Fiction by Amma Konadu Anarfi
Nneɛma pii yɛ me anika wɔ wiase ha. Biribi te sɛ sɛdeɛ wɔn de “MOVING CAR” si taxi a ɛsi faako apampam, anaa sɛdeɛ kwanho adetɔnfoɔ pae wɔn dwa. Wobɛka sɛ saa nneɛma no nnyɛ biribiara saa, nanso ɛma m’ani gye. Ɛma asetena yɛ mmrɛ kakra. Ade baako biem a ɛtumi nunu me yɛ sɛdeɛ amanfoɔ suro owuo. Ma hyɛn ɛnwoso neho kakraa bi, na Nyankopɔn din ne ne nsammrane nyinara da yaanom ano prɛkopɛ. Ɛsi saa a sedeɛ tumi kyekyere me, na mereyɛ apae.
Maame kɔnɔfoɔ, wonim me yie. Wonim sɛ owuo yɛ ade a mensuro. Me ne wo nyinara nim sɛ n’atwedeɛ no, maforo asi, aforo asi. Hwee nni mu a menhunuiɛ. Ɛno ka ho na mefirii fie. Medii wo ne Auntie Philo akyi a, anka mantu kwan a metuiɛ yi a mede aba n’awieɛ nnɛ no. Medii moakyi a, anka mete faako. Owuo atwedeɛ no, baako pɛ na ɔforo deɛ a, anka ɛbiaa metiee mo. Nanso ɛnte saa. Mama…ɛnte saa.
Metuu kwan kɔɔ me mu. Metuu kwan kɔɔ m’adwen ne m’akoma mu. Megyee ahomeɛ a na ɛhia sɛ megye. Afei deɛ biribiara atɔ dinn. Mete ha seesei ara no, mafe Mama Loje. Manhunu no da. Wo nsɛm a woka fa neho ara na mede nim no. Ɛyɛ nwonwa sɛ metumi fe no saa. M’ani agyina no paa nnɛ. Ebia na nku a mede asra no ntia. Wosee na ɔtaa de aduro sra; daa na agye neho. Mete nka koraa sɛ asɛ ɔbɛn me.
Me ne no di nsɛ akwan pii so, wonhu saa? Mennye nni sɛ na Mama Loje suro owuo. Mekae deɛ woka kyerɛɛ me sɛ anadwo sum bi, na wato ne sotɔɔ mu, na abofra bi bɛbɔɔ ne pono mu sɛ ɔretɔ ade. Wosee Mama Loje pueiɛ a ɔhuu akwadaa ketekete saa no, ɛhaa no, ɛfiri sɛ na ade asa paa. Nti, ɔsɔɔ ne nsa kaa sɛ, “ade asa dodo, bɛsen na memfa wo nkɔ fie.” Akwadaa no de nensa kyerɛɛ ne fie kwan na Mama Loje too ne pono mu ne no sii so. Ɛnni gyina, na hyɛn kakraka yi a ɛfa anwea yi bi yi ate free akɔwura ne dan no mu. Ɛtɔɔ ne so maa no te gyinaeɛ. Na ne werɛ afi mpo sɛ na ɔne akwadaa nam. Mantam hɔ foɔ no tee dede no, wɔn te guu abɔnten hyɛɛ ase twaa agyaadwoɔ. Na wɔn dwen sɛ Mama Loje awu hyɛ dan no a ɛbubu no mu. Nti, ɔtiaa mu firi baabi a na ɔgyina no ka kyerɛɛ wɔn sɛ “me ni o… menwuiɛ!” Hyɛnkafoɔ no sii fam de amirika kɔ bamm Mama Loje. Ɔtwee neho no ɔsan nso sɔɔ n’abati mu wosoo no kaa sɛ “mɛnnyae papa yɛ da. Mɛnnyae papa yɛ da!”. Wo maame tetɛɛ owuo saa da no, Mama. Ɛnnyɛ ade nso na ɔnnyɛɛ bi da.
