My Aunt Elizabeth passed away a little less than a month ago and was buried over the weekend. She was a three years older than my dad and was one of my favorites. With the stark reminder that all life comes with an expiration date, I decided to call the old man to check up on him.
He didn’t pick up his cell phone. I called all three of his numbers and none of them was working.
“A-Dub, have you talked to Daddy?” I asked my sister, texting frantically.
“Not in over a week…which is actually odd,” she replied. “He calls pretty often.
I fretted about who I could send to his house to find him and came up empty. Was my dad okay?? The next day, I called again. He picked up on the second ring.
“Ah! Kwasi Gyekye…where were you!” I hollered into the phone.
“What do you mean?”
“I called you yesterday and you didn’t pick up,” I wailed.
I explained that I got an error message on each of his phones when I called the night before. He snorted.
“Oh. That’s Ghana networks for you. I can be sitting in my house, dial one of the phones in my hand, and the network will tell me that the number is unavailable.”
“Humph. Yes ooo,” he said, settling back into his chair (I could hear him). “I even contacted the phone company to complain. The rep told me I had probably diverted my phone calls. How can I divert my own calls?! Do I have a network machine in the house? I told him he was a fool.”
I laughed, but he could tell something was worrying me. He asked me what was wrong.
“Nothing. I was just thinking about Aunty Elizabeth…”
“And what? You thought I had died?” he asked, breaking into my explanation.
“Well, I couldn’t find you…”
He snorted again.
“Look. When I’m about to die, I will inform you first. I won’t die without you knowing.”
We both broke into hysterical laughter over the absurdity of that statement. I thanked him for his consideration and changed topics.
“Eii, Daddy! Guess who is my best friend on Twitter?”
I gave a two by four explanation of the SM platform and told him all about the Great Gyedu-Blay Ambolley.
“Yes!” I said, cackling gleefully. “He said when we see each other in Ghana we can do a song together!”
“Umm! Has he heard your voice before? You sing worse than your sister…and even she di33, she only hums.”
(I broke into wild laughter. My sister DOES have a crap singing voice.)
“And why would Ambolley be friends with a foolish girl like you?”
(I laughed harder. I AM a foolish girl.)
“I used to listen to his music when I was young…but then I grew up and learned sense. You know, when you go to these live bands, they can sing EEEEVERY song…except Ambolley.”
“I told him I would brush up on my Fante so I can sing with him,” I replied.
“You don’t have to brush up on anything. You can’t sing his songs, because he doesn’t sing in words. He only makes noises. He’s like James Brown.
Eh eh eh plee! Say ‘i lah! Heh ho whaa?
Those people don’t use words to sing. Those bush Takoradi things.”
“He’s from Sekondi, Daddy.”
“Whatever. It’s all the same thing!”
I laughed some more, which alarmed him.
“What’s wrong with you? Why do you sound like you’re choking?”
“Gyedu-Blay Ambolley…” He let his voice trail off and chuckled. “That’s pretty cool.”
He asked me about some flooding in my area.
“We didn’t have a flood, Daddy.”
“Yeah, I know. That was Mississippi. It’s all America, isn’t it? And hey! What about that Boston Bombing!”
“It was awful, wasn’t it?” I said soberly.
“They should let me be his executioner. Foolish boy. I would pull his fingernails out one by one and then extract his teeth with pliers; but only to a point. Then I would make him chew meat with half attached teeth!”
“No! I’m serious! Why should you go and bomb people as they’ve gathered just to have fun? Now look! You’ve killed an 8 year old boy. If you want to declare war on America, engage the military! Sit in your house and declare war…then we’ll see if you are a man. Foolish boys! The elder one is very lucky that he even died.”
“Yes ooo. They are keeping this one alive just to kill him in a few years.”
“Yes, it’s good,” my father replied. I could hear his head bobbing. “They have to extract the truth from him first. That’s one thing I like about Americans. And hei! Did you see Obama’s speech after the bombing?”
He didn’t wait for my reply.
“My Obama was so cooool. He said ‘Whoever is responsible will be found’, and look! Three days later, these boys were captured.”
“Hmmm. As for Obama, he’s a killer.”
My father chuckled to himself, as if harboring the details of some secret agreement between him and the leader of the free world.
“No, I’m serious, Daddy. People think George Bush was a killer, but Obama has killed more people in his 5 years than Bush did in all 8!”
“Yes. That’s what we niggez (because he would never say “nigger”) do. We’re killers! You have an African ruling your country. What did you expect? You see, within just a few short months he was able to kill Bin Laden, Gadhafi, and several people you’ve never heard of. George Bush just used to talk plenty. That’s why the world didn’t mind him. But MY Obama is cooooool. He’s like a river.”
“A river, dummy! When the waters are too hot and you put your feet inside, you know the water is dangerous. You say “ajeish!” and you step out. But when the waters are cool, you feel safe to relax inside. It’s only cool waters that carry people away…and drown them. Like Obama.”
I thought I would literally die on the phone. But he wasn’t done yet.
“In fact, you people should elect him as president for life.”
“We can’t do that, Daddy. This isn’t the United States of Zimbabwe. Obama is not Mugabe.”
“Well then, you need to draw up an amendment that says every subsequent president must rename himself ‘Obama’.”
“Ah, but Hilary says she also wants to have her turn on the throne oooo…”
“Hilary can’t do sh*t,” he said flatly.
My minutes were up. The lady on the phone card said so. My dad heard it too.
“Oh, don’t worry! I’ll buy some credits and call you later.”
“Don’t worry! It’s only 2 am my time. I can stay up till 2 to talk to you!”
I didn’t even get a chance to tell him I loved him, but I’m sure he knows.