The Yawa of Leonidas

Featured Image: Leonidas from Meet the Spartans, 2008

Image courtesy Google Images

 

“Leonidas”
I froze. “Leonidas” the voice spoke again. I gulped. I swiveled away from my friends in the direction of the voice. I looked up into her eyes. For a moment, she looked into mine and then she blinked and looked away. I smiled sheepishly. “Yes, Lorlor.” “Mr. Somuah said I should tell you we should bring the Pre-Tech drawings to the workshop after second break.” I scanned her face again. She held her gaze this time and the edges of her lips curled. “Okay. I will tell the class.” I told her. She turned away from me without a word and went back to her desk.

I watched her go and sighed. A loud harrumph from the boys alerted me to my surroundings. I rose quickly and went to the front of the class. It was free period so everyone was just chatting and playing. Kwame Obeng and his friends were huddled at the end of one of the rows. They were playing paper ball. Kesewa and her girls sat nearby oblivious to the boys’ little grunts below them. Goodness knows who they were talking about this time.

“Excuse me!” I yelled. The chatter muted. “Yes Leonidas, what is it?” shouted Kofi Kumi. “Mr. Somuah said we should bring the pre-tech drawings after second break. If you have finished please put it on the teacher’s table.” I wiggled my ears as a small gasp arose from the paper ball boys. The energetic talk before was replaced with nervous murmurs. There was a collective clatter as people placed their drawing boards on their desks. Mr. Somuah never hesitated to use his cane if we did not submit our drawings. Woe betide us if one person failed to submit his or her work. The whole class would pay for it.

I glanced around the classroom again as it suddenly went quiet. She sat in the front row, black jacket pulled over her blue check uniform. Her auburn hair was cut in a close crop as per school rules. I let out an audible sigh. Kesewa, ever so nosy raised her head quickly. I shuffled away but she had already caught me staring at Lorlor. I quickly went back to my seat dreading the stories she was going to cook up. Quickly I looked at my drawing again. The borderlines were crooked. I loathe drawing borderlines.

Presently the bell for second break rang. A plaintive wail rose from the back. I knew it was Kwame Obeng and his squad. They should know better. We play paper ball after school, behind the form 1 block; not when we had unfinished drawings. I hurriedly drew my borderlines again. I had double lines but I would take a minus 2 over 2 canes any day.

I sat in my desk and looked around the class again. Apart from the boys who were playing paper ball everyone else had gone out for break. Everyone except Lorlor. She was writing something in a big book. I swallowed. Lorlor Owusu Debrah was the assistant class prefect. I remember when Madam Kuvie selected her. It was the first day of JSS one. We had come with our new uniforms and sat anywhere we liked. Those of us who knew each other from class 6 sat together. Madam Kuvie changed all of that. “In my class, you will sit boy and girl.” There was a collective giggle. Madam Kuvie frowned. “Who laughed?” she asked. The whole class erupted in laughter. Now Madam Kuvie had a high voice and she was not helped by the fact that she was very short. Her face turned red and she promptly took out a cane from the cupboard and proceeded row by row yelling “All heads on the table.” The crack of the cane went 52 times; a stroke per person. “Next time you will learn not to laugh at your class teacher.” She brought her chair in front of the blackboard and started barking orders.

We went around the class massaging our backs as we found our new places. After all was done, she stood up and announced. “Now we are going to select a new class prefect. I’m sure you think I will ask you to bring names so we vote for them.” She paced among the rows. “You are wrong. I will choose for you since you think I am carrying a dead monkey on my head.”

Right behind her I sniggered. She whirled around, cane in hand. I looked at her face. Madam Kuvie was slim but had a lot of pimples. Even the badly done make up couldn’t hide it. There was a wild look in her eyes and she smiled at me. It was not a friendly smile. “You! What is your name?” she asked. Kesewa with her big mouth just shouted. “Please madam his name is Leonidas” I grimaced. “Ehh? Like the movie 300 eh.” Madam Kuvie pulled me up by the ear none too gently. “Go and stand in front of the class.” I hurried to the front. “Look at him too, he’s fat and he’s laughing at me.” The class giggled again. Clutching my ear, I glowered at Kesewa. She stuck her tongue out at me.

Just then a girl with red hair and freckles just entered the classroom. She was plump and wore a black jacket over her blue check uniform. She looked at me and smiled. “Who are you?” Madam Kuvie’s shrill voice cut the connection. “My name is Lorlor Owusu Debrah. I’m a new student.” She replied, her voice like the wind chimes tinkling at the chapel. I sighed. “Okay. Hurry up and sit down.” Madam snapped at her. She went and sat in my seat.

The class went “Ei!” “Lorlor!” Madam Kuvie yelled. “I’ve changed my mind. Come and stand by this boy here.” Wordlessly she got up and walked up to stand by me. I could feel her warmth by me. If I wasn’t so dark my face would have been as red as Madam Kuvie’s when we laughed at her voice. “These are your class prefects.” I grimaced again. I really didn’t want to be class prefect. All I did was laugh at the wrong time and here I am now.

I stood by the teacher’s table. No one was allowed to sit in the teacher’s chair. Madam Kuvie took delight in beating us. I have never been able to take her canes raw before. The break over bell rang and people came in and submitted their papers in 2 stacks. I helped Lorlor pick up one stack then took the other one. We walked to the Pre-Tech workshop in silence. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I turned to try to say something. Then Lorlor stubbed her toe against a stone and stumbled. Sheets of paper flew everywhere as she sat on the red earth, “Oh!” was all I could say. I carefully put down my stack on a clump of grass and went over to help her up. ” Are you hurt?” I croaked. She shook her head. “Sorry okay. Give me your hands.” I said and put out mine. She reached for my hands. I felt a current pass through my hands as we clasped them. Her hands were so soft! I gasped and let go. She giggled and started picking up the drawing sheets. I helped her. Mr. Somuah didn’t like the idea of being kept waiting. I watched her as she stooped, my gaze affixed to her bosom. Usually the girls put a handkerchief to cover their chests or used a hand when they swept or had to stoop.

