Fiction: Lingerings by Ama Akuamoah

 

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Ama Akuamoah

Kesewa peeped through the trap door again at the man lying on her bed, eyes closed in a cocktail of pain and exhaustion. After all these years and now Yaw Adjei is alive and 2 feet away from her touch. The ramblings of the thunder brought her back to the present as she made a mad dash for Aunty’s room. Her innate fear of thunder and lightning was as old as time and even in adulthood this fear plagued her.

“Our elders say a strong wind heralds a mighty event. l wonder what news they are bringing us this time.” Aunty murmured as the curtains flapped furiously. She looked absentmindedly at the TV. Her room had the air of comfort etched into its walls. The single chair positioned adjacent to the bed ensured whoever walked in and chose to sit down had to look right into her eyes. Perched on the edge of the bed, until a gust of wind startled her, Aunty walked gingerly to the window and closed it gently as the wind sprayed rain into the room.

This room, with its four rickety items- wardrobe, TV, bed and chair – was the unofficial seat of government in the household. Being summoned there could mean anything. It was always the meeting space for all feuds and celebrations alike. All announcements and decrees emanated from her here and in her usual style, long and winding-, but eventually the decree was passed. And if it was gossip, she repeated the now famous lines, “If the person who told me this was lying then l am also lying.”

“Kesewaa,” Aunty whispered, “How is your friend, when was the last you say you saw him again?” The gushing afternoon torrent made it almost impossible to hear. “About two years ago,” Kesewa retorted drearily, hoping that will deter Aunty from asking more questions she did not have the answers to.

Author’s Bio

Ama Akuamoah is a lover of words. She lives vicariously through the characters she reads and writes about. When she’s not hopscotching around continents, she’s people watching and sourcing personalities for her next story. Read more of her work on her website: www.amaakuamoah.com . She is on twitter and instagram as @amaakuamoah

 

Works From Gird Writing Camp 2016: “Secret Ceremonials” By Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo

 

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This week’s featured piece from Gird Writing Camp 2016 is a short story by Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo. Maame attended the Fiction Workshop with Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo and Dr. Martin Egblewogbe. And now, to Maame’s Secret Ceremonials.

 

Secret Ceremonials

By Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo

Seffy, we did cartwheels in your honour.

We sat for a long, silent moment after the solemn service was over with our fingers intertwined, a chain of misty-eyed, sixteen-year-old girls, unable to look away from the pile of fresh dirt. We couldn’t leave you just yet. We couldn’t move. So we sat there in those ridiculously uncomfortable plastic chairs and tried to find some trace of you somewhere, some sign that you were somewhere better, somewhere other than 6 feet deep in the earth.
___ Linda stood up first. She slipped her feet out of her shoes, raised her hands to the dying sun and turned her first perfect circle. We didn’t need any more prompting than that. One by one, we left a cluster of discarded high heels underneath the lone canopy and followed suit. We turned and turned and turned, repeating the dizzying circles until the entire cemetery was covered by darkness and we could barely tell the difference between the sky above and the ground below.
___ We collapsed in an inelegant heap next to a crumbling headstone rows away from where we’d started and waited for the world around us to settle. We laughed then, and in the near-hysterical sound of it I heard the endless patter of our six-year-old feet against the ground of the hopscotch court, the shushed tones of our ten-year-old voices over phone lines during group conversations long past our bedtimes and the thick sounds we made as we tried to speak around the lumps in our throats moments ago, reading out our wholly inadequate words to a mourning crowd, trying to show them all that you were – all that you would always be – to us. We swore we could all hear you in the whistling of the wind and something about the hollowness of that sound dissolved our laughter into tears.
___ We’re a little bit older now, all of us somewhere around 22, and even though it feels like almost everything has changed. One thing hasn’t. Our form isn’t quite as perfect and we don’t do it for quite as long as we used to but we’ve never stopped. Every year ends in cartwheels and laughter and your spirit calling to us on the wind.

 

About Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo:

maampictureCurrently a teaching assistant at the English Department of the University of Ghana, Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo was born in London and raised in Accra. She is the last of seven children and a member of a remarkably large extended family. Her childhood was characterized by a love of the written word and a need to consume as much reading material as possible. Her work is informed by her lived experiences and the literary pieces that she herself has read and loved. She hopes to continue in her growth and development as a writer and an appreciator of literature.

10 Ghanaian Writers Who Write For Children

If you have ever lost yourself in the magical world of children’s literature, you will admit, first of all, that children’s literature is a special kind of literary work. You will also wish that there were more Ghanaian writers who write dreams into realities for children and young adults.

It is tempting to think that children’s literature is easy work. After all, who couldn’t come up with stories to entertain impressionable little minds? However, the reality is that writing for children is real work that requires a lot of creativity and skill. We’ve put together a list of ten Ghanaian writers who have put their creativity and skill to work to create beautiful stories for children.

 

 

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1.       Meshack Asare– Meshack Asare was born in Ghana; he taught in Ghana for a while and currently resides in Germany. Meshack Asare’s works as a writer of children’s literature has received international acclaim.  On 24th October, 2014, Meshack won the prestigious Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature becoming the first African to receive the award. Some of his works include The Brassman’s Secret, Noma’s Sand: A Tale from Lesotho, Meliga’s Day Nana’s Son, Sosu’s Call and The Magic Goat.

 

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2.       Ruby Yayra Goka – Ruby is a dentist and a multiple award-winning Ghanaian writer. In the 2010 and 2011 competitions of the Burt Award for African Literature, two of her works The Mystery of the Haunted House, and The Lost Royal Treasure won the third and second prizes, respectively. Some of her books for children include The Step Monster, When The Shackles Fell, and A Gift for Fafa. Ruby doesn’t only write for children, but also for an adult readership. Her books, In the Middle of Nowhere and Disfigured, have been published by Kwadwoan Publishing in Accra.

 

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3.       Sami Gyekye – Is a United States based writer who was born in Ghana to a Muslim mother and a Christian father. His works reflect his exposure to different religious and cultural values. The premise for his first book, South: Halo’s Journey was drawn from having spent half his life in Africa and the other half in his current residence in the United States. Since then, he has published six other books including, Whatzis and the Beyond series. He tweets often using the handle, @RecklessWeasel.

