It’d been two hours past her 8 o’clock curfew but Awo still had no intention of going home yet. The whole place had been thrown into a state of euphoric frenzy following Kwame Nkrumah’s declaration of Ghana’s independence. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. That was last night but looking around her, she realized people had no intention of settling for anything less of intense partying and celebration.
She had spent all day preparing Ga kenkey and shito for the household, with her cousins helping with the frying of the kpanla, their favorite fish. She worked diligently to ensure she had a pretty free schedule that night because she wanted to go out to town. By dusk, she had bathed and fed all the little kids and waited keenly for her mother to return from her rounds – collecting debts from her market-women friends. She had to ask for permission to stay past her curfew.
After lots of persuasion and promises to be of good behavior, she left the house by 6pm. She put on her favorite skirt-and-blouse combination and made her way to meet Charles at the agreed spot, a little piece of paper clutched in her hand. Charles had earlier passed on a note via his younger brother who was friends with Awo’s cousin, naming a location and time for their usual rendezvous.
They met and walked around town, talking, laughing at random activities of people, making plans for the new future. A lot had changed overnight and they loved the time they had spent talking about possibilities. It was quite late, at least for Awo, and they now stood outside the gate to her house; her hand in his. They just stood there in silence, listening to the distant sound of music and people still celebrating in the lively parts of town.
“Why are you not saying anything?” Awo whispered shyly into the dark night. He didn’t respond, making her feel she wasn’t audible enough.
“Why are y-“ she tried saying again, this time a little louder.
“I heard you the first time, Awo,” he whispered back, gently squeezing her hand.
“Then why didn’t you say anything back?” She playfully chided him. He smiled, squeezing her hand again.
“You’re looking very beautiful tonight Awo.” She couldn’t help but smile as she looked up at Charles. It was the childish goofy grin he always had on his face whenever he complimented her; that was what made her like him more and more each day.
“Thank you Charles” she said, bending her head a little to avoid his gaze, a little shy. Her glowing ebony skin did well to hide the blushing she could feel on her cheeks.
He moved to stand directly in front of her, raised her head with his hand and leaned in to kiss her. She was getting sweetly flustered and was quite glad there was no-one coming down the road. She closed her eyes, waiting to feel his lips crush hers, waiting to taste his lips, waiting to share their first kiss. Just then, the gate to the house got swung wide open, sending high metallic echoes to pierce the quiet night.
Her eyes flung open as she felt Charles cringe back from her as if he had just touched a hot box iron. She looked towards the gate and there stood her mother with a chalewote in hand.
Charles stood there befuddled but quickly waved a hasty goodnight to both Awo and her mother, breaking off into a trot towards the direction of his house. Awo tentatively walked onto the compound quite abashed by the whole situation. She dreaded the next morning, when her mother would elaborately and to a great extent of exaggeration, narrate the event to her siblings, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and even Maa Maggie – the bread seller, making her embarrassment complete.