Eve,Par

GRACE

I never knew I’d get there but this was how it started:

you have been prayed for you so don’t turn out queer

thanks to the person who caught you kissing

a female in the church bathroom.

It was and is considered a sin by the liars,

fornicators and adulterers.

After all the prayers said on top of your head,

well you turned straight.

Fast forward to 2009 when you have been told

female footballers are lesbians so stay away from

them. Far and away.

It was an airy-sunny day as I lay on a mat,

outside, after training at sports camp.

I felt some steam on my face.

I opened my eyes and a face was so close our lips

brushed. I felt queasy. I got up.

She has been ogling at me for days on

training grounds.

In the bathroom she stared so much it was

discomforting.

She lived few doors away and as much as I tried to

escape her stares, they followed everywhere.

This night with hopes of escaping her,

I went to a solitary place, a borehole site with

few grown pines rendering it a minor bush and

gnats gathering, to bath.

I was bathing when she came there.

“Shit!” I let out. That blatant stare. I wanted to vanish.

I guzzled the discomfort that grew in my throat

because I couldn’t speak.

I begged her with my eyes to stop but

she would not. When she realized with her, I had no

mercy she smiled and I felt a warm substance trickle

down my thigh. I closed my eyes for a second and

opened them. I saw fulfillment in her eyes. Fuck! I

wanted her.

It was match day. They lost.

I was in my room when I heard a clamour outside.

I ignored it.

“She is partly to blame. She is” said a familiar voice.

This time I could not ignore it because it was close.

Damn! Eyes! Not hers, her best friend’s, and there

were sullen. I sat up, looked at her, looking for

answers in them.

“She didn’t put her foot in like always and it’s

because of you. You didn’t want her.

She needed you .She was slow with everything.”

Best friend said. My eyes shot a blatant stare at her.

“Yes. I know her, I can confidently say it is you”

she replied and walked out.

Fuck! Now everyone think I do girls.

This is Ghana 9years before now.

I lay back down and cowered.

I drew my knees into my chest.

I replayed the event in my head, many times

and imaged the eyes that striped me with shame.

I blacked out.

I felt a soft rub on my forehead. It was my friend,

the tennis player. She smiled. “Let’s go to mines.

I already packed”

Looking into my eyes for assurance. I nodded.

I got up. I tried to avoid the stare from the other athletes.

My eyes where focused on the floor.

I made steady steps trying to look confident

with all the outcry in the silence.

“Why don’t you want her?”

“I like her. Just not in the same way she does”

I said to one of athletes with a clear voice

but a wry smile. I didn’t turn.

“I do, but she chose you and warned us to stay

off her because she loves you. and you don’t

even love her.” Now I stopped. Turned.

I saw agreement in their eyes: one of the athletes

and the other athletes. I laughed. I said sorry

and laughed again. My friend, the tennis player

laughed too. It was weak at first but it became

strong, then shrill. And by now they understood

why I laughed.

In the tennis players room I threw myself on her bed and had a stupid grin. I couldn’t believe I thought the athletes judged me. I mean this is Ghana with all its senseless homophobia.

Two days for camp to end,

I was still at the tennis players room. She came.

Sat at the edge of my bed. I did not budge.

Stared at me as if I were a coveted oeuvre.

This time I stared back. She looked like she was

at a murky place.

She tried to avoid me albeit I had locked eyes

on her. We remained like that for a while.

“I understand you don’t love me”

“You never told me you did”

I said with a smile. I don’t know why I smiled.

I wasn’t being callous.

I guess I felt giddy that we spoke for the first time.

I wanted to know her. Her voice.

What she felt like. Her insides.

I wanted to know all of her. I wanted her.

She knew I liked her. That night at the borehole,

she saw beyond the shyness. She saw warmth

in my eyes. She knew it.

She smiled back, now I let out a sound in my throat

accompanied by a short laugh. She touched my feet.

Caressed it. I sat up and leaned in for a hug.

I stayed in her arms with my eyes closed.

I pulled back after a while.

“I really like you. I do”

Last day at camp, I left with my friend

the tennis player. Her phone rang, she looked at

the caller ID and passed it to me.

“why is your phone off?” She said when I answered.

I hanged up

DIVULGENCE

“I love you. I know you do too.

Can we stop this and be together?”

My boyfriend woke me up. “Are you a lesbian?”

“No. Why?” I said with sleep in my eyes.

“I love you. I know you do too.

Can we stop this and be together”

he read the message out loud.

My face birthed a grin. My bearing made him toggle

ideas in his mind. He touched me. I felt him clammy.

“It’s this girl I met at camp.

Don’t beat yourself up about it please.

It’s still dawn and I need sleep.

Don’t forget I am travelling” I responded

and flashed a smirk. It wasn’t for him, it was for her.

“I love you. I know you do too.

Can we stop this and be together?”

My mind played the message countless times.

At some point I mouthed the words and at

every instance, I remember everything that

happened while on the bus home.

I kept grinning like a fool. I was cocksure

my boyfriend and I were done. He knew that too.

I didn’t become her girlfriend but

I knew in my heart, she was my Grace.

Me’shell Ndegeocello-Grace was playing when

I finished this piece. You should listen to it.

