This is the second in a three-part series of this story. Read the first part.
The master drummer beat the drums with frenzy, and as she danced, she became a wild cat.
“Where did this wild thing come from?” he wondered, as she wriggled her waist in front of him. This stirred up the hunter in him. This was even more exciting than he had thought, and he was more resolved now, more than before, to conquer this one–damn the consequences!
“Oh God!” she thought to herself. “How good it feels to be wanted. Once again”.
In these past three years, she had felt aged, unloved and unattractive. Looking after two young sons–a four year old and a two year old–with no help could sap every energy out of any woman, anyone. Coupled with this was the old mother-in-law who lived with them, who never appreciated anything she did, who never said thank you. God! How difficult it was to please that woman! Over the years she had felt as dry as a branch stick long fallen off its mother tree in harmattan.
So this new feeling of being wanted was good. It felt very very good…but wait…she must not give in too easily. Besides, she would not be crazy to do anything to hurt her marriage–but a little flirting was not going to harm anyone. Was it?
So she pretended she was no longer interested in the dance, and she began to slacken her dance steps.
The male dancer was surprised. It looked like the woman had lost interest in the dance. He spun towards her until he was within hearing distance. Then he shouted out to her,
“Don’t you like me?”
She had no response.
“Do you want me to stop dancing with you?” he asked, disappointment seeping into his voice.
His voice was so deliciously familiar, like the sound of the wind. This was a voice she has heard before, a voice she has loved before. It was a voice from many years back. Where had she first heard it?
“I don’t force women,” he said, and with that, he began to dance away from her, towards the exit of the dance arena.
“Oh no!” she thought. “I can’t lose him now!”
She took a quick step forward with her right foot and danced towards the exit, until she by passed him and was soon dancing in front of him. She began to twirl around him in a wondrous pattern–a wondrous adowa pattern.
He stopped dancing and smiled. She stopped in front of him and squatted before him. The spectators were euphoric, as they shouted:
Dance! Dance! Dance!
The drummers got the cue–they began to beat a faster and sweeter rhythm. And the two dancers resumed their battle, the battle to see who was the better dancer.
“Whew!” he thought. “That was close!”
Now that he has won her over–or so he thought–he began to feel overconfident. He began to dance as if the whole world belonged to him.
You know that thing that men do when they have wooed a woman, and won her, and married her? Then they think that there is no need to fight for her again, and the excitement of hunting leaves them, so they go out seeking after more exciting things like wealth or power or fame, and even for new love adventures? She did not like that. Was that not what she now has at home? Was that not what she had come here to escape from, albeit temporarily?
His new dance steps put her off, so when she saw some other male adowa dancers around the edge of the dancing ring, she danced fluidly towards them. She took her competition to them, teasing them, taunting them, urging them. The male dancers tried to match her with the best of their dance steps, but they were no match for her. For she twisted and twirled and bent and hopped, and they looked like puppets before her.
Eventually, she got tired of them and rejected them, one after the other. And they all left the ring, until it was left with the male masquerade dancer, the one she has been dancing with.
“Did she not see red? How dare her do that to him? Just when he thought that she had fallen for his charms? How could she have dared go to dance with other male dancers?” he fumed, even though to himself, inwardly.
He was a jealous man. Everyone knew that. And even though the spark had gone out of his marriage, although he wanted some adventure, although he was out here dancing with this nymph, his wife would never leave him to go dancing with any other man, or even dare take a second look at another man. Why would she do that? What guts would she have to do that?
Seeing this woman dare to do this to him not only annoyed him, but also excited him exceedingly, made the blood pump right into his brain. He was not the kind of man to let go of his woman so easily, so he focused on his dance with new energy, and his steps became more complex. He was going to dance out his anger. He would dance off his jealousy. He would win back this wild woman with the best of his adowa steps.
Then suddenly, he did a surprising whirl to the delight and cheering uproar of the crowd.
He danced towards the female masquerade dancer and spun around her, seductively. He stood in front of her, lifted both hands, clenched his fists, crossed his arms at the elbows, then in that same pose, he hit his chest powerfully, as if to say “I own the whole world,” but she was not impressed.
She stood her ground and then she spun and wove like the great Ananse the Spider, swaying her head proudly to the right and to the left and back and again and again…
The master drummer drummed:
Obaa yi bε ku wo, wai!
Obaa yi bε ku wo, wai!
This woman will kill you, you will see!
This woman will kill you, you will see!
The male dancer nodded at the drummer, softened his stance, bent at his knees and squatted before the woman in surrender.
The crowd went berserk.
