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The Ampe Cartel

When Kofi is punished unfairly by his French teacher, he sets out to make the most of it, and heaven have mercy on whomever gets in his way.

Whenever one door closes, another usually opens. The universe has a way of taking care of you. You just have to be looking out for the opportunities that are thrown your way. As much as the universe wants to help you, it doesn’t want to coddle you.

I found this out quite young and had become adept at spotting these opportunities. Some of them didn’t end up so well but hey, something must kill a man. This something for me was my dad, man had a knack for messing up my plans and making me pay.
I remember when my friends and I went in search of abrɔfo bɔɔla and almost died. One other time I thought it smart to sell my own textbook because I wasn’t using it much and almost got dismissed. Let’s just say I had quite a lot of experience in telling good opportunities from the bad. I saw all this as practice until the real thing came up.

These experiences are what let me know that I had hit the jackpot. Any one else would have written it off as an accident but I knew a goldmine when I saw one. Monsieur Akankude probably thought he had me right where he wanted. I was banned from his class for a week or until I could find my textbook which I said had been stolen; whichever came first I presume.
We had his period right after the first break everyday. It was the first day of my punishment and I had decided to go sit under a tree to wait out his period, the tree underneath which the girls played ampe.

I had been banned from the library during this punishment period because he felt I wouldn’t be chastised if I spent that time productively. I got bored sitting and started kicking pebbles around, that’s when I noticed something glinting in the sun. A closer inspection revealed it to be money. Money likes to congregate, reason why the rich play with the rich. I decided to look around and see if I could find more, I did. It hit me then, this must have fallen from the pockets of the girls as they played ampe. I started laughing, realizing this was the universe’s way of saying sorry to me after what Monsieur had done. Hahaha

The next day had me loitering around the tree waiting for the girls to leave so I could get to work. I spent the next few days in the same manner, getting paid. As the week drew near and the duration of the punishment lessened, I started wondering how to get more money. The ampe was played by just the girls in my class, if I could reel in all the girls from the other classes in my year, GOSH! I couldn’t begin to fathom the amount of money I would be making. Already, I was making three to four times my lunch money every day. A plan began to take shape.

The classes were fiercely competitive, there were weekly quizzes between them to determine which class was the best. I started a rumour that my class had the best ampe players in the entire class four, it didn’t take long for some girls in the other classes to start their own ampe game under a near by tree. They had to show their mettle you see, this led to the second part of my plan. Getting the girls to compete in an ampe league. A one-off competition won’t give me the money I wanted. I needed the numbers to make for a bountiful harvest. I didn’t forget to check the new ampe players though, the haul from them together with the one from my own classmates made quite the impression on me. I was more than motivated now.

My new change in circumstance hadn’t gone unnoticed by a couple of my friends. I was rolling in yoghurt and bread filled with condensed milk. They stuck to me like flies. Like moths, they were drawn to my flame; I was burning very brightly you see. I decided to rope a couple of them in, one of them especially, Jesse. He was in another class and was going to be my inside man there. He had one of the most important jobs, keeping his classmates pumped up about the whole ampe league. Keep them excited so they were all for it when we proposed the idea, someone else might even do it for us. He in turn also roped in two others from the other classes. These inside men kept flattering their ampe players and getting them toffees to curry favour with them. I did same in my class, letting them know they were the best and telling them I wish there was a way to prove that.

After a fortnight my stars alligned, Ameyaw, the captain of my class’s boys’ football team proposed that they have an interclass competition with multiple teams like the boys did with small poles. I was earnestly for it, and so were my cronies. Soon other people joined in and the teams were formed. This was better than anything I could have come up with, the various cliques amongst the girls in each class formed their own teams and competed within the class and the best teams were going to have a finale every Friday. I was exhilarated, some guys even joined in. I was challenging gender norms.
The first Friday was mind blowing, we made more than we could have ever predicted. It was more than ten times what we were making with individual class teams, it felt too good to be true. We had made it.

I had a team of 8 boys; Jesse and the two he recruited had brought in another person each. I had also brought in 2 boys from my class making the 8. 
We had a system, the 5 guys who had come in later did the grunt work. They were the ones who hanged around to collect the money after break was over, and then drop it off for safe keeping with a woman who sold at the canteen. We always bought food from her, she never asked questions.
The rest of us were supposed to cover for them in their respective classes. 
I will then go for the money after class. At the end of the week, I gave all the guys their share.

It had been over a month since the league started, everything had been running smoothly. Our system had never failed us. It was after classes and I was waiting in the canteen to meet Auntie Tsotsoo, the rice seller. She was attending to someone so I sat down to wait. I got thinking, over the past few days, the takings had been a bit slow. I had assumed it was nothing until I saw Jesse buying a lot more fanyogo and poki than he usually could afford; even with his cut. I had to nip it in the bud.
Auntie Tsotsoo was soon done with the customer and came over to hand me the takings, and yup, it was just like the past few days. A bit short. I endeavoured to look into it.

The next day, after Break time I tailed Jesse. He went to the washroom and stashed some money into his underpants. I had seen enough, I left. I called a meeting after school that day, and let him go. To his credit he didn’t deny it, but the look he gave me could freeze water. I couldn’t be bothered though, it was done.

Things returned to normalcy afterwards, and I focussed all my attention on setting up something big for Our Day. We had just a few weeks more to go. The school was organising a fair and inviting other schools. I had used this opportunity to organise an inter school Ampe competition. It had been a tad difficult to arrange but everything was shaping up nicely. The only problem was the fact that we had to come to school that day all dressed up. 

We only made money because the pinafore the girls wore had pockets which by their nature allowed money to fly out when they jumped. The girls wearing different clothes will hurt my business.
To prevent, that I started a rumour about the possibility of a fight between the various schools a couple of days before the Ourday. To make it seem authentic I paid some students to stage mini fights. I was hoping since it was only a few days to the fair and the various schools had spent so much time prepping for it that they won’t cancel and rather have us wear uniforms as always, so they can distinguish between us and easily spot which schools offenders are from.
They did exactly that. Adults can be predictable you know.
You should know that at this stage I was feeling very proud of myself. I walked around with a smug look. Not only was I rolling in poki and yoghurt. I had a lot of respect from my classmates. I had bought a football for the boys and some skipping ropes for the girls. You can call that my corporate social responsibility.

The D-day finally came, they were a lot of games happening. As well as film shows and an inter-schools quiz. I had planned for the ampe competition to happen using the film show. It wasn’t open to students in the lower primary, so they will definitely be at my ampe games. Everything had been going smoothly so far, Jesse had been giving me weird looks since I cut him lose, I had even stopped giving the money to Auntie Tsotso and was using a different seller. I ignored him, he was culpable too, reporting us won’t do him much good. Besides, it was the last day of school.

The competition started with no hitches, I was running a betting scheme on the matches and losers hadn’t acted over the top. Everyone had been quite nice. This could probably be chocked to the drinks I had bought from Auntie Tsotsoo and distributed amongst the students present. The games soon ended and most students dispersed. We waited for an hour and started to collect our bounty.

We had over ten times the usual takings, this wasn’t inclusive of what we made from the betting. I put everything in my school bag while we headed over to a more secluded place to split it. We chose the back of the JSS block. It was quiet and out of the way. No one will chance upon us.
No sooner had we got there than I saw Jesse coming from the other entrance. It had only two entrances. We ignored him and focused on splitting the spoils. Nicholas, who was squatting next to me tapped me, I looked up and saw Monsieur Akankude coming from the other entrance. I stood up calmly, they all did same, waiting for my lead. I looked back and saw four strong boys standing beside Jesse at the other entrance.
Just then I heard the boys shouting from behind me;

“Monsieur I am not among!”
“Monsieur I am not among!”

Idiots! Did they really think that will work. I said nothing, I just slung the bag over my shoulder and started running towards Monsieur, I was betting on him not expecting that. And yes he wasn’t. I was almost upon him before he thought to raise the cane he had in his hand.
I drew the water pistol I had brought along today. I wasn’t expecting trouble but it pays to be prepared, and I had a little surprise for Monsieur. I didn’t slow down, I raised the pistol and fired right in his face.

