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Afriwowri Selections: Family Ties

When the catamenia halted for eight weeks and the loud-mouthed, unabashed kenkey seller noticed the extra bounce on my mother’s chest, I was a clot of blood in her womb and already an auntie.

By the time my knees were acquainted with the untarred roads, my two-year old thumb sucking nephew was my playmate. It is said that my mother was a parasite of bananas when she was pregnant with me and would often fight off monkeys aggressively, just so she could have a bite.

Perhaps”, others speculated, “the fifth man—a truck driver who shacked up with her—prodded the contours of her nakedness under the eyes of banana trees”.

These were the justification for the melodic strength of my vocal cords. Indeed, my first love is music. It rides through my thoughts relentlessly till I give in to its jolly sweet nothings and open my mouth, letting it ride me tired, permeating sadness with its joy.

I sing when Amonoo returns from the smaller villages where she is a fish monger. Sister Amonoo is the first of my mother’s birth pangs, a barren, queer emancipated woman, who the women at the river bank pitied and said,

Her mother-in law had made meat of the children in Amonoo’s womb”.

So I sing, you see, to drive away the evil spirits.

When I bathe my niece, Densua, behind our house and hear my mother’s reason for the barrenness in such splenetic manner during heated arguments, I sing to little Densua.

According to mother, Amonoo starves her husband literally below his belt due to her trips to these villages.

You do not starve a lion for too long, this man of yours doesn’t have a pocket with holes,” she would say shaking her index finger. I wondered why a man of his calibre would undergo such torture; my sister got a real fine husband; one on which she needed to keep the closest eye.


You are our hope now”, Kweasibea; my other sister, would say as she knotted my hair into neat corn-rolls.

Keep your head in your books”, she always hammered incessantly.

Perhaps it was to lessen the guilt that weighed heavily on her shoulders. Once the academic torch bearer of our family, she veered off the path of righteousness unto the path of night whispers under neem trees.

This resulted in two fatherless children and not a certificate that could have landed her the secretarial job in town.

So I sing to ease this burden—the standard set for me—but it is this first love that broke my heart. It all started with the appearance of a guitar and the blue basket that I always carried to his house all made-up by mother at supper time.

Then he held my hands and tickled a C major in my side that ignited a tuneful laughter, stroked an A minor in my hair and carried me on his lap to feel the rhythm of a song played on the erected guitar.

Soon his tongue strummed my lips and his passion eroded my innocence on their matrimonial bed.

As I cowered in the darkness, barely breathing, he played a jazz tune on the guitar, but my tongue refused to be aroused, my teeth embraced and the songs choked one another in my throat.

My mother was the first to witness my arrival. She danced with glee and bathed me in talcum powder—the one she forbade everyone to touch. Kweasibea gaped and dropped her water pot. I noticed her disappointment and my mother’s joy but all seemed like a million years away; in a daze, I wondered,

How do I tell Amonoo I blamed her for losing my first blood to her husband?


Charlotte Addison writes poems and short stories. She is the creator of the Afriwowri Literary Project and curator of the anthology ‘The different shades of the Feminine Mind’. Her works have been published in Brittlepaper, That Igbo Girl. Her poem ‘She’ was published in the 2016 Radioactive anthology ‘The Women’. She has performed on ‘Writers Project’ on Citi FM-Ghana and ‘Open Air Theatre ‘on Radio Univers.

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