(a lil somn’ somn’ I’m trying out)
“You left something behind.” I managed to say. I didn’t know where I got the energy.
“I’ll be back for you, sweetie. I promise.” She grabbed her make-up pouch from me.
“That’s what Daddy said too.”
“I know, but I am not your father.” She patted my head one last time and picked up her hand luggage.
Her sea trunk had been taken out by the driver five minutes earlier.
“ Sweetie, I’ll be late for my flight. I’ll call Nana when I arrive and she can put you on the line. It’ll be tomorrow night when I arrive, but I will call, ok?”
I still clung to her as I nodded through my tears; I had an inkling life as I knew it was over from the moment she stepped out of the bedroom.
I had been Mother’s favorite even after my sister and brother came and took all the attention because they looked the most like Mother. She and I slept together although Nana complained that I was getting too old not to have my own room. We would take walks in the afternoon when the twins were taking their naps. Later, I would watch her change and feed the twins memorizing every little detail for that day when I had my own. I wanted twins too.
Every Friday after school, she would wash my hair gently and oil my scalp. She said my hair was special and had to be treated with care. Then she sat me on a bunch of folded blankets at the foot of her bed and braided my hair into corn-rows so pretty everyone at school, even the teachers, talked about it. All this would cease. I knew that Nana would put an end to all this “rubbish” as she called my suspension in childhood. A girl my age needed to do things for herself. A girl like me could not be spoiled because it was not sustainable. Society wasn’t kind to girls like me. Perhaps that is why Mother spent so much of our time together telling me how pretty I was and how she and Daddy and God loved me just the way I was. They must have known this about society.
“I wouldn’t change anything about you…” Mother used to say then trail of as she brushed my hair.
“Scrub that koo-darkie skin of yours! If you don’t I’ll be in there to give you a few lashes. Scrub and eventually maybe some of that black will wash off. I really don’t know why God had to spite me with you.”
On mornings when I felt bold and reckless, I said: “Mother said I was beautiful just the way I am. She said she wouldn’t change anything about me.” I chanced it knowing Nana would hesitate to lash me just before school.
“That’s the rubbish she was busy filling your head with. I warned her about that.” Nana spat.
One day, several weeks later, after school instead of being dropped off at home, the driver took a detour.
“Uncle JJ, where are we going? Are we going to the airport? Is Mother arriving today?” For the month and half after Mother left, I held hope that she’d realize she had made a mistake and come back for me. My eagerness got together with my imagination and birthed one giddy girl. He tried to smile at me in the mirror. It failed. He kept his eyes on the road. Accra traffic was worse than LA traffic or so Mother had told me. We drove by the Kotoka International Airport and didn’t turn down the tree-lined avenue.
About an hour later we pulled up next to a new green Mitsubishi pick-up and he parked the car. He came around to the back to let me out. He held the door for me as I looked for direction in his face. A tear rolled down his face. This had to be serious. In all my twelve years I had never seen Uncle JJ cry before, not even at his father’s funeral when no one was watching.