Chapter 2 of The Woman who Married Six and a Half Men Series
The first time I saw a man and woman kissing, I was utterly terrified. I gazed upon them with trepidation as they kissed passionately behind the plantain tree in the farm that was next to my grandmother’s farm. They could not see me watching them kiss because I myself was obscured by a vibrantly green plantain tree. It was the rainy season and so all the trees, including this plantain tree, were lush and green. My heart was beating in my chest so fast that I could hardly breathe. I thought he was killing her. Why was he ‘chewing’ her mouth up so greedily if he wasn’t killing her? Maybe he was one of those evil monsters who ate human beings from time to time. My grandmother sometimes told me anansesem which had characters like sasabonsam, who killed and ate people and I was too young to realize these stories were myths.
He was a white man, you know, and in those days, we did not know a lot about white people the way you younger enlightened people do. There used to be so many rumors in those days about white people- they were half-monsters and half-human, they would steal you and put you on one of their ships and take you to their country where it was freezing cold and you’d never come back again, they only ate sugar and that is why they often had no teeth or whatever teeth they had left in their mouth was rotten.
And why was she making noise? She was making loud moaning noises as if he was really hurting her. She was whimpering like a bush rat does when it’s caught in a trap, before the hunter finds it. Why was she making so much noise if he was not killing her? I was a young girl and so I had not yet learnt that people can moan like they are about to die when they are experiencing great pleasure.
I knew her very well. She was the young, second wife of Uncle Kofi Esuon, our neighbor who lived 5 doors away from our house. Her name was Esi Atta and I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world! I would sometimes see her at the riverside when I went to fetch water in the mornings and I would gaze at her till she caught me staring. She would then smile at me while I looked away immediately, embarrassed that she had caught me staring at her. In those days, it was usually children and young girls who fetched water from the riverside. Wives hardly fetched water themselves but Aunt Esi Atta fetched her own water every morning.
She used to fetch her own water because after 2 years of marrying her husband, she had not given birth to any child (and indeed, no child suckled at her breasts till the day she died) and her rival, Uncle Kofi Esuon’s first wife, refused to allow any of her own children to fetch water for Esi Atta. “Mcheww”, Uncle Kofi Esuon’s first wife would suck her teeth loudly to the hearing of her rival, Esi Atta. “Let that lazy woman, that woman who thinks she is too beautiful for her womb to hold a child, that woman who has stolen my dear husband and yet been unable to provide him with children- let her fetch her own water”. “May the gods have mercy, so had my darling husband Kofi Esuon not married me first, this woman would have caused the whole world to call him saadwe erh?”.
Aunt Esi Atta was a beauty to behold. She had a round face (the kind of face that showed that one was living a relaxed life and eating well), a gap between her teeth, dimples on her round cheeks and the sort of neck which was ‘cut’ with several lines on it. I used to think that her neck looked like she was wearing several necklaces at the same time. She had large, bushy eyebrows & her hair was incredibly thick- so thick that she spent hours getting it plaited and threaded in the most exquisite fashion! Her body was so voluptuous- she was as well-fed as any of the wives in the King’s palace. She had a soft full bosom and an ample behind, a nicely rounded stomach like those you find on akuaba dolls. Her skin was as dark as millet and so smooth that it gleamed like a mirror. Her body was so sumptuous that it would jiggle slightly every time she walked. That was what used to drive the men crazy in those days you know, a woman whose body was so plush that it jiggled anytime she took a step.
Her husband, Uncle Kofi Esuon, had spent a fortune marrying her. He had doled out so much palm wine and schnapps, imported Dutch cloths and gold dust to her parents, his brothers (his akontas) & other family members during the wedding ceremony that his mother and sisters began to grumble that she had tied him up with witchcraft or put something in his food. They grumbled even more bitterly later on in the course of their marriage when she could not give birth and yet he refused to divorce her.
So, there I was that day, standing there- watching this white man, who was our church’s catechist and the headmaster at my village’s middle-school; there I was, watching him kiss another man’s wife while she moaned and bleated like a sheep that was being sacrificed for the annual Akwambo festival. There I stood and all I could feel was terror, with my heart beating so fast that I thought I was going to take my last breath and go to the land of the ancestors. Dear God and the spirits of my ancestors help me! I did not want this white man to see me hiding behind the plantain tree because he could catch me and eat me up too. But how was I going to escape?
TO BE CONTINUED
*As narrated to Ekuba by Nana her grandmother. Names and some details have been changed to disguise the identities of the characters.
Glossary: sasabonsam- devil like character in ananse stories, anansesem- tales or stories, they often involve the character ‘ananse’ who is a spider but they can sometimes be mythologies which don’t involve ananse, saadwe- barren man; akuaba-fertility dolls, carved out of wood; akonta-brother in law, Akwambo- an annual festival celebrated by some Fantes, an ethnic group living mostly in the Central and Western Regions of Ghana.