Sunset

The sky had never looked so amazing. The sexy reds and oranges mingled with the yellow to form a gradient of a colour that should, by all rights, have its own name. Coupled with the blues, indigos and purples somewhere in the distance, where it had already turned dark, it was quite the soul-stirring sight.

It was the kind of scene to bring a poet to his knees; a sprinter to a halt; an atheist to sing odes. It was the kind of scene that some people dreamed of seeing, just to have the pleasure of describing the magnificence to their children someday.

Lucy sat right in front of it, and saw none of it. She was perched on a rock that overlooked gently lapping waves in the low tide. But she wasn’t looking at the sea. Heck, she hadn’t even wanted to come to the beach in the first place, having been forced out of the air-conditioned, wi-fi-equipped comfort of her room.

Who cared about surroundings and all that nonsense? In her opinion, there were more riveting things to look at, like this new gallery she’d just come across, a scene featuring a black sky, with white, rebellious clouds, and the last, feeble rays of a rapidly-setting sun, whose feeble colour reflected slightly on the ocean ripples below it. Beautiful. She had always credited herself for her appreciation of nature.

The irony.

“This can be my new wallpaper,” she said to herself. It was as simple as a touch of the ‘download’ button. That was all; she now had a whole sunset within reach, on seven inches of a sophisticated screen.

The sky was almost fully dark now.

A gentle gust of wind attempted to invite her to look up – a last chance to catch a glorious glimpse. Lucy felt it, and flipped her hair back to how it was before the stupid wind had blown it in her face. “Ugh, I can’t stand it out here anymore,” she thought, scared of the wind blowing ocean mist; scared that the water might get in her device and spoil the charger port or earphone jack. She picked up her tablet and went inside.

By this time, it was fully dark.

Somewhere in heaven, a spirit watched the whole episode, then said morosely to no-one in particular, “God, You used to be a best-selling artist.”

-Akotowaa

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What Happened to Grandpa Last Saturday

Hello, beautiful people who waste your time reading what I write! I promised myself to begin an entire category dedicated to my Grandpa, called “Stories of Charles Seth Ofori.” A lot of people seemed to like the first story I wrote about him, involving a missing wallet and the lack of water. (If you haven’t read Pipes No Dey Flow, click here.)

So, here’s another one (or actually, three.)

What Happened to Grandpa Last Saturday

         Just so you know, I’ve saved the funniest story for last, so if you get bored, keep reading…Or you can just skip – but I don’t want you to, so please don’t.

Grandpa Charles went to the airport on Saturday to pick up my dad’s sister’s husband, Johnny. (John and Mary, I hope you’re reading this.) Three mentionable things happened. I’m going to write them out in story-form because it’s what I do best. Note: These are in the order Gramps narrated them to me, NOT the order they occurred. Also, the events are true but the direct speech is not. But which great writer doesn’t embellish the truth a little bit? Okay, here we go.

1. Johnny Hulede had just arrived from Maryland. Charles Seth Ofori was there, at least fifteen minutes before the plane was scheduled to land, because Charles was never late. Ever. After the mandatory greetings came the hustle of trying to find one’s luggage, through the sea of heavily-clad, noisy individuals, sweating in the heat they had forgotten after being on that freezing plane, the conveyor belts of Kotoka International Airport.

One suitcase of Johnny’s was much heavier than Charles had anticipated, and that old body couldn’t be expected to do so much labour. Johnny himself had to use a considerable amount of strength to hoist it up onto the trolley. Together, they wheeled it out with great effort, all the way to the car.

Unbeknownst to them, they were being watched by a crafty pair of eyes, which continued to watch them as they made their way from the airport’s exit to the car. Only then did the owner of these eyes deign to reveal himself.

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“Afternoon, sa,” he said, with a salute. Charles, who was popping the boot open, turned around to stare at him. If this spying man had been any wiser, he would have trembled under Charles’ unwavering scrutiny. He was not that wise, hence, he did not tremble.

“Make I help you wit de log-age, sa,” he continued. “I tink sey ibi heavy wey I see you pushing da trolley from da airport inside.”

Charles, of course, was having none of it. The result of his examination proved to be true: the man wanted money.

“Herh, herh, my friend,” said Charles coldly. “If you actually wanted to help us, why did you not help us from the exit?” The man had no answer. “What is the use of your help, now that we are already at the car?” Still no answer given. “You people, all you want is money. I don’t need your help. No, no, don’t even try to explain. You want money, isn’t that it? For doing no work at all.”

