Thursday, August 23, 2012


My overriding fears in this life are 2; that I will die young and my children will not remember me as I don’t remember my godmother. When I speak of her,  I say things like  ‘ wo se she didn’t mince her words koraa’. Omparem Ewuradze, touch, no knock -loudly too- on, wood, tofiakwa!, that my children should say, ‘wo se our mum was very funny’. Every birthday- whether mine or theirs, I rejoice that I am one year farther away from being forgettable.

My other fear, and this more terrifying,  is that I will lose a child. The very thought injects a chill through the marrow of my bones.  Every time one of them runs a temperature I am very, very afraid. To make the experience even scarier, they make sure to be ill only in the night. How I hate 2am on a sick night! My child is ill, the weather is coolish, the trees in the yard are rustling their leaves, and all the dogs in the neighborhood howl eerily and simultaneously.  

That would be enough to spook a lot of people. I have added on to this basic halloween recipe several other factors that intensify its effect. 1. I am an African woman- which means, that no matter what faith I subscribe to, somewhere deep down in there, I am superstitious.  2. Years ago in boarding school, a girl once said that the witches don’t fly at midnight but at 2 am. (I didn’t ask how she knew) 3. I live not far from a cemetery. And 4.  the street light that shines into my yard through the trees is not yellow but a dull orange. For all these reasons, I try not to be awake alone at 2am on any day. On sick nights, I am afraid to be awake but even more afraid that the fever will escalate to critical while I sleep.  Lord but I hate 2am on sick nights. 

Each time on of them is sick, fear number 2 awakes to terrorise me. It doesn’t get a chance to very often. They are not sick much. But it too is never forgotten. From time to time, and usually on a fairly whimsical basis, I earmark an age as a worrisome one and make tediously detailed plans how to guard them through that age.  2-6months was the first ‘danger zone’.  It was elevated to this post by my reading on crib death. When the boys were that age, I hovered while they slept. Their 7th anniversary was met with soul-deep relief. 

Age 2 was the second one, my mother’s lost his twin 2year olds. They were playing in the yard and ate some leaves. They were gone within 24hrs. Every diffenbachia,  evil kontomire, [my name for Caladium. I think the pink patches on it look like gnome-sprinkled poison], oleander,  or other poisonous plant was uprooted and destroyed. Even some poor hapless ones that looked suspicious were vamoosed as well. The boys could only go out  the front door  with an adult. The back door was completely off -limits. Perhaps I was obsessive; at least Kofi thought so.  But hey we made it safely to year 3. 

Ben Johnson’s On My First Sonne has bequeathed  a deep secret fear of the age 7. I have made all these plans, which in my saner moments, I can admit are impracticable. They include; for those 2 years I will have 7 year olds, not spending more than 1 night away from home, taking their temperature daily. Making sure they always have a little card with blood group, allergies, our numbers, etc on them even when they go to a martial arts lesson. Having monthly blood tests. Carrying around an inhaler in case their mild respiratory allergies get inexplicably inflamed one afternoon and more.  

When we got through age 2 unscathed, I exhaled and prepared to cruise untill the dreaded age 7, sure that I was in chill zone. Until Dovie got ill. Pneumonia. We were on admission for 5 nights. Monday through Saturday morning. He was put on a drip and given 3 shots of antibiotic through an IV every day. The first 2 of those days, were thus far, in my 3 decades, the most frightened I have ever been. 

On the Wednesday morning, he woke up and asked me to call GrammaMummy, and he told her that he wanted to eat rice water and he wanted her to cook it nicely and ‘GrammaMummy don’t forget to put some sugar in it and make it nice.’ I was so very happy. I gave him a hug, then I went into the bathroom, locked the door, sat on the WC and I cried. Until that moment I had refused to acknowledge the fear that I would lose him. I cried out all my fear, I cried my relief, I cried my loneliness, I cried my gratitude. And when I came out, he said, ‘ maman, I thought you were going to bath.’ ‘I was’ I lied, ‘I just wanted my teeth to be very white, so I took a long time cleaning them.’ 

