Sima

obuasi-girls

Photo Credit: James Barnor

Adobea was a last-minute Christmas shopper. She’d made a list for her three girls for months on end, and yet, only got time to get the stuff on the 24th. Traffic had reared its ugly head during the first week of December, and Harmattan had snaked its way in, touching everyone and everything with a dry spell. She had felt quite reluctant to go out, but not with the hints her children were giving her. It had become some sort of norm for these young ones. When Adobea was young her Christmas present was usually an extra piece of chicken on her fufu. Not these fancy-schmancy ones who talked about Christmas trees and Christmas Eve and the like.

I’m not a terrible mother, she reassured herself as she manoevred her souped-up jeep in her newly discovered shortcuts. She was getting a couple of bras for Borkai; her eldest. The fourteen year old had been hinting for that for nearly a year. She wanted something pink, something lacy or something flowery. Adobea had resisted the urge to add that yes, you can get all those things, provided you’re not showing it to any boys.

Adobea was guilty of that. Fun times, she thought, giggling. A far cry from the story she told her daughters about her childhood. She’d told them she’d grown up in a Christian Mission House with her aunt and uncle who were pastors. That was close to the truth. She’d lived near a mission house, and she’d definitely gone on missions with Peter, the adorable son of Pastor and Pastor Mrs. Asante. After committing various sins they’d get on their knees and pray and have worship. That continued till the one time Mrs. Asante caught them (which was her fault because she had NO right to close earlier from her praying meeting that day), and every Sunday after that, she made sure she mentioned something about fornication to remind Adobea, even if she didn’t preach. It would sneak in an announcement, or a word of advice. Adobea nearly cut all ties with Peter, but then they discovered another place for their “worship” sessions. Ah, that boy shouldn’t have travelled abroad. Adobea chuckled, snapping back to the present.

Adobea was getting Larley, her second daughter some new shoes and socks for school. Shika, the youngest, was the easiest to shop for. She’d get some toys, some barrettes, and maybe socks as well. The little one had turned two in November, and was a delight to be with-when she wasn’t busy climbing and crawling under things.

Then there was her husband, Nii. She had no idea what to get him. But there would be money left for a ribbon. She’d tie it around her waist and offer herself as a gift. Adobea smiled at the thought. What would she get from anyone? How she wished someone would surprise her!

She had reached her favourite little shop. It was tucked away in a plush neighbourhood and yet the prices were affordable.

She stood at the bra section, glancing through the sizes and smiling. Thank God she had not brought Borkai along. The girl would have finished Adobea’s December and January salary all at once. She reached for a grey one which was daintily designed with yellow tulips, and then a colour Aztec printed pattern, which reminded Adobea of her favourite Kente. Then she spotted a black one. She reached out for it, but then at the same time another hand snatched it. “Excuse me…” Adobea began, but the other woman only shrugged unapologetically. “I’m sorry but I need this exact size for my daughter”, she said.

Adobea was about to argue; she was the Queen of Persuasion, but she stopped in her tracks when she took a good look at the woman. She opened her mouth, and words failed her.

“Thank you”, the woman said. She stared at Adobea longer than she should have. She looked vaguely familiar, but that could just be a coincidence.

“Sima”, Adobea whispered, her voice raspy from unbelief.

“Excuse me?”

“Sima. You are Sima”, Adobea said and her eyes travelled to the woman’s arm. The birthmark. Seeing it made her gasp. She’d gained a bit of weight, yes, but that was her. All of a sudden Adobea was in Primary 1 again. She would never forget that face, the familiar peals of laughter…

“Hello, are you alright?” the woman asked. Several people were staring, but Adobea didn’t care. She shook her head, her eyes welled with tears. Perhaps it’d been because her parents had been close to Sima’s. The Addams had never been the same since Sima’s disappearance.

She remembered following her parents, pasting posters of Have you seen Me all over town, trying to find out how the little girl had disappeared from school at break time, angry that the police exhibited a lukewarm ‘you’ll probably never find her’ attitude.

“Can I talk to you in private?” she said, an obvious tremor in her voice.

The woman was hesitant, but she followed Adobea to the bathroom.

“Who is Sima?” she asked almost immediately.

“You. You got missing when I was in primary one. Our parents were good friends.”

“No. my parents are dead. I’m sorry, but I think you got the wrong person,” she said, shaking her head. She didn’t seem convinced herself, because she was looking at Adobea warily.

Adobea reached for her phone in her bag. She still had Sima’s childhood picture. Mrs. Addams had sent it to her mother only days ago.

There was no doubt. The untamed natural hair, the button nose, the familiar birthmark. Sima was alive. The thought alone made Adobea want to run out of the shop and begin screaming in the streets.

The woman’s eyes widened.

“No, no that’s not possible. It can’t be possible!”

Tears rolling down her cheeks, she turned and left.

Adobea stood there for a long time, before regaining her composure and walking back to the shop. She ignored the stares and paid for what she’d got. She was confused, and her mind was swimming with myriads of thoughts. Her eyes lit up when she opened the exit door.

Sima was sitting on the stairs, her body wracking with sobs. Adobea went closer, unsure if she should sit down. Eventually she did.

“I was told they died, and-and she’d been sent to take care of me.”

Adobea shook her head. “It happened at break time. You went to buy some candy across the street, and that was the last anyone saw of you.”

Both were quiet, one, lost in grief and the other lost in thought. One, trying to fit the pieces together, pieces she’d never questioned, thinking of being robbed of 25 years of her life, the other, thinking of how the disappearance of a bubbly six year old had destroyed a family.

 

opana.

opana

Photo Credit: James Barnor

 

opana

don’t set your standards so high

that in reaching it, as Icarus, I will burn-

 

Ahuof3 baby rose.

you’re art-

Afrodite

bathed in chocolate

blessed with ethereal cocoa brown eyes

that make me feel and imagine inappropriate things

curves and hills and valleys, on a pedestal- like Mountain Kilimanjaro

issa trap

issa lie

wo killi me

but I wont die.

 

opana.

don’t be that girl

who will play with me-

and give me hope

and snatch it back, nope.

 

as always-I am the backup plan

locked in a closet on Venus-the forgotten one

the one that will always be there when asimesi leaves

and Kwame cancels

and Atukwei doesn’t show up

 

you come back, smelling of Kwaku’s cologne

and you come back, wearing Asihene’s shirt

and you come back, swearing you’re done with them

and you go back- expectant and filled to the brim with love-as I

 

opana.

don’t place your standards so high

that in reaching it, as Icarus, I will burn-

 

I hope you don’t mind

that your friend, Aku, keeps me company while as usual I wait for you

opana

have you noticed, that Aku is very beautiful?

 

The Merger V

akuawrites

“Now you can open your eyes oo! “, Esaaba said, laughing. He whistled. No way. She looked stunning. Her hair had been cut short and it had taken ten years off her age. His sister had chosen some great clothes for her. Her makeup was subtle and beautiful. Sena smiled at her and they held hands. They were going to have dinner. She would start her English lessons the next week. And when he was sure all was well he would introduce her to his mother. Esaaba grinned. “Abeg lets go and chop. I am hungry.” Sena chuckled, shaking his head.

She had told him all about her life and especially about her troubled relationship with her sister Effia, and Sena had advised her to give the money back, every single cedi. Esaaba had agreed, but she didn’t want to send back the money. She just wouldn’t go back to Effia’s house. He grinned as on their way to the restaurant, heads turned. He did know how to pick his women.

It had to be Esaaba who had alerted Duke about the hospital. It just had to be her. Now he wasn’t talking to her at all. Not even when he went to make a fool of himself at the Adjayes. Effia sat in her office, confused. She had just ordered lunch when she heard an abrupt knock on her door. When she answered she had no idea it would be Duke.

“Hh-hey.” she said meekly. What was he doing there? He wouldn’t even speak to her when they were at home.

“Are you ready?”

“Ready for what?”

“For an adventure,” he said sarcastically. Thirteen years ago you hid our child. Today you will find him or her. Come on”, Duke was glaring at her as she followed him outside. Standing there, looking more disheveled than ever, was Adomaa Adjaye.

 

“Was it a boy or a girl? “ Duke asked her, his deep, angry eyes piercing right into hers.

“A boy”, Effia said quietly, and Duke looked at her. “If he is dead, Effia I swear you won’t come back home alive! “. Effia closed her eyes. She had dreaded this at the beginning when she had asked her mother, and her mother had said, Fear not, and now her mother had died. She feared greatly, that Duke meant every word of what he had said. So that afternoon, it was decided the three of them would drive to Adom, to where everything started, and where everything was to end.

One of the most difficult things to do, is to act normally in front of your children, when deep down inside, you and your husband have issues to settle. Issues which will not take just a few days or weeks or even months to settle. Kwame had been hurt and angry, mostly angry; she had not told him about Duke. He had ranted and raved and done what she had been scared most, moved to the guest room because their little arguments were becoming big ones. He wanted to pull out of the merger, and Adomaa had decided against it, but thinking about it, she realized the merger had been the root of their problems. But for it they would not have moved, and come to this stage. Kwame had said one important thing during the argument.

Find your child.

Yours and Coleman’s. Find your child.

And when Adomaa had asked him what next, he would reply, I don’t know yet. The ball is in your court. Maybe you want to go back to your old flame. And then they would argue. She finally went to see Duke, which turned out to be one of the most awkward meetings ever. He did apologize for the embarrassment he had caused them at the barbecue.

“I should have done it in a more civilized way,” he said quietly.

She had just looked at him, saying nothing.

Together they had decided to go to the village with Effia. When Adomaa decided to go with them, she had no idea it would mean facing the old ghosts she had kept locked up in her cupboard. All the lies, the pain, the suffering, and one painful reminder who could easily be dead. Then there was a new emotion she was trying to smother. Hate for all the suffering Effia had caused her. When Duke had told her the whole story, her emotions had soared. She found herself crying. Effia Coleman was unbelievable. And now she knew why Effia was familiar. She resembled her mother. All those years ago, Yaba Baiden had acted as Duke’s aunt, and now that she knew the truth, she wanted to strangle both Yaba and Effia. Thank God Yaba was dead already.

And here she was, with Duke and Effia. She had chosen to sit at the back, and closed her eyes as Duke drove. It was a six hour drive to Adom. When they got there she was tired from sitting in one position. Duke turned to look at her, and she smiled weakly. Adom. They’d lived some of their best years here. Adomaa inhaled the smell of freshly baked bread. She remembered when she was a little girl, running through these streets, clutching the bread they got from their local baker Auntie Frema and dreaming of her mother’s famous fried eggs laced with chopped onions, tomatoes and as usual, pepper. She missed those simple times. She sighed.

They had to wait for Effia to make the enquiries. The future seemed bleak already. No one seemed to know the lady Effia had given the baby to. Adomaa had been hoping Kwame would contact her. She kept looking at her phone every few minutes, but he never texted or called. She missed him. Staying there for a couple of hours turned into three days. Luckily for her she had brought her charger and could afford to make some calls, but she never did. She finally sent him a text.

Kwame. Hi. We’ve still not found him.

We’ll be back later today.

How are you? Are the kids okay?

His reply came three minutes after, and her tummy curled in anticipation as she saw his name across her screen. Her heart sank as she saw his simple reply.

Sorry.

We’re good…

Have fun.

Sorry. We’re good. Have fun? Where was the fun in this? Adomaa was confused. The past three days had been horrible. She had found some corner to crouch in the rooms they had rented, and she hadn’t changed her clothing. Listerine mouth wash was not the same as using toothbrush and some Colgate. She just kept quiet and sat in the car when Duke came to call them. She nodded at Effia and took her phone. She had missed her girls. She wanted nothing more than to soak in a tub and wash all her pain and sadness away…

She-

“Jesus!”

