There he lay. As clichés would go, he could have been asleep. He really did look so. Although slightly bloated: his chest appeared robust for an aged, non-breathing person. Grandpa, was almost smiling. It was his face, now inanimate, that raised Aba.
When Aba was six, Grandpa’s bespectacled face towered over her. He had just found her on his bedroom floor with his upended first aid box beside her. Her lips were chalked white. “Aaaa,” Grandpa said. “Open your mouth, aaaa”. Slowly Aba opened her mouth to reveal a mash of some whitish substance of her tongue. She unfurled her fists to reveal round tablets with ‘G’ imprinted on them. Aba’s eyes began to water. She had been caught. Grandpa burst out laughing and offered her a hand so she could stand. Aba’s grandmother would medicate her with the Bentua, a traditional bulb syringe, to ease Aba’s constipation in the days that followed.
Presently, Aba notices the neatly folded Kente cloth at the supposed foot of the coffin in which Grandpa lay. She had been told by her cousin that beneath the Kente was money that Grandpa was supposed to use in the spirit world. Aba had rolled her eyes at this piece of information. “Really?” had been her only sarcastic remark. She turned to gaze at the corner at which her grandmother sat surrounded by consolers, all keeping wake of her late grandfather. Aba turned her gaze to stare some more at Grandpa’s face.
When she was nine, Aba kneeled and faced Grandpa to watched him eat pawpaw. She had her elbows strategically placed on the table to support her chin. This was a tactic devised by her and her cousins — silently willing grandpa to give up his food so they could devour the rest. That day it was soft pawpaw with evaporated milk; the day before that it was Abiba’s Waakye. “Fine. Here you go,” Grandpa said resignedly. Chuckling to reassure Aba that he was not annoyed. Aba grabbed the bowl and dashed behind the longest couch. She would be hidden from the eyes of her cousins incase they came prowling, granting her the chance finish the evaporated milk soaked pawpaw alone.
Now, mourners circled Grandpa’s body. She allowed little room between herself and the coffin that the slow march circled her too. Aba watched their movements and it queerly resembled a dance. The kind of dance which included very active movements were in the shoulders, slothful leg movements and an occasional dub of the face or mouth with a handkerchief. Some mourner-dancers more were energetic than the rest by proclaiming their wish to go with Grandpa. Aba’s mother was one of them. “Ei! mini sane n3”Aba thought while struggling to smother an emotion that had started to well up in her. She returned to her gaze to her late grandfather’s face.
Aba’s fixated view allowed a plethora of fond childhood memories filled with images of Grandpa’s face, to race in her mind. She screws up her face as though about to sneeze, or cry—possibly the latter. However, the sound she emits is not that of a sob. It is unmistakable laughter.
Edwina Leegnoye Aba Pessey (@) is a prolific Accra-based writer whose work is published on a host of literary sites including Flash Fiction Ghana. She is currently a student studying her final semester at The City College of New York (CCNY), double majoring in English Creative writing and Public Relations and Advertising. In addition to writing for other platforms, Edwina features her work on her personal blog.
This story was published in collaboration with Bahati Books, an e-book publishing company that aims to bring to global readers captivating and well-written African Literature by African authors.
Related country: Ghana