He screamed, he screamed like we did when he lashed us. I had filled the pistol with pepper water. After blinding him, it was child’s play to make my way out of there. I kept running, not stopping till I was out of the school vicinity. 

I got home, put the money bag in my room, showered and went to watch tv. I was so glad this was the last day of school. I felt pretty good, not only did I have my money, I had gotten the best of Monsieur.

This good feeling lasted all the way through supper. I didn’t notice every one was quiet. Neither did I notice when they left me alone with my dad in the living room.

I didn’t even notice when someone entered the living room, not until my dad asked me to stand up.
That’s when I noticed Monsieur, before I could say anything, Jesse popped up from behind him. I turned and there was my dad, holding my water pistol and the school bag with my earnings in his other hand.

“Why do bad things only happen to the innocent?”, my thoughts as my dad called for the cane.

KARISHIKA – THE BETRAYAL

The path of selfishness is paved with the broken hearts of the selfless. It can’t be helped, when you put yourself first, you will inadvertently put others second, that is how life is structured.

I was selfless at heart, I have been told this occasionally. More like all my life. This had gotten me quite close to my older siblings. I was the one they approached when they needed help that my parents couldn’t provide. This was what had me, cornering my older sister, Afia, on a Saturday afternoon to propose a solution to her problem.

We were both scared of the dark, she more than me. I usually tried to shower before it got dark, but sometimes, I got carried away with playing and lost track of time. This happened more times than I could count. My mum won’t let me eat till I showered. So sometimes I braved the darkness for long enough to pour water on myself and quickly dash into the lantern lit corridor to dry myself.

If there was electricity, there would have been no issue. The little moments when I had my eyes closed were what I would have had to overcome. But no, the power rationing had started and we only had power in the mornings and during the day most of the time. So the darkness had to be braved. This “pour and dash” method had served me well for a while, Afia had tried copying it but she couldn’t stay inside long enough to pour water on herself. It went without saying that she had gone countless nights without supper.
So it was with the utmost selflessness that I approached her this afternoon. I proposed to keep her company when she showered, stand in the corridor with the bathroom door open whiles she showered. I was 8 and she was 11, but my selflessness knew no bounds. All she had to do for me was stay out there in the corridor whiles I showered too. If that was too much for her, she could give me some of her lunch money. So considerate of me, making the terms so flexible for her. She agreed and we started.

This arrangement went off without a hitch, we had been at it for over a fortnight when my cousins came to visit. They were aged 6 and 7, being the one closest in age to them, they spent most of their time hanging out with me. The movie Karishika had just been released. This was an African horror movie about a mermaid (maame water) called Karishika. Even though this movie was going to scare the living daylights out of us, we all wanted to watch it.  In a bid to prove my mettle to my little cousins, I promised to get us the movie.

So one afternoon, I gathered my cousins and  sisters and showed them a borrowed Karishika Video Cassette. The room got cold suddenly, they were all quiet and staring at the cassette. They watched spellbound as I walked to the VCR and inserted the cassette, with that the spell got broken and we all crowded into the sofa. The movie despite being long, lived up to expectations. It scared the hell out of us but it was well worth the watch. Like clockwork, right after the movie was done, the power went out.

We all stayed in the living room, too scared to leave. It had gotten dark whiles we watched the movie. It was in that condition that my mum came to meet us. She quickly bundled up my cousins into the bathroom and had them shower. Telling Afia and I to shower and come eat too. Adwoa the eldest, quickly sneaked into the bathroom before any of us could move and started to shower. Afia joined her. I made to do same and my mum smacked the back of my head, saying;

“Are you a girl, wait for them to finish”

I waited outside, knowing Afia will stay put and wait for me. But I had underestimated the effect of the movie, she run straight to the bedroom with Adwoa right after she was done, not even bothering to dry herself. Left with no option, I resorted to my “pour and dash method”.

I eventually got dressed and went to the kitchen. I felt betrayed by everyone, Afia especially.

I was still nursing the hurt from the betrayal the next evening. So when the power went out, without anyone telling me to go shower, I made my way into the bathroom. There was no “pour and dash”. I took my time to shower and dry myself. Even taking a while in the bedroom to get dressed. They were all impressed, usually I went about all of these in a rush. But the anger had made me brave.

Afia hadn’t spoken to me since last night, so I was surprised when she walked up to me as I sat down to eat and asked me to go keep her company whiles she showered. I agreed, and walked with her to the bathroom. I waited till she had lather all over and asked why she left me hanging last night.

While she fumbled for an answer I shut the door and locked it from behind quietly. I quickly left and went outside to stand behind the bathroom window. When I got there she was mentioning my name, over and over. Not getting a reply. She quickly rinsed the lather from her face. She screamed when she realized she was totally in the dark. With the bathroom door closed, the only light coming into the bathroom was from the window, and that wasn’t much.

Hearing her scream, I started singing the Karishika song, that was the last straw, she intensified her screams and tried to run out but the door won’t budge. My parents had heard her screams then and run to the bathroom. They opened the door to find her sitting on the bathroom floor sobbing hysterically.

By the light from the lantern in the corridor, I saw her condition when they opened the door and started laughing.

Everyone got quiet when they heard the laughter, even the crying Afia, my dad asked; “who is there?”

I screamed; “KARISHIIIIIIIKA!”, and started laughing again, to the new sobs that it generated.

OURDAY MY DAY.

Kofi comes up with a plan to own a gun and celebrate ourday in style, the only thing that stands in his way is a ghost.

We are always encouraged to share as children, I feel that goes against our basic nature as humans. If it was natural to share, wouldn’t it be instinctive and not need to be taught?”.
With this thought running through my mind, I watched as Mrs. Bekoe shared the food amongst my class mates.

This food in particular was refreshment from participating in the science fair. Some students had come late and had nothing to submit to boot, so they hadn’t received any refreshment. For some reason, Mrs. Bekoe thought it was fair to take the hard earned meat pie and drinks from those who had participated and share it amongst the whole class. I was fuming, but there was nothing I could do about it. As luck would have it, in that moment of anger, inspiration struck.

Ourday was a couple of weeks away, usually students are to bring food from home, but this time around the school had partnered with some caterers who will bring fried rice and other favorite dishes to the school. Students who were interested will write their names and pay a week before ourday.

My plan was simple, with how Mrs. Bekoe shared food for the others, I wagered she will find food for those who had nothing on ourday. All I had to do was convince my mum to give me money for the school’s ourday catering instead of cooking for me. That was easy, I just explained to her the time and energy saved, as well as the convenience this brought her.

She did agree and gave me the money. I didn’t stop there, I went to my dad too and told him I didn’t want to have my mum go through the trouble of cooking for ourday since the school was having some caterers bring food. He also gave me the money, that was after asking my mum if it was true she wasn’t cooking for my Our day. He got the affirmation.

They were both so proud of me, the fact that I had gone out of my way to make my mum take a break from cooking ourday food. On the surface it might not seem like much, but when you realize my mum would have had to cook jollof as well as fry chicken and make a host of other pastries for me, the sheer amount of work involved becomes apparent. So yeah, I might have my own selfish reasons but my mum is the benefactor in all this.

It went without saying that even though I had taken money from my folks, I wasn’t going to pay for the ourday special food from the school. I bought some toy guns I had been eyeing for a while. We were planning on having a game of police and thief after school was over. Having a gun would mean I get to decide who becomes a police or a thief. So yeah, the money will be put to good use.

Soon, a fortnight passed and our day arrived. It was the same day they shared report cards, so we usually stayed in class till noon before being left to our own devices. Mrs. Bekoe usually had us eat before giving us the report cards, this was probably to make sure those who did poorly weren’t too sad to eat. Come to think of it, that would have been nice; there would be a lot of food for her to share. Alas, it never happened that way.