Adomaa broke out of her reverie. What is it? She asked, alarmed. Duke stopped the car.

“I nearly hit someone! “ He said, obviously shaken. So he, like her, had been lost in his thoughts.

They all got out and rushed to where the boy had fallen, his knees grazed. But nobody was looking at the boy´s injury anymore because the boy was a carbon copy of Duke Coleman. Any fool could see that. Duke turned to look at Adomaa, and all of a sudden, emotions and memories came rushing back. That special night at the barn, those clandestine meetings, the chatting, the overwhelming love, the pit-a-pat of her treacherous heart whenever they hugged. All of a sudden she was eighteen years old again…they had made magic that night, and they had made this beautiful boy. Effia cleared her throat, and Adomaa looked away.

It took a moment before anyone said anything else.

It was Effia who spoke first. “Dear…where do you live? “

The boy had been holding a basket of eggs, and they were all broken. He pointed to a nearby house, and Duke picked him up, and they all followed him. Father and son made quite an impression, and Adomaa could not utter a word.

Her baby was alive.

Her son had not died.

She had not lost it, all those nightmares….

The boy lived in a thatched house. Duke dressed his wound up for him, as he happened to have a First Aid kit and asked him if his parents were home, and the boy replied that his mother was, his father had died years earlier. His mother turned out to be a tall masculine woman. They knew why he had been holding eggs, she sold them. They let the boy rest in the bedroom, and finally asked to talk to the woman. This wasn’t rocket science, everybody could tell Duke and the little boy was father and son. The woman tried to mess up with their minds at first, but Duke would not give her a chance. He kept probing, asking her questions, and she finally admitted that the boy was not her son, and that his mother was dead, and she had married his father almost eight years ago. She said the boy’s name was Barimah, and he was twelve. The woman herself was Anowa, her husband Kudjoe had died almost three years ago. Barimah was all she had. They could not take him away from her. She started crying. They did not want to be cruel to her; they could find her another job in town if she wanted, so that she would be close to Barimah. But they would have to do a DNA test to verify that Duke and Barimah were father and son. Anowa agreed, and asked them to stay for another night; they could all leave to the city the following morning. They all agreed, and watched Barimah bond beautifully with his father. One thing Adomaa had noticed, was that even when the woman spoke, Barimah cowered in fright. One did not need to be told that she beat him. Adomaa wished she could take him back home that very instant, but then she was grateful. What if the woman had travelled? What if she’d abandoned her son as well? She tried to discard the disturbing thoughts that snaked into her thoughts. She’d found him and that was all that mattered. That night Barimah slept by Adomaa, and she was too tongue tied and shy to talk. She’d come back for her son. She could not wait to get out of this place.

When they woke up the next morning, it was Duke who realized they had been trapped. Adomaa’ phone had been stolen. The doors were locked, and Barimah and Anowa were nowhere to be found. They used almost an hour to get out of the little house; Anowa had locked them in. Adomaa was crying. Once again, her son was gone. Effia had an idea. If Duke could drive away, they could silently wait in the hut, so Anowa would think they had left. She would definitely come back with Barimah. So Duke drove the car to the bushes, and crept back to the house. They were there for hours on end, and finally decided Anowa might never return. Adomaa sobbed as she waited. She’d found her son only to lose him again. This pain reminded her of when she had him and was told she’d lost him. She buried her face in her hands. For the first time Duke put his hands around her shoulders, and she didn’t fight back. Effia left the room, but then came back in less than a minute. “Shhh, they’re back”, she whispered sharply, crouching down beside them. They all repositioned themselves, so they wouldn’t be seen. Anowa and Barimah were back, and she was scolding Barimah for something he must have done. Anowa slapped him and pinched him, and it took all of Adomaa’ willpower not to get out of her hiding place and slug the woman. When the woman was finally convinced they had left, she told Barimah to start packing, they were leaving for good. It was Barimah who saw Effia first. He almost screamed, but Adomaa signalled him to get Anowa inside, which he smartly did. When Anowa went to the kitchen, he locked her inside, and Adomaa, Duke, Effia and the little boy crept away, with Anowa yelling, Barimah, where are you? Barimah! Stupid boy why have you locked me inside? You wan follow the witch to city? She’ll use you for juju! Barimah! Come back!

They finally drove back to the city, and their car got spoilt along the way, and so they got a taxi to get back home. Adomaa had never been so weak. She wondered if Kwame had ever bothered to call her, it had been about five days since she last saw him. There was so much to talk to Barimah about. He did have Duke’s bone structure and stubborn chin, but his snub nose, his feminine hands, they were all Adomaa’. When they got to the Colemans residence first Effia nodded at Adomaa and got out for some fresh air, and to give Duke and Adomaa some time alone. After all she had caused this, she thought, wondering if she should have just stayed in the car and listened on whatever was going on.

Barimah had fallen asleep, and Duke was looking at Adomaa. He held her delicately, and tried to move in for a kiss. She was tempted, these few days had made them a tad closer, but she could not risk Kwame seeing them hug even.

“Adomaa.”

“Duke. I’m sorry, but if Kwame sees this, he’ll have my divorce papers ready even before I step into the house.” She squeezed his hand and looked away as he got out of the taxi. Early on they had discussed that Barimah would go to Adomaa’ house first. Kwame was outside already, talking to a police officer. Surely they didn’t think she’d gone missing! But it made her feel all good inside. Kwame still cared.

“Adomaa! I’ve been calling you for ages. “He was shaken, and when he saw her struggling to carry Barimah he came for the young one. The police officer told her Kwame had filed a missing person’s report already. Her heart warmed when she saw him coming back. A few minutes later, her girls who looked like they had been taking their afternoon nap came hopping and screaming her name. Adomaa wanted to scream herself. She was home. She spent almost an hour in the tub, and went to the kitchen to whip up something. Kwame was there already, he had been making sandwiches for her. She was famished. She wanted to jump in his arms, kiss him, drag him to their bedroom, but he was not even smiling. His expression was stone. He placed some juice by the man-sized sandwiches, and went away. She took some of the food to Barimah, and then went back to the kitchen to eat. She had not realized she was so hungry. She finished everything and took some Panadol and went straight to bed.

Maybe, maybe when I wake up Kwame will be lying beside me, she thought as she yawned.

She was mistaken. When she opened an eye at dawn and realized he must have slept in the guest room again, she cried herself back to sleep. When she woke up the next morning Barimah was up already, and had bathed. He was wearing fresh clothes. The girls were wary around their new guest. Kwame couldn’t even look at him. Sentuo and Awo stayed by her side as she served breakfast. Duke called. He used this advantage to call her every few minutes.

Is Barimah okay?

Has Barimah eaten?

These calls made Kwame mad, but he never said anything. He was still giving her the same cold treatment, and yet acted like a cool husband around the kids. She mustered courage one night after they had had dim sum in the living room. Barimah had gone out with Duke and had returned, tired. He went straight to bed. Already Adomaa had changed the free room into a boy’s room. She had tried to tell the girls about Barimah, leaving out some parts. They nodded, quite confused, but unwilling to admit this. Son. She had a son! He hadn’t died…it still shocked and surprised her. Sometimes it felt like a dream.

 

Effia had thought the past couple of days with Duke at the village would change things, but it turned it hadn’t. She found another psychiatrist, this time she couldn’t sleep, and when she did, she felt like someone was trying to strangle her. Duke had asked for a separation, which she’d expected. She knew it was Esaaba who had told Duke the truth. It had to be her.

Effia did not remember what happened after; all she remembered was finishing almost a whole bottle of whiskey, and having her driver take her to Esaaba’s house. Esaaba hadn’t even been around when Effia got there, but she waited. Esaaba finally came, a big flashy car dropped her, and her sister got out and was going towards her house. Esaaba looked so different! She’d cut her hair? Wow. Effia’s heart tightened with anger. Her stupid sister. So this was what she wanted the money for! Effia didn’t think as she lunged onto her sister and dragged her to the bushes when the latter was out of view from the car. Esaaba gasped in surprise. It was anger and frustration that made Effia do it, and once she started she couldn’t stop. Esaaba who had always been jealous of her. Esaaba who had been bent on destroying her marriage. Esaaba who revelled in blackmailing her, just so she could use her hard earned money for unnecessary things. “Stop! Stop!” her sister cried, but Effia was a woman possessed, pouring her frustration and problems on her sister. This animosity had started way back in Adom, when they were teenagers.

It started the day Effia and Esaaba were asleep on a mattress and a mosquito coil burned next to them. The coil burned and caught the end of the cloth the girl’s had used to cover themselves, and began to burn the cloth. Esaaba saw it first. She was the light sleeper. She felt the intense heat and got up suddenly. But instead of waking Effia up she just got up and stood at the door, and watched her little sister who was a heavy sleeper and hadn’t even smelled the smoke. No one knew why Esaaba failed to wake Effia up. It was their mother who rushed to their bedroom, raised a confused eyebrow at Esaaba, and woke Effia up. The fire left a mark at the small of Effia’s back, and it was what she used to remember Esaaba’s devilry.

Now, Esaaba lay there helpless. Effia, spent, breathed heavily. She rushed back to her car and sank onto the back seat, thankful she hadn’t driven there. It would serve Esaaba right for destroying her marriage.

It was Sena who realized something was terribly wrong. Esaaba had taken too long. She said she was only going to check up on her father, and come back. He had waited in the car because she had not yet spoken about him meeting her father. He wanted to be asked first. But when he realized his girlfriend was taking too long he got down. He walked to the entrance and almost knocked. But he heard the soft whimpering and almost jumped. At first he thought it was a dog, and then he saw the bloodied hand sticking out of the bushes nearby. When he cautiously went to check exactly what was happening, he saw his girlfriend lying there, badly stabbed, and her life slowly draining from her. Sena screamed. Esaaba!

When the girls went to play, Kwame and Adomaa took the leftovers to the kitchen. Their hands accidentally touched, and he was moving it away, when Adomaa mustered all the courage she would ever need and held on to it.

“Kwame.”, she whispered.

He looked up, resisting the urge to cradle her in his arms. Yes, he was angry, but for how long? He still loved the woman. He still loved her so much.

“Kwame. I did not ask for all this. Years ago I met Duke. He was a great guy, and I loved him. Notice I said loved, past tense. But he hurt me, and you are the only person who made me capable of loving again. You are my husband, and I wouldn’t want to change that for anything.”

He opened his mouth as if to interrupt and she raised a hand.

“Please. Let me speak.”

“You can’t continue to judge me with my past. I am not perfect, and I will never be, but I am your wife, and that will never change. Duke is Barimah’s father, I can’t change that either but I can’t continue to live in perpetual uncertainty about us. I can’t continue to go back to bed and wake up every morning crying because you are not lying next to me, so I’m asking you, do you want to do this…or not?”

She stared at him, her chests heaving. Oh God. What if he said no? No meant a divorce, no meant I want to end it. Adomaa looked down, and tears welled up in her eyes. Kwame used a finger to bring her head up, and when he saw her tears, he realized she’d been in pain over the past few weeks. Why, she’d even lost weight. Of course he didn’t want to end it. Else why would he even be in the same house with her?

He smiled a little smile, and then his mouth came upon hers in such a fast movement that she was taken aback. His tongue was wet and warm, and teased hers, and she couldn’t help the butterflies that danced around in her tummy. Finally he ended with a peck on her forehead. “You have your answer”, he said quietly, and he turned to go.