 

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4.       Malaka Grant– Malaka Grant is a Ghanaian-American writer. She not only writes children’s literature, she writes fiction for adults as well as non-fiction. Some of Malaka’s works for children are Yaa Traps Death in a Basket, which was published in 2015 and Sally and The Butterfly. Sally and The Butterfly is a ‘choose your own adventure book’ where readers go on adventures through lands unknown, and are invited to be partners in saving their world.

           

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5.       Franka Maria Andoh – Franka was born in Accra in 1968. Her first short story was published in the Caine African Writers Anthology ‘Work in Progress and Other Stories’. In 2011 she published two children’s stories Koku the Cockerel and Dokono the Donkey. She was recently awarded a grant by the Ghana Denmark Cultural Fund to publish her collection of short stories I Have Time and Other Short Stories. Franka is the founder and Editor in Chief of an annual magazine for women entrepreneurs called AWE.

 

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6.       Elizabeth Irene Baitie – Elizabeth is Ghanaian and an acclaimed writer of literature for young adults. Elizabeth writes for preteens as well as older teenagers. She visits schools and has worked with organisations like the Young Educators Foundation to promote reading. Two of Elizabeth’s works has won the Burt Award twice; The Twelfth Heart in 2009 and The Dorm Challenge in 2012.

 

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7.       Roberta Turkson – Roberta Turkson writes under the pen name Robbie Ajjuah Fantini. Robbie released her debut collection of poems titled Talking Robbish in 2014. Her second book, The Children of Abuta Village is a folktale styled children’s reader.  She has just completed another book for children, The Forbidden Fruit, which will be available on her website; robertaturkson.com in a few weeks. Robbie can be found on facebook and twitter at @talkingrobbish

 

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8.       Ama Ata Aidoo – With a writing career spanning over five decades, Ama Ata Aidoo is no new name to readers. What isn’t so well known is that aside her plays, novels and poetry, Ama Ata Aidoo has written stories for children. Her collection of stories for children, The Eagle and the Chickens and Other Stories, was originally published in 1986 by Tana Press. More recently Smartline Publishers released her children’s title, The Days, inspired by her poem which bears the same name.

 

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9.       Adwoa Badoe – Adwoa Badoe is a Ghanaian writer and storyteller, based in Guelph, Ontario. Adwoa writes children’s literature and literature for young adults. Some of her works include Crabs for Dinner which was published in 1995, The Queen’s New Shoes, The Pot of Wisdom and Aluta, a novel for young adults.

 

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10.   Mamle Wolo – Mamle Wolo is the pen name of Martina Odonkor, a writer of Ghanaian and German ancestry. She has also written stories for adults under the name Mamle Kabu. Mamle’s work for young adults, The Kaya Girl, won the Burt Award in 2011. The Burt Award recognises excellence in fiction for children and young adults.

~WHAT IT REALLY FEELS LIKE~BY AMMISHADDAI OFORI

 

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He announced with a gleaming trace of self-accomplishment in his eyes. It was in the way he said it. It was in the way he always said it. As though announcing a new personality. The one that always surfaced after 3 successful drags.

It was the way he knew that he knew. The way he was suddenly aware of the full extent his knowledge and his encompassing understanding of all things. He was aware that his god-like features were heightened. That he could understand all, know all and be all.

Even the pride in him was known. He could see its colors and he basked in it. It was the high pride. High pride was justified. He knew he was entitled to his self-worship; as long as he was on an elevated platform other humans, devoid of THC, couldn’t attain.

‘I am high’.

That statement would introduce new conversations and different worldviews mostly centered around his opinions. He would talk for minutes about himself, what he thought was wrong with the world, his solutions for mankind, what he really thought of his companions, et cetera. The list was endless. He was endless. He was an exploded version of his thorough self.

It would also boost his already voracious appetite for tasties and sex. And he had to have them in the moment. Delayed gratification would be senseless. Nature’s gift to mankind required him to indulge in what would only last for a few hours and they were infinite; too many things in the world to do before that time passed. His hormones and neurotransmitters were calling the shots on pleasure and satisfaction. And he had no reason to disobey.

The fact that he needed help from foliage to get to this state never crossed his mind. Nor did he explore that section of his thoughts. All his elevated knowledge was dependent on an overlooked classification of plant so cheap they could be bought for less than the price of his socks. That was what was so great about it anyway: the ability to buy pleasure for less. It always made him question why induced euphoria had to be illegal.

 

‘I am high’

A confirmation of his absolute dependence on himself to rule over the circumstances of his life. He was definite he was in charge. No external or internal forces could upset his balance. In this state of chemical intoxication, the only law of the universe was himself. No need to follow all the many rules of men who in themselves were just as flawed as he was, but were denying their weaknesses just so they could save the clay moulds they wore over their heads.

At least he was being real. Admitting that he was a broken shell of everything he had been told he could accomplish. The same society pretending to be perfect was making hard this easier path. So hard in fact, he needed to escape from them. And he needed help escaping without feeling any shame. Because beyond that shame was a state reached by a minority only he could relate with.

His only challenge now was keeping that state without needing to need. The more he needed to need, the less successful he was at staying uninhibited. A High he would know. He had tried too many ways to let the effects last. What if he was finally able to make that state last? What if he stayed in that state for so long he never to come back to earth to relate with the mortals? That was too risky. That was what those people called lunacy. And he wasn’t ready to be called a lunatic yet.

‘I am high’

He said it every time to confirm one of the few states he was sure of. There was no longer a need to know who he was in that state. What he was, who he was, was high and that was all that mattered. There was too much pressure from himself to be more significant than he already was. To be a better boyfriend, friend, co-worker, church member, son, brother, law-abiding citizen, intellectual, creative, life of the party, the list seemed to be endless and he always felt like he could never be enough.

 

At least when he was high, he was on top of the world. Above every description he had to check off the list to be a human being.

