Friday, October 31, 2008

A Chinese Dispenser

A little Chinese man in office clothes is idling at the car port in front of the foyer of a 4-star Accra hotel. He clears his throat in strident bursts, and leaps to one of the silver trash cans placed near the pillars (still at the entrance). He sprays his spittle into the bin with no awareness of self. As I struggle to lift my anguished jaw off the immaculate floor, he asks the doorman for the restaurant. It’s just as well that he (not I) is going to eat.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Holiday

Untidy desk
Almost Grotesque
I'm on a mental holiday
On this crazy, working day

Why We Write

A big, black bird with one bandaged, broken wing, spiralling backwards, wildly and upside-down, as if its steely claws are tethered by invisible solar threads.

Try rivalling that image with song or sculpture, photograph or paintbrush! It will be static; if not that, unfaithful to reality; if not that, frivolous; if not that, staged, disingenuous!

Take our fractured flyer again. A big black bird – it could be a ravenous raven, blistering buzzard, colossal condor, or an elegant eagle or some other brilliantly-plumed predator (altering the geographical setting every time). This is A-to-Z imagination at your choosing!

We write because we hate a blank, blue sky or a vivid, but frozen, gelid portrait.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Frumble in the Belly

You’re roller-coasting on a dream date, or you’re delivering a professional presentation (one-on-one) or stoking the friendship Fahrenheit. Everything’s percolating in milky-smooth or honey-fine flow. Just when you’re a whisker away from rendering the deal-sealing line or cupid-calling candy floss, embarrassment growls from under your clothes.

It’s so loud that you know they heard it too. You, yourself, are startled, clueless whether you just slipped a good old fart, or if it’s only your stupid stomach rumbling. So, on you go, “I was saying that …” grrrrrrrrrowl! There you go again! Your face betrays your gastric black eye. This last one was surely a bleak, borderline case – a suspiciously sinister combine of the two. We shall have to call it a ‘frumble’ (fart + rumble) in your belly. :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Delayance

I thought he was a simple man
Speaking in cute, curt fanti
Just when I was admiring him
I heard him say 'delayance'

Neighbour-Watching

Are peepies only peepies when they look in from your own garden? Everyday, when I arrive home from work, I have to come and go three times from street to house because of all the books I pack. I do not really read them all, so they come along for the mental comfort.

And as I do my back and forth, I always catch the sudden dart of a human head here, a flash of artificial light or the slightest shift of a curtain there, from the corner of my eye – a neighbour’s been peeping again. Different neighbouring windows at different ETAs pull their curtains every time I pull up at night.

They are all youngish and married with little kids and many morals to protect with plenty drama – I guess. But even if I were the Male-Moral-Menace, I come and go way too late and too devilishly early for any impressionable infant to espy. Be-frigging-sides, no one has seen the single me bring devastating Danielles to my house to affront the sleeping morals of the street.

So, are they simply curious (we’ll explore envy at another time) at a young man – unmarried and free – among all these hindered homemakers? I bet they’ll keep curtain-drawing until they find out what they want to see. Their secret fears or thrills or curiosity simply amuse me. What I dislike is being watched like a dangerous animal.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Looking for a Man in the City of Accra

At the cloistered, wooded intersection of the East Legon Street and the Presec – IPS bypass, the sinister trees pitched their umbra over the un-peopled, bumpy scape. I saw a slim, lone man, on the turn, who was dressed in all white, and standing idly at the roadside.

He braced a big black belt on his thin torso, over his un-tucked-in shirt, the way the women do. My curiosity got the better of me, making me drop my pace to take an eyeful of his single-minded dress sense. It struck me at once that he might be looking for a man, for the money. He has to work too, no?

As I glided by, he looked straight at me, and his eyes shone brightly in his midnight face. A new thought jumped me – he might be bananas and dangerous, so I coaxed Maxine to dart forward a bit faster. As he swept out of sight, I heard him hiss as street walkers do. So, he was looking for a man, after all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Flare of Lightning

I’m meeting her again, next week. Honeyed hints have been cunningly dropped. Reactions have not come rapidly or delayed. The agreed watering hole is remotely reposed from where prying familial eyes would see and scream murder, murder! The long haul has silently softened the forbidden tension, but heightened infernal expectations. The Rabelaisian appeal of breaking the possum rules is thrilling me in ravishing raptures. She knows, she knows, she knows. She says I’m still her favourite. She won’t talk about it directly, but she certainly knows. She knows!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ridge Joe Blogs

I cruise by his candid cameo every morning, about a minute from work. I always behold this behemoth bounty from way off: big-big shirt, faded black jeans, moth-eaten cowboy hat and that totally tired swagger. The shirts are pitifully queer, quixotic. Mammoth short sleeves reaching down below the charred elbows of his bandy arms. When the sleeves are meant to be long, they do not reach the wrists, on which he tugs plastic explosives or dynamite that he would like to call watches (yes, two of them!). But, far above this frivolous frolic, the cockcrow prize is his serious, self-important, cyclopean face fixed funnily in my driving mirror and on my mind. Happy is my mood when I arrive at work at Ridge.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Personal NPT

Beautiful neighbour to the west,
Your nuclear reactors behind
Are causing shocks and tremors,
In my southern regions,
While I try to run the state
from the rational north.
Please, switch them off!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ass in the Telco

Phone signals went dead
All through the night
It is a hoofed quadruped
who has the service oversight.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty (a view out of Ghana)

It’s ARTIFICIAL!
Debasing; sacrificial.
It sloshes about in your wine glass;
forms moulds in your whole-grain bread.
It eats a side slope in the soles
of your sterile, patent shoes.
It screams at the vanity
of the carats in your cufflinks,
and runs in savage mascara streaks
down your thankless, overfed face.
It teases, tortures, torments.
It’s a shameful man-eater!
It mocks expensive phone calls
in the show of love,
while standing in the blind glare
of dying requests for human kindness.
It’s cursing loudly in your waste bin;
putrefying, stockpiling to revolt.
Then, it will have your head,
with some of your own tea!
It’s ugly, horrible!
It’s something really shocking.
Don’t let it live near you!
Don’t let it live anywhere!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Private Viewing Curve

My friend, Ebo, runs a movie house for tucked-away, ‘private viewing’. Its windmill wonders work this way: you breeze gently in, select the same old movie again (but, then, it doesn’t matter because you still don’t know the story, although you’ve seen it three times here) and you evaporate into the next available, sizzling room – just the two of you.