I still don’t have my answer, she thought defiantly. Not quite. But she was happy. He still wanted her. Her husband still wanted her!

The full merger had to be terminated, but there would still be some collaborations, and Kwame didn’t have to stick around for that. Ezra had been heartbroken his son had pulled back due to personal issues but he still gave him a lovely pre-Christmas present, he’d given him half of the shares of Adjaye Pharmaceuticals. Those who had rented their house left earlier than expected. They could still move back to Kumasi by Christmas, Adomaa speculated. Duke and Adomaa had come to an agreement, Barimah would spend all vacations with his father, and holidays would be done yearly. It was going to start with Adomaa. It took them almost a fortnight to move back to Kumasi. Everything seemed different, but she was home now. She could not wait to see Ezra and Asantewaa Adjaye and her own parents…she had missed them too much. She had told Asantewaa about Barimah already and the woman had sounded forgiving on the phone. She only hoped she be forgiving in person as well. It had been a year. Adomaa still could not believe it. So much had happened!

 

December 2014.

Lunch. Adomaa outdid herself, this time Sentuo helped. This time it was fufu and groundnut soup heavy with ox-tail, crabs, beef and smoked fish. They were in the kitchen, eating from their asanka in different sizes. Adomaa, of course, had ground extra green pepper for her soup. Barimah ate in his room, he had been doing so ever since he moved in with them. Adomaa had made sure they’d taken all the necessary blood tests to confirm that Duke was the father, and they had signed the necessary papers only last week. They’d gone to see Anowa as well, and given her some gifts as a thank you for looking after Barimah. They also added that she could visit them anytime she was in Kumasi, though Adomaa hoped she wouldn’t contact them after. This woman who had locked them in at some point. Now, it seemed funny. Anowa had been surprisingly touched with their visit.

The girls were chatting; Aku had lost both arms and now Awo had a new doll called Sasaa. The house was still messy, they hadn’t finished unpacking. Adomaa slept in the bed, and Kwame, on the couch. Things weren’t good, but they were not half as bad either.

“Adomaa”, Kwame said suddenly.

She looked up.

“Tell Barimah to bring his lunch here”

Her heart warmed. “What? “She whispered

“If we are a family, we should eat together, shouldn’t we? “, he said. She nodded like a robot.

And she went to call her son, tears in her eyes. Barimah was as surprised as she was, and he came back with her and they continued to eat.

After lunch, Kwame leaned close to her. “I have a surprise for you” he whispered. She grinned, as long as it was no news of a new merger, but then she knew this surprise already. A getaway!

The people from Lou Moon Resort had mistakenly called the house number for confirmation of Kwame’s reservation. Adomaa had been excited. She had even packed her stuff. (He didn’t know that) The kids would go to their grandparents till they came back. She couldn’t wait. She did not remember the last time she’d had some alone time with him. Kwame. Even as she looked at him across the table she realized she missed him, oh God how she missed him. It would take a while for things to be normal. But she could feel it in her bones, things would be okay. Later that night they were all cuddled up in the living room sofa, chatting. He ended up telling her the surprise, and she had to act like she was surprised.  And she nodded. He held her hand and kissed it.

“Can I say something weird? “

“Er. Sure”, she replied, wondering what it was now.

“You’re with me and yet I miss you. Does that make sense? “

She started to laugh and nodded. It did. Because she felt the exact same way.

“Are you okay? “ He asked again, smiling and she nodded again. She was fixing his tie and he leaned down for a kiss. I am better than okay, she thought.

Back in Accra, Esaaba Baiden was on a hospital bed, her eyes puffy from crying. After Sena had found and brought her to the hospital, she’d undergone two surgeries. She’d been severely struck in the abdomen and her jaw. She could have died, had Sena not found her on time, the doctors said. Seeing him only brought tears to her eyes. He would definitely leave her; she came from such a twisted family. Her own sister had tracked her down and beaten her. She should have returned Effia’s money, she thought. If she’d done so Effia wouldn’t have come after her. Thinking about it only made her sadder.

“Esaaba! Please, look at me”, Sena implored, and she looked away. He knew she thought he would probably leave her. She didn’t know he wouldn’t. And Esaaba certainly didn’t know he had her ring sitting in his car, and was waiting for the right moment to propose to her. Sena smiled thinly. It was good news Effia Coleman had been arrested for assaulting Esaaba. At least justice was being served. He leaned down and hugged her. “Get well soon, my alomo”, he said, bringing a smile to her face.

Duke and the boys had gone to visit Effia at Ave Maria Psychiatric Hospital; it’d been over a month since the whole issue. Effia had been arrested on an assault and battery charge. The lawyer said she’d have to plea bargain to be bailed out, but even with that she’d have to check in to a psychiatric hospital. She would only be released if the doctor reported to the judge that she was of a sound mind. Effia grudgingly gave in, and she was promptly sent to the hospital straight from jail.

“Papa, will mommy come back?” Paapa asked in a small voice, and Duke squeezed his hand.

“Yes. We just need to sort some things out first.” He said softly. He would never forget Effia’s sorry expression back there. They were still separated, and he didn’t know if a divorce was the best option even though he’d considered it more than once. She had cost him the woman he loved, and his son Barimah, and yet she was also the mother of Kwamena and Paapa. There was no way he’d get together with Adomaa nevertheless. She was already sorting out her own marital issues. Duke tried to be cheerful. Everything was seriously messed up. But life would get better. He had also told Adomaa to keep Barimah for the time being. The boy was just a painful reminder. Maybe time would heal his fresh wounds of hurt and loss. And then if he was strong enough he would go and see Barimah, and tell him he might be his biological father, but Kwame was another father he would be lucky to have. For now his boys would live with his own parents. He needed to figure out everything, and having them around wasn’t going to help.

“Everything will be fine”, Duke told them, even though he wasn’t sure he believed it himself.

Miles away, in Kumasi, Adomaa was in the bathroom puking her brains out. She had to tell Kwame, she thought as a smile spread on her face. The doctor had confirmed it. She was with child. Barimah and the girls would have a younger sibling. She sighed as she washed her face and made it back to the bedroom. Kwame was on the bed, grinning sheepishly at her.

She smiled back and went to sit by him, cuddling him.

“So, is it a boy or a girl, or you don’t know yet?”

Adomaa turned around sharply. “Huh?”

“Baby. Boy or girl? You honestly think I didn’t know? I was here when the girls were coming, woman. I am no expert with women business but I do know when my wife is preggers!”

Adomaa smiled shyly. Wow. Well. “I don’t know yet” She admitted, still surprised.

“I see. Too weak to race me to the girls’ and Barimah’s room to tell them?” he grinned at her and leapt of the bed. And she followed him outside, laughing, giggling. Oh how she loved this man! He turned to look at her just before he entered Barimah’s room. The expression in his eyes. Love, and forgiveness. Forgiveness. Adomaa held his hand just before they entered their son’s room. The merger had almost torn her family apart, but she had been lucky to get it back, plus two more members. She was the luckiest woman alive.

The End

The Merger IV

akuawrites2

It was becoming more and more difficult to work with Kwame Adjaye without thinking about Adomaa. The thought of Kwame kissing or touching her in his presence was enough to make him go paranoid. He wanted going to tell Kwame everything even though Adomaa had warned him not to.  At that very moment, his secretary called him.

“You have a visitor, please, a Miss Adobea Sampah.”

“Adobea Sampah?” He didn’t know any Adobea Sampah. Ah well.

“Let her in, all the same. I’m not sure I know her.”

“Yes sir.”

When she entered he sucked in a breath. Adobea! Of course, the receptionist!

“Please sit down.” What was she doing here?

“No thank you, I won’t take long anyway.” She just stood there looking at him, a hurt expression on her beautiful face.

“I know you didn’t want me to find you, but I did. It’s a small world. Your worker Yaw Asare’s girlfriend is my school mate, and she knows you very well. You hurt me badly, Mr. Sefah, or it’s Dr. Coleman? You lied about your name!

He looked at her in surprise. He had forgotten all about her.

“I thought we had something special, but I think you got tired of me and fled.”

“I’m so sorry Adobea”, he said.

“Anyway. I resigned from Ave Maria Hospital, and so I took your sister’s files while I was packing. You may not want to know what’s wrong with her because you’re scared, but that’s the only way you can help her to forgive herself and for her husband to forgive her. I know it’s confidential, but I read it.”

She put the files on his desk. Why had she not just photocopied it? But then he was thinking about what she’d just said.

“Forgive her?” he echoed. “She was being threatened by someone, and we’re working out that issue.”

Adobea chuckled. “Threatening her.? Well, either your sister lied to you, or she lied to Doctor Poku. Look, I have to go; a taxi is waiting for me downstairs. Have a good life, Kwaku Sefah, and all the best with your sister!” she said with a sardonic smile then she walked out. Of course she knew Effia wasn’t his sister.

Duke smiled. He didn’t need to read these, but as he continued to work his curiosity got the better of him. He leaned for the files and opened it, and as he read from page to page he was filled with horror.

 

 

Effia Coleman was sitting in the living room, lost in thought. Once again, she’d dressed up as if she was going to work, and when she left with Duke, she came back. Dr Opoku had changed her drugs, and the effects were crazy. All she did was sleep. She’d slept the whole day, and felt better now. It was almost eight in the evening, and the boys were doing their homework in their rooms. Good. Coast was clear; Duke wouldn’t be home till nine. She walked to the mini bar and took out a bottle of Johnny Walker. She needed something strong. She was no saint, she knew that. She’d done some pretty awful things in the past and she knew those things could come and bite her in the ass one day. She hoped this wasn’t the beginning. She could hide it, but if Esaaba finished that money, she’d be back with an ultimatum, more money or she’d tell Duke.

Effia took a swig of the whiskey, straight from the bottle. It was thirteen years ago and yet every detail of what she did with her mother was still very fresh in her mind.

She thought time had covered up her sins, but if Duke, Adomaa or Esaaba started talking, they could trace their breakup to her. How could something she had done years ago come back now to threaten her beautiful marriage?

It wasn’t her fault.

It was her mother’s fault.

You can’t let this one go, chai!

He has a girlfriend, and so what? Think, Effia, think!

Your father is nothing but a drunkard, and marrying someone like that will make people stop teasing you. This is the only way you can redeem yourself. Think, Effia!

Her mother’s words echoed in her mind.

Thirteen years ago she’d met Duke Coleman. He was absolute perfection; the kind of person she wanted to be married to. The kind of person every girl wanted to be married to. It was not that Effia and her family had been poor, they had lived a comfortable life, but the Colemans were filthy rich at that time…even though they hadn’t expanded their company like today, and being married to one of their family members was a great honour. But Duke had a girlfriend, Adomaa, and he loved her.

Effia’s mother, Yaba hadn’t been perturbed in the least, especially when they found out Duke’s girlfriend was a few months pregnant. Yaba was a nurse, and had just told Effia to let her handle it. The first thing to do was to imitate the handwriting of Duke and Adomaa. If they were going to do anything through letter writing, they had to do so accurately. Yaba would pose as Duke’s aunt.

At first, Effia had had some doubts, but her mother put all her fears to rest.

“No one will get hurt…I promise you, and she’ll definitely get another husband to marry.”

And so Effia had agreed to the master plan. Yaba called Adomaa, telling them Duke’s mother was out of town and she’d been asked to take care of Adomaa. She told Adomaa she’d be taking her to a nearby village so she could give birth so as to avoid too much attention. She told Adomaa that Duke would be going abroad and by the time he came back, she would have delivered, and they would allow them to marry. The naive Adomaa had believed everything. Adomaa’ parents even met Yaba, and the other woman totally convinced them that it would help everyone if Adomaa left with her. They finally agreed. Adomaa left with Yaba to the village a couple of months later.

