The Small Yellow Gates of More Returns.

You could say that the smell of Dettol or some other brand like Dettol, piss and shit wafted from the drains to greet you. For some unexplained reason aside the weird desire to see students suffer or for a more prudent one about getting the young high school girls to exercise some more, the senior house mistresses declared that the girls were to use the small yellow gate which could only allow one girl at a time to pass through— talk about human traffic. So when the first years race to the dining hall at the sound of the eerily screechy siren there was always the possibility of a stampede or at least a bruised knee or peeling of an unhealed scab that one got from travailing through The Small Yellow Gate of More Returns.

The Big Yellow Double Gates when open could allow hordes of the high school girls at a go. It was positioned at the part of the boarding house that was much more convenient and closer to anything within (like the dining hall or classrooms) and without the school premises (like the highway that will always lead to the homes of the homesick high schoolers). Here, there was none with a Harry Potter-like longing for staying behind when school vacated. These big yellow gates welcomed the water tank, the toilet waste tank and nothing else.

The thought of siesta or bedtime is not enough to quell the groans of the girls as they pass by the heavily padlocked big yellow gates to The Small Yellow Gate of Many Returns. It’s really no surprise when their mattresses were perched on rickety, possibly tetanus infected triple bunk beds.

Actually, the groaning starts at 5 am chorused by squeaks of bed springs and thuds from jumping off the ladderless bunks at the sounds from the hoarse horn speaker siren.

Villager in the city

No matter how hard she thinks about it, one couldn’t be the other. Both cultures are well defined—she could readily outline where and why she felt the culture shock. 

She feels it when she drinks the flavoured bottled water; when she sees the puppies in the strollers; when she once used shaving cream as body lotion. In her old home water is tasteless. Sprite or Akpeteshie would pass for flavoured water because of their colourlessness.

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Koshie’s Freedom (Part II)

Nothing would deter Koshie. In fact, the ridiculous stipulation of Elder Mensah makes her justify her sea side moments.

In pretentious hushed tones he hisses, “Open your mouth and pray!”

“Close your eyes!”

“Don’t cross you legs in church!”

“Sing louder!”

Why so many instructions? It reminds her of her sole visit to a Catholic church. There’s much kneeling and recitations but at least the entire mass duration was short and the kneeling place was padded. Her few minutes at the seaside would be free of instructions.

Koshie lives with her grandparents. In her older years she would come to realise that carpooling with her cousins on school days, was the main determiner of her taking up residence with her grandparents. It appears Saturdays and Sundays are enough time for the grandchildren to spend with their respective parents. When Koshie attends boarding school during senior high it feels familiar–her grandparent’s home had been a boarding school of sorts with all attendees being DNA related. Continue reading

Koshie’s Freedom

She could hear it. How it’s waves crashed against the shore, completely free. Advancing and retreating at will. The sea could move past its shore if it dares. Then, there would be a tsunami or other to worry about. Luckily, such was not supposed to happen in this part of the world–Koshie had heard that on BBC. It’s as though the sea politely acknowledges its boundaries.

The beach sand–even when tread on feels heavy, somewhat clingy–slows down Koshie’s pace. Maybe, the very thing enticing her every Sunday to be truant during the laborious “Praises and Worship” of the “grownup church.” It is the best time to go to the sea as the grownups would be in a frenzy with their eyes closed. She is less likely to be missed at this time.

Koshie wriggles her toes in her shoes and salt water seeps out of the suede material. Continue reading

Ruffles and Oranges

The ruffle dress she has on used to be another’s Sunday best or a store reject attire from England, shipped to one of the African shores. Then, tossed onto the “second selection” pile, the pile of less trendy clothing, at the Kantamanto market, where discarded clothes from The West were sold.

On Tuesdays the tray she balances on her head would have black eyed beans poured onto it. It was a weekly chore of separating the bad beans from the good beans. At about 4 am on Wednesday mornings Mama would boil the beans on one of her two coal pots in the shared kitchen of the compound house. The beans would be cooked just in time to be packed as school lunch.

“When we come back on Monday I would like to have all your notebooks covered with brown paper. No newspapers!” Miss Tetteh instructed the class.

Her plea to Auntie Adzo, the kelewele seller whose stall was next to Mama’s, had been for nothing. Auntie Adzo had been very reluctant in giving her the newspapers. “What would I use to sell my kelewele?” Auntie Adzo retorted when she had ask to be spared some newspapers for her notebooks. The kelewele seller uses the newspapers to wrap the hot and oil drenched, spicy, plantain she fried for her customers.

It had been a month since mama transferred Adjei and her from the government school. They now attended Pride of The West. She had easily been among the best three students in her old class. Now, she barely knows what she ranks as. She feared she’d have to repeat a year and by default assume the nickname Grade Six Maame. A name that implied that she was a repeater and most likely older than her classmates, a mother to her Grade Six classmates.

“Mama, my teacher said we shouldn’t use newspapers to cover my books. I need brown paper.” Mama simply replied, “Okay,” then instructed her to peel the oranges and to go and hawk them at the trotro station.

When she had asked Mama why they had been transferred out of the government school, Mama had incoherently said that Adjei and her could now go to university. She never thought that she had not been allowed to think about tertiary institutions before the transfer. She had been rebellious then, because she had considered which of the engineering specialties would best suit her.

She had artistically peeled the oranges. Being meticulous about this chore was the only incentive she could give to her customers. Maybe the bus drivers and their conductors at the station would buy more if the oranges had a nice appeal. She had gathered the orange peelings in a bowl. The peelings would be used as a mosquito repellent when the coil dies out at Mama’s stall at night

She returns to Mama’s stall holding her empty tray. Mama sits at a smaller table making jackets for notebooks with brown paper.

“Grandpa’s Face” by Edwina Pessey.

Flash Fiction Ghana

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

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

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

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Third Time is a Charm

*This for the melodramatic who love their cliches. This one is full of it.
Monday (New week)
7:30 am
I hurriedly do my morning chores. It involves sweeping, sweeping and sweeping. Well, that’s basically it. Auntie Adiza’s koko and akala on my mind. Akala especially; they taste so good they sell out while they are still hot (This would be great for a jingle). Ataa Naa Nyomo, if I miss out on buying them this time… As I move stealthily towards the gate, grandma shouts, “Naa Shika!” I perform my groaning ritual and head back into the house. Knowing grandma, when I’m done doing whatever she needs, it would be a miracle to go to Auntie Adiza’s stand and find akala waiting. This time, she Continue reading

Hello…Is anybody up there?

This I find quite healthful and refreshing and of course something to keep this place less dormant…. Thanks Siebeh

Noir, Blanc et Coloré

Is there really an omniscient, omnipotent God who is up above the clouds watching over us humans? Did this supernatural being actually create everything on earth, and in seven days? Is the “big bang theory” valid? Are heaven and hell existent physical places? Religion: man-made or God sent? The totally random thoughts that go through my head, usually on rainy nights when I’m all cuddled up in my bed. Then I stop and think to myself – “all these questions CAN drive a person crazy!”

When I was younger I would always hesitate whenever someone asked the question “What church do you go to?”

I would be torn between lying and brushing the question off. It was a dreaded question to little me. I had every reason to dread this question, living in Ghana where the majority of the population is Christian. If you did not exhibit “obvious” Muslim traits, you were…

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