…That Ends Well


After series of fruitless effort to push a square peg into a round hole, in the fullness of time, God wound the complication up and granted rest; then ushered me to my place in the sun.

He woke me up to a suitable companion, a royalty, a warm and witty gift! Enthusiastic, charismatic and optimistic; Christiana – a Christian woman; Love came within the realms of possibility.

Lost my heart to her; condition improved and murky vision cleared, life became kind, sleep good, music better, worship meaningful; flushed with success, all in good time.

And as the Potter continues His work on us, we will rejoice with the truth, bear all things; grow in patience, kindness, hope and perseverance… until this pair forms a threefold cord with Christ.

God grant us wisdom and strength to commit to Him and to each other, grace to uphold the integrity of this divine union and favour to enjoy this beautiful journey.

The miracle and thrill I prayed for, the beauty and elegance I dreamt about; an exception to the rule, customized for me, the wife I leave to cleave unto, Princess Maame Afia, I love you cheerfully without restraint or caution.

Emmanuel Boison



More To It

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Rosa Luxemburg




“What did you gather about Papa Oteng?” Malcolm asked her. He walked her outside the house after the meal to find out she didn’t drive to his house. He remembered yet again that his friend was breezy and curious at the same time.
“He lives above his means. His occupation doesn’t match his standard of living,” she answered.
“What data do you have to substantiate your claim? Moreover, most people here spend more than their jobs pay, which makes them poor and always indebted. So, wherein is the crime, Sab?” knowing she was right, he asked somewhat shocked how she came to that conclusion.
“There may not be a hard and fast rule against being poor, but spending beyond your means calls for a keen probe into your source of finances. Don’t tell me upon all you’ve seen, you still want to pretend there’s nothing fishy about Papa Oteng’s demeanour,” Sabrina was genuinely taken aback that Malcolm still reposed unflinching trust in his driver.

“You looked more cheerful during lunch, please don’t be influenced by Chloe and Nana Akua. Frankly, I don’t know what I’ve done wrong to any of you ladies today,” he said and stretched his hand to stop a taxi for her.
“I also have no idea what you’re talking about. Please, don’t get a taxi for me yet, I have one last stop to make,” she said.
“What do you need to do here again?” he asked. He put his hand down and turned to face her.
“Let’s walk around the block for a while. I want your ‘sophisticated human surveillance’ to capture me walking with you, if you don’t mind,” she sounded diffident.
“You mean in this scorching sun?”
“Yes, if you don’t mind.”

“Can you tell me in plain words why we have to walk through this blistering sun only for people to see us together? I have a lot to lose.”
“I understood the proverbial ‘be each other’s keeper’ better today as I questioned people about Papa Oteng. I had a hard time getting people to talk to me, even kids. My most reliable technique was surprisingly shortchanged.”
“Now you’ve acknowledged there are eyes all over the place monitoring every movement in this community. Whilst you’re tagged ‘foreigner’, there’s little you can do, but if that’s your only worry, cheer up and let’s absorb some sun rays into our skin. Which way do you want us to go?” Malcolm was happy to lead the way. He was easily inveigled by Sabrina’s deportment and praise for Old Freeville.
“To the motorbike workshop street and then to a place that looks like a draught and tailoring centre,” she pointed down the block.

He looked at his wristwatch and happily led the ramble. He didn’t feel the scorching sun, how could he? Whatever the motivation was, it had something to do with the opportunity to prove to Sabrina, how wonderful Old Freeville is. He took pride in explaining to her how people liked him so much that she will see posters of him on some particular blocks, though he wasn’t contesting the assemblyman office.

“Where is your sunny disposition?” he asked.
“I bear bad news,” she answered.
“Er, how bad?”
“My former boss, the old man we met last night, is in intensive care; he was shot.”
“Yes, the colonel; I’m sorry. How did it happen?”
“I learnt that, as soon as we left, gang men invaded the place. They were the gunshots we heard. He was shot twice at the back whilst running for cover during the gun battle,” Sabrina explained.

“Which gang can be daring enough to attack a combined force of police and military?” he was astounded.
“Obviously, it has to be the kind which deals in arms. They hardly engage in such battles, but when they do, it is bloody.” In the face of her helplessness, she had to curtail her repugnance and anathema towards what she was up against in order not to look so much crestfallen.

