For Naa Amanua Ankrah, Mother Mine.

There is only one person who can tell me “I love you” and “Leave there” in one breath, in one word.

Saah 1

I know only one person who can call me “Sheilla” and it does not feel foreign…

There is only one person who can remind me that my waist beads need changing, and at that same instant, this person has more than enough new strings of beads and thread and all, ready, to do the new beading.

For me.

I know only one person who can play and laugh, cry and worry, pray and work, all with full and earnest zeal, all at the same time.

There is only one person (alive) who can call me “Ishe”, easy and free, with nothing seeming forced or stolen, without any shadow of anything seeming out of place,  with nothing at all feeling like a fraud or camouflage.

Just like that.

I know only one person who sees a bra or some fancy dress – anything to the tune of an article of clothing – and immediately imagines and knows beyond any telling and instinct that I am the only person who the designer and maker of that piece of clothing had in mind…

There is only one person who, once upon an instance, chased me for almost forever and finally when she got hold of me, she remembered too late, she remembered all over again that she just cannot spank me, that she just cannot bring herself to spank me.

That she cannot even bring herself to pretend to spank me.

Saah5

I know one person who will remember that the ripe plantain portion of the cooking is for Aisha, and in the midst of every dish exotic and embellished, she will know beyond knowledge itself that Aisha will (always) choose the corn and fish end of it all.

There is only one person who will do or undo my hair, who will see and help me get fitted in a dress or similar, and she will not be afraid to forget that I am no child – no small child, I mean.

No doll, in fact.

I know only one person who would visit me too frequently (while I’m away from home) that I would need to beg and give her reasons upon promises why she needed not come visiting me that often, that she really needed not come checking on me far too often.

There is only one person who can get herself worked up in worries about me, worries because anything as nothing as as ants and dust are ‘worrying’ me.

Worked up with worry that is just not her own.

Saah 3

I know one person that (my sisters and) I bypassed all her names and invented a name unique to her and peculiar to all others, a name for her and only her, a name she did not, does not, does not look like she ever will mind.

There is only one person who will call me “Aisha” and I never need to turn and look to be sure who called and why – with never any need to be sure of anything at all.

Only one living person.

I know only one person who would mindlessly sacrifice her youth and sweat, who would pour all of her stubborn love and unflinching presence for me, even if it means setting aside (her) other loves, even if it means breaking and looting into her stores for the future, even if it is to her own hurt and lack and shame and worse.

There is only one person who I will never be able to return – to even, ever, begin to pay back – the milk and pillar, the honey and rock, such kindnesses and all over again, more of these and all others like them that she has been, and continues to be.

To me.

I know only one person who can call me on phone and by (her) asking only “Aisha, what have you eaten today?”, she would have asked her “How-are-you-s?” and a thirty and thousand and more other questions.

There is only one person who when I sit to count my lot of blessings, I have to pause, ponder and count and count again and one more time and another.

One more time and again and never too many.

Saah 2

There is only one Naa Amanua Ankrah.

And she is not only *The Eyes (That See) For The Nation/ People, she is not only **The One Who Fights To Redeem The Nation/People.

This Naa Amanua Ankrah, she also is the Queen and Mother, the immense and great Good, the ever-giving and never-ending Love that God gave and did and showed me.

That Queen and Mother, that Good and Love that is called Naa Amanua Ankrah, today is the day she first happened – on this side of life and eternity, at least.

And I choose to bless her ***today (too) with the boundless Person of Father God Himself.

 

Love,

AishaLovesToo.

– Monday, 3rd September 2018; Dansoman, Accra.

 

*

*The name Amanua is derived from the Akan (Akwamu) expression ‘ɔman (no) aniwa‘, which can be translated as the ‘the seer of / the eyes of the nation‘.

**For the Otublohum clan of the Ga people in Ga Mashi, where my Mother hails from, the appellation (known as ‘sabla‘ in Ga, and ‘mmrane‘ in Akan) for the name Amanua is ɔko(m)afo ajeman‘, which loosely means ‘the one who fights for/to redeem the nation’. Ajeman may also be spelled Agyeman(g).