As soon as we got home, I washed all their soft toys, soaked the others with bleach, changed their playroom floor, used bleach to wipe all the door handles and every surface they ordinarily touch. Then sat back and felt overwhelmed by the number of places, I couldn’t disinfect that could possibly carry bacteria; the yard, the trees, the walls, …. 

Cool nights a former favorite, now make me nervous. I make them wear socks and a sweater nearly 24 hrs. By lunchtime usually, they have had enough. Then they take them off without asking me.  But I make them put them back on after their evening bath. 

I am obsessing, I know it. But I can’t help it. I am not yet recovered from having to pin my son down while the nurses push a needle in and twist trying to find an elusive vein. Nor from hearing him screaming, crying, asking why they are always hurting him. No, I am not yet over him throwing his arms around my neck asking me to take him away please. Or from him lying weak, and feverish, telling me in a rasping voice to ask God to make the sickness go away.

Today, the woman I buy bananas from told me she had lost a child. While I was commiserating, she added that the child was 7 yrs old.  Now, the old buried fear of age 7 has awakened. The new fear of ‘under 5’ is not subsided. I have to get a grip. I will not become a smothering hypochondriac mother because of fear. I will not. This wave of panic will subside, I know. I just have to ride it out. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How To Pull Out Your Hair Strand By Strand.

To the uninitiated, this may sound complicated; but it really is not. All it takes is a concerted effort to study legal accounting, civil pocedure and criminal procedure in quick succession.  Alternatively, you can try to make two toddlers break no house rules for two hours.

Why would you want to pull your hair out strand by strand? Who knows? By the time you have tried one of these two options, it will seem like a startlingly good and novel idea. And you will wonder ‘why didn’t I think of that earlier?!’

 When my boys were babies, people used to say in assuring tones, that they would be 10 before I knew it and I’d have my life back.’ Now they say ‘eei! Vini is 3 already, you’ll have your life back in just a little bit!’ the latter half of that is said in a ‘see I told you’ tone.
 Kofi and I snorted at those comments. When the boys were 10 and 11, I would be 36, he 41. What would we need the social life of youth back for?  After a decade of not being able to party 48 hrs straight, get drunk as a skunk and sleep it off for 2 days, from where would we summon the interest to do it? We decided that it was an understandable sentiment coming from a generation that had a national 8pm curfew in their early motherhood days. There had been no nightlife to miss missing out on.’ 

But early in 2011, when I went through a partying phase, I almost  got to believing that they were right. For about 2 or 3 months I went out and partied hard every weekend night and some weekday ones as well. Something I hadn’t done since 07. At the time I thought it was the return of my youthful energy. It made sense to think so. After all my kids could now speak. Bedtime is strictly observed in our house and our minder is amazing. The prophecy was being fulfilled.

By the 3rd month, I was drained by the idea of leaving my house at 11pm to dance. My surprising discovery is that between ages 25 and 29 there’s a world of kilojoules. My friends all prefer these days to hang out in places where we can chat above the music.  Yesterday one said to me ‘you know I don’t like younger people.’ She was explaining why she couldn’t enjoy an acquaintance’s company.

If you believe that not having children will leave you unhampered to enjoy long hours on the town, you’re sadly mistaken. That sneaky devil, Age; he gets you every time. We have not only changed, we have grown.

In my early twenties, if I were bored in class I would write rhymes. [by that I mean that silly four to six liners that rhymed, not deep philosophical hip hop metaphors]. Then show them to the people around me to make them laugh, unconcerned whether it disrupted the class or no. But then, in those days to have fun, we’d  pay to go into noisy rooms where they played the same music we had on our computers at deafening levels and gyrate ourselves into a frenzy. 

Now on the verge of 30, when I’m bored in class, I go online, read the New York Times and Arts and Letters Daily. When I am really bored, I consider energy and time efficient ways to do random things. Which brings me back to the topic how to pull your hair out strand by strand. My thoughts at the moment are that the best way to achieve this is to pick your hair in single strands, wind each one around your finger till its taut and then yank. What say you?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Top 10 Things That Suck About Having Domestic Help-

All that glisters is not gold….. Gilded tombs do worms enfold. 