“I’m sorry the sleaze of Papa Oteng is threatening the life of your boss.”
“He is my ex-boss. I should be sorrier for getting him involved in the first place. I was so bent on proving that Command was involved in this traffic of guns, drugs and fake currency. So you understand why I have to work extra hard to get to the bottom of this case,” she rued.

“I pray he gets well soon,” Malcolm was sincere.
“I do too.”
“Were there any other casualties?” he asked.
“Both the police and the military are being economical with the truth. I’m yet to read a single report that mentions the number of casualties. However, aside the colonel, I know few colleagues who have suffered blunt force trauma by the shots that hit their bulletproof vests. Looking at the crowd at the checkpoint, if the colonel was hit then, I believe some of the civilians will also be hit,” Sabrina belaboured.
“Strangely, none of the tabloids even whispered a word about a gun battle let alone stating it culminated in someone getting shot. They were all mendacious reports suggesting the security forces had a walk in the park chasing the gang men away to save the day,” Malcolm was fazed.
“When all the tabloids get it classically wrong with a police or military story like that, it can only mean the press is being manipulated to hide something. Even with information given, the press was able to stretch the truth to sing the praise of the police,” Sabrina was conclusive.

Malcolm was so caught up in the conversation that he took her further than she had requested; at least that was how it looked like. He walked her to every bijou shop and cafe which was the pride of the town. Malcolm waved and greeted as many people as he could to make Sabrina feel she was being helped though he avoided virtually all the women who controlled most of the information which went through the grapevine. He even introduced her to some of his customers who gave her backhanded compliments about her presence in the vicinity, some resounding, others, paradoxical enough for her to know that they were messing with her.

“Can you get Papa Oteng to speak to me? I need to hear from the horse’s mouth,” she asked on their way back.
“It shouldn’t be a problem getting him when he’s freed,” Malcolm answered. They took a different route back to his house.
“I don’t know who stood bail for him, but he’s been released from police custody.”
“That was fast. When did Papa Oteng get out?” It was good news to Malcolm but he did enough to hide his joy, fearing how Sabrina would take his delight. His release meant his client’s goods were not lost, but to Sabrina it meant unfinished business or years of work seemingly down the drain.

“He was taken to the district police station but strangely, instead of transferring him to the central police station, I was told this morning that he has been remanded on bail,” she confided.
“He should have called me by now. He knows failing to meet deadlines is bad for business. If he has been out since morning, I don’t know why he hasn’t called me yet,” he played along.

“Can you reach him?” Sabrina asked again, though she didn’t doubt him.
“Sure. Papa Oteng will not leave me in the lurch, he’s in town. He has only one place to hide, the VIP lounge of Dotty7Bet, a pub and entertainment centre.”
The short trip proved that Malcolm wasn’t just crowing about his popularity. Indeed, he was much loved, but Sabrina has always been uncomfortable with informants who didn’t ask for anything in return for their input. Malcolm could be wasting her time.

“I need to talk to him before whoever is pulling the strings puts him in a position he can’t be of any help to me,” she stressed more on her need to talk to Papa Oteng.
“I need to talk to him as well, Sab. We’ll see him tonight if you can come here again.”
“Good. Now, would you like to thank me for escorting you to see your clients?” she grinned.
“Unbelievable! What are you saying, Sab?”

“Yeah, I like it when I charm people so much that they forget I’m owlish. I look intelligent because I am. I saw the sort of places and the people you took me to, and the different names they called you by; they were all clients,” she rammed her point home.
“You’re welcome all the same,” he chortled with a sense of accomplishment; she is the one he’s been waiting for. He could swear to God that he had not met any of her kind; she had more unparalleled traits over and above her subtle charm.

“Can I take you somewhere?” a taxi stopped in front of them and inquired.
“Sure,” she answered. Malcolm recognized the voice.
“Chief, you don’t have to worry about the fare. I’ll take it in kind someday,” the driver said to Malcolm as Sabrina sat in the car. He was the driver who took him to Brofo Barrier.


