The notification on her calendar popped up alerting her that it was time to start heading to Dansoman. It was a Thursday, her regular date night with Kofi. They had settled on meeting up on Thursdays because that was the day that his girlfriend usually went out with her own girlfriends. Plus on Thursdays, he was also child free, as his little girl only came over on the weekends. And so Thursdays were the one day of the week when Temaa closed up the Art gallery promptly at 6pm so she could go home and freshen up before starting the hour long journey across town to the neighbourhood where her lover resided. Tonight they were staying in, other nights they would go for drinks in one of the many trendy bars that had started to crop up in that part of town which Accra hipsters now affectionately called DC. This was the last night in a while that they were going to see each other and so Temaa pulled out all of the stops.
‘Oh my goodness woman, are you trying to kill me?’
‘Ha! I am just trying to make sure that you have enough happy memories to keep you going over the next month.’
‘Argh. Please don’t remind me. I don’t know how I’m going to cope.’
She shook her head, a gesture that led Kofi to reach out, grab handfuls of her bronze coloured locs, and pull her down towards him. “Naaaaaah” she said, whilst arching her back up, a semi conscious move designed to elongate her body and tease him further. “I’m in charge tonight, and you’re going to cope just fine without me for a month”. She started a slow wind, picking up the rhythm of the song playing softly in the background and allowed her body to take control whilst her mind drifted away.
The only time Temaa could switch off from work was when she was with one of her lovers. At those moments she was a different person – far from being the first Ghanaian woman who had established a contemporary African art gallery that now drew in rich patrons from all over the world. She knew she had made it three years ago when she made her first $500,000 sale from a series of bronze sculpted figure heads that she had discovered during one of her art expeditions across West Africa. Her frequent art jaunts across the continent often gave her Mum palpitations, “Temaa are you trying to kill me? Why do you insist on driving to these dangerous countries when you could get a nice job in any museum around the world?” But she wasn’t interested in a comfy arts job at the MOMA in New York, or the British Museum in London. She wanted to show the world the beauty and culture that Africa contained, and for herself, she had discovered that the best of culture was contained within people. The sounds of ‘Yesssssss, Temaa, Temaaaaaaaa’ brought her back fully into the room, in response she quickened her own movements, allowing herself to finally fully let go. Kofi was one of the best things that had ever walked through the doors of her gallery.
Her lover pulled her hair back teasingly. ‘I love it when you let your locs down’ she said. Temaa looked over her left shoulder, and with her signature crooked smile said, ‘and I love it when you rub my shoulders, don’t stop now’. Ama went back to smoothing sunscreen into Temaa’s shoulders. It was their annual lover’s trip, and this time Ama had flown to Accra, and from there the pair had taken the two hour flight to Sao Tome, a city so firmly trapped in the colonial era that the notification from Ama’s bank read, ‘Welcome to Portugal’. Every year the pair picked a new place to go on holiday. Sometimes Temaa flew to NYC where Ama lived, and other times they hungout out in Accra. But often their preference was to go to a neutral country where they were unlikely to run into all kinds of Aunties, Uncles, and the varied blood and adopted families that were just part and parcel of being Ghanaian. Recently, Temaa had increasingly become insistent that they spend more and more time in Ghana. Yes, they could only truly be themselves in a handful of Accra’s bars and restaurants, but Ghana was their homeland and for Temaa in particular it was important to be herself in the country of her birth.
She thought back to her last conversations with Kofi.
‘So I’m not going to see you for a month because you’re going to be with her?’
‘Correct.’ Temaa said
‘So that I can give her some quality time. You know that’s only fair. You and I have every Thursday together, and I only see her a few times a year.’
The rhythm of Ama’s hands on Temaa’s shoulders slowed down into gentle circular movements, ending with a flourish. “There you go,” she said, “now it’s my time”.
Thanks to the participants of the University of Iowa’s long distance course, ‘Moving the Margins: Fiction and Inclusion’ who gave me feedback on the first version of this story. Sorry I couldn’t rewrite this in time to share before the course ended