Even before Dari stepped foot into his parent’s house, the heat that gushed over his face was an indication that there was tension. As soon as he opened the door to the living room, his mother rushed to him and flung her arms around him.

“ Yomba, we can’t find your brother. He has been kidnapped oo. Our enemies have succeeded again”, Mrs. Asowura lamented histrionically as she clapped and beat her chest.

“ But how sure are you that he has been kidnapped? Did you receive any call demanding a ransom?” Dari asked.

“ Isn’t it obvious? We are unable to reach him. His phone is switched off. And nobody at his workplace knows his whereabouts. It would have been easier to get a little information if only he had friends. He has been kidnapped!” Mr. Asowura concluded. Dari sneakily took out his phone from his pocket and realized it was truly off. He sighed in relief because he wouldn’t have been able to explain why ‘Dari’s’ phone was with him when he was supposed to be Yomba. He decided he would get a new SIM card the next day. And as for Yomba, his phone was truly off and Dari had no idea how to locate him or where to begin searching for him. Mrs. Asowura suggested they go to the police station but Dari convinced her out of that idea, telling her he wasn’t missing for twenty-four hours yet. He managed to calm his parents down and asked them to wait for a few hours. His parents wouldn’t have been so distressed if they had thought Yomba was the one missing. They were used to him disappearing and appearing whenever he liked. But Dari was different, he barely went anywhere aside from the occasional vacation he took.

Dari left his parents’ house at 4 a.m. after they fell asleep. He felt drowsy and could hardly keep his eyes on the road. It was a liss to find Allila asleep on the couch when he finally got home. Her phone was held loosely in her hand and the television was on. It was evident that she had been waiting for him. He squatted near her and looked into her face. She hadn’t changed much, ever since he met her for the first time, two years ago. It was at the bank where he had gone to make some transactions with Yomba. Allila was with one of the tellers when they got in. She was done a few minutes later and moved away from the counter. Dari stood up immediately and headed for the same teller when the bundles of money Allila had with her, slipped from her hand. She gasped and bent down to pick them up immediately. Dari who had seen how the other customers cooed upon seeing the money, went to her aid. She thanked him profusely in a whisper and quickly went out as though she was afraid someone would chase her. All that while, Yomba was seated there sniggering. Dari knew he would have burst out laughing hadn’t they been in a bank. They went to get their car after they were done and Dari saw Allila near the road, trying to hail a taxi with another lady whom he suspected was her friend. The lady turned and met his eyes but he hastily turned away and reached for his door. But before he could start the engine, the lady was at his window, with Allila behind her, trying to free her hand from her friend’s grip. She introduced herself as Muna and asked if they could get a ride. While she spoke, Dari’s eyes were fixed on Allila, and saw how she was signaling Muna to stop speaking. He smiled and asked them to get in. Yomba got out of the front seat and went to the back seat.

Muna hastily joined Dari at the front and made herself comfortable as though she owned the car. Meanwhile, Yomba was garrulous with Allila in the backseat, and from the rearview mirror, Dari could see Allila wasn’t interested in the conversation and kept looking out of the window. Dari had his attention on her and forgot Muna was also trying to have a conversation with him. After that day, the twins, with the insistence of Yomba, took the girls out on a couple of dates and Dari was shocked to find out a week later that Allila and Yomba were dating. He felt bereft and disappointed, though he didn’t know why, and readily agreed to date Muna when she asked him out.  To Dari, Allila was the only one driving their relationship. Hadn’t it been for her, her relationship with Yomba would have broken a few weeks after they began seeing each other. It was obvious Yomba didn’t love her as much as she loved him and sometimes, Dari pitied her.

Now, he switched off the television and quietly carried Allila to the bedroom since he didn’t want to wake her up. He placed her on the bed and went ahead to stretch himself on the bedroom couch.

The sun laced through the window and stung his eyes, waking him up from his sleep. Allila wasn’t in bed and when he smelled an aroma, he knew she was probably in the kitchen. He freshened up and went to the living room. Allila was seated at the dining table, staring at her food as though it was alien to her.

“ Aren’t you eating?” Dari asked when he noticed her food was untouched.

“ I was waiting for you.” She responded. Dari nodded and took the seat opposite her. He picked a slice of mango from the fruit salad Allila prepared and made himself a hot cup of Milo. He could feel Allila’s gaze on him so he asked what the matter was.

“ I’m sad we won’t be able to go to Greece.” She said. Dari was confused at first and then remembered she and Yomba were supposed to spend their honeymoon in Athens.

“ Why did your brother have to get missing at this point? Everything is ruined.” She added with a pout. Dari ignored her. He was glad they weren’t going anymore, it would have only made matters worse for him.

