August 12, 2016 at 2:45 pm #782736
Copyright @2016 by Gaglo Blessing.
All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, or distributed, without prior written permission of the owner.
Email: blessinggaglo@ yahoo.com
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LINKS TO AVAILABLE EPISODEAugust 12, 2016 at 2:52 pm #782746
This is the grass to grace story of Kojo a young Togolese boy who craved to escape the clutches of poverty but he finds out the hard way that money is in the mouth of the devil and only the brave dares to take it.
I welcome your comments and criticism as this is my first attempt at writing.Thanks.
Do you know the smell of hunger?
My name is Kojo.This year I turn fifteen. This is not a good year for my family, the rain was late last year so we didn’t have a fruitful harvest, this was the year my father decided to take a second wife. He gave a larger portion of the farm produce to his new wife, while my mother, my siblings and I had to live on the meager portion given to us. My father had been in Adofo ( wrapper) ever since he brought in the new wife, she is from Aneho, a riverine area in Togo. Aneho women are known for their beauty and my father’ s new wife is not an exception.
Every evening, my father would seat in his apasame ( hammock) listening to radio while gulping down some sweet palmwine.
Afine, the new bride is usually in the kitchen this time making his evening meal of akple with Ademe. My Nma had warned my brother Albert, my little sister and I not to take anything from the new bride.
Every morning my mother would wake us early so my brother and i will do some house chores before heading to school, my brother is already in lecee but he won’t be there for long, my little sister pamela who is almost eight years now hasn’t started school yet. We would eat the left over akple usually cut into small lumps in the soup pot by Nma because the soup won’t be enough for the three of us otherwise. After we have eaten, my brother and I will trek to school while little Pam goes to the farm with Nma.
Nma sells Anake which she gets from our farm, even though she sold each bundle cinq franc it wasn’t enough to chase the wolves from our door. We are almost out of the meager portion of farm produce given to us by my father, Nma couldn’t sell Anake whenever it rains because nobody wants to buy woods that won’t catch. She went to my father one evening to ask him for some money so Albert ( my brother) can buy some books but he refused. My father’ s way of saying no to any request is with his fist.
When Albert and I came back home from the field where we had gone to play football, we saw Nma lying on a mat in her small hut, the left side of her head was battered. her left eye was purple with blood and she was missing a tooth. Albert got angry, now when Albert gets angry things happen_ bad things! he ran into the hut we share and came out with a shiny cutlass. He ran into our father’ s hut but he wasnt in, little Pam said he went to the market with Afine. Albert ran out of the compound wielding the cutlass like a mad man, little Pam started crying. Nma tried to get up but she couldn’t.
” Kojo. She said in pain. Go after your brother, stop him! Please… ” Nma laid back on the mat groaning in pain.
I ran out of the compound. My heart was pounding heavily. I didn’t know which route Albert had taken, I ran to the end of our street, nosey relatives called out to me saying my brother had gone mad. I stopped long enough to find out the direction my brother had taken. He had gone to Azigame ( the main market).
” Kojo! Kojo!”
I was almost at the Azigame now, when Afine ran towards me crying. Her hair was scattered, her blouse was torn and she was in her under skirt. Good for you! good for you I thought!
” Efo Albert has gone mad! he came to the market wielding a sharp cutlass! See what he did to me! She choked on tears. He’ s back there now beating Tonton( sweetheart).”
I looked at her in disgust….. For some seconds I almost pitied her! this was the girl my brother had fallen for! Only for her to string him along and eventually Marry his father. Nobody knew this, even Efo Albert thought I didn’t know but he has the bad habit of talking in his sleep. I ignored her and ran faster, Efo Albert was beating Npa ( Father) almost to a pulp. The crowd was afraid of getting closer to him because of the cutlass.
” Awoooo, Awooo, Albert la wum! O la wum lo ooo” NPA screamed begging for mercy. He was almost Unclad now. I was scared too. I was scared of this Efo Albert, he’s nothing like the gentle and easy going Efo Albert that I know. I saw the chandamaries coming, somebody had gone to call them.
I pushed through the crowd and edged closer.
” Efo Albert! Efo Albert” I shouted.
” The police men are coming! Let us leave here now!”
Efo Albert instantly let go of our father’ s almost lifeless body, he grabbed my hands, holding his cutlass with his left hand and we ran, the crowd parted for us like the red sea. We weaved our way through the narrow corners in the market. We ran towards the catholique mission church. Why are we not heading home? then it occurred to me that the policemen won’t think to look for a cutlass wielding young man in the church.
TBCAugust 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm #782761SamnolimitParticipant
✔✅✔✅✔August 12, 2016 at 2:59 pm #782766SamnolimitParticipant
sittedAugust 12, 2016 at 2:59 pm #782769
Albert sat down on the grass while the cutlass lay at his feet, he had a look on his face i couldn’t tell_ anger? regret?, he started pulling out the little green weeds infront of him while I sat beside him uncertain if I should talk or not. What will happen now? What will Npa( Father) do to my brother? I thought.
” Ole wo egbe! voju a medi! O le wo e gbe voju me di!” ( You have been caught! Your charm has failed!) The sudden chant pierced the atmosphere. We know that song too well, a thief has been caught. Usually Albert and I would try to guess who the thief was before rushing out to see the culprit.
