Archive for January, 2012


Ayomah’s Story (Sequel 23)

               Mama would’nt forgive Dad.       

  “Is that what you really believe, Letitia?”

   “Some things are unforgivable. You know that?”

   “Oh, so you mean all the Sundays I accompanied you to Church, when Pastor Ofori preached about tolerance, all that meant nothing to you?”

   “Pastor Ofori’s closest companion, his wife Angela, couldn’t tolerate his cheating on her. Moreover, the last time his wrist watch was stolen, Pastor Ofori, prayed to God not to let that thief ever see Paradise!”

   “How do you know all these?”

   “Because I’m a Church goer.”

   “And you can’t forgive me?”

   “Muhammed when was the last time you prayed in a Mosque?”

   “A year and a half ago.”

   “Are you saying you stopped doing your five daily prayers a year and a half ago?”

   “Yes. Because I’m so busy.”

   “Busy?  But you said you’re unemployed!”

   “Yes. Unemployed, but busy looking for a job?”

   “I hear they’re looking for your kind in hell.” Mama says.

    “I thought you were going to say something better.”

   “Something better like what?” Mama asks.

   “Telling me you’ve forgiven me for God’s sake.”

   I then started to ask myself. Is this a test from God? Why has Muhammed suddenly changed? He’s been Godless, despite his being a Muslim and claims to pray like other Muslims. On my part, I wouldn’t say his coming back this time and asking for forgiveness qualifies as some sort of test from God. I don’t play when it comes to God. As much as I hate to admit it, I knew it was indeed a test from God.

   Pastor Ofori has given us so many examples about things people have done that hurt others so deeply, but he said that God gave us the capacity to forgive. Wants us to forgive. But I don’t know whether as a Muslim, he too has been preached not to hurt others. In this case his wife. I don’t think of forgiving him anyway. I don’t think forgiving him would make me feel any better. And what about Ayoma? Is he supposed to forgive him, too?

To be continued…

Ayomah’s Story (Sequel 22)

        Imam has four wives, Pastor cheating…

“Muhammed, do you know how hard it is to tell others you are my ex-husband, and do you know how hard it is for your son Ayoma to remove your genes from his body?”

Mama continued.

“He’s the youngest and the darkest of my three children. He’s often encountered a lot of discrimination at school. Whenever he’s late to school, his teachers will never spare him, no matter his reasons for being late. However, his two half-sisters are often spared the flogging, simply because their fathers are foreigners and they have lighter complexion.

Mama continues:

 “The boy was cruelly flogged one day at school that, he came home bleeding. Look at him, he has callused dark skin. How could you be cruelly insensitive and unsympathetic to Ayoma’s plight?”

All this while, Dad sat on the armchair in a sulky mood.

“By the way, where are Patricia and Cecelia?” Dad asks.

“Don’t ask me, ask your son Ayoma.” Mama replies.

Holding back tears, I said.

“Dad, they have been taken away from Mama by their fathers. Patricia’s now in London, and Cecelia in Taiwan.”

“Will they be coming back soon?

“Not that I know. Ask Mama.”

“Ask who, me?” Mama retorts.

 You are not a lawyer to be asking us so many questions. ”

“Have you come to see Ayoma off, or you’ve come just to provoke us?”

 What did you bring for your son anyway?”

“Nothing.” I’m unemployed.” Dad replies.

“What? Unemployed?”

“You heard me say that already.” Dad cries out.

“And what about my suggestion?”

“What suggestion?”

“My suggestion that we go to Church this Sunday to see Pastor Ofori for an advice.” Dad asks.

“Advice on what?” Mama asks.

 “On how to renew our vows to each other.”

 “What vows?”

 “That we’ll go through the bad times together.” Dad re-affirms his marriage commitments.

“Pastor Ofori himself is divorced. He was caught cheating on his wife sometime ago.” Mama reveals.

“Okay! Let’s go see the Imam of the new Mosque at James Town.” Dad suggests.

 “That young man called Tawfiq? He’s getting married to his fourth wife tomorrow. To me, every man having more than one wife is a murderer!” Mama cries out emphatically.

 “Oh, that guy is so smart. But he returned from Saudi Arabia barely 2 years ago?” Dad asks.

“Yes. I know that. He married his first wife when he was still a student in Saudi Arabia. Married his second wife six months after his coming back home. He’s marrying his third wife tomorrow.” Mama drops the bombshell. 

 “Eh! So when will he marrying his fourth wife?” Dad asks in a wry manner.

 “Go ask his mother!” Mama requests.

“His mother, why so?” Dad is surprised.