Dari had only visited the company’s headquarters a few times. When he stepped inside, it was as though he was in a totally different city. People bustled in and out as though they had a deadline to meet. Dari scanned the building whose ceiling was so high that he was compelled to crane his head up, almost touching the back of his neck, to get a full view of it. There was no doubt that the building was one of the biggest in the city. As he walked towards the elevator, he watched some cars that were displayed in the hall, surrounded by people who were either “window shopping” or actually going to purchase them.  As he stepped into the elevator and the door was about to close, he heard someone shouting, “ Sir, Sir” and then a rangy man in spectacles appeared before him while perspiring and the door split again.

“ You can’t use this elevator, yours is down the hall.”, the man said.

“ Mine?” Dari asked with perplexity and the man nodded. He slowly stepped out of the elevator and two men and a woman immediately occupied it. He learned from the man who introduced himself as Yaw, that the CEO of the company rode in a different elevator which was designed purposely for him. Dari nodded even though he didn’t understand the arrangement. To him, an elevator was an elevator and he didn’t mind riding one with the whole world in it. It was more like something Yomba would have been thrilled about.

They arrived at the ninth floor which happened to be the last, and everyone paused their work and stared as he stepped out of the elevator and walked towards his office, with Yaw leading the way. The women cooed and whispered to one another while the men watched him with envy. He was relieved when they reached the office and Yaw closed the door. Yaw gestured towards the desk with the raise of his hand and a slight bow. Dari sat on the chair, slightly scared of the lion which was placed next to his desk. “ It is just a statue”, he reminded himself while concealing his fear from Yaw. There was a huge flat-screen television pasted on the wall, facing Dari and there was a conference table at the right wing of the office and a small dining table and two chairs at the left wing.

Yaw properly introduced himself as Dari’s Personal assistant and called in a timid-looking lady who looked as though she would disappear with the slightest shout.

“ This is Diana, your secretary”, Yaw said and Diana bowed and mumbled “Welcome Sir”. Dari nodded and told them he wanted to be left alone. He slammed his forehead against the table after they left, and lamented about how this wasn’t the life he wanted to live. He couldn’t stop cursing Yomba. Yomba had promised to return, but unlike his name which meant, “ Go and come”, he didn’t return.

Dari’s new job came as a blessing as he used it as an excuse to leave home as early as 5:00 a.m. when Allila was still asleep and returned at 12:00 a.m. when she had retired to bed. This continued for weeks and Dari didn’t even interrupt his new schedule even when Allila called every day at 9 am and 7 pm lamenting about how she barely saw him anymore. He sincerely felt terrible about how she felt, but he knew what he was doing was the only option and the best thing to do.

The only thing that made him go home early and abruptly one day, was a call from his father, informing him about his grandmother’s severe illness. He knew he had to go to Damongo immediately. Everyone knew she wouldn’t live any longer, even though they never voiced it out and continued spending huge sums of money for her treatment both in Ghana and abroad. She was a hundred and twenty years old and the wisest, most patient, and understanding person Dari had ever seen, and couldn’t bring himself to ever lose her.

“I’m coming with you”, Allila said as she slammed her suitcase on the bed and began throwing her clothes in it. Dari certainly didn’t like the idea but he had no time nor the energy to protest. Allila could go to Space if she wanted.

The last time Dari visited Damongo was three years ago and the little development couldn’t escape his eyes. There were businesses springing up on every stretch of the street and everyone went about their activities as though they hadn’t spotted the odd black Land Cruiser V8.

His grandmother’s compound was made up of three huts built in a circle. The two-storey his father had built, stood behind like a giant, overlooking the huts. His grandmother had resisted the coercion by his father, to move into the storey building. She swore she was never going to lay her head on its floor as long she lived and will die in her husband’s house. A house that Dari’s grandfather, single-handedly built in sweat.

Dari noticed his parents were already in his grandmother’s hut when he arrived. The look on his father’s face when he emerged from the room was one Dari hadn’t seen in a long time; a look of hopelessness and fatigue. He nodded slightly to Dari’s greetings whilst Mrs Asowura sobbed behind him.

Dari was reluctant to go into the hut for fear of what he would meet. He felt a soft touch on his shoulder which startled him. He turned and saw Allila, urging him to go in and that was when he realised he had remained in the same position for over five minutes. He crouched and went into the room. The dimness of the room almost made him miss the sight of his grandmother, lying on her wooden bed and covered with a cloth. The eyes of the black cat lying beside the bed were the brightest in the room.

“Who is there?”, his grandmother’s feeble voice called out.

“It’s me, Yomba”

“My son, I’m glad you’re here. Did Dari also come?”

“Yes, I mean no. He didn’t. But I’m sure he will visit later”, Dari lied. Dari went closer and knelt beside her bed. She stretched a trembling hand towards him and Dari took it into his hands and placed his cheek on it. It was warm as usual but was more wrinkled than the last time he visited. Her hand was still for a moment and Dari could barely hear a sound from her, not even her breath. Just when he thought she had fallen asleep, she said, “My son”

“Mmmm”, Dari responded while sitting upright.

“Why are you pretending to be someone else?”, she said firmly which left no room for him to argue. He fidgeted and began to perspire.

“I know you’re Dari. So where is Yomba?”, she added and Dari became speechless.


Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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