More than two weeks ago, a couple of super-cool things happened to me. I’m going to recount because of the love and gratitude I feel for these people.
I don’t like humans. Humans are unnecessarily evil. But, in fact, everything has its good and bad, and really, some people make me want to restore my faith in humanity.
So, a long time ago, I blogged about how much I enjoy traditional writing and that somewhere in my dreams, I would have a typewriter. On a totally unrelated not, I had naturally made a friend online, whose name is Abena Yirenkyiwa Awuku (ayawuku.wordpress.com). IN fact, she’s the one who nominated me for a couple of Ghana Blogging Awards (none of which I won, but I seriously don’t even mind). So, Abena read this blog post of mine, and next thing I know, she’s DM-ing me on Twitter, asking me when is my birthday, and what’s my postal address…and then a few months later, to tell me that my typewriter has arrived.
Think about the amazingness of it all.
Someone I had never met, and knew nowhere but online, got up and bought me my dream birthday present, at no cost to me, and brought it to Ghana with her for me. No, seriously, think about that. What on earth are the chances of that happening?
You can’t even think how excited I was about it all! Yeah, yeah, it’s “just a typewriter” right? An archaic and outdated machine that your fricking MacBook air has already replaced; what’s the big deal? LOL. I’m not even going to try to make anyone understand the novelty of owning this splendid machine in the 21st Century. (At least not now.) But even if you don’t care about the typewriter, goodness, think of the thought that went into it!
I love you, Abena!
So, on one fine Tuesday, I got my mother to drop me off at Osu, where I met this wonderful person who is some unfathomable kind of generous. It was so much fun. WE had conversation about subject matter that I don’t usually get the opportunities to have with the usual people around me, and it was nice to have someone to relate to. 🙂
So, of course, Abena Yirenkyiwa made my day…and my belated birthday. And probably a lot of future birthdays too. Also, she introduced me to a cool, literature-savvy guy (shout out to @readjerome – at least when he’s not trying to intentionally sell his dreams. LOL.)
The very next day, I happen o have taken an impromptu trip to my best friend, Simeon’s house. I had a fun time hanging out with him and his five-year-old, adorable (dictatress) sister. insert heart-eyes here It was the first time I had physically met and interacted with her, which was super cool. Within minutes of meeting me, she held my hand and asked me, “Can I be your friend?” and I said of course, of course! A few hours later, I was hearing her say to me, “It is very wonderful how we have just became friends.” (Oh forgive the grammatical error, you Nazis, she’s five!)
That wasn’t even the highlight though. Sometime that afternoon, Simeon’s stepmum called him up to her room, and he came back down holding a parcel for me. Turned out that she’d been saving an assortment of mostly perfumes for me for a while. Let that sink in. SHE WAS SAVING PERFUME FOR ME.
HAS YOUR BFF’S MOM GIVEN YOU PERFUME BEFORE? No? Okay. **flips hair*
Of course, I’ve already started hearing the “You’re already part of the family” jokes. This ain’t even the best story, though! :’D
But yay for nice people! You rock hard, and I ❤ ❤ ❤ you!
An empty room that echoes
The voices of sages and sinners
And I hear
And wonder if they are your own.
You are full
Of wisest and worst
My words leak out,
Back to me;
You don’t wonder if they are your own.
I consider myself a cathartic writer. I write spontaneously, in the moment, start and finish things on the spot, in the moment. I haven’t always done that. When I was younger – I’m talking five to seven years ago – I used to write long stories like novellas or novels. I was able to remain way more focused and dedicated to writing such things than I am now. But back then, I didn’t have the intense emotions that I acquired through my adolescent life, and hence, no need to release them. Now, however, it’s a different story.
I’m not even churning out short stories as frequently as I was, say, a year ago. BUT whether as reason or consequence, I am back to attempting to write novels, in line with my plan to become Ghana’s most internationally recognised novelist by age 27. (This isn’t arrogance, it’s aspiration. And I am aware it might not end well. Don’t shoot me down, please.) In my endeavours to finally try writing wholesome, fleshy novels again, I have come to realise something: it’s hard to stay in the emotion.
With blog posts or journal entries, it’s like, “I feel this way. I’ll write this and finish. Now I feel this way. I’ll write this other thing and finish.” A novel, however, is long and continuous. It’s impossible to remain within the zones of the emotion that you began with. You can’t be the same level of angry for five months, for example. But you always have to continue, ground characters and story lines, connect scenes, join ideas and flesh them out. So, if I started writing a happy scene and I was happy writing it, I’d come back ready to continue, but I’d be sad, and unable to induce the happy emotion, but have to write anyway. See?