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Letter(s)

Awula,
It is this popular line playwrights use that I want to start my letter with.
It was one fine weekday morning (I don’t remember the exact day), I went to have a chit-chat with a friend in the area to help lighten my grief for not going to the University and you should know that this was the usual routine for me. Let me tell you how my morning starts: my dad comes to wake me up after he has taken his bath at 5:00am. As his ritual, he will spread his entirely wet and cold towel over my face. I will rave and mutter displeasure, he laughs while I do that and leaves to go and get dressed for morning devotion. When he is about leaving, he comes again to find the still sleepy me tucked in bed and speak with surprise in his voice, “obaa morning devotion?” which translates as “are you not coming for morning devotion?” I always respond “go, I will come”. Minutes after, my mum also walks into the room dressed in market women’s clothing and shoots “obaa devotion!?” This time we (my older sister and cousin) wake up startled, I run to the bedroom, grab a scarf and press some small amount of toothpaste against the back of my hand. I walk out and half-fill my mouth with water from the kitchen and then lick the toothpaste at the back of my hand, gargle and spit out the toothpaste turned mouth wash mixture, tie my scarf and walk with my sisters towards the church premise. On the way we are quiet because we still have sleep in our eyes. We always arrive in time for the word and prayers. After saying the grace and annual theme ,which signifies a close of devotion, my dad sets the tone by turning to the person on the left (I don’t know why he always turn to the left probably he is a “lefty”) and hugs him/her or shakes hands and says words of encouragement. In the moment of emulating, my sister, my cousin and I walks briskly out the auditorium. We do this to avoid long chats with members where our lips hurts from faking smiles by the time we are leaving and also to do our chores quickly so we can get some few minutes of sleep before my dad returns home.
—we talked about how interesting, fun and amazing SS (Senior High School .In our days it was Senior Secondary School so “SS”) I don’t know about her, but I always talk about SS days to lighten the grief and frustration I carry for not being in the University. I will take a walk to the road to buy koko (it should always be behind a gutter. The reason, it is silly now that I think about it, is the smell from the gutter adds to the taste of the koko.) It was on my way back that I encountered the reason for this letter.
I saw a familiar face that doubles as a church member and family friend on the other side of the road. I started walking to the other side even though I saw a vehicle moving towards me (they always stop for us to cross anyways) so I didn’t stop till I was on the other side of the road. This man asked rhetorically “oyaa he koko?” which translates as “You went to buy porridge?” My response? I smiled. Then he grabbed my left hand and wrapped his fingers around my wrist till the tips of his finger touched (his way of telling me I am growing thin). He quirked: “you don’t eat!” then he proceeded to draw a verbal meal plan for me. I just, stood, there smiling, nonplussed and when he was done with his meal plan, I just walked away still smiling. I got home and slouched myself to my favorite corner in the hall: it was a corner that is almost closed by a curtain and couch on both sides. I just sat on the carpeted floor with eyes fixed on nothing in particular. During those times, I usually go blank, my mind becomes rusty and all I see is small circles forming into big circles till they disappear just like the ripple effect on a river. I just starred. I didn’t feel sadness, I didn’t feel joy, and I just plunged into non-existence. This was what I go through almost every day (on days I don’t meet him, I mumble a thanksgiving prayer but I often meet him so the non-existence feeling was almost a daily ritual) at 17. All these varied emotions because some person, somewhere who knows nothing about existence, makes me feel them. He literally made me believe I do not matter, I existed not.

Irksome
But Awula, every country, group of people have the “ideal body song”. In Ghana, my area, the song was, be thick. Body ideal songs were sang in my area, to everyone. My friend was “perfect” because she hit the mark and I was always compared to her which was uncomfortable,I just stayed at home.

Liss
Today I know how toxic the “body ideal song” can be and it is worse now because the media and arts have joined the orchestra. I have no idea how those before me felt. I think back and I know I got through those times because my dad told me, every day, consistently: “my daughter you are beautiful”, these words caused me to be euphoric, they lit my heart and face and gradually I got through.
Awula, you may not have someone telling you your truth: “you are beautiful” I wish I had super powers to stop this singing, yet I do not. However you should know this letter is for you, you who are in the state I was at 17 or even worse, know, you are never alone. I am there with you through your pain and struggles. I love you, I hope you get better and when you get better, promise me you will help me find who started the “body ideal song.” Wait! I might— have an idea who started it. Could it be patriarchy?
Love,

Afi-Djangmah

~I spoke my mind in my mind~

Let’s talk about that one time

I spoke my mind in my mind

I see women fighting for validation from others

give them power over those wanting to live

What I have realised is venom lives in these women

My dad is power,he raised me up

He sold me oppression and I bought it

My mum bought and sold me oppression

The safe houses I found,grown attached,even the woke buy and spit venom

They were sold venom and now in their attempt to let go of that venom, they spit it at people,at I

Like a snake,biting and spit it’s venom into it’s own body,because it thinks someone wants to hurt it,that is what the safe house has become and me,wanting to live free of all the venom,I give rise to oppression

Let’s talk about the other day I spoke my mind in my mind

in search of finding Feminity,I become tape, holding the venom so I don’t get affected.

I have watched while she threw power in my face because I can’t be glue

She poured her glue on me because she knows I am good at being taped

So she pours. she pours. She pours,yet

I taped

Did she not know she is the patriarchy she is fighting?

Did she not know she is the venom she wants to get rid of?

Did she not know she did not know? Maybe she knew.

I want to be free. I want to be free. I want to be free.

I want to be free. I want to be free. I want to be free.

I want to be free.

I want to be the venom,not the snake.

I want to speak my mind in my mouth.

Continue reading “~I spoke my mind in my mind~”