Mekae mmere a na mayera kwan no. Mekae mmere a na suro ne awerɛhoɔ ahyɛ me ma a na mesusu sɛ abrabɔ asisi me no. Mekae mmere a na mennim me ankasa meho. Medii wo ne Auntie Philo akyi a, anka medaso te asɔre fie resu frɛ Nyame, bisa no ade a ɔde ama me deda. Nti wonhu, Mama? Wonhu sɛ mmere ara na na meresɛe kwa? Aane, mayare akyɛ. Menkae da a mewedeɛ nni yaw biara mu. Wohu sɛ merebrɛ na woresu gu woyam. Mehu nenyinara. Nanso, Mama, wonhu sɛ Nyame dɔ me paa? Fie nnyɛ ha. Sɛ nka ɛyɛ fie a, ɛnneɛ nka…
Mensane meho ngu hefa,
Na anka ɛbia ahomegyeɛ bi wɔ baabi a,
Abɛhyia me wɔ kwan ho? Menkyekyɛ me mu ngu he?
Adaagyeɛ nni hɔ ma obiara;
Hwɛ sɛ asomasi akeka mu ama ne ne afa,
Nso obiara mpo nnyinaeɛ mmisaa sɛ: “annyɛ biara, mentam wo nsoa wo anaa?”
Mmerepa kɔ. Nnɛ, yɛmfa nsuo nsoma obi kora mu nkɔ ma ne nua kwantimfi.
Tema a ayera nti, ɔbɛbrɛ ntɛm…nensa bɛgyene,
“Ԑtua wo yɔnko mu a, ɛtua dua mu” na yɛasina de agu yɛn kɔn mu, me boa?
Akasaakasa boro so a, worente ɔbaakofoɔ ne.
Nti nka obiara nkasa baako baako ɛ?
Ato deɛ ɔbɛdi kan.
“Ԑnnyɛ onii nti na m’ano da mu yi o!”
Dede hunu kwa!
Biribiara nna din no, na akra asa.
Nti mensane meho ngu hefa?
Menkyekyɛ me mu ngu he, na ɔboafoɔ wɔ baabi a,
Ͻde mmirika abɛtwe me agyina me nan so ayɛ me aduro?
Kuro no abɔ,
Nti na merebisa wo yi.
Mekae nso sɛ wokaa sɛ ansa koraa a worebɛwo me no, wo ne me Papa kɔɔ Alata. Na woawo mmienu. Da koro wosoo daeɛ no na aberanteɛ bi retu wo fo sɛ ɛsɛ sɛ wode woho kɔkyea sɔfo a ɔda asɔre foforo a na worekɔ no ano. Ɔkaa sɛ ɛhia, ɛfiri sɛ wonnim deɛ ɛbɛto wo a wobɛhia asafo no mmoa. W’ani teeɛ no, wofaa no asɛnhia de wo ne me nuanom no kɔkyeaeɛ. Saa bere no na me Papa agya hɔ kɔ sukuu. Wosee bosome mpo amma na ketoa a na ɔwɔ mu no yareeɛ. Ɛhyɛɛ ase nketenkente. Asɛ na neho ayɛ hye bi saa kɛkɛ. Ade kyeeɛ no wode no kɔgyaa Mama Loje, na wokɔɔ adwuma mu kɔsrɛɛ kwan ansa worebɛfa no akɔ ayaresabea. Mama Loje kaeɛ sɛ wokɔeɛ no na abofra no rehwɛ no dinn, na wasere. Mokɔduruu ayaresabea no na ɛmu ayɛ den kakra nti yɛgyee no too hɔ.