Mrs. Bekoe arrived late, she had gone to get the food for those who paid for the school’s special ourday treat. We were all seated when she arrived.. She wasted no time at all and asked us all to take out our ourday baskets. After which she went round giving food to those who had paid. She was soon done with that and headed to the front of the class to lead us in prayer before we ate. It was then that looking at us all, she saw my empty table.

She called me to the front and asked where my food was. I was known to bring huge baskets filled with treats. Me having nothing was an anomaly. So with tear filled eyes, I told her how my mum was dead and my dad was not well. Even going as far as saying I hadn’t eaten for a couple of days. She gasped and hugged me. Quickly letting me sit at her table. She surprised me, she didn’t give me portions of my classmates’ food. She gave me the food that had been specially prepared for the teachers.

I couldn’t believe my luck and quickly started digging in. Some of my classmates, seeing me eating also started doing same. She reprimanded them severely and had them all stop eating to pray. After which she gave them the go ahead. I could see the looks of surprise on their faces as she didn’t bother to stop me. I continued to eat.

The teachers’ food was something else, it had everything; chicken, goat, beef… you name it. There was Jollof and fried rice in different parts of the pack. I was so engrossed in the food I hadn’t noticed my classmates getting up to greet. It was only when Mrs. Bekoe tapped me that I looked up amd saw Monsieur Akankude and my mom.

Apparently, my mum had felt bad that she didn’t cook for me and had decided to make some pastries to supplement the food from the school. She knew Monsieur so had sought him out to bring her to my class.

I started upon seeing my mum, I turned to look at Mrs. Bekoe, only to find her holding the biggest cane I had ever seen in my life, and sporting the angriest look ever.

I could only keep staring at her whiles I continued to eat her food, and wonder why bad things happen to good people.

French Kiss II

The plan was solid, all the basics had been covered. All that was left was the execution, and the hope that Monsieur plays his part.

“A child cracks a nut and not a tortoise shell


This saying has always had me confused; are they saying kids aren’t as smart as adults? I for one considered myself quite smart actually. My nine year old self was fire. Book smarts, street smarts you name it, in my head I had it all. I was the pinnacle of human evolution.
This mindset is what had me curled up in bed in the fetal position on a Monday morning.

The aim was to miss school and if that failed, miss the first period which was French. The only thing standing in my way was my mother.

French, which was the last period the Friday before had been hell. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had had to bail. I had done what every smart person does when they see danger, run! I had lived, but it seemed I had to fight again today. I was choosing not to fight  today, next week maybe, but definitely not today.

/You guys hold on, someone is opening my door.//

The door opened just a bit, I curled myself tighter, pulled my sleeping cloth closer and moaned for effect. Whoever was there, which I suspected  was my mum seemed to buy it. Well, the door closed without them nudging me or calling out my name; so I am assuming they bought it.

Yes where was I, ahaa I had run from French class. It was extra classes actually, but Monsieur Akakunde won’t see it as such. He took every infringement as a personal affront. If it happened to be me in particular, then he treated it like I had dishonoured his entire clan. My having a very good reason won’t matter much. And him having already taken his pound of flesh won’t matter too. My bottom actually still smarted from the thrashing I had received the Friday evening. I was surprised I wasn’t sick for real. Between my dad’s thrashing and monsieur’s thrashing, I should have been an invalid.

Now to put the second part of my plan into action, you guys should watch and learn.

MAA!
MAA!

This Maa was screamed with a croaky voice. Soon as my mum entered, I convulsed and vomited. Onto the floor of course. As much as lying in my own vomit will lend credence to my vulnerability, I wasn’t an animal. I had shimmied my way to the edge of the bed and left my mum a nice puddle. That should do it.

My mum entered screaming my name, she was in such a hurry that she slipped in the vomit. Only reflexes borne of years of making a grab for me saved her. She managed to grab hold of the door and pull herself up. Making straight for me and checking my temperature and all that fussy mess mothers do when one of their brood looks to be unwell.

I had kept up my moaning and was now tossing and turning. Catching a glimpse of her face from the corner of my eye I knew I had nailed it. The woman looked pale, her face was drawn. I had to fight down the urge to smirk. I really am smart.

You guys are impressed huh, wondering how I had pulled off the vomiting move, hehe.

I had pretended not to have an appetite the night before, I had foregone supper. At dawn, just before anyone was up, I had snuck into the kitchen and taken care of my hitherto spurned meal. It was cold, but I had to make do. With the food eaten not too long ago sitting in my gut, I had stuck my finger down my throat and done the honors. I had brought it all back up.

My mum left after a while, and came back with a rag and mop to clean up my mess. She cleaning it herself meant my sisters had left for school. My plan was working to perfection, just a little more time and French period will be over.

“Kofi”

She is going to ask how I am feeling.

“How are you feeling?”

In a really low voice so she will have to strain to hear me; I answered her.

“My stomach, it is paining me”

She came to sit by me then, feeling my neck and saying comforting words.

“You can’t go to school today erhn?”

Finally, she had asked the million dollar question. Doing a jig in my head, I answered with a moan. This moan was lower and more drawn out than any before.

“You can’t go erhn?” She repeated.

This time around, I croaked a low “daabi”.

“Hmm, today is our day oo”

“Our Day”, the sole reason for my existence. There was always a film show during our day. This time around they were showing American Ninja. I had been marking the days in my jotter.  No way was today our day. This woman was trying to trick me. Our day wasn’t for three weeks. Smiling to myself, I moaned again.

“Since you are not going, do you want me to bring you your our day things?”

Now I was confused, could it be true, had I miscounted. But we hadn’t written exams yet… arrrggh! This was all in my head of course. Was that a smile I saw on her face?
Nah, it can’t be. I sneaked a look and yeah she still looked worried. Satisfied I went back to thinking.

All this while, she just sat by me, rubbing my shoulder. With no warning, she got up and left the room. She came back minutes later with a basket, it contained my our day stuff like she had said.
3 boxes of refresh.
5 malt n milk biscuits
A bowl which I supposed contained jollof.
Fanta
And some toffees.

There was a napkin in there which would be my cover.

Seeing all this, I knew it was true. Why else would she go through all that trouble? She sat next to me on the bed again, she said nothing for a while.

At this point I knew I had messed up, American Ninja was all I could think about. Should I stop the charade and go for our day, or continue.

“Do you want to go for our day?”

This pulled me out of my thoughts. I nodded in reply. I still had to keep up the charade for a bit. French was the last thing on my mind now. Our day was top priority. My mum helped me out of bed, on my feet I shrugged off her hand and run to the bathroom.

Within a couple of minutes I had bathed and was all dressed up waiting for my Mum. I had the basket with the goodies of course. I couldn’t wait to get to school so I could dig in. Usually I went with my siblings or on my own, but being sick had gotten me an escort.   She joined me after a while and we got a taxi to the school.

The gates were closed when we got there, but this was expected. After morning assembly they were closed to prevent students from going. Our day was usually no different. My mum went to the security man said something, he run inside and came back minutes later to open the gate for us. The man gave me a pitying look, I really must look sick. I am a better actor than I thought.

Soon as we entered the school I realized something was wrong. There were no tents, no sellers, no noise. I looked up and I saw the students gathered up front for morning Assembly. I knew I had been duped then, wasting no time, I pulled my hand from my mum’s grip and made to bolt.

But it wasn’t to be, the security man was right behind me, I had almost made it out of the gate. I tried to fight him but he was too strong.

“HEY! STOP THAT!”

I knew that voice, I looked up ahead and saw him striding gallantly towards me, Monsieur Akakunde. He had a cane.

I turned to make a last plea to my mum, she didn’t even let me utter a word. She just shook her head and showed me the opened Jollof bowl; it was empty.

I had been played.

The Knoff Hoff Sage

Inspired by his favorite show, Kofi decides to be helpful for once. He sacrifices his playtime to make a universal remote for his dad; as a sign of good faith.

We all lie. You can say the world is run on lies. Big, small, little, fat you name it. They are the cogs that keep things in place. Usually, the truth is a lie with better fitting clothes, it looks good so we don’t question it much. I learnt that quite early.

