November 17, 2018
I called my mother because I wanted information that would help me settle on my day’s itinerary. She turns 60 on the first day of December, the same day of the premier, in Ghana, of a much anticipated film. On the phone, I asked her to confirm if she would like us—herself, me, and my sister—to go see the film.
Still in bed, I wrote Namata a thank you note whose last lines were the same as the opening lines of a poem I wrote her six months ago: there is love. and there is love. and then there is love. you show the difference-s. Namata is the friend in whose apartment I’ve lived since the week after I left home, almost two months ago. On this day, this morning, I was moving to my new place.
My new place is somewhere in Aburi which stands northeast of the capital, Accra, in the eastern region of Ghana.
Because the driver from the previous night had called to quote a new price—more than four times what we’d agreed on—Namata and I began to search for a taxi driver who was willing to transport me and my things from her apartment in Ashaley Botwe, Accra, to my place in Gyankama, Aburi, at a fair price.
After a few tries we found one, Laweh.
We loaded my things into the car. As that happened, Namata’s neigbours’ kids—who I had never met—came into the parlour with three pairs of curious eyes and watched me move down and up. My stuff was not so much: two boxes, a duffel bag, a messenger bag, a carrier bag, a backpack, and then a mattress Namata gave me along with some sundries. None of these were so heavy that I alone couldn’t carry down the quarter landing staircase.
Outside her gate, I hugged Namata goodbye, expressed my gratitude and gave her the note I’d written, tucked clandestinely into a little gift I got her.
I got into the small hatchback. And Laweh moved.
Some thirty minutes later we were on the ascending road, driving out of Accra, into the mountainous town of Aburi. I felt, as I think every feeling being should, what I term The Palpability: that freshening change in ambience that comes when one makes a transition in locales.
A few more minutes and we were at my new place. As he helped me take the boxes out of the car, Laweh found out what they contained. “So you’ll read all these books?” I responded with a brag: “They’re actually less than a third of the books in my little library back at my mother’s place.”
Before driving off, he asked if I was going to come down to Accra often. I told him I did not intend to and then proceeded to take his phone number. It would come in useful on nights when I needed to get to Aburi from Accra and no driver was willing to climb mountains. I paid Laweh, said thanks, and wished him a good day.
My new housemate, Mabena, came out to help me take my stuff in. As I stepped into my new room, I took in the end result of the paint job I’d completed two days earlier. The room’s walls were now a shade the paint vendor had called baby pink. My paint job was neither excellent nor atrocious.
All my stuff thrown in, I unrolled the mattress and tried to nap but the part of my brain that controls these things thought not. I took my cracked screen out and checked my Twitter for the second—or was it the third?—time that morning. I read an article or two.
Mabena gave me banana muffins she’d baked. I ate them with appreciation.
Partly because of a concert I had to attend that evening, I needed to journey back to Accra. Before I left, I stood in the middle of the room, regarding the small space. There are windows on two sides. I looked out on the side I intended to sleep: lush greenery, both in the foreground and in the distant valleys. I thought to myself: this is the view i’m going to be waking to? Mashallah.
Stepping out, I made a mental note of things I’d need to get on my return from Accra: a desk and a chair, maybe a mirror and a drawer, plus an indoor plant or two.
As soon as I got on a trotro to Accra, I began to undo my braided hair. I also pressed play on “Chapter Red” by Maayaa. The music’s mood fit quite right with The Palpability and Maayaa was one of the artists performing that night at the concert. I thought about how my friends Eric and Namata had both remarked on Maayaa’s beautiful voice on the separate occasions I’d played the EP in their presence. And then I remembered one night in Namata’s parlour when she spoke so glowingly about Syd’s voice, and then how her admiration of said voice was smudged by watching Syd in live performance.
Back in the city, I stopped by the Accra mall to get tickets for December 1st. The vendor had an American accent. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was of the locally acquired kind.
It was well past midday when I got on another trotro to continue my journey. Destination: my colleagues’ house. I stopped midway to get my first proper meal of the day: beans with fried plantains. One more trotro ride later, I arrived at their house with four braids left to undo. I finished them off, ate my meal, and did a little admin work.
I went to a salon right outside the house and got my hair washed by an overly courteous attendant. I lounged for a bit when I got back, passively listening to music from my colleagues’ record player and scrolling through my twitter feed every then and now.
I tried napping again. It didn’t quite happen, as I spent all the while merely on the cusp of sleep. When I got out of bed, I took out my outfit, took a dump, showered, put my hair in a clumsy double bun, painted my nails—only the ones on my left hand for want of time—ate rice my colleague, Esse, offered me, and left for the concert.
At the venue, I texted and met up with Jemma, a contact from London whom I’d arranged to meet, for the first time, at the concert. We chitchatted about this and that until it was showtime, some thirty minutes later.
We grabbed seats in the second row of the middle column. I got myself a drink a few minutes into the performances. Normally, I rave at concerts; on this night, I didn’t.
The performances were generally alright, with only the headliners and one other performer striking me as exceptional. And although I didn’t find her exactly mesmerising, Maayaa did not do me like Syd did Namata.
After all was sung and danced, an acquaintance drove us into the dead of night, back to my colleagues’ house.