This is the second time the National Mosque has called for prayers. Perhaps it is the third. I spent all night tearing into the silent Kanda darkness with keening grief. I have no idea the exact moment when sleep crept in to cradle me, but it happened through the clunking of hens, on the other side of the highway. At Nima, where the narrow, unpaved pathways provide shelter, bedrooms outnumber houses, and impoverished families forge tight-knit bonds over their cramped living conditions. Somehow, I still feel like a sudden burst into tears is quietly moving through me, awaiting a trigger. My clock, made out of a vinyl record and positioned above the vintage mahogany wardrobe solemnly strikes twelve past midday.

I gaze at my wooden laundry basket spilling with fresh clothes. That day at his family BBQ, under the dappled shade of a peculiar baobab in his grandfather’s house, with flickering flames from the sizzle of a barbecue stand, I wore the peach crop top now sitting atop the pile of clothes. That was the day he referred to it as “apricot-colored.” I knew instantly that I was going to love him forever. For I deserved a man who knew his hue wheel and the exact names of all shades of my favorite colors.

I am grateful that the sun is not up. We have experienced pleasant rains drizzling throughout the year; dreamy days where the air is chill, the leaves are vivid green, and crochet sweaters are ideal. And today’s gloomy weather is the perfect background for my sad Monday.

The last time it rained all day when we were in Accra together, seven days ago, we spent our time bundled up at Amon Café. Uninterrupted servings of sweet-smelling caramel latte and my latest obsession with Raven Leilani’s Luster. He reviewed documents for work – parsing through the usual fintech founder stuff I do not commiserate with. When we took breaks, we exchanged sensual glances over steaming mugs. Our laughter blended with the comforting hum of commercial coffee machines. And with intimate and unspoken affection, we held hands under the table listening to the soft patter of raindrops outside. Of course, that is the most PG13 thing we held under those tables. We ran through small platters of chicken avocado wraps, Philly cheese steaks, loads of regular French fries, and some tea – he only likes his Earl Grey with cold-pressed Italian Bergamot oil.

All my life, I have inclined towards a spacious bedroom, to contain all the stifled emotions that rage through my body and spill unbalanced and unproportionate when I am alone. But now, back in my bed and slothly contemplating, the window presents a long walk from the comfort of my pillows. Yet, what I need is to bathe my face in the chill air accompanying the cloudy skies. I glance at my little leaf-shaped bedside lamp, a spider meticulously weaving a W-shaped web on its exposed harp. As I begin to trace the intricate web design with weary eyes, I spread myself wide to touch all corners of my double bed. This is only my fifth time sleeping in this bed all year, and we are halfway through October.

I surf through the sea of pains main-ported in my head, as I scrutinize the distance to the window one last time. At least it is less crowded than the relationship I thought I held with both hands. I calculatedly draw myself off the velvet sheets and laboriously stroll to the window, next to the balcony door, and open five of the upper louvers within my 5-foot8-inch reach. With the pounding headache exacting jurisdiction throughout my body with each movement, I push the door for extra ventilation. Moving slowly, counting every step, and stilling my head, I walk onto the balcony and stare at the magnificent National Mosque, in daylight, uncharacterized by glorious lighting.
“Welcome back. Are you okay? You are tired!” my neighbor standing in his backyard greets, quizzes, and diagnoses together.
“I’ve been awake all night,” I say.
“Sorry!” he offers, passing a palm over his tiny shirtless torso. I nod and smile, offering one last wave before I turn sharply to head back to bed. He tells me to get well quickly. But the throbbing sensation on the right side of my forehead insists on intensifying. The splitting headache that has me walking like an ember floating to the tune of the wind is from last night’s car ride.

Sitting in the car, his left hand offering a box of tissues, he backed up into the street with his right. I knew he was avoiding my crestfallen face. I, on the other hand, had decided to weather the storm and spend the next 3 hours and 15 minutes on my phone. But those were just thoughts. As soon as I sat down in that front seat, I started shaking all over. A violent sob he refused to witness. He looked straight ahead, into the dark fog illuminated by his headlight. The scent of absence was poignant even though he sat right next to me. Throughout our 13 months together, I have known him as an empath. He will carry me, in his lap or across his chest and hug me tight before telling me I had done something wrong. Therefore, this new side of him, uncracking under my wreckage was disturbingly tricky. This would be the first time I cried to an up-tempo song about a man who likes champagne and carries six women home after a night out. Ololademi Asake. Won so ‘pe kin malo sun le. Wi pe kin order Rosé. Moni mo like Champagne. Emi omo ope oh

Returning from the balcony, I pick up the tote bag on the large mint green rug across the floor. He bought that bag for me when he went to Capri.
“You went to Italy, and the most designer object you could find was a tote bag?” I quizzed.
Grabbing his credit card and slamming his right hand into his left palm, he jokingly said, “Please shop for the most designer object in Accra. But remember that I’m poor.”
Before he could get back to squinting at his computer sitting on his gym-sculpted thighs, I responded, “Obviously, like every poor man in Accra, you own an AMEX.”

Last night, before I got in the car and started weeping, with sirens blasting off ferries in a distance, he on his knees, grabbing onto mine, promised financial duty to me. That was before he pledged to remain good friends. “Tell me what you think I need more, a friend or a man,” I whispered after a brief air of silence had passed. I already have Xornam and Mammie, whom I have summoned to dinner at Amon Café for the full gist. Mammie and I met through my Instagram plant shop, a one-time transaction that bore a comforting bloom. Like a cozy fireplace that radiates warmth, Mammie is the bright sky of my existence. As an instrument that dispels loneliness, she introduced me to her Maryland-raised cousin when he came to town for detty December, four years ago. Like a lighthouse guiding us through the darkness, she convinced his parents to extend more responsibilities in their construction company to him, necessitating his move to Ghana two years ago. As usual, I did not know about her underground works until much later, when she was satisfied with the mutual desire we radiated.

