Celebrating Mothers

The day started, like any other Sunday. A light breakfast of bagel cream cheese and a few olives, washed down with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. The powdered chocolate from cocoa grown in the rain forests of Ghana. Pure, refined and slightly bitter. It was creamy and had a sweet aroma. I glanced at my phone and noticed I had many messages from all my cherished children and dear friends wishing me a, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. I felt special. I had to share the feeling with my mothers, so I sent my mother-in-law and a few mentors messages of love and encouragement for this journey of parenting.

I then got ready for church, and remembered there was an event after lunch. I took my two choices of clothing with matching shoes and accessories, just in case one was not right.

After church, I stopped at my sister’s, joined the family for lunch and prepared for the Mother’s Day Garden-Tea Party. Many events in my life create images that stick and this was one of them. A colorful group of ladies, some familiar others not so familiar. We chatted and got acquainted with each other before settling down to a menu of delights. The youthful band surprised us with familiar music that sounded so perfect and mellow. It is only when you actually turned to see the band that you realized the music was live.

Meanwhile the setting was just extraordinary. Tables of two, four six and more had been set. With waiters at our beck and call. Mother’s being pampered. The garden was plush, I have grown to appreciate plants and ‘greenery’ so much. The garden had been cleverly nurtured, with a hut-like thatched roof of green palm branches. There was a mix of realistic looking artificial flowers for the décor, however there were beautifully colored roses as the center pieces on the plushly laid tables.

When we found our table, ‘Peach Tea’, none of the guests were seated. Soon after that, a few ladies joined us. The conversation started. The waiters served the most exotic tasting cold tea and kept refilling our glasses. They delivered the three courses on tiered servers. It seems scanty but definitely a delight to see and taste. It was filling, many choices, sweet and savory.

A remarkable experience. The sheer exuberance of the exquisitely dressed mothers or mothers to be. An escapade I am sure I will look forward to next year. Thanks to the organizers, like my children, this will live with me for a very long time.

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Another Thirty-one Days of Slicing

Poems, stories, memories, worries and descriptive writing  …

I can’t thank the TWTs enough for another opportunity to slice for thirty one days. I have grown as a writer because of the opportunity, this being my fourth year of writing at the SOLSC.

I am now confident to put words on paper and believe that is the most important thing to do. The more I write, the better I think I become at stringing words together. Words that can take many different shapes or forms.

Last year, I shared the word Medaase (Thank you in Twi) on the last day of slicing. Today I will shout, ‘Medaase Pii’ (Thank you very much) to you all. This year I have gathered a lot from the comments on my slices and on others’. This is a real learning forum for me.  As a teacher, I have learnt to readily comment on and give feedback to my students ,that will help them think about their writing in meaningful and sometimes not so obvious ways.

I am also thinking about continuing  Ama’s JourneyAma’s Journey -Reality  and generating that narrative into a novel, some of the style of writing I learned here. In these parts, we need writer role models or mentors for the young ones. We also need books that share our lives and life stories. Books that children can culturally see themselves in and one day want to be published writers themselves. We have to let them know we are all writers, we can all publish books and need to read and write all the time. We need good books and we can also write them for others to enjoy or learn from. 

Thank you to the friends I have made here over the years, I appreciate the support and encouragement. As a welcome wagon, I thank all the writers I followed and learned from, this year. I know that next year will be different.  Medaase pii,  to you all. screen-shot-2017-12-02-at-6-09-23-am.png

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The People in our Lives

It’s been less than a month but seems a long while since I last went to see Joyce and Pat, who have now become like family. That is where I go and get spoilt, for my regular  manicure and pedicure visits.

At the salon, we chat and laugh at what’s going on in town. The young ladies are full of information, sometimes I think it is trivia but it really is reality. As they travel to and from work by public transport and live hours away from their workplace, they get connected with the outside world in a way that I am unable to. I depend on my car to whizz back and forth so miss out on the goings on of the general public. 

This Lockdown, is meant to protect us all. We stay in our shells and rest, somehow protecting each other. I still miss Joyce and Pat, for their warmth. If they do not hear or see me, for a little while, they call to ask how I am doing and encourage me to pass by. They sometimes go out of their way to stay longer just to make sure I don’t miss my once every two weeks session.  

My short natural hair does not need their hands, I deal with that myself and save a lot of money too. My short natural hair happened when I was a half a century old. I started losing the crown of my hair , this came with a lot of skin issues so I thought I would not bother with wigs or any artificial creams. Joyce and Pat advised me to use all natural products that have now become my go to. Shea butter, coconut oil, tea tree oil, aloe vera sprays, castor oil and many more. My bathroom cabinet turned Chemist stocks all of these in one form or the other. Oils and creams galore, mostly unrefined. 

It will be interesting when the Lockdown is over.  During K’s face time chat today he talked about how people will rush to the barbers when it is all over. I know that is the first thing I will do too. To see Joyce and Pat, to spoil myself and to be pampered again. We must all have plans, ‘will dos’ after this episode and wonder how life will be lived everywhere, as all plans are up in the air. Let’s all hope it ends soon and ends well so that we will live our normal lives again, whatever normal means to us or whatever normal will be.

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Past and Present

Young in the 80s

A curfew was called

Military imposed lockdown

Soldiers everywhere

At the call of a siren

All gates were closed  

By 8pm 

All was quiet 

Tucked indoors

The curfew began

 

Like a natural disaster

The Lockdown resurfaces

COVID 19 is everywhere

Nobody knows why or how

Many are in quarantine

Forced separation

On occasions 

Authorities appear

To instill

 A sense of responsibility.

