On days like today, when I’m up at 4 am with the heaviness of disappointment on my mind, I wish I was back home in Labone. There were trees everywhere, each with their own memory; each with their own purpose. They always brought comfort, food and shade; and in someways love. America’s trees provide none of these for me.
We had a massive mango tree in out backyard that seemed to bear fruit year round. We shared mangoes with ants, bats, and thieving kubolor boys who roamed the residential area. On especially difficult days I would carry my bench from the kitchen and place it under the mango tree, laying face up to get lost in our big, beautiful Ghanaian skies. Somehow, a fresh mango and a sturdy wooden bench were the only tools I needed to usher in perfect peace and solace from my adolescent woes.
If I were to go outside today to try and recreate this environment, the smog from Roswell’s air would kill me. There are no fruit trees, only shedding pines and three of those at best. The spiny needles threaten to stab and gouge my eyes. There’s concrete, concrete everywhere. No wonder Georgia is experiencing biblical flooding. Aba!
Yes. Back home, under the mango tree, there is comfort.
In my uncle’s courtyard, he had 2 old cocoa trees. Every year, they faithfully bore fruit. My cousins would offer me cocoa pods to take home in exchange for bicycle rides. It was more than a fair deal, since none of them could ride anyway. I would sit and suck on the fresh cocoa seeds in amusement, watching my female kin bicker saying in Twi-nglish “Me ridie after wo”. I never understood why these 12 and 14 year old girls had still never learned to ride a bike! After satiating myself with fresh cocoa and ice-water, the day would end with a fierce game of “mother mother” and Red Rover. I credit those cousins and the cocoa’s power for making me the champion of ‘okonto ampe’ that I am today.
When my boyfriend would come for a visit, we would escape to the blofo nkati3 (almond) tree on the other side of the wall. Our neighbors had constructed a bench, and we could sit and laugh for hours. I was never very good at getting the nuts from their casing, which is why we would end up there for hours. I’ve had relationships end and re-begin under that tree. I miss that tree.
But my favorite tree was the guava. My dad is a villager, no doubt about it, and he loves fresh fruit from his own yard. It was next to the guava tree, munching on the pink flesh that he would have me observe nature and elucidate on its effect on life.
“You see those two dragon flies mating?” he’d ask. “That’s how white people constructed helicopters. They observe and use nature to build machines.”
Saaa? Is it true?
“Yes! Of course it’s true,” he’d say, spitting out seeds. “You are so stupid, it hurts my feelings.”
I always laughed when my dad said that. It was one of the ways he said “I love you”…like a mean older cousin pops you in the back of the head in greeting when he sees you after a long while.
I miss my trees. I want to go home.