Kofi’s eyes never wavered.
“I love seeing you around, Abena,” he said softly. “That is a fact. And I’m not flattering you. I’ve lost my fiancée, forever I’m sure. She has not bothered to come and check up on me, and I don’t even have access to a phone to call her.”
“We’re not allowed to bring phones to the wards, Kofi,” she said gently. “However, if you can give me her number, I’ll speak to her, and tell her you miss her, and that she made a mistake about you.”
His eyes were tender as he looked at her.
“I would love that, Abena,” he said softly.
She gave him a pen and paper, and as he scribbled the name and telephone number of his fiancée, she wondered about the faint little twinge of distress she felt somewhere deep within her, and dismissed it quickly.
She took the slip of paper and tucked it into her bag.
“Well, I’ll be on my way then, Kofi,” she said, but as she made to move away he reached out suddenly and grabbed her wrist.
“Please, Abena, sit with me for a while. I want to know everything about you. Would you tell me about yourself?”
“Now?” she asked, taken aback.
“Now, please,” he said gently. “At least it would make you spend a little more time with me.”
She stared at him, secretly glad. She sat down and began to tell him about herself.
When she left he was soundly asleep, and she stood gazing down at him for a little bit longer before she turned and left quietly.
Maa Abena Nyantie, an only child, was always the centre of attention whenever she visited her parents. Each of them loved to fawn over her, making her feel extremely cherished. Although they were not overly rich, they had enough to make them happy, and she was the apple of their eyes.
Being home that day was fun. She and her mother went shopping, and they cooked a sumptuous meal of banku and okra stew, and then the three of them had a feast in the dining-room.
Her father, huge and grey-haired, took a toothpick after the meal and leaned back with a contented smile on his face.
“How has it been with you, Abena, my princess?” he asked gently, but his eyes remained sharp. “I see you look extremely happy.”
“Yes, because I’ve seen you and Mom, Daddy!” she said with a smile, and her mother chuckled. Both of them knew that was not what the man of the house was talking about.
Mr. Fiifi Agyemang peeked at her from over the top of his spectacles.
“Now look here, young lady, stop playing smart with me,” he said, ignoring the giggles of his wife and daughter. “You’re a fine woman, very beautiful, well-trained, kind-hearted…the kind of girl any man would want for a life partner. Now I thought you and Calvin were headed for the altar, but your mom told me a few days ago that you pulled the brakes on that. You broke off with Calvin. Now why did you do that? He seemed like a nice chap to me.”
Maa Abena squeezed up her face at her father, and she giggled again.
“Actually I didn’t, Daddy,” she said as she popped a piece of goat meat into her mouth. “Calvin pulled the breaks on himself when I found him in bed with a woman he claimed was his cousin.”
“Ohhhhhh!” Mr. Agyemang said, shocked. “Is that so? He seemed like a good man. What about Smart? That boy was always in the shadows when you were tight with Calvin.”
Maa Abena laughed at that, choked, and started coughing. She took a sip of water.
“Smart?” she said when she put the glass of water down.
“Let her eat, Fii!” Mrs. Agyemang said with a meaningful look at her husband. “It is red oil, and she might choke rather badly if she continues speaking.”
“Well, she’s not a baby, is she?” Mr. Agyemang said defensively.
“I’m okay, Mom, really,” Maa Abena said. “Well, about Smart. It came out he has proposed to almost all the unmarried girls in the church, and managed to see the nakedness of quite a number of them.”
“Awoooooo!” Mr. Agyeman said, shocked. “Hmmm, so is there anyone else?”
“Daddy!” Maa Abena said with a laugh. “I’m just twenty-three years old! I’ve not had enough of you and mom! Let me chill small wai, please! Don’t let me rush. God will bring whoever he is very soon.”
“The earlier you marry the better, princess,” Mr. Agyemang said. “You marry early, and you give birth, and then you would have enough time and strength to take care of them. If you wait too much by the time your children reach their teenaged years you would be a very old woman!”
“God will bring him, Daddy,” Maa Abena said.
“Amen, I believe that,” Mrs. Agyemang said with a chuckle. “Which reminds me; yesterday I was at the saloon when my hairdresser asked about you. I told her you’ve now been posted to the Adada Asylum, and she was saying she hoped you don’t have to work with that boy who was sleeping with the rotten corpses.”