The journey was torturous but Adomaa endured it. She finally got there, and was shown a small hut, that would be her house till she delivered. She also had someone to feed her, even though the food was mostly unpalatable. And Duke’s ‘aunt’ broke her promise. She visited sparingly. Duke’s mother never came as Yaba promised. There was always an excuse.

Meanwhile, Duke had tried to look for Adomaa, but Effia had already sent a letter she wrote on her own in Adomaa’ handwriting to Duke, telling him not to contact her, Adomaa, again, she had got rid of the baby and wasn’t ever going to come back to their town. And in his desperation, Effia made herself available.

Adomaa gave birth to a boy some months later. But immediately after she delivered, her mother gave Adomaa some juice which had been drugged, and the poor girl slept for hours. Her baby was wrapped in a dirty shawl and sold to one of the desperate village women, while Yaba broke the news to a drowsy Adomaa that her baby had died, and they’d buried him.  More than a decade ago. They could not have killed the baby. That would have made them murderers.

When they all travelled back to the town finally, Duke had left for abroad. Adomaa never contacted Duke and his family again. It gave Effia a huge advantage, because when Duke came back; they got closer never like before. They got married less than a year later, and Effia was more relieved than happy. They had a great marriage though she knew that Duke would never love her like he’d loved Adomaa. But she loved him and that was the most important thing.

 

Effia had thought Adomaa would never be the same again. Yet, that night, February 14th Adomaa had looked flawless. She looked even more beautiful than she had been years ago. Effia remembered the desire mixed with anger in her Duke’s eyes. Yes, he still loved Adomaa. And he still hadn’t told her she’d been an ex. Of course, he thought she didn’t know.

She’d done a cruel thing for love. She couldn’t rectify it now. Her head was throbbing with pain, she hadn’t eaten anything and yet she was drinking. Her mother had died, and her father had one foot in the grave, he’d known what was going on then, he had even helped. If there were to be any consequences, only she would face it.

She heard her phone ringing and jumped as the sudden tone startled her.

Dr Opoku.

Why would he be calling her past eight in the evening?

“Hello?”

“Good evening Mrs. Coleman, I am so sorry for calling at this hour, but I have some bad news. I was doing a review of the files of my patients, and I can’t find yours. I had my staff search for them for hours, but it still cannot be retrieved. Do you have any idea of anyone who knew you had checked into my hospital?

These things rarely happen, but it is not unusual. Family members try to find out what is going on and interfere…”

Effia was alarmed. “My file? How on earth could my file be missing?”

“I am so sorry….”

“Find it! No one could take my file, no one knows..!”

“Don’t be too sure of that. I know, and your file is right here.” Duke’s voice was cold, and she whirled around.

Duke was holding her file and the expression in his eyes…that man looked ready to kill.

She dropped the phone even before she realized her doctor was still on the line.

“How could you do that Effia?” Duke wasn’t shouting. That was one thing about Duke, when he got angry he didn’t flare up or shout or scream. At this very moment she wished he would do that.

She started to whimper, as he came close and held her, hurting her hand.

“Did you kill the baby?” he growled. “Did you kill my child?”

The tears were flowing freely. “No! I didn’t…listen, Duke, allow me to explain this…”

“Explain what, exactly? What else have you hidden from me? For thirteen years I have been married to a woman who I realized I don’t even know. You and your mother hid my child…it baffles me…I blamed Adomaa for all those for aborting my child, and it turns out everything she said was true! True!” He was shouting.

Effia could not stop crying. Paapa finally came to where his parents were; he had woken up from all the noise. Effia called the help to come and get him before Duke spoke again.

“I want just one thing, Effia Coleman, and that is for you to find my son and bring him to me. And if he is dead, you better wish yourself dead too.” Effia watched him leave and slam the door. She didn’t even notice she was crying till she tasted the saltiness. She was in trouble, and this time the sharp-tongued Mama wasn’t around to bail her out.

Esaaba was smiling shyly at the older man who sat across her. No one had ever taken her to a lovely place like this before. She had to thank Effia, the day she had left her sister’s house, she had been so disturbed she was nearly knocked down by a car, and its driver had been Sena Logah. He was in his early fifties, he had been widowed almost five years ago and he had found Esaaba Baiden attractive. Of course he had to admit she had a terrible sense of fashion, and her grammar was just as bad, but she was a lovely woman. Sena had gotten her number and this was their first date. He smiled back at her. He would call his sister to take her shopping and find some decent clothes for her. And also he would find an English tutor for her, But he would give her time, give them both time to adjust to each other. He was a grown man, he was not in for a rerun or some dalliance, if he was going to take this serious, and it would lead to the altar. He winced when she attacked her noodles and meat sauce with a spoon. Oh dear…

 

Duke was still very angry, but of course not too angry to turn down the Adjaye’ invitation to their barbecue. It had been barely a week since he had found out everything, and he was not affectionate or anything of the sort to Effia. The evening barbecue had been Kwame’s idea; he had invited a couple of people from the neighbourhood. Adomaa had excelled herself, from deviled chicken, honey chicken to khebabs done in spicy sauce and lots of pepper. There were lots of drinks to go around. Adomaa looked lovely and warily watched her husband and Duke waxing lyrical about work. She stayed away from Duke, she had hoped Kwame would not invite them but he had. She had no choice now. She did realize that Duke barely spoke to his wife. He kept on talking and drinking. She was a bit surprised, Duke was a teetotaller, or maybe he had changed in those years. She was talking to one of her husband’s friend’s wife when Duke came to hold her hand. She snatched it away and tried to smile. Duke was drunk. She hoped he would not tell any secrets, or reveal anything. Her heart was beating just a tad faster as she stared at the man she had been crazy about over a decade ago. The next outburst was exactly what she had feared.

“You’re still doing your shy Adomaa thingy? Come on, there’s no curve of your body I haven’t seen before, Adomaa Ellis”, he said, laughing. He had mentioned her maiden name, the maiden name only Kwame knew.

Adomaa breathed. Kwame came to stand by her, looking a bit confused.

“Coleman? You okay?” It wasn’t a tone of concern but rather seeking clarity.

Duke swayed a bit and nodded. “Yeahh. Has Adomaa told you? I thought she had…”

“Told me what? “, Duke´s voice was low, and instead of fixing his attention on Duke, he was looking at Adomaa who was looking down, wishing she could disappear that very moment.

The other guests, as if they had been warned, looked away, but it was obvious they could hear whatever was going on. “Babe let’s go home. You’ve had too much to drink”, Effia said softly, trying to touch him, but he slapped her hand away coldly.

“Don’t ‘babe’ me. Leave me ‘lone. She hasn’t told you? “, Duke was getting closer to Kwame and Adomaa was looking at both men in mortification. Right now Duke Coleman had the power to destroy the marriage with just words. Her marriage was hanging on a thin rope.

“Told me what? “, Kwame asked again in that low voice she knew so well.

Adomaa closed her eyes. This wasn’t happening. This was a bad dream; she should open her eyes and wake up, and wake up, and wake up…

“She and me…the barn at Adom. I was her firs’ love you know. She was crazy abou’ me…butttt, “he swayed again, this beautiful witch right here didn’t want us to marry…”

 

 

Effia had had enough. Her eyes had turned into burning coals. “Duke that is enough! “ She started to drag him, but, anger had made her strength soar, she held on to the drunk guy and dragged him to the car park.

Duke shouted audibly, “We even have a child! Ask my wife! She hid it! “

Duke was bubbling and mumbling incoherently, and his wife dragged him with her. Everyone heard the angry squeal of tires when they were leaving. The whole place was quiet. Adomaa closed her eyes, tears falling slowly. This wasn’t happening. Duke Coleman was an idiot! What did he mean their child had been hidden? They told her that her baby had died.

The other guests left quietly, and there stood Adomaa and Kwame.

He was looking at her. It made him mad that he was so quick on the uptake; he couldn’t help it if he was smart. “He was telling the truth right? That is why the day we went for the dinner you were acting all strange. You were uncomfortable because you knew him, and you never said a word. You allowed me to introduce you like a stranger, and you have a child with him. Are they any secrets you haven’t told me, Adomaa Ellis?” His words cut like a whip.

She was sobbing quietly, then soon her whole body was racking with sobs.

“Had. The baby died. And it was a long time ago…if I told you, you would have been angry with me…”

“And you think now that that condescending fool has come to announce you were his first love, right in front of my guests I am not angry? And embarrassed? And thoroughly humiliated? “

“Kwame. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry”

“Apology accepted. Better go and find your child with Coleman. You are welcome to live with him if you want”, he turned and left, and Adomaa, sobbing, sank on the lawn.

 

The Merger III

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Effia was in the kitchen, making dinner, when the help came in.

“Madam, please you have a visitor”, the girl said.

Effia frowned. “Who?”

“Me”. The voice was loud and it belonged to one person Effia knew too well.

Effia stilled. Her little sister, Esaaba. Her little sister was smiling.

“What are you doing here? I told you if you need anything call me!” Effia said sharply. “Why so serious, Effia? I know. You didn’t want me to see your new house, or know that your husband has become even more successful”, Esaaba was clearly enjoying this.

“Shut up, Esaaba. Come on, let’s go to the garden.” She took her sister by the hand and they walked out of the kitchen. “Aba!” Effia called, and the help rushed to where Effia stood.

“Make sure the corned beef stew doesn’t burn, and check the yam, it’ll be ready in about ten minutes.”

Effia wanted to scream. Esaaba never called or texted, unless she needed something. Her sister was five years older, she was a frustrated and an annoying human being, and Effia had always managed to avoid her. She had hired a small apartment for her father and Esaaba in town, but her little sister always complained the house was too small. As usual, Esaaba was dressed in an ill-fitting canary yellow dress, her the cloying stench of her perfume redolent in the air, her natural hair in a confused bun. She held a yellow purse which as usual was a knockoff. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

They sat on the garden chairs; the garden was illuminated by the bright lights. Effia had chosen the garden because if Duke came, he would pass through the other side of the house, and the boys’ gaming room was far away. She didn’t want her sister near any of her family.

Aba brought chilled bissap in tall glasses. Esaaba loved it. She downed all of hers and burped. Effia didn’t touch her glass. Esaaba shook her head. “If you won’t drink yours allow me to finish it for you”.

Effia ignored her. “What are you doing here, Esaaba?” she asked abruptly.

“He doesn’t know, does he?” Esaaba said, a gleam in her eyes

“Know what? Who are you talking about?”

“Stop acting dumb, Effia. Papa told me yesterday. I should have known all your trips with Mama to the village all those years ago weren’t to buy yams!”

Effia’s heart sank. Papa had told Esaaba? How was that possible? Why would he do this to her? Why at this very moment that Adomaa was in town?

Esaaba saw fear evident in her sister’s face.

“No fears, Effia. I’m not telling. But you have to pay for me shutting up. Look at me; I can’t even get one single man. They all fool around with me and then run off to get married. I-”

“How much do you want, Esaaba?” Effia cut in stiffly, her heart was thumping, and yet trying to show a calm façade. She was screwed.

“A house. Money. A car. I’m tired of that small stuffed room I have to share with Papa, while you sit here enjoying someone’s husband.”

“I- what? Are you mad? A house, money and a car? Do you think I’m made of money? And that’s my husband, not someone’s, and next time you’re coming to my house call me!”