I was always telling stories to get out of trouble, really good ones mind you.
They were so good my dad had gotten tired of having to separate the truth from the lies, so he came to me with a deal. All I had to do when I did something wrong was to come clean when questioned and all will be forgiven.

I hurriedly agreed, my dad could really wield a cane. I needed some respite, also he didn’t know about me staging a whole donation to teach Kuu a lesson. Monsieur Akankude for some reason, hadn’t bothered to come tell on me as was his want. I needed to stay in my dad’s good books till then, build up some good karma; so a deal was made.

Quite often, I was the first to come back from school, my sisters came back an hour or two after me. Our folks were at work by then.
The previous week hadn’t been good for me, I had been grounded. None of the reasons justified. I was giving myself a break from it all this week. So though I had seen Kuu, Hazard and a couple of the boys about to start a game of “kpetingɛ”, I had ignored them and continued home. It was a difficult thing to do; when it came to kpetingɛ too, I owned those guys. The collective look of relief on their faces made it worse.

I was sullen when I got home, and entered the living room to find the t.v on. My mood perked up considerably, I was the one who had left it on. It was a good thing I had come straight home, had I lingered, my dad would probably have been the one to come meet the tv on. With the kind of luck I had been having previously, that would have been the outcome. Things were beginning to turn around it seems. To top it of, they were showing the KNOFF HOFF SHOW.

This was a show where they explained how things work and introduced crazy inventions by people. I loved this show. I forgot all about kpetingɛ and plopped into the sofa. I made myself comfortable and settled in to watch.

Today’s episode was about a guy who had turned the armrest on his sofa into a universal remote. They were going through the process with him. Considering how my dad always had to call me or my sisters to get him the remote; one that couldn’t be moved and could control all the remote-controlled appliances will be a lifesaver. This was my chance to redeem myself.

I paid rapt attention, taking notes and all. The inventor basically inserted a remote into the armchair and covered it with glass (removable of course). Well, this was how I interpreted it all. As soon as the show was over, I went around gathering the materials I will need for this seminal piece of remote. I will become famous in Ghana I was thinking.

We didn’t have a universal remote, so I decided to make one. How difficult could it be, that inventor hadn’t looked so bright. And yet he had made one. To begin I gathered all the remotes at home. For the glass cover, I appropriated glass from the door of my dad’s bookshelf. It was loose and easily came off. My dad kept some tools in a box in his room, in that I found a glass-cutter,  not finding a saw in there, I got a bread knife from the kitchen and then I was set.

I started by opening up all the remotes. Not having a universal remote, my intention was to combine elements from all the remotes and have one mega bomb remote. Everyone would be so jealous they hadn’t thought of it. With the remotes all open, I compared them and moved elements that were missing from the tv remote into it. I chose the tv remote as the mother remote because let’s face it, the tv is the boss of all appliances. After a couple of minutes of swapping out items, I taped them fast with a sellotape, after which I screwed it shut. I was about testing it when the lights went off, but I wasn’t bothered though. The sensor in front lighted up when I inserted batteries, this was all the test I needed. I next put the remote on the glass and cut out the shape with the glass-cutter. This was easy, it went smoothly with no hitches.

The tricky part now was to insert the remote into the arm of the sofa. I spent over a half-hour trying to cut out a groove from the armrest with the bread knife, It wasn’t working, I had moved from sofa to sofa and all I had managed to do was make a mess of the arm rests. I looked around taking in all the damage, my dad’s favorite sofa had been the worst affected. I had started with that, I hadn’t known I would have such a difficult time with the wood. The show had made it all look easy. I knew I had to do something about the defaced chairs, they had been finished to have this dark brown look. I remembered thinking they were as shiny as my dad’s brown shoes when polished. And suddenly I had a solution.

I run to my dad’s room and got one of his brown shoes, and yes, they matched. I had been thinking to rip the shoe apart and cover the defaced portions of the sofa with it. But there just wasn’t enough of the shoe. I settled on polishing the wood with some shoe polish, the results weren’t spectacular but the scratches and cuts I had made were covered. And just like polish dried on leather, it will dry on wood too I am sure. This was of course a temporary solution, the little success from the remote will make up for the wood being messed up. I had sort of made a universal remote after all.

Having patched up the chairs as best as I could, I cleared my work area and thought to go clean myself. But then it was getting late and the lights weren’t back on. The room had started getting dark and I didn’t have the problem of the sofa to distract me anymore. I could now see how dark it really was.

Darkness wasn’t my friend, you never know what manner of thing was lurking in what corner. I run to my dad’s room and threw everything into a box not bothering to put them back where I had taken them from. I was walking over myself to get back outside, the light out there beckoned. Again I have to say it, darkness is not your friend. Cleaning myself was forgotten, no way was I going to enter the bathroom, much less cover my face with foam in  the dark. Nope, it wasn’t happening.

Once outside, I sat quietly on the porch wall waiting for everyone to come. You should know, the porch wall was the farthest I could be from the darkness in the house and still find a comfortable place to sit.
My sisters came home not long after, opting to sit next to me instead of going inside to change. The rooms will be hot they said, but we all know the real reason. They didn’t have to keep up the pretense for long, my Mum was the next to arrive, and with her came bravery. So happily we followed her in and as if ECG knew they couldn’t scare us anymore the lights came back on.

My parents had a rule, no tv after 6pm. It was now just a little after 6, so while my sisters changed to go help my mum make supper, I had to sit in the living room and get my homework done. I used to be part of the catering crew, but my incessant questions annoyed everyone. So now I was excused.  After my homework though, I usually went to sit by them and did what little I could to help. But today I chose to sit by them right from the beginning. I was trying my best to distance myself from the crime scene. That’s how my dad came to meet us, his girls and his darling boy being all quiet and helpful at the same time.

My dad was a creature of habit, when he got home, which was usually before 7; he showered, supped and watched the evening news. Today was no different, he wanted to watch the news but he couldn’t change the channel with the remote. I heard a loud “AH!”, from the porch I peered into the living room and saw him holding the remote in his right hand and repeatedly smacking his left palm with it. It looked to be messing up, my universal remote that is.

My first thought was to make a run for it, but before I could come to a decision I heard him scream my name. Years of deeply ingrained obedience came to the fore, I found myself responding before the thoughts had even been formed. And the next thing I knew was my dad asking me to explain.

A half formed thought to lie flitted to the surface, but I was a new man and the truth was what I gave. My dad just stared at me for a full minute. And then asked me to kneel down. I was aghast, wasn’t this the same man who had said he wouldn’t punish me if I came clean when questioned about something I did? Still in shock, I did as asked, my dad then turned and entered his bedroom.
Usually when I am asked to kneel, I do just that. But my instincts were screaming at me to do something else. So I employed an age old tactic of mine.

This tactic involved me running and coming back quite late, my folks will be too worried and would have had time to cool off from whatever had them all riled up to begin with. Yeah, so I ran. I loitered about till almost midnight, I judged the time sufficient for my dad to have cooled off. I started heading home then.

The front door wasn’t locked when I got home, my food was in the kitchen. I went to check and my parents’ light was off, checked the room I shared with my sisters and the lights were off too. I felt quite pleased with myself. Another beating escaped. I had my dinner and made my way to the bedroom.  I didn’t turn on the lights, didn’t want to wake up my sisters and they probably my parents. Quietly, I climbed into my bed.

No sooner had I done that than something grabbed my right hand and proceeded to tie it to the bedpost. I made a grab at the rope and realized that whoever or whatever already had my left hand tied. I screamed and the lights came on.
My eyes took a while to adjust, when they did I saw my family standing around the bed. My dad had his canes with him; Cain and Abel.

Quietly he asked me;
“Why, why do you do it?”

The King Of Zanzanma.

Whoever reigns in Zanzanma reigns supreme, and now he has been challenged. The king must take back his throne.

Have you ever wanted something so bad you are prepared to go through physical pain for it? Or better still, prepared to let someone go through pain for it?