“Master you’re here. My gut instinct told me you’d come and look for me tonight.” Papa Oteng put the snooker pole down and fetched chairs for them to sit at a quieter place.
“Papa, hiding makes you suspicious, don’t you think so?” Mal said when they sat.
“Who am I hiding from, Master? I needed to think this through before coming to you with the details of what really transpired. I’m not hiding.”
“You chose a bad place for your navel-gazing,” Sabrina didn’t wait to be introduced.
“Who is she?” Papa Oteng asked churlishly.
“Meet my friend Sabrina. She was with me at the check point last night when the police arrested you.”

“Lieutenant Ottoppah?” Papa Oteng kept the same lippy tone.
“You know her,” Malcom said.
“Yes I do, by reputation. She is the undercover lady, the cause of this havoc. I saw her talking to you last night, but I didn’t know she was the Sabrina,” Papa Oteng expounded.
“How do you know I’m undercover?” Sabrina sat up straight.
“Do I have to tell you? Master, why did you bring her here?” Papa Oteng directed the witty riposte to her, giving a look that said you’re not welcome into our fold.
“Papa, we want to talk to you. You don’t have to ponder over anything, tell us what you saw, particularly when the gang men invaded the checkpoint.” Malcolm had always discussed issues with his workers rather than commanding them, so the direct request from him was a bit unusual to Papa Oteng.

“Master, it’s not as simple as you make it sound.”
“It’s difficult not to doubt the veracity of the police and press reports especially if you were at Brofo last night. She needs an eyewitness’ account of the situation.”
“Master, you know I’ve never had any difficulty confiding in you, but for my own good and yours, let’s not discuss this in her presence.”
“Papa, I’m not the enemy,” she said mildly.

“Papa, take my word for it, talking to her will stand you in good stead when the police come after you again.”
“Master, whatever her intents are, well-connected people who know better than you do have strictly instructed me to stay away from her.”
“Who asked you to stay away from me?” Sabrina asked in a manner that said she wouldn’t harm a fly, but the driver paid no attention to her.
“Papa Oteng, whoever they are, do you trust them more than me?” Malcolm was convincing.

“Master, it’s very confusing to see you and Sabrina together. You stand for two diverse beliefs; you believe in building the people of Old Freeville in spite of this corrupted system which was handed over to us, nothing beats your TLC for Old Freeville, but she, on the other side, believes in bringing the whole foundation of the town down because of the system.”
“Far be it from me to destroy any town and its people. I do what I do for God and country,” Sabrina tried harder to get him count her as an ally.

“Let strike a deal, and if you can keep your end of the bargain, then I will tell you everything you want to know. I’m already deep in, there’s no turning back now. I’m ready to face the consequences of my deeds.” Papa Oteng was ready to talk.
“We’re listening to you,” said Malcolm.
“Don’t go after Master Malcolm because society needs him, and protect him from the leader of the clique that warned me to stay away from you. Do these and I’ll happily talk to you and answer all the questions you spent hours asking about me this morning,” he was unequivocal.
“What are you talking about?” everything he said was news to Malcolm.
“She knows who and what I’m talking about,” Papa Oteng averred.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she contended.

“That’s the offer, take it or leave it. You know I’m not driving a hard bargain.”
“Listen, I can easily tell you I’ll protect him from whoever you’re talking about, so you tell me what I want to know. But honestly, if I don’t know who you’re talking about I’d make a promise I can’t honour,” she was forthright in her response.
“Papa, talk to her. She’s here to help both of us.”
“He’s called GB01. I saw him talking to you right before you left Brofo,” he finally began his account.

“Was he the clean-shaven old man wearing a green raincoat?” Malcolm asked in utter disbelief.
“Yes, Grand Boss Zero One! That was him. Can you protect Master Malcolm from him?”
“I don’t know why you or Malcolm needs protection from that man. The fact is, he’s my ex-boss and there is little I can do officially that he won’t find out.”
“That means you can’t offer that protection,” Papa Oteng said shaking his head in displeasure.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, he was shot last night and he is intensive care as we speak now. Oteng, this is the best time to get you out of trouble, because the minute he’s back on duty, he’ll stall every investigation he’s not comfortable with,” she spoke truer than they expected to.

