I lay on my stomach two days after Nana left. There was no food. I had drunk water until I understood that it was no food. The silence in the house was deafening. It felt like someone had died. Not just anyone but Nana. Nana the best sister anyone could ask for. No food, for two whole days. Mama would sit and watch me, she said nothing and did nothing. Papa still went out the previous day and on day following. It was as though he didn’t care.
I dragged myself to a sitting position and I took a look at my mother. The woman who fought to keep the family sane. The woman who got tired and gave up. She looked broken right there with her face turned away from me.
“Mama?” I called out to her weakly.
“Mama?” I called again and she turned to look at me. I dragged my butt till I got to her. “Mama, there is no food. Please do something.”
My mother smiled. “You want me to do something. What were you thinking when you supported your sister to leave the house? When you watched your meal ticket walk away, what were you thinking?”
I wanted to cry, my tears were filled with tears but I wasn’t going to shed them. I wasn’t going to give her the pleasure of watching me cry.
“At least, you can try asking Mama Fifi, she will help.”
“What happened to your own mouth? Is it just for eating?”
I stood from my sitting position. It was time to do this differently.
“Thank you Mama for pointing out to me where I belong.” I went to my box, picked a skirt and a blouse, dressed as slow as my strength would carry me and I walked to the door.
“And where are you going?”
“To the streets Mama, that’s where I belong.”
As I opened the door, I fervently wished she will stop me in my tracks. I was hoping she will have a change of heart, that whatever it was that worked on her mind will break off. Fool’s dream! I walked out of the house without one more word. I could have gone to speak with Papa but ever since the mines tragedy struck, he was no longer the father, I use to know.
The breeze blew on my face as walked aimlessly on the dusty streets. Akuapim-Mampong, the only home I have ever known. Mama Fifi? I knew if I went to her, she will give me some food but I needed more than food. I wanted to make money and fend for myself.
I walked around for a while, I didn’t stop. I felt the burning tiredness in my thighs and the dusts gathered on my feet. I needed to think. As I wandered aimlessly in the district, I remembered the phone number I copied. I left it under the big perfumed jelly container, on the mirror stand that was when I made a U-turn.
When I returned home, Mama and Papa was nowhere in sight. I lifted up the big jelly container and the paper wasn’t there. My heart beat increased.
I left it right here.
I walked to the door, then slowly back to the mirror stand. I lifted the container again and it wasn’t there. My eyes were not deceiving me. Mama must have done this!
I checked under the pillow and I found her Bible. That was where I found my scrawny writing staring back at me.
What exactly did she hope to achieve? Call Nana? Punish me? She’s so predictable. I threw my head back in silent laughter and picked the paper out of the Bible. I straightened the bed and the pillow. Like whirlwind, I rushed to Mama Fifi.
“Mama Fifi?” I called out from the ajar door. “Mama Fifi?” I clapped to draw attention instead of knocking. No one answered.
I walked into the room, Mama Fifi lay in bed and she was very still.
“Mama Fifi,” I tapped her twice and she turned.
“Who is there?”
“Omoh,” I replied quietly.
“My headaches Omoh,” she turned and groaned.
“Sorry Mama Fifi.” I placed my hand on her head, it was hot and she was burning up. I got towel soaked in water and wrapped it round her head.
“Thanks Omoh. What brings you here?” She said slowly.
“I want to call my sister.”
“Do you have her phone number?”
Mama Fifi stretched her hand to pick her small phone.
“I think I still have a little airtime on it, say what you need to say fast.”
I nodded as she handed over the phone to me. Mama Fifi shut her eyes but she wasn’t sleeping.
I dialled the number and after a while, a voice came on the line.
“Hello, who is this?” A male voice.
“My name is Omoh, I’m the sister to Nana Kwame and I want to speak with her.”
“Nana? Who is Nana?”
“Nana Kwame, she gave me this number, she told me to call, I…”
The line disconnected.
Mama Fifi opened her eyes, “you should try to call that number again.”
“Try it again.”
I dialled the number again but he didn’t pick. I dialled another three times and there was no response.
I bowed my head and tears fell on the bed where Mama Fifi lay.
“I haven’t eaten for the past two days, I’m starving Mama Fifi. I am worried about Nana too.”
Mama Fifi sighed.
“Check the pot over there, you will find the kenkey I prepared in the morning. Eat that and return tomorrow, we will find a way to reach your sister.”
“You are sick, I shouldn’t prey on you like this.”
“Don’t worry child. I want you to eat and get some strength.”
Every bite I took mixed with the bitterness in my tongue. I wanted to die but I couldn’t scare Mama Fifi that way. I ate to my fill and took some water. With a promise to return the next day, I left the sick woman. Mama Fifi was strong, she knows how to take care of herself.
I got home and met Mama and Papa eating jollof rice and big meat.
I said nothing as I watched them.
They didn’t invite me either.
“Take,” Papa stretched the leftover rice to me after eating all the meat.
I collected it and went outside to pour it in the garbage. It wasn’t as though the food would be enough to fill my stomach any way.
I stood still, wrapped my arms around my body and for the first time I felt so alone.
© Booky Glover, 2020
Until next time,