If there are no idle rooms, you languish in the languor lounge long enough for others to study, keep and remember your fidgety face at another time, or you wisely retreat and wait in the car (if there is one). Just make sure there is a heavily-tipped movie attendant to come and get you, once a room is fling-free ;-). A particularly obese tip should ensure that they smuggle you in out of turn.

Ebo tells me that anytime a patron stops going to watch movies, it’s either because SHE got married, or because HE moved out of home, and found his own place! Really revealing reasoning, no? But he left out he or she who simply cannot or must not take their movie partner home, because their life partner lives there :-)

The movie houses don’t bother to keep up with clean or pirated Hollywood. You’re only there for the silver-screen skinny-dipping, anyway. You’re there till you walk down the aisle, or you walk out of home, or the third reason.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Broken Water on the Streets in the City of Accra

A pitiable, teen-age boy snoozes like a sculpture hewed out of the darkness at the roadside. A medium-size basin poses upright in the street, one metre before him. A half-dozen plastic bags lie scattered and flattened on the street; and the boy, the bowl and the bags all stand in a tiny wash of water.

The boy looks dazed, and utters not a sound. As every car schleps by in the half-light jam, he lifts his cheerless eyes to the window, and then into the black heavens. The first time I witnessed this, I worked out the obvious interpretation, and was moved to stop to give him 5 Ghana Cedis.

Not quite a week later, I saw the same woebegone scene re-enact itself in a different part of Accra, and another in another part, and another, and another…. And, then, I caught on. It is a new money-making ploy in the City of Accra!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On Rubbish Adverts

Ghana loves you,
Melcom loves you more…

I saw this rubbish byline on a fading billboard on the New Times Road. How dare you, in trying to be clever, insult national affection? In Turkey you’d go to jail. Somebody should tear down that offensive piece of male cattle crap.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wilderness

Woman on the highway
Peeing down her thighway
While her man keeps watch
For the cops or Sasquatch

Heavy Curtains, Pigs with Lipstick

In my Superior room, at dulcet dusk, Lil Girl glided round the heavy drapery onto the snug balcony for a breathtaking view of ivory-and-amber-lit, wooded, residential Kumasi. And I surveyed the sublime sights of her flowing roundnesses. I lent my ken, for a second, to the TV, for what McCain-busting move that god, Obama, was up to. Between pigs and a whole lot of laughable lipstick, I heard Lil Girl say, “Baby, I can’t find my way back in.” For a trice, I didn’t know what she meant. Then I saw hands on the carpet; lovely, shortened hair; a mischievous grin. Lil Girl had found her way back in by crawling on all fours under the portiere. On TV, the old man who first brought in the pigs with the lipstick was trying to pull down the curtains on his deliberate misinterpretation of the god’s wisecrack. He won't find his way back in.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Everybody's Love Triangle

Many years ago, I read Peter Abrahams’s ‘Mine Boy’. Even then, its rich ménage of themes came to life for me, but what really struck a chord was the racial bigotry that ran through everyday life, from the paper pass, to a simple drink of beer. And the sadness in the novel leapt out and gripped my heart in a vice for many long days.

Last weekend, I read Mine Boy again, and savoured, once more, its clean and colourful characters: Xuma, Leah, Elisa, Maisy, Daddy, The Red One, The Fox, that sonofabitch, J. P. Williamsom et al. But, in the simple plot, this time, my now-older mind fixated on the theme of love, and of wishes and reality.

Powerfully-built Xuma loved the dainty Eliza. She loved the trappings of the white man’s world. She wanted a gentleman (like the doctor); a man who could read. Who would have clever-clever conversation with her in the night, and not just the raw, physical thrust of simple love. So, although Eliza loved Xuma back, and became his woman for a short while, she left him like a twilight thief. And she was never seen again.

Maisy was not quite a finished work of art, but she had warm laughter in her eyes and a lot of sugar in her heart. She loved Xuma, and he liked her. She made him happy, and, with her, he saw his worldly woes fly away. But he felt he loved her not.

In the end, Eliza stole away. Xuma was going to jail for co-leading a strike at the deathtrap which was also called a mine (a thing a black man had no donkey’s right to do). Before turning himself in, Xuma fled to Maisy, and beseeched her to wait for him. Maisy said she would, and we are all sure that she could and would.

Somewhere in that triangle, I learnt a lot about love, and what it really means. It means being at ease, being at peace, and having free fun with whoever is the one it happens with. That is love!

Postscript: Thank you, Peter Abrahams. This was too special to edit. It had to be read raw!

School Rules

Too often, as a rule
They who've been to school
Act arrogantly like a King
But don't understand a thing!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Conference

It is icily intriguing to see plots poles-apart come forth, while the truly important issues are ignored. It is easy to identify who is shielding or protecting what immiscible interests. With sundry make-or-break motions afoot, I caught a mini glimpse of how political campaigns should feel like near the general elections.

Thursday, October 2, 2008