***An earlier version of this post first appeared as a Facebook post on my wall, on Saturday 1st September 2018, my Mother’s birthday.

 

 

 

 

Love in Four Persons, Four A-s.

The Love that is Called Mother, Amanuah.
I
Which Mother sends one daughter
a (swim suit kind of) bra,
three strings of waist beads,
a big bottle of corn drink and
generous pounds of salted beef?
Mine does. Naa Amanuah Ankrah is her name.

 

Many a time, it is the thought, it is the state of heart that

matters most, and not the matter…

This too is a kind of L.O.V.E. And I am my Mother’s daughter.

– Saturday, 13 June 2015. 

II 

People say we look
alike. Right now, like
many times, I am trying to find, to understand
what makes this Woman so full and spilling
with giving love, with simple laughter,
with unpretentious dance – a zest, an allure
that is infectious and unfading.

I am Naa AMANUAH‘s daughter. Too.

 

Sunday, 27 November 2016 

 

amanuah

Picture (of a picture) of Mother. Circa 1993.  

 

*

 

A Love Like This

…and I saw Love today. It has
the texture of a father, the taste of a friend,
the strangeness of finding it or of it finding
you in the places you never thought to look, in
the people you never thought could care.

I saw Love today and I am still reeling
from the wonder of not knowing
how to accept it without apologizing
for it, reeling with the shock of not dying
with the shock of it all.

I saw Love today and I want to book-
-mark this day like the sheets of papers I once
said life and days are, and I want to ear-
-mark this day as the day that the fullness of the
Love that you are and you showed
me dawned on me, fell on me

with an immensity that
blesses and lifts, that builds and firms – all at
once. And before that time is come when the
eagle will not need height nor the
keenness of vision to hunt, I will be
forever grateful, and I will write…

Thank you for the gift of you. And whether I am
Aisha
or I remain (your)
Sheilla,
Thank you. Thank you,
I say.

 

dr mawuli adzei

Photo Credit: Dr. Mawuli ADJEI. 

 

*

The Big Loves in the Little Things, in the Not-Actually-Little Things…

They used to called me a crier.

I don’t know if they still will, would or do.

But I do know it was cleansing, healing, and refreshing the first and only time in my life when someone understood me enough to not only listen, but to cry with me.

Don’t they say when one cries, the world only watches on, watches one cry alone?

Don’t they say men don’t cry – not for the seeing of women, any human?

Don’t they say when one cries, the world looks away, lets one cry alone?

Don’t they say men shouldn’t cry – not for anything, not for any reason?

I have not stopped shedding quiet tears in memory of you, and of your passing.

And you still remain the finest Gentle-Man I have ever known. Let them say their worst, I still have you at heart.

And it is because of the seemingly little, the apparently insignificant ways you touched my life, the ways you showed that you believe in me. It is because of these same little things that you are irreplaceable. Rest in Bliss.

 

Sunday, 16 June 2013 

 

II

Tomorrow will be six years since Ali left. If he were here, the day after tomorrow will be LOVElier. And more. The day after tomorrow, I graduate…

We would have laughed about everything. And nothing. Too. We would have been free to be both children and adults, in public.The lines between who I am to him and who he is to me would have blurred and then brightened into LOVE unrestrained and unashamed.

As for age, it would have meant something much less than even a number.

He called me ‘Ishe’. He was the only who called me that. Any other person who used that name easily came across as a desperate copycat and sometimes, as a trying too hard to please me or to get my solemn attention or as having a not-so-sincere motive for resorting to that name in the first place.

When I am too ‘shy’ to call him ‘Bro Ali‘, I called him with my eyes and he always ‘heard’ me call him before the two syllables in his name escaped my lips. It was instinctive: my calling him and his response, his urgent, undivided attention to whatever it was I wanted to say – however childish, curious, silly or very like his Ishe.