“Yes, it’s that woman who has been arranging all his marriages.”

 “Then what about forgiving me?”

“Yes. Do you deserve my forgiveness?”

“Why not?”

 “Not all things should be forgiven.”

 To be continued…

Ayomah’s Story (Sequel 21)

                              Dad is remorseful, but will that help?

“I know the magnitude of what I’ve done to you. It was wrong, and I can promise you that it will never happen again.”

   “Oh so you expect me to believe you just like that?”

   “Yes.”

   “Let me ask you something, Muhammed. Did you do this to your other women, too?”

   “Yes, but I’m not going back to any of them any more.”

    “Oh, so you wanna come live with me again?”

    “Look, Letitia, I’m just as shock at my behavior as you are.”

    “Look, Muhammed. Do you want to come back into my life again?”

   There’s a long silence. I’m sick of talking to this man. Sick of listening to his excuses. He’s not sorry. He’s worried. More worried about what might happen to him than about what’s going to happen to Ayoma and myself. It seems to me that he’s been kicked out again by another woman. He’s made Ayoma feel very lonely all these years. No matter how I wish it weren’t the case.

   Taking his seat on the armchair behind the TV set, and appearing as if he was on a historic mission, he said:

   “I heard Ayoma is leaving today. He’s leaving in order to go seek adventure in a far away land. I’ve come purposely to see him and say good-bye to him.”

   “But Muhammed, you braved this pitch-dark and cold weather in order to come and see Ayoma off?”

   “Yes, I risked this darkness to come and say good-bye to him. I’m doing this to let him appreciate how much I love him.”

   “I do appreciate that, too.” I say.

    He says:

   “To some degree or another, most of us carry life-long regrets for words once spoken or written in haste, or behavior that might have damaged relationships. Before we pass away, we deserve time to express ourselves and find release from these inner demons that held sway over our lives.” He says.

   “As he is speaking, I’m gazing indifferently out of the window directly opposite where I’m seated.”

   “Who’s on the line, Ayoma?”  Dad asked.

   “It’s Frank. He says he’ll be meeting me at the bus station to see me off.”

   Peering at Mama through his thick glasses, Dad says:

 “Look, Letitia, there are people with whom we may want to express with, or without words our deep feelings of affection and apology.”

A long silence then ensued. It grew so eerie and oppressive that I managed to slice through it like a hot butter knife.

“Dad, do you still love Mama?” I asked.

Mama then retorted bitterly.

To be continued…

                           Dad is jealous of Mama’s American Boyfriend

 “I will go to Church with you tomorrow to meet Pastor Ofori.” Dad re-assures

 Mama.

 “What did you say?”

 “I wish to meet Pastor Ofori, for counseling. For my behavior. To stop it.  So   I   never leave you again. I didn’t mean to do what Idid.”

 “Are you coming to see Ayoma off or you are coming to stay with me?” I say.

 “I can’t leave this house again.” He says.

 “You’ll have to, when I call the Police.” I say.

 “Please don’t, Letitia. I’m begging you not to, please! It could destroy my reputation. The reputation I’ve worked so hard to build.”

 “What reputation? Your reputation of being addicted to fast women and fast cars. You should have thought about your reputation before leaving me for the third time. You only need me when you’re in trouble or broke.”

 “I did think about it.”

 “Oh, you thought about it, and your brain gave you the go ahead, is that so?”

 “No. I mean, I wasn’t thinking when I was doing all those nasty things. That’s now the whole problem.”

 “What in the world would compel you to do what you did. Are you not a practicing Muslim who is supposed to know better?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “And then keep doing it?”

  “Letitia, I honestly don’t know.”

  “Think about it for a moment! If you don’t know, who the hell does?”

   “Eh! Are you now dating an American?”

    “What makes you think so?” Mama asks.

   ” You are saying  the ‘who the hell’ thing”. I’ve never heard you use that phrase until now.” Dad replies.  

 “What did you just say?”

  “I mean who the hell is that American guy?”

 “Have you not just used the same phrase…’who the hell’…?”

 “Letitia, spare me, is it only the Americans who use the ‘who the hell’ stuff?”

 “Are you not now contradicting yourself?”

 “Are you now dating an American guy?” Dad repeats his previous question.

“I guess so.” Mama answers.

“Oh, really!”

“Are you jealous?”

“I’m not jealous. Just asking.”

He just shakes his head.

“You’ve got an appetite for foreign men. By the way, where is that American guy?

“He’ll be coming today to see Ayoma off.”

“What? To see my son off. Is he crazy?”

“No, it’s rather you who is crazy.”

