Dial Episode 40 is running…
She had chewed something minty, and I tasted it on her lips as she kissed me desperately.
I didn’t touch her as it slowly dawned on me…being captured and dragged away to the palace had reminded her of her husband, and she had even remarked how similar her late husband and I were when eating.
She had worn a sad smile the whole day, obviously missing the only man she had ever loved. She had been driven from the main village and pushed across the river to the land of the dead. Abandoned and alone, she could have left the village, but love for her only daughter had forced her to stay.
This woman had lived a hard life, of loneliness, of being called a witch, spurned and hated, even by her own daughter! She probably hadn’t had a friend for a long time…yes, I understood her loneliness, and craving for a sexual tryst.
But, for the very first time in my life, I lost my libido. I held her loosely, but I couldn’t respond to her. I tried, but I just couldn’t. That was something that hit me quite hard, inside that warm room. I had never had a conscience, nope. As long as there was a space, I would roll it, no matter what. I craved for sex, and lived in sex. It had been my fodder!
But I couldn’t do it to this kind, lonely woman. She kissed me fervently, and then her hand roamed my chest and belly, but when she reached for me down there, I brought up my thigh and turned slightly from her probing hand, preventing her from touching my manhood.
She stiffened eventually, and her lips slackened from mine. Slowly she buried her face in my chest, and I felt the hot tears slowly washing over me. I patted her head, aware that I had hurt her in unfathomable ways, but I simply couldn’t speak.
After a while she spun away from me and grabbed a cloth, covered her nakedness, and made for the door. I knew that if she opened the door and went out, we could never face each other again.
I bounced off the bed and went after her, putting myself between her and the door. With pained eyes I looked at her miserably, and when I saw the slump of her shoulders I felt a sharp pain racking through me.
“I disgust you,” she said with her head lowered, her voice tiny and miserable.
I moved toward her, and then I took her hand and put it on my boxers so that she could feel my hard erection. She gasped and looked at me.
“You don’t disgust me, please,” I said gently and stepped back from her hand. “Right now I want to take you to that bed and show you just how much I desire you…but I can’t.”
“Why, Yao?” she whispered tremulously. “I am lonely. I miss my husband so. It is not as if you’re married. You told me yourself you have no one. Why, Yao?”
I put my hands on her shoulders and looked intently at her, my face filled with misery.
“Please,” I began painfully. “All my life, I have never had a friend, Maame. I have slept with a lot of women, and none of them is my friend now. Every woman I make love to end up hating me, eventually. You have showed me something different, Maame Ntiriwaa. I have hated all women, even my own mother, with venom.
But with you, I have found something more powerful and more beautiful than any sexual relationship. You have become my friend, the only friend I have, and I’m scared. If we make love, I might have to leave here, but I don’t wanna leave, at least not just yet. Can we move on from here, for now, please?”
She trembled for some time, and then she gave a shuddering sigh, and gently wiped tears from her face. She looked up at me, and she smiled.
“You’re right, Yao,” she said softly. “Forgive me, I erred. The loneliness caught me off-guard this time. Friends we shall be.”
I sighed with profound relief, and then I hugged her tightly.
The tension was diffused, forever, and although I could feel every inch of her through her cloth, I didn’t erect again.
She turned away, and reached for the rolled mat in the corner, and I sighed deeply.
“Why?” I asked quietly. “We can’t sleep together anymore?”
She spread the mat on the floor and turned to me with a sad smile on her face.
“I embraced Christianity, Yao,” she said, her voice low. “I have followed it for many years, and the Lord has been kind to me. Yes, I knew temptations would come, and I know the sin of the craving flesh is the strongest. I thank you, for being strong enough to save me from that sin. But I’m still vulnerable, still weak, still a woman whose body is craving to be touched…so tonight I sleep alone, on the floor.”
“Then I will sleep on the floor, witch,” I said with a gentle smile as I walked up to her. “You sleep on the bed.”
“No, you take the bed,” she said.
“Nope,” I told her. “Tomorrow I need to see a man named Tawiah, so I need to write some letters. I take the mat.”
Her eyes widened with sudden concern.
“Ah, yes, Tawiah and his dear daughter, Aba!” she said hollowly. “The little girl has been sick for a while. What happened now?”
“I’ll help him take her to the city hospital tomorrow,” I said and sighed. “But there are other things I need from the city, some letters I have to send. Is there anyone around here who can go to the city and run some errands for me?”
She scowled for a while, and then she nodded.
“Yes, there’s a nurse, Afua Takyiwaa, who’s been here for a while,” she said softly, her eyes reflective. “She’s good, knows her way around the city, I guess. If she goes with them I’m sure she can help you.”
“Alright then,” I said with a nod. “I’ll need to write some letters, so I’ll use the mat. Now I can kill snakes, so you don’t have to worry about me, witch.”
We both laughed. It was easy and friendly again, free of the stress that had almost drowned us a few minutes earlier.
She put a blanket and sheets on the mat, as usual, and gave me a pillow. She slipped into her nightie with my back turned, and then she fell on her knees in front of her bed, turned and looked at me.
“Join me, Yao,” she said, patting the space beside her.
I shook my head uncomfortably.
“Nope, thanks,” I murmured. “I don’t do that prayer stuff.”
Her eyes became a bit harder.
“Now you do, more than ever. Come here!” she said insistently.