“So what are you saying? You could lose everything, Effia. Everything you’ve worked so hard for. All you have to do is to write me a cheque…”

“Esaaba! Effia! Aba just told me you were back here.” Duke was smiling at both of them as he walked towards them. Effia nearly spilled her drink. Her hands were shaking again. She carefully put them on her laps so no one would notice.

Esaaba was looking at her knowingly, and smiling.

“I came this evening, Duke. It’s been a while in-law, you look well”, Esaaba said innocently, shaking Duke’s hand.

“You also look good, Esaaba, I see you’re gaining some weight”. Duke said, and Esaaba giggled.

“But why are you sitting outside, is it not cold?” Duke asked them.

Oh we wanted some fresh air. We’ll be inside in a minute”, Effia said stiffly.

“Okay. I’ll see you at dinner soon. Esaaba will you be staying the night?”

“I would love to…” Esaaba began, but Effia cut in brusquely.

“No, Esaaba has to go and make sure Papa is okay” Effia said at the same time. There was no way that witch was staying the night.

Duke raised an eyebrow at both of them.

“Papa will be fine, I told the woman next door, Auntie Ama to check on him every few hours. I’ve missed Effia and I wanted us to talk. Can I stay just tonight?” Esaaba asked in a small voice, simpering.

“Of course, Esaaba. I’m sure Effia would love that, it’s been too long.”, Duke said, smiling. And he walked away. “See you two.”

Effia was livid, her heart was thumping. She got up. “What are you trying to do Esaaba?” she said in a low voice.

Her little sister smiled. “I work too hard. Why should I still be selling items that people don’t even buy while my sister and her husband are making enough money to feed all the refugees in this world? I need money to relax. You give me money, I disappear. If you don’t, ah well, sweet sis, I’m going to stay in your house for as long as I want, and then tell your husband every little secret you’ve kept from him.

You want to be the only one to enjoy the good life and that is not going to happen. See you at dinner Effia. Please have your maid clean up one of your many rooms for me.

Esaaba winked, and walked away, her yellow getup making her look like a character out of a wack fairy tale. She paused. “Ehen, and I want that yellow thing you served the last time. It has lots of sugar and milk-custard!-yes, custard. That thing is too nice, Ewuradze. I’m happy to be here!”

Effia stood there, shaken. There was no way she was going to sit at the same table with her sister. She had to feign a headache and sleep early when she was having trouble sleeping. What kind of torture was this? She had to give Esaaba money to disappear. The last thing she wanted was for her sister to mess everything up. Everything she’d worked hard for was threatening to go to dust.

Duke pretended he hadn’t noticed the tension between the two sisters. Esaaba was smirking, and Effia looked like she was about to explode. Maybe they’d fought or something. His wife didn’t even touch her dinner, she said she had a headache and slept early. As he sat down on their bed, watching her sleep, he was wondering if she had got another pack of Zopiclone. He couldn’t resist the urge to go to her closet and find out, and so he walked straight to her closet, and started searching her blazer. She’d removed them.

“What are you doing in my closet?” the solemn voice of his wife made him jump as he whirled around. So she hadn’t been sleeping!

He regained his composure in seconds. “Since we are all keeping secrets, I’d rather not tell you.”

“Secrets? What are you talking about?” she was getting hysterical, her eyes wide with sadness and fear and an expression he couldn’t quite place his hands on.

Duke looked disturbed and finally decided to spill the beans. Maybe she would tell him; for God’s sake he needed clarity, snooping around all the time was just plain annoying. “Are you going to tell me? I saw packets of Xanax and Zopiclone in your stuff…”

“Duke…”

“Effia. What exactly is going on?”

She cleared her throat, thinking fast. “I didn’t mean to, I sold some drugs, and the man died, and now, his family won’t leave me alone and…and…I–I’m confused…” once she started lying, every word fell easily from her lips. It would keep him from wondering about her. She would give Esaaba money in the morning, and all of this would go away.

Duke cradled her in his arms as she started to cry, huge racking sobs that tore his very heart, pulled at his heartstrings. Suddenly all those misgivings he had been having about her became useless. He’d been an idiot. He should have just asked her straight away.

‘Who is that? Who is threatening you?” he asked, patting her back, pulling her closer, and leading her to their bedroom.

“I can’t say Duke, this is just so bad. So bad…”

“You should always tell me if anything like this happens. We’ll get through this.” he said, comforting her. This happened. Once in a while some of their patients suffered adverse effects, and death was rare, but it wasn’t ruled out. He would sort this out, find the autopsy and forward it to his lawyers, something could be done about this. He told Effia not to worry and that he would sort everything out. Eventually she slept. Well, at least he knew what was bothering her. He couldn’t believe he had doubted her. He felt relieved. He felt so silly for going all the way to the hospital. For the first time in a long while he smiled.

Breakfast was delicious. Effia had a great appetite. Aba had bought some Hausa porridge, together with pinkaso and koose from the neighbourhood. Her Hausa porridge was disguised with groundnuts and milk, just how she liked it. The boys had taken theirs to school, and Duke had stayed longer because of what had happened yesterday. He wanted to make sure Effia was alright before leaving.

When Esaaba got to the kitchen an hour later, they had finished eating. Duke asked if they saved some for Esaaba and Effia nodded. “She won’t be eating though, she has to leave now. She’ll take it with her.” She gave Esaaba a bag, which she didn’t allow her to open till they had gotten outside.

Esaaba was giggling.

“You saved breakfast for me? You were that scared?”

“Shut up and open it!” Effia said coldly, glaring at her.

Effia opened the bag; in it was a dirty covered bowl, with a sheet in it. Esaaba opened the cover. There was her cheque of GH 10000. Esaaba’s eyes widened.

Oh, the poor, Effia thought, shaking her head. Every amount seemed so huge to them.

“Why this dirty bowl?” Esaaba asked, laughing

“It’s the bowl my dog used to eat in. It means that is where you belong; with the dogs. If you think you’re going to threaten my marriage with your weak accusations you are mistaken. Esaaba Baiden, now you can get out of my house. Never come back here again.” she walked away, triumphant.

“See you when I see you, sis.” Esaaba tried to sound nonchalant, but her lips were trembling. Dogs!

I hope I never do, you witch. Effia thought, locking the gate.

Esaaba Baiden stood outside for a long time, her sister’s words cut in like a thousand whips with sharpened points at the tips. She may not have had a good relationship with her sister, but this was extreme. This isn’t over, Effia, not by a long shot, she thought, tears filling her coal black eyes.

 I will be back, and this time, it will be to tell your husband the inhuman thing you did just to get him to marry you thirteen years ago.

She threw the bowl away and carefully put the cheque in her yellow patent leather bag. She would cash the cheque, she would find a decent apartment to rent, and then go shopping. She would come back when the money got finished, which would be very soon.

Effia had talked to Duke that dawn.  She had had to cook up another lie to get money from their account. Esaaba needed some money to start a business, and to rent her a new building. Papa also needed some drugs, which were very expensive, and which were not available at Coleman-Adjaye. They’d decided on giving them ten thousand cedis from their joint account.

She never knew Duke would buy her cock-and-bull story about someone threatening her, but this was good. At least she could take Dr. Opoku’s drugs in peace.

Duke came to Adomaa’ shop again. She had just gotten back from an interview with the executives of Kweiba Clarke Interiors. She couldn’t wait to tell Kwame the interview had been great. He’d promised her lunch one of these days, and it was Thursday already! She had just finished making orders for new stock of lingerie when she saw Duke instead at the doorway to her inner office.

“What are you doing here Duke?” she asked, her heart skipping a beat. Every time she saw him it felt like her past was catching up with her.

“I was just in the neighbourhood.”

“Coleman-Adjaye Pharmaceuticals is an hour’s drive from here, Duke. I don’t believe that crock about you being in the neighbourhood.” Duke entered and sat down opposite her.

“I should be angry with you for what you did, and yet it seems you’re the angry one.”

“I carried your baby for nine months and lost it, and you tell me crap about me being the bad guy, the liar…I’m always the liar”, she said in a mocking tone.

“Nine months! Do not make me laugh. Did it take you even three months to terminate it?” he asked.

“I said nine months, why would-“

“Nine months for what?” Kwame asked, he was standing in her office doorway, smiling.

Adomaa gulped. How long had he been standing there?

“I…err…hi! Nine months. He’s buying lingerie for Effia, and wants to know if it’s of good quality and I said nine months maximum, before it starts…”

Kwame smiled. “Oh okay, no wonder Duke rushed from the office…buying a birthday gift?” he asked Duke, and the latter who was equally flustered, nodded.

“I brought lunch like I promised.” Kwame told Adomaa, kissing her on the lips, an act which made Duke cringe even though he tried not to show it.

“I…will be in the showroom, checking out my wife’s stuff”, Duke mumbled, and left.

Waakye?” Adomaa asked, her hands shaky as she brought out plates from her lower drawer.

“Yes, ma’am”, he said. “You can go check on Duke though. By the time you get back lunch will be served”, he told her.

Duke did end up buying the lingerie, and she took his money hastily. She never bothered to count it. She just rushed back to her office to eat with her husband.

She forgot to tell him about the interview, and she could not even enjoy the meal. How long was she going to endure this? Suddenly she wished at the very beginning she had refused to move. She wouldn’t have had to see this man who still thought she’d killed his baby.

A week later Kwame met Effia at the supermarket; he smiled as he walked over to where she was standing. They hugged.

“It’s so good to see you! How did your birthday go…did you like your birthday present?”

Effia looked confused. “Birthday present?”

Now Kwame was confused. “Wasn’t last week your birthday?”

Effia shook her head, chuckling. My birthday in December.”

“Oh. I see.”

“Why would you think it was my birthday, anyway?” she asked, quite confused.

Kwame shrugged. “I just thought it was your birthday. I must have got the date wrong from your husband.”

“Oh well. Mine is on the 25th of December; no one ever forgets that. I have to go now. Laters!” she picked a phone call and waved at him before rushing out.

Kwame paused. Nine months. Had he missed something? 9 months. If it wasn’t about quality…wait. Had he been buying it for his girlfriend?

 

 

The Merger II

She was gawking at him. No. This was just a bad joke, she just needed to rub her eyes well and she’d realise he just looked like Egya. But there he was in the flesh. The one person she’d been praying never to meet.

Yes, he’d changed. The years had been kind to him, he looked more mature, and he still looked good looking with those prominent eyebrows. The familiar thick eyelashes. The aquiline nose. The piercing midnight black eyes. The wickedly sensual mouth. She heard a gasp, then a smash; the woman sitting next to Duke had dropped her wine glass. She was staring at Adomaa, her eyes widened. Kwame was looking at her strangely as she cleared her throat. They were led to another table immediately as one cleaner started getting rid of the shatters of the wine glass; the Colemans were favourites of the restaurant.

Dinner was a disaster. When Kwame had told her about Coleman Pharmaceuticals, she hadn’t associated that Coleman to Duke. She tried her best to act normal, but she couldn’t help feeling every time he was staring at her, his unforgiving eyes boring right into hers. Bile bubbled up inside her.

She wanted to get up and slap him, for all the wrong he had done to her, instead she stared awkwardly at her grilled fish and tried to eat it. She washed down every nibble with some wine. She tried, she tried to act like nothing was going on, but the tension was overpowering. That man had abandoned her, and now here he sat with his wife, the woman who also couldn’t help stealing glances at Adomaa. Adomaa wished she was anywhere but at the restaurant with them.

