Ghost Town – Student Writing (Part 5)

This is the fourth and final composition piece in the Student Writing Series.

See the Introduction to the series, and the first, second and third composition pieces.

*

It was nearing midnight in the town of Afien.

Mr Firsch, my guardian had just finished shaving his bristle moustache and was happily under his bed covers, drifting into Lalaland. Everyone else was asleep.

Except Me.

I was not going to sleep tonight.

I was high up on the local hill, taking more than just a peep at the legendary Ghost Town.

Ghost Town was, till now, a myth told us by our grandparents and those before them. The story went that every night, hours after we were all coiled and asleep in our beds, our ancestors rose from death and grave and relived moments full of life and zest underneath the hill, in the bottomless abyss of nothingness. I thought of all this as fickle – that our grandparents took too many swigs of beer before they came to fib to us. I thought…

Until Now.

From the top of the hill I could see Ghost Town. It had this light blue colour and everything there was an eerie shade of this light blue.

The buildings were different, each from the other – from mighty skyscrapers to meek thatched serf huts made of light blue mud and straw. Then there were a gigantic marble church, a magnificent gothic museum, a soccer pitch which almost looked perfect for me to flaunt my supreme sports skills, and no, not a school in sight.

Ghost Town looked everything like the dream place everyone wanted to be but did not know. Yet.

I could see all those who had gone before me: the millionaire who died in an aircraft crash, perched at the top of his mansion; my grandparents walking on the pavement, bobbing their heads to the jazz band playing in a massive amphitheatre close by; my lively dead dog, Fifi, running furiously from street to street and back; Mrs Firsch, the lovely lady who used to treat us kids to baked goodies; and Clifton, the madman who used to ramble on and forever about the existence of this place when he was alive and was part of the day and earthly side of Afien.

He looked quite sane now. Clifton.

Ghost Town really had it all.

CloudYOU! Dusk.

Photo mine. Circa 2014. Dusk. Somewhere not far from Lapaz, in Accra, Ghana.

I was so enthralled by the city’s awesomeness that I nearly did not hear the bell chime for 5 o’clock.

Soon, the sun began its steady climb up the sky and Ghost Town began to disappear, in bits and splits. All the ghosts rose into the air and flew towards the nearby cemetery. The blue buildings – virtually everything – sublimed into the clay chasm.

Everyone, everything was soon gone.

Except Me.

Pondering.

“Was it necessary to go back to Afien, really necessary to go through constant troubles, to be confused and consumed by all the evils of the world, to be soured and pained by men – humankind, in general?

Were all these pains and troubles necessary when paradise was just a mere death away?”

Anyway.

…so the next time you see me – probably with a crooked neck, or a broken back, or wobbly legs or whatever I sacrificed to get here – I will probably be sprinting laps with Fifi, or swimming in the town pool or lying on the ghost blue grass wearing a big smile and looking at you, telling you I am in a better place…

*

Bio:

Keli

Photo mine. A picture of Keli.

Keli Dey loves what many of his peers loathe: Jazz, Football, Comic Strips. The list never ends.

He loves to read too, and to seek and come to love new book genres.

He is an undying, unapologetic fan of 8’o clock business shows and premier league interviews – he thoroughly enjoys crushing his amateurish classmates on any FIFA game.

Like your typical gawky 14 year old, Keli doesn’t often express his thoughts in the open, unless he is coerced, many times, for far too long…

But give him a piece of paper. And a decent pen.

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Friday, 29th March, 2019.

Waiting – Student Writing (Part 4)

This is the third composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series, and the first and second composition pieces.

*

Have you ever felt your heart beat so loud that you thought there was a little green elf – shaped like an alphabet and with tiny green shoes – clanging onto a huge Taipei gong in your heart? Well, that was me yesterday.

It was 5 hours to Christmas.

And there I was. A cute seven year old boy from Greenland, a boy so tiny a sesame seed could be a thousand and three times bigger. There I was. With straight-blonde hair snipped to the level of my bent over shoulders, with eyes as bright and glamorous as an Asian model’s make up set. Altogether so glittery!