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Guys, my grandpa is not this ugly in real life. Forgive my crude art.

The man’s mouth opened and closed wordlessly. How to describe him? One word: flabbergasted.

Together, Johnny and Charles managed to lift the suitcases into the old car’s trunk.

“Good…g-good afternoon, sa,” stammered the man, and departed in shame.

 

2. There was a man who had a brother. This man lived in Ghana. His brother lived in the USA, which happened to be…exactly where Johnny had come from! Now, everyone knows that snail mail can’t be trusted to deliver money safely (especially if it is through or to Ghana), so this was the plan they had carried out: the man’s brother had given Johnny the money to give to the man upon arrival in Ghana.

Said man met Johnny at Charles’ car in the parking lot of Kotoka International Airport.

“You got the moola?” he said, after greeting both Charles and Johnny. (Okay, he didn’t actually say that. I just wanted to use the word ‘moola’ to make him look more gangster-y. Unfortunately, he was 120% un-gangster-y.)

So Johnny was all, “Oh yeah, yeah!” And after rummaging around a bit, found the cash. It was quite a lot, I tell you. But this man was untrusting, a trait he shared with many of his Ghanaian brethren, and so, of course, he had to count the money before he could leave. The trouble in this was that the back seat was full of all the extra luggage that Johnny had brought. Charles’ trunk just hadn’t been big enough. Johnny was sitting shotgun. So the only option left was for the man to sit in the driver’s seat as he counted the money – because everyone knows that in Ghana, you don’t count large sums of money where anyone can see you. Are you freaking ASKING to be mugged?!

Anyway, Charles graciously gave up hi seat for this young man to make sure his package was intact. When he was done, he said a polite “thank you” to Johnny and proceeded to leave.

False strike.

Charles was Appalled, with a capital A.

“Young man,” he called out. “How can you be so rude? So you have your money, and because of that, you don’t even bother to say goodbye to the octogenarian man who bothered to stand outside in this heat while you comfortably sat in my car counting your money?”

The man shame-facedly apologized profusely. But Charles wasn’t done. Once an Ofori gets started, who dareth interrupt? Charles began to lecture him for about five more minutes about: how he understood perfectly because Ghanaians were all the same; how people generally have lost respect for their elders entirely; how people can abandon rationality and manners in the midst of cash, etc, etc.

I can only speculate about how the man must have felt ten times more ashamed than he would have if Grandpa had just accepted the apology and moved on in life. But that is not the way of Charles Seth Ofori.

 

3. Backtrack to when Grandpa Charles was waiting for the plane to land – a result of being freakishly early, as usual. Two men stood beside him, obviously waiting for (a) passenger(s) as well. Now, you know these cordial Ghanaians – always unafraid of making small-talk with complete strangers when they’re bored.

These two men decided to strike up a conversation with Charles.

The first asked him, “So who is it that you’re here to pick up?”

Grandpa replied, “Oh, just my son-in-law.”

The man nodded understandingly, with such gravity that you’d think that waiting for one’s son-in-law was akin to sending a very important minister to a Parliament meeting. So much wisdom and intelligence was encompassed in this man’s nod, which was all consummately shattered by the next words that came out of his mouth: “Is it a man or a woman?”

No mercy. Charles couldn’t laugh. Had he just heard right? Had he actually just been asked the most moronic question he’d heard since the beginning of the decade? Apparently so! Because the second man had erupted into laughter.

“Don’t you know?” said the second man. “This man is speaking the Queen’s language!” He then explained how the “son” part of son-in-law referred to a male person that was married to your daughter…

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(Now I, myself, do not know the difference between “Queen’s language” and normal English, but I’m just quoting what Grandpa says he said.)

Grandpa wasn’t laughing (yet). How to describe his facial expression in one word: flabbergasted.

 -Akotowaa

 

My thoughts: Q&A/Slumdog Millionaire

Akua Kwakwa told me to read this book, which I did, and just finished like…NOW. (Thanks, Akua. You rock.)

Author: Vikas Swarup.

This book is AMAZING.

Quick synopsis: It’s about an eighteen-year-old boy who enters a game show to win money by answering twelve questions which he happens to know the answers to because of the kind of life he’s lived since birth.