Sad to say, I found myself in that situation. What I wanted was to knock the shininess out of Kuu’s head and get closure. He will go through the physical pain of course.

For over a week, Kuu had been telling everyone he was the King of  Zanzanma, a position which previously was claimed by me. A little inactivity on my part had him feeling he could claim my hard earned reputation. I had had to defeat all the boys in a game of Zanzanma and Alikoto. Yes, I was king of Alikoto too. 

My dad had been a tad heavy handed with me after the whole bell episode, I wasn’t allowed to leave home except on errands. So I hadn’t been able to show my prowess, and you know; an absent king is a nonexistent one.

Kuuku had taken advantage of this and wanted to push me out. I heard he had even challenged me to a game of Zanzanma. He needed a lesson. We were in different schools so he probably assumed with me grounded after school I couldn’t take him up on his challenge, leaving him the undisputed winner. “Small boys are young”.

He obviously didn’t know how devious this human being was, he hadn’t heard about the legend. He might have, he probably didn’t believe.
With the challenge out, I waited for a couple of weeks without making a move, this was to give him a false sense of security.

I didn’t rest during that time, I found out his time table and got to know on which days they had extra classes at their school. Even finding out on which days some particular teachers taught, teachers who would show up late. Most importantly I found out where he sat and how to get to him.

While finding out all that information, I wrote to Gideon’s International requesting for their New Testament texts, telling them I was the school prefect of a government school.

The books were sent within a fortnight; with the arrival of the books, I was set. I had already spoken to Taller, an older guy in the neighborhood I was on good terms with.

He had to go to the school that day, go see the headmaster and have him take him to Kuu’s class to distribute the Bibles. It would be Kuu’s class because they would be the only class that would be having extra classes at that time. Their French teacher that day always showed up late, and kept them later than he should. He taught at some other school too, hence him always being late.

On the appointed day, everything proceeded without a hitch, Taller was in Kuu’s class with the headmaster. As was their want, the students had all gotten up to greet when the two entered. That was my cue, I had been standing outside the whole time, not too far away and not too close either.

I had skipped my last lesson to make it here on time. It was going down. 

“We are fine thank you.”

Hearing this, I crouched low and proceeded to alligator walk along the wall and head to where Kuu was sitting. Conveniently he sat next to a window. Making sure I was in his blind spot, I got up.

Taller had started sharing the Bible then, so everyone was engrossed in that. The headmaster being there also ensured they were all attentive.
I couldn’t have asked for a better setting, knowing I had orchestrated all this made me realize I really deserved to be King.

I stretched after getting up, cracked my knuckles and neck. The sound of that drew the attention of everyone. The class was that quiet. Kuu turned too, he saw me and froze with a knowing look in his eyes. I could see the words Zanzanma forming on his lips, but alas it was too late.

I bent my fingers inwards with the knuckles flexed and swung my arm with the strength of a king.

My knuckles connected to the side of his head, all that he was about to say forgotten. His head swung back, if I had hit him any harder, it would probably have flown off.

Kofi!

I looked in the direction of that voice, and lo and behold; Monsieur Akankude was standing at the entrance to the class.

I couldn’t be bothered, I was lost in bliss. I looked at the class and screamed;

I AM THE KING!

* Zanzanma – A game played amongst Ghanaian kids, where participants are supposed to say zanzanma whenever they take a seat. Failure to do so gives other participants the right to smack you in the head.

For Whom The Bell Tolls

What do you do when there is a bell at home that won’t stop ringing?
For his sanity, Kofi hatches a plot to save his household.

It’s truly amazing how religious Ghanaians are. We erroneously assume it’s just the women, but no, there are some men who can perform spiritual somersaults. Juggling traditional mysticism and their Abrahamic faith effortlessly.

My dad was one of these men, he could pray with a fervor not displayed by any of the apostles, he would have you wondering if he was an apostle reincarnated. An improved version mind you. When he prayed the house shook, not because the “holy spirit” descended upon us but because he was so loud.
The neighbors of course complained, and there his mystical side took hold. It was either they were witches or pagans. In a burst of inspiration he once called one of them Anokye’s nephew, the one who had disobeyed Anokye just so he could inherit. The man had never lost his greed and was jealous of his praying prowess apparently.

It wasn’t limited to just the neighbors, let him lose something and all the kids would be called to his room, threatening us with curses and withholding God’s blessings. On the other days, he was a normal loving father. And like all African fathers he wanted to be served 24/7 if you will.

We lived in a house with the living room, dining and guest room located on one side. The bedrooms were on the other side separated, by a corridor. Whenever he needed someone he would shout a name until he got a response. We usually closed our doors and pretended not to hear. It wasn’t loud enough we said.

Wanting to be served, he took measures. From the corridor that lead to his room, he had an intercom connected to his bedside table. Any time he needed one of us, no scratch that. Anytime he WANTED to bug one of us, he pressed a button and whoever was the youngest around had to stop whatever they were doing and answer his summons. The intercom made this loud buzzing sound that you couldn’t ignore. It was louder than the doorbell outside.

This went on for quite a while, we suffered in silence. Chafing under the rule of the bell but not being able to do anything. My little sister suffered the most being the youngest. Getting up at dawn to answer the summons, ignore and he will keep pressing. I sympathized with her but not being the youngest, I wasn’t so bothered. As long as someone was suffering more than me, I could handle it.

It so happened that my kid sister got sick, and suddenly I was next in-line for the bell. There was one more kid before me but I knew it was only a matter of time. Like prophecy it came to pass just as I had thought. Louisa, the sister just before me also got sick. And now I had inherited the bell.

My life was hell for three weeks. I wasn’t sleeping well, I had started hearing the bell wherever I went. In school whenever they rang the bell I started a little. Once while napping in class, the sound of the bell had me awake and rushing for the door, only to realize I wasn’t home. That was the last straw, I decided do something about the bell.

So on a day when I knew everyone would be a little late, I left school a little early, just so I could have some time alone at home before everyone got back. Getting home, I threw my bag into my room and went to stand in front of the intercom. I hadn’t decided on what to do about the bell. My first  thought was to bash it up, but that wouldn’t work. It had to be so it couldn’t be traced back to me. Looking at the intercom, I saw the wire disappeared into the ceiling, that gave me an idea. If I could find a way to get into the ceiling my problem would be solved and I could have a good night’s sleep. I tried my parents door and found it locked.
I went to the back of the house, and found the old ladder we used when cleaning the poly tank. After heaving and pulling for a while, I was able to get the ladder in place, right behind my dad’s bed. Through the window I could see my bane, the intercom, sitting on the bedside table looking all innocent. With the ladder in place, I climbed up and proceeded to make a hole in the eave with a knife I had taken  from the kitchen earlier. Once in a while I paused to listen if anyone was in the compound.

Finally I was done with the hole, I snaked my hand through and quickly located the wire. Wasting no time I cut it and went back down. I put the ladder back and went to lie in bed.

I couldn’t sleep, I kept thinking I hadn’t done enough and that it could be traced back to me. This prompted me to come up with another idea.

I got out of bed, went to get the knife from the kitchen and went back to the backyard. I managed to pull the ladder into position and gathered some dry grass and put it in my pocket. I climbed the ladder and located the wires again. This time around I didn’t cut it, I removed the insulation from the cut ends. It took a while as I couldn’t see what I was doing, but I got it done. I then took the dried grass from my pocket and stuck it in the hole I had made in the eave. I descended, removed the ladder and inspected my handiwork from the ground, it looked good. No one could tell it was a humanmade nest and not a bird’s.
I went back to bed then, knowing it was a job well done.

Five days went by with my dad confused as to why his intercom wasn’t working, five days of pure bliss. Nothing could dampen my mood during those five days. Everyone had perked up considerably. Sisters had miraculously gotten well, big brother suddenly stayed home a lot more and Mum was smiling every time. Everyone but my dad was happy.

Dad hadn’t been idle though, electricians had been coming by everyday to examine the intercom and hopefully fix it. He prayed unceasingly too. You could hear him at dawn casting out the spirits that had infested the house and the intercom specifically. He had my brother and I join in sometimes,  he reluctantly, me with relish.