Again, there I was. With short, pointed nose and flaccid eyebrows and a little pink mouth. A tiny boy I was indeed, but I could swear my heart was way bigger than Jupiter. So naive and innocent I was – and perhaps, still is – and filled with so much anguish and too much curiosity.

I was waiting for Santa to come down my old, brick-red, dusty chimney. To the fireplace.

I was anxious and some.

An hour went by. Then 2. Three. And then 4.

I struggled all night to fight the sleep that came to tame my eyes and undo all the wake I had been keeping. Thankfully, victory was mine and it was just 30 minutes before midnight.

I could feel my heart pumping and pounding at least six times per second. I kept glaring at the Old Bulgarian plastic clock that sat comfortably on top of the seven-foot polished, Brazilian wooden shelf, the shelf that I have always believed has been in this house long before my dad was in diapers.

15 minutes to midnight, and it almost felt as if a group of 100 meter track runners were sprinting up and down my belly. I had butterflies and even more butterflies and maybe birds too…

I could not believe I was actually going to see him. The mysterious man sporting that long, white, fluffy, cotton-candy-like beard. And I was prepared for all of it!

I was in my newest pyjamas, the one mum had bought for me a few days ago. My pyjamas boasted of a neon green colour, had Christmas trees on them, and its soft cotton-material made my skin feel warm, made me feel calm. Well, at least, it was meant to, but the curiosity and anxiety of my wait will not let me be truly still. Goosebumps dotted and marched all over my body, leaving my arms looking like the skin of an uncooked chicken wing.

The minutes slithered past with painful leisure. But soon, it was left with very few more minutes before…

LoveCokctail 8

Picture mine: At a beach to reflect, write and such – around Labadi, Accra.Ghana; Sunday, December 2, 2018.

It was time! One minute to midnight. And I could not really really keep calm.

I began to dream and imagine what Santa would look like – how he would react when he saw me, how I would react when I too saw him. All these ideas and expectations made my head a tad hot, and my stomach, sick from all the butterflies and birds flapping…

But I was not going to be stopped. Nor was I going to be robbed of this so-soon-to-come crown of my victory. Not today!

30 seconds to midnight and that was when my little, prickly and sticky fingers began to jiggle and tingle like a naughty fish now out of water. My toes went numb and my feet, cold.

15 seconds to midnight and my petite thighs began to tremble like no known volcano, and my blood felt like a quadrillion volts of electricity was being pumped into it.

11 seconds.

Ten, 9, eight, 7, six, 5, four…

3 seconds left to see the man of my many many dreams, and I went “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”

I slept.

How?!

Just How?!!

*

Bio:

Papa - pcture

A picture of Papa Ekow.

Papa Ekow Archine is a bubbly and lovable 15 year old boy with an awesome, magnetic personality.

He is currently a student at Alpha Beta Christian College, Accra.

Ekow loves British accents but definitely not as much as he loves and lives for basketball – he devotes much of his time to playing and learning about the sport.

Once in a long while, when he allows melancholia to swallow him, he waxes all creative and beautifully so.

Ekow is all these and more but also, always, simply Ekow!

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Thursday, 28th March, 2019.

Makola and Her Market – Student Writing (Part 3)

This is the second composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series and the first piece.

*

Today, I was at Makola Market.

There were people shouting whispers.

A small, sharp-eyed kayayo girl held my things. She wore an all-black ensemble. No, ‘ensemble’ suggests it was a choice. She was dressed toe to head and back in black – maybe to mourn her life. She seemed new to it all. The work and jerk of city life. The rowdiness and shabbiness of the people. The pain and disdain it all assured.

I stepped in dog dung.

A man yelled an insult at a woman. It was deadly. But it was lovingly so. The insult.

The people were an orchestra of madness, sanity shining through their eyes. Almost escaping.

I saw a young boy. He was sweating a desperation. Flicking his fingers in some despair. Yelling a cry.

I moved a step. I walked over to the little boy.

I asked him “Little boy, what’s wrong?”

Nothing. The boy said. Nothing.

**

Yesterday, I was at Makola Market. I was agitated.

The place was noisy like my life. Everyone bargained. It all sounded like a song that adored its own cacophony, enthralled by it. I smelled a bulimia-inducing aroma of rotten fish.