 

 

IMG-20160817-WA0005Ammishaddai Ofori is a tech entrepreneur,writer and spoken word artist. He is currently co-founder and content Manager of Flippy Campus, a social media app for Ghanaian tertiary schools. He is part of the Singers and Speakers Association SASA– a creative group that seeks to inspire the world through art, poetry and music. Ammishaddai’s Twitter handle is @Qubammish@Qubammish.

 

Of Warriors Who Once Upon a Time, Came Upon a Witch

 

akuamoahThey had been travelling for days after a loosing war; had seen brothers slashed to pieces by the enemies sword, impaled on sticks for vultures to devour, cowards! They had been chased out, like dogs from the battlefront.

And so they walked in silence, hungry but too ashamed to ask for food, thirsty, but no one dared speak, walking, limping in pain, the ache of the soles of their feet,

when the witch came upon them.

Gentlemen, warriors, the clouds turned dark as the night in a rush, it thundered and flashed, the warriors came to a halt.

And she sat there, under the oak tree with a smile, Hair gray as the ash of firewood after ananse has gone to sleep, skin as wrinkled as the cracks on a harmattan floor, a cloth draped around her frame, she turned and she spoke, gentlemen, warriors, her voice creaked, raspy, it shook.

You have lost your battle, I see you forlorn at the shame, I make you a preposition, should you be willing to bargain. Take you to the past, I will order time in reverse, you will know what you did not, you will be stronger in your front.

The warriors were quick to decide, they agreed but at a cost, no matter the outcome of the battle they would give her one of them. Atoanika the brave was quick to offer himself, brothers let her take me, for the good of the clan, there was murmuring but in the end they knew, they were all cowards, it was he who had only run when pulled away. Atoanika was the bravest of heart.

Time swirled, the wind blew back, they found themselves whisked away only to be back with their brothers in a chant, marching on to a battle which they had not so long ago just lost.

And so it came that there was the clinging of swords and the racing of hearts, the battle was won but something had gone amiss, something had happened that no one of them could have foreseen; Atoanika had fallen in battle, Atoanika was dead.

The warriors went on as they had before, only a few of them knowing what lay ahead beneath the oak. There were loud chants, dancing and merry making, closer and closer they approached their joint promise that only a few of had actually made.

Those who knew stayed behind in silence, afraid of what was to come. Soon they were upon her, the old witch sat still under the tree.

Gentlemen, warriors, the clouds turned dark as the night in a rush, it thundered and flashed, the warriors came to a halt.

A promise was made me not too long ago, I see you celebrate, where is Atoanika my love? I long for his embrace, as you are victorious he is mine, Let him come to me, let him come to me now.

She turned her head, a knowing smile on her face….

Now in times of old, when men could speak with beasts, when a devils bargain was set it came at but one cost, to deliver on the promise made while in need. It was that you pay up or Sasabonsam Kraman, hounds of the king of demons came to collect, your soul, captured, dragged to the abyss.

And while they stood, the old witch began to laugh, and then the original who knew jumped to bush, running, screaming, pleading for their lives. The snarls of canines rang clear into the night.

listen and you could hear teeth sinking into flesh.The devils bargain had been met.

Sansa Kroma
Ne na awuo
ɔkye kye nkokɔmba
ɔse ɔnnkɔ ye edwuma
Ne na awuo
ɔkye kye nkokɔmba

 

alvin

Alvin Akuamuah is a writer who likes to jab at intuition.He writes with all of his feelings, and invokes the ghost of his grandfather. You can follow him on Twitter @Alvin_wal_crawl. You can also visit his blog:  https://anansesemsesewu.wordpress.com for more of his work.