Duke Coleman was a mass of nerves, everything he tasted felt like cardboard. The woman he’d loved and still thought of occasionally, sat across him, nibbling on her food, as if nothing had happened. Those years seemed to have fizzled out. She looked even more beautiful than she had been, curves had replaced her thin figure and her arresting eyes darted everywhere but his face.

He closed his eyes for a moment. They had been young then, but he would have still taken care of her. Even if his father had spoken against it. The moment she’d gotten pregnant she’d told him, and both of their parents had been very angry, especially because she had to stop school. Her father was doing everything he could to put his daughter in school and she’d gotten pregnant. He thought they were going to sort things out. The next thing he knew, she’d sent him a letter, telling him that it could never work between them and that she’d aborted the baby, because it’d make it easier for everyone. That part still haunted and frustrated him. It will make it easier for everyone. He’d never been so hurt and angry in his life. It had been their child, she had no business what she thought was easier for everyone. He’d tried to find her, but was told she’d relocated to another town, he even went to see her parents to find out exactly what was going on with Adomaa; but her father chased him away; telling him that he’d done enough harm. He remembered how disoriented he’d been but Effia had been by his side all that while. She helped him go through that difficult phase. Maybe it was better he never married Adomaa.

They ate in silence; the only thing that made noise was the clinking of their cutlery on the delicate china they ate from, and the soft conversations from the other tables.

Duke cleared his throat. “So, umm, how many kids do you have?” he asked out of the blue, looking at Kwame. He couldn’t bear to look at Adomaa; all he could think about was that one night he’d deflowered her in his father’s barn, and then the pregnancy, the abortion, the hurt, God the hurt!

Kwame smiled forcibly, confused by the tension. “We have two girls, Sentuo and Awo…you should meet them, right, Adomaa?”

Adomaa was lost in thought, and Kwame nudged her gently. “Yes…yes,” she said absently.

“Are you alright?” he whispered, and Adomaa nodded. “Just a slight headache, I’ll be fine.”

Her husband was looking at her in concern, and Duke was looking at Adomaa in clear disdain. His wife too was looking at her strangely. Adomaa thought the other woman looked vaguely familiar, as if she had seen her before, but she didn’t know exactly where.

“We also have two boys, Kwamena and Paapa. I always wanted us to add a girl! We will come for one of yours”, Duke said lightly, and they all chuckled nervously. It seemed only Kwame and Duke could hold a conversation. When the men asked for the bill Adomaa heaved a huge sigh of relief. She couldn’t wait to get home.

“What was with you this evening, are you alright?”

Duke and Effia were home. It was almost ten. Duke had had a quick shower the moment they got home. When he went back to the bedroom, Effia was undressing, and was strangely quiet. After every dinner his wife loved to run a commentary, who wore this, and how it was so wrong, or this, or that. She was a fashion police expert in her own right. Today she kept mum.

“Ah well, I noticed you couldn’t stop staring at Mrs. Adjaye. You want to talk about that too?” she replied belligerently.

“I wasn’t. She just looked familiar.” He said with a defensive shrug.

“Okay, if you say so. I’m going to take a shower.”

When she was done showering and dressing up and was leaving again, Duke asked, “Where are you going again?”

“To the kitchen for some water.”

“Okay”.

Well, he had his own problems. His new business partner’s wife was his ex-girlfriend. How splendid. He fell into a troubled sleep, and dreamt of that one night in the barn with Adomaa. This time the dream ended with Kwame walking in on them and chasing him with a club. Duke woke up in the wee hours of the morning, panting heavily.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Kwame asked for the umpteenth time. They’d put their girls to bed, and were standing in their richly carved doorway. Adomaa had done an incredible job with the interiors already. Though they weren’t done with the unpacking, he knew by the time she was done with the whole house it would look great. But now he was worried. Something was wrong, and it had started with dinner. The tension at the table…

“Yeah, I’m fine. I told you, I had a headache, and I’ve taken some Panadol, I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

They were going back to bed. “Adomaa, if there’s anything, you know you can tell me right?”

“I’m fine, Kwame, I’m just tired. Let’s get some sleep okay?”

Once in bed, she closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep so that Kwame would not worry. Sleep would not come. All she thought about was the hurt and pain Duke Coleman had caused her and the baby she’d lost. And how she had to brace herself, because he and her husband were now business partners. It was ironic that the one secret she kept was now rearing its ugly head. She felt like crying.

Adomaa had finally finished unpacking and decorating their new place. The few people who had visited had been impressed with her handiwork. Each room had a different mural, and every room was a character on its own. The guest room which was easily everyone’s favourite had Woodin curtains and Akuaba dolls displayed on the wall. One visitor had called her the day before with a new job, to decorate her daughter’s new home for her. Adomaa had never thought of interior decoration, and decided to read, research and try her hands on it. It was a gruelling job, but she had to admit the results pretty much made up for all that.

For the past few days she hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything. Duke had been occupying her thoughts. Duke that had looked at her as if she had some social disease. Why was it that of all the men in the world it had to be Duke that her husband was working with? He had been her secret. When Kwame had asked her at the early stages of their dating and even just before her marriage if she had a child with anyone or there was something he needed to know, she’d told him no. She hadn’t wanted to dig up old and unwanted memories. Now she wished she’d told him she did have a baby but she lost it. If he found out he’d go postal. She sighed.

So that was the kind of wife Duke wanted, she thought, thinking of Effia Coleman. His wife was pretty, but weird with the way she kept on looking at her. All Adomaa hoped was that she wouldn’t attend another dinner with the Colemans. Her past was her past; she had no intentions of rehashing old memories. She hoped Duke would keep his mouth shut.

ª

The past few weeks had been great. Kwame was pleased at the way everything was falling into place with work. The Branding and Advertising Company they’d chosen had sent some impressive samples for their new logos. Interviews were being done for filling new roles that had been created. Things were looking good. It was his wife he was concerned about. Lately she wasn’t herself, and he realized it had started from the dinner with the Colemans. If she was uncomfortable with them, he wouldn’t push it. The last thing he wanted to do was to make her unhappy. Meanwhile, Ezra had called to commend him on the merger. Now that was something to be excited about.

Duke had a new problem. There was something definitely wrong with his wife. It had been almost two months now. He could hardly concentrate at work anymore. Of late she seemed jumpy, and absentminded, and tetchy. He’d seen her taking some drugs and when he asked she’d said they were painkillers, but he didn’t believe her. On a whim he took an afternoon off and drove back home. She wouldn’t be around at that time. He went straight to their bedroom, locked it, and went to the inner room which she used as her closet. He found nothing, just clothes and more clothes and shoes and bags and purses. He stood there, thinking he’d wasted his time, and then he saw one of her blazers with a bulging pocket. He emptied it. A paper bag with…drugs. He took four small containers out. Two; Zopiclone and two were Xanax. He examined the containers carefully. Nothing, except for Prescribed for…nothing. It looked like it had been scraped away. No name, nothing and that was impossible. Coleman-Adjaye did not supply these drugs. He saw the small logo at the bottom of the container, and took a picture. This was bound to be some hospital’s logo, it looked quite familiar, and he couldn’t figure out where he’d seen it. Well, he was getting to the bottom of it. It just had to be hers, else why would she scrape her name off? And why was she taking drugs to make her sleep and make her hands stop shaking? She could have just told him if there was something wrong; he was a doctor for Christ’s sake. This was all so confusing. Duke put the containers back; made sure he hadn’t put anything in the wrong place and went back to work. The first person he saw was Yaw Asare, one of their incredibly smart new staff.

“Yaw!” he called the younger man over to where he stood.

“Hi Dr. Coleman. Good morning.” Yaw smiled at Duke.

Yaw do you know which hospital has this logo?” Duke showed the picture to the younger man.

“Oh, that’s Ave Maria Private Hospital.”

“Oh really? Wait, that’s my daughters’ school. They have a hospital too?” He now knew where he remembered them. The logo on his daughters’ school uniform, Ave Maria International.

“Yes, Dr. Coleman.” Yaw nodded, pleased to have been of help. His girlfriend worked in the main hospital.

“The school owns the hospital. They have the psychiatric and main hospital.”

“Psychiatric! I see. Thank you.”

He was getting ready to go to the hospital when Dr. Adjaye called him for an urgent meeting. Tomorrow, he promised himself.

Duke was kept busy the whole morning, helping review some drugs to help patients with arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. He was very particular about those drugs for the old as he did not want any adverse side effects. The next time he and Adjaye would be questioned at the Quarterly Pharmaceutical Meeting. The moment Duke was sure everything was under control he threw his overalls on his desk and went straight to his car. He had to visit the Ave Maria Hospital. He didn’t find anything in the main hospital. He gave some guy money to find out if any Effia Coleman had been entered onto their systems, and the guy found nothing, meaning either her name was entered in the psychiatrist section, or, as the guy suggested, she had used a false name. Duke shrugged in frustration. He would have to go to the psychiatrist section and check as well. If he was snooping he might as well snoop around well and finish anything he’d started.

He was sitting in Dr Brian Opoku’s waiting room not long after, glancing through Glitz magazine. Brian Opoku was the only doctor in the psychiatric section, he’d learned from the little Ave Maria brochure in the waiting room. Duke didn’t have an appointment, but he managed to convince the buxom receptionist (who coquettishly introduced herself as Adobea) and who had said she had just cancelled someone’s appointment and so he could replace the absentee. He was waiting to be called. He had refused to sign the forms the receptionist had given him, saying he was just making some enquiries. He needed some answers. His wife had access to a wide range of drugs, and yet had gone to get some from another hospital. That was strange. He could be wrong, but he just felt that something was not right.

He was contemplating what he would say when he entered the doctor’s office. He should have prepared well, he thought. Now here he was, determined, but confused. When he looked up the receptionist was smiling at him. Wait. He smiled back. Why didn’t he think of this? He didn’t need to see the doctor to find out information. This overfriendly woman would make it easier. So he stood up and walked over to where she sat. He faked a quick phone call while he stood there, then leaned against her desk.

“I have to leave now to attend to something very important, and so you’d have to cancel my appointment.”

“Oh”, she said, wanting to sound sad he was leaving.

“I’d like to take your number though. Maybe we can talk”, he said.

She nodded. “I’d like that, Mr. Kwaku Sefah”. That was the name he’d given her earlier.

Sweet!

“Could you do me a little favour as well? If your doctor asks where I disappeared to, tell him there was an error with one of the names or find some excuse.”

“I will, Kwaku…when do I hear from you?” she was more interested in him than anything else it seemed.

“Soon, Adobea, soon”, he said, winking. The ring of the bell for the next patient jolted him into action.

She was giggling and he blew her a kiss and left. All she knew was to giggle. Argh.

A couple of days later, at a schmick but low-key diner in town, the receptionist was sitting across him in a décolleté dress which screamed “Take me to bed!”, and he was busily lying to her. This whole monkey business made him feel uncomfortable, but he was bent on finding out exactly what was wrong with his wife. And if he had to indulge an innocent woman because of that, well, so be it. It didn’t take long to convince her, all she had to do was to make a photocopy of the personal files of his “little sister” Effia Coleman because he was very concerned about her…he would pay Adobea a generous amount of money…and she believed all those lies. He was patiently waiting for that report. Meanwhile he had to do something he dreaded. Talk to Adomaa.

“I’m sure your husband would love them.” Adomaa was talking to an attractive young bride who couldn’t stop laughing and giggling and talking about her husband. She’d bought quite a lot of lingerie for her honeymoon and Adomaa had added an African print swimsuit as a wedding present. Adomaa had recently enlarged her stock. She had made a deal with Aya Morrison, a lovely woman who made African Print beachwear and lingerie. It was amazing what word-of-mouth had done for Adomaa. The customers were not too many, but they bought quite a lot of stuff. Adomaa packaged it nicely for the bride. She felt someone watching her and looked up. Her heart sank.

