Happy August! Just like that, we’re more than halfway through the year! (And barely 3 months to my birthday! 🥳 🥳💃🏾💃🏾) School is over, and I finally have some time!! As discussed during all the fights in my DMs, and the encouragements, et al, here’s the next part of Akaa and Alima. If you’re new or haven’t read any of the others, find them allllll here: Akaa & Alima (prepare for a treat!)
As always, I’d love to hear all your thoughts! (Even including all the blastings and threats lol)
PS. Thank you for all the encouragement over the past year! Here’s to writing more and crushing more goals!
The first proper conversation Alima had with Father Bose was over power outages. The power had been out for days on end. She wasn’t prepared. She hadn’t replied any of Adzo’s emails yet, and honestly, there was little to do without power or internet. It also got really hot inside without the fan, so she would sit outside in the afternoons when the heat was unbearable.
This day, he came outside and noticed her. And even in the sweltering heat, he still had on white khaki shorts, and a white t-shirt. After asking if the power outages were a norm, and receiving a negative answer, she finally got around to asking.
“Is there a reason why you always wear white when it’s so dusty out here?” He smiled. “White is my show of purity. I am…” he hesitated for a bit and carried on. “I was a catholic priest. We wear white ceremonially. I always wore white even outside of the church, and I guess I got used to it.” She hadn’t expected him to be this well-spoken.
“Also why do you always play that Twi song in the mornings? It’s stuck in my head, and I don’t even know what it means!” This time, he laughed proper. It was weird because she had never really thought of him as a laughing person.
“It’s not Twi. It’s Fanti. And I can translate it for you if you want. It’s a song that means a lot to me. That’s why I play it.” He didn’t offer anything more; she didn’t ask either.
Even when the power returned, their late afternoon sitting outside to catch a breeze became a norm.
About a week after their first conversation, she came out to get the usual bucket of water from her door and noticed he’d left a notepad on it, with about a page of writing.
Ahyɛ mi bɔ dɛ ɛka me ho daa nyina – You’ve promised to be with me all my days
Me twer woaa me twer obotan bi kɛse – I’m leaning on you… You are a big rock.
Menkwa daa nyinaaa – All my days
Mɔsum wo Awurade – I’ll serve you, Lord
Nyimako, okoyi megyae mawoo oo – Warrior, I’m leaving this battle to you.
Ɛnkwagye bi owɔ wu mu – There’s life in you,
Ayarisaa bi wɔ womu – There’s healing in you
Enyimnyam bi owɔ womu – There’s glory in you, Emmanuel.
My translation may not be great, but I hope this makes some sense.
The translation left her even more confused. First, she knew what Christianity was about. But didn’t Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary? Also was Emmanuel a person? And then weren’t Fanti and Twi supposed to be similar? Why couldn’t she place any of the words at all when the music was playing?
She’d had a conversation with Akaa about it once. He spoke perfect Akwapim – according to him, and it all sounded close to gibberish to her. According to him Twi, Fanti, and Akwapim were similar. She could barely understand Twi and wasn’t about to bother herself with the other two. She smiled nostalgically at how everything somehow reminded her of him.
007, I really need to forget you.
I miss you even more than you know. I underestimated how hard doing this alone would be. I underestimated how sheltered life was at the agency. While I don’t exactly miss being pimped out, (haha) I miss the life I had there. There are constant power outages here, and the heat can get unbearable. If nothing at all, I miss central air conditioning. I cannot tell you where I am now, because even though this email will self-destruct, I cannot take chances. I’m fine.
Thank you for telling me about 007. I’m glad he’s being taken care of. I trust Naana to do a good job. I didn’t cc her in this email because I still don’t know entirely how I feel about all of it. You deserve diarrhoea for calling my baby a package! He is well, I just can’t wait for him to come out. I’m tired. Tired and lonely. I miss you. I would give anything for one afternoon with you girls.
“Lightning does not strike twice.” It was starting to startle her how often this mantra popped into her head, and how often she found herself repeating it.
“It doesn’t?” Bose was, as usual, donning his uniform, leaning on the banister in front of his building. Alima was sitting in the back of her building. The power was out, and it was cooler outside than it was inside.
“It doesn’t strike in the same place twice…” She said nothing for a few moments, and then carried on…
“I like to say that to myself. It’s my way of telling myself… and the baby…” she paused as he made a light flutter in her belly. “That it can’t get any worse.” Her face felt sweaty despite the cool afternoon breeze. “Someone special said it to me once.”
He must have picked on that she was uncomfortable. Because he smiled and said, “God said something similar to me a few years ago.”
She didn’t believe in God. But she asked him what he meant.
“Well, there’s a Bible verse in Nahum that says affliction shall not rise a second time. I went through a really thorny patch sometime back, and for a while, I lived in fear that it would all come back, or maybe get worse. That I was maybe meant to be going through afflictions in life. You know, like Job?”
She nodded as if she knew who Job was. She did not.
“Well, He said it to me. The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood, he will make an end of His enemies. He will pursue his foes into darkness. Whatever they plot against the LORD, he will bring to an end; Affliction will not come a second time.”
She just looked at him. He could tell she was confused. “It calmed me… still calms me every time I think about it. So, I understand.”
“Why did you stop being a priest?” She was too occupied with the sudden cramp she felt on her right side, she didn’t see him flinch at the question.