SLUM DUNK


I live on the outskirts of town, well not exactly town as you’d imagine. My journey involves breaching one of the most notorious slums in the country to get home. And by home I mean a sharp contrast to the gloomy prologue that sucks your mirth and makes you appreciate the resilience of those who made it across the river. Mine is a residential community north of the slums, founded by the nouveau riche who made it out of the squalor of the slums. I have never been ashamed of where I live, never been bothered that people look down on me as a product of the slums. Never felt superior to my distant neighbours; to the best of my knowledge I grew up in the middle of the squalor till my parents crawled out.
This particular afternoon I dreaded the journey home from school. Anytime I left the comfort of my university campus for home, I return a shade darker. Probably, the sun like everything else is in a grand conspiracy to perpetuate the slum status with signs and wonders. I sat uncomfortably in my dingy trotro, showing more rust than paint and a stingy spread of leather over dirt-ridden foam and a generous view of the metal frame of what was supposed to be the seat. Beside me at the very rear is this big woman whose abundant backside robs me of much-needed seat space and is sweating profusely. I am perched uncomfortably, with my long arms tucked between my thighs and my shoulders hunched to avoid any contact with the woman’s greasy, rash-ridden arms. I was also perspiring on the crowded backseat of the immobile trosky in the middle of a crowded market; sitting by a fat woman with god knows which skin disease who won’t sit still!
I was in the kind of traffic that makes you empathise with mummies. The market is never wanting of bright colours- which I’ll gladly trade for the sepia tone of this sunny afternoon and the weird sounds that make you search for the source if only to confirm that it was produced from a human windpipe. The fat lady besides me, on top of everything else, carried on her abundant lap a sickly looking baby (I don’t want to say ugly). The baby’s thin limbs were sticking out of an oversized thread bare T-shirt, her hair sparsely distributed on her barren scalp and her eyes severely jaundiced; she was screaming like a banshee. From where I sat, I could smell that the baby reeked of urine, as did the mother who had had her strapped to her back all day while she sold boiled eggs with ground pepper. At least I gathered that much from her tray cushioned with a flour sack cloth with depressions the shape and size of an egg. The tray had chunks of table salt sprinkled all over it and she placed it right in front of my long legs that would have gladly pushed the first row of seats out of the way for more space, effectively cramping my knees.
I decide to escape my present predicament by looking out the window; I knew I would see young men heckling passers-by to buy jeans or skirts or t-shirts from them. I also knew I would see the women who sell canned food or biscuits at prices cheaper than they are sold for in the shops. They always argue that when you sell at a cheaper price, you will make less profit but, you will sell more and as such, earn enough to live on. I know some make as little as 20 pesewas on each item they sell. On top of that, the city authorities or do I say slum authorities do not want them there and so they had to keep an eye out for the task force. If their eyes were too slow to spot the task force, their ears had been sharpened enough through practice to listen to the catcall from their colleague hawkers. ‘Aba ee!!’ was the call; it was a sign to pack up and dash for the nearest corner. The nearest was their first concern, the safest corner was secondary. .
I stare blankly and wonder if these people had dreams and what happened to those dreams, do they have children, and are their children ever going to come out of this rat-race. How much do they earn, does it feed and clothe them at least? Do they blame God, or do they serve Him with glad, thankful hearts. My thoughts are interrupted by the catcall and all the traders ran off, hanging tightly onto their wares. The traffic jam subsides very briefly but the world stands still again. Soon the hawkers return laughing and cursing the idiot who cried wolf. It wasn’t a wolf-cry. The task force was wearing mufti on this occasion and so they were like ordinary shoppers.
I watch with disinterest as sixteen year old stopped a man to market to him a pair of faded blue jeans, pointing at the conspicuous red cloth sticking out and mouthing the brand name LEVIS as if to make a case for the price he will quote but the man produces an I.D card and seizes the bundle of clothes on the boy’s head and snatches the one in his hands; time stopped for a second as this boy tugged at the man’s shirt, pleading for mercy and the man tries in vain to yank the sturdy limbs clutching at the straws of survival. He finally resorts to a back-hand slap that distorts the young man’s senses immediately, making him lose his grip and crash to the pot-hole ridden street. The man sprints towards a waiting van and casually picks a tray of canned mackerels from an elderly lady’s head; she has almost doubled over because of either a waist or spine problem and couldn’t run to save her dear life. In no time, the traffic had been cleared and the cars had started moving.
The hawkers were the cause of the mad traffic. As the lorry moved and let in a bit of cool air, I wondered what the young boy would do, worrying also for the older lady with the back problem. However, I took consolation in the corruption of the task force. I knew that they would probably return the seized items for a disgracefully small bribe. If they did that, wouldn’t the bribes they demand be the entirety of the hawkers’ weekly earnings? My consolation was short-lived.
The little banshee kept screaming her lungs out, and she is not even two years old. Other passengers were yelling at the mother to breastfeed her. She replied that she couldn’t; she had been in the sun all day and her breast milk wouldn’t be good for the baby.
I reached into my bag and brought out a bar of white chocolate a friend brought me as souvenir from London and gave it to the baby. They wouldn’t even know its value I thought. The lady thanked me, broke a piece for herself (I don’t know whether she was dying to have a taste or was taking it first in case it was poisoned) and gave the baby. In under a minute, the crying stopped and the baby was playfully opening her arms to come to me. WHAT??
I took the baby in spite of the stench and slipped a 10cedi note in her left palm; I just felt like doing that. The mother who would be more than 10 years older than me, called me auntie and added that God bless me. I smiled and told her she had a beautiful baby – I wasn’t lying.

BY ENYONAM DAMESI

Enyonam is a budding writer; she writes poetry, short stories and plays. She reads a lot, has a wicked sense of humour and wishes to be a dancer in her next life. She shares her thoughts on her personal blog

You may follow her on twitter via @mz_enyo

 

 

 

Classical Guitar – 1 ~ by Amma Konadu

The first thing anyone noticed whenever he entered through that solid oak door was the scar that ran from right below the corner of his left eye, down across his cheek, ending right underneath that side of his jaw. It was like a tiny gutter specially made for his tears. But I heard he never cried. I’d stand transfixed among the tables I waited, looking at him settle down on his seat with his caramel classical guitar. Then he’d lift his eyes, and everyone forgot the scar. Those eyes…dark, deep, warm, carried smiles that told you he had to learn to carry on in spite of what life had dished out for him.

I had watched him for months…2 and a day, precisely; ever since he got that gig at the restaurant I worked at. Every weekday he was there. He’d settle, tune the stringed beauty, look up, pass his sharp gaze over everyone, and smile; a dimple interrupting the seamless scar – shockingly enrapturing. Then he’d strum, then hum, strum, then sing…and all night as he played one soothing piece after another, singing sometimes, or not, I’d be sailing round the tables, half there, partly elsewhere.

Everything about him seeped into me, leaving me drugged – dazed all the weeks he had been coming over. He’d finish and step into the kitchen, offer to help us clean but ended up playing us a few of his own songs; those he deemed not good enough for those bourgie diners he played for almost every night. He made us laugh – I laughed the hardest sometimes…other times the pain shot without warning through me, reminding me…and I’d wince, turn away to the dishes, and immerse myself in the suds.

The other guys were curious too. The girls especially. They’d ask him questions he answered freely, and piece after piece fell in place, adding to the pieces I had already gathered. His hands poised on the strings and how he worked them with fingers that had known the hard life; gently…reminded me of similar hands that handled a girl as tenderly as he did his classical guitar. His eyes, flitting open, then shut, then open; his lips, very much like mine, balancing teasing smiles all throughout his performances…he’d lift his head high, and work the strings with speed and ease sometimes, the crowd erupted in generous applause, and my heart bled with memories of such excellence carrying me, filling my head, merging with my child heart once upon a time.

His answers sent me back to 16, sent me back to crazy, sent me back to illicit engagements and gripping fear. Back to dark rooms and hushed voices; frenzied limbs and too little time. Back to oohs and aahs, and ‘oh please don’t leave me now, wait, wait till dawn’. To wet, sticky tissue paper left behind and sweet tingling in young thighs…

To disappearances, and guilty tears…

A bulging tummy and numerous lies…

A tiny bundle of golden brown and soft cries…

A child leaving a scar on a child because it was all she could think of to do…

A sorry basket and a long walk up that road, to that door….

A heart-wrenching delivery….

A back turned and feet running as fast as they could.