The globules of pale flesh peeking through the top of her singlet got me suddenly excited. I felt unexpectedly warm in my groin as I went hard. I didn’t want to pee. I quickly picked up my stack of papers and lowered them. I had rooted. “How can this be happening to me at this time?” Beads of sweat trickled down my brow. “Let’s go.” Lorlor spoke. Her tingly voice was dreamy. I broke into step beside her as we quickened the pace.

We snuck into the workshop. It was empty. “Thank God!” Lorlor exclaimed. I let out a sigh of relief. We put down the drawing sheets on the big worktable in the corner. Lorlor went looking for our class marker. She found it and placed it on top of the sheets. I turned to go. Suddenly I felt a warm soft hand slip into mine. “I wanted to say thank you for helping me when I fell down.” She said. I froze and my warm discomfort grew. “It’s fine it’s fine.” I managed to blurt out. “I think I’m hurt though.” She put her leg on one of the benches and lifted the hem of her uniform to her knee. My eyes followed the movement. I saw a little scrape on her knee. “Oh, this sore will die right now.” I blurted out, paralyzed. “Okay.” She started to lower the dress. A sudden wind blew through the windows of the class and pushed her uniform hem further down. I suddenly saw her whole thigh and her underwear. She was wearing pink Hello Kitty undies. A hot wave went through my body and I felt sticky in my underwear. I was confused. “What is happening to me?”

In that moment Mr. Somuah strode into the workshop and saw everything. “Herh!” his voice boomed across the room. “Naughty children! I ask you to bring me your drawing sheets and this is what you are doing because I’m not around.” He came closer, his baritone voice sounding menacing. He had a cane in his hand and flicked it casually in his hand. He marched us out of the workshop and took us to the headmistress’s office. I tried to cover the stain with my hands as I walked sideways beside Lorlor. She had gone unearthly quiet since the incident began. Neither Lorlor nor Mr. Somuah had seen the stain. I prayed fervently to reach the office without any extra fuss. As we passed by the class, Kesewa noticed us and ran to the door. “Herh Leonidas what is that on your shorts? Raise your hand!” she shouted. The sudden sound got teachers and students coming out of their classrooms. Mr. Somuah stopped and motioned for me to take my hands off. “Sir please I beg.” Lorlor stared ahead. She had been very quiet since the beginning of the incident. “Take your hand off boy!” he roared. I resisted. He rapped my wrists with the cane and I let go. He took a look and started guffawing. “Waa see. He has piipi on his shorts.” My face burned with shame as everybody burst into laughter. I could hear Kesewa hooting “Oh Leonidas has done yawa.”

Lorlor could not stifle her giggles and laughed, looking away. I stared at her dumbfounded. The tears began to flow.

 

© Sena Frost ‘17

Dog Days are Shitty Days

Everyday is the same. I wake up in the darkness. I debate whether I truly want to be at work today. Even in the shower, I am lost in thought as the cold water rains down my belly puckering up every pore. I’m developing a pot belly. Weird considering how I barely eat these days. I throw on whatever clothes my hands touch first then I sling my bag over my shoulder and head out. I try to avoid the landlord as much as I can because I skip out on scrubbing the bathroom. The co-tenants complain because they saw my girlfriend using it once and think I’m married and hiding it. Sometimes I lope to the railway which is a few hundred metres away. When I’m late (which is most of the time) I take my time to walk to the bus stop, if you can even call it that. The taxis have taken over the place and forced the trosky drivers to park in the middle of the road. The police who come there sometimes sack them, most other times they just look on; their pallid reflective shirts making them look awkward in the fray.

Sometimes I listen to music. Anything to distract me from the gnawing pain in my heart. It’s like an unsettling itch. It was warm and pulsing, like something has moved from its rightful position. Yeah something has. My girlfriend had just left me for another guy. It was only a matter of time. She blamed me for everything, even her cheating. “You’ve become so distant lately. You don’t even do the stuff you used to anymore.” She wailed over the phone. The stuff she referred to was “gifts”; little wads of cash every other week for her to do her nails and look pretty and stuff. That was the last time we spoke. I could barely tell her anything at all. If I wasn’t talking about her in our conversations she wasn’t interested. The sex barely made up for anything. I’d miss her rump though. She was pear shaped and her derriere could move mountains. A memory of me stabbing away as she bounced up and down in my dingy room when she came over flitted through my mind. I sighed and switched playlists. I’ve developed a taste for loud electronic music. The more tingly the sound, the better.

I probably have the worst of luck. I hardly ever get a good enough trosky to work. Between being perched on the spare tyre or cramped up in the back seat while a stout old lady or cantankerous man spread themselves in the desired edge seat. In the trains, I’d most often stand throughout the journey to my stop. I shouldn’t complain about that but it gets to me every time. I loathe it when the trosky drivers decide to take the untarred shortcuts in a bid to outrace other troskies for more passengers. They jarred my bones and made my cramped plight even more pitiful. I’d dream of owning a car but I don’t even know how to drive. All the potential driving license money going down one frizzy haired drain. Or used to.

The morning traffic on the ride to work could be interesting. Coupled with the music banging on my ear drums I’d see things and imagine them as pictures or poems in my mind’s eye. Even when my eyes watered from the pain from the metal frames pressing against my shins or kneecaps I’d look out the window. I try to keep as much change as possible because the thieving mates never lost an opportunity to increase the fare or withhold small change any chance they got. Never mind the unwashed bodies and smelly armpits, those coins are invaluable to me. Their unpredictability was the one thing predictable about them. Looking out sometimes gave away the newest trends in town. Big shiny billboards with all sorts of nonsense scrawled on them; the religious ones anyway. The new buildings with their colourful alucobond frames looking like something out of a Lego movie were particularly interesting. Most of them had the ubiquitous “Space to let” sign draped over their sides. Space which I’d have to sell my kidney to rent for a couple of months.