Mekae sɛ wosee na hɔ mpo ayɛ ma nti wɔn de mpa sii baabi foforo maa mo. Na da no yɛ Fiada. Memeneda no anadwo, obi a anka na ɔntene neho nnidi no, ɔkaa sɛ kɔm de no. Woyɛɛ no ntɛm fraa aduane maa no na wohyɛɛ ase tete maa no. Ɔgyee baako mmienu, na afei ɔmpɛ sɛ ɔgye biem. Wosee ɔsere hwɛ wo a, na ɔaka “ah, Mama” mprɛnsa. N’anim tee prɛkopɛ. Wosee na asɛ ɔrehyerɛn koraa. W’ani gyeeɛ sɛ neho retɔ no. Wanhu mmere a ɔguu n’ahome a ɛtwa toɔ mpo. Mama Loje na ɔkaa bere pɔtee no kyerɛɛ wo. Na ɔnni hɔ bi, nanso ɔse bere a owuo bɛfaa me nua no, ɔde no twaa mu wɔ ne fie hɔ ansa na wɔrekɔ. Ͻka kaa ho sԑ saa Fiada no anↄpa no a wode no bԑgyaa no no na abofra no asi kwan so deda.
Obi twerεε awonsεm bi sε;
Susu gyegye gu akͻnnwa yi mu;
Anhwε yie a,
Na wode woti ato w’abati so
Asa nkwan no awerεfie mu,
Ama asεe w’ataade fitaa mu.
Nyansa bεn na εwͻ mu,
Sε woretu kwan akͻ serε mu,
Na ade asa wo kwan mu nti,
Wapε baabi a wode woho bεtwere,
Na waduru hͻ atu wo nneεma
A wode nnansa hyehyεeε nyinara agu hͻ,
Abere a wonim sε adeε kye a,
Woresan asi kwan so biem?
Fa aniteε tu saa kwan yi,
Na sua woyam kͻm kyere
Na ͻhͻhoͻ nni abε.
Fie nnyε ha, Mama. Ↄdͻ wͻ ahoͻden bi a εboro me nteaseε so, Mama. Me ne hwan na mahyε ne so? Watwa n’ani abεhwε me a meretee so yi, aka sε; “Ah, ͻdͻ nso yε owuo.” Mmere no nie. Ɛmma wowerɛ nho sɛ meba bɛbrɛɛ kwa. Wowoo me no ara no, na mabɛn fie deda. Mmere no nie. Menkɔeɛ no koraa no, na masi so. Te sɛ taxi no a ‘MOVING CAR’ si so no.
“MOVING CAR” [ENGLISH]
There are a lot of things I find entertaining in this world. Like how you’ll find the sign “MOVING CAR” placed on the roof of a stationary taxi, or how street hawkers advertise their ware. You’d think these are trivial things, but they excite me. It makes life easy…those seemingly mundane things. One other thing that tickles me is how afraid people are of death. Let a bus full of travelers have a near-accident and God’s name along with appellations you may have never heard before come spilling out. I can barely contain myself when that happens.
My darling mother, you know me well. You know death is one thing I do not fear. We both know I have dallied in and out of the other side a lot. There is nothing there I have not seen. It is part of why I left home. If I had listened to you and Aunt Philo, I would not have embarked on this journey that ends today. If I had listened, I would have been stuck in one place. If death were a thing meant for just one, I may have listened. But it is not so. Mama…it is not so.
I journeyed into myself. I journeyed into my mind and into my heart. I heaved a needed sigh. Now everything is calm. As I sit here now, I miss Mama Loje. We never met. I know her through the stories you told me. It is a wonder how I can miss her so. She is heavy on my mind today. It may be because of this balm I have slathered all over. You say she was fond of doing same; that she always smelt of menthol. I could swear she is close by right now.
I am like her in so many ways, don’t you see? I don’t think Mama Loje feared death. I remember you told me that one night, long after she had closed up her shop for the day, a very young child came knocking, asking to buy something. You said Mama Loje stepped out and upon seeing such a young child, was greatly troubled because it was very late. So, she took her by the hand and said: “it is too late, come let me take you home.” The child pointed towards her home and Mama Loje locked her door and set off with him. Shortly after, a huge sand truck lost control and ran straight into her house, breaking it all down. The implication of what had just happened made Mama Loje freeze in her tracks. She even forgot she was with a child. Her neighbours rushed out after hearing the loud noise, and broke out in laments, fearing the worst. So she shouted from where she stood – “I am here…I am not dead!” The truck driver got off, ran to Mama Loje and passionately embraced her. He then stepped back, grabbed her shoulders and said “never stop doing good! Never stop doing good!” as he shook them. Your mother played a fast one on death that day, Mama. It was not something she had not done before.