Mammie is a cool sea breeze on a sunny Accra afternoon. And then she is a sorcerer witch flaming between realms. She sees everything. She always sees things coming. I never see anything coming. But she does. Last Tuesday, before I jumped into his Jeep Wrangler JL Soft Top for the trip, she texted me to “protect the peace in my head.” Like that time, when she told me to “prepare for something major” on our trip to the Safari Valley Resort. It was after we spent all of our time together, melding into similar schedules and spaces. On a freezing night ride from the Adukrom Hills situated on the outskirts of the city, he gave me his sweatshirt to keep warm. The shirt was an intoxicating mix of peppermint and orange essential oils. His firm protruded biceps and broad shoulders were like waves in a painting. His grey sweatpants, matching the shirt I was now wearing, were spotting a bulging print.

That was the day he decided to officially position himself as mine. I satisfactorily sized up the 6-foot-4-inch hunk in the driver’s seat who just asked to be my boyfriend after three weeks of an uncomplicated talking stage. I stared to absorb. To merge with him entirely. Dreaming of trips to distant places. We spoke about going exclusive, his gold bracelet and matching necklace both dangling as he spoke with childlike animation. I came clean about my possessive nature, a trait associated with my childhood trauma and my being clinically insane. But his alluring presence and the sweetness of his touch have since balanced the chemicals in my brain. My clingy ways slowly flaking, and welcoming healthy affirmations and resplendent thrusts.

On our trip to Atimpoku, which ended in a festival of tears last night, we were one with nature. We were gentle with each other like the peaceful tide of the River Volta. He told me when we arrived on Tuesday that there was something he wanted to say to me on Sunday evening, which was yesterday, the day we returned.

I spent my time between anxiety about the news and euphoria from the boat cruises. We hiked on an island, toured another, and went to the clubhouse for the evenings. Each night we made passionate animalistic love. He lasted for light years. He resisted breaks. I complimented his energy after we finished on the first day, and he said he would double it for the next round. That cockiness accompanying a nerd hiding in an Anthony Joshua body is what I fell for at Plantera, an indoor plant shop, on a lonely Roman Ridge Street. He wanted a monstera, and I was getting a spider plant for my bathroom. We instantly connected and went on a date the next day at a Turkish place behind his house at Labone. I think it is now a shisha bar. Before we got into the car last night, and he held my knees and promised to provide money to sustain me, we had sex. It was the most forced one since I met him. He was all over the place. I kept tapping out because many of the things he tried ended up hurting. It felt like we were searching for a road that we knew individually but could not find together. My nipples are still sore and show signs of bleeding into the skin. After sex, when we were all packed, he told me that he was getting married in two weeks. I immediately started eating myself, feet first, into a heap of anger. My body, growing memories of us in hot flashes.

I have met her. Xornam and I bumped into her at a bistro tucked behind a clinic at Adenta. She wore a gorgeous knee-length bridesmaid champagne gold satin slip dress with bare shoulders and a side slit. Her natural hair looked like Rihanna’s character from Home. She introduced herself as a divorce attorney and her client, Edem, a dull-looking fellow whose wife likely deserves everything she asks the courts to give her. She likes to give hugs and smells like Tea Tree oil. We spoke warmly and complimented each other’s outfits. I wore black navel-length high-waist Zara boyfriend jeans and a plain moss green crop top that exaggerated my already unbelievably thin waist. I paired it with my retro mid-heel ankle boots. I caught a smirk on her face when I mentioned that I owned an Instagram plant shop. It appeared friendly at the time but looking back now, it all makes sense. She got the chance to size up her competition and immediately felt superior. Next to her, I am closer to the slums of Nima than the old money residences of Labone. Before he came to introduce us, I had figured out who she was. It was not the coral sunset lipstick. It was the obvious fact that he would be with someone like her. If the cricket were not kin to the millipede, it would not bear its ring around its neck. We are the same height if you forgive her 3-inch nude Christian Louboutin heels. Same warm beige skin tone and slender figure. Her breasts are perky and her face is carved in the perfect shape of an oval mask. She is the kind of beautiful that beauty pageants wish they could pull. We could pass as siblings. Both of us are 29 years old and he is 33. She tells Xornam that she is a mix of Kwahu and German.

She knew about us and did not mind. Until then we had never spoken of her beyond acknowledging that someone else had joined our relationship. All she knows is that he will marry her and whatever we have going on will end after their wedding. His parents were not asking him to go off and get married. In fact, they accept, support, and love me. She knows that too. Nonetheless, Earl is thinking of entering politics, and marrying her will be an excellent resume boost; combining family wealth, marital status, and a light skin by his honorable side. Her family orchestrated everything. Because the Sunkwa-Mills surname will be good for her, and them, and business. She has the most basic S name you can think of.

When I asked about our plans to relocate to Auckland to live a quiet beach life and start a family, he looked away at the duffle bag on the bed. I had packed a month’s worth of clothes for five days. He was still on his knees and I sat on the edge of my hotel bed. Holding my hands between his large palms, he stared back at my freshly manicured natural nails. His voice broke a little, his soft gaze suddenly stiffening, I saw birds vanishing behind trees, the magic stream of the skies escaping into darkness. He cleared his throat and delivered a defining answer in his baritone that I have now almost forgotten. “But you know you are not a woman, Kuuku.”










Photo by Sasha Kaunas on Unsplash