No. He was no brother, but he was that and so much more. And no, I have no brother, but for my half-brother, Azuma Nelson, but ALI was more than just enough…

Tomorrow will be six years since ALI left, and if he were still here, it couldn’t have hurt for life to have more hold, more gait, than it does now.
This too is L.O.V.E, of a rare, irreplaceable kind.

And this L.O.V.E. is all the more special because it transcends words, time, space and the material…

Tomorrow will be six years since ALI  left, and I remain my Father’s daughter.

– Friday, 26 June 2015.

 

ISHE 3

Picture mine: February 2017 – At work, in a sweater Father gave me, a sweater I had on the whole day, for reasons beyond cold weather.

*

for A
…With My All.

my flesh aches and faints for
your touch – no, not
your touch – your very
presence or the essence of it or a
token of it, at least.

with a will of its own, my mind
perpetually, steadily
threatens to burst at its seams:
wondering – swelling high and wide with rapturous awe-s of
you;
wandering – whirling free and full within the enthralling aura that is
you…

my all and I
pine and yearn
adore, dwell
crave and groan
with doubly fond thoughts and more…of you –
without a care for the world
without any care in the world

without a care for me-self.

without ready reasons,
my soul shifts and skips
at mere glimpses
of
what beauty-full worlds
of
boundless bliss and primal joys and raw delights (that are)
lying in wait for the moment (that)
You and I
will be trans-FORM-ed,
and are transcendED by

sweet sweet WE.

with
a sway of its own,
my spirit seeks and searches
hard after yours.

my being
desires and is desperate
to do you
only
good
only

If this is
not love,
what then could
it be? If this be short
of love,
what else ought
it be?

– Saturday, 20 September 2014.

 

IMAG0043

A for Aisha. Picture mine: July 2015, Coconut Grove Beach Resort, Elmina, Ghana.

 

*   *   *

 

Love,

AishaThinks.

23-July-2017; Kumasi.

Soul-ed Up.

Of Music and Muse(s).

Presence,
Peace peeps in…

preparation Meets procrastination.
perfectionism Spurns Both.

prose Rolls Into poetry. And Back. poetry Prods prose. Again And Again.

pencil Flits Across paper.
pen Is Clamped Between Lips.

Peace,
Presence tip-toe in…

– 3rd November 2014

*                *               *

randomness

photo credit.

Real. Dreams.  OR ‘Random’ Defined.

The night before,
the dream spoke of
Suya
Suya and Suraya

The morning after,
a dress said,
Live, Laugh
Laugh, Love
Love

Shakespeare – no Juliet in ‘RoMEo and
Juliet’ asked of what is in a naME.

S/he forgot to add that of
a word
They both forgot to add that
real and
random both begin with R, and come before the twice twin es-es of
suya
AND suraya

‘…and rANDom’ you said?

and oh no…

You know what?
Yes, no. Never mind.

– 26th January, 2015 

*                *               *

Of Daughters’ Names.

on names (2)

quote by Wasan Shire

…and give your daughters names that force people to ask questions, people who don’t know enough to ask yet, know enough to want to learn. Give your daughters names that teach others that names mean much more than a group of letters strung in syllables, that names have and are forces, that names have in them the power to make…and if possible, be life itself. Give your daughters names, not just any name, sexy names. My name is Sheilla Aishetu Nelson. [And I am my Father’s Daughter.]

– Aisha Nelson : 12th June 2015

*                *               *

Naa.

Which Mother sends one daughter a (swim suit kinda) bra, three strings of waist beads, big bottle of corn drink and a generous pounds of salted beef? Mine does. Naa Amanuah Ankrah is her name.

Many a time, it is the thought, the state of heart that matters most, and not the matter…

This too is…L.O.V.E. And I am my Mother’s daughter.

13th June 2015

*                *               *

Muse-ic. Love-of-a-kind. Lyre-ic.