On the sixth dawn of this Pax Romana,  my dad called my brother and I to pray with him. It was during one of the lulls in this prayer session that we heard it. A weird squeaky sound from within the ceiling, my dad got fired up then and started shouting;

“Ma b) wo Sumsum tu, POW!
Ma b) wo Sumsum tu, POW!”

My brother and I joined in, shouting the POW with him.  The louder we got, the louder the squeaking also got. We were at it till the dawn broke, with the light came some sanity. My dad asked us to go get the carpenter. The squeaking still hadn’t stopped when we came back with the carpenter.

The carpenter removed the ceiling and we saw the culprits, a scurry. The mother squirrel was dead hence the incessant cries of the kits. With the mystery of the sound solved, my dad now wanted the carpenter to check all  the ceilings at home to find the point of entry. And that is how my dad found my hole.

I was in the kitchen when I heard him shout my name, I was of a mind to ignore but sense prevailed. Not knowing what was afoot I went to him with a big smile. I got there to see my dad asking my brother some questions as he shook his head, confusion written plainly on his face.  My dad turned around and I saw the reason for all the fuss.

He had in his hand the knife I had used in my liberation struggle and my pebble (I had this really colorful pebble I always carried around in my pocket, I had made a lot of fuss about not finding it the day the intercom stopped working), as well as some of the insulation from the intercom’s wire. The look on his face said it all. He had it all figured out.
Saying nothing, I turned around, hoping to make a break for it. All I had to do was get to my mum. And what do you know, the carpenter was right behind me, arms stretched and grinning from ear to ear.

Canine Revenge

When his teacher’s dogs attack him, being a hard guy, Kofi hatches a plot to get revenge.

Punctuality is a word we seem to love the sound of but are oblivious to its meaning. My dad unfortunately is an exception, he grew up in the village and had to wake up at dawn to go to the farm. This habit had stuck with him till now, so though he lived in the city; he still woke me up at 4:30 am to prepare for school. I was just 8 and in class 3.

This particular morning I was a bit late. Mostly because of Mr Acquah’s dogs. They were two and were always tied up, I loved to rile them up whiles I waited for Mr Acquah to get me his file. One had pounced and almost gotten me, I had stood too close. There was a small tear in my brown shorts. That had shaken me up a bit, I had to sit down for a while before I left. 

I used to get to school quite early, early enough to wake the night security man. With the number of times I met him asleep, I feel he used me as an alarm clock. Relying on me to tell him his shift was over. He wasn’t the only one. My route to school happened to pass right in front of my class teacher’s house. So I would pass by his end to get his file and take to class for him.
I will get there and find my classroom locked, I usually sat outside and read till the other children got in. And that’s when things got interesting, with no adult supervision around; arguments usually ended up being resolved with fists. More often than not I was the referee, someone had to step up and mitigate the violence.

All through the walk to school I had been thinking about the dog. I was a bit late as a result, which is to say a bit after my usual time. That was still earlier than most people though. I arrived to hear shouts of;

“Nelson is beating Azumah”

I was a confused at first, until I saw the combatants. Nelson was big for his age, he could easily pass for a 14 year old. And there he was straddling Azumah, who was no pushover himself. I mean that literally, Azumah was a corpulent little boy. He wouldn’t move an inch unless death came calling, which happened to be Nelson at the moment.

They all made way for me when I got close, Nelson turned to see what was happening and that was all the distraction Azumah needed. He heaved and threw him off. I quickly got between them, holding Mr. Acquah’s file towards Azumah, he seemed the more angry of the two. That did the trick, he calmed down instantly. This trick worked because of the history behind it, a couple of the guys had once got into a scuffle with me and messed up the file not knowing it was Mr. Acquah’s. Their subsequent suffering had generated a healthy fear for the file, one which I exploited to no end. With both parties separated, I was able to find out why they were fighting.

Nelson had vacated his seat to go pee, Azumah had promptly occupied the seat and wouldn’t move. This seat happened to be Nelson’s school bag.
Azumah’s reply when asked to move had been;

“Soldier go, soldier come”

This had riled Nelson up, he decided to forcibly move him, soldier to soldier that is. And that’s what I had happened upon.
Loads of students had shown up by the time we were done with all that, and with Nelson having his bag back; they was no need to continue the fight. We all headed to our various classrooms which were open by then.

In class, all I could think about was the dog that had almost bitten me. I kept thinking about how to get back at it. If you let people disrespect you, they tend to keep doing it. I came up with various ways to get back at it, but none would have the effect I wanted; total obedience. So I discarded them all.

I spent both break periods trying to come up with something and failed. Almost got into trouble during my last class because I was distracted. My breakthrough came from an unlikely source, Mr. Acquah. When I went for his file to take home, besides the usual remark of;

“Take good care of it”

He gave me money to buy food for the dogs. Someone was about to go on a hunger strike.

I was supposed to buy banku and okra stew for the dogs. I did and even went as far as putting it in their bowl. That was as far as I followed instructions though. I had no intention of feeding them. So after putting the file in the designated place on the porch, I went back to them.

I was feeling giddy, I had been waiting all day to get my revenge. And now that it was finally time, it felt so good.
The dogs were fed once a day, so it was safe to assume they hadn’t been fed in almost 24 hours. The food gave off a great aroma, I was tempted to try it myself. With the sense of smell of dogs being what it was, I couldn’t begin to imagine what they were going through.
I had kept the food just beyond the reach of their leash. I had a polythene bag next to me, into which I was dumping the food morsel by morsel. I watched them squirm and struggle to get to it. Once in a while, I would dip a finger in the soup and flick it at them. They licked it up so quickly. We were at this for over an hour. When they noticed there was almost nothing in the bowl, they started barking and pulling at their leash. I couldn’t be bothered, those chains were strong.

It was when I poured the last morsel into the polythene that it happened. Power, the dog on the left lived up to his name, he had been straining at his leash the hardest. This was the same one that had attacked me in the morning. He showed his power.

Right as the last bit of banku went into the polythene, Power’s leather collar broke and then he was free. I don’t think he noticed that for a second because he was still just jumping around barking. I wasted no time, I threw the polythene onto the roof, there was no way I was letting them get the food. I dashed to the porch as it was the closest enclosure. Power followed me then, he slammed into the porch gate. I grabbed the nearest thing which was the file and hit him with it.

I didn’t slow down, I jumped the porch wall and made a bee line for the main gate. I didn’t look behind me but I could hear him panting and it was getting closer.
There was no time to open the gate, I threw my backpack over the wall and jumped for the top of the wall. I managed to grab hold of it and flip over. I landed in a heap outside, with the file landing on top of me, all torn up from when I hit Power with it. I hadn’t even noticed I was still carrying it. Breathing deeply, I made to grab my bag, from above me I heard someone ask;

“What happened to my file?”

I started and looked up. Right there in the flesh and looking ominous was Mr. Acquah, standing right over me.

Blue Feem Ninja

Every afternoon, his older cousin and his friends lock him out of the living room. In a bid to find out what they get up to, Kofi goes undercover.

Curiosity doesn’t always bode well, especially when you are a kid and feel the need to know everything. I was that kind of child, I will get obsessed with knowing what people tried to hide from me. Doing all I could to satisfy my curiosity. 

This is what had me feigning sleep in the living room. I lived with my dad and older cousins, all males. School was on vacation, so when dad was at work we all congregated in the living room to watch TV. Every noon , like clockwork, they would ask me to go take a nap.
It was the same story everyday, me saying I wasn’t sleepy just earned me a knock. I had tried to sneak back to see what they were doing but somehow they always found me out before I could sate my curiosity.

So today, I had lain on the rug from earlier on and pretended to be asleep.
I was there for a bit, laying still and counting in my head. It took a while but they started coming around at the appointed time. I heard some murmurs and tried to still myself even more. The murmurs continued for a bit and then stopped. I felt hands grab hold of my ankle and wrists. I went limp and tried to be as heavy as possible. It wasn’t working, I could feel myself being lifted. I started struggling, not too much though. Just enough to make them think it was too much trouble to move me. I felt myself being lowered, not long after someone covered me with a blanket, all of me. I couldn’t see anything. To top it off, they had repositioned me such that I was facing in the opposite direction from the tv.