Shakespeare was not just rhyming. He was onto something there. People talk all the time about how having domestic help is great.  It is, but as there’s a downside to everything, here’s my top 10 list on why having help sucks!

  1. No nudity- you know those Sundays [in my case limited to when the boys are in Tema] when you don’t feel like wearing anything? Well, you don’t have a choice. Best put something on before you step out of the room or brace yourself for embarrassing moments. 
  2. No spontaneous middle of the day sex-  we did it a few times, but afterwards, you come out and feel kind of … not quite guilty or defensive. There’s some undefined desire to establish that you’re still boss or something. I can’t quite tell. We decided that feeling like we had to hold our heads high in the presence of our help was not really fun so we don’t - much at any rate.
  3. no gossip or confiding outside your room- even inside the room, whispers are best.
  4. no carelessness with money- you can still fling change onto the cupboard. it just won't be there every time.

That’s right. There aren’t 10 things that suck about having help. Having help rocks. I am forever grateful that I live in Ghana where I can be unemployed and afford live-in help. 

The reason there’s a thumbs-down  list at all is that the children are growing older and easier everyday. They can brush their own teeth. Although if I let them too often, I’ll need to up my dentist budget. They can bath themselves. Not perhaps to meet international bathing standards but with anti-bacterial soap, there’s little to fear. 

They can go to the bathroom on their own both for number 1 and number 2. Vini still yells when he’s done doing number two: Agnes can you please come and wipe my poopoo bumbum?’ Dovie, with a growing and rather amusing and bemusing sense of privacy will wipe himself whether or not you ask him to call you. Nor will he let you stick around while he’s pooing. ‘mama can you please go. I will call you when I finish.’  but he won’t.  And usually he’s done a pretty good job too.  Their new mantra is ‘I can do it myself’.  After lengthy negotiations, we have reached an agreement; in the mornings adults clean children, at night, children clean children and adults watch. 

If they are thirsty, they get their own water. They don’t need diapers and they don’t wet their beds. They know exactly what they want to wear and won’t accept your help dressing up unless you respect their choices. [ I once told Dove to change one or other part of his orange and green ensemble. He thought about it a minute and replied with a shrug ‘maman these colours they make me happy.’]

And best of all, they have become my errand boys. Such efficient little bell boys they are. ‘Dovie, Pick the papers up for me please.. take that to the kitchen. Vini, bring my phone, fetch my shoes.  Tell `papa uncle John is here.’  MMm. I get to spend long lovely moments in those lazy positions from which only emergencies can move you, while around me, my mini-me s get things done. 

What’s the connection between all these and the feeling that having help has its drawbacks? Simple really, a case of ‘se odo sa a n’ato adapaa.’ [out fades the love, in flows the hate] The horrible endless wheel of chores that comes with helpless babies and makes them oppressive has rolled away.  I now have the liberty to be irritated that there’s some stranger on my compound forcing me to put clothes on to get a drink of water in the night.  Once, I scrambled around trying to make life in our yard appealing to my help Now I tell them  ‘the end of the month is a bad time to annoy me, because its really easy to pay you off.’  Maaba do ankasa!

Of course, bathrooms still need to be cleaned, floors must be swept, things arranged, ironing done, washing up put away, tables cleared, furniture polished, trash taken out… the list is endless.  And no matter how well they are done today, tomorrow they fall to be done with the same energy again. These non baby related chores do not show any signs of going away. 

This is why the top 10 help rocks list trumps the help sucks list. It is admittedly very intrusive to have strangers in your home nearly always but man, it makes for living it up. I wouldn’t give up the luxury for anything. I’ll just grumble I think. Domestic help… I dey biiiii keke!!!!.

Pushing Up out Of The Water

After nearly two years of silence, I'm endeavoring to shake this laziness that hides behind the demands of law school. Hopefully I will succeed both in returning to this blog and reviving your interest in reading it.

 I know, you have heard this before. But this time, there really is a wolf, I swear.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Babies Gone Human

The good news is that my boys are becoming little people; with noticeable interests and strengths. The bad news is their vices and failings are beginning also to show. And I don’t know what to do with them.

