The headlines were dominated by coverage of Pomaa’s assault for weeks.
What is your connection to this madman?
Why did he refer to you as ‘Marie’?
Are you in some way involved with the man who rescued the madman?
By the way, my niece needs a job. When the park is open, will you be hiring?
The entire six months she’d spent working on the new Kinetics Park were overshadowed by ten minutes of drama. No matter how hard she tried to refocus the conversation with bloggers and journalists, that was all they seemed to want to talk about. Soon, she stopped taking interviews altogether.
Every time the phone rang with someone hunting for an exclusive quote, she offered the same robotic reply: “For all media enquiries, please contact Dennis Eshun.”
In the midst of her sorrow, Pomaa couldn’t help but wonder if Frema was enjoying her affliction. Sure, she called every night to “check on her”, but those phone calls were full of chatter about how she was helping Dennis field the numerous calls Pomaa was avoiding, and how indispensable Dennis was always saying she was. Still, Pomaa had to admit to herself that there was no true malice in Frema’s tone during those calls. She was desperate was all; desperate to be useful and desperate to be loved. Pomaa could let her revel in the moment. She felt like she owed Frema that, especially since she had allowed herself to be kissed by her boyfriend.
She groaned and buried her face in her hands when she thought about it.
“Sister Pomaa, please…are you okay?”
Pomaa looked up and saw Frederic standing in the living room where she was seated with a dust cloth in his hand. Then she looked at the clock. What was he doing here at this time?
“I’m fine,” she sniffed. “But what are you doing here at this time? Shouldn’t you be out learning your trade and doing your apprenticeship work right now?”
“My apprenticeship is over,” Freddie croaked.
The sound of his breaking vocal chords was so endearing to her. He was not a boy anymore, and not yet quite a man. At 16 he had so much weight on his shoulders, trying to figure out life and building the foundation for his future now. In many ways, she felt a lot like him. She had lived twice his years and still didn’t have it figured out. But what did he mean his apprenticeship was over? He had only begun a year ago.
“My master has left Kumasi,” Freddie explained. “He left some weeks ago. I have been trying to learn on my own, but I don’t have the tools. Mummy says I must focus on my housework until she can find a new master for me.”
“Akoto is gone?”
“Yes, sister Pomaa. He is gone. But he was very nice to me while he was here. I learned so much.”
For a moment, Pomaa and Frederic stared at one another, comforted by their mutual grief that Akoto’s absence had bred. With him, he had taken something they both needed from him – his love and his talent. Pomaa was hurt, but Frederic appeared truly devastated. She couldn’t help but feel responsible for causing his unhappiness. She was about to apologize when he suddenly brightened.
“Sister Pomaa, tomorrow is opening day at the Park,” he said sheepishly. “Can I join you when you go?”
“Oh, Freddie I wasn’t planning on –“
No. She couldn’t refuse him. Of course they would go, she promised.
“Be ready by 2 o’clock or I’ll leave you,” she warned with a lopsided grin.
Freddie nodded, picked up his dust cloth and whistled a jaunty tune as he wiped the surfaces in the living. If only Pomaa could be so easily consoled. Could it really be true? Had Akoto left the city and not bothered to tell her or say good-bye? The short ride to his vacant home told her yes. His sign board was down, the windows were shuttered, and there no sounds of hammering or leatherworking from the shop above.
As Pomaa leaned back against the car staring at Akoto’s hollow home, she knew immediately what she must do.
“Sister Pomaa, I’m going to play in the water!”
Before she could reply, Freddie was off in a flash. The “water” was a replica of Lake Busumtwi, complete with a mock forest canopy made from repurposed water sachets. Children pumping their legs on the swings and queuing up for merry-go-round rides provided just the sort of human energy the park needed to keep running. Every few minutes, Pomaa saw a Park Educator talking to people about the importance of a Green Ghana, and explaining how and where to sort their trash. The finished park looked fantastic. She breathed in a deep sigh of satisfaction.
“Fancy seeing you here, Pomaa!”
It was Frema. She was clutching a manila file folder and wearing khaki trousers. What was on her feet? Flats?!
“I thought you hadn’t planned on coming to Opening Day.”
“I hadn’t, but Freddie convinced me to,” Pomaa admitted. “I couldn’t refuse him.”
Frema clicked her tongue and chuckled. “Eish. Agyapomaa, you’ve changed o! Now you are letting houseboys tell you what to do?”
“I’m not the only one who’s changed!” Pomaa shot back with a laugh. “What are you wearing? These are the clothes of a working woman, not an Ashanti Aristocrat Fashionista.”
Frema took Pomaa by the arm with her free hand and began strolling around the park. She was giggling like a girl who had just been presented with a new pair of dancing shoes.
“You know, a funny thing happened these last few weeks while you were in hiding,” she trilled. “I discovered I actually like working! I don’t know why I never tried it before.”
Pomaa had to stop and laugh. It’s not the work Frema was enjoying, it’s the type of work, she pointed out.
“Plus, it probably doesn’t hurt that you have the very fine Dennis Eshun all to yourself every day, does it?” she winked.
“Oh, Pomaa. You can’t imagine. It’s been fantastic,” Frema sighed. “I’ve decided to stick with him despite his money woes, and to support him in any way I can. It’s only some small credit card debt, anaa? And chaaaaley, we’ve had sex on every surface of this park. Over there in the butterfly garden? He gave me the most mind-blowing head I’ve ever received. He’s started doing this thing with his tongue –“
“Frema. I beg you. We’re in public!”
“Oh. Oh! Yes. I have to remember that I’m working around children now,” Frema conceded. “You know I’ve never been one to whisper.”
“Yes. That’s what my dad said.”
What did Pomaa mean by that? Nothing Frema needed to concern herself with, was the reply.
The pair strolled around for a while, marveling at the colorful murals and masonry work in the most unexpected places. Pomaa’s carefree laughter and smiles concealed deeper thoughts raging within her. Frema was going to stick with Dennis, at least for now. Sure, Dennis had much more going for him than Akoto did in the way of privileges, but Akoto was special in his own ways too. He was caring, inventive and –
“Pomaa! Come and look at this lady’s shoes,” Frema squealed. “Aren’t they brilliant? She says they were made in Ghana, but I’ve never seen anything like them in all my trips to the boutiques and trunk shows.”
Frema may have never seen them before, but Pomaa had; or at least the parts of them. The lilac bows that adorned the bridge of her shoe were from the child’s dress Akoto had shown her months ago. Her heart thumped wildly in her chest as she asked the stranger where she had procured her shoes.
“I got them in a store in Accra,” she replied. “Something that starts with an ‘e’. Hold on, I’ll tell you.”
She fished around in her purse to look for the card she was given with her purchase.
“Escarpment?” Pomaa asked hopefully.
“Yes! That’s it,” the woman laughed. “What does an escarpment have to do with shoes? I asked the owner of the shop and he said it was a long, sad story. He is such a nice fellow.”
“He is,” Pomaa agreed. “A nice fellow and a good man.”