I lay there thinking, trying to see how I could turn without them becoming suspicious. I heard the tv come on, amidst the sound of my cousins taking their seats. I stretched then, and managed to move a bit to my right, I still couldn’t see the tv but I was closer. My movement started them murmuring again, they had lowered the volume of the tv. I had stopped moving but they hadn’t stopped murmuring, I heard Kofi Dada, my eldest cousin say something, it was low but I caught snatches of it.

“Bedroom… and legs”

I knew they intended to carry me inside. I waited and hoped it wasn’t the case, no one touched me for the next couple of minutes. I didn’t relax until the sound of the tv came on again. My curiosity was at its peak now, I had to see whatever it was they were hiding, even if it was the death of me. 
The talking started again, but this time it wasn’t undertone. It was a back and forth between Dada and his friend Killo. They were arguing on what to watch. So it must be a movie, probably a horror movie because even though I loved them. I always had nightmares after. It probably was Chucky, I knew my dad had brought the cassette home. I had been looking forward to watching it. The talking stopped, Killo had managed to convince Dada. 

The room had gone deadly quiet, I had managed to move the blanket a bit so I could see the face of Killo, it looked so rapturous. At this point I was cursing my cousins from excluding me. Killo was an avid movie fan and would not watch anything that wasn’t good. That look on his face, before the movie had even started promised something extraordinary. Something was tempting to give me away, my little bladder. I felt the urgent need to pee. I lay there and waited for the sensation to pass. After a minute, I stretched again and managed to move a little more to my right. No one paid me any attention as far as I could tell. There weren’t any murmurs, neither did the volume of the tv go off or down.

I heard a woman moaning, and a gruff sounding male voice. From my periphery I could see a bright background. I was getting goosebumps I realised. I couldn’t tell if it was the pee or the moans. One thing I knew was that I had to see the screen now. I sneaked a look at Killo and he was staring at the screen not blinking, with his hands in his shorts. So disgusting, he was licking his lips too. That guy was obsessed with movies. I stretched and turned again, laying still and trying to peep from under the blanket. My last movement had moved the blanket too, now it was bunched up where my face was. I couldn’t see through it. I spent the next couple of minutes making furtive movements with my hand, which finally managed to displace the blanket. They were all focused on the movie and hadn’t noticed anything.

The time had finally arrived, I adjusted my neck and opened my eyes. What I saw froze me in place. There were naked people on the screen. I was disgusted but oddly fascinated. I wanted to get up and scream, but all I did was stay in place, pee a little and watch it. I noticed that my waist had started to move of it’s own accord. It was doing this weird up and down movement. It was nice, I kept at it. 

“THUD!”

Something had hit me in the back. 

“What do you think you are doing?”

I had arched my back when hit, sitting straight up. I couldn’t fake asleep anymore, not after having sat up.

“What do you think you are doing?”

Dada asked me again, moving to squat in front of me. 

“Stand up”, he said. 

 I did that, 

“What were you doing?” 
I didn’t reply. 

From behind him, Killo said, “let him take off his shorts, he has an erection.” 

They all burst into laughter then, Dada didn’t bother to ask me, from his squatting position, he pulled down my shorts and supporters. 

Now, I had been doing all I could to hold the pee in, when Dada pulled down my shorts, a breeze of fresh hair brushed my genitals. The next thing I knew was me peeing into the air. Because they were all in front of me and less than a meter away, it went right onto them. Dada got a facefull of it.

It was at that instance that Eleanor entered, Killo had asked her to come by. She had been knocking for a while, no one had answered so she had entered. 

She looked at me, at the tv screen, at the boys, and then screamed her lungs out. All I felt was relief, that pee felt good.

Quest of the Borla Gang

After Kofi loses the ball his dad told him not to touch, he embarks on an adventure with his friends to the fabled Abrɔfo Borla to find a replacement.

“Where have you been?”

I froze at where I had landed from jumping the wall. I looked in the direction of the voice and saw a cane and ball. Like a magician, my dad slowly materialized from the darkness.

You are probably wondering; “How did he get himself into this? Quite simple actually, “Abrofo Borla”.

I didn’t have any toys as a kid, my dad didn’t believe in that, he bought me books instead. So imagine my joy when I got home from school one day and found a football in the porch, the one popularly referred to as “shine shine”. This is an adult human head sized rubber ball with colorful patterns. You had to have one to be that guy.

My joy was short lived though, I was only allowed to look at it, never allowed to touch. I got tired of looking eventually, and decided to have a feel of that soft roundness. I didn’t just touch though, I took it to school. My dad would probably see it as stealing (if you can steal what is rightfully yours that is).

I couldn’t wait to show my friends the ball during breaktime, it was a beauty. Even more beautiful for being forbidden. I wasn’t that good a football player and never got to be captain or decide what game to play. But today was different, I was calling the shots. I had all the guys run up and down this sandy patch that served as our pitch, with the ball tucked under my arm, having appropriated a whistle from one of the boys. I really looked like a coach, and in the vein of what coaches do, I had them train, train real hard. A couple of the boys were slacking at this training, I put the ball in its net bag (yup, it had one. Dad went all out), and went to caution the slackers. A few threats to exclude them from the upcoming game had them training again.

I returned to my spot and called a halt to the training then. Now the game could start, that was when I noticed it, the ball wasn’t where it was supposed to be. I tried not to panic and began looking around, the boys didn’t join in the search at first, thinking it was all a joke (I was known for those). When my antics didn’t stop, they joined in then, we looked all over and saw no trace of the ball.

The bell sounded for breakover bringing our search to a halt. With disappointment, we headed back to class. Anyone who saw us would have thought we had lost our lunch moneys, little would they have known it was unfulfilled dreams. The boys really had been looking forward to kicking that ball around. I was sad for a different reason, my dad would definitely know I was the one who had taken the ball. And when he did…
Thinking of what he would do to me actually made me tear up, yes, the thought of the punishment I was definitely going to get made me want to cry already. The pain was hours away, but my body was already feeling it.

Throughout the lesson I couldn’t concentrate, thoughts of what awaited me at home kept me on edge. With the teacher’s back turned to the class Oko moved to sit next to me, he said he knew of a place where I could find a replacement for my ball. I was immediately interested, he saw the eagerness on my face. He had a wry smile on as he left.

On any other day, I would have ignored him, he was always telling colourful tales. His twin (Ate) always there to back him up. Much as I loathed believing Oko, his story gave me a modicum of hope. With this new found hope, I could concentrate a bit.

Normal classes ended eventually, now it was time for extra classes. We had French today,opting to leave wasn’t a difficult choice to make. I sneaked out to meet Oko at the appointed place. Which was at the back gate to the school. I was the last to get there, most of the guys from the afternoon’s training were there. We wasted no time at all, setting off as soon as I got there. Oko still hadn’t told me how I was going to get the replacement, but the numbers made me think whatever it was was worth checking out.

When we had put some distance between us and the school, Oko gathered us under this mango tree and proceeded to tell us what the big deal was. It was simple actually, he had found where “Abrofo Borla” was. We were all shocked into silence for a moment, and then everyone started talking at once. Oko raised his hands and we all went quiet, Abrofo Borla was that powerful. We had all been looking for it for years, I stood to gain more than just the ball, I could gain all manner of toys. Everyone thought the same, because the mood which had been a bit somber at first, was now all boisterous fun.

Abrofo Borla was a legend amongst us, it was our very own Prestor John. A junkyard reputed to have all manner of toys and electronic games. They had been dumped there by rich white people who had too much of such stuff. We had been looking for this since class 1, and now three years later, Oko had found it. Oko proceeded to show us a game boy he had taken from there. We were more than convinced now, he didn’t need his brother to back up the story. The gameboy was more than enough proof. 