“It’s a long and complicated story.” She looked at him this time, noting his discomfort. “We have so much time… tell it to me simply.”
He laughed at her playful tone.
“If you tell me your story, Alima, I will tell you mine.” He said that because he didn’t expect that she would tell him anything. She’d been there for months, and while he didn’t know her well, he could tell she was running from something – someone. And no running person went around telling their story.
“I will if you go first.” She said solemnly. He laughed.
“Are you running from someone? Are you a serial killer?” They both laughed at that last question. He assumed that would end their banter.
“I was born up in the North. When I was fifteen, I was sent to Accra to become a lady.” She said this, forming inverted commas with her hands. “I think that there may be something wrong with my mind because sometimes I can barely remember the things that happened before I was sent to Accra. Sometimes I see my mother’s face clearly, and then other times, I can barely remember what her voice sounds like.”
She paused for a minute.
“The last time I saw any of them was about six years ago. The life I lived in Accra was… very different. It was…”
He looked intently at her, mentally willing her to say more.
“This baby’s father has a wife and kids. He has a whole family. I knew. I didn’t plan to have a baby. My birth control failed. I know…”
His expression was unreadable. She was avoiding his face anyway. Because any disapproval on his face would only make her feel worse than she already did.
“If you were a priest, then you’ve heard worse things at confessions, haven’t you?”
He chuckled and continued to look intently at her.
“I was a glorified prostitute. I broke the rules – first by falling in love with him, and then after, by getting pregnant.” She noticed she was crying when she lifted her head up and his face was a blur…
“He told me he wanted to go back and make things right with his family. So basically, he didn’t want my ‘services’ anymore.” So, I left.
On the spectrum of things he knew how to deal with, a crying woman was one Bose had never been able to figure out. So as promised, he gave her his story… almost as if he had not seen that she was in tears.
“Well, I was also born illegitimate. My mother did not know my father had a family. She found out after she told him she was pregnant. He paid her to have me aborted. She ran away with the money instead. We lived with an old woman I called grandma for a very long time. She was a staunch Catholic. I was always a good boy. So, I started out as a manservant. She asked me to go to the Seminary. I did… happily.
“Became a priest quite young and served for years. Three years ago, I knew I was in the wrong calling. Many people assume it’s because I want to be with a woman. I really don’t. Frankly, that mentality the public has about priests is quite insulting. But that’s a story for another day.”
She’d composed herself enough by this time to smile.
“I just know that there are other things I’ve been called to. God told me himself. He asked me to move here. I’m really just following instructions.”
He was straightforward; she liked that.
He smiled; glad she didn’t ask for any details.
“Did he ask you to abort it?”
She didn’t know how to answer the question. Because she didn’t know what he would have done.
“He doesn’t know. I run away; I didn’t tell him.” Bose didn’t look shocked.
“The last time we were together… when I suspected I might be pregnant, was the time he told me he didn’t want to see me again. That he was sorry, and he wanted to fix his relationship with his family. I didn’t want him thinking that I was trying to trap him with a pregnancy. Besides, many women have children without men.”
She sounded as if she was trying to convince herself.
“I write him letters though. He will probably never see them, but in the very unlikely case that one day he shows up and wants to know what he missed… there will be the letters in my journal.”
“And I know you must think I’m stupid, or that I’m a homewrecker. I have tried to put him out of my mind. I have tried to forget him. I have even tried to hate him so that maybe it’ll all just go away. I can’t. It’s as if I’ve been cursed. Maybe my father cursed me for leaving home? I don’t know. All I know is that I still love him and it’s the most difficult thing doing this without him… constantly wishing he was around. To talk to, to see all this, to help me out to hold me…”
She realised she was talking a bit too much.
“I’m sorry.” Her hand flew to her mouth as if that would make it all stop.
Was she though? Because it felt so good to finally get this off her chest. So good!
“I don’t know very much about romantic relationships. I’ve never really been in one. I know about them, and I know the feeling when you want someone close, but he seems so far away. So perhaps to a very large extent, I cannot relate. But if there’s anything you want done, don’t hesitate to let me know. I can help you. I can take you to the clinic and all that. I don’t mind at all.”
The agency has come under scrutiny. Apparently, some undercover journalists came in as clients. It’s gotten really weird here. The cover has not been blown yet though. I’m told that one of the government officials who’ve been coming here shushed someone with money. I need an exit plan. I’m planning to ask for a break soon like you did. I have a feeling it might be hard, especially because they’ve been looking for you, and also because they’re being extra cautious these days. I will keep you posted. I need to figure out a way to find you if I get out. 007 has not returned since that time. Naana has been waiting on him, even sent him a few emails.
You should be due soon, shouldn’t you? Please keep me updated. I miss you so much too. It’s so different here without you.
Talata was sick. Physically ill. She refused to go to the hospital, so her doctor paid house visits. Teju took days off to make sure she wasn’t working when she was meant to be resting. She tested positive for Malaria, and they treated that. But when she hadn’t improved much after a week, Doctor Aku attributed her symptoms to chronic stress.
She had thrown up so often in that first week, that they could only administer parenteral medication. She lost so much weight in that one week, she looked like a shell of herself. After a few weeks, when she had only started to feel better, she had an inkling of what the real problem was. She run it through her mind so many times, hoping she was entirely wrong.
And when after a whole month of contemplating she finally confirmed it, she closed her eyes, willing her tears to stop.
Who gets pregnant after forty?