He stood in one spot as bodies rushed around him in different directions. Everything was haywire, confusing. People hurried towards him, from behind him and across from him without so much as an “excuse me”.
“Sorry…sorry…oops I’m sorry…” He kept muttering as he tried to get out of their way. No one bothered.
He looked around him. It seemed he was on some sort of sidewalk. A few meters to his left, there were cars tightly packed in a traffic jam. Cars honked, drivers shouted insults to other drivers, demanding they move faster. He noticed more people were moving ahead of him than in the opposite direction. Some of them were shouting. Others were jogging lightly. There were too many people outside, especially since it was raining, he reasoned. Something must be holding up the traffic, something up ahead. He began to move, slowly at first, following the crowd. Soon, he too was caught up in a light jog. Maneuvering his way in this thick crowd seemed pretty easy, he thought, slightly surprised. But he didn’t bother about that. Before long he was there. The crowd wasn’t moving anymore, they just stood there, staring at something. What was that? Too many people were talking; he couldn’t make sense out of what they were saying.
“…these trotro drivers…” he heard someone say in Ga.
“…it was all too fast!” another person said, this time in Twi.
“…the poor man…” he heard yet another.
What was going on? He thought to himself. He made his way to the front of the crowd, not knowing what to expect. Had there been a fight? A robbery? Finally he came out from behind a plump looking woman at the front of the crowd. He saw…nothing. There was nothing there. He was confused. Why were these people standing around in a circle looking at nothing? He shook his head. He turned to the woman next to him.
“Excuse me, what is going on he-“ before he finished, she just turned and left with not so much as a glance at him. He creased his eyebrows. That was rude. Or maybe she didn’t understand English? He turned to a man next to him. He was an old man; thin, smallish, very frail. He decided to try twi this time.
“Uncle please what happened here?” he inquired. The man did not turn. Maybe he didn’t hear him. He tried again, louder this time. “Uncle! Uncle, please what happened here?” Still the man did not even acknowledge his presence. What was wrong with these people?
Something on the ground caught his eye. Something was flowing at his feet. Water, of course…it was raining. But the water looked different. He would have written it off as dirty water, but dirty water wasn’t red, was it? His eyes traced the discolored flow to its source, and without thinking, his feet followed. The red color deepened as he moved. Soon he was in the middle of the crowd which was slowly dispersing. Finally he stopped. He gaped slowly. He had never seen so much blood in his life!
Suddenly he understood. There had been an accident.
There had been an accident earlier and probably the body had been taken away. One of the people had said it was a man. Was he okay? Or, worse, was he dead? With the amount of blood he was looking at, the man probably was. How awful, he thought, one minute you’re alive and planning your next moment, and the next minute you’re gone. He looked around. What was he doing here anyway? And where was this place? He couldn’t remember. Nothing seemed familiar. Well, he’d better try and find his way home.
He didn’t know where that was. He looked down at himself. He was in a suit. A suit? Was he from work? A party? He couldn’t remember either. Who was he? He couldn’t even remember his name! A wave of panic suddenly struck him. What was all this? He rushed to the other side of the road. The cars had started to move more freely now. He tried to stop a woman passing by.
“Excuse me which area is this?” he asked desperately. She walked right past.
He turned to another woman, “Please where is thi-“ and she also went by without turning.
He tried yet again, his voice louder than the last time, “Sir, where is this?” No response.
Confusion and desperation written all over his face, he looked up to the skies, half hoping an answer would drop. Nothing happened. Well, I wasn’t like he was really expecting some arrow to point out an answer. Slowly he dropped his head with a sigh. And that’s when he saw the necklace.
Her necklace. Lying on the ground, blood soaked. She had given it to him the last time they were together. She had told him she was leaving. She would not be back for a long time. He needed something to remember her by, and that’s when she took off the silver necklace with the heart-shaped pendant and put it around his neck. He had never taken it off since. Unconsciously his fingers crawled up to his neck. Bare.
And that’s when it all came back to him.
The phone call.
Her pleading voice.
His date’s angry cries.
The trotro headlights.