Writing isn’t easy. I fully respect all the ones out there who do this stuff full-time. You’ve done so well. Dedication and passion are basically the only things that keep me tolerating my scatterbrained, attention deficit self and still pursuing this thing. Whew!
[Author’s note: I suspect people are going to try to kill me if I don’t make it clear that this post is written from the POV of a fictional persona. (Whispers on the side “But isn’t fiction really the best way to hide behind the revelation of what the author himself thinks?” *evil laugh*)
To be honest, I’ve taken a lot of interest in villains lately. I mean, I was raised on Disney fairytales, so the hero-vs-villain story is the one most common to me. However, I never took particular interest in the part of the villain, at least until two or three years ago, when I watched Megamind and began to watch Once Upon A Time. Before, my only thought was “Alright, so the hero has to win, the villain has to lose. That’s what poetic justice is all about.” Right now…I believe the story of the villain is actually far more interesting – because it takes interesting backstories to the really bad guys to get to where they reached. I think Swampy Marsh and Dan Povenmire had this idea right when they created Phineas and Ferb’s antagonist, Doofenshmirtz. OUAT’s character Queen Regina is my favourite character because her story is SO complex and incredibly interesting. She is the most layered and dynamic character on the series, in my opinion.
Of course, on the side, I’m also part. The past three years have been rough on me and I’ve felt that I identified more with villains than with heroes…so I thought…why not begin to explore and reveal the psyche of the villain? The hero’s story is already known. And so I began to write to understand the “evil people”. For me it hasn’t been hard. Today, I’m sharing one of many. When I become a novelist, you’ll see more complex distins, trust me.]
Most people don’t have the courage to visit their darkest emotions. I am not one of them. I lust, yes, I do. But not for your body; I lust for the immense pleasure of knowing the monsters that prey on your mind. I practice not the sins that everybody knows and recognises, but the darker ones that you know you are sane, but probably evil, for talking about.
I fully acknowledge (to myself) right now, that your pain gives me pleasure. I have known this for a long while. I am all the more dangerous because I am not the one who inflicts it on you, but I sit back and enjoy from a distance – and yet, for this reason, I am not dangerous at all. I do not know if that truly makes me a sadist.
You are offended and confused. After all, why would anybody delight in the suffering of a person so pure? Allow me to explain: you see, I am flawed. I have my own inner demons to fight with. Every day. They do not leave me alone; and the way things are going, I fear and believe they will remain residing in me forever. I have tried and failed to cast them out. That is why now, when I am not tormented by the thoughts of my own little monsters, I am taking delight in your own – purely because it is nice to know that you have some.
There is nothing more frustrating than knowing a perfect person on a first-name basis; an overachiever that everybody recognises. It is the most insignificant I ever feel when the two of us are in the same room. What hand should have dealt out prosperity to one and inadequacy to the other, in the same microcosmic universe? It is simply unfair. The thought, when allowed to wallow, goes deep, and begins to rot my core; and that is when and why I feed on your demons – because they prove to me that perhaps you have the capacity to sink as low as I have. It proves to me that you, the Success, can also be a Failure. Your demons remind me that no-one is truly perfect. And the less perfect you are, the more comfortable I am with myself. It shouldn’t make any sense, but what wise man was ever able to use his rationale to win a battle against the folly of his deceitful heart?
The thoughts are evil, and yet inextinguishable. Am I a downright hypocrite? For when you cry in your battles, I am there to wrap my arm around your shoulders – because trust me, who better to understand your pain than one who truly feels it? Such a man is the only kind who can offer you true empathy. And yet inside, I am smiling, because I have seen that even Superman can fall.
It is an evil full of so much pleasure that I cannot – or perhaps do not want to – convince myself to turn away. I am a villain bred, not born, and my wretched soul finds comfort in your perfect pain.
A Budding Villain
People are confused. Some of them have strange god-complexes, and they ain’t even know it!
As a Christian, I am speaking from this perspective, not to preach, but to point something out.
I’ll start from Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We all know this verse, don’t we? It helps us believe we’ll get all the things we want to get, right? I’m not even going to go into that right now. Just go to Youtube and watch Jackie Hill Perry’s “Jig-A-Boo.” Anyway, this verse is fine when we need that drive, that push.