Back….back to all that pain and as I stared that night I knew it was time. He started the very tune that had captured me 23 too damn long years ago;

Me – – –

Ray – – –

Doe – – –

Tea – – –

La – – –

Sew – – –

La – – –

Tea – – –

And as I felt myself break down right there in the middle of the softly-lit restaurant, I weighed the words in my mouth;

My Son! Oh my sweet little boy!

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Amma Konadu

 

Life After ~ by Shefi Nelson

She could hear voices. There were too many people in the house. Her grandmother poked her head through the door and smiled. She walked in, picked up a brush and sat by the bed. “Theodosia, you need to get up. We leave in less than two hours and we can’t afford to be late.” With her eyes closed, Thea sat up as her grandmother brushed her long hair. It was naturally made of three glorious colors. The roots were a dense color of black coal, the middle had a russet color and finished off with sunset tips. Thea’s hair was so beautiful; her immediate family would spend hours brushing it in turns.

Today, she cared less about her hair, or what her grandmother would turn it into. She impatiently waited for it to be braided and walked to the bathroom. Her chest was clogged but she dared not cry; at least not today. She shut the door and started to bathe. The water brought tears to her eyes and she quickly turned off the shower, grabbed her purple towel and walked into the room naked. Her grandmother was waiting. Thea was eighteen years and yet, she warmly let go as her grandmother took the towel to wipe her body. They both sat facing each other as Thea raised her feet up to be wiped. Her grandmother started with her little toe and stopped to say, “You know how much your father…” Thea quickly stood up and cut her off. “Grams, please! I’ll take it up from here. You should go!” The old woman slowly made her way to the door and left.

Within seconds, Thea had locked the door and put on her underwear. Tears filled her eyes as she managed to take her dress off the hanger. She had always wanted a little black dress but certainly not for this purpose. She slowly made her way into the dress. For the first time, she felt so girly and yet, everything felt terribly wrong. She started to cry as she looked into the full length mirror. She thought about him and how he would have impulsively complained about the dress being too tight. Her clothes were just the right fit and yet, the opposite was what he always said. She smiled as she imagined him walking around her, looking for a hemline that could be released. She could feel her chest clogging and she struggled to focus on the dress. It was her mother’s Vera Wang. Sleeveless and form-fitting, it ended just above her knees. The top half was made entirely of black lace that went down diagonally from her left shoulder to just above her right breast. The skirt was beautifully plaited with a belt that drastically reduced the girth of her waist.

Thea quickly crossed over to her dresser, as she heard her grandmother call for her to get ready. She brought out her make-up set, held her hair into a perfect bun and started on her tear-stained face. She moisturized her face with a foundation primer to plump up her skin and filled in the fine lines and large pores. She added a sweep of bronzer before adding a bit of powder to prevent her skin from appearing too shinny.

Theodosia never forgot the importance of her eyebrows in making her face pop. She brushed her brows with an old toothbrush and tweezed the strayed hairs. Thea went on to fill in sparse spots with a brow pencil and a soft eyeshadow that matched her brow color. Moving onto her eyes, she thought of mascara with a swipe of powder on her lids to keep the grease at bay and to even out her skin tone. Instead, she applied eyeliner, setting it over the shadow for a heavier look. She set the make-up powder to keep the shadow from melting into her eye crease. She finished up her eyes by curling her long lashes and applying thick black mascara.

He would have gone crazy! They would have argued until she had wiped off the make-up from most parts of her face. He had never really understood the concept of wearing make-up. She could literally hear him going on and on about how make-up was meant for people who were troubled or had something to hide and frankly, she was beyond troubled and had so much bottled up. She picked up her mahogany red lipstick and smeared three and two coats to her lower and upper lips.

Thea applied enough perfume, released her hair, stepped into her surprisingly comfortable black pumps and walked out of the door. Everyone was waiting downstairs. Everyone but him! Her brother held out his hand as she walked up to him. He kissed her cheeks and whispered, “He would have said you looked stunning. You were always his perfect little baby.” She sent everyone laughing as she chuckled and replied, “No Jeremy, he would have said the makeup was way too much and sent me right back to clean up.”

Her mother signalled for them to get going. It had been two weeks and she had already lost so much weight. In the days that followed after the news came, she had begged her mother to eat. She would begin with a small bite and burst out in tears. Thea had given up and was grateful when her grandmother moved in.

The church was a few minutes away and the moment Thea had been dreading came faster than she had hoped. There were family and friends already seated as she entered the church with her mother, brother, sisters and grandmother. They were almost at the front when her brother caught her mother in his arms.  Her mother, seeing his body stretched out in an open coffin, lost the strength in her knees.

Thea stood there as her family passed to their seats. She gathered the courage to look at him. Her father, her entire world was stretched out in that coffin, right in front of her. He never drank, he smoked nothing his entire life and yet, he had battled with lung cancer. The doctors had said he had two and a half years but in six months, her father was no more.

She wanted him to get up and wipe her make-up off. She wanted him to get up and laugh so hard at her silly mannerisms. She wanted him to get up and be alive, and be the father he had always been. She felt her brother’s touch and followed him to her seat. Father Jacob approached the pulpit and started the service. There were tears from everyone but her. That was the whole point of making up. She couldn’t break down, not yet and definitely not here!

They sang for several minutes because that was all he had loved to do. He would sing to them when they were happy, excited, sad or troubled. He had bought her a musical set for her tenth birthday and they had become best friends ever since. She would stay up late waiting for him to walk through the door just so they could sing half the night away. She had loved him all her life. She loved him even more as she sang her heart out.

The Bible passages preceded the tributes and soon, it was her turn to read her tribute. As she walked past the box containing her father to the pulpit, it finally hit her that he was gone. Tears threatened to flow as she held the pulpit for support with one hand and struggled to open the piece of paper with the other hand.  This was it! He was gone! They would have to get through! It was exactly what he would have wanted.

Slowly, Theodosia aligned the sheet and started, “Daddy Dearest…”

photo[1]
Shefi Nelson
Shefi Nelson, an alumna of Ashesi University College, is a calm, goal-oriented individual who cognizes the power of words and their ability to shape people’s perceptions and outlooks on the world they find themselves in. Shefi made her literary debut in 2015 with the story “Tatale” – published on Flash Fiction Ghana website. Shefi seeks to make a special contribution to the world by breathing life into the simplest string of words to create a connection, and have a lasting impact on her readers. Her hobbies include reading, sewing, writing and managing people.

