Jojo dropped his toothbrush with the set, opened the tap and splashed more water on his face. He didn’t feel awake. Much more he didn’t feel up to the task ahead.
He looked at his wife. She was gently rubbing her eyes, the pony tail she pulled her last night hung lose framing her face. Her usual morning glow has been gone two weeks now.
What am I doing to her?
He faced the mirror and stood still. For almost thirty years he’s lived a full life with a whole family. It felt like this decision might tear apart the family.
Like last night’s lightening almost did to the family portrait hanging besides the stairs to the guest room.
Already Araba appears torn apart.
“Joe, I’m not ready.”
Her deep voice carried with it a nonchalant edge that made him uneasy.
But he’s prayed – told God to let Araba see reason. This thing hurt. It should. It’s meant to. He understood she was having the heaviest part of the blow. Basiwa is more of a better half to her than he has been.
They shopped together, visited the salon together. Even bathed together on some days. They’d chatter away, laugh, do that silly tiptoe dancing Basiwa brought with her from a year in Volta hall in the University of Ghana.
The dance always cracked him up. Commonwealth might have rubbed something off his daughter. Yeah. His daughter. But till he gets Araba to agree it’s time.
“Honey.” He sat by her. “I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. You know that.”
Joe looked at Araba for a sign. Anything to say it was good to talk. Her face was dead: no expression, not even pain.
He hugged her, her hands hung by her sides but it didn’t matter. He’d be selfish to put her through the ordeal now. He kissed her hair.
“I love you Araba.”
He whispered into her ears and cupped her cheeks. Her eyes were moistening.
“We’ll wait for the weekend. Saturday perhaps.”
“I’m going down for devotion. You won’t be too late if you make it in 10 minutes. Not late at all if you make it in 5”.
Jojo held his waist, posed and threw his right fingers in the air.
Araba laughed. He smiled, gave her a peck on the forehead and left the room.
I’m so selfish. This man will do anything for me, even if he looked foolish. It didn’t matter.
She rubbed her eyes some more and walked into the bathroom. She poured her mouthwash into the glass standing by it and threw it into her mouth.
She was the mother. She had to be strong. Basiwa will need her after this Saturday. Or maybe she won’t. She’ll need her mum.
She gushed out the liquid, headed into the shower. She let down her hair and allowed the water run through it. It was lukewarm, just the way she liked it.
“I think it’s kicking. Evans come. Feel it.”
Akua’s shrill voice run right through the wall into the bathroom, angered Araba , then made her sad. Silent tears run down her face. She sat on the bathroom floor. The white tiles with bright red rose flowers were the reason she loved to bathe. They held this feel of comfort.
“Why should everyone have a daughter and not me. Why?”
She heaved and sat there.
And why does Joe have it all together? Why wasn’t he upset like she was?
She stared at the roof, the used shower gel containers and back at her feet. Her heart was beating fast with anger. It wasn’t fair. Why should Joe have God to talk to and yet God decides to take away who she has to talk to?
She turned off the shower and started wiping her hair. She’ll go down and afterwards come for a proper bathe.
Maybe this would have been easier if she knew God like Joe did.
“Mum will pray for us.”
Jojo slipped his hand unto Araba’s and squeezed them.
She looked up at him, then at Francese, Evans’ first girl and smiled.
They’re about having a second.
The thought crossed her mind and left a sting of jealousy.
She said after finding her voice and bowed her head.
“Thank you Lord that you reward our labour of love.” She heaved. “And I’ll be expecting mine soon.”
That was supposed to be under her breath, for his hearing only.
Araba cleared her throat and lifted her head.
“An mai too!”
Francese’s voice came through the hall. Everyone laughed.
“That was and mine too?”.
Jojo said, grinning at Francese. She was so refreshing. He loved when they were around for visits like this when Evans came on vacations.
“All in dze c..i..r..c…for graz”
Francese pulled her dad and stood.
“You mean all in the circle for grace hun?”
Evans pulled Francese’s cheeks. Giggles went round the room. Akua held the arm of the chair and pulled herself up. She didn’t want to leave it’s comfort. The zebra skinned settee was to kill for. Wherever her Mother-in-law got that, she got it right.
She looked at Araba. Maybe she’s the only one who seemed to notice her strange composure some days now. Properly a week and few days.
It might be nothing.
Akua walked to Evans’ side. Besides she was known for over thinking everything. Frank’s last words to her before his transfer to stay at Norway were don’t fall into trouble as you normally do for over thinking. I won’t be here.
She’s missed him. She rested on Evans shoulder. The three inches height difference didn’t make it too comfortable. Basiwa went to Francese’s side and clasped her hands together to her delight.
Jojo held Araba ‘s waist and walked her to join the rest. Araba ‘s eyes met with Basiwa’s.
She was just three years younger than Francese when they got her, just a little cute baby. Her face was red from crying often but she stopped when her eyes fell on Araba.