The new apartment signs rankle me the most. Shiny building blocks with nice views and astronomical prices. Certainly not worth me busting a spleen. I take careful note to see my favourite hated billboard. Hers. Yeah, she modelled for this herbal toothpaste thingy and they loved her for it. For me it was the beginning of the end. Her dimpled smile winked at me, reminding me of how her overnight popularity and need to look the part took her further away. She wasn’t even paid a dime for the billboard. I sighed heavily and thought of work. Work was in a cramped office space in downtown Accra. I worked as head of outdoor services. It’s just a fancy name for delivery boy. We delivered sanitary items to hotels and corporate offices all over. I’m only the head because I can’t drive. Too smart for my boss to let me go and too desperate to demand a higher wage, I feel stuck here often. All I do is stamp and verify all day; stamp and verify.

My boss is an asshole. She was a portly woman in her late forties. Never married and always had a scowl on her face. She strung insults from her thin lips like toothpaste being squeezed dry. Every conversation with her had a dollop of biblical verses in them. I suspect she really hopes to get married. We break every Wednesday because she goes to midweek service at one of the churches in the neighbourhood. Every third Friday of the month was a half-day because she had to go to Kasoa for a special deliverance session from some new-fangled pastor there. She could be pretty if she smiled. I don’t remember ever seeing her smile. Her attitude bordered on outright hostility most of the time though.  I always wonder how she kept getting clients. News through the grapevine said she got her best clients from gay people and regularly gave them all sorts of jobs if they came around. All I had to do was listen when the godawful music from the radio in her office went very high. Judging by its frequency when we had female clients visiting, I think it’s true.

The pay stinks. I’ve come close to quitting so many time but my mom tells me to stay “because there are no jobs anymore.” The ex-girlfriend used to take up half the amount every month. I remember having to deal with money launderers because she wanted an iPhone 7 for her birthday. I still haven’t been able to pay off that debt. The scars crisscrossing my potbelly remind me every time it gets cold. Rent and food and transportation take up the rest. I don’t remember the last time I saw my friends or went to the movies or had a drink. It’s virtually impossible to. I subsist every single month. Most of the time I look good so my poverty hardly shows on my face. My mom (bless her soul) brings me new clothes every month from when she goes shopping for things for her boutique. I haven’t been to church in forever. I’m just too tired from working six days a week. I need money. Trouble is I need money to make money

I have a dream. My dream is to be a photographer. My friends who are into it are making some serious dough I think. I see it on Instagram sometimes. Seeing the smiling pretty girls I’m hardly ever going to talk to was nice sometimes. Going on social media drains whatever credit I manage to buy on my phone so I keep it to a minimum. It’s also a good check so I don’t see the ex’s smiling visage splattered everywhere. I hate those motivational and religious whatsapp BCs which circulate round. I just turn off my data so I hardly ever see all that BS.  I miss the sex. Those moments were the only true distraction I had. I’d let go as we drummed away, sweaty palms tracing her curves and tickling her back. I remember the taste of her mouth and the way she wound her waist as we congressed on the wall. She rose pale in the light streaming in from the streetlight as we wordlessly made love over and over again. We never used any protection even when she was cheating on me. Forgive me. It’s the only thing I have any appetite for. I wouldn’t eat my toffee in its wrapper. I pushed the door to the office open and set my bag down.

Stamp and verify. Stamp and verify. Ten hours later I picked up my bag and stole out of the office. If you don’t leave quietly my boss would make you stay in till she was ready to go home. She usually leaves at nine pm. I don’t fancy being trapped in a building with that hag any longer than I have to. Travelling back home is my favourite part of my shitty routine. There’s a tranquil beauty that sets in the city after five pm. I’d listen to my heartbreak music while letting my mind drift in the kilometres being eaten away. I would not have that pleasure this evening. My phone buzzed and I lifted it to my face. In the quasi darkness of the trosky a single text message notification illuminated my face. “I think I’m HIV positive.”

I screamed.

© Sena Frost ‘17

image courtesy google images

 

The Day The World Stood Still

This is a fictious story inspired by true events.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I present