You may follow the writer on Twitter: @life_as_shefi

Ma’s Wig ~Tanya Chan-Sam

I always fell asleep in Ma’s bed, cuddled up to her soft, upper arms as she told bedtime stories.  One night after the story she said, ‘You’re a big girl, aren’t you? Can you keep a secret?’

My grandmother’s eyes, behind her tortoise shell glasses were fixed on mine.  Unused to direct eye contact with her, I blinked a few times and then concentrated on the twin suns in her lenses that were reflections from the naked bulb above our bed.

Ma guided my hand onto my heart, my finger on my lips and made me nod my head to an oath that I would never tell anyone, ever, what I was about to see.  She lifted her hair.  Right off her head.  I kept my forefinger pressed tightly against my gaping mouth.

‘It’s a wig,’ she mouthed.

‘Oh,’ I said through my barred lips.

I watched as she combed her fingers through her own hair.  Thick, coarse, grey fibrous hair twisted into braids.  Fascinated by the long, crinkly, strands growing past her ears onto her shoulders, I stretched out my hand out to touch the tendrils that dangled against her wrinkled neck. 

‘Uh huh, don’t.’  She slapped down the back of my hand. 

I sucked my stinging skin and watched as she took up a wide tooth comb and forked through her hair.  The yellow light above us shone on her mass of grey hair that she plaited into long tap roots then wrapped it all under a white headscarf and patted me on my head before turning out the light.              That night, I started my lifelong apprenticeship of wig duty.  My responsibility was to keep a vigil, to warn her of any hairs showing.  ‘The vagrants,’ she called them.  To alert her, I would have to swivel my eyes from left to right and finger the side of my head to let her know which side her natural hairs were beginning to stick out.  Ma would try to tuck them back into the wig, gripping the wig with her middle finger and shoving the vagrants back inside with her forefinger.

One Saturday morning, we went to Claremont to shop.  A long boring wait for me in the haberdashers where Ma bought buttons, zips and sequins for the ballroom dresses she sewed most nights.  Laden with Ackermans and OK Bazaars shopping bags, we joined the long queues at the bus terminus. 

The Lansdowne queue snaked past the pissy smelling sub way steps to Claremont railway station.  I could hear the train conductors shouting out destination stops; ‘Rondebosch, Mowbray, Kaapstad,’ followed by their squawking whistles and the squeal of the train wheels as it thundered off in the direction of the city centre.  Around us, hawkers balanced boxes of fruit and vegetables on their heads or outstretched forearms.  Deftly they rustled fuzzy peaches into brown paper bags and juggled change in their baggy pockets.

            Ma and I shifted forward slowly, heaving the shopping bags a few steps at a time.  Suddenly we were pushed forward into a huddle colliding with the women in front of us.  My head was caught between a bum and a large rump covered in nylon flowers.  When I extracted myself out from under the tutting women, I looked up to see four or five skollies standing close to Ma. 

The tallest one spoke first, “Ok mummies, stan’ now still.’

Then the second tallest said, ‘You’ve all lekker done your shopping.  We also poor mummies.’

The smallest one, who had the word, TEARS, tattooed in the space that joined his eyebrows.  In a low voice he said, ‘Don’t shout, and you’se won’t get hurt.’ 

            Ma’s hand pulled my face so close to her wide hips that my view was obscured by her green crimplene dress.  I craned my neck around her thigh to get a better look.  Sunlight caught the gold slit between the tallest skollie’s full lips as he smiled broadly at Ma.  Above my head, she held out her purse to him.  He stared back at her, right into my grandmother’s eyes.  I twisted my neck to look up.  From behind her tortoise shell rimmed spectacles, she stared back at the skollie.  Not at the purse in her trembling palm.  He placed a large brown hand over hers like the priest did when he shook Ma’s hand after mass on Sunday.  In the skollie’s opened mouth, I could see the pink tip of his tongue slithering around the gold slit between his two front teeth.  

‘Hey, auntie,’ he said softly and shook his head from side to side.  He leaned right over my head and whispered in Ma’s ear, ‘I knows where auntie is keeping auntie’s real money.’

He held her gaze, then lifted his eye to the top her head, and nodded delicately.  The skollie crossed his arms over the multi-coloured cloth of his printed shirt and tucked his hands into his armpits.  With a dancer’s balance, he spun on his heels and turned his back on Ma.  His long fingers appeared and he drummed at the side of his lean ribs.  The sinews on his neck stretched first left, then right, as he looked up and down the queue, while Ma’s hand reached under her wig and gingerly tweezed out the two banknotes with her thumb and forefinger.  I had leaned forward like the skollie.  Ma yanked me back to behind her hip and hissed, ‘Look for hairs.’ 

I worked furiously and furtively, my eyes darting around her hairline, my fingers surreptitiously pointing to the unfortunates.  Only once I’d nodded my head to signal all was in place, did she tap the skollie on the shoulder and hand over the notes.

            On the bus home, I stood next to the seat where Ma sat, my gaze in line with her wig.  I concentrated on the line of her nape, the edge of the wig around her temples.  I placed my hand on her shoulder and she looked at me.  I gave her our signal, a lift of the eyebrows, meant not a single vagrant could be seen. 

            Ma put her hand over mine and squeezed my fingers then took out her handkerchief and blew her nose loudly.

 

 

Tanya Chan-Sam was born in South Africa.  She started her working life as a switchboard operator, moving to a brake and clutch factory, the night shift on radio control for ambulances, teaching in schools and colleges in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Sheffield UK and now works as a language teacher, writer and facilitator. 

She has performed and read at international literature festivals, amongst others, Spitlit (London); Off the Shelf (Sheffield);Sunday Salon (New York);George Washington University, Washington USA; Wan Tru Puwema, Suriname as well as in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Amsterdam.

In 2009, she was editor-in-chief for Matter, a creative writing journal at Sheffield Hallam University where she obtained a First for MA (Creative Writing).