I think she’s in love with you.
The attendant at the home had said and poked Araba. What she didn’t know was that she had rather fallen in love with her. Seeing her legs kicking in the air, her pacifier not making her content attracted her.
Basiwa closed her eyes some seconds after everyone started chorusing the grace. Her mum for days now looks at her as though she was going to go away somewhere. Just yesterday in the kitchen she reassured her she still has two good months to be married away and she’ll visit every other weekend.
Araba’s eyes were glued on Basiwa. She wanted a warrior for a daughter and Basiwa didn’t disappoint.
We’ll take her.
She glowed that day when she hang unto Jojo’s arm beaming with joy. But now. A tear trickled down her right eye. Now she won’t be the one standing by her side on March 15th. Another followed from the left just when the grace ended.
Francese run and tugged on Araba’s finger.
Basiwa dashed to her.
Her face had no emotion on it. Just tears. In her 29 years she hasn’t seen a single tear out of her eyes not even when Grandpa and Grandma died together in an accident.
“You won’t call me that after this weekend.”
“What are you saying?”
Basiwa looked at Evans and Akua’s puzzled faces and then her dad’s.
His face was pale. He was blinking away tears.
Evans strode to Jojo.
“If we’ll all sit I’ll explain.”
Jojo said with a croak. He was becoming overcome with emotion but barima nsu.
The weekend wait will have to wait. He knew he had little time. The impression from after his personal prayer yesterday is here.
Barima nsu – A man doesn’t cry.
“I want to be alone.”
Araba said. Her back was to Jojo. She was seated on their balcony, rocking herself. Her eyes pored at nothing.
Jojo closed the door behind him and went into the guest room. Araba heard their door close and the guest room’s open. It had an unusual squeaky noise with it. He should be on his knees now or lying full face down praying.
“He’s talking to you.”
Araba felt for under her eyes.
“And I have no one to.”
She stopped rocking and glanced around.
“Why are you taking her? 3ba as3m ntia?”
She gripped her ribs with both hands. It felt like death. She sobbed.
She sat on the floor and crouched herself.
She watched her grow, cried with her over marriage, rejoiced when Nat came. She was part of every important thing she’s ever experienced.
Why can’t you let her go? What are you afraid of?
She raised her head.
Jojo wasn’t here. But there was a voice. It wasn’t her thoughts. It was a small still voice.
What was she afraid of?
She was afraid of being alone.
She was. She’s felt alone ever since Evans was born.
After her postpartum depression, she couldn’t feel truly adequate again. She needed someone to. And Joe had it too together. He was fine. If she could be like him. Basiwa brought that fulfilment. She was full with her. So she gripped unto every moment.
She cried harder.
“Why are you asking?!”
She screamed in anger.
“She’s all I have.”
The door was opened. Jojo run to Basiwa and bent besides her. He hugged her. He didn’t hear exactly what she said. Her scream startled him from the guest room.
“She’s all I have Jojo. I’ll be alone.”
“Sssh. It’s not true.”
Jojo hugged her tighter.
“You have me and Evans and Akua and even Francese and the baby to come. You even have God.”
She shook her head.
“You do Araba. You have us. You’re just closer to Basiwa.”
“He asked what I’m afraid of. I know I’ll be alone when she goes. This pain feels like death.”
Jojo didn’t let his grip go. Her head was on his arms. She wasn’t answering him with this. Was she?
“Who. Who asked?”
“I don’t know. He just asked.”
Jojo smiled. He answered the prayer. He was led to ask for God to show up to Araba.
“It was the Lord. I… I prayed for it.”
Araba lifted her head and looked at him. He wore a smile. A smile that said he was surprised.
“I don’t know him like you do Jojo.”
“You don’t need to.”
“You don’t need to Araba. He wants you not another me and He wants to be the only one you have not Basiwa.”
What he was led to pray was all making sense now. He got up and lifted her up.
“See when I went into that room to pray I felt led to ask that God becomes the only one you hold on to. And I think He asked you the question so He can expose your need and meet it.”
Araba stared at him. What should she say?
“He wants to take away the loneliness and heal the pain you feel. I gave mine to him too.”
That’s why he seemed to have it all together. God was his first, his only. She knew that. That he spoke to Him. Now it stuck out clearly.
Araba shut her eyes. Basiwa will go someday. Either to her mum or with Nat. She’ll take this step. She is strong. She can do this. Jojo looked on.
“All these years Lord and I thought Basiwa is my all and you wanted to be close to someone like Jojo, not me, so I kept my distance. But today I ask that you be my all and heal this death pain I feel. You want me and I want you.”
Jojo took both hands and squeezed them.
Peaceful tears run down Araba’s face. If what he sensed in prayer is real. Basiwa was to have her part of the brokenness and healing also.
3ba as3m ntia – for what reason.