THE DAY THE WORLD STOOD STILL

‘’ Dear Diary,
Today has to be possibly the worst day of my life.’’
I shook my head once more. The day’s events had thrown me into utter disbelief. As I sat in the massive cavern that is my classroom, directly under one of two working fluorescent lights I smiled ironically. This has to be the most yawa thing which could happen to anyone. Imagine what would happen if anyone caught wind of this. In a big school. You wanna know how big? Motown big. I let out a deep sigh. Presently a mosquito hovered near my nose. A thunderclap later and there were bits of mosquito exoskeleton and goo plastered in my palms. The sound rapped sharply in the cool evening air. It seemed to reverberate as murmurs around the class. A back seat boy snarled ‘’ Ah you too what that?’’ I suppose he was interrupted in the middle of getting under a girl’s dress in the dimly lit rear of the room. I shrugged. I stared at the rest of the not so blank page and squinted. Through my half lidded eyes the world seemed to rewind.
‘’ Warning for juniors leave the annex!’’ the din of the brass bell and the hoarse bark of the bell boy cut through my sleep like a hot knife through butter. Someone muttered ‘’ This bell boy kraa ede like ring the bell hard too much.’’ ‘’ Make you no mind am. E be like say play dey en eye top.’’ Rising bell was always a cause for grief. Even though I could afford an extra ten minutes of sleep, the whiplash caused by the bell is not so easily forgotten. The house came to life raucously. I trudged out of bed. I checked whether my school uniform was safe nestled behind the thicket of coat hangers. Satisfied I made a beeline for the tubes. In the dank toilet stall a mix of relief and worry creased my face. I was constipated for three days straight. Relief because I had more time to bath and worried because I felt like I was carrying a pack of C-4 explosive in my rectum and I didn’t know when it was going to explode. I trundled through the rest of the morning ritual. No chores because of my semi-senior status. Form two third term meant we were at the top of the hierarchy. While some of my mates were busy being apex predators; having few natural enemies and plenty of prey to choose from I was largely invisible. Due to my melancholy and (enforced) solitary habits I wasn’t part of a clique. If I was part of an ecosystem I would be the seventeen year cicada sleeping under the soil. I lived a largely lonely existence.
I wasn’t looking forward to the morning. Breakfast was foregone because it wasn’t my week to eat. Empty wallet (I left it under my pillow) and empty chopbox (the padlock was stashed away in my trunk) meant I was going to have to wing it. Visiting can’t come quick enough. But it was Thursday and a gloomy one as that. Foreboding grey skies over a grey hill. ‘’ Funny.’’ I thought. The first warning started on my way to class from morning assembly. I was tall and skinny and it showed in my gait; an awkward ambling stride. I feel like a giraffe sometimes. So I was walking on the lover’s lane when I felt it. A knife twisting pain in my gut. I winced and soldiered on. Gladly I had just one paper today. Unfortunately it was in the afternoon. Around 12. It was gloomy and cold. Just great. I had left my cardigan in the house. Cardigans are ubiquitous in Motown. In hot or cold weather you were definitely going to find students wearing them. I cursed myself silently. I made it to class. Word going round was that we were going to write the paper at the Art School. Nice. If it rained we were going to be trapped. No access to the snack square or the school annex.
I sat down in silence. Everything was a bit blurry. Hunger necessitated a reduction of activities. No energy wasted on extraneous things. I avoided the group discussions. No talking. Not even to the girls. I slept away the hours. Everyone in class was accustomed to my quirky ways so I wasn’t disturbed, not till it was time to go to the Art School. GKA wasn’t ordinarily a difficult paper. The history made revising for it a chore. It could be overwhelming. Hunger pangs tore at my stomach but my concern was the slow turning of my bowels. I positioned myself in the middle of the class. It was much harder to cheat from there and I really just wanted to be left alone. The paper looked easy on the eye. I set to work. I was done in half an hour. Yeah yeah I know. I liked to finish my papers as quickly as possible and daydream or sleep the rest of the allotted time out. I felt the urge to fart and I positioned myself; one buttock up. Almost immediately I held it in.
Second warning. My eyes watered. The knife twisting gut pain was back. I wasn’t going to wing this one. I had to get to the school annex asap. I looked up at the invigilator and raised my hand. Without waiting for him to get to me I darted out of the classroom. How the art school lacks toilet facilities I have no frigging idea. I set out in my mile eating stride to cover the fifty plus metres to the school annex. Ten seconds into it and it was already a bad idea. I doubled over in pain. I started hobbling. I was in a dilemma. Holding in three days’ worth of crap was a herculean task. I was facing off nature and gravity and they were winning. I could hear the churning of my colon’s contents like an organic cement mixer. I burst out on to the road between the dining hall and the co-op shop. Then wham! It hit me again. My lumbar region screeched in pain. Tears welled up in my eyes. Mercifully there were no students in the form three block (their previous occupants were busy regaining the fat lost in three years of their academic travails). I half imagined how this situation would have panned out if they were there. Some of the boys would have been lounging out of the window waiting for unsuspecting juniors to pass by and send. One would have bawled ‘’ Yo! Form two boy. Drop.’’ I would have given them an incredulous ‘’WTF’’ look and continued my meandering on. ‘’Herh! E no be you we de call? In fact clock for there. Why are you loitering around during school hours?’’ I would have stuck my fingers in my ears. Fortunately this was never going to happen. Ultimately the delay would cause outright disgrace to me. It wasn’t worth obeying a senior for.
I laughed manically. I felt my coccyx sway. The school annex was just up ahead. I tried to increase my hobbling speed. Home straight. I veered into the hedge right beside it attempting a shortcut. The school annex was little loved. Despoiled and desecrated on a daily basis by the Anumle boys it was a place of darkness and unspeakable terrors. My need however trumped this. It was just too great for me to care. Then I heard a sound like a balloon deflating or cattle groaning. I felt the warm stickiness in the seat of my shorts. I lurched in horror. ‘’ Oh God, why now?’’ I whispered. Too late. How I tore off the shorts without a fleck of human excreta on it was mind boggling. It was bye bye boxers though. A tremor ran down my spine. A sharp cry of relief, tears of joy streaking my cheeks and the human sewer chugging its waste to the ground. A blissful idyll.
While I had the forbidden pleasure of relieving myself I wondered ‘’ What if Kasa saw me?’’ I was not about to be lulled into serendipity. He had the nasty habit of jumping students in the most undesirable areas. As I wrapped up there was still no show. I cleaned myself up by the tap which was most fortunately stationed a few feet away.
I snapped back into the present. I crossed out the opening sentence and scrawled again. I just had to record today better. The weirdest of the weird I know. It now read ‘’ Today is the day the world stood still.’’

Singularity

Just for the record I am a heterosexual man.
I however believe that homosexual people also have basic human rights.
Homophobia is a canker worse than racism.
Please enjoy the read.

