Merry Christmas, guys! As promised, I am releasing a set of 7 Christmas-related micro stories this season. I am already far behind time so it’s best to get started now. Home is the best place to be for Christmas. And that is exactly what today’s story is about. Love, Keni!
The smell of the baby’s ‘Christmas gift’ filled the air and it gargled in satisfaction. Everyone in the bus laughed except Kwakye, of course.
What is there to laugh about?
This baby had been screaming at the top of her lungs for the past 30 minutes and her mother had tried every trick in the ‘Make her stop crying’ book. 5 minutes ago, all the women in the bus had joined to sing ‘Baby Little Girl don’t cry’ over and over again but somehow the singing made her cry even more. Not that he could blame her, the singing was worse than the howling sound the malnourished dogs made when the ambulances were passing through Ashaiman.
Someone suggested indigestion and her mother anxiously rubbed her daughter’s abdomen. A few minutes later, the gift was released and her mother sighed in relief.
Kids and their mothers.
I am sure Mama would have done the same thing for me.
He had not been home in the longest time, not since Mama passed away.
Mama with her gray hair, bow legged legs and her kind smile. She didn’t have much of an education but she carried herself like a lady. She should have never married Papa.
He was so angry that she had died of malaria, something that could have been treated. He was angry with himself for not travelling back to Fankyeneb3bomeka as soon as his sister called him. He was angry that she died before he got there. He was angry that his father had the audacity to appear at the funeral drunk. He was so angry that he punched him in front of everyone and walked away, despite his sister’s pleas for him to stop. He did not regret punching him; he just regretted the fact that he marred his mother’s funeral.
And so he never went back.
Every Christmas, his sister would call and ask him to come. Every Christmas, he would send corned beef, sardines and some money instead. He didn’t go back when his sister got married- he knew that it broke her heart. He didn’t go back when his father died. He didn’t go back when Ofori, his childhood friend, had his first child. He didn’t go back for Mama’s fifth anniversary.
It was easier to make excuses- he had just started working at Baba’s spare parts shop, he was trying to raise money to afford a place of his own, he needed to pay off the loan he took, he was opening his own spare parts shop, he was not ready to go back home.
That was the real reason- he was not ready.
But today, ready or not, he was going back.
That was why he closed the shop on 22nd and gave his boys the day off. He also went to town to buy as many gifts as he could buy for everyone- from Ama Serwaa,the woman who sold provisions behind the Methodist Primary School, to Wofa Nimo, the official village drunk who sat at the bus stop bathed in palm wine and whistling off-key. That was why he had endured baby poop, sweat, a flat tyre and a sitting mate who kept drooling in his sleep to go home.
It was because he dreamt about Mama. She looked the same. She smiled and touched the scar on his forehead- the one he got after he fell off the mango tree behind the school park. He embraced her and buried his face in her shoulder. Amidst tears, he managed to utter the words, ‘Mama, I’m sorry.’
She whispered, ‘Go home.’ just before he woke up.
So when he woke up sweating and out of breath, he knew what to do.
The village had not changed much- same old mud huts, same old wooden structures, same old school. There were some NDC posters on the walls of the school. Ama Serwaa’s stall was still there. He got down from the bus with his ‘Ghana must go’ bag in hand and started walking towards the house.
His nephew, Kojo, saw him first.
He yelled, ‘Kwakye aba oo!’ to anyone who would listen.
It was like a movie. People came to stand at the entrance of their huts to look at him. He nodded respectfully at the old men sitting under the trees in the centre of the semi-circle of huts his house belonged to. Then he saw his sister- she looked just like Mama but without the grey hair. She was also pregnant.
After the yam fufu had been eaten and all pleasantries had been exchanged, they all went to sit outside- his sister and her husband, his cousins, his nephews and nieces, his uncles and aunties. The moon was full, as if it knew that today was special. The kids were roaming wild; after all, there was no bedtime today. He caught his sister’s eye. She rubbed her belly and smiled. He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair, the yam fufu aligning itself well in his stomach.In his mind’s eye, he could see Mama sitting with them, smiling her wise smile. The world could have stopped and he would not have noticed.
After all, he was home.
It was good to be home.
When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.- Chinua Achebe