She saw me first. Squealing and almost sprinting, she bear-hugged me from behind and tickled me senseless – something she knew I despised. I was too happy to see her to care. I pinched her cheeks and rolled my eyes at her fat cheeks. She scoffed and told me she was going to learn the soundtrack in Mr. Bones just to sing for me. Fits of laughter engulfed me.
It had been 6 years since I last saw her. We had exchanged just two letters within that period. We spoke of the past and our childhood. The short walks after school, sitting in front of the administration slabs waiting for her driver to pick us up and pretending we weren’t drooling at cute boys.
The childish arguments and our make-up sessions; whoever faulted bought the other a yellow packaged yoghurt. Which was funny, because I always bought that yoghurt on borrowed money from her. Money that she never made me pay back.
I remember the confusion and trauma she had to go through when her parents separated, how much she hated the thread of women her dad was sewing through, how scared I was when she went missing for two days, and sitting in the class freaking out hoping the police wouldn’t ask me if I knew where she was. I didn’t want to be the one to tell them her mother had ‘stolen’ her for a few days.
The numerous tales she spun to her father, the numerous tales her father spun to her.
Those two made me laugh at the intricacies of a simple life
I remember her father asking me what I wanted to be in future. And how she chipped in before I could reply that I was about to mention something fancy. I giggled and told him I wanted to be a trillion things. He asked me to mention one and I remember telling him I didn’t know the name of that profession but I wanted to work on people’s brain. With a surprised look he’d asked if I meant a neurologist. I shrugged, because I hadn’t heard the word before.
He smiled at me and promised to buy me something special if I could help his daughter figure out what she wanted to do. The memory of her sticking her tongue out at her dad and I made me smile.
I remember how we used to chide Afua under our breaths for her obsessive enthusiasm over mathematics; a subject we both hated. Our collective hatred of maths was directly proportional to how much Mr. Lomotey talked about how mastering his formulae made him excel when he was in primary 6.
Growing up and moving to new schools had created a bridge. I lost her number, she lost mine. I wrote her a two-page letter in high school. She replied with a lengthier one and signed off with three hearts. I remember how different she sounded. How grown up, how seemingly mature, how different my Akyaa had grown.
That was six years ago.
Bumping into her that afternoon was a pleasant surprise. She wanted us to meet up the following day and catch up. I was travelling the next day, so I couldn’t make it. I promised to let her know as soon as I was back so we could hang out.
Weeks later, Ab calls asking if I knew when the funeral was. Confused, I asked who had died….
I remember hearing my heart beat in my ear. I remember screaming no over and over, and sobbing helplessly. I remember praying endlessly asking God to bring her back. I’d seen it on tv several times. He could do it for me too, couldn’t he?
Akyaa was dead. She’d died in a motor accident.
First it was shock. And then disbelieve. She couldn’t be dead. She just couldn’t
Then the tears came. I cried so hard. As if, if God saw how miserable I was, he would bring her back..
And then the numbness embraced me…..
I lay wishing I had spent more time with her, called more often. Hanged out with her instead of traveling that day.. guilt plagued my insides…
And the uncertainty of life unsettled me
Everybody said she was in a better place. I hoped she was
I hope she is…