On a late in life gap year in 2011, she participated in a public arts festival called Infecting the City in Cape Town, South Africa where she told wild tales to public audiences in the streets and squares of Cape Town. 

Tanya was a reader for Pen South Africa and read submissions for the 2011 prize for which JM Coetzee was on the final judge.  In November 2011 she attended a writers’ residential in Uganda on African literature. 

She is currently involved with Sunday Surgery, a writing-for-theatre development project based in London and writing scripts for Tell Theatre.

Tanya has participated in theatre making workshops at The Actor’s Space in Catalunya, Spain, collaborating with actors, writers and directors.

 

 

Other Duties ~By Kobinna Ulzen

Yaw Owusu sat at his desk at the head office of Freedom Investments Ltd. at  Osu RE Accra.  His cell phone rang.  He pulled it out of his pocket and noticed his father’s number displayed.

            “Yes I am here….Everything is fine…You don’t need to worry. Just enjoy yourself at        Aburi… Later.”

            There was a knock on his office door.

            “Papa I have to go. Someone is at the door. You have now retired. I’ll make you proud of me.”

            There was a harder knock on the door.

            “Come in!” Yaw yelled.

            Mariam Mensah walked in. She was a slim woman in her twenties. She was wearing a close fitting dress that showed her full bosom. Mariam walked past the sofa and coffee table to the large table thatYaw sat behind.

            “Good morning Mr. Owusu,” She said in a sensual voice.

            “Please, please. Enough of this formalness. You don’t need to call me Mr. Owusu,” Yaw Owusu said. “Just call me Yaw.”

            “Sir, I have to call you Mister. When your father sat in that chair, he insisted on our being respectful. I want to give you the same respect now that you are the Managing Director of this company.”

            “That was my father. I’m different. It’s been a month now,” Yaw said.

            “I know but it may take a while for me to change,” Mariam said.

            Mariam sat on one of the chairs in front of the table and handed Yaw the folder she had brought in.

            “What have you brought me to look at?” Yaw asked.

            “These are the minutes from the share holders meeting we had last week. The normal procedure is for you to review them,” Mariam said.

            “Yes, you are right….” Yaw began.

            “And you had told me that you preferred that I bring them in person as opposed to emailing them to you,” Mariam interrupted.

            “Yes I had said that.” Yaw opened the folder and began to read.

            “Can I leave now?” Mariam asked.

            “No, can you come around to this side of the table? I need you to explain something to me.”

            Mariam went round and stood beside Yaw who remained seated. He opened the folder and pointed to the names of the board members in the minutes.

            “Dr. Ampofo. Which man was he?” Yaw asked.

            “He was the man in the dark brown suit,” Mariam answered.

            “Wearing glasses?”

            “Yes, that’s the man. Anything else sir?”

            Yaw gently placed his hand on Mariam’s lower back. She flinched a bit then let his and settle even lover down her back.

            “Yes, I have one more question,” Yaw said.

            “Business related or personal?”

            Yaw looked up from the folder and up at Mariam’s face. He reached for her hand.

            “Your hand feels soft,” he said.

            “Thank you. What was your question sir? I have a lot of work to do.”

Yaw stroked the palm of Mariam’s hand.

            “Can you stay behind after work today? I need some help with a report I am drafting.”

            “Sure I can.”

            “No husband or boyfriend to go home to?”

Mariam giggled.

            “No sir. I’m single and stay at home with my mother. I’ll text her that I’ll be late. She’ll understand.” Yaw got up from the chair.

            “You know Mariam, I think you have the potential to be upwardly mobile in this company.”

Mariam smiled. “I hope so,” she said.

            “See you at 5.30 p.m. then.”

Mariam walked away towards the door making sure to swing her waist just a little bit more. When she got to the door she cast a last glance back at Yaw whose gaze was transfixed on her. She smiled then left.

 

            Efua Konadu took one last look at the numbers on the Excel Spreadsheet on her computer. She looked at Mariam who sat next to her in the office they shared with two other administrative staff at Freedom Investments Ltd.

            “I don’t like going in to see Mr. Owusu,” Efua said to Mariam.

            “Why I find him very friendly,” Mariam said.

            “Maybe you do. He always seems to flirting with me.”

            “Isn’t that what most friendly men do?”

            “I know they do, but I’m a Christian and I don’t want to be a part of that.”

            “You Christians. Always so rigid. You need to be more flexible. If you did, you would get some overtime, like I have been getting.”

            “Yes, I’ve seen that. You have been staying late for two weeks now. What exactly are you working on?”

            “It has to do with Human Resources so it’s confidential.”

            “Well, wish me luck. I have to explain these numbers to Mr. Owusu. He has no clue about this business. Sometimes I wonder how he got the job.”

            “Don’t you know? His father gave him the job. His father built this company from scratch.”

            “Rumour has it that Yaw Owusu almost failed at GIMPA,” Philomena Nsiah one of the other secretaries piped up.

            “Really?”  Efua said

            “We shouldn’t start rumours in the workplace” Efua said.

            “I’m just saying what I heard.” Philomena said.

            Efua stood up and went to the printer.

            “Sister, I hope you have been watching what you eat.” Mariam said.

            “Not every man likes a skinny woman like you. Some men like me this way. They say there’s more of me to love. I’m a true full bodied African beauty.” Efua responded.

All three women laughed. Efua grabbed the printed spreadsheets and headed down the corridor to Yaw Owusu’s office. As she approached the office Christina Mensah, another secretary with the company, came out the door looking dishevelled. She bolted past Efua.

            “Christina, is everything okay?” Efua asked.

Christina glanced back and yelled, “Yes everything is fine. I just need to use the washroom. Mr. Owusu is expecting you.”

            Efua knocked and walked into the office. As she walked in she noticed Yaw buttoning up his shirt and tie.

            “Sir, did I come at a bad time?” Efua said. “I can come back later on.”

            “No, no, Efua. This is a time as good as any other. There is a deadline for that Annual Financial Report anyway. My father called to say we may have a new partner for the company.”

            “That’s great news,” Efua said.