I love music, especially, soulful, spiritual music.

They say I’m an old soul. I’m still learning what that fully means. So the older the song and or its genre, the more dense (need not be steeped in figurative language) and the more it speaks of and to the issues of life and of living it, of this and other life-s, the easier and harder (pun not intended) it is for me to fall for that song. In fact, I can think of more than three songs that if I hear being played anytime! anywhere! my life HAS TO come to a stand-still until the playing is ended. That is, I just can’t (continue to) do anything sensible or productive…I can do nothing, apart from sitting or standing or lying still – depending on my posture as at when the song came – until it is gone and done with…

music

photo credit

Many times, the tone of the said song – whether serious or lighthearted, whether
sophisticated or suggestive, whether puerile or dead down-to-earth – does not matter:
the earnestness and genuineness of the voice – as in, NOT the voice of the singer/ musician but the LITERARY voice IN or OF song – is what matters most. To me. The instruments, melody, pauses, pitch and crescendos and all the other jargons are mere bonuses; they just have to be good enough or more, but most importantly, they do NOT have to get in the way of the words, not in any way. The words, the lyrics. They may be tickled or meaningfully! touched by the periphery-s, but they ought not to be scalded, scathed…

The song. The subject matter can be anything from laughter and love to heaviness and hate, anything from the exalted through the noble to the mundane, anything from the sublime to the silly. It just has to be honest, not trying too hard to please, to reach…

Once in a while, I pick up more modern, recent songs or songs from more modern genres. I add them to my collection of all-time-favourites. Hymns are one of my special, fetish genres. They are one of a few favourites of a much-higher-order.

There’s been many many times a song that I don’t know the lyrics to or what the song even means in its original language would ring strong and long somewhere deep inside of me – a non-physical part of me. Later when I research the lyrics, someway somehow, it
feels exactly like I’ve known the lyrics all along. As much as I’d known the tune. Why this usually doesn’t surprise me, I’m yet to (fully) know.

These past few days, [a] song [has been doing] the rounds, doing the ringing in that part of me…I know it’s [quite] ‘common’…but I’ve never known its lyrics beyond the first line.
The tune, yes…

1st March, 2015

*                *               *

Day-Dreams OR Of other Worlds

…is reading, thinking through Philip Larkin‘s ‘Born Yesterday’, a poem.

Eyes are fixed on books and books and pamphlets and more, all waiting to be read; poems and short stories and other write-ups also waiting, to be completed, revised, edited or simply, read.

A little above books et al, on a mellow blue painted wall, are a few tabs of random reminders – to do-s; a ‘picture’ of a long, flare, flowing and rather colourful dress, which was jointly doodled by nephew and littlest sister.

Beside drawing is a fancy wooden crucifix hanging on a sheer lacy fabric, with a flowery dial centre on which is inscribed both the verse and quotation, Joshua chapter 1, verse 9 : one of a year-or-so old souvenir/gift from my students.

Meanwhile, a fridge hums away in the nearest room and from the backyard, a nest of birds take turns scattering crisp-dry fallen leaves and chirping their little frail lungs off.

bird books backyard

photo credit

Some background this is…

From outside, a distant grooving of Kwesi Pee’s ‘Me nkoaa’ and closer by Grand-E-mother’s insistent pet talks weave in and out of fragments of thoughts and smiles and introspection and all…

24th July, 2014

*                *               *

Nelson

They used to call me a crier. I don’t know if they still will, would, or do. But I know it was cleansing, healing, and refreshing the first and only time in my life when someone understood me enough to not only listen, but to cry with me. Don’t they say men don’t cry? I have not stopped shedding quiet tears in memory of you, and of your passing away. And you still remain the finest Gentle-Man I have ever known. Let them say their worst, I still have you at heart. And it is because of the seemingly little, even insignificant ways you touched my life and showed that you believe in me; it is because of these same little things which make you irreplaceable.

– 16th June, 2015 

*                *               *

Without Title.