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And so, for the very first time in my twenty-six years, I got down on my knees, clasped my hands in front of me, and listened to the witch from Etwe-Pe-Kote praying.
She prayed for protection through the night for me, herself, her daughter and all the people in the village. She prayed to God to help me, and touch me, and heal me. And then we said ‘Amen.’
She fell on the bed and yawned mightily.
“Goodnight,” she said, hesitated, and then she uttered it. “Son.”
“Good night, Maame,” I responded.
I took my pen and flip-pad from my bag, and brought out my cheque book.
I wrote two letters and put them in envelopes. Finally, I addressed them, added cheques I had written, and then I sealed them.
I sighed contentedly, turned down the lamp, and slept almost instantly.
And in the morning there was a stronger, fiercer bond between me and the witch…the bond of friendship.
It was an extra victory to me, though.
For the very first time in my life ever…I had turned away from tushy!
It was really a great feeling, and I felt proud of myself, in a humble sort of way.
Tawiah was waiting with his canoe when I got to the riverside in the morning, and on his face was a sorrowful look as he bowed low to me.
I carefully put my small classic bag across my head, cross shoulder, and got into the canoe.
“How was your night, Tawiah?” I asked as he picked up the long pole and began to row.
“I slept a little, because I was hopeful that there might be help for my dear Aba, sir,” he said with a tight smile.
“Don’t worry, I will do the best I can for your daughter, Tawiah,” I said gently.
“May the Creator above bless you, sir,” he said, and great balls of tears welled up in his eyes and fell slowly down his face.
We didn’t speak again till we crossed the river, and then walked into the village.
Once again the kids followed me, and the adults paused in their chores to stare at us as we passed. The Health Post was across the village, getting to the outskirts. We passed the main lorry station, and took the road that led out of town.
A few minutes later we came to the Health Post.
It was just a long shed divided with wooden planks. Its base was clay plastered with thin cement, but there were holes at several portions. There were a lot of people here, mostly women and children.
The reception area consisted of some hard benches. There was a long table at two sides of the area, behind which sat some nurses in khaki uniforms, and a couple in white.
When we entered the din died down as all eyes turned to me, and low murmurings could be heard all around. I followed Tawiah through a small space as we walked to the end of the shed, and entered a makeshift ward.
It had two beds on each side. My stomach cringed when I saw that there were about five children on each bed. Some of the children were sitting on chairs, or lying on the floor while they were being transfused.
It was a disorderly ward, and the most horrible thing about it all was the fact that the people were behaving as if this was a perfectly natural situation!
Aba was lying against the wall, and she appeared to be asleep. She looked absolutely sick and emaciated as a young nurse fawned over her.
The nurse looked up when we entered, and I saw how traumatic her eyes were.
“Uncle Tawiah, we need to send her to a better hospital, please!” she said tremulously, her face so agitated. “We’re losing her! She needs to be sent.”
Tawiah rushed to his daughter’s side, and once again there were tears in his eyes as he looked at me helplessly.
I stepped forward, and I saw that there was a silver name plate with black lettering pinned to the nurse’s uniform.
Her name was Afua Takyiwaa, the one Maame Ntiriwaa had mentioned.
“How are you going to get her to a big hospital, nurse?” I asked gently. “Because I’ve been told the boneshaker comes around weekly.”
She looked at me then.
She was slender and very fair, with huge eyes that were both exotic and beautiful. And she was young, not more than twenty-two, I guessed. Her brown uniform fitted her shape well, and I noticed how lovely her legs were.
“Oh, there’s a man with a tractor in the next village,” she said hurriedly. “When we pay him he would drive us to the next two villages where there’s always a car. We can send her through a car there.”
“You have no ambulance here?” I asked, and her eyes went wide as she shook her head.
“Listen, is there a superior here?” I asked softly. “I want to pay for the children in need of better care to be transported. Also, I want you to go on an errand for me when you get to the city.”
“Then please come with me,” she said hurriedly. “Let’s speak to the Senior Nurse in charge.”
I followed her down further the shed, and then she knocked on a door marked SENIOR NURSE.
“Please wait here,” she said, opened the door and went in.
She was gone shortly, and then she emerged, her jawline set tightly.
“We have to wait!” she said, and it was evident that she was very angry.
“Why do we have to wait?” I asked carefully. “I heard you saying Aba’s case is urgent.”
She nodded unhappily.
“Yes, but the Senior Nurse is attending to a nurse,” she said, her hands almost balling into fists. “They’re discussing some dress designs.”
Well, my fury just shot up ten notches higher.
I was so mad that I almost grabbed her and shook her.
“Lives are on the line here and she is discussing clothes?” I grated out angrily.
“Please, sir!” she began desperately.
I didn’t wait for her to finish, though.
I just pushed the door open and entered.
There was a table at the far end, and on it was a sort of calendar with dress designs on it. Two women were looking at the designs. One was standing beside the table, wearing a white uniform.
The other was not even a nurse, but she was sitting in the chair of the nurse, one finger pointing at a design that had obviously caught her fancy.
She was the Royal Princess of the village…
Maame Ntiriwaa’s haughty daughter.
I glared at her, and she glared at me.
We stared each other down…and the only thing we had in common was the mutual hatred for each other. The truth dawned on me, and it took me by such complete surprise:
This girl was the only beautiful girl I could say with certainty that I hated with every little essence of my being!
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