We all fell silent again when Oko told us where the Abrofo Borla was. Ntwemtech, not only was it far from our current location, it was an all boys high school well known for their notoriety. I looked around and could see the boys losing their resolve. There was no way I could make it there on my own, and I really needed to replace the lost ball; so I spoke up.

“You boys should think about it, we only need to do this once, and think of all the fans we will get when we bring the things back.”

That steeled their resolve a bit, and then Oko chipped in; 

“I went there yesterday, the boys are not yet in school.”

And that was it, you could see them all thinking this wasn’t as difficult as it sounded. I had my doubts though, but my need was great. Oko had stuttered a bit when he spoke, most of the guys were lost in thought and hadn’t noticed.

With all in agreement we embarked on our quest. The skies had darkened as we had our mini convention. Scared we might get there late, we decided to take a shortcut through Efo Kordzo’s place. Efo Kordzo’s House had a back entrance which opened unto the next street. We easily shaved off a half hour off our time by using this shortcut. He had a big sign on his wall that read “BEWARE OF DOGS”. Usually, that would have scared me, but anytime we passed this way, I made it a point to press the door bell and throw stones at the gate. None of these antics had elicited even a bark from the “dogs” that were supposed to be in there. I had come to the conclusion that he just wanted to scare away would be thieves. I explained this to the boys and we quickly climbed the wall.

The street on which we had accessed the house was usually dead, until school was out that is. We managed to get to the other entrance without any trouble, only to find it locked. To top it, the back wall was really tall and covered with barbed wire. Who does that? Covers only their back wall and leaves the front ready to give you a hug. We had no option than to turn back… Our run of bad luck didn’t end there, right as we exited the building we saw our headmaster’s car. Quickly we all took to our heels, no one needed to be told what would happen if he caught you cutting classes, even if it was just extra classes.

We hadn’t discussed what to do during something like this, I instinctly made for the other road, the one the shortcut led to. I wasn’t the only one with that thought. Oko and a few of the guys were already there, after me three more guys joined us. We waited for a while but no one came. It was quite unfortunate but we couldn’t wait forever so we left. The headmaster’s car had served to effectively split us in half.

Some good came out of it though, we had managed to cover some ground. It began raining then, nothing heavy just a light shower. We decided to keep going, hoping the rain will lessen and stop eventually. It never did, it only got worse, we were forced to seek shelter in an uncompleted building.

We hadn’t been paying any particular attention to our surroundings, if we had we would have noticed this was Shanpawpaw’s lair. Seems the headmaster’s car had rattled us more than we thought. No sooner had we entered than Shanpawpaw came running in with two of his cronies. They caught us unawares and soon had all of us herded into a corner.

Now, this building was a two storey structure, the space in which we found ourselves was meant to be the living room judging by its size. Most of the windows, besides one in the corner had burglar proof fixed. I spied it and judged the distance from myself. It wasn’t too far.
With all of us gathered in the corner, Shanpawpaw had us line up with both arms outstretched and palms facing downwards. His two cronies stood guard at the doorway with their belts coiled and in hand.
We all knew Shanpawpaw to be a little unhinged, and kept glancing at each other, fear written all over our faces. Oko had even peed a little.

Shanpawpaw motioned me to come forward, and asked me to smack the back of everyone’s hand. I thought to play smart and hit Oko just a little.

WHAM!


I found myself on the floor, Shanpawpaw had slapped me from behind.

“You figure say joke we dey joke for here. I say beat am!”

I didn’t need to be told twice, I quickly got up and smacked the hell out of those hands. Everyone had a turn. We had learnt not to cry out after Oko had gotten his own special slap from Shanpawpaw when he cried out. He still kept whimpering though. We had been at it for close to a half hour. Shanpawpaw and his cronies were laughing and jeering. Our pain was their comedy it seemed. I am sure I would have found it quite funny too if I wasn’t busy being whipped silly by my own friends.

One of the boys, Derrick, staggered and fell. When shouting at him refused to get him back on his feet, they walked up to him and started prodding him with their feet. Derrick was at one end of the line with me being on the other. We hadn’t planned this but this was too good an opportunity to let slip, I didn’t bother alerting any of the other guys I made a beeline straight for the window without the burglar proof. I flew right through it, tucking and rolling as I landed. Karate lessons came in handy. Up up and away I was. I heard footsteps behind me and run faster. I couldn’t let them catch me. I was so lost in thought I wasn’t watching where I stepped, next thing I knew, I was lying face down in the mud. I didn’t bother getting up, judging by how close the footsteps were, I couldn’t escape anyway. I lay down silently with my hands covering the back of my head and hoping my uniform would server as camouflage. The battle was the lord’s.

“Kofi, kofi”
It took a while to register but I recognized Nicholas’ voice.

“Why are you lying in the mud?”
Considering all that had happened, this was quite a silly question but I let it go. They all looked just as dirty as me. I realized there were only four of them. Oko, Nicholas, Derrick (surprisingly) and Isaac. 

Apparently Shanpawpaw and his cronies hadn’t chased us, when Derrick hadn’t responded to their prodding, they had run and left him. Good thing he was only faking. The other three had given up and gone home I think.

Taking note of our surroundings now, I realised we weren’t too far from Ntwemtech. The rain had also stopped and people were coming out of their houses now. We were getting quite a lot of glances. Five school kids in mud splattered uniforms, rain soaked to boot. I in particular looked like a dried up turd. Mud caked all over.

We couldn’t just stroll through the front gate. At this point we should have given up, but rather, I came up with a plan. There was a drain 50 meters to the left of the main Ntwemtech gate, if we could make it there we would just crawl through it. 
It took a while but we found the drain, it was full, the rains you see. The guys hesitated, I wasted no time and jumped in, only to find out it had metal bars barring it. I came out and told them the news. They didn’t take it kindly, we lost Derrick then, without a word he turned around and walked off. No one bothered to stop him, we all understood him. A boy can only take so much. 

Oko proposed that we go to the side where their boarding houses are located and climb the wall. Since the students weren’t in school and that part is screened from the road by trees. We agreed, albeit reluctantly. Climbing walls never did us any good.

Getting to the wall, we could hear sounds from behind the wall, but Oko was quick with an explanation;

“Those are the children of the teachers” 

Being the smallest, they boosted me up so I could have a look. I couldn’t really tell whom the noise makers were, but they were in colourful slacks and everyone knew Ntwemtech boys always wore white and Khaki. They were a little far off too, so I didn’t look for long. I passed on the information and in a matter of minutes we were all in the school.

We all turned to look at Oko, waiting for him to lead us to the promised land. Oko rose to the occasion. With his head help up high, he boldly strode forward and motioned for us to follow. The idiot was putting on airs now, we let him have his moment, we were almost there. Oko led us, taking turn upon turn and yet we never arrived. We eventually stopped in front of a bungalow, this one was walled and looked bigger and better than all the others. With nary a word to any of us, Oko opened the gate, dashed in and quickly locked it from behind. We were all taken aback and confused. 

“Kofi, Kofi.”

That was Nicholas, I turned around only to find Ntwemtech boys all over. From behind the gate we heard Oko;

“You Kofi, today you won’t let me train some, Nicholas too, you are always beating me. Isaac de3 you always write my name when writing names of talkatives”.

And then he added; “These are the boys”

The Ntwemtech boys had us form a queue and marched us to their dormitory. I haven’t worked so hard in my life, we cleaned and scrubbed all the washrooms in every house at Ntwemtech.

Oko had lied about them not being in school, about the location of Abrofo Borla (it does exist though), about everything it seemed. It explained how a cry baby like Oko had hang around after all we went through. 

The Ntwemtech boys let us go around 10:00 pm, I was sore and hurting all over. I had to walk quite the distance to get home, I got home to find the main gate locked. Not having learnt my lesson from all the walls I had climbed, I proceeded to climb this wall too.

And now you know my story.

I took one more look at the ball and cane and slowly walked towards them. Getting closer, I recognized a second shadow beside my dad, Monsieur Akankude, my French teacher.