The main character, Ram Mohammad Thomas is probably one of the most pure-hearted characters I have ever met. I wonder if people like him exist in real life. I actually hope they don’t. He’s been through too much in life, and if you think your life is hard after reading this book, I suspect you have a very, VERY serious problem. He’s seen life and he’s seen humans for what they are, and somehow, despite all the drudgery he has been exposed to, all the apathy, his heart is white.

It bothered me, the amount of tragedy in this book. At some point, I was just like ‘It’s okay, can’t he have a Happily Ever After now?’ But the game show went on.

A lot of people have seen the movie. I saw it the year it came out, at the Silverbird Cinema at Accra Mall. I cried then. But the movie is NOT the same as the book. The book is so much more real. It’s so scary, how real it is. I remember there was even a part in the book where Ram watched a Neelima Kumari movie and was disappointed at how real-life the movies was, because what was the point of watching something you experienced everyday? The disturbing part: this movie was a tragedy.

Reading about torture makes me uneasy. I have a very visual imagination. Needless to say, I was disturbed my practically seventy percent of the book. But Vikas Swarup has a very twisted sense of humour. Sometimes you know you should probably be sad, but you just start laughing. And Ram’s commentaries, and the phrases he repeats are just utterly HILAROUS, even in the most dire situations. This boy is also probably one of the wisest characters I have ever encountered. And (emphasis on this one) he’s never been to school! It’s strange and disturbing at the same time to think that he learned all that he knows just from LIFE, and how he learned it is even more painful.

Somehow, this book is beautiful. I can’t find a genre for it. Comedy? Tragedy? (Mostly tragedy) Romance? The unlikeliness of it all, making it almost farcical.

So um…If you’ve watched the movie and you think it’s enough, it’s not. Go and read the book.

Thank you.

A few of my favourite quotes:

“After all, a quiz is not so much a test of knowledge as a test of memory.”

And I like this because it’s true.

“Unheralded we came into this world. Unheralded we will go out. But while we are in this world, we do such deeds that even if this generation does not remember, the next generation cannot forget.”

I’ve been preaching this for years.

“You men are all the same. One look at a woman’s tits and all your morals go out of the window.”

This made me laugh.

“Real life is very different from reel life.”

Yes, yes it is.

“You must have heard of Shakespeare?’

‘Sheikh who?’”

Just LOL.

-Yours Literarily (I only found out this was a word after I typed it right now),

Akotowaa

Rain

I happen to be irrefutably in love with stormy weather, something you might have guessed from reading my post from last week (find it here).

I wrote this a few months ago, while it was raining. It’s raining now, so I see it fit to post it now.

 

Rain

            She sat beside her window, and stared out at the gently rippling water in the pool, now gray as graphite, reflecting the dull, mirthless colour of the sky. Usually, it could stay like this for hours, the heavens projecting a melancholic sense of foreboding and wrath withheld, but indecision about whether or not the Celestials wanted to have their revenge on mankind or not. The depression it threatened was so intense it had to give way to pure excitement. Darkness, blackness, shades of gray all became very appealing in a matter of seconds, and sparked within her a desire she knew well.

Thunder. The exhilarating growl of heaven’s very own wild cat —the rainstorm’s mascot—reverberated through the house. The water itself seemed to rise and fall at the sound. Restless now, she was unable to remain at her seat any longer. She stood and stretched out in a lunge, her feet in fourth position and her arms in third, poised as though she were about to do a pirouette.

Lightning. The almost-black sky split for a half-second into two, in the precise shape of Zeus’ master lightning bolt —a beam of sheer brilliance zigzagging across the sky in less than the time it would take you to blink. In synchronization with the sky’s parting, she released the tension from her back leg and did a perfect pirouette en dehors, landing in exactly the same position she began in; calm and still as though she had never moved, like a praying mantis, just as the sky above pretended to be.

Finally, the rain. This time, it was not just a warning. The Higher-Ups had decided to put on the real show. The rain fell in torrents. Moving to the harsh pitter-patter of rain, she danced around the room, leaping, soaring, flying, turning, whirling and blowing all her troubles away. Nothing mattered but being one with nature’s fury. The disastrous weather sucked away her frustration and made it its own, leaving her with nothing but fierce joy and peace once more.

At last, it relented, giving out to something that was slightly more forceful than a drizzle. She took a deep breath, close her eyed and turned around.

When she opened them again, he was standing there, with his arms crossed, and his phone in one palm. How long had he been watching?