Mami tamɔ taami.

Mɔko mɔko tamɔɔɔ Tsɜ Ataa.

Mother is like miraculous berry.

No one, none is like Father FATHER.

– 18th February 2015

*                *               *

Abele Rocks!

CORN

photo credit.

Corn reigns and rocks everywhere…

Either the whole cob or the grains. Raw, peeled (outer coat of a grain), dried, or soaked overnight. Milled into various textures. Roasted, steamed, boiled or stir-boiled. You may or may not add sugar (yes, sugar!) or salt; you may or may not add cassava dough or even groundnuts.

Serve shaped in balls, loaves or simply, stuffed into plantain et al leaves or good old corn husks ( I know right! Even this part of the maize plant is useful.)

Etsew in Central Region. Baŋku and Kenkey in Accra. Abolo and Akplɜ in Eastern and Volta. Et cetera.

Add fish proper (may be fingerlings or other seafood like oysters, shrimps, crabs and lobsters) – may be fried, grilled, boiled in a wide variety of sexy stews or soups. Or replace stew or soup with twice sexy pepper sauce – grounded or fried.

Not to talk of Tom Brown, (white) koko, eko-egbee-mli, eyɜɔ, asaana and my favourite, ŋmɜdãa.

You name it.

Corn for you!
Corn for life!

– 31st January, 2015 in Senchi, Volta, Ghana

*                *               *

Nu is Water. Hulushitee is Sunrise. 

As part of many a needed change, it showered, briefly, today. The grass was mowed a little before the showers. Now the familiar, but not at all mundane smell of damp earth and cut green and lapping sea and distant fish and good old salt hangs in the air, is a blanket, actually, cast over my part of the world.

The housekeeping ladies have ‘sacked’ me from my room to my corridor. But this should be nothing at all. Nothing to be compared to:

The dancing woman has still not been tamed. She would rather not be forced into giving her-self and her story away easily, not even if she is asking for it…

But there must always be a way, another way, and life must go on, with or without her.

9th April 2015 at Coconut Grove Beach Resort.

*                *               *

Hulu is Sun. Nugbɔ is Rain. 

sun and rain rose

photo credit

The fog

clears. The storm subsides.
The rains
let down the last of its heaviness. Sunshine should
come soon. I’ve a brighter
smile in ready
for that, for life and
for all goodly, divine gifts.

21st August, June 2014

*                *               *

Grand-E-Mother.

She
wouldn’t wait for me to return from work
to worry her:

pull her legs, sit on her laps,
sing with her; dance for her,
tell her how sexy, she –
person, clothes and all – is

re-arrange already combed hair; re-prop pillows and postures – quite unnecessarily
re-tell her stories she already knew; stories she (probably) told me in the first place

ask her silly questions; fake sadness or surprise at her
ever razor-sharp, short answers

repeat all these and
more, once and
over again –
anything
to just get her worried: talking and laughing and finally,
we
Pray.

She
wouldn’t wait for that day
when I will write
about her.
Properly.

I’m on my way home,
wishing
I had heard wrong yet,
knowing

She
wouldn’t be waiting with her
everyday ‘Miwula, ayekoo’
for my merely having returned from work.

She wouldn’t be waiting
for the one ‘Minaa, ayekoo. Mbo!’
for her having led a life well, fully and more…

She wouldn’t be waiting for any worries – whether words, whatever –
from me…

Dusk: Tuesday, 27-January-2015

*                *               *

Journeys

journys

photo credit

There’s something lightening, freeing and of course, refreshing about traveling. In many ways, including spiritually. For me, at least.

– 31st January 2015 :Anfoeta Tsebi, Volta, Ghana

*                *               *

And Music and Song is Lala.

Music has its ways.
Music finds its own course.
To those part of us
that nothing else can reach,
can touch;
that only music can reach,

can touch.
As far and as deep as we let
only music…

21st August, June 2014

 *         *       *  

Love,

AishaWrites.