A little dark-eyed kayayo girl was carrying my basket. She clutched it like it was her very life. She looked depressed. But it should be no crime to be depressed. Or?

My heart was beating really fast because I knew something significant was going to happen. I thought, maybe, I was going to have a heart attack.

So when a man tried to bully me into purchasing a tomato, I said something crude about his mother. It was funny. The insult.

The man yelled a different insult at me. Something lethal. Yet affectionately so. (I took it like a man but, wait… I am a woman.)

Accra London Market

Photo mine. A scene at the London Market, around the Korle Lagoon, Bukom and James Town, all of Ga Mashi or British Accra.                            Circa May 2017.

Everyone, everything at the market at Makola was the masterpiece of a morbidly deranged soul. I could see calm in everyone’s eyes. The calm shone in the derange-, was trapped in something sinister. Not by it.

Then I saw a little boy. In a fit of urgency. Wagging his hands, like he had touched something hot, like something was going to hurt him. Screaming with a pitch, some bright pitch.

So I moved, my left foot going in front of the right, then the right in front of the left, and again. And again.

I ran into a little boy.

I asked him, “Little boy, what’s the matter?”

The boy said, “Woman, you’ve already asked me this”.

I returned, “Me? When?”

“You asked me this tomorrow,” said the little boy.

Soon, it was dark.

**

Tomorrow, I will be at Makola Market.

I will be frustrated because I will not be able to find some proper woman to sell me the right fabric for that wedding I will be going.

All the homo-sapiens will have become monkeys. Back to origins. All of them will be behaving in a manner that terrifies.

I will beg my headache to run. Threaten it with my words and words alone, even. But there will be nothing to show for my feisty begging.

The eclectic slow-fast of the market will haunt me, will continue to.

There will be a petite, intense-eyed kayayo girl struggling with my endless baggage. A baggage filled with useless things that have hauntingly beckoned me. The girl will not be happy whatsoever.

My heart will leave my chest.

A man will use very much force to get me to buy his temptingly juicy tomato but, I will say something vulgar to him. Something about me will excuse my arrogance. Barely.

This man will yell something else offensive at me. Something fatal. But romantically so.

The whole of Makola’s market will be soaked in the ripened instability that a devilish kind of disorder will adore.

At this point, I will look across where I stand and I will see a child-boy.

This boy will be crossing that intricate line that mediates madness and sanity. This same boy will be doing something sorrowful with his fingers.

So I will walk, get close to him, ask him, “Little boy, are you okay?”

With what seems a sour lump in his throat, the boy will reply:

“No, I am not!”

The boy will not wait for me to ask him why with my eyes, my whole face, before he will declare:

“There’s this woman who keeps asking me questions. Everyday.”

“For how long?” I will get the chance to ask.

“I-”

“How long?!”

“You already know. You are that woman.”

Calm will come.

Everything blue will turn red – from the sky to the tulips that may never afford the space and peace to live and be. Here.

The clouds will be like scars and I will weep softly on that loud street – the one in the middle of Makola, a street in the middle of a market at Makola.

 

*

Bio:

IMG_5707

A picture of Kojo.

Kojo Obeng-Andoh lives in Accra, Ghana. Currently.

He likes to think he is more of a creative than your typical teenager. He lives on Art, Literature and Lorde’s music. In no particular order, and not to say this list is exhaustive.He likes to also live in the worlds of his writing, drawing, painting and music.

He likes to think about the most absurd of ideas and let them put on reality. He likes to take his time – something most people will rather call laziness.

He likes his work to be described as “dark and sweetly dizzying”.

And this is only one of several ICONIC reasons he likes to thinkinsists on believing, actually – that he is Miss Nelson’s favourite student.

And he likes to think you will see more from him soon…

*

Glossary:

Kayayoo – a head porter, usually females, at open markets.

Makola (Market) – the vast open market and central business district Accra, Ghana’s capital city.

 

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Wednesday, 27th March 2019.

Coolest Kid in Africa – Student Writing (Part 2)

This is the first composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series. 