“Sabrina, is it possible for the colonel to also be in on this?” Malcolm asked.
“Yes, very possible, and that’s something I’ll be very happy to look into. I’ve always wondered why he has directly or indirectly pulled the plugs on every investigation related to either Grand Boss or Zero One.”
“What or who is that?” he asked again.
“We have ample evidence to suggest that Grand Boss and Zero One may be related but are not necessarily one and the same. Nobody really spends good time or resources to investigate case related to these two. They’re almost sacred names,” Sabrina bewailed the hydra in her unit.

“How much trouble are we in?” Malcolm’s shock was palpable.
“Papa Oteng, the home truth is, the double life you’ve been living is bound to come to a horrible end. You could be in a huge mess. The people you’re in bed with can easily expunge you whenever they deem you a liability,” she presaged.
“That’s pretty obvious to me now,” Papa Oteng was not moved by her heads-up.
“Where do I stand in this?” Malcolm wanted to err on the side of caution. He got genuinely interested in Sabrina’s interrogation.

“Why were you stopped and who were the other two people with you?” she asked.
“Papa, I’ve never known you to be avaricious. How did you get here, to the extent of both the police and military coming after you? How did you get there, Papa Agyekum?” he added.
“This is not how I wanted it to be, this is not how I wanted to end. I had big dreams. I didn’t only dream, I started living it. I was working at it; at my own pace, I was cooking with gas. I don’t know how it all began but with time people started seeing me fit to handle family and societal responsibilities,” Papa Oteng lowered his guard and began to speak from his heart.
“You don’t need to be in a hurry. Take your time,” she patted him on the hand tenderly.

“Though, these responsibilities came with recognition, they also came with substantial financial burden; one that seemed manageable. Then the load became heavier and heavier and heavier. Inwardly, I knew I was heading towards doom, but it felt good to be important. People around me started making demands I couldn’t meet, people I either loved or respected, people I was proud of that depended on me or came to me for help anytime they were in need. I was gaining respect for living beyond my means.”
“So what did you do?”
“Mal, allow him to speak, please.”
“I had to meet those needs come what may; I had to. So I started borrowing, the debts kept piling up until they swallowed me. It didn’t happen overnight; I saw it coming.”
“You couldn’t handle the debt so you were forced to deal in drugs, huh?”

“I didn’t wake up one day to transport drugs, Master. A creditor who got to know I was a truck driver gave me an offer I couldn’t turn down. He had loads of goods near the borders of the country and he wanted me to bring them from the hinterlands into the city at a very good fare. His only challenge was that he didn’t have a permit to move them across the regions.”
“So you decided to use the documentation for my goods to convey his,” Malcolm interrupted again and Sabrina gave him ironically, a soft look over her glasses.

“I didn’t have the stomach for it initially. However, when my inability to meet the increasing financial burden began to pique my pride, I called on him to take up the job.”
“This creditor didn’t force or trick you into it,” she asked before Malcolm could.
“No, he didn’t force me. He put the offer before me and gave me his business card that I should think about it and to give him a call when I make up my mind.”
“And you took the card.”

“That’s why we’re having this conversation in this godforsaken noisy tavern,” Papa Oteng nodded.
“Did you know what you were conveying?” Malcolm asked.
“He didn’t hide the truth; he told me point blank that they were drugs and fake currencies – Euros and Dollars. It wasn’t until later than he added guns and ammunitions. By then it was too late in the day for me to go straight.”
“Were you not afraid of getting caught?” he asked again.
“When I saw my first package, my fear dashed away. It didn’t look as scary and risky as I had envisaged. I was tasked to transport a truck full of biscuit and teabag, just that it was marijuana biscuit and marijuana teabag.”
“You have no idea of what man is capable of doing once he thinks he can get away with it,” Malcolm couldn’t believe his ears.

“He has guarded warehouses across the country mostly in the suburbs. Swiftly, I transport his goods from wherever location he would give, to the nearest warehouse, afterwards I attend to yours. He paid five times more than you did, and always had goods to move. I needed your papers so whenever you called me for business, it was Christmas. I became a trusted member after I was able to deliver without police interruptions. So, I was entitled to huge bonus in addition to my charge”
“That should explain why you habitually got to the industrial area late,” Malcolm said.
“Was it worth the risk?” she asked.
“How can it ever be worth the risk?” Papa Oteng retorted.