Duke.

“What are you doing here?” She hissed. She waved at her customer who was leaving.

“To talk. Since you’ve been avoiding me, I figured it’d be best to come here.”

“I’ve not been avoiding you, the merger-”

“Forget about the merger, Adomaa. I’m talking about you and me.”

“It’s all in the past. Let it go.’

“Let it go…let it go? You killed my baby!” he held her by the elbow, unconsciously hurting her, and she snatched it away.

“I…what? I carried it full term, and then I lost it; you can ask your aunt, she was there! And you can’t be here; my husband could just come in..!”

His laughter was laced with bitterness. He didn’t have any aunt; his mother had no sisters and his father’s only sister had died even before he was ten. “You really don’t have to lie to me anymore, Adomaa. Forget about Kwame, I knew and shared your bed way before you even met him” His eyes were boring into hers and she felt uncomfortable.

“I lost that baby, didn’t your aunt tell you everything?”

Anger smouldered in his eyes. “I can’t believe after thirteen good years you still can’t tell me the truth.”

“I don’t know how many times I have to tell you what actually happened. You don’t have to believe me. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Does he know about the baby?”

Adomaa shook her head. “No, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention it”.

“The truth does have a funny way of coming out, you know”, he said, a humourless smile hovering on his lips.

“Leave”, she whispered, pointing to the door.

The moment he stomped out she sank on to the nearest chair, sighing deeply. She felt the hot prick of tears in her eyes, then running down her cheeks. She hadn’t aborted the baby, and he’d forever think of her as a liar. She hadn’t even gotten the chance to tell him what his abandonment had done to her. What a time to meet him again. She hadn’t been prepared for this twist of events. She knew deep down, that things were never going to be the same.

The Merger I

akuawrites2

December 2013

Christmas

It was the perfect evening for Christmas songs and piping hot Ovaltine. It was freezing; it had rained solidly for hours on end. Earlier, Adomaa had been searching for Kaakyire Kwame Appiah’s 24th, her husband’s favourite Christmas song to add to their playlist but hadn’t found it. He had this unwavering love for old songs; and had an offbeat dance for each of them. It had not been an easy year, but it had ended quite perfectly. Christmas just excited her. Adomaa was all smiles as she watched her husband, Kwame, and her two little girls sip gratefully. Adomaa added a dollop of ice cream to each girl’s drink; Ovaltine with ice cream was one of her favourite guilty pleasures. She now had ample time to finish up dinner. She was eager to show off her new culinary skills as she’d taken some cooking lessons from a matron to spice up her cooking. The kids were on vacation; her husband on a leave, and there was time for them to actually sit together and eat.

The jollof had been dished out on a big platter, with coleslaw on the side. Then there was coconut rice, deliciously spiced suya with diced green pepper and onions, gravy, egg salad and then grilled tilapia. (Which very nearly got burnt, but by some divine miracle was saved off the grill right on time). Adomaa called them to their newly created dinette to eat. Adomaa was going to the kitchen and back, and then hovered over her two girls so that they would eat. Sentuo, the eldest who had turned eight just a couple of days ago ate hungrily, while Awo, six and a half, absently picked at her food. Awo would always eat as if it was a punishment she had to endure. She kept gazing adoringly at her new Christmas present, a doll. The wide-eyed, dramatically mascaraed beautiful black doll with pale pink lips and a scarlet dress comfortably sat on Awo’s laps, and it was so obvious the little girl wished nothing more than to breathe life into her latest lifeless obsession. Awo had already given it a name-Aku-and had fallen in love with it instantly. Adomaa narrowed her eyes at Awo, who was picking up only the deboned tilapia with her little pink plastic fork.

The girls had it easy, she thought. Back when she was young, the only thing that made Christmas enjoyable for her was those unforgettable tinned Danish butter cookies. Her Ma would scrape and save for those and Adomaa, being the only child, would sneak to the kitchen every few minutes to help herself to a cookie. Adomaa, of course, would be scolded for never leaving enough for her father. She smiled at the memory.

“Awo honey, please eat your food, so that you’ll grow to be a healthy, beautiful princess, okay?” Adomaa said now, winking at her little girl.

This trick rarely worked but it seemed to convince the little girl obviously uninterested in finishing her meal. Awo nodded and dug her fork into her chicken and egg salad. It picked up a sliced egg disguised with mayonnaise, and the adorable girl grinned at her mother, showing a missing tooth, and ate it. They all laughed.

“Now mommy can I go play with Aku?” Awo asked and Adomaa firmly shook her head.

“Finish your dinner first, okay?”

Kwame looked amused. His wife looked tired, but she still looked amazing in that teal dress. Her hair had been done in a tousled top knot and she seemed to have no makeup on. Pretty, petite, doe-eyed Adomaa with the Fante roots and a dash of Abrofosem. She came in a little package, but oh God what a package. She had been bacon-thin when he’d married her but childbirth had generously blessed her with curves, all in the right places. She’d changed from that small, mousy wife with soulful eyes into a bubbly woman. Watching her step out of her comfort zone as the years went by had been amazing. She treated their girls like dolls, watching them with their mother was just fascinating. Sentuo was a doppelgänger of her mother, and Awo was a surreal mix of features of himself, Adomaa, his mother and his favourite aunt. He looked at his wife now, she could really use a massage and some sleep. “Relax, honey. Just eat and don’t stress yourself”, Kwame said with a smile, as he got up and put a plate in front of her. She was too resigned to argue but then she didn’t add that while cooking she’d found time to eat some of the suya with some leftover banku.

She just sat there, amused as she watched him dish out some jollof and tilapia for her. He gave her a generous helping of coleslaw, so she could show the girls just how delicious it was.

Adomaa sighed. “Okay.”

Adomaa was knackered. She had spent hours slaving over the hot stove, even though her help had assisted her. The lessons from the amazing Mrs. Monney had made a huge difference. Christmas had been the perfect excuse to make a smörgåsbord of goodies. What had been displayed on the ornate glass dining table was enough for an army. As she was already full she just nibbled on this, and that, she was more interested in her husband and her girls eating her food; she always was. Adomaa looked up at him and he was staring at her, a smile playing on his lips. She beamed.

It had been eleven years of a beautiful marriage to Kwame Adjaye but it still felt like yesterday when she said yes, I do in an a white flowing vintage gown. They had had their ups and downs, like that time when some actress had been all over Kwame, or when Adomaa became too close to her new boss, or when Kwame became broke because of some bad investment they had had to live on Adomaa’ pay for more than a year, or when she had an irresistible urge to pack and begin a new life somewhere else (she hadn’t told him that). Thankfully they had overcome all that and they were still quite smitten with each other.

“Done!” Awo said out of the blue. Indeed, she had finished most of what was on her plate. Adomaa brought desert next, freshly fried pancakes with honey on the side. They mostly didn’t encourage the girls eating too much sugary stuff, but occasions like Christmas called for some sinful indulgence in ambrosia. Besides school would start in two weeks for the girls and there would hardly be time for treats like these till their birthdays or the next Christmas.

After dinner, they all sat in the living room and made small talk.

Kwame whispered, “I have a surprise for you”. Adomaa winked at him. She loved loved, loved surprises, especially when it came from Kwame. His last surprise had been a second honeymoon to Zanzibar. They’d spent two unforgettable weeks after in Takoradi, and Adomaa had been reluctant to come home, though she’d missed the girls. “Now you’ve made me all tingly inside”, she whispered back, and he chuckled. “Let me sack these two and we’ll talk”. They laughed. After their dessert, Kwame grinned at the girls. “Race you to the bathroom!”

It took about an hour to get the girls to bath and to get them to bed. When the girls finally fell asleep, Adomaa turned to smile at him. “Now tell me the surprise; I’m dying to hear it!”

Kwame chuckled and held her hands. “You impatient elf. Come on; let’s go sit down.”

He poured them some Merlot, before finally telling her the news. They were relaxing on the seat, and she lay enfolded in his arms. They could hear the help taking the dishes from the dinette to the kitchen.

“No, it’s not a fourth honeymoon; I can see that gleam in your eye, you horny little woman. Coleman Pharmaceuticals has finally decided to merge. Dad said if I could get them to merge with us, he’ll transfer to me half of the shares of the company.”

Adomaa’ eyes widened as she took in the unexpected and yet exciting news. “Oh my God! Wow.  That’s great.”

“Yes darling. This merger is going to be the best that ever happened to the Pharmaceutical Industry. The best manufacturer of antibiotics meets the best manufacturer of over-the-counter drugs.”

“Congratulations! I’m proud of you”, Adomaa hugged him fondly, planting kisses all over his face. She smiled. “Initially it was another company right? Samuel and Sons.”

He nodded, smiling. He always loved that Adomaa took interest in his work. “Samuel and Sons Pharm are going bankrupt. If we merge with them, we’ll end up using our money to fund both companies.

They made a drug which was pretty effective for hypertensive patients. But the side effects were crazy, especially for the elderly. A lot of people slipped into coma after a month of taking it, a number of people died and they’re now trying to pull it off the market. People don’t trust them anymore, and we can’t work with people who have lost credibility.”

Adomaa was shaking her head. “That’s too bad. But, congratulations, honey. This is the best Christmas present Ezra could have ever given to you”.

“I know right.”

His father, Ezra Adjaye had started the company a score ago, and as it seemed, he was gradually leaving it to Kwame. Kwame had four sisters, and he had taken interest in drugs at a tender age. Even though Ezra wasn’t one to praise, Kwame knew his father was proud of him.

“But uh…Adomaa, there’s something else too, I don’t know if that’s good or bad news.”

Adomaa was looking at him in concern. “Tell me then. Whatever it is, we’ll try to cope with It.”, she coaxed him gently. She was used to this. If it was very bad they would try and work around it.

“We’ll have to move to Accra. If I’m going to work at the main branch, I have to be closer. We need to draw up plans.”

“Oh”, Adomaa breathed. “Oh.”

“I know. I’m so sorry. I know you prefer we are stable, but with this new position comes with a rather huge responsibility, and you know Father usually doesn’t give those kinds of opportunities.”

She nodded. She knew that, and she knew she had to be considerate.

Kwame was looking at her expectantly. “Adomaa? Will it be okay?”

She nodded. “Yes. I mean I wasn’t expecting this, but we’ll figure it out.”

They were quiet for a moment, and then Adomaa changed the subject.

“Is it going to be a full merger?” she asked.

He nodded, grateful she hadn’t flared up about the part about moving.

 

“As of now, we’re settling on merging parts of the company. We have to decide the CEO, the country managers. We have to set up meetings on our drugs especially on cancer, respiratory, inflammation and then osteoporosis, hypertension, malaria, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, fungal infections. We want to start rebranding. We might eliminate oral healthcare and add energy drinks. We’re going to brainstorm and focus on what works for us and our market. It’s like building the company from scratch again, and I would hate to be away when we’re drawing plans.”

“There are some decisions you just can’t make over the phone and via emails.”

Adomaa was now thinking about the move. They would have to move!

“We’ve secured an office which will be the main branch at Opeibea Square, just a stone throw from Labone, and they’ve found a decent place for us over there. I can’t be taking flights from Kumasi to Accra and back almost every day, it’s not safe to be travelling that often.”