            “Yes it is. Why don’t we sit in the couch and discuss the figures? I’m not good with numbers so I need you to go over everything with me.”

            As Efua took a seat, Yaw Owusu came and took a seat beside Efua. Efua began explaining. “What I want us to look at today is the income the company generated as opposed to the expenses. Once you grasp those two concepts, the rest will be easy.”

            As Efua continued talking, Yaw’s eyes were fixed on her lips.

            “Efua, can you stop for a minute?” Yaw interrupted.

            “Did I say something wrong?” Efua asked.

            “No no…I just wanted to say you have very lovely lips.”

            “You’ve told me that before and I told you I am a Christian. I’m engaged and do not engage in those kinds of things.”

            “What kinds of things?”

            “I come to work to do my job. Nothing else.”

            “I understand, but don’t you know that sometimes to go ahead, you have to give up something?”

            “Then maybe I have no place in this company.”Efua stood up.

            “Where are you going? We haven’t finished our meeting yet!” Yaw said angrily.

            “I think we have. You seem to be more concerned about my physical features than on what we were discussing.”

            “You are being very disrespectful. Can’t a boss compliment his employee?”

            “You and I both know that you were doing way more than that. Why don’t we continue tomorrow? Maybe by then we both would have cooled down.”

            “That seems like a good idea. We should meet first thing in the morning as this report has be finalized for my meeting in the afternoon.”

            “I’ll see you at 8.00 a.m. tomorrow morning then.”

            “Efua, I have to say this before you go. I am the new boss in this company and if you are going to advance here, you are going to have to be like all the other administrative staff.”

            “What do you mean by that?”

            “What I’m saying is that if you can’t do the other duties as I ask you do, you may have to find another job. Think about that overnight and tomorrow we’ll talk.”

            Efua stormed out the Yaw Owusu’s office, went to her desk and grabbed her bag without saying a word to anyone.

 

            Yaw Owusu sat at his desk dressed in a dark blue business suit. He was wearing a white shirt and woven kente tie. He glanced at his watch. In a few minutes his father would be coming in the door. This was going to be one of their routine monthly meetings to make sure that Freedom Enterprises was being run properly.  Mariam knocked on the door and came in with a tray of tea and cookies.

            “Thanks Mariam,” Yaw said. “Please set it near the sofa.”

            “Okay Yaw,” Mariam said.

            “So no news from Efua since she left without a word yesterday?”

            “Not a word. I have called but I hear she’s unavailable. I hope she’s okay. We knew very little about her. Good thing you knew as much about the Financial Report as she did.”

            “As you know, I’m talented in many many areas.”

            “Yes, I know…and we’ll talk more about that at my place later tonight.”

            “For sure.”

            As Mariam was about to leave Mr Yaw Owusu Senior walked in. he was a man in his eighties and used a cane to walk.

            “Good morning Mr. Owusu Senior. Good to see you,” Mariam said.

            “Get out of my way Mariam. I didn’t come out here to see you.”

            Yaw got up from his chair and came towards his father.

            “Papa, why are you so angry?” Yaw asked.

            Mr Owusu Senior turned to the door, “Come in!” he yelled.

            Efua came.

            “Father, you know Efua? I bet you she told lies about me.”

            “She recorded most of her conversations with you including yesterdays’.”

            Mr. Owusu Senior pulled out a digital audio recorder that was shaped like a pen. Yaw Owusu grabbed it from him before the recording began.

            “How could you do that? I thought you trusted me!”

            “Trust you? You earn trust and over the years, you have never done that. I have had to bail you out of so many situations. How can I trust you when you are always so irresponsible?”

            “Then why did you hire me for this job?”

            “Because I wanted to give you another chance to prove yourself to me. I’d rather have my own flesh and blood run my company than give it to another person. Yaw Owusu, I’m relieving you of your duties immediately. Efua will now run this company. Her father is Professor Kofi Konadu who will be joining this company as partner/investor”

            Yaw got on one knee in front of his father.

            “Papa, I beg you. You can’t do this to me. I’m your first born son.”

            “And a very irresponsible one at that. This is my company. I do I please. Efua are you ready to start your new assignment?”

            Efua stepped forward, “Yes, I am Mr. Owusu Senior. Am I allowed to hire or fire anyone?”

            “Of course you can you are the boss.”

            “Mariam!” Efua yelled.

            Mariam came in the door.

            “This company no longer requires your services for regular or other duties.”

            Mariam and Yaw left the office. Efua sat next to Mr. Owusu Senior and began discussing the next steps for Freedom Investments Ltd.

 

 

 

 

About Kobinna Ulzen

Kobinna Ulzen is a Ghanaian born writer, poet, and playwright. He has called Toronto home for the past two decades.  Kobinna first had his work published in Ghana, Kenya and English speaking Africa.  This included poetry, articles and short stories in Viva Magazine, Step Magazine, Ghana’s Weekly Mirror as well as other publications.

 

In Canada, Kobinna Ulzen has had his poetry published in Accra! Accra! Poems About Modern Afrikans and Akwantu, Thoughts of a New Canadian. His work also appeared in T-Dot Griots, Anthology of Black Storytell­ers in Toronto, The African Drum, and Toronto World Arts Review amongst other publications.

Kobinna has performed his poetry at various locations in the greater Toronto area. Kobinna has facilitated an interactive educational event called Postcards from Af­rica for over a decade.

Kobinna Ulzen is a skilled facilitator, producer, and com­munity organizer who has also been involved with numerous community groups in Toronto. Kobinna’s has written/produced several theatrical short plays including Karibuni Canada, Malaika, Bus Stop, Lunch Time, Lunch Time Again.  Kobinna Ulzen is currently working on his first African themed feature length play Ekua na Kamau. This is a love story set in Accra.

 

In April 2011 Kobinna Ulzen was the featured guest at the Writer’s Project’s monthly reading at Accra’s Goethe Institute and on their radio show Writers Project on Citi 97.3 FM. He has also written several short stories for Worldreader.com.

 

Kobinna Ulzen’s website is www.kobinna.com. He can be reached by email at kobinna@rogers.com