt to my feet and coughed out the partially-munched peppery banana.