HOWEVER. In my opinion, Jeremiah 29:11 goes hand-in-hand with Isaiah 55: 8-9.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.”
This is VERY IMPORTANT. Especially when you’re dealing with someone other than yourself, whether or not you (feel you) have legitimate responsibility over them.
You see, in life, in the 21st century, most people have a standardized idea of what the prosperity described in Jeremiah 29:11 is. They tend to think, oh, it’s money, a car, a secure (practical) job, a stable family, kids who are academically talented, who also grow up to get money and find a secure (practical) job. So, even when they have achieved their secure job and established their own money-making venture (in a job that they are exhausted with every time they come back from work and have no real passion for), when something doesn’t go the way they expected, they are shocked. The shock can be them getting laid off their jobs, or their kids – not being as academically gifted as they wished, or refusing to find interest in a profession that will lead to “prosperity”. Emphasis on the last ones, because they are not directly affecting the shocked person.
These days, for the lower to upper middle class, it’s pretty clear what is expected of the young’uns. We need to finish middle school, excel in high school and all its extra-curricular things, then go to good colleges/universities, and get good jobs. And any parent who wants this for their kids just “wants the best for them,” right? So we naturally tell ourselves that God wants our kids to get into university, right? WE know that’s what’s “best”, so clearly, that’s what God wants too, right? …Right? I mean, you, dear parent, you know which career path is not prosperous enough, so you are aware that your son/daughter needs to go and study say, medicine, right? But Elysium forbid you sound over-bearing and all that, so your wishes suddenly turn into your god’s wishes – and in that moment, I tell you, you have made your own god. You’re telling yourself that of course God doesn’t want your kid to be whatever you don’t want your kid to be – because obviously you know exactly what His plan for the kid was. And it was (say) medicine. Right? …Right?
News flash: you ain’t God.
His ways are not our ways.
I don’t know why it’s so difficult for people to accept that they don’t actually understand that it’s possible for God’s desire to be different from theirs – when it comes to other people.
Here’s my story: I’ve always been a smart kid. I aced every blessed subject, and was top of my class for 8 years. Every subject was my best subject. I was good at everything. Then, in high school, I started struggling with physics and additional mathematics, and even grew to basically hate Chemistry. This was in the first two years. (I just completed my third.) Now, see, I was miserable, and because I had always been such a shark, I did not understand where all this sudden struggling came from. But, foolishly, I ignored it. I let my father talk me into believing that even if I want to be a writer, I can work towards being an engineer and write on the side.
I don’t blame him though. The way I was raised, most people thought that because I was so great at everything, I could always do anything, profession-wise. And of course, they’d want me to pursue a practical profession for “academically-gifted people.”
But then I started IB, with Higher Level Maths and Physics, and I swear I have never felt stupider in my life .These subjects brought me to the lowest low I have ever been at in my life, ever ever ever, and I don’t know how to make anyone see that I am not exaggerating. I don’t have the strength to go into detail, but maybe one day in my autobiography…Ahem. Anyway, as I was saying…it didn’t make sense that I, who knew but suddenly had trouble believing that I wasn’t stupid, was suddenly flat-out failing.
You see, it’s because I wasn’t listening. To who? To God, of course! I was listening to everyone else, who spoke like they knew my designed fate, like they’d dictated it, like the Spirit of the Lord had revealed to them that Ivana Akotowaa Ofori was destined to be an engineer. No. That, my friend, is entirely man’s plan for me. Oh, don’t bore yet; I’m about to say even more controversial things! J I don’t even like HL maths and physics. (Okay, physics, maybe a little). But goodness knows that if I was good at them, I’d have probably actually ended up pursuing the whole engineering thing further. And I’d be good at it – and that would be catastrophic! Why? Because I’d be so good at it all that I wouldn’t have been able to pay attention to the real plan God had out for me.
You disagree? Well, that’s why you ain’t God!
Honestly, sometimes we get so focused on our supposed success, and what other people say our success will be, that we constantly forget to ask, “But what does God say my life should be?” And He tells us, but we don’t listen. Honestly, I wasn’t listening for the longest time, and I was in extreme danger of choosing a path that had not been chosen out for me. Listen. God did not give me the art of words (which is a talent that only seems to keep growing) so that I could use it as a “side job”. But people don’t understand that they are not God, so the path that I see now has been so clearly laid out for me, makes them mad. Pushing this God-given talent to the side is equivalent to burying my talent under the ground. It is downright lazy and disrespectful.
