dial episode 62
It was late afternoon when we reached my mansion.
I had taken public transport for the second time, and it had been exhilarating. A few weeks ago it would have been absolutely fractious and irksome to consider anything like that.
We had stopped over briefly at Wowo where I had put a bouquet on the new beautiful grave of Akos and bid her farewell. Her father and her family had been with me, and we had all shed some tears.
I asked Nana Bosomba if he could get one of the canoe operators for me, and he readily provided his own canoe. My transformation had shocked everyone indeed, and they now looked at me with reverence. Whilst crossing the lake, the canoe operator looked at me and spoke.
“That beautiful woman,” he said in heavily-accented Fante language. “She waited long time.”
I scowled painfully at him.
“Which beautiful woman?” I asked hollowly.
“The one that came with you,” the man said with a nod. “Everybody said she came with you. She stayed in the lodge up the lake. Every day she came to the lake side. Abena, her name, right? She stayed exactly one month, always coming to the lake side. Then she left. We didn’t see her again.”
My heart flipped with pain.
Oh, Abena, Abena Adobea, Maa Abena!
She had stayed with pain, hoping that I would make a choice and come back to her, no doubt. But after a month of not hearing from me, she had drawn the reasonable conclusion: she had assumed that I had married Dede, and stayed in Wowo.
What heartbreak she might have felt!
What excruciating pain!
Back in my mansion, I quickly packed another bag, took some more money, and then I entered my Pappy’s room again. For the first time since his death I opened up the windows and slid the giant blinds, filling the room with a blast of glorious sunlight.
“I found life, Pappy,” I said as I stood in the middle of the room. “Real great life. And I found a great woman too. We were lonely and not so happy in this great mansion. I guess we were wrong to think we didn’t need anybody. I’m going to fill this house with people and children. These walls are going to echo with laughter and happiness, my Pappy. I’ll see you soon, so goodbye for now.”
Attah Panyin didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay overnight; so impressed was he with the classic and luxurious room I showed him to. However, the sun was not going to set on my resolve to see my Maa Abena and assure her that our life was back on course.
I whisked Attah Panyin out into a powerful black Hummer with silver lines, and we shot off into the gathering dusk. It was a long, arduous journey, and it was quite dark by the time we entered Yao Biko Krom.
I drove in slowly, pleased with how beautiful the town had expanded and become so beautiful in the two months I had been away. Brian and Kuuku had worked absolute magic. The patches of greenery, the well-spaced beautiful houses, the clean environment, the recreational areas, the interlinked roads and paths…everything was beautiful.
And they had extended electricity too, and everything was lit-up really beautifully. There were many villagers milling around in various states of activity as I drove through, and they stared at the Hummer with wide disbelieving eyes, but I didn’t stop. I was in too much of a hurry to see my sweet Adobea.
I parked the car in front of Maame Ntiriwaa’s house, jumped down and raced up the stairs. The front door was not locked, and I opened it and pushed my way through.
Maame Ntiriwaa was sitting in her nice living-room, wearing a long, white, opaque nightie. She looked up in alarm when I rushed in, and then she screamed, bounced to her feet and grabbed a stout iron bar lying at her side and then moved toward me with the iron bar raised.
“Hey, hey, Maame!” I said, raising my hands defensively.
For a moment, I had forgotten how changed I was, and rushing blindly into her room had scared her witless.
She came to a stop and scowled, obviously finding something familiar about me.
“It is me, Maame!” I said with a happy smile.
“Yao?” she whispered, and the iron bar dropped from her hands as she moved toward me with trembling legs. “Yao Biko?”
“Yes, yes, you witch!” I said with a broad smile.
She screamed and flew into my arms, and held me tightly as she spoke rapidly in her language, singing and shouting prayers.
What followed was a mad cacophony of sounds. Her screams brought Tawiah and his daughter because they were quite close by, and soon others came on the scene too, including the former palace guards, Kwaku and Onyina. My excited enquiries about Abena Adobea went unheard as they dragged me outside and carried me high, and soon they were splashing me with talcum powder and carrying me around the village, singing wildly.
By the time I had shouted myself almost hoarse, and they put me down, I was completely white and sneezing from the talcum powder. And then I had to intervene quickly when I saw Tawiah chasing Attah Panyin with a huge club.
I held Tawiah and pulled him back.
“Hey, easy, easy!” I said with a tired smile. “He came with me! He is no longer an Okomfo but a man of God. He’s going to build a church here and man it as the pastor!”
“Apuuuuu!” Onyina screamed, and he was not alone.
“Demon!” another shouted, and they would have descended on the former Okomfo Basabasa with deadly venom if he hadn’t started speaking then.
His voice was gentle, unhurried, as he told them of his bad deeds, and how he had treated them. He told them that Jesus had found him, and then he got to his knees and, weeping, asked them to forgive him and accept him.
