Lovers are Lunatics: New Fiction

Lovers are Lunatics
By Nana Amobea Antwi-Larbiheart

The text message had been sent at 3:15, but it wasn’t read until after two hours, which was a surprise because being jobless I practically lived on the internet, and I rarely missed a notification. But on this day I had been busy.

At first I felt it was a wrong message. Surely, Cyril Kwasi Ampomah,the radio and TV personality wasn’t messaging me! I read the message for the thirteenth time, memorized it and played it back in my head until I had almost forgotten I had not replied him. He had mentioned his name and complimented me on how beautiful I was. I thanked him and asked how he was. Two weeks ago I had been watching TV with my aunt, in whose room I lived, sharing gossip while she sewed her customer’s clothing. Aunt Takyibea was very jovial, from whose room the sound of laughter was constantly heard. It didn’t matter what mood one was in, this woman was sure to make you laugh. She always had a joke to tell, which she insisted were true stories but I suspected some were exaggerated. During the day, there was always someone in her room. She loved being the centre of attention, yet she never stopped sewing while entertaining her friends, except to cook and to eat.

This night we had been watching television when Kwasi Ampomah’s show came on. I admired how he communicated his thoughts eloquently and listened attentively while others were speaking.

“Auntie Takyibea, this boy, you must pray for me to meet him one day oh. Look at his fine self, if you get him as an in-law wouldn’t you be happy?” She looked up from her hand-held sewing machine.

“Ei, the day you bring him I will leave my sewing and cook any food he wants.”
“This boy I admire him, but of course you can’t expect him to be single.”
“Ahh but is there any single man in this country?” she retorted, to which we laughed. It had been a joke. I never in my life expected to ever meet him and today he was texting me.
Being the melancholic I was, I thought over and over about why he was texting me. This guy met hundreds of women and I was sure he had plenty throwing themselves at him. I looked at the message again, got up and made a kete dance move. Aunt Takyibea was startled. I never danced, not even at church.

“Ei have you landed a job?” she asked. I almost burst out with the news but I kept it. I was still quite skeptic and I never really talked about my love life. Even with her. So I muttered, “Sometimes you just have to make yourself happy to make the devil mad.”
“Saa? Anyway you are right.”

That began my romantic affair with Kwasi. We spoke on the phone a number of times, so the first time we met I felt like I had known him forever. He being a popular face probably added to me feeling secure with him. I felt I could trust him. I believed he would be careful what he did since he had a reputation to protect. But the whole relationship felt unreal. Many times, even after we had spent hours making love, cooking and talking about harmless nonsense, it still felt too good to be true. I was not bad looking at all. In fact, I had a good figure, even if I felt a bit busty. Men admired me, but I felt Kwasi was out of my league. Time with him was extremely fun, but afterward he would disappear from my life for months. He always reappeared with the same excuse: “I’m sorry but you know how busy I am.” Even on holidays. When I once feebly protested, he went into a 30-minute monologue on how none of his ex-girlfriends had understood his busy schedule. I quickly shut up. I was determined to be his Superwoman, the woman he had never had. And I was going to support and never complain.

Many times I would try to call him to share a moment, sadness about an interview I had for a job I hadn’t gotten, or a great offer I had received, but he was unavailable – until he wanted to see me. Sometimes months passed. I succumbed, even after minutes of being upset with him. I convinced myself that he loved me, he was just really busy.

How easy it is for people in love to live in delusion. I agreed with the Latin expression, amantes sunt amentes: lovers are lunatics. How else would any reasonable person accept such hogwash explanations from another human who claimed he loved her? But those in love forgot that no one was really always too busy, it was a matter of how much of a priority one really was to another.

I went to see him on his request, as usual, dressed to kill, my breasts packed in a tight top with my ample backside in skimpy shorts. I wasn’t a fan of that style of clothes, but he loved it when I wore them. I had clothes packed for the weekend and told my aunt I was staying over at my friend Naa’s house.
“Kwakyewaa, so you mean it’s Naa you are visiting dressed like this?”
“Of course, I need to find a boyfriend before you start sending me to prayer meetings for a husband.” We laughed and I left.

He was at his desk studying some documents when I walked in. This was every young ladies’ dream. A hardworking, successful, financially sound young man. Men knew this, and the cunning ones strung a number of women along, acting single and promising marriage. He got up to hug me, desire all over his face and sat down again with a puppy dog look.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, ready to play the loving girlfriend.
“I miss my sister. I haven’t seen her in a while.”
“Ohh that’s too bad, why don’t you invite her over?” I asked, looking at the paper boards he had clipped to his walls.
“She doesn’t know this place, she’s never been here.”

On my face was a sympathetic smile, but my heart was beating twice its rate, my mind making calculations so fast I wondered how I got a B in my Basic Statistics course in uni. My mind flashed back to when I had visited the last time and walked into his bathroom to use the toilet. There had been a bucket filled with ladies’ underwear. He had told me they belonged to his sister, who was staying over during her vacation but had gone to their parents home for the weekend. Obviously, he had forgotten this.
“Your sister has never been here?” I deserved a medal for being able to sound so cool when I was boiling inside.
“Never,” he responded, unaware what he had just walked into.
Why did women fall for this? I wondered why a lady would point out to a friend a celebrity was merely interested in sleeping with her while, if the situation was reversed, the lady would believe the celebrity really did love her, even if he was married. Every other person was silly until it happened to us.
I gave Kwasi a hug and it wasn’t long before he started kissing me. I felt his passion heating up, just as I wanted. I waited for a few minutes until he had pulled his shorts down, his hand searching for my zipper, and then I pushed him away.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, his face contorted with passion and confusion. I could have laughed if I wasn’t so annoyed.

“Nothing. I’m leaving.” I said. I was already at the door.
“Why?” he asked, trying to tug his shorts back on.