SINGULARITY
The dictionaries say one of the meanings of singularity is “a trait marking one as distinct from others; a peculiarity.” I snorted in derision. I don’t believe I’m peculiar or otherwise remarkable. I looked at my reflection in the broken mirror adorning one of my walls. Bloodshot eyes rimmed in baggy sockets, sunken cheeks, cracked hairline and bedraggled hair, the slightly twisted features of my gaunt visage looked back. I smiled. The reflection grimaced. The best you can get out of a broken jaw. The jarring pain accompanying it was bliss.
I looked round my cell of a one room apartment. A single incandescent bulb glowed overhead in the otherwise dim-lit room. I was hemmed in by four dingy yellow walls stained black by dirty hands. A furniture set from the 80’s; plainly retro took up a corner. Gift from daddy’s garage junk. No TV. I don’t remember the last time I watched TV. My twitter feed was a rostrum of blow by blow news. Across from the sofa was my refrigerator. It was the same colour as the wall and even nastier inside. It was a breeding ground for cockroaches. It was another throwback to university days. The fading stickers a sad reminder of hey days long gone. In another corner was my pallet and wardrobe. Clothes strewn everywhere, the faded straw of the thin mattress barely peeking through.
I listened keenly. It was high noon. The neighbourhood music was sure to start soon. I could hear the roaches scuttling about in the fridge.the soft plinking of water from the standpipe in the compound. Presently I heard the flare of raised voices. Mr and Mrs Osei-Danquah were at it again. A janitor with gambling issues, and a wife with delusions of a Hollywood life in the ghetto. I went to the window. I had removed the mosquito netting and chicken wire ages ago. I hated it. It made my cramped apartment a boiler room. I’d rather suffer the ignominy of a thousand mosquito bites than the maddening heat of a stuffy room. I turned and looked at the center of the room. A coffee table atop the center table. A bible and my phone side by side on the center table. The bible was a throwback to more religious days and a wannabe lifestyle. The cheap piece of plastic and metal was a knock down I got from a secondhand dealer at Circle. I picked it up and caressed the spider webbed screen. A faint motion caught my eye. I almost forgot. The rope. It swung idly. I smiled.
Then I began the step up. I closed my eyes and listened again. High noon is my favourite time of day. I could hear the tinny blare of speakers from a neighbour’s room across the compound. The shrill voice of Mr Osei-Danquah and the more dulcet tones of his wife. The loud screech of a taxi with worn out brake discs and the stream of putrid insults from a pedestrian who just cheated death. The effluvium of Ga from the kenkey seller around the corner. The rangy cries of children playing “alikoto” in the shade of the Neem tree in the middle of the compound. The Osei-Danquahs had quieted down. I listened more keenly. I could hear the soft slapping sounds of lovemaking, the grunts and low moans. Just like the Osei-Danquahs to make love after war. I rubbed my wrists. The sting of half healed cuts crisscrossing my forearms brought me back from my idyll. I breathed in and out. Then I prayed. I hadn’t done that in a long time ago. “God I thank you for the gift of my life. I thank you for making me who I am. May be I am strong so you gave me a weakness to mock me. May be I am a weakness you are using to mock a strong person. I have tried living in this world. I have failed. Living has become too much of a chore. I know I am hell bound, but it is to prevent more grief and judgment. I thank you once again. Amen.” The words rang hollow in my head.
A lifetime ago I was a staunch Christian. I loved the Word. I sung in church, I gave my tithes and I enjoyed going on missions. I tried to do no wrong. To be a good child of God. Everything changed when I met him. We met on a tro tro going to Circle. I was going to buy a phone, (my cheap piece of plastic I mentioned earlier.) and he was going to fix a friend’s phone. He was streetwise and helped me get my phone. I took his number and boom, fireworks! He is the sweetest man I have ever known. Then the church got wind of my relationship. I was kicked out of the choir. My volunteer services were revoked. Even my tithing was stopped. The head pastor advised me vehemently against such a “harmful” relationship. How could I? Oh Richmond. I have never known love to exist in such a pure form before. We had no sex. I don’t believe in pre-marital sex. I loved his calm demeanor and easy going outlook to life. He loved music, sports and video games. He could score me for hours on end during his so called FIFA tutorials.
Everything went down the drain. Somehow my colleagues at the ad company where I worked as a photographer were poisoned against me. I lost everything. My job, my faith and now my love flushed away. I had been avoiding his calls for a week now. He didn’t know where I lived. I never showed him. I was going to hurt him. I was doing it because I love him. I had to spare him the disgrace I was living through. I felt tears burn down my cheeks. I faced the noose. Dying terrified me but the thought of Richmond suffering in the bigotry of the society we live in was bone chilling to no end. I put the noose around my neck and tightened it. I made sure the knot held. My previous attempt resulted in my fractured jaw. How thoughtful of the previous occupant of the room to install fan hooks.
Slowly I swung forward. I did not fight the choking. The cheap nylon bit into my neck. I always figured dying would be painful. I was acutely aware of my diminishing oxygen supply and the nerve receptors ringing alarm bells. The stars grew larger and brighter. I was dying because I loved a man. I was dying because I did not want a forbidden love to cause any more pain. I was losing consciousness. My last thoughts went to the note in my bible. “I am gay.”
© Sena Kodjokuma 2015

FALLOUT

 

“Sena.” I saw the whatsapp message. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the familiar sequence of numbers. Deleted but not forgotten. I shook my head and blinked. I then put the phone away. I swiveled away to look at the laptop screen. The cursor blinked like a metronome at me. It was eerie. Eerie because one of the characters in the screenplay I had just written was loosely based on her. Her being Dziedzorm “Dzidzi” Mensa. She was a ghost. A ghost from a past I made for myself. i turned to look at Louise’s sleeping form. The light from the laptop screen illuminated her soft curves. Her prepubescent breasts heaved rhythmically. I suppressed the urge to just reach out and cup one in my hand. I got up and went to the toilet. Sitting back on the porcelain bowl I looked back into the past.