12th October, 2015

Grand-E Mother: She Wouldn’t Wait.

phenomnal woman

She
wouldn’t wait for me to return from work and to worry her:

pull her legs, sit on her laps,
sing with her; dance for her,
tell her how sexy, she is – person, clothes and all
re-arrange already combed hair; re-prop pillows and postures – quite unnecessarily
re-tell her stories she already knew; stories she (probably) told me in the first place
ask her silly questions; fake sadness or surprise at her ever razor-sharp, short answers

repeat all these and more, once and over again
anything to just get her worried: talking and laughing
and finally, pray…

She
wouldn’t wait for that day when I will write
about her. Properly…

I’m on my way home,
wishing
I had heard wrong yet,
knowing

She
wouldn’t be waiting with her
everyday ‘Miwula, ayekoo’
for my merely having returned from work.

She wouldn’t be waiting for
the one ‘Minaa, ayekoo. Mbo!’
for having led a life well, fully and more…

Dusk: Tuesday, 27th January, 2015

* * *

Imaa

I’ve always called her Imaa (can loosely be translated as ‘my mother’) and she has always called me Asha – she always seemed to be too much in a hurry to say A*I*SHA). (Maybe, just maybe, that is why I have never liked the idea that Nokia once named a brand of its mobile devices – a phone, to be specific – Asha.) Later, I still called her Imaa and she called me ‘Imaa Aisha’, meaning, ‘my mother Aisha’ and much later, ‘Miwula’, ‘my lady’…

Only last month, I wrote somewhere to properly write about her. Some day. One day.
But she wouldn’t wait.

Much earlier, she has been part of many a piece I have written. Much more than just for my writing, Imaa has been a pillar and a great influence to all that I have grown to be, today and certainly, to become.

…my mother was to later do much of the school fees paying but if not for Imaa, I in particular, would never have even started school – and the school has always been across the street from where we used to stay, in Accra proper.

The kindergarten. It was an extension of a primary school which ran morning and afternoon shifts: Bishop Boys’ Primary School and St. Mary’s Anglican Mixed Primary School. The latter was where I was to later have the rest of my primary (school) education.

The kindergarten. Together with the primary school, was very attached – in more ways than just locale – to the church. The kindergarten. That was where it all began for me.

Much later, I was to realise that parts of both Imaa’s official name and that of the school have MARY in common. (ANSABA and BOTCHWAY are Imaa’s other names. Imaa is well known as ‘Aku nyɛ’, Aku’s mother.)

Just like every first time, mine (at school) has always been fresh and raw. I woke up one morning to find that it had rained the night before. One moment, on that morning, I was playing. I had had neither breakfast nor bath. Not yet, at least. The next moment, I was sitting in a classroom, sporting spanking new camisole, pant, sewn-to-fit (Imaa has never believed in sewn-and-bought outfits) blue and white checked uniform, socks and shoes.

And I already had more than the set of stationery I could need.

It was too obvious Imaa had long planned and made every necessary preparation for the day: the admission had already been gained, the school fees had long been paid…the bathing water et al and quick breakfast were waiting, and a ball of note (money, which I was to later find that it was meant for snack break) had already been pushed into one of the two blue patch pockets in front of my uniform.

An oh! My uniform, it was beautiful beyond words.

My Grand-E Mother. She just dropped me in the class, briefly spoke to the woman who was supposed to be my teacher and then pakopako, she was gone…

Just like she’s gone now.

My Grand-E Mother. Hers was tough, all-out, I-can’t-wait love.

Just like she wouldn’t wait…

Dawn: Wednesday, 28th January, 2015

* * *

Imaa, yaawɔ jogbaŋŋ, yɛ hejɔlɛ krɔŋŋ mli.
Nuŋtsɔ lɛ diɛŋtsɛ kɛ bo ato Efijiaŋ’shi, kɛyashi benɔ ni wɔ ‘aakpe ekoŋŋ…IMG_20150313_084048

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