There is always an incident in a girl’s life when she feels like the biggest fool. But I was comforted by the popular saying, ‘first fool no be fool.’ Kwasi obviously had a lady living here. I was hurt, but happy I had realized this early enough. Some never found out they were just an option until so late. I remembered a friend of mine, Frema, who had seen photos of her boyfriend marrying another woman on Facebook. When she confronted him, he had told her he was shooting a friend’s music video. The poor girl bought the story. By the time she realized the truth, she was already carrying his baby. I had been saved, as painful as it was.

“I’m leaving, because you are an idiot,” I said to him. I shut the door in his face, and left him behind me.

Nana Amobea Antwi-Larbi is a graduate of University of Ghana who lives in Accra and is on Twitter @adwoa_amobea.
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Three-line Poem

Canadian writer Cynthia Sharp in her e-book How to Write Poetry talks about the three-line poem:

A traditional three line poem uses the first two lines to describe imagery and a final one to give meaning to it all.

Here’s mine:
Coffee in my cup
Fingers poised on keys
I’m writing for my life

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A Ghost in North Legon: Non Fiction on Akwantuo

A Ghost in North Legon
By William Saint George

My spirit this morning was as severe as the North Legon sky, as the wind that raised the curtains up and let them fall while I lay in bed staring back half bemused by their haunting manner, severe as the silence in the hostel that reminded me of my sudden loss.

It was sunnier in my sleep, I recollect. There were people. Many people. I called them friends. We had things to talk about, stuff to do, smiles to exchange. It was sunnier in my sleep. I heard laughter too and she was there.

That thought made me smile. The curtains raised themselves high and I caught a vision of the stark Madina skyline; the zongo spread into the distance, a hundred corrugated sheets above which was a dense forest of low hanging power lines and jutting antennae, the ragtag estate was held back by our high wall protected by a razor fence. The world had lost some colour, or I was going mad with grief. Either way, my reality was not what it had been yesterday. I loved my sunnier dreams. I had friends there.

An hour must have passed. I heard the sound of rain outside. The smell woke me up. I don’t remember what dream I had this time, but the feeling lingered: it was the warmth of humanity, the belongingness that I longed for so much it drove me mad to think that some god had preordained this present lot.

I slithered out of bed and sat on the cold floor. I stared at nothing for a while, then, I shook the spell of sleep from my eyes. It was eight AM. I should be getting ready for work. The curtains agreed with a frantic nod. The rain was still falling outside.

I got up and briefly considered my austere room. There are two beds at each end of the square room; one for myself, the other for my quiet roommate. He must have slipped out while I was asleep. He always woke up at six, bathed, dressed, sat at the edge of the bed closest to the window to check his email and then, without rousing me, exited. My dearly beloved roommate is a specimen of mechanized humanity. His unchangeable routine annoys me more than it should. No, it isn’t that I am jealous of him, far from it! I am rather glad that I am not like him. He is a machine, programmed to be productive and religious and clean and generally dutiful. He executes his internal instructions with passionless accuracy. He is good at what he does; he is manufactured to be normal.

I am not, and though right now I am beset by demons on all sides, I feel more at home with them, understanding that they are in truth on my side and together we make my life more fascinating.

Beside his bed is our only study desk. Beside my bed is the chair. Between the beds is just the bare, concrete floor. In the middle of that, in a little heap, are my clothing. I left them there last night after my last frustrated evening with her. My dutiful roommate did not disturb them while performing his morning ritual. The good boy that he is, he knows not to interfere with my personal matters. He knows as little about my life as I know about his. I don’t care much for him beyond having his presence constantly remind me that there are people most unlike me. And he cares little for me beyond what is generally acceptable to whatever social algorithm he lives by.

We like our arrangement as it is.

Our room is dark and spartan as the love in my heart. It contains all that is necessary and nothing more. It smells because most of my clothing are unwashed, the bathroom door is left open, and no one bothers to flush the toilet these days.

I dropped my underwear in the pile of clothing and walked naked, in dejected fashion, to the bathroom to stare at myself in the mirror.

After five minutes of deep consideration, I concluded that I was not a happy man. My eyes were red and hungry, my cheeks empty. I wore a fierce scowl because I must have been angry at myself. My skin was dry and peeling. I had dark spots where pimples of days past had been removed. The aesthetist in me thought that I was ugly. He wanted to avert his eyes but you see, the flagellant in me was stronger. He held my face to the mirror. All my past selves looked at that face with pity. Were I another person, they would have spat on me.

At last, having had enough of myself, I splashed cold water on my face and buried it in my towel. The water stabbed my face like a knife. It dripped like the tears I was unwilling to shed. It was too cold for a bath, I convinced myself, and hurried out.

I glided like a ghost to the pile in the middle of the room and, without much thought, slipped on the same old black trousers, two months unwashed and muddy, the same old shirt filled with her scent from our last embrace, and I tucked an old handkerchief in the back of my pocket.

Beneath the pile of clothing were my sandals. The straps were torn, the soles were pealing from overuse. I did not care. The fabric of my soul was in tatters and that needed mending. I have no time for torn sandals and smelly shirts.

In five minutes the last bus will arrive. I will have to go out and sit among people. They will shun me as they often have and wonder in their minds what a queer sort of individual I am. They will have conversations around me but not with me. I was nothing but an afterthought to them.

Strange as it seems, this gave me some immense comfort. I had become a ghost, thin as air and unseen. I left my haunt with one hope, that the day will swiftly pass and night will come so I can sleep once more and dream my sunny dreams.

Jesse Jojo Johnson writes under the pen name William Saint George. Among his several interests are world history, philosophy, photography and amateur music composition.
He works as a software engineer at Asoriba. He publishes on his personal website. 

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