It had been seven months, two weeks and twenty two hours and forty seven minutes since I last heard from Dzidzi. Yeah I remember stupid stuff like that. Taking note of elapsed time was barely scratching the surface. Dzidzi was a longtime friend you see. About five foot five, caramel skin and those eyes which I call princess Jasmine eyes. My favorite part was her lips. They look like they were sculpted by some ancient Greek sculptor or a Renaissance artist. That was how striking they were. Busty and fiercely intelligent, Dzidzi was a one of a kind love. The kind of love which inflames you and consumes you and you don’t really care what happens next. We met through another longtime friend, Akpene. I have always been a little scared of Dzidzi. She gave me such a dressing down in our first conversation. I was slightly cowed by her. And her run down as given by Akpene was that of a fighter. An amazon.

The next time we spoke was a year after. I was getting over Akpene. It’s not what you think. I wasn’t wooing her. I did like her an awful lot but she didn’t feel the same way. Back to Dzidzi now. We became fast friends. I must admit I rather enjoyed chatting with Dzidzi. She was funny and intensely emotional. Her moods could be frightening but she was very cool. She’s that kind of person who you could just let your hair down around. We flirted sometimes too, just for the fun of it. Touch and go stuff really. I was growing on her. Then like a bolt out of the blue she travelled outside. She’d won a scholarship to go study in Russia. “Damn!” I told myself. At that moment I guess I had caught feelings for her. A couple of months passed. Occasionally she’d hit me up on Facebook. Then three months passed without a word from her.

“Sena.” I received that whatsapp message on a low battery. I was on a class trip then. We spoke till my battery gave out. When I got back we spoke some more. Dzidzi had bloomed even if she was struggling to settle into a new country. We were limited by her hostel wifi. It went off at eleven pm her time. A nuisance then. There was a lot to catch up on. There were a few weeks of silence. When I next heard from Dzidzi she had a boyfriend. I was elated. Happy for her even.

I’m talking too much about Dzidzi I know. But I warned you before. I like remembering silly stuff like that which wasn’t good for me. I moved over to the bed after washing my hands. I snuggled beside Lu-Lu on the narrow pallet and cuddled her close. She mumbled and backed into me. I could feel my manhood curling round her bottom. We lay there in a fetal position. That’s how we usually sleep. Louise. I prefer calling her “Lu-Lu”. Don’t ask why. What Lu-Lu and I have is complex in its simplicity. We have an open relationship. We are both free to do what we like and be with other people but I guess we enjoyed the security the other offers. There were no awkward questions or irrelevant fights and moral judgment. What there was, was a lot of lovemaking. Her cramped cubicle bore signs of it. Making art. Sweaty handprints long since converted into painted equivalents studded the walls. I love Lu-Lu in a different way. It’s one of those “we’ll know when we get there” kind of love. We are. If we had babies no p, but there was no talk of formal commitment. Louise just works for me. I guess I can go back to Dzidzi at this point.

“Sena.” Dzidzi whatsapped me. She added a teary faced image to it. Disaster had struck. Earlier on she had touched down, visiting for the summer holidays. We went on a movie date. It was the first time I met her face to face. I had a great time with her. But now trouble. Her boyfriend was being an ass. He had actually gone as far as breaking up with her. In the coming weeks I tried to be her friend. But you know how weird women can get. She went back to him as soon as she touched down.  I was angry but it really wasn’t my place to say. I had issues of my own. I was struggling with a near miss. A love triangle gone wrong. Dzidzi and her boyfriend didn’t last though. They broke up soon after. I think she sort of closed up to everyone after. Sometimes shit happens which changes you markedly. I understood her intimately in a way she probably misunderstood.

Sometime after I had an epiphany. To my horror I discovered I was in love with Dzidzi. She was single then. I tried to woo her despite her reservations. Things got heated and after I asked for her stand she told me someone else had succeeded. I had failed and a carefully structured friendship fell apart. It was all my fault. I had deviated from my own preservation plan. Ironically Dzidzi drew it up for me. Things fell apart

“Sena.” The message was still on my screen, unwavering. The spiral downward was an ugly one. I drifted from woman to woman. I didn’t seek permanence. Just the warmth of a breast and the salty tang of sex. I was a regular with the neighbourhood blue kiosk. If you could down a bottle of bitters faster than I could then you were out of this world. Dzidzi inflamed me. I missed her. I’d see her name everywhere I went. She’d whisper into my ear in the depths of my stupor. I had lost a friend when I tried to make her my woman. I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost my job. Turning up to teach drunk isn’t exactly role model behavior. I cycled round friends’ apartments, perching for a few nights at a time. A few months after the incident I stepped in front of a truck. I wanted to die. “Oh Dzidzi.” I loved her, in a way I barely understood and her absence was torture. There was an almighty crash. I saw red and white and I blacked out. When I came to I was swathed in bandages. I wasn’t dead. Apparently the truck was slowing to a stop when I stepped out in front of it. No bones broken but a lot of bruises. I wept. I stayed in hospital for a while, undergoing psychological rehabilitation.

That’s when I saw Louise. For the first time in a new way. The hospital was close to her work place so she’d pass by to jibe me a little. Louise wasn’t new. She was another longtime friend. One of those free spirits who had gotten a little lost. I helped her find her way and we’ve been friends since. She wasn’t especially beautiful but she had this glow and confidence about her and these wild eyes. She could stir up your thoughts in a moment. Frankly I’d always thought of doing Louise. Having a relationship without boundaries with her. If I was comfortable with Dzidzi I was alive with Lu-Lu. She was normal, with either a wild afro or flyaway perm and the body of a budding teenager. Louise is no angel. She’s had her own escapades, none for the fainthearted. She was a screenwriter who had to claw her way through film school. She’s a survivor.