Perhaps, the sight of Okomfo Basabasa on his knees really tipped the scale, and they gawked at him with profound shock.
“Is he mad?” Maame Ntiriwaa drew close and whispered into my ear. “Did you inject him with some bad poison?”
I chuckled and shook my head.
“No, Maame, he has really changed,” I said. “I have a lot to tell you, really. But first, you haven’t answered my question. Where’s my love? Where’s Abena Adobea?”
As Tawiah embraced Attah Panyin, and the others too hugged him, one by one, Maame Ntiriwaa looked at me with very sad eyes.
“She came here, almost a month ago, my son,” she said in a soft voice. “She was so broken. And she said she couldn’t stay here knowing you married Dede. I begged her to stay, at least until you got word to us, but she wouldn’t. Brian had no option than to give her some money, and then she left.”
“Left?” I asked, feeling a ball of pain and misery in the pit of my stomach. “Left where? Oh, Maame, why didn’t you stop her?”
“I couldn’t, my son!” she said with pain. “Once she gets something into that stubborn head of hers, it’s impossible to speak sense to her! And she was hurting so badly, her tears falling constantly. I blessed her and let her go. I asked where she would be staying and doing, and she said she hadn’t decided on anything yet. Yao, I don’t know where my daughter is!”
My pain was absolute.
“I’m going back to the city,” I said harshly.
“What?” she asked. “Now? Oh, Yao! At least rest for tonight, get some food. Then you can leave in the morning!”
“No!” I said harshly. “And you’re coming with me. I have to find her. Go and get your stuff, just the ones you can’t replace. Leave clothes and stuff. I’ll buy you more when we get to the city.”
“Please, stop arguing!” I cut in harshly, my heart in pain. “You’re coming with me!”
And that was how I brought Maame Ntiriwaa into my mansion.
The following day was hectic.
I called my friends in the police and BNI, and gave them a picture of Abena Adobea which Maame Ntiriwaa had given me. I put a reward on it, and tasked them to do whatever they could to find her for me.
Later, I went to the office, where everyone was quite taken aback by the new me. I held a staff meeting, and announced changes in salaries and overall general conditions of work, announcing packages that made the staff roar with delight.
And then, for the very first time in my life, I apologized to all of them for any wrongs I might have caused them, and asked for their forgiveness. I went round hugging them.
One woman, an executive marketing manager, flinched from me and regarded me with stunned eyes.
“Are you quite okay?” she asked nervously. “I’m not comfortable with you!”
This brought a bang of laughter from the others.
“I’m fine, Yvette,” I said softly. “I met God on the road.”
“Aha, now you’re finally making sense,” she shouted, and then hugged me tightly.
It was a massive feeling seeing their happy and relieved faces, and I felt good about myself.
Three days later my car pulled up in front of a gate.
I got down just as the gate opened and an elegant but gaunt beautiful woman in a long black dress emerged.
I walked toward her.
She stopped and gaped at me with stunned eyes, her expression one of hope and miserable pain at the same time.
This woman had tried, over and again, to win my trust and my love. She had been genuinely remorseful. She had even begged my Pappy over and again just to allow her to see us occasionally.
This poor woman had lived a life of pain. Her parents were both dead now, and she had never been able to have more children. She was all alone, abandoned and in constant pain.
And she had paid the ultimate price when her own son unknowingly slept with her own mother.
“Yao?” she whispered, putting her hand on her trembling lips.
The pain was lodged in my throat, and as hard as I fought it, I could not stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks.
Each time I had met this woman I had spoken words that had hurt her beyond measure. My fury and anger at her for dumping me on my Pappy when I was still a baby had consumed me so much that if had been able to, I would have hurt her physically.
I had hated and despised that single mistake she made in her life, and I had brandished it like a sword above her, striking her cruelly over and again.
For a mother to live with the scorn and hatred of her only son must have really shattered this woman indeed.
And so I fell on my knees in front of her. I wrapped my arms around her waist, and pressed my face to her belly.
“Mother!” I said painfully. “I’m sorry. Please forgive your son.”
She could not stand straight.
She was trembling too hard, and it was as if she had no bones in her body. Weakly she dropped to her knees too, put her arms around my neck, her hot cheeks on my mine, and then she simply cried her heart out.
I did not let her go back into that lonely house that day. I lifted her eventually and carried her to my car.
And then I sent her to my mansion to meet Maame Ntiriwaa.
Their laughter filled the house that night as I went up to the roof and stared out across the expanse.
My heart was in deep pain.
There was another voice I needed in my mansion, the most important, the voice that echoed my heart, and made my heart beat with passion.
Her…the one, the only one.
I looked into the sky as my pain rocketed abysmally.
Oh, Maa Abena, my love, my dearest love…where are you Abena? I’m hurting, I’m dying! I’m here for you. I miss you, I need you. I’m pain, and pain is me, because you’re not here. Where are you, Abena?