Dovene is showing strains of nhye. Man, that kid is bossy! He’ll wear his helmet and then insist that his brother should wear his, to the point of forcibly putting it on Vinyo himself. When he wants to watch Horton hears a who- apparently the only piece of cinematography worth any discerning toddler’s time- then Vinyo must watch it too. If he dares to get up midway, Dovene will try to force him back to his seat. Vinyo is no rollover so these Dovene says moments usually get rough. I think it is nice that he always looks out for his little brother. He won’t let you give him a treat without giving his brother one too. Or even put his shoes on him and not put Vinyo’s on too. Not that he should mind his own business. But he really does go overboard. I’m at a loss how to curb it, or even if I should be the one to sort it out.

He is, for want of a better word, let me say, somewhat lazy. I’m teaching them to pack their lego bricks when they are done with them. And without fail, Dovene will pick up a few, walk around with them, act busy, drop one in the box, stop and say ‘maman, airplane’ or something else to distract you and wander. In the end if you don’t redirect him sternly several times, Vinyo will do all the work. Same for when they help me stack things.

This bothers me a lot. My grandmother’s shrill voice will forever echo in my head saying ‘akwadwesem onnye ohia nam! fi ho ke ye w’edwuma, kwadwefo poree!’ I’m permanently damaged. I can’t spot a lazy person but a fight or flight instinct kicks in. He’s only 34 months old. Fight or flight is rather a melodramatic response. For all I know it’s a phase that will pass when he’s 42 months. In the meantime, I’m flailing.

Vinyo is a stubborn child. To say he has a mind of his own is to put it mildly. Once he decides he doesn’t want to do something, you better be prepared for a stare-down. He has this mutinous look that I’m sure will terrify his subordinates one day.

He also has what looks at this point to be an unforgiving streak. When Dovene offends him, I make Dovene apologise, I pat him on the back and give him a hug and say its ok, Dovene said sorry. He’ll lap it all up and the minute no one is looking, he’ll go and give Dovene a good smack. [it usually serves him right]. How is a kid not yet two, going to carry a grudge and seek vengeance. And how do you cure him of it?!

Of course these are all minor things; nothing to have nervous breakdowns about. We often laugh about them in fact. Its only that I miss seeing them as bits of perfection with nary a flaw. As babies, their everything was perfect. If they cried, it was only until their desire was communicated. If they touched something they shouldn’t, it was only out of ignorance and curiosity. Even their feet were kissable.

Now they are just the often-dirty, flat feet that are not allowed in the chairs. Now they have a guilty start that betrays their knowledge that what they were doing was wrong. Now they can cry loudly without shedding a single tear, just to manipulate you. Sometimes after I’ve scolded, forbidden and repeated myself hoarse, I exclaim. ‘Ah wo how adwene papa!!’ The moments of baby perfection are now merely fleeting glimpses. Little angels are become little mortals; like us. Watching their pedestals disintegrate I am more than a little wistful.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Change & Decay

Some people cheerily share the details of their excretory mechanisms with the world- even strangers. And they do it without a second’s self-consciousness. Personally, I have never been like that, nor even envied them that. For some pointless reason, I’ve always tried to avoid any mention of my own loo habits or needs. I can hold pee for 5 hours and as a child I would frequently do that rather than use the loo at school or in someone’s house. I once made an hour’s journey home holding in a diarrheal dump. Instead of just using the loo at the office.

The stupid part is that its not because of my concerns about other people’s hygiene or the state of the loo or even the absence of water that prompts this behaviour. It’s the incredibly asinine mortification of people knowing I’m in the bathroom. I have this scenario in my head, that somebody –(as a child, the somebody was the headteacher or my favourite teacher. As I entered womanhood, ‘somebody’ became a cultured, intelligent hunk)- will come looking for me and they’ll shout ‘she’s shanking’. And that would just be the most embarrassing thing ever.

For this reason alone, I never respond if someone calls me while I’m in the bathroom. If I have to wash my hands or pee I hurry so I’m not gone long enough for those who know I’m there to think I’m doing number two.