But you see, because I wasn’t listening, great measures had to be taken to drive this thing into my head: so despite my intelligence, despite my hard work, I was continuously, uncharacteristically, BOMBING maths and physics. I had to basically fail before I got up and realised, the problem isn’t my brain, it is my heart. I needed something to wake me up to the certainty that, chale, engineering, God says no. Controversial? Hell yeah.
I talk to God a lot. Not in the oh-I’m-always-on-my-knees-and-praying kind of way, but like, the every time, any situation kind of random discussion with a Supreme Being in my head. And, as far as I can remember, since the time when I actually was born again in 2011, God has not left my prayers unanswered. I ask Him a lot of questions, and He answers me, not through the external world as through within me – a realisation here, a change of heart there…and that is how I arrive at my ambitious conviction and certainty. Trust me, when you’re lost and you ask God for direction, you may just come to realise that being lost was always in the plan of the journey to your final destination.
Things haven’t really changed externally. I mean, the people who have antagonised me before haven’t suddenly had a change of heart and realised, “Oh, Akoto was meant to be in the realm of words.” Nope. They still frustrate me to my wit’s end with their mini-god-complexes. What has changed is my heart. Because when you know that there’s something God has out for you to do, despite statistics, despite people’s god complexes, despite possibilities of brokenness and destitution, you will find some sort of irrational, transcendent peace in whatever God tells you is right.
And it’s fine if you don’t understand that – but that’s why you ain’t God.
I’m becoming good with coming up with titles these days. LOL.
This story is a few months old. (I just haven’t told it yet.) It’s also about my little brother. I sigh because the interesting things always happen when I’m not at home. But here we go.
William Delali Ofori Jnr was a boy with curious eating habits. He ate well and in sizable quantities – in any instance but actual mealtimes. Nobody knew the reason. During Sunday family lunch, for example, he would eat so little, and then, bored, would always be the first to excuse himself from the dining table. More often than not, however, he would be back in about three or so hours, to continue eating, and eat as if he had been starving since the night before. He was also prone to waking up at ungodly hours in the early a.m.s, pack a plate of food, and by three a.m., he’d be fast asleep again, with a cleared plate on the floor beside his bed.
His father, William Delali Ofori Snr, was a man who didn’t take well to these kinds of antics. “Is that all you want to eat?” he would ask his son during Sunday lunch. “Listen, if you come back in the evening looking for food, there will be no food for you; you better eat now.”
Regularly, though, WDO Jnr paid no heed.
One particular Sudnay, when Delali’s gorgeous and talented (ahem!) big sister, Akotowaa, was battling misery valiantly in boarding school, the other Oforis had a very sumptuous lunch, prepared by his mother, Sylvia Ofori It was macaroons and cheese, Delali’s favourite, so uncharacteristically, he ate more than he usually did on a Sunday afternoon. For once, WDO Snr saw no real reason to complain or pose any threats. And yet, still when lunch had long been over…Delali Jnr snuck down to the kitchen and sneaked some more pasta onto his plate
His father saw him do it, as he took his weekly repose in the living room. He, however, said nothing.
Upon finishing the small plate of food he had dished out for himself, he came to realise it was not satisfactory .He took another trip down the stairs for a second round. Again, his father saw him do it and did nothing. The third time it happened, WDO Snr was on his way out of the house and was beginning to get frustrated.
“Delali!” he said. “What is this piece-piece eating that you are doing? If you want to eat the food, eat the food and stop taking all these tiny portions on your plate, ah!” Then he continued on his way, left the hosue.
Two hours later, Sylvia Ofori came downstairs, only to find her son, sitting slack in his chair, with a bloated stomach, heavily lidded eyes and a completely cleared serving bowl of what had been full of the entire family’s worth of pasta for at least two meals. It was basically wiped clean.
“Ei!” exclaimed his mother, completely incredulous about the fact that her son had managed to consume all this food. He must have been there for a while then, she concluded. His hand was resting on his stomach, and he looked like he was in pain.
“Did you eat all of that food?! But how?”
“D-d-daddy…told…me…to eat it…” Delali could barely even breathe. “He said…I should…eat all the food…instead of small…”
He explained very poorly, but once Sylvia understood what had happened, she laughed till she could barely breathe. What a character Delali was! What a character!