* * *

My worst nightmare as a journalist was waiting for Nasty C at the airport, waiting to interview him. Celebrities are difficult to get interviews with and getting to interview one of the biggest singers in Africa was my best and scariest experience yet.

His scheduled arrival time was nine thirty-seven pm and I got there at nine. I had to wait for thirty-seven long minutes. In those thirty and seven long minutes, I experienced more things than my introverted self could contain in years.

I carried all sorts of snacks – Doritos, Lays, Sour Patches, Haribos, Tree Top, Hot Cheetos, Onion Rings and Sprite – in my bag. Because I know myself. When I have to meet someone for the first time, I eat a lot, I need to eat a lot – a whole lot.

I opened a bag of Cheetos and Sour Patches and munched loudly, so loud that about five people too waiting for whoever they came to fetch glared at me with the deadliest of looks. I couldn’t blame them. I chew loudly – and not at all pretty loudly at at that.

I put the Cheetos and Sour Patches away and started a conversation with a girl of about seven standing next to me. I asked her the normal questions, in the beginning – like her name and why she was alone at a crowded place like this.

Conversation was going well and smooth.

nasty c 2.jpg

Image may be protected by copyright. A painting-picture of Nasty C, a popular South African rapper, song writer and music producer.

Then I switched to asking questions I didn’t mean to ask – like does she know how her parents made her and if her parents have sexual intercourse in her presence. The little girl just walked away from me and I got eyed by the incredibly tall woman behind me. She seemed to have heard my questions. She did not look happy.

After my encounter with the little girl, I decided not to talk anymore to anyone, and to just look around. And that was how I saw couples kissing, as they had been away from each other for so long. Then there were the people on their phones, busily texting away, not paying attention to their young ones.

The second best thing I saw that night was a boy who looked between seventeen and twenty running towards a girl of about the same age range. This boy. He carried the girl and lip locked the girl. My eyes got watery. And oh no, I was not, I am not a bad person – only misunderstood. Very misunderstood.

I got tired of looking around and opened a bag of Lays Original. I munched less aggressively – or loudly, perhaps – this time, and no one gave me any death stares.

From the corner of my left eye, I saw someone come stand next to me and I glanced at the person. This person looked friendly, so I started a conversation with him. I started off nice with him, nice things like the news. I was determined not to let my recent experience with the little girl get repeated.

But.

Soon, the spirit of wild talk stirred within me, again, and I asked him if he had ever eaten a huge fly garnished with crushed worms and termites. He gave me the Sorry-but-are-you-okay-in-the-head-? look and did something I never expected: he yelled –

“Sorry, I have a girlfriend so I can’t date you!”

E.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. looked at me, some with disgust, others with sympathy and the rest with the oh-she’s-a-whore look. I was so embarrassed I looked down at my shoes, my cheeks, my whole face flushed of life.

Even my shoes. They looked like they were judging me.

 

feet and heart shape twig

Picture mineA heart-tied stick I chanced on, while on a trip to selected locations in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The specific location here is a footpath to one newly discovered waterfall – Akaa Falls – which is still being developed as a tourist site. –– Thursday, 14th June, 2018.

When the megaphone announced the arrival of the nine-thirty-seven plane, I couldn’t stand still, I got all fidgety. I played with my hair and my many bracelets. I twitched my lips and let my tongue dance around my teeth. I pretended I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone, because I was so scared of the looks they would give me. While I was playing and sorts, my head hung down.

Then I heard whispers, muffled noises around me.

I raised my head, only to see Nasty C coming out…

I blurred everyone out as the best feeling ever rushed through me. The presence of Nasty C blessed my nightmare of an evening. I forgot all about what had happened while I was waiting for him. I remembered I should have pulled out the little placard with his name on, so that he could notice me and when I raised the card, he started walking towards me.

I pictured myself running away with a speed greater than light’s because of all the worries I had. What if he is rude? What if he doesn’t like me? Is my hair fine?

Before I could finish thinking through all my worries, I was tapped by someone, and suddenly wrapped in same person’s arms. I looked up. I saw Coolest Kid in Africa written all over the person who had tapped and trapped me, the person who had me all wrapped up. Nasty C.