When Kofi and I were dating, I never let him see me straddling a water closet. If I needed to shank I would go to the hotel next door. One time when the taps weren’t running and I woke up at 5am needing to shank, I did bum kegels till 6 when I rushed off to Osu – 10 mins drive away- to shank at Nandos. I couldn’t very well have him waking up to find my poo in his loo, could I?

Nor did marriage change this dumb practice. The whole of the first year we were married, I would only use the loo when he wasn't in our room. I told him that while lying on the delivery bed pushing Dovene out, I prayed ‘o God please don’t let me shank now, please God!’ I really did. I read that sometimes women poo from the force of that last push. I can’t imagine anything more shyous. My husband, and the kind elderly midwife standing in front of my vagina, then out comes some force-flung poo. Yuck! He said laughing, ‘you’re a fool M!’

Which brings me to the present. I live with two almost fully potty trained toddlers with impressive vocabulary. Conversations about pooing abound. And it doesn’t really matter who’s there. They’ll come up to me in public shouting ‘maman poo please’ or out of the blue one will say and the other will immediately repeat ‘maman next time say poo’. Or ‘maman go and poo’. Or worse yet ‘maman is going to poo’ as you exit the room.

All the potty training manuals and advice said to let the child know that pooing was normal by letting him see you do it, talking about your needing to poo and demonstrating that you are pooing too. ‘Dovene, Vinyo, won hwe, maman is pooing’ Such fun conversation!

You can’t then blame the kids if they warm up to the chat and proceed to include others can you? So presently topping the chart of awkward mummy moments are at number two: we’re at a party, an uncle-in-law is playing with the boys when out of the blue Dovene says loudly’ grandpa next time say poo ok’ of course everyone thinks the man had farted quietly – which in fact he hadn’t but he couldn’t possibly start explaining.

At number one : Kofi had company, work people and after playing gracious hostess for a while, I left them so they could work. The boys and I play for a while. Then I go to the loo to pee. Dovene comes in and starts shouting maman is pooing, mamma is pooing. I tried to hush him in vain. With the bathroom window practically overlooking the living room, there was no chance that the information had not been clearly communicated to the guests. I couldn’t bring myself to flush when I was done. And instead spent a long time running the tap in the sink in the hope that they would think he was just using phrases he knew. I’m convinced it worked. I refuse to consider the alternative.

Ei, ene me na me nie!

Return Of The Mac

I would apologise for the long hiatus but that would be deceptive. It would suggest I could have but I didn’t post. I’m not really the wonder that I believe- and hope I delude others into believing- that I am. With the workload from Law School, trying to compete fraulein Maria for the wonder mommy slot, while confirming that oyer pa my husband did find, I just didn’t have the time during the school year to blog.

I really should have written at least 1 post during my three month long vacation. But it felt so good to be idle, I just couldn’t dredge up the discipline to.

In any case, here I am, back again! After nearly a year. I am going to try this time to keep up. Thank you for not deserting me. And a special thank you to my sister MP for scolding me into writing this next post.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Is In A Name?

At my mother’s inaugural, she talked about the peculiarly Ghanaian habit of having 50 names: the school name, Christian name, pet name, home name, nick name, and sometimes hidden name, all this before the surname. The school name is the name on your school’s register, the Christian name is what you get at baptism, especially true of Catholics. Your home name-what they call you at home- often a day name. Your hidden name- you don’t really hide it. Its just so deep into the arrangement that it doesn’t come up in casual introductions. It is considered your “real” name. Then comes your surname and finally your nick name. So you have Clarence John Kofi Abaka Egyir Sackey alias (SWAGGA). Add to this length our puzzling hobby of rearranging the names every so often for no particular reason. So that John Abaka Sackey, Clarence Kofi Sackey, John Egyir Sackey, Clarence Kofi Egyir Abaka Sackey are all the same person. We all laughed as she talked about the kind of confusion that this causes. I don’t know about others but I haven’t done anything about my own name puzzle. My trip to the bank this week gave me reason to remember this lecture and this time not with a chortle.

