Kwansema sits in front of her father’s house, thinking about her life. Her brothers are all in school studying for their future while she sits idly waiting for the sun to go down to prepare the evening meal. It is strange how she feels wronged. She wants to be a president one day. She has always been honest about that. Her father only laughs when she mentions it saying:
“You probably meant the wife of the president, oh Araba, prepare your daughter well for the throne of the first lady” then he will laugh it off with his usual sarcastic laughter sometimes with happy tears flowing down his face.
The only thing the man has done for her pertaining to education is giving her the basic education which cost nothing. After her junior high education, he insisted “the man is the head of the wife” so there was no need to take her to the secondary school although she had the best results among the four children who completed that year and was the youngest. Her father had maintained those were the words of the Bible, who is he to dispute that? Isn’t Araba a Christian? Did she want to disrespect him to a point of disobeying the word of God? Even without the codification in the Bible, who is interested in throwing money into another man’s bank account? Kwansema will surely get married and send her riches to another man’s family, then who loses? Auntie Araba kept quiet and sympathetically looked at her. That look on her mother’s face said a few pregnant sentences which keep breeding many heart breaking conclusions in her head:
“Sorry Kwansema, I tried, but your father did not write the Bible so there is nothing we can do. Just be obedient and help in the house chores, so you can be a good wife in the near future.”
Something in her sounded an alarm; it is going to be a warlike hurdle to breach, her quest for education.
It’s been two years but she still believes she will achieve her goals. She reads the books the boys leave behind before going to school, one of her cousins is gracious enough to explain things she finds difficult. Somehow, a pestering voice lingers, asking her what she needs all the knowledge for if she has no certificate to show for it in the end.
Yes, the reality of qualifications and certificates!
“Is everything all right? I’ve been calling you for the past minute why? Are you on another planet?”
This is Kwadwo, her best friend. Her father has never understood their friendship;
“Fire and gun powder can never be friends.” He’ll always say, but their friendship has grown from strength to strength. Mr. Bentil on a second thought decided to let them be and rather scrutinize them under his spotless lenses. Her father has done many funny things in the past. When she was ten years old, Kwadwo who was eleven then had come to call her to go for the Ogua Festival, little did they know that Mr. Bentil was following with a double barrel gun. When they got tired, they bought a coconut each and went to sit under a secluded tree to drink. While there, they spoke about school, funny characters in class, before they both could laugh off a very funny joke, Mr. Bentil fell flat on his face between them. He was on the tree. As to whether he was there before they went there or climbed it after they went to sit there, till date she cannot tell. She has never forgotten that. The man broke an arm, could not lift his head for a few days so one would think he had learnt his lesson. He staged a few other comic reliefs which must be left for later.
Kwadwo is saying no need to feel too sad about the school thing. He knows any time she sits like this then she is thinking about her schooling. He has news that will really make her happy. There is an NGO in town called Female Education and Rights (FER), they help girls who want to go to school. He is just coming from school; they announced it there so he decided to come take her there before going home. She should just take her results and freshen up.
The FER office is cozy. Everyone there tries so hard to be friendly while looking for ways to disqualify girls with good background who lie for the sake of scholarship. Kwansema tells them her father is not poor, he just has his strong beliefs which he strongly lives by and nothing can change those. One of it is not wasting money on a girl’s education. She is his only girl so he is probably looking forward to a day his Bible will give him permission to drink schnapps; her engagement day.
The patron of FER, Mrs Dadson, laughs so hard she could barely manage to stand but Kwanseman and Kwadwo do not know what is amusing her. Could it be that the woman thinks she is telling lies?
“Mrs. Dadson, what she said is not a joke, I know the man personally and I’ve known him all my life, he really is a hard nut to crack.” Kwadwo says trying to convince the woman.
The laughter dies off her face, “what? You mean you are not trying to be funny? But the publicity of educating the girl is ongoing; doesn’t he watch television or listen to news?” Mrs. Dadson manages to ask.
“We do not have television in our house, not even a radio, my father says those are immoral tools” Kwansema says sadly.
At this point, Mrs. Dadson asks the profession of this man.
“A pastor and a cocoa farmer” Kwadwo and Kwansema say in unison.
“What?” All the women in the office exclaim. Mrs. Dadson tells them to wait for some time so she can go to her house to ascertain things for herself but they warn her to bring along a man or some men as the man can be temperamental. She laughs it off and goes to complete her tasks. Mrs. Dadson finishes in about 2 hours. It is a long wait and both have staged the meeting a hundred different ways in their minds, not one has gone well. A deep silence engulfs them as each sits with personal thoughts and fear for the future of the next hour or two.
It is 5pm and Mr. Bentil sits in his rocking chair with his big Bible on his laps. He starts preaching on obedience immediately he sees Kwansema.
“Children, obey your parents in the lord for this is right, honour your father and mother, for this is the only commandment with a promise.” He fails to acknowledge Mrs. Dadson. Kwadwo stands as far as he can so he can run like a thunderbolt in case he turns Jesus with a whip in His father’s house. Somehow, the man never fails to amuse and scare him. He seems to take almost everything written in the Bible at face value.
Good evening Mr. Bentle, I am Mrs. Dadson of FER, Female Education and Rights, I came to speak to you about your daughter Kwansema.
“Whaaaat? You mean this little ingrate carried our house matter on a pan, hawked for miles to sell it at your office?”
By now, everybody in the house numbering 48 (extended family members forming the majority) are lined up on the compound to witness the court proceeding that is threatening to take place.
“No Sir. She just said she wanted to continue her education-“
“What? Her education? And that is your business how? Madam, how old are you?”