“I’m going to wait to see who this guy is.”

“You’ll surely meet him. He’s a true lover. Not your kind.”

“Don’t annoy me further.” He says.

“I’m not afraid of annoying the day light out of you.”

 “I know that. But I keep hoping you’ll not. Look Letitia, what I did to you in the past is despicable and I want to get help.”

  “I fold my arms, wishing they were baseball bats.”

To be continued…

 

             Dad returns home hungry and frail     

“Don’t you ever dare use that word on your Dad any more!” At the first sight of Dad, whom I haven’t seen in six years, my voice quavered and my eyes filled with tears. Holding a torch-light firmly with his left hand, the old man hobbled along the street leading to our home with the aid of his stick. Dad was now hoary-headed and frail. He was no longer that handsome and tall man who Mama had fallen in love with thirty-something years ago. Guilt and regrets were now terrible exchanges for his past joyous, halcyon days.

A once affluent George Muhammed was now acting like a mendicant! There was little doubt that Dad was now creeping toward his twilight years. The phone is ringing. I turn to Mama.

“Mama, Dad is standing in front of the door.”

“When have you started to tell lies? OK. Go pick up the phone!”

“I’ll take care of that. I never bothered to call him. What would I have to say to him over the phone, anyway?” Mama murmured to herself. 

Do I have to say:

“Do you miss me, honey? Or do you miss our son Ayoma?”

I just knew he would be coming to see Ayoma off. I needed to see him face-to-face anyway, look him in the eyes to see if I see any remorse, any signs of regret or shame. The doorbell is ringing before I even ask Ayoma who is on the line. I open the door. George Muhammed rushes in, trying to embrace me.

“Hello, Letitia,” he asks. “Where’s Ayoma?”

“He’s in his bedroom.” I say.

I walk past him into the kitchen to turn off the cooker. I hear him say as he comes in.

“He’ll be safe where ever he travels to.”

“Spare me, would you, Mr. Muhammed. I’ve got a lot to do right now before Ayoma’s departure.”

Upon a second thought, I open the door. I hear him enter the living room. Feel him standing behind me. When I turn to face him, I realize that Muhammed is looking tired. He looks much older than sixty. I see why people often mistake him for my father. But at the moment he just looks pitiful. Like a stray and hungry dog. But I don’t feel sorry for him one bit, because he’s not a stray dog. He’s the man who left me for another woman without any reason.

T be continued…

Ayomah’s Story (Sequel 18)

                                                  I loved my Dad but…                                 

With Mama’s approval, I forced open Dad’s suitcase, found his checkbook, and forged his signature. I then hurried to the bank to see if I could withdraw some money without being caught. I was intrepid, ready to take the risk. This was the only single commitment that Mama had seen me fulfil with great aplomb. The forged signature wasn’t detected at the bank. I got the money alright. It was enough to maintain us for three weeks.

What was quite unsettling to me was: “Why did Dad had such money but decided to lock it away in his suitcase and bolt away thus leaving us in  distress?”. Honestly, I still cringe with embarrassment when I recall that I once forged Dad’s signature to withdraw money from his account. Yes. It was evil, but very necesary.We needed the money badly!!

   Prior to my departure, intermittent blackouts all over the city had been a daily occurrence, an incident that many of my compatriots had come to accept as a fact of life. On the eve of my departure, the blackout had been particularly long and harsh. It had continued night long. Worst of all, our house was often made darker during the course of these blackouts by the propinquity of big mango trees.

“Mama it’s so dark, why aren’t you in bed?’ I cried out to Mama.

“I’m OK. I’m fine. I’m alright!”

“Have you finished packing your suitcase?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Come over here my boy.”

“Sit down and listen to me carefully. As living beings, we are not allowed to know how our time on earth may slip away. I may be dead by the time you return from your journey.”

   There was a crunch as Mama bit a cola-nut. As she continued, I noticed intermittent flashes of light from afar through the side window of the living room.

“Mama, can you see those flashes of light?”

“Yes, that must be your Dad.” Mama assured me.

“What does he want?”

“He’s coming to see you off.”

“See me off?”

“How did he know he’d  been absent from home for six years!”

“Frank, your cousin told me yesterday he had informed him of your travel plans.”

“How could he do that without my knowledge!”

   Mama had a mercurial temperament and was difficult to deal with. You never know where you stand with unpredictable mercurial individuals like Mama. I often did not feel safe talking to her, because, I never knew when she was going to turn on me.

“Stop quibbling over this matter. Do you hate your Dad?”

“No, Ma’am, I’m only irritated because Dad is feckless.”

To be continued…