“Did he cancel your debt?” she asked.
“No, he didn’t cancel my debt; I settled every single cedi of my debt. Just when I was about quitting, I was introduced to GB01 and things went from bad to worse or good to better. Nobody really questions me; the assumption is since I’ve been a truck driver for three decades, I should be able to afford second-hand four-wheel drive and a second-hand salon car for my daughter. I kept going until I passed the threshold of no-return. You can be disappointed in me, but you know that I’m a good man. Even in my immorality, I remained good. I was caught up in series of bad decisions.”

“Isn’t it amazing the things we tell ourselves so we can conk out each night?” Malcolm was sarcastic and without any mercy for his long trusted friend and driver.
“I’m not proud of it but it wasn’t out of greed, Master. I was able to complete the house I abandoned years ago. I bought a new car and one for my only daughter. I sent my youngest son abroad to study engineering. My father got rich late in life when it was too late for me to go to school. So my terrible childhood wasn’t an experience I wanted my kids to have. I looked at my kids and cried that I was going to disappoint them. My wife deserved a break from borrowing from her parents to support our needs.”



“If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it.Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Marcus Tullius Cicero


More To It

“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place? For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.”― Stephanie Perkins, (Anna and the French Kiss)





“Start talking!” she yelled from the makeshift sitting room, the minute he closed the metal door behind him. Chloe was lazily ironing all the laundry she did during the weekend.

“38.6% of Ghanaians are below 15 years old and 33.8% are within the ages of 15 and 54 years. You can’t do profitable business in Ghana without considering facts like these. Fascinatingly, 47.5% of Ghanaians are Akans, which is less than all the other minor ethnic groups put together. Isn’t it interesting that when entrepreneurs design their businesses to suit the majority they’re actually concentrating on the minority?” he started rattling as he walked briskly to his sister with folded newspapers in his right hand. Whenever Malcolm was in good spirits after his Monday morning outings, it meant merely one thing – turnover of his sales girls the previous week, was more than he anticipated.

“Nice try, but that won’t wash. I’m glad to know that business is good, however, talk to me about this morning!” she asked again as she hanged the ironed dress on a wooden hanger.

“An article I read at the Palm-net internet café this morning painted a sad picture of the irony of life which has the upper-middle-class producing far more emotionally disturbed children than the lower class. The story was that, poverty and the struggle to survive pushed poor kids into all sorts of vices, but that’s not the case now. With time, the affluent have also caught up on vices like stealing mostly from peers and parents, binge drinking and doing hard drugs.”

“You know what I’m referring to, so stop pretending and beating about the bush; who is she, Malcolm?” She switched off the electric iron and sent the ironed clothes to her room. He noted the rancor in his sister’s voice and wondered what had made her sister grumpy within some few hours. She was very active and cheerful when he left with Sabrina in the morning.

“You didn’t go to campus today, Chloe,” he said as she walked to her room. He threw the newspapers on the chair and tuned the radio to country music, from the midday news Chloe was listening to. He was too much in a good mood to listen to the news.

“No, I didn’t. My boss is out of town but she will be back tonight. Who is she?” she responded with a sullen stare when she came back from her room, clutching all her bed sheets to her chest to iron. He knew the results she wanted when she spoke to him with a fierce glare.

“Did she travel for God or mankind?” Malcolm tried to deftly dodge her question and to ease the glum look on her face. He went for the last bottle of evaporated milk in the fridge, shook it and started drinking, knowing Chloe will pass a comment about it. However, the question didn’t brighten his sister’s countenance as he expected.

“She went for her son’s graduation. Do you know that amongst all creatures, human beings are the only species that still drink milk when they grow old? Who is she, Mal?” Predictably the comments he was expecting. She was not relenting on getting an answer neither did she want Malcolm to kid his way out of it.

“It could be the reason human beings are superior to animals. Three glasses of milk a day keep the body strong. Chloe, why didn’t you go with her if she was attending Fred’s graduation?”

“I didn’t go because I had a grudge against him and secondly, I didn’t want to boost his pride or confidence in his rude false convictions. Who is she, Timothy Oppong Yeboah? Can we talk about one subject at a time?” she asked indignantly because she was not having her way. She removed the iron from the iron rest and starting pressing the sheets.