And the next thing he knew, he was on that sidewalk, wondering where he was. He knew now. He understood it all now. Why it was so easy to pass through the crowd. Why the people he talked to didn’t talk back. Why the necklace was on the ground blood soaked. He had been in that accident. He was that man. He was dead.
He felt nothing, for some strange reason, after he came to that realization. All he had was questions. What happened after the crash? How much time had passed? Where was his body? Where was she? Did she know? She was the only thing on his mind at this point. He needed to find her. He needed to see if she was okay. He noticed he was moving, very fast, almost as if he was flying between the people on the streets. And he knew where he was going. It was as if he could move at will. He thought of her and suddenly he was heading towards where she was. He was there in a matter of seconds. He saw her, some yards away. Sitting quietly on the bench, huddled in her soaked jacket, rocking back and forth in an attempt to keep warm. She looked beautiful, even with her hair looking like a soaked fowl. His lips formed a sad smile. She was still waiting. She didn’t know.
She checked her phone, sighed and put it back. Almost immediately she picked it up again and dialed a number. He knew she was calling him. He moved close to her.
He could hear the operator, “The number you have dialed is either switched o-“ she silenced her with a frustrated stab of her finger. “Where are you?” she muttered.
“I’m here.” He answered softly, as if she could hear him, but she couldn’t.
A cold gust of wind blew again, and she shivered. He couldn’t keep her warm. It pained him. And suddenly she began to cry. Soft whimpers escaped from her mouth, soon turning into sobs that racked her tiny frame. Maybe he wasn’t coming. Maybe she should go home. He’d never stood her up. Never. Then she wiped her face. No. She won’t doubt him. “He’ll be here,“ she convinced herself, “he’ll be here.”
They sat there in silence. There was so much he wanted to tell her, so much he wanted her to know. That he still had feelings for her. But he couldn’t. He stared at her, studying every detail of her face. Angles and ridges he knew so well. How many portraits had he painted of her? How many sculptures had he molded, blindfolded? Yet she didn’t know.
Her phone rang. She sat up abruptly. An unknown number. Her frozen fingers struggled to hit the answer button. Finally she had it.
“Hello?” she answered shakily.
“Akosua Boahene?” the caller inquired
“Yes? This is she…who is this please?”
“Do you know one Kweku Agyemang?”
“Yes I do. Who is this?”
“I’m calling from the Korle Bu hospital. I’m afraid he was involved in a serious accident about an hour ago. We are trying to reach anyone in his family and you were listed in that circle in his phonebook. Can you please come over and identify the victim? ”
She didn’t hear anything after the word “accident”. Kweku was dying, Kweku was dead…
“Ye- yes…I’m here. I- I will be over immediately.” She whispered and hung up. She was stunned. Her body went limp. So many emotions took over her. All at the same time, yet each one was distinct. Sadness, rage, hopelessness, shock, regret…
“I didn’t even get to tell you…”she whispered into the air, “I love you, Kweku…”
His head snapped up. She loved him. She loved him! Yet it was too late…
Suddenly everything started spinning. Faster and faster, he couldn’t make out anything. The trees, the bench, the road, the people, her…all of it became one big blur. Then there was darkness.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“…looks like he’s stabilizing, sir…”
“…run a few more tests…”
“…dear God, please…”
He could hear all sorts of sounds and whispers, but all he could see was darkness. Bit by bit his body became aware of its surroundings. Someone was holding his hand. He was lying on a bed. He could hear people walking around. Where am I? He thought to himself. He struggled to open his eyes. His eyelids felt heavy. The light was too bright. He felt drowsy. He shut them again and drifted slowly back into the darkness.
Time passed. He became aware of his surroundings again. This time there was silence. Except for the constant sniffing and the beeping. Someone was whispering. He couldn’t hear what. His eyes opened a little more easily this time. Things were blurry at first, there was a dark figure looming over him. His vision cleared, and he could tell what it was. It was a feminine figure. An all too familiar feminine figure. It was her, Akosua.
She noticed he was awake. Her eyes, puffy from crying and still glossed with tears, lit up.
“Kweku-“ she started and her voice cracked. She could not choke back the tears so she let them flow freely. She leaned down to hug him. Slowly and painfully he wrapped his weak arms around her, tightening his grip with every second. All was understood. (10 July 2012)