“Good!” she whispered to herself. “Now he is behaving properly. She would have showed him where power truly lies.” she thought.
She was going to give him some more delicate steps to show him who truly held the power, but he danced closer, close enough to hear him whisper, “Are you married?”
The question made her hot, suddenly.
“Was that thing she was in even a marriage?” she wondered.
She could not remember the last time she really saw Kwabena. As a woman. It was as if he was always away at work, and they spent the few times he was home quarrelling, quarrelling over everything, over the kids, over chop money, over household chores, over his mother–especially over his mother. His mother did not appreciate her and it hurt so much. Take for instance, today. His mother had complained to him.
The woman had said to her son, “That your Ajua has not fed me today. She has kept me hungry for several days now.” She was surprised to hear that because she had fed the woman, and with her own hand, taken half spoonfull-s of εtɔ from the plate to the woman’s mouth, about twelve half spoonfull-s, until the woman had refused to eat again, she herself had said she was full.
But at ninety-two, the woman was senile, so she did not understand why Kwabena had been so angry at her. She had not understood why he had taken his mother’s side. She did not understand why he had so brazenly called her a liar, when she had tried to explain that his mother had forgotten that she had already eaten. Was it because she had no mother of her own? Had she not taken his mother as her own?
In her anger, she had rushed into the bedroom, pulled her two rings–the engagement ring with the big diamond stone in the middle, and the round wedding ring–from her finger and threw them on the bed she shared with Kwabena. Then with tears in her eyes, she had gone into the children’s room, dressed them up and taken them to her sister’s. Then she had gone to her best friend Sena’s to have a good cry.
Sena had said to her, “Ajua Akyeampomaa Akyeampon, put all your troubles aside and let us go to the festival. Let us lose ourselves in some fun today. Later, we can decide what to do about all this.”
So here she was, having the best time of her life and it felt wonderful…so-o-o-o wonderful.
Now what response was she going to give to this man who has asked if she was married? If she said she was married, the fun stopped here, but she was not unmarried.
So to be fair to herself and to be fair to Kwabena, she replied “Separated. I am separated from my husband.”
And as she spoke, he thought her sultry voice very familiar, but it was a voice from long ago. He tried all he could to remember but he could not. Meanwhile, she twirled, turned her wrists sensuously in front of her waist and he thought he would die, for was she not the most beautiful woman he has ever seen? Just look at that waist, as she swung it from side to side. And those hips. What could he say? And those legs. Why were they so shapely? What a woman?
Oh! She could kill him!
She did remind him of someone from long ago, but he could not place where he knew this someone from. If he did not stop dancing now, he knew that he would never let her go, could never let her go.
As if she could read his mind, she took the most remarkable dance step he has ever seen. She spun until she was facing him, directly. She stood so close to him that the cloth with which she had tied her breast grazed half his bare chest and half his kente cloth. Then her eyes met his, wet and eager.
She looked into his eyes. Something about about her look, something about her eyes, something he could not find words to describe, threw him a little off balance. He lost focus on the dance, on his thoughts–even his life. How she managed to do that through the holes in her mask, he would never know, but it was the kind of look that could break a person’s defences, a man’s defences–any man’s defences.
Before he could recover, she shook herself like a tree and heaved her breasts up and down. And even though her breasts were tightly tied with a cloth, they were so full and so round that he could see the firm roundness of their base as they moved up and down, for the weight of her breasts almost defied the tightly tied cloth. And now that she had him hooked, she caught his gaze, again, and gave him a look of pure seduction, before turning her back to him while still holding his eyes with hers.
Then she began to dance away. He followed her, mesmerized, hypnotized, like a lost and dazed sheep. She began to wriggle her waist gently, gracefully. This was her trump card, it seemed. And poor male masquerade dancer–he was a willing captive.
The crowd went wilder than before, and they danced with their voices. Did you ever hear of such a thing as dancing with one’s voice?
The master drummer went at it again:
Dance! Dance! Dance!
Dance, female masquerade dancer!
Wriggle your waist downward when you dance!
For Odomankoma has given you a shapely waist!
Shake and heave your breast when you dance!
For Odomankoma has given you beautiful breasts!
Twist and spin when you dance!
Dance! Dance! Dance!
(To be continued)
Agnes Gyening-Asiedu loves to write.
Agnes also loves traveling, cooking, sewing and reading.
She currently runs her own business, and lives in Accra, Ghana with her husband.
– North Kaneshie; Early hours of Saturday, 8th June 2020.
Featured Image and all other images in this blog post are not mine; images may be protected by copyright.