When the catamenia halted for eight weeks and the loud-mouthed, unabashed kenkey seller noticed the extra bounce on my mother’s chest, I was a clot of blood in her womb and already an auntie.

By the time my knees were acquainted with the untarred roads, my two-year old thumb sucking nephew was my playmate. It is said that my mother was a parasite of bananas when she was pregnant with me and would often fight off monkeys aggressively, just so she could have a bite.

Perhaps”, others speculated, “the fifth man—a truck driver who shacked up with her—prodded the contours of her nakedness under the eyes of banana trees”.

These were the justification for the melodic strength of my vocal cords. Indeed, my first love is music. It rides through my thoughts relentlessly till I give in to its jolly sweet nothings and open my mouth, letting it ride me tired, permeating sadness with its joy.

I sing when Amonoo returns from the smaller villages where she is a fish monger. Sister Amonoo is the first of my mother’s birth pangs, a barren, queer emancipated woman, who the women at the river bank pitied and said,

Her mother-in law had made meat of the children in Amonoo’s womb”.

So I sing, you see, to drive away the evil spirits.

When I bathe my niece, Densua, behind our house and hear my mother’s reason for the barrenness in such splenetic manner during heated arguments, I sing to little Densua.

According to mother, Amonoo starves her husband literally below his belt due to her trips to these villages.

“You do not starve a lion for too long, this man of yours doesn’t have a pocket with holes,” she would say shaking her index finger. I wondered why a man of his calibre would undergo such torture; my sister got a real fine husband; one on which she needed to keep the closest eye.


“You are our hope now”, kweasibea; my other sister, would say as she knotted my hair into neat corn-rolls.

“Keep your head in your books”, she always hammered incessantly.

Perhaps it was to lessen the guilt that weighed heavily on her shoulders. Once the academic torch bearer of our family, she veered off the path of righteousness unto the path of night whispers under neem trees.

This resulted in two fatherless children and not a certificate that could have landed her the secretarial job in town.

So I sing to ease this burden—the standard set for me—but it is this first love that broke my heart. It all started with the appearance of a guitar and the blue basket that I always carried to his house all made-up by mother at supper time.

Then he held my hands and tickled a C major in my side that ignited a tuneful laughter, stroked an A minor in my hair and carried me on his lap to feel the rhythm of a song played on the erected guitar.

Soon his tongue strummed my lips and his passion eroded my innocence on their matrimonial bed.

As I cowered in the darkness, barely breathing, he played a jazz tune on the guitar, but my tongue refused to be aroused, my teeth embraced and the songs choked one another in my throat.

My mother was the first to witness my arrival. She danced with glee and bathed me in talcum powder—the one she forbade everyone to touch. Kweasibea gaped and dropped her water pot. I noticed her disappointment and my mother’s joy but all seemed like a million years away; in a daze, I wondered,

How do I tell Amonoo I blamed her for losing my first blood to her husband?’



Post image by Nick Kenrick via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - AddisonCharlotte Addison writes poems and short stories. Her poems have been published in ‘Echoes from OLA’, ‘The Siren Magazine’. Her poem ‘She’ was published in the 2016 Radioactive anthology The Women. She has performed on ‘Writers Project’ on Citi FM-Ghana and ‘Open Air Theatre ‘on Radio Univers. She is a blogger at www.rytersdiary.blogspot.com


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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

8 Responses to “Family Ties | by Charlotte Addison | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Dennison Slocombe 2016/04/08 at 3:28 pm #

    Congratulations on a very creative, delicately constructed piece. I particularly liked how the story unravels and each character builds onto the next to bring a very unexpected finish. I give this short story a 5 star rating!

  2. Makafui Darkey 2016/04/09 at 12:28 am #

    Great piece. Very interesting, amazing use of words. This ought to be completed and published. It is indeed a five star rating

  3. Makafui Darkey 2016/04/09 at 12:32 am #

    Amazing Piece of writing. Great use of imagery and words.
    This is indeed a five star rating. I look forward to more

  4. amponsah fraser 2016/04/09 at 6:05 am #

    Great story dear..impressed by yr skill..You are a gem .Ghana has great Talents and you are definitely one of them..Keep up the good work …God bless u

  5. Kenneth Adevu 2016/04/09 at 2:05 pm #

    Congratulations. The world should watch out for more because this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  6. Johannes 2016/04/10 at 10:59 am #

    Am in love with this piece how I wishbone never finish reading…. I give you 5stars and congratulations …..

  7. Adefemi Adejola 2016/04/11 at 11:15 am #

    A ruthless summary of a great story, Family Ties generously appeals to the imaginations of a very fertile mind to really appreciate. Nonetheless this story offers sufficient moisture to the palate one cannot but ask for the full course. One was left, at the end of the reading, with a very strong albeit tempting impression that this is an introduction to the story, or a summary or review of the story……………….. And to the compelling mind that produces this entertaining piece, a praise well deserved. Definitely more from there we are sure but for how long shall we wait? I guess only Charlotte Addison can say! Kudos Charlotte!!

  8. Setor 2016/04/20 at 6:30 pm #

    Congrats my dear, see u at the top

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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