” Kojo! Kojo!” Ama screamed my name from outside.
I just got back from the market, now that i want to rest a bit Ama won’t let me be, women and their many problems. I sighed and got up from my mat ” Am coming ”
” Hurry! Please hurry!”
The note of urgency in her voice had me rushing outside. Nma ( Mother) was bent in an awkward position while Ama held her. The sight of the blood in front of them made my heart skip a beat or two.
” What happened?” I said lifting Nma ‘ s frail body into my arms.
” I don’t know! i found her like this!”
I carried Nma into the hut while blood kept coming out of her mouth. Ama got a bowl of water and a piece of rag to wipe her mouth. ” Go and call Npa ( father)” i said.
Ama went out and came in minutes later with my father who had a long chewing stick in his mouth.
” Excuse us children” Npa said.
” No we are not going anywhere, we have to take her to the hospital” i was furious at my father.
We have many customs and traditions in my country, in some households their girls can’t sell their body for money ( Prostitute/ Prostitution) if she tries it she will die. While in some families if you commit adultery, on your way back you will fall three times, if you don’t confess immediately you will die. In my own household, you will become sick and vomit blood for three days, failure to confess before the third day will result in death. But in a case where, your husband is aware you committed adultery and he still ate the food prepared by you or had s£xual intercourse with you, he will be the one to die. When a woman confess to adultery, she is taken to the village square where every eye will see her, she will be asked by a priest to list the number of men she had slept with, if the number of men were too much, she will scoop some sand from the ground: meaning the number of men were much and she can’t remember.
In some families this rule extends to girlfriends and baby mamas too. My mother is a hardworking and a loyal woman, no way she could have cheated on my father even though he doesn’t deserve her loyalty. How could he think she could do such a thing? My father measures people with the yardstick of his own dirty mind.
” What has that got to do with Nma bring sick?” i asked him in anger ” Ama please go get a taxi”
Ama went out of the hut.
” You think i don’t know what am saying? Why will she suddenly start vomiting blood?”
” I ……” Blood spurted out of Nma’ s mouth as she tried to speak.
” You what?! You laid with another man!” Father shouted angrily.
” Innocent……innocent…..am” Nma ( mother) cried.
” Leave her alone Npa ( father)! She is innocent!”
Ama came back with the taxi, the cabbie helped me carry her into the cab. That very noon father called on his kinsmen and they went to investigate from the gods, they came back with this message : She is guilty! She has to confess! The doctors couldn’t make the blood stop, all the tests done on her came back as negative. An elderly matron called me aside that night, she asked me to take my mother back home, that the elders will know how to find a solution. Could my mother have cheated? and with whom i asked myself over and over. How could i even think of such a thing about my own mother? if it is true, she has to confess before the third day. How could i even ask my mother who lost her son weeks ago if she had gone to lay with another man? I had nobody to talk to that night, Ama had stayed back home to care for Pam. Lord why is all this happening to me? i went back into the hospital room, the bed where Nma was kept was drenched in blood.
” Nma ” i called softly. ” I know you are innocent but please say you are not, so the kinsmen can help you”
” No! …..no….innocent……Kojo innocent” She said between clenched teeth.
Another sign of a woman who commited adultery, they won’t be able to talk properly as their jaws will become locked. This is day one, two more days to go.
The next morning i called a taxi and took my mother home, she couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. Every second she would sigh heavily and shake her head. I would go closer to her thinking she wanted to tell me something but she would just sigh again. I saw my kinsmen in the compound when the taxi entered into the compound. The cabbie helped me take her inside her hut. The kinsmen called me aside, asking if perhaps she had opened up to me. Surprisingly Afine became my back bone, she made food for us, She cleaned Nma ‘ s body with warm water and she took Ama to her doctor’ s appointment.
Time was ticking slowly, death hung heavily in the air. All the signs pointed out that Nma had indeed committed adultery but she kept shaking her head, saying no because now she could no longer speak. A priest came to the house, chanting incantations and dancing in circles, still Nma maintained that she was innocent. I tried to remember if i had missed something or over looked something. I kept talking to myself like a man who had taken leave of his senses, have i ever seen her smiling at another man? did she ever over greet any man?
Words had spread that my mother had committed adultery, i could no longer held my head up as i walked on the street, every word took a new meaning for me. A simple ‘ Ca va’ ( how are you?) said to me would get me thinking, are they trying to find out if my mother had confessed? Were they mocking me? little Pam refused to eat, she would wake up in the middle of the night crying. Kofa suddenly disappeared but i didn’t give a d–n about him, what with every thing i was going through. At night i couldn’t sleep, i was afraid to close my eyes for fear that death would come and snatch my mother away. Ama sat beside me in my vigil, she held my hand while we both sat watching Nma.