*

 

FullSizeRender

Picture hers. A picture of Akosua. 

Bio:

Akosua Kumbol is also Ri.

She is the role model of your typical crazy girl.

She knows the rules to break them.

She is her own girl and person and boss.

She loves to read, and she hates to write but when she does, magic happens.

 

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Saturday, 23rd March 2019. 

Of Cool Kids, Makola Market, Christmas Waits and Culled Worlds – Introduction: Student Writing (Part 1)

I have written briefly once and quite long and  several about Teacher me and the students who make that self of mine a living truth and reality.

I have mentioned and implied more time than many about how Writer me is never left behind in the life of Teacher me.

54524567_2257207160998437_5096748762865336320_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

But I may never be able to fully write or talk about the vast-s and weights of these two parts of me – the places where they smudge and pour into each other to soon become purely the other, the times they swell and swirl alongside each other and yet remain resolute in their uniqueness-es and their intersections and their molten mixed forms.

These I many never be able to find the words to write or talk about.

Teacher and Writer me, that is.

But I can talk about what happened while I was grading a quiz which I recently conducted for my current Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students.

I can say how I had to fight and free myself from an abiding personal ethic of not sharing any extract or chunk from, and full written work of any of my students, of not sharing such things with a community other than the class in question and outside of the (college end of  the) school where I teach.

And I can never say enough how sadly glad and glad again and far more so I am right now to come sharing…

At the moment, and because I am not able to imagine myself quitting teaching – or education, altogether, in the near future, in any future, my future – I cannot promise that this will be the first and only time I will be sharing only and fully student work, especially work I en-JOY!-ed being a part of its making and or was happy being a sudden spectator at the time of its making.

54433118_2257223480996805_901404843908792320_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

I cannot even pretend to make such a promise.

But I do know that I am proud of my students and I am happy and proud and again and more, to share four of the responses from said quiz with you, Reader Dear.

And in in order for you, Reader Dear, to read and see these work for the raw truth and story and unpretentious beauty and personality they each are, I thought to not:

  • make known the question or prompt which these work were responses to.
  • give any summary and description – no label whatsoever – of any of these work.

I must mention that I have spoken long and wide – including helping them write what will be their first author bios! – with the four students whose work I have selected for this series, and I have their consent and better, their very giddy gladness-es, to publish their work.

Also, very little changes and edits have been made to the first and original versions of each work, work produced under strict exam-like conditions. And these changes or edits. They were largely based on the marking annotations and feedback I gave, and always give (to) these students – and every other – on graded written work.

Yes, I just implied my students are such huge writers! Already.

54515373_2257206997665120_9208184018883837952_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

I must mention too, that, Composition, the component (of the said examination) that required responses of this nature and length, is meant to test more than English language proficiency.

A careful look at the component’s mark scheme – as at the time I write this – should prove this: a total of 25 marks, consisting of:

  • up to 13 marks for a criterion called Content and Structure.
  • no more than 12 marks for another criterion called Style and Accuracy.

This component of said subject of said examination. Composition.

The mark scheme criteria for same component. Same Composition.

What these three of four things mean to me?

 

Words. Creativity. Writing. Words again.

Creating. With words. Creating worlds. Weaving worlds. With words.

Or simply, Creative Writing!

And it is for the loves and heart-skips, the joys and mind-tickles of these that I, many a time, approach the mountain and chore that grading students’ work can be for many many a Teacher – not excluding me.

And it is with all immense mind-tickles and joys, such surreal heart-skips and loves for writing and creative writing, for words and the wonders of their creations that I bring you, Reader Dear, the four selected writing from a recent quiz that Teacher me conducted for my Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students:

Coolest Kid in Africa  by Akosua Kumbol.

Makola and her Market by Kojo Obeng Andoh.

Waiting by Papa Ekow Archine.

Ghost Town by Keli Dey.

can use me plus students 2

(Feature) Picture mine: Some of my current Grade 10 students and me – fourth from right, in white loose blouse, three-quarter jeans and orange-brown wedge shoes – during a retro dress up school day–Wednesday, 17th October, 2018.

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Tuesday, 19th March 2019.