I moved in with her after I was discharged from the hospital. She had a cramped chamber and hall apartment in town. I loved the intimacy of the place. It was awkward at first. I wasn’t used to seeing a woman undress and dress up every day in front of me. We made out a couple of times, when we came back from town tipsy and giddy. I loved watching her go about her stuff in her apartment. She loved to go nude. I’d watch the teenage body moving up and down, waist beads chinking with every careless movement of her hips. I jumped her in the bathroom and we had sex for the first time. It stayed that way. We’d do it when we woke up, in the shower right before work, when she got back. We tried a couple of things. I started moonlighting as her for her screenplays when she was caught up between work and school. I loved it. I was a writer; poetry and prose were my forte but dipping my hand in screenwriting was a new haven.  It was new to me but I learned fast. Lu-Lu knew about the whole incident. She wasn’t happy with how everything went down. She wasn’t one to talk for long. Not with her mouth anyway. To be honest a little bit of me was relieved the Dzidzi drama ended. I loved her, and I wasn’t having second thoughts. However I felt it was dragging on too long and I was beginning to wonder if there was ever going to be an ‘us’.

Back to Lu-Lu. She’s amazing. She has this raw energy she injects into everything she does. She’s one of those emotional people who are curiously deadpan about other people. Her passion for sex was only bettered by her passion for writing. She would be on her laptop typing away when I wasn’t thrusting into her. In that darkness she descended and slapped me on the cheek. She’s not so gentle with degenerate people. Perhaps it’s part of her pessimistic nature. We sort of walked into a relationship without a hard decision. I’ve been with other girls and she’s had a couple of other men, but Lu-Lu is “home” to Sena and vice versa. Lu-Lu woke up and walked to the bathroom to pee. There was an erotic pleasure about watching her pee. The nonchalant way she perched on the bowl half squatting and with a hand in her disheveled hair.

“Lu-Lu.” I called out to her. “What?” She groaned. ‘Guess who just texted me.” I babbled. “I dunno, the pope?” she replied. “No dummy. Guess again.” My voice had risen an octave higher. She turned to look at me. “That annoying tone you just took. Wait lemme think straight.” She frowned. “Right, it must be Russia.” “I know right?” I replied. Lu-Lu grimaced. “What are you gonna do about it?” I shrugged. “I dunno.” “See how excited you are. Look the fact that she’s texted you after all this while doesn’t mean anything. You are her go-to guy, the one who always has a solution. If you want to go fuck yourself up again be my guest. I told you. There’s a Brazilian waiting next in line.”

I looked at the dimmed screen again. The message was there, unwavering. “Sena”.

© Sena Kodjokuma, 2015

THE COCKROACH

 Image courtesy Google Images 

Charle, as I dey this trosky inside ebe ma last 2 Ghana dey ma pocket inside o. So-so thinking dey ma mind top. The way I no chop too eh. But Fofo too she mess up o. I de take car from Odorkor all the way to East Legon sake of she see cockroach for en bed top wey she de fear. Sometimes women de funny me waa. I shock sef say she call me mohm. I hear from am keep. Like 4 years this. Sake of she from Yankee come no ky33 bia. She go university for there come.

Before I go toa so, make I yob you about Fofo small. Fofo be ma shawty. We de komot like 6 years this if you want attache the 4 years she borga. I de feel am pass. She tall like 5 feet, wey she no hy3da fair like that. En smile then en dimple de kill me pass. If I want talk about en body eh I suwear you go stone me for here. En Manchester then Arsenal no size. Them ripe like mango wey them no over bola. Fofo get small space for en teeth inside wey she de like Rasta then cornrow pass. The thing be say Fofo be the woman I de dream about every gb3k3. Beyoncé then Nicki Minaj sef no near am.

I meet Fofo for the Labone side there. Then times na I dey ma mommy en there for Labadi so e do a I de walk go the dadabee people themma side there. That morningtee in fact I de kae the date waa. Na ebe 29th February 2012. I just base for some tree under wey I de claim air. Mommy go job wey she no cook or lef chow for house. I hung aa wey I talk ma body say I go run ma body hit money give waakye today. I just spy the people them de walk for the hood inside. Some old man then en dog come pass. The dog fat pass the man sef. I see say the dog fit do me yawa if I go try something. Like five minutes pass wey I see say some fine girl bi de walk go. The way she do en hair I see say she complete SS wey she just dey house. That time na I dey form 4 de go write WASSCE. Vac things so I fit base for tree under small. Eno be everyday wey I go mow saa.

Anyway I follow the girl saa wey as she turn the curve wey I start de boot. I gye ma eye wey I just pull en purse from en hand inside. She just shock wey she no fit shout. I no look back aa wey I go komot for the waakye seller en body. I spy the purse inside eh na I de want faint sef. Money be what? I see 50 Ghana 4 for inside. The 10 then 20 chao pass. I spy inside better wey I see 5 Ghana. I gye wey I take buy the chow. Ridee I go house say I de go chop na I no fit chop sef. The girl en money then phone all dey the purse inside o. I dey there wey I just talk say I go take go police station. I just wey ma fitted cap wey I start de trek go the station there.

I de walk all the girl just come ma mind inside. The way she get shape like them women for uptee clips inside. I de kae en shada sef. She wear some check-check shirt then white skirt ede catch en knee. She do en Rasta like basket. The front raise wey she take rubber band hold the rest for en back. She get them baby faces some wey I see say she no be them girls them de rush some. I just start de feel yawa for there kraa. I kech the police station wey I chook ma body. The koti just sound me some sounding for there eh. I just see stars start de walk like I booze. As I de come enter the counter-back wey I see say the girl come plus en old boy. Saa na naa the man plus the dog be en old boy. The koti pause small wey e talk plus them. “He actually just turned himself in. you can talk to him.” That be what na the koti de tell them. The girl watch ma face wey she smile. I see the dimple then I just shy for there. Them take the purse give am wey she watch inside. “Look Papa, he took just 5 Cedis from the purse.” She smile saa. En old boy di3 eno want smile sef. The boys for the cells there shock sef. One diss me saa. “How you fit borst then you come chook your body. Wey ebe 5 Ghana p3 you take. You fool pass.”