I always encourage my help to save. We open an account and they deposit however much they want in it every month. I got a new girl two months ago and last week I finally got round to taking her to the bank. As she is illiterate I had to help her fill the form. That is when I discover that the young lady I know as Maame Afia Nyarko is not called Afia at all. In fact she is not even Akan. She is actually called Fatima Iddrissu. I felt really rather betrayed. When I hired her I asked her name and she told me Maame Afia Nyarko. I assumed ‘Nyarko’ was her surname. It could as easily be her middle name. Its one of those few unisex Akan names. She did tell me she was Northern but was born and raised in Kumasi and I was content to leave it at that. So I guess it serves me right if I learn her real name only thanks to a bank form.

I’ve since been reflecting on our relations with domestic staff. Guess what? I find I don’t know the name of my father’s watchman beyond Razak. His gardener is just Divine. I know his housekeeper’s full name. But I don’t know where she lives and she’s been with them for 3 years. My gardener is Alhassan. My nanny has a guardian here in Accra whom I know. But beyond vague hand gestures and area names, I have no idea how to find her.

I don’t know that this bad behaviour is typical of Ghanaians/Ghanaians with domestic staff. I do know that it is typical of me. Usually I know the names and surnames of my help. I take a picture of them so if they ever go missing –or run away with my children- I can make an effective report. But I think now that perhaps I am not sufficiently informed about who they are.

I wonder, is this a remnant of the trusting nature that small town life has bred in all of us? Or just a lapse in vigilance and courtesy? These are after all people who come into contact with my family, my person and my food. One would expect me to have a more vigorous screening system and a bit more interest in their life stories. Whatever it is. It has to go. It is great folly indeed.

As if to drive home the lesson, she ran away only a few days later. Since my aunt had asked me the day before her great getaway if I knew she was pregnant, I have taken that to be the reason for her hasty departure. But the point it makes is this. Had she ran off while alone in the house with one of the boys, could I have found her? The answer is no. I didn’t know her real name till only a few days before. I certainly didn’t know where she went off to on her day off. The person who found her for me didn’t know her either; she was referred to him by a work colleague, on a construction site. Where would I even have begun?!

A scare - even to the foolish- should be enough. And indeed it suffices for me. Pressed as I am these days for time, I will go with Veronica soon to her aunt’s house. And when I find a replacement, I will do the same with her too. It’s a wonder and blessing, we’ve escaped tragedy for so long. But from now, it’s a new order. I am going to invent a screening and tracking system so tight the CIA will want it. It’ll take some work around here. But no worries, I’ll get around the obstacles. If ever you hear I’ve helped the Police track my former staff who stole my headgear and ran off to hide in the Wassa area, know that is wasn’t by sheer luck.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Giving unto Caesar

This post was written largely in response to AB's comment about the last post. Perhaps I do not make my meaning clear or perhaps the situation is not appreciable in an abstract context. So this post is meant to make the purpose and meaning of the last post clearer.

I was brought up saying a million thank yous a week. My parents demanded and still do a sign of appreciation or gratitude for every gesture, every gift, however minute. They used to say that just because they bore me didn't mean they owed me. It is, as a result, part of my expectation that my actions receive a sign of appreciation from its beneficiary.

A rich father ought to leave his wealth to his only child. He ought to, but if he chose so, he could leave it to his cat. A macho man who sees a thug punching a young girl ought to come to her rescue. Nothing stops him, however, from keeping on his journey. The truth is that just because a person ought to do something doesn't mean that they will or even that they can.

Vodafone is running a promotion the grand prize of which is a million USD, a fully furnished Trasaaco house, and a 4 x 4 with a driver for a year- no mean prize that. Being a Vodafone subscriber, I have registered to participate and why not, I could use a million bucks. Law school even in GH ain't cheap.