”I am 45 sir” Mrs. Dadson says now fully digesting the warning of the children.”
“Do you have children?”
“Yes, I have two”
“Two? Only two? A hen with two chicks, what happens to her when coccidiosis rages through the land?” You have nothing better doing that is why you are buying stories which you cannot cook in your pot” Mr. Bentil spits.
“I beg your pardon?” Mrs Dadson asks appalled.
“ I mean you are a busy body, anyway I can see you are married You are educated no doubt and have a job. So what do you use your money for?”
Mrs. Dadson sees where the conversation is heading to and intelligently combats it.
“Of course I use it to take care of my children, my mother, my father and myself. If you educate your daughter, she will also take care of you some day, if your wife happens to be working, some of the burden you feel today wouldn’t have been there, even if you are taking care of a child to better someone else’s home, giving out a good gift is better than giving out trash. If trash is what you can send off to another house then it means that your loin is filled with trash” Mrs. Dadson breathes the last word in exasperation, never has she thought any one could irritate her this much. The harsh words he throws about, the mockery in his voice, everything about this man is so irritating.
Mr. Bentil gets up and goes into his bedroom. Kwansema tells the woman to run, everyone is running but Mrs. Dadson stands her ground not knowing what is going on. A minute later, a double barrel gun points at her to leave the house or risk her head being blown into pieces. She raises her hands, moves two steps backward, and turns with a speed of lightening. Her car has been abandoned. By now, Kwadwo is long gone. Everybody breaks into laughter but Kwasema.
Lost in her thoughts, she sits on her legs with her head bowed as her father rains insults on her, he goes as far as casting the demons in her out, demons of disrespect and jealousy. Even her mother tells her she is at fault. Before Mr. Bentil can finish praying, he feels his hands being handcuffed. Every body’s eyes are closed so no one saw the police come in.
“What is happening?” Mr. Bentil asks, thinking a disrespectful someone is playing a joke on him. He opens his eyes to see thirty policemen in his house and his hands cuffed to his back.
“You are under arrest Mr. Bentil, for causing panic and threatening to murder”
His wife; Araba collapses to the ground, his male children cry and heap abuses on the only girl of the house.
Mr. Bentil is locked for the night. He is made to sign an MOU stating; if any harm should befall Mrs. Dadson, he’ll be held responsible. His double barrel is confiscated. Immediately he is released, he takes to his heels not stopping anywhere until he reaches his house.
The first thing Mr. Bentil does is to throw Kwansema out of his house. Even her mother fails to plead on her behalf. He cannot live with someone who can send him to jail any time she wants.
Kwansema goes to Kwadwo’s house. He has been feeling guilty the whole time. He talks to his parents who refuse to take the girl in knowing her father’s nature. He goes with her to Mrs. Dadson’s office again.
Mrs. Dadson thinks this through, even if she forces him to take back the girl, he will maltreat her so she files a suit that the man says he is no longer interested in his own child, she is not suing him for child neglect, she only wants them to get him to sign adoption papers and waive his rights as a father. She is ready to adopt the girl.
Everyone in the Kwamansa village hears of the disrespectful girl who sends her father to jail and again sends him to court. The next time she will be sending him to his grave. The man win many sympathetic congregation in his otherwise empty church where he preaches about Satan coming in the form of a daughter to his home, how he has been able to cast her out and how God keeps on protecting him from the valley of the shadow of death.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Dadson relocates to London to join her husband. She takes her family of which Kwansema is part with her.
It’s been twelve years since the demonic girl left the village of Kwamansa. Every household has a television as the myth of its immorality has been broken by its comprehensive news bulletin. Aunt Araba sits watching as a young woman of about 32 is being interviewed. Her smile sends her calling her husband, her name; Kwansema Dadson.
She was the CEO of Dadson and Associates but is now the Deputy Finance Minister.
“Is that not my daughter? Mr. Bentil asks.”
“She is the one” Araba says happily.
Mr. Bentil dresses in his traditional wear, his wife in her Kaba and slit. Life has not been fair to them; he has been demoted as a pastor after he was caught in a compromising situation with one of the choir members. His explanation, the lady tried to seduce him but failed though he was caught with his supporter down. His cocoa farm has been destroyed by pests and his children have disappointed him. His first son drowned in a pool when he went to the university. The second turned into a drunkard when he completed secondary school and the third failed his secondary school exams. His fourth happens to be Kwansema. He had gone looking for the girl after a prophet told him she was his comfort in old age. But she was nowhere to be found. Now he must go and see her. He is sorry for what happened and needs her back as his child. Blood is thicker than water after all.
On their way to Accra, the drunk driver speeds into an articulator truck killing everyone on board. The accident is reported and the bodies are shown on national television for identification. Kwansema sits by the television and easily identifies both parents. She pretends not to have seen them for fear of being an ingrate to her lovely family and goes to her room. Although she hates them, she cannot stop her tears from falling.
The next weekend, she travels to her home town and looks for Kwadwo, he is now a pharmacist in Ada. He has come for the funeral of Kwasema’s parents. He is overjoyed seeing her. He is not yet married and is hoping for a relationship but Kwansema is engaged to be married. She goes with him though as an escort wearing dark glasses, her head and face almost covered in a headgear. She hears the gossip of how the people died, they were going to apologize to their daughter, the one they disowned, something about she being on television and working at the ministries.
Kwansema leaves the funeral in tears. Kwadwo asks her to reconcile with her family members but she refuses, takes his number and drives back to Accra. “They never wanted a lady with a pen; they only wanted a lady with a broom and a bucket. Sleeping dogs must be left to lie after all.” She thinks to herself. Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © 2014.