” Kojo Kojo”
Someone tapped me, i forced my eye lid open.I must have fallen asleep in my sitting position .
” She’s gone ” Ama said quietly.
” Who? what?” My mind suddenly snapped awake ” Who is gone! ?”
True to Ama ‘ s words she was truly gone. My beautiful Nma, who will i call mother again? Who will starve herself to make sure i had my tummy filled. Who will take me into their arms and assure me it would be alright when my nightmares struck? The blood had stopped coming out of her mouth and she looked at peace. Who did this great evil to me? Who did i offend?
I went out to tell my father, Afine came to carry a sleeping Pam to her own hut. The kinsmen came with a priest to cut Nma’ s hair because she died a ‘ shameful’ death. My father said he had no money to buy casket for an adulterous woman. I bought the casket for her and insisted she was buried immediately. So many people came for the funeral and they all sang Nma’ s praise, so what had gone wrong? during the funeral Kofa came back from God knows where, that he had been, he locked himself in his hut for days.
Afine had to break the door. He was very sick and pale and he was vomitting blood as well. Npa called the priest and he said Kofa has words to say, only those words could save him. Kofa refused to talk but seeing how delicate his ( kofa) condition was he finally opened up.
” I watched her on several occasions while she took her bath” he spat out blood into the bowl by his bed side.
” Who? What are you talking about?” Afine asked her brother.
” Shut up woman, let him speak” Npa shunned Afine.
I paled at his words, somewhere at the back of my mind, a question rang out. ” Isnt it weird that Kofa is always saying he wants to use the convenience whenever Nma is in the bathroom”?
Ama had asked me one evening, long ago.
” I would bring out my manhood while i watched her till i c-m ( Erupt)” Kofa said.
In some household including mine, this is as good as having s£x with the woman and it could lead to her death even if she is not aware of it. This is also considered as adultery by the gods because the man doing the looking had c-m/ejaculated.
” Kofa! Kofa! You have killed me! You know our culture! You know our culture!” Afine screamed and hit herself on the ground crying.
If Kofa wasn’t already in the grips of death i would have strangled him with my bare hands. Npa pulled my hands and dragged me out of the room. I went into my hut, shut the door and screamed and cried till my voice got sore. Ama knocked on the door severally but i didn’t open it. Later that night, Afine’ s scream rang out. Her brother had also gone to where he sent my mother.
I gave Afine some money to buy ice blocks and some other necessary items needed to preserve Kofa’ s body at home. The preservation of body is usually done by an old woman who is no longer s£xually active or a woman in her menopause. Despite what Kofa had done he was my buddy, we used to take strolls and discuss girls, we use to talk about our fantasizes late into the night. It was all my fault, i should have questioned him immediately Ama pointed out his weird behaviours to me. I would have saved two lives if only i had taken actions immediately. That stupid man ( Papa Ayi) had said my purpose in life is different! What exactly is my purpose in this cursed life! I went into Kofa’ s hut where his body was preserved with ice block. The room smelled foul, foul smelling water was dripping from his anus and manhood, a sign, which we believe in Togo that the person was a LovePeddler or he or she had misused their body ( s£xually) when they were alive.
” Kofa, Kofa” i called softly.
His eyes flew open and i stood rooted to the ground in fright and shock but i continued ” Kofa i forgive you”
His eye lids closed back. I couldn’t believe what just happened but i didn’t tell anyone,afterall, i was already a man and real men don’t let on that they were scared or they got spooked. His folks came to appease the gods with gins and a goat, i was certain the priests would be jubilating in their shrine because of the goat. After the necessary sacrifice his parents were allowed to take his corpse away for burial.
Pam cried very night, she refused to eat and became as thin as a straw, she kept Ama and i awake every night. I came home from the market where i had gone to labour one evening and i stood back in shock.
Her apparition hovered over Pam that was sleeping. It was not uncommon for dead souls to come back trying to steal their loved ones. Why is Nma trying to take Pam away? ”
” Nma Please leave her alone, i will take good care of her” i said. ” Please”
She vanished into thin air. She must have perceived Pam’ s unhappiness, i made a vow there and then to always treat Pam like a royalty. I became restless as the months slowly progressed, how will i conquer the world with the proceeds of carrying sacks of rice at the market, no honest job could give me what i want. Time to go in search of the devil, but why won’t he come look for me? i knew my days in my little home Town were numbered but what do i do with Ama and Pam? who will take care of them in my absence? do i take them with me on my quest to seek for the Devil? all these questions kept me awake every night. I lost my appetite for food, smiling became a thing of the past, Ama is now one eyed, Pam is still in beginners class, there was no one to care for them while am gone, i don’t even know where to find the Devil. One night i made my decisions and finally i was at peace again.