Nana Awere Damoah and Kofi Akpabli’s book reading at Vidya Bookstore takes place in Osu on June 25, 2016.
“She couldn’t take another year in prison. She couldn’t even think about it. It had become so loathsome that it was almost preferable to die than to waste away any longer behind those walls. So her appeal began, not to the Governor, nor to the warden, but to the prison undertaker. The undertaker was responsible for all inmates who died. He placed them in coffins, sealed the coffins, and took them out for burial.
After some time, and using female wiles, she was finally able to persuade the man to help her escape. The plan was simple. The next time someone died, he would allow her to get into the coffin with the dead body. He would then nail the lid shut, take it out to the graveyard, bury it, and return under the cover of darkness to open it and free her. There would be enough oxygen in the coffin for that amount of time.
Eventually the opportunity came. Someone died. According to the plan, she sneaked into the darkened parlor and crawled into the coffin with the body. Shortly after that, the lid was nailed down. She felt the movement of the coffin as it was carried out to the waiting wagon. There was a rocking motion as it was pulled out of the prison yard, through the gates that were locked upon her for so many years, beyond the walls that she could never climb. She felt the wagon stop in the paupers’ graveyard, sensed the downward motion of the coffin as it was lowered into the hole dug for it. A swelling sense of victory filled her. The ploy was going to work!
She heard the clunking noise of earth being shoveled onto the coffin, until at last she could hear no more. Now it was only a short wait until the undertaker would come for her. Being curious, she lit a match to see who had died.
In the brief flare of the light she saw who it was. It was the undertaker… ”
— Nana A Damoah, Excursions in My Mind
Join Kofi Akpabli and Nana Damoah for more at their mid-year reading.
**Picture credit: Paa Joe – Master Coffin Maker