“Of course we can. How does attending Fred’s graduation boost his pride or confidence in his rude false convictions? What did he do wrong, really? When I came to meet both of you just a week ago here heartedly debating on the definition of good and wrong, it didn’t look like there was any friction between you.” he tried harder to get Chloe to smile but the attempt was futile.

“Don’t act dumb, Malcolm. Who is she?”

“Lieutenant Sabrina Fosu Ottoppah,” he gave up his puns and followed her lead.

“Lieutenant, I thought I heard wrong,” Chloe said shaking her head in despair.

“No, you didn’t. She is in the armed forces or something similar. I thought you liked her.”

“I like her, that’s the cause of my concern. I can easily predict how things are going to end up with both of you and my chest tightens with pity for her.”

“It’s so amazing how you quickly choose strangers over me.”

“Edit this story for me: you get close to her, she gets to meet that well-read, resourceful, honest, calm but strong gentleman she hardly encounters in person. You pick the perfect time to show her your vulnerability so she inevitably trusts you, and before she realizes her whole world is revolving around you. If she has a boyfriend, she starts demanding absurd attention from him. If she is single, she so much wants you to love her but your business heart can’t love, it only knows profit and loss. Whichever way, you mess her up.”

“That’s a twisted side of the story. ‘Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.’ I like making good friends and I’ve never set out to hurt any girl,” Malcolm replied chivalrously, taking his sister’s comments on the chin.

He loosened his tie, rolled up his sleeves, picked a huge novel from the table and sat to read waiting for lunch from Nana Akua. He wasn’t sure if her sister was moody because of Fred or Sabrina, but he knew there was no sense in trying to figure her out. He had resolved long ago that Chloe could be very complicated if she wanted to.

“Don’t move the bookmark!” she cautioned.

“This wasn’t the book you were holding in the morning. When did you go to the bookshop?” he asked politely.

“I’m through with that one. I’ve not been to the bookshop. I picked a couple of books from Mrs Boatengmaa’s shelve.”

“As usual, you used the entire morning to read. I wonder if all teaching assistants read more than their students like you do,” he said that knowing such comments made her feel good about herself.

“So that’s where the train has stopped now, military women. That’s a bold step up. How did this one happen?”

“She’s yet to happen but let’s say she was my Messiah last night,” he lightened the bantering tone in his voice when she brought up Sabrina again.

“I hope you’re not messing about with my head. What did she save you from last night?”

“Oh no messing, not at all; I met her at the Brofo Customs Barrier last night when I was attending to a truck which was held up by the police. She was of enormous help – Sabrina was God sent actually,” he saved the details for an opportune time.

“You’re interested in her merely because she helped you last night.” She didn’t find his answers amusing.

“Why do you assume I’m interested in her?

“If you didn’t have a thing for her, you wouldn’t have brought her home just after your first meeting.”

“I brought her home because of the circumstance surrounding our ‘meeting’. But believe me; Sabrina is nothing like any girl I’ve met.”

“How I wish that’s the first time I’m hearing this from you.”

“Definitely, Sabrina is different.”

“Mal, they’ve all never been the same,” she quipped.

“She’s incomparably bold and proactive.”

“So those are your main reasons – bold and proactive. You don’t know what you want.”

“You say I don’t know what I want but I say as time passes by and as they come and go, I keep discovering who I am and what I don’t want as I look for what I want. If I see what I want I will know. Thomas Edison is my inspiration.”

“You don’t play with a woman’s heart like that. It’s very deadly, and I mean literally deadly.”

“I’m not playing with anybody’s heart. Hey, don’t scare me!”

“You are. Does it mean you will leave Marisa alone?”

“This has nothing to do with Marisa; and for the zillionth time, Marisa is only a business friend.”

Just as they were chatting, Nana Akua knocked and entered in her waitress attire with lunch.

“Good afternoon, I like country music in the afternoon. When will these girls ever learn? This one looks too good to fall for your con.” Nana Akua greeted and started setting up the meal.

“Good afternoon, we like country music all day long. And what in the world are you also talking about?” he asked.

“That has been my worry since morning. I imagine the fate of this lady with my brother, and I can only feel sorry for her,” Chloe responded gazing at his face.