Adomaa was nodding in agreement. She hated the thought of him always hovering in the air just because of work. But her husband had just been sort-of promoted, and she had to support him. That meant-

Now she smiled. “Yeah, we just have to make a couple of changes. New schools for the girls, I heard there is this wonderful restaurant overlooking the sea….”

“Adomaa!”

“What, Kwame?”

“Are you sure you’re alright with this?” I know you totally love this place. And your job…”

Adomaa squeezed his hand affectionately. Of course she was not okay, but this was not the time to be selfish, and so she smiled thinly. “Come on, this is a huge deal. If you have to be closer, we will go. And my job, we’ll figure that out. You need all the support now; you know Ezra expects a lot from you.”

He was touched, and he hugged her, planting a kiss on her forehead.

“You are very understanding, you know.’

She winked at him, chuckling. “Stop being so corny…you knew I would say yes anyway. Are we supposed to move anytime soon?”

“Erm, in a month or two we should have settled down. The meetings will begin in February, paperwork and stuff will be sorted out in March.”

A month or two to move? Yet, she kept her cool. “Okay. I hope the new place is alright. Maybe instead of selling our place, we could just rent it out, you know. We’ll come back, won’t we?”

“Of course we won’t sell this place, but I honestly don’t know when we’re coming back. Thank you Adomaa, you are a blessing to me.”

She grinned. “Same here”. She yawned.

“How about you shower, and after that I give you a massage as a thank you for all that wonderful food?”

“Good idea!” she smiled and cupped his face in her hands. Her lips slid over his and he caught on quickly. He captured her bottom lips with his; he could taste her strawberry flavoured chapstick.

“I love you, Kwame.” she told him, meaning it.

“And I love you more.”

She was beaming.

“Race you to the bathroom!” he said, chuckling.

“I’m not one of the little girls, Kwame”. And yet she found herself rushing through the familiar hallways to the bathroom with him, to see who would get there first.

Effia Coleman could hardly sit still. Of all the holidays, she loved Christmas the most. Family, presents, lots of love to go around. It also helped that it was her birthday. That called for a double celebration.

“Open mine, open mine!” she said gleefully to her son Kwamena. She had the spirit of a little girl, or maybe it was just because of Christmas. He grinned. “Okay mommy”. They were all in the living room, and after a lovely dinner out, they back home and sharing presents over their Effia’s birthday cake. It had become a tradition. Every Christmas the helps would line the living room with scented candles, turn off all the lights and the room would be glowing.

Kwamena Coleman opened his present in earnest. It turned out to be two white shirts. Well, his mother had tried…but he had really been hoping for that PlayStation 3…

“Now open mine, Kwamena”, Duke was smiling at his son. He just knew what his boys wanted. Kwamena got delirious when he opened his father’s present. “Shit!! Shit!” he was running around, and didn’t hear his mother saying “Language, Kwamena!” Kwamena giggled when he came to sit on his father’s laps, breathing heavily. “Thanks so much, both of you. You are the coolest dad ever!” Duke grinned back. He winked at Effia. “I am the cool dad.” and she stuck her tongue out at him.

“And now, Paapa.” Their second son got the same present from Duke and a shirt from his mom. They both went to their game room to try their new games. Now Effia turned and smiled at her husband. There were two more presents. “At the same time”, Duke said, and they both grabbed their presents, which were both small. They both squealed at the same time. Effia stared at the beautiful earrings, while Duke smiled at his present, posh rose gold cufflinks.

“Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!” she hugged him, unable to take her eyes of her beautiful and glittering earrings. “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday, love” he told her and she reached in for a hug. Then he told her the good news.

“Effia, the merger has been finalized. Cheers to the future Coleman-Adjaye Pharmaceuticals!’ he said.

“Duke! That is good news. So you’ll paid more?” her eyes shone. Then they could take that vacation to Zimbabwe, or she could decide to change her wardrobe, and she could finally get the new Touareg she had been hinting at for months.

“Yes, my dear. The CEO of Adjaye Pharmaceuticals and his family will move to Accra next year. Get ready for a couple of double dinner dates.”

Effia nodded, and added in a mocking tone. “I hope his wife is a polished woman, not someone I have to teach the simple art of etiquette”. She never really got along with a lot of his friends’ wives because of this claim.

Duke chuckled. “I’m doing business with the man, not his wife. I’m sure she’ll be just okay.”

“If you say so, honey. Merry Christmas, Duke.”

“Merry Christmas Effia, and Happy Birthday.” She leaned against him, and they sat there, inhaling the sweet incense, and enveloped by the exciting aura of Christmas.

Adomaa sat at the dinette, busily typing on her laptop. She was making plans for the move already. It had been a week since Kwame had told her. She hadn’t broken the news to her girls yet, she would do that by the end of January. She and Kwame had gone to Accra to check their place at Labone, and she’d been quite impressed. The new house wasn’t as huge as theirs back home, but it was lovely. And it was squeaky clean! She loved clean houses. It was painted all white, with huge French windows and an outhouse. There were three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, a spacious living room, a garage, a kitchen, and another empty room which she was contemplating whether to turn it into a store room, or some sort of playroom for the girls. She was excited; she had so many ideas for the place. Her job was going to be another problem. She did several jobs; she owned a small lingerie shop mostly for new brides, and also worked a part time job at a car company. Adomaa remembered the first time she told her parents she owned a lingerie shop. “You’ve opened a full shop for selling pant? Ebei.” her mother had exclaimed. Adomaa had been amused. “You’ll be surprised at the number of people who love beautiful underwear and bras”, she’d told her mother who shook her head unbelievingly. Now she smiled at the memory.

She would have to resign from Corral Motors, and find another shop in her new neighbourhood to transport her stuff. Everything was falling into place. She would miss a few friends but then again family was always the most important. She would probably have to offer some discounts to clear her existing stock. Suddenly there was so much to do and so little time left.

She called several schools in the area, contemplating between Ave Maria International School and St. Benedict’s School for the girls, they’d been recommended by one of her friends. She’d checked both schools online and was quite impressed. When they got there she’d know where to choose, maybe she’d go on a tour with the girls and they would choose where they wanted. She could see Kwame was happy she was being supportive. The thing was she had not been very enthusiastic about the move, but now she was warming up to the idea.

Kwame had done so much for her, and she’d never forget that. No man had been as patient as Kwame. The time she’d met him, more than a decade ago, she’d been dumped by Egya, the man she’d always thought she’d end up with.

She’d been so naïve then, and had gotten pregnant, way before she met Kwame. Her parents had been devastated, and thinking Egya would marry her she’d stopped school. How foolish and how ignorant she’d been. It was a clichéd story, they were from old money, and she was from a family that had always scraped a living and his parents didn’t approve of their relationship. She thought she would make the difference, she would be able to wow his family, and they would accept her. But it had worked out the exact opposite way.

His father told her she was an easy girl who had intentionally gotten pregnant so as to coerce his son into marriage. Then his aunt (who she’d never met till then) had convinced her and taken her to a small village, telling her when she finally delivered they’d go back to the city, and Egya would marry her. She lost the baby, even though she never understood why. She’d been in perfect health the whole time she was pregnant. She sank into oblivion during labour, and had woken up to the sad news that her baby had died. She never forgave herself. When she went back to the city Egya had left for abroad, with a letter that she’d killed his baby and he would never forgive her. She never saw him again. Her anger pushed her to continue her schooling, but she had to stay two years back, because she had spent a long time at home. She would work and have her own money, no one would ever discriminate her because of what she had again. She studied hard and had such good grades that her church funded half of her university fees. She graduated with a high GPA and got a decent job at a bank. All that while she had failed relationships as she always had a feeling her boyfriends would leave her, just like Egya did and so she would always leave them first. After a while she stayed a quirkyalone.

Then Kwame Adjaye had walked into Merchant Bank and her life had changed forever. He asked her out for a date and said he wouldn’t take no for an answer (and they ended up buying roasted plantain and groundnuts because she felt that would be cheaper). She would never forget the time they’d had an argument (which had been her fault), and she’d woken up the next morning and gone outside to sweep and had seen his car. He was asleep in the car, the man had not gone back home because he had wanted to apologise! Once she got to know him, she realized he was quite an amazing person. His father owned a pharmaceutical company, and his mother, Asantewaa, had owned a pharmacy shop where she sold drugs in bulk and retail. When Kwame invited her for dinner with his family for the first time, Adomaa had not wanted to go at first. She’d been through that before. That you-are-too-poor-for-my-son attitude some mothers showed when their son brought a woman from a mediocre home.

Adomaa was shocked at the response she got. Asantewaa was a lovely person. They got along like a house on fire. Ezra wasn’t bad either. Asantewaa took her out, to society dinners and weddings, to galas, and to games. Adomaa did not even realize the woman was grooming her to become a proper lady. Asantewaa herself had been from a poor home. She had helped Ezra to build the pharmaceutical empire.

“I know how it is like to have nothing”, Asantewaa admitted, and that was what bonded the two of them.

Once Adomaa visited Kwame, and had changed from her dress into one of Asantewaa’s caftans. They were watching a movie in Kwame’s room. She didn’t know what came over him, but suddenly he was smiling sheepishly at her and started to take off his shirt as she gaped at him in surprise. “What are you doing?” she shrieked, laughing. Jesus. He was so silly.

He slipped on her dress with much difficulty, and began prancing around and walking like a girl. She was giggling so hard she didn’t hear his mother knock on the door. “Kwame? Adomaa? I’m bringing you two some fresh fruit.”

“Get it off me! Get it off me!” he was struggling to remove the dress, and she was laughing so hard she couldn’t even help him. She finally helped him take it off, still laughing, and he slipped on his shirt and opened the door. His mother smiled at them knowingly, like two mischievous kids. Kwame all disheveled, and she still giggling like a loony. He collected the fruit and when she left, she started laughing all over again. For the first time she was happy it had not worked out with Egya.

They got married about a year and a half later, and Asantewaa had been there for her throughout. Her own mother and father visited sparingly, Adomaa didn’t mind. She sent them money every month, so that they wouldn’t have to suffer ever again. And now, here I am with a wonderful family. She smiled.

They moved to Accra in the first week of February. Sentuo and Awo had mixed feelings about their new environment. Adomaa tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible; she drove them around, she took them to the mall and finally to their school. They went on an all-girls weekend getaway at Aburi and then came back home refreshed.

Adomaa settled on Ave Maria school and the girls made friends even on their first visit. Adomaa made the necessary registrations and got their books and the like. They would start school the next week; Adomaa had already gotten a private tutor to help them fill in what they had missed. The Colemans had also invited them for dinner on February 14th, and Adomaa was relieved, because she still hadn’t finished unpacking, and she was too tired to make any fancy dinner. Luckily for them, the children of their neighbours attended the same school with the girls and had already befriended Sentuo and Awo in school. Their parents did not mind the girls spending a couple of hours there and so Kwame and Adomaa dropped the girls off there, and then went back home to dress up. Adomaa wore a Vlisco dress which accentuated her curves. Kwame kept winking at her and she giggled.

“How am I looking, Mr.?” she asked, striking a pose.

“Lookin’ like money”, he drawled, and they burst out into laughter. Adomaa was shaking her head. “You’re too silly”, she told him.

They were led to their table once they got to the restaurant. It seemed the Colemans had just gotten there. Kwame went to sit down first; Adomaa had met an old work colleague and wanted to say hi. When she turned, Kwame was waving from the table where he sat with the Colemans. She smiled, walked over to the table and sat down before greeting the other couple. She smiled politely.

“Hi, I’m Adomaa Adjaye…” she stretched her hand to greet them.

Her smile froze. No.

No. way.

Sitting right across her, was Duke Egya Coleman.