Togo is a peaceful country, almost free of crime except for the occasional petty cassava or goat thieves. We don’t have much industries in my country and the only one in my area is Wacem the cement factory where you get paid one thousand and six hundred cefa for a day’ s job.
There are some Indian companies too but they treat us so badly and any little mistake results in them shouting ” Go Home!” Which means you are fired. The same president has been ruling us long before Albert was born and he’s 23 years old now.
Nobody dares to lift a finger against the government of the day, just thinking of it alone could lead to death. I don’t blame those who result to petty stealing but that doesn’t mean I won’t mock them when they get caught.
” Efo (bro) Albert, they have caught a thief ” I just couldn’t resist saying so.
” Go see if you want to, am not interested ”
” O le wo egbe voju a me di!” The angry voices got nearer and before I could stop my legs, they were already flying out of the church premises. I was shocked when I saw who was being led with a basket filled with cassava on his head to the king’ s place.
Mensah! My cousin!
He has been so good to us, bringing us a basket of cassava now and then, occasionally some fresh goat meat. The angry crowd dragging him got to where i stood outside the church. Our eyes met briefly but i looked away, what could i do? He was unclad, his eyes were bloodshot from the beatings he had gotten and on his head was a basket filled with cassava that I would have dined on that night if he hadn’t being caught.
I went back into the church compound. Albert was still sitting down in a trance like state where I had left him. When something goes missing, the owner can either decide to swear for the thief with hebieso (gods of thunder) and on the seventh day the thief will slump and die or he either sets a trap to catch the thief and take him to the king’ s palace where he will be fined.
I shuddered as I remembered a terrible incident that occurred in a neighboring village. A man had stolen a goat and used it for his dad’ s burial, the owner of the goat was so grieved that he called on hebieso ( god of thunder)
The owner cast a spell saying ” whoever stole my goat,whoever saw him, whoever cooked the meat and whoever tasted it will die” after pouring some gin on the head of the god.
Hebieso ever so blood thirsty did as he was bided, everyone who attended the burial died on the seventh day. Even my maternal grandma who had only put a finger in the soup a neighbor brought home to taste died. The whole village went wild on that seventh day, there were corpses in every households especially those who love burial food. Some delegates were sent to kuvi to consult the powerful Vojusi( priestess).
The delegates came back shaking their head in fear ” It was Hebieso’ s handwork! the goat used for the burial was a stolen goat”
I vowed not to attend any burial again for fear of dying meanwhile my family and i have been feeding on stolen foods ever since my father got a new wife. What an irony!
“Kojo! ” Albert shouted. Jolting me to the present. ” Who was the thief?”
” I didn’t see his face Efo…..the crowd was too much” I looked down at my dirty feet.
I didn’t want Albert to know his best friend, our cousin, who had been our shield all this time was being led unclad to the king’ s palace for stealing cassavas. Efo Albert will find out soon am sure but I spared him the pain for now.
TBCAugust 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm #782794
We headed home at night in silent, we walked through the bushes leading to our house_ I have never thought of it as a home. It has always been a house to me. If you can call a little mud structure with a tiny window to let in air and dried Ebe ( hay) for roof as a house.
In my father’ s compound there are three mud houses, the biggest one belonged to my father. Few weeks before he brought home the new wife, he bought some bags of cement and plastered it.
We all wondered what was going on, that my stingy father could count cefas to buy the ever so expensive bags of cement was beyond us.
I looked at my brother trying to mentally read his thoughts,fear oozed from his body but he was trying to act like he wasnt scared. Albert never talked to me about girls, he loves his books, they were all he ever talks about. If not for his encouragement i would have long since dropped out of school….. thanks to him now am in primary five.
Its not easy schooling in Togo because of the educational system, six years in primary school, three years in secondary school, mandatory four years in Lecee (Poly) and four years in the university. Our parents don’t care if we fail or pass especially my father. We also started school late because my father refused to pay for us that is why at 23 Efo ( bro) Albert is still in lecee ( poly). But he is smart.
We go to class twice a day. Morning classes begin 8 am to 12 pm. We go home to freshen up, while noon classes begin from 2.30 to 5 pm. After a noon class i waited for my brother in front of my school gate so we would go home together but to my surprise he didnt show up. After that day i started noticing Efo Albert combing his hair real good, he always had a comb with him, he washes his khakis everyday unlike before.
Nma ( Mother) said they were signs of a boy in love. She cautioned him not to get any girl pregnant, i tried all i could to pry some information out of him but he always smile n said ” You are too young for this, face your book.”
But while he’s sleeping at night you can get him to tell you anything. One hot night, i had trouble sleeping so i decided to play one of my favorite games. I leaned close to him on the bamboo bed and whispered ” I love you Albert” . He continued sleeping soundly.
” I love you! ” I said louder but not loud enough to wake him.
I waited, my heart leaping with excitement…….he kept on snoring and i was getting sleepy but i forced back the sleep.
” I love you Afine ” Efo Albert whispered.
I smiled and drifted of to sleep.August 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm #782802henry ofurumParticipant
seatedAugust 12, 2016 at 3:07 pm #782806Etz d’bramoParticipant