“There’s something about her that makes me think she’s no pushover. I pray he meets his match in her. Sorry Chloe, I couldn’t come here again in the morning but had to send someone to bring breakfast to you,” Nana Akua said.

“No need to apologise, I understand,” Chloe responded as she switched off, unplugged the iron and removed the piece of aluminum foil she put under the ironing board cover. She managed a faint smile, but broad and long enough to convince Nana Akua that it wasn’t a subject to worry about. She folded the ironed sheets neatly, put a lavender sachet between them before taking them to her room.

“You brought food for three; will you be joining us?” he asked seeking Nana Akua’s attention. It was left with only the two of them and Nana Akua intentionally busied herself with setting up lunch.

“No, I’ll not be joining you. My lunch hour is for reading not eating,” Nana Akua snapped.

“What have I done to you ladies?” he asked on the top of his voice to Chloe’s hearing.

“You’ll never know what you’ve done wrong. It’s so convenient for you not to know,” Chloe said when she walked out of her room. She went to clean the soleplate of the electric iron and removed the residue from the vent using a cotton swab.

“I saw your guest in the neighbourhood and from what I’ve heard, she’s been around for an hour or more asking about Papa Oteng. My guess is she will be passing by for lunch after her interrogations.”

“Her name is Sabrina,” Chloe mentioned the name in a tone that said she had a surge of pity for Sabrina.

“What do you think of her, Nana Akua?” Malcolm asked beaming, hopeful she will say something to support him.

“She is different from all the girls I’ve seen you with,” she started to answer.

“I said it! Great minds think alike,” Malcolm cut in.

“A typical Nana Akua having Malcolm’s wellbeing in mind. I also like her infectious and bubbly personality, her soft mellifluous voice, but what do you think of her together with my brother?” Chloe asked.

“She looks no minnow, but since two sea captains can’t sail one ship, I suggest you don’t go beyond business partners and platonic friends.”

“Mal, those are the timeless words from your beloved Nana Akua, will you heed to her advice?” Chloe said and went to wash her hands for her lunch.

“What makes you girls talk of being together with her? I bring a friend home just once and you’ve started planning the outcome for me already. Why don’t you wait for me to commit the crime before you persecute me?” he tried to put up a defense but both girls wouldn’t listen.

“I’ll be in the reading room, call me if you need me. Please enjoy your meal, and you’re having chocolate drink instead of evaporated milk,” Nana Akua said sternly to Malcolm in particular. She took the newspapers from the chair and turned to the reading room to spend the rest of her lunch there. But whilst she was yet to enter the room, the anticipated knock came.

“Who could this be?” Chloe jested envisaging it could be Sabrina.

“Sabrina!” Nana Akua whispered, but loud enough for Malcolm to hear, mocking him as she went to get the door.

“You’re welcome, Sabrina,” she let her in.

“Thank you. You know my name,” Sabrina responded and walked to Malcolm and Chloe.

“Lo and behold, my soon-to-be partner in crime,” Chloe said letting out laughter. Nana Akua joined and Malcolm could not help himself but also join.

“Now, what am I missing?” Sabrina asked, tempted to join the amusement but didn’t know what to be happy about.

“It’s nothing for you to worry your head about,” Malcolm stood up to welcome her.

“Oh, lunch is ready. Now I’m ashamed,” Sabrina said as she sat by Chloe.

“No! Not that!” Nana Akua and Chloe said in unison.

“Then what is it? You guys are embarrassing me, especially when I’m not going to say no to this food. Nobody really says no to an afternoon Banku and Tilapia.”

Nana Akua left them to enjoy their lunch.

“You can take any of them. It’s how interesting Banku and Tilapia is glorified just because some class of people has started enjoying it, but you don’t have to worry, we’ve got you covered,” Malcolm said to Sabrina.

“The last time you told me something similar to this, I ended up eating Chloe’s food,” Sabrina said as she waited for her washed hands to dry before eating.

“Let’s wait to see what you end up doing this time round.” Malcolm got his cutlery ready to eat.

“That’s not funny. Just so you know, the feel of the texture of the food on your fingertips make it more scrumptious. Your sister can attest to this,” Sabrina mumbled something which was supposed to be a prayer and started eating.