“Only God knows how you didn’t end up in the theater or on Broadway,” he said. She smiled. “Oh no, I mean it,” he continued. “That was beautiful…breathtaking…stupendous. I was stunned by your splendour and gracefulness as you danced…without music, I might add. Don’t worry, I know how much you fall in love with nature when it rains.”

He paused. She waited. There was more.

Eventually it came: “In other news,” he added, “I just woke up, and everything you washed this morning is now drenched with dirty, acidic rain water. I just thought I’d inform you so…yeah.” He grinned wickedly. She sighed. Reality had returned.

Akotowaa

The “Nkonsonkonson” Concert

The Yale (yes, the university one) Club of Ghana had a concert yesterday, and I attended But before I did, I got stopped at the entrance to the theatre.

I had gone home from school earlier in the day, and so I didn’t enter with the rest of my school mates. I went later. And this is the part where we witness the irony of Ghanaian behaviour: There I was,, with my 10 cedes, all ready to pay. And then the man selling the tickets asked me where my student ID card was.

  1. My picture on that card is just slightly revolting so I wonder how it could even have been proved to be mine.
  2. The real issue is that I had led it at home, in my school bag.

And so this man bluntly said, “Then you can’t enter as a student,” in a thick and scratchy voice. This is where I got just a little bit irritated.

God bless my homeland. Why? Because twelve-year-olds get into clubs just by dressing skankily, even though the MOST they could do is appear fifteen. And here I am, a sixteen-year-old, standing here, stranded (my mum, who’d dropped me off, had just left AND didn’t have her phone on her) and being denied access. People tell me I look like I’m twelve to thirteen. But apparently, this wasn’t the deal for that ticket guy. He wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t appear to be a student, and so couldn’t be granted a student fee. My question: Do I look freaking twenty-one to you?

So I texted my friend Elizabeth to tell my hostel tutor from school to come out and get me. When she appeared and began to pay for my ticket ( and this is the part where I get EXTREMELY incredulous), he acted so shocked to see me still outside, despite the fact that he was the one who had, five minutes earlier, denied me access! He said, quasi-bewildered, “Ah! So you’ve still not gone inside?” And I replied, pointedly, “No, I haven’t.” The shameful hypocrisy. You’ve seen an adult and so you want to act blameless? Okay.

The concert itself was great, though. The Yale symphony orchestra performed with objects I didn’t even know were instruments! I would describe them, but I don’t even know what they were. All I could tell is that they are played by being shaken. Then there was the performance with pieces of wood. That was interesting. there were six people with one piece of wood each, and each piece produced a different pitch of sound than the others. That particular performance reminded me of music lessons in class 6, when we were made to either clap or strike the beat of written notes, producing unexpectedly organised music together.

The Yale Orchestra at the concert
The Yale Orchestra at the concert

The National Orchestra of Ghana performed. They stunned me. Have you ever heard Für Elise with an agbadza beat? They did that, complete with dancers in beads and cloth. They also did another classical song that I didn’t recognise, but of course, I was able to appreciate that ken-me-ken-ka adowa beat. I was just there,  listening, wondering how it was even possible. It was actually amazing.

Now I’m just wondering why there was a considerable number of white people in the orchestra. I suppose they could have been Ghanaian citizens, but it does seem so…odd. I know black Americans, black British and white South Africans are a normal thing, but white Ghanaians has never struck me as normal. Not that I’m discriminating.

Wait, wait, wait. THERE WAS THIS DRUMMER GUY FROM YALE WHO ACTUALLY TOOK MY BREATH AND HEART AWAY! He doesn’t know it and never will, but in my head, we’re totally married. His hands moved like wildfire. I didn’t even KNOW you could crescendo and diminuendo so well with a drum set. He worked those dynamics like they were freaking bred inside of him. Like what?!

Anyway, apparently, the President of Ghana had wanted to come but couldn’t make it, and sent some politician (minister of something-or-the-other) whose name I did not even hear, to come and represent him. (Who remembers Shatta Wale? LOL.) I remember not even half of what he said, mostly because he was just repeating MDG facts about disease and AIDS and re-stating all that the man who had come to speak before him (he was from Yale, and yes, he DID butcher the word “Nkonsonkonson”, making it sound a bit more like “Wisconsin, Wisconsin.”) All I remember is that this politician seemed to firmly believe that the “ch” in the word “orchestra” is meant to be pronounced as it looks.

Okay, I’m being mean.

The concert was fun. The music was great! And now I want a cello and a violin. And a husband who can play drums. That is all.

-Yours wishfully,

Ivana.