“I’m not adopted. I can’t be adopted.”
Basiwa sat by the glass door, her face covered with tears. She pulled her long pleated skirt over her knees. Her box braids made into a loose doughnut right on top of her head made her round big eyes stand out.
Your legs kicking in the air with such strength. We just had to have you. That’s all I wanted in a daughter, your fierceness.
Her mum, yes, the woman she’s known as her mum said that.
She looked around, took a quick mental note of everything.
That tree was planted on her 4th birthday. And the very door she sat by wasn’t glass at all. It wasn’t even there. It was a porch, where Evans, her brother, was birthed. She was just two. But obviously her intelligence outgrew her age. She stood scared and confused that wet Sunday night. She was so confused she didn’t understand why Evans had come out from her mum but everything had been explained to her before.
She belonged here. She didn’t have to go after all. Dad had said clearly it was her choice.
Akua half slid the door and filled the space with her pregnant body.
“I can come back later if you want.”
“No.” Basiwa turned to her. “I mean you can stay.”
Akua held on to the door gently and let herself sit.
Some hours ago she doubted her gut feeling about her mother-in-law but it was true. She wondered how she was holding up. Araba and Basiwa were inseparable. She joked with Evans before their bedtime last night that Araba will move in with Basiwa to Nats’ after they marry.
“How old now?”
Basiwa’s eyes were on her tummy.
Akua rubbed it.
“Do you feel her.”
Basiwa thought she saw concern rightly worry on Akua’s face with the answer.
“Nat called. I told him he should later.”
Basiwa said. Talking to him now would have made her sadder. He would have felt terrible for staying out of town this month.
“You want to talk?”
Akua rubbed Bafowa’s back.
“I don’t have back pains. I’m not the one who’s pregnant.”
They laughed briefly.
“Ha. Not much to say. I just can’t believe they aren’t my real parents.”
Akua nodded. Fresh tears were around the corner of Basiwa’s eyes, ready to fall. Francese won’t believe Evans isn’t her dad when the time comes too.
“You know. They’ve been…”
She started choking.
Akua took Bafowa’s left hand and rubbed the back of her palm. Trying to build friendship with Basiwa was difficult but here they were.
“The home said the same thing dad explained when I called. Since my mum, I mean my birth mum, biological mum is alive I couldn’t have been given out without she signing anything.”
Basiwa threw her head back and cleaned her face.
“So what’s the decision?”
Akua stared right into her face.
It must be hard for her Lord. Help her.
“I don’t know. I mean here’s home. But she’s not asking for much either. She just wants to have me for occasional visits. She knows I have the decision. I think the home told her. I’m 29 now.”
“So you’ll go?”
“I wish I knew the right thing. I don’t want mum feeling betrayed and there’s my other mum too. She should be dead guilty for giving me to the orphanage.”
“You could pray.”
They were talking about this again? God’s ears have been unattended to her too long. Basiwa gazed away.
Her eyes sat on that summer hut. Her talks with her mum, Araba were mostly there when no one else was home. They’d laugh so hard she felt no doubt one day they’ll bring the glasses down. Thank goodness they weren’t in an animation.
She let Akua’s words hang in the air awhile.
God doesn’t listen to me.
It came by will. Basiwa had always believed that.
She pushed her feet forward.
“He doesn’t listen to me.”
She said it.
“He does. I think you should pursue Him and you’ll realise it. He can guide your path, this decision. He’s home.”
Akua put one hand on Basiwa’s knees, held the glass with the other and got up.
“After the altar call, there’s a relationship to build. Just like marriage, after walking down the aisle like you’ll be doing with Nat March 15th. I’ll be inside.”
Basiwa nodded. She was leaving her to think, decide. For years with her she’s become accustomed to Akua’s tricks.
Akua said He was home. He could clarify all this too. But he was mostly quiet all her life.
That’s not true. He let the Blankson’s adopt you and give you a life.
That is true. It could count. Should.
But why did he make her wait till 27 before Nat came by. Even that as a friend. Now that she was finally getting married, something comes up.
Her dad had told her before that when God wants to get your attention he goes every extent. Was that all this is about? Her attention?
“But you’ve had my…”
She sat back. Her heart was pounding within. He never did. If it wasn’t the boys, it was her mum. He never did. Two lines of tears rushed down her face.
How could she so easily push him away?
Pursue Him. He’s home. He’ll guide your path, the decision.
Akua’s words came to the forefront. She closed her eyes. He’s gotten her attention by going this far. It was time to walk down the aisle and pursue him.
She hoped with all her heart He is home as Akua promised.
Then where she goes at the end won’t matter.
Author’s note: This story stands well alone but Back Home the first in the trilogy will definitely help you appreciate the characters better. This took a while but it was exciting to write. What will you want to see in the third in the trilogy? Let me know.
© 2016 M’afua Awo Twumwaah