E make the koti release me wey e tell me say make I follow them. We kech outside I start de turn go wey e hold me. “Young man, you’re going home with us.” En palm inside check like road top. Ebe baree pass! Ma heart just cut wey I start de beg. “Sir please I won’t do it again. Sir I beg.” For there wey the girl start de laugh. She laugh saa as we de enter the man en ride inside. Charle the ride eh no be any small car o. G Wagon o wey them spray am grey plus black rims. I just watch ma body wey ma eye die. Ma singlet tear-tear wey ma fitted too de look like sometime the blind beggars for town de wear. Ma chalewote sef no de match. One be blue bird wey the other one be a ka me last the colors-colors one some.  Ebe ma shorts p3 e make okay sake of ebe school shorts.

I de go sit backseat wey the man tell me say make I come sit front. I nearly piss put ma body as I hear. I make quiet wey I go tap. E move the car wey we go. So as the man de drive ede biz me questions. “Young man, what’s your name?” “My name is James. James Kudorwor. Everybody calls me Shakes though.” I reply am. “You are a very curious thief James – er Shakes.” The girl that o. “Why take just 5 cedis?” “Please I’m not a thief o. It is just that – I de hung so I for chop.” I shake wey ma bl3 quench so I toa so plus pidgin. The man just smile for there wey the girl di3 she just de laugh. I watch am for the driving mirror inside saa. Them biz me where I de stay then the school I de go all. Them introduce themma body give me. Major Charles Kotey then Fofo Kotey be themma names. Them kech themma house wey them give me 100 Ghana. “Don’t be a thief okay?” Fofo shake ma hand. “I hope to see you soon.” That be all.

The way Fofo the en old boy help me eh. Sake of me then mommy de br3. Mommy de job for pure water company. She de go early wey she de come late. E do a them de give me money wey I de take support we for house all. I visit Fofo more times. She teach me maths then science all sake of ma head no hy3da good for that side. I come feel am eh. The day I write WASSCE fini she take me go mall go watch movie. We wey trosky make I shock. I see say she de make I make comfortable waa. We dey like a few months wey I tell am say I de want komot am. She laugh saa wey she tell me say “Go and read the story of the princess and the frog and come and narrate it to me.” I bore for there. Sake of she know say I no de like read.

I force ma body search the book. I read fini like one week. I go see am. As I de gbaa am the story all she de near me. I start de move wey she tell me say make I tap. I kech the side wey the princess kiss the frog wey she just moff me for there. I de kae the way en moff de taste. She de taste like mango then orange juice. Since that day we start de komot. Them move go East Legon wey I lef mommy en there go Odorkor. I start some apprenticeship for some fitting shop sake of I no fit go uni or poly. Fofo en old boy say e go help me I tell am say nah. The way them watch ma top fini SS good give me. Fofo bore me for there. She de come fly sef she no tell me. That time all na things no de go well. Major die of cancer wey e lef Fofo p3. Me too I make wild for job de try learn sake of I want go do mechanical engineering for uni. Homeboy no know how them de kror-kror woman if things so de happen. We argue more times wey one dey I de go visit am the credit seller for there tell me say Fofo say make she tell me say she de fly go Yankee go school come. I shock wey I just lef there quick.

That day I cry. I get en picture one p3. I watch am aa. I come lose weight all. I wake up one day wey I just decide say I make fine. I go pass that side again the credit seller give me note. She forget say she go take give me as e tell me. I open the note 5 Ghana dey inside wey she write for en basa-basa handwriting inside. “My good thief, when you miss me read the princess and the frog. XOXO. Fofo.” I smile small. The note still dey ma pocket inside.

I dey the trosky inside wey I just de laugh as I de kae. Fofo try do kubolor things before o. She come search me for house before. The way she lost. I go see ma guys bi for the hood inside wey them tell me say some fine girl bi dey around de ask of me. That day too e rain so the rain beat am well. I carry am go house that day. I just gye ma eye sake of where I go take am pass go house make muddy. That day wey we lose wona virginity. For ma student mattress top. We fini wey she de bed ma top de laugh. Fofo di3 she always de laugh. I take am go Amelia en koko joint wey she fall gutter inside all she de laugh. I kae these things all wey I just miss am. Sake of she no talk say we shun. I no de want see am but charle if you de love some bro a you never fit do anything. E de make you make jon but you no de biz. She no know cook wey she try do waakye give me. That day I go drug store go buy laxative. The girl put soy sauce all for the chow inside. I just no fit. Me then en old boy laugh am saa.

One thing I de kae about Fofo be say she de like ball watch. Them get Dstv but match dey a she de come my there make we go watch for ma hood spot. She be strong Chelsea fan wey I be Liverpool fan. The time Essien score own goal I laugh am saa make she block me for WhatsApp top.  We fit argue sake of ball like she be man.

I kech the place wey I get down. I still get spare key so I enter the house inside. Themma dog see me wey e start de run come. En name be Brutus. Some boerboel o. e lick me saa wey I force gyemi from am. I open the door. The whole place make dark. I see some bro de bed the couch top. E turn small wey I see say ebe Fofo. I smile wey I go en room go wey blanket come give am. I enter the room inside no cockroach too dey there. “This girl paa.” I just shake my head for there. I come cover am wey I sit the armchair inside de watch am.

I FINI