I remember when I had lost my way. I remember when fear and sadness had engulfed me so much I felt cheated by life. I remember when I had no idea who I was. If I had succumbed to you and Aunt Philo, I would have been in some prayer camp crying out for God, pleading for something I already have. Can’t you see, Mama? Can’t you see that I am just wasting time? Yes, I have been ill for so long. I don’t remember how my body feels without pain. You see my suffering and you swallow your tears. I see it all. But, Mama, can’t you see that God loves me well? This is not home? If it were, then…
Where do I unravel myself, so that should there be some respite someplace,
It meets me in that place? Where do I undo myself?
There is no time for us all
See how that one has screamed herself hoarse, yet no one stops to ask:
“Should I, perhaps, help you carry yourself?”
Good days are gone. Now, we cannot send one with water in a calabash to another at a distance.
Empathy died, so the one will tire fast, his hands will go numb,
The water will spill.
“I can only feel my flesh” are the words we have strung round our necks, do I lie?
When arguments escalate, no one’s voice is heard.
Can we not hear each other out?
Alas, who to start!
“I do not lament because of the other”
All souls will be lost when peace arrives.
So where do I unravel myself?
Where do I break down myself, so that if there is some helper somewhere
He would come running to pull me up onto my feet and mend me?
That is why I ask
Where do I go?
I remember too that you said before I was born, you and Papa moved to Nigeria. You had 2 kids by then. One day you dreamt that a man was advising you to go show yourself to the pastor of the new church you had joined. He told you it was necessary that you do so because you didn’t know what could befall you that may put you in need of their support. You did not brush this aside. You did as you were told. Papa was away for school at the time. You said barely a month later, the youngest of the two fell ill. You said it started out like nothing major. She was running not so high temperature one night. You waited till morning and took her over to Mama Loje and went on to your workplace to ask for the day off so you could take her to the hospital. Mama Loje told you that when you left, this child kept stealing quiet glances at her and smiling. By the time you got her to the hospital, she was doing much worse so she was admitted.
I remember you said there were no empty beds in the ward that day because there was a measles outbreak so you were given a makeshift bed in the corridor. It was a Friday. By Saturday night, this child who had not eaten much since being admitted, told you she was hungry. You hurriedly made her a cup of Milo and began spooning it into her mouth. After a couple of spoons, she did not want to take it anymore. You said she smiled at you and whispered “Ah, Mama” thrice. You said her face suddenly lit up with health. You said it was as if she was shining. You rejoiced because she was finally well. You did not notice when she took her last breath. It was Mama Loje who told you the exact time that happened. She was not there, but she said that the moment death came for my sister, he carried her through her home before moving on. She said too that that Friday morning when you brought her home to her, she had already set off on her way.
Someone once wrote;
Do not slump too deep into this seat
Else you may someday
Careless scoop soup up into your mouth
Soiling your clean garment.
What sense is there in
Unpacking luggage that took you days to pack
When you make an overnight stop
While on a long journey,
When you know the journey continues
The following morning?
And learn to starve yourself
For visitors do not partake in soup slurping.
This is not home, Mama. Love has a will I cannot comprehend, Mama. Who am I to Lord over her? She has turned to my gasping self and proclaimed: “Ah, I am death too.” This is the time. Do not lament that I suffered in vain. I was already close to home the day you birthed me. This is the time. I was already on my way even before I set off. Like the taxi carrying the ‘MOVING CAR’ sign.
Amma Konadu Anarfi is a literary enthusiast and blogger. She is also a PhD candidate at the Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, pursuing a specialty in Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases. Her research focus is on persons living with Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases in Ghana. She lives in Accra with her family and loves to bake and make good food. Find her on twitter – @MsAnarfi
Originally published March 29, 2020