Let's suppose that you too were a Vodafone subscriber participating in the promo, as was your unemployed brother. Let's suppose again that the omnipotent computer at GHhana Telecom picks your number as the grand prize winner. But you are out of the country on a week long business trip and they are unable to reach you. So as per the terms of the promo, another number is picked and it happens to be your brother's and you get home just in time to share in the good news. You in fact did not need the million dollars; you have a good job and are rising steadily, unlike your brother who could use a few coins to jingle in his pockets. Yet if you can say your joy at your brother's luck will be so complete as not to admit one shard of disappointment, then you are truly noble; an exceptional being. I think though that you will not find many of your ilk to hang out with.

When I say that my elder sister's conduct has inspired respect, I say it with utter sincerity, and I do not reference it to her feelings, or even inclinations, merely to her actions. Even my friends were to a mild extent irritated with me for getting married and pregnant in one tidy blow. Their mothers all griped about them not having done the same. "Look at Mammie eh." One mother asked me to talk to her daughter to emulate me in the presence of said daughter. Being a disinterested party at that wedding, I was in able to see how awkward the silly comments that she couldn't put down as deserved were making the situation for the elder sister.

I feel then that my elder sister's genuine pleasure on that occasion is not a thing to be taken lightly or for granted. I only regret that I assumed, rather than appreciated, her being that way. And my assumption was right. But I honour her that she was both capable and willing to do that which she ought to have been able to do. She would not have been the first person not to. We all fail at some point to do that which we ought and sometimes, its not because we don't want to its because we can't.

It is not for nothing that we, Akans, say nyimpa ye adze a ose ayeyi. When a person does a good thing -reason or obligation notwithstanding- he deserves praise. My sister did as she ought and it was a good thing. It is meet then that I should honour her.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

True Colours

I have acquired a new and profound respect for my elder sister. I see her in a very different light or more to the point from a very new perspective and it has sown in me a a deep admiration for ‘me nua panyin.’

As I have mentioned earlier, my sister and I had a rocky relationship until only very recently. Much of the friction and angst of this relationship was because we are just very dissimilar. Our positions on most issues are so different that some abrasion is almost inevitable. The maturity that comes with age, childbirth and sojourning has led to a softening on both sides and a friendship that I must confess is nice to have.

Yesterday I attended a traditional wedding. The second child was getting married and the first who is older than my sister is single. There seemed to be great esteem for Esi that she could so celebrate Ewurekua’s good fortune when she herself remained unmarried at the dangerous age of 34. There was also unspoken consolation. The weight of that pity was palpable and I admired Nana Esi greatly for being able to keep her smile sincere the entire ceremony. Even I was smoldering under the pressure of it. Someone actually said to her that if her sister had children and she didn’t, it didn’t matter. Her sister’s children were hers too.

My wedding and the days preceding it came to mind. Many times someone who had just been informed I was to marry would accuse me of jumping the queue. Someone even asked my father in surprise ‘ah, Kwaku you are allowing this? The first born hasn’t married yet. How can the second born do that?’ All of us were miffed by such stupid comments. My father came up with many a sarcastic gem in response to these statements.

Later my sisters and I would discuss this or that person’s idiocy, talking like that. Never once did I, through in my wedding prep haze, see, even sense, the pressure that pity/outrage put on her. I didn’t feel it. It disappoints me that I didn’t for I am usually quite perceptive. I didn’t get even a whiff of it then. But I certainly felt it yesterday.

I wonder how Nana truly felt when she had to tell others of my marriage. It is to her eternal credit that all my memories of her in that period were of her happiness and excitement at my blessing. And she worked hard to help make the day special. I wish I had had the wisdom to see clearly exactly the magnitude of the gift she had given me. I would have been more appreciative.

When her reticence would have been most understandable, there was none. I do not know how she felt. Maybe she was just mildly irritated by the comments, maybe deeply so. Maybe she wept inside or maybe she was dismissive of them as they deserve. I thank her for not letting that mar my occasion. I wish I had been sensitive enough to be more than just irked.

It is amazing the clarity of your vision when the scales fall off. Many years we fought over the most trifling of things; who put what where, whose fault what was and who wasn’t being nice. It is ironic indeed and a rousing ovation to her that I should learn so great a lesson on magnanimity of spirit from my sister with whom I have had the most self-centred disagreements. Nana mbo! Both for the spirit and for the lesson, me da ase pii