This time to safeguard humanity

Then, to uphold political will

In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a military coup in Ghana, it came with some political unrest. I was a young girl then but remember vividly the curfew that was imposed. Yesterday, there was a call for a Lockdown in parts of the country. I immediately thought about the difference and the whys. That is the story behind my slice today.

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Ama’s Journey – Reality

That was Ama’s reality.

“Wash this, clean there, sweep here, slice this, fetch those, help them!” 

These words kept ringing in her ears as she stomped past the frail coconut tree that had become her friend for the past three weeks. This is where she would come for a much needed pause. A pause from the torture that she had come to know.

What was this?

Was this the route to where she thought she was going?

Why would anyone expect anyone to work like that?

Life is really unfair.

Ama kept straddling, taking  her thoughts with her. Actually fighting with her thoughts. At the same time she needed the money so desperately. What she felt quite contradicted her need. That need for the basics, food and shelter. Clothing was not part of it. She seemed to have enough old clothes that would accompany her for this new occupation. Ama could not believe her situation. 

In her hometown, although Ama’s mother toiled to put food on the table, she was a queen and her own boss. She was respected and had people serving her. Aunty Maamuna’s other apprentices were at her beck and call. There was a hierarchy there, of course Aunty Maamuna was her mother’s friend, Ama had many privileges the other girls would never have. 

Is that why she has ended up here? 

She was of course the first to be selected to accompany Auntie  Maamuna to Accra.The girls were extremely jealous. They gossiped and gave Ama dirty looks when they heard  the plan, eavesdropping a conversation Auntie Maamuna was having with one of her sweaty customers,

Ama felt she was being punished, her thoughts beating her and the guilt surrounding her. She had not sought her mother all this time and realized she would have worried and tired herself of it. She did not dare contact her now, after three weeks!. Ama knew how she could, though. Kwame the butch mobile phone salesman could be their link. He could call Maame for her but Ama knew her mother would be very disappointed and angry and was not ready to allow herself to hear that in Maame’s voice.

Maame had been good to her. Since her sixteenth birthday , which was also an approximation, when Papa passed, Maame had been her pillar. She scraped and fetched to give Ama the few opportunities available to them in their town. That was the best actually. Although Auntie Maamuna’s sewing shop was dilapidated, there was a queue of girls wanting that opportunity, to sacrifice and be the next big madam in the town.

Had Ama blown her chance?

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Ama’s Journey

Ama swept her kinky hair up placed her hands on her hips and walked off in her faded African print dress. Singing a Twi song in her shrill, annoying voice she seemed fed up. It was a Saturday afternoon when Ama had finished all her household chores, which included hand washing a basket load of dirty clothes for the Mensah’s. 

Ama needed money to survive since absconding from Auntie Maamuna when they got to Accra on that sweltering Saturday morning, three months ago. She was lucky enough to  have  found work at the Mensah’s as a house help. They were also desperate for someone to clean, wash and look after their three boisterous children. Homeless and desperate this was Ama’s big opportunity to achieve her dream. She knew she had to survive in this bustling city but needed money.  The Mensah’s three children were a set of twin toddlers and a feisty eight year old. They kept Ama busy,

She had come to live in Accra from a town in the Eastern region of Ghana. Drawn by all the television shows and the influence of the flashy Nigerian Movies, that portrayed a foreign lifestyle, Ama believed Accra was a ‘land paved with gold.’ She had been learning to sew, an apprentice at Auntie Maamuna’s small, rusty container shop. She had been persuaded and supported by her mother to learn a trade, so she did. Ama had always wanted to be educated, she pretended she understood and could read English, she covered it up well, especially when her customers had to be measured and the details recorded. Luckily she was never found out.

Her mother’s friend Auntie Maamuna the proprietress and seamstress, travelled monthly to Accra to buy fabric. This time, she decided to take Ama with her as part of her training.

“Ama we are travelling to Accra tomorrow, make sure you prepare to stay for the weekend.”

Ama was secretly elated she realised this was her big opportunity. She had wished for this break throughout her teenage years, when she had dropped out of school. After she had lost her father, Ama’s mother a tomato seller at the market taught Ama to travel North to the tomato farms to borrow their weekly stock. That is how they traded. You borrow, sell with a meagre profit and pay back on your next trip.

So this was Ama’s big opportunity… Accra here I come!

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Overloaded

Today is one of those days when I have been overloaded with so much to do.

The weight of the day bends you over, especially when your list does not seem to get any shorter. As soon as you cross one out another one surfaces. Sometimes it is the thought of all that you need to accomplish that makes you feel bogged down. Your body also slows down and you just feel like throwing in the towel. But gently dragging your feet towards the finishing line you tell yourself;

“I can make it!”

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Bliss

A few colleagues and I granted each other a girlie treat at a local massage last December, as a reward for being successful on a project we completed. It seems like a lifetime ago since the enticing experience. I pulled out a poem I wrote after the event to represent happy days and camaraderie. Those times I believe will come again. The poem I wrote, Bliss  is below:

Bliss

Up the wide-eyed stairs

All lit up with tea-lights

Into a wide-eyed lounge

Where the sleep sofas call

Through an eerie corridor

To who knows where.

 

Expecting an experience

of a lifetime

Listening for an instrument

Truly unrecognisable

Experiencing bliss on

A fascinating bed

Whiffs of lemongrass

Surrounding us

Introducing a holiday

Full of expectations.

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