“You won’t stun me again; go ahead and use your hands, Sabrina. The word on the street is that you’ve been asking about Papa Oteng,” he told her as they ate.

“And there I was thinking I’ve been discreet in my quest,” Sabrina answered.

“The intel was so good that it was able to predict you’ll be coming here for lunch,” he said.

“Papa Oteng is hallowed here, so you don’t want to go after him without a just cause. Especially when for ancient reasons this community doesn’t welcome anybody from the government or security forces, going around asking about Papa Oteng is abominable,” Chloe added her voice.

“I told you of Papa Oteng’s reputation in Old Freeville. Almost everybody you spoke to this morning saw you as an intruder or most likely, as an enemy. You can comb through the nooks and crannies of the town and I can assure you that they’ll all tell you what you want to hear. In this town, loyalty is everything.”

“That doesn’t come as a surprise at all. But then know that, there is an interesting way people subconsciously give away certain facts even when they’re lying. I was trained by the best; I know what I’m doing.”



“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” ― A.A. Milne, (Winnie-the-Pooh)


More To It




When they entered his house, Sabrina ceased all thoughts in her heard about why he didn’t bring her car inside. The huge semi-detached storey building was far bigger than it looked from the entrance. The house had a sizeable compound but the numerous washing lines, two outdoor bathrooms and a big open-air kitchen occupied a vast part of the compound.
The other part of the house was filled with piled sacks of charcoal, carefully arranged lines of coops, hutches, and all kinds of cages for all kinds of domestic animals. There was no space for her car.

The numerous washing lines gave her a fair idea of the number of people who could be living in that storey building. It was a busy Monday morning for almost everybody she saw. The scene was not any different from what she had seen outside. Women of different ages were busily cooking, washing, mopping, and getting kids ready for school.
A loud radio airing the news in the local language had overshadowed all sounds made by the various activities of the women. The occupants were obviously used to the blend of the morning fragrant of soap from the outdoor bathrooms, the fresh tang of food from the kitchen and the pungent smell of animals they kept in the house.

She removed her baseball cap, put on a smile to hide the unease in her, greeted as many people as Malcolm did and followed him along the cages to the back of the house to Malcolm’s door. He was on the first floor. The minute the two got to the backyard, two rumbustious Rottweilers about 25 inches tall jumped out of their cage barking and running towards them.

“Jeepers! Who let the dogs out?” Malcolm shouted.
“Rotties,” Sabrina said snapping her fingers at the hounds almost at the same time that Malcolm cried. Before Malcolm could order them back to their cage, Sabrina was on her knees with her left hand already on the male’s withers and the right under the female’s dewlap calming the rumbling dogs down.

“They’re naturally territorial, wary of strangers and can be very aggressive. Where did you learn to do that?” Malcolm asked relieved that Sabrina didn’t run but stepped up to meet the dogs.
“Though Rotties can be belligerent, they’re also very intelligent creatures. I train security dogs and rear mongrels for sale so I know how to handle them,” she answered happily bonding with the dogs growling.

“Sorry for this unfortunate welcome. I didn’t bother to give you a heads-up because I knew they’ll be locked. This shouldn’t have happened. My dogs are very ferocious therefore unsafe for strangers to be around them, that is why I keep them locked at the backyard near my door,” Malcolm started explaining looking distinctively sheepish.
“Their cage was unlocked,” Sabrina pointed to a padlock on the cage.

“Imagine what would have happened if anyone had come here before us. We let them out at midnight and put them inside at 5:00a.m.,” his face fell as he explained how unhappy he was to see the dogs out of their cage.
“The good news is no harm was done. And luckily, dogs don’t scare me; I run with them as a hobby.” Sabrina took the dogs to their cage. Malcom went to the basement which was right next to the cage to enquire from the cotenants downstairs how the cage was left ajar.

“I was told it was the landlady’s son, Ghosty, who forgot to lock the dogs after feeding them” Malcolm returned to explain to her, seething inwardly at Ghosty’s recklessness.
“You don’t have to feel bad especially if it was not your negligence that caused that. Malcolm, you don’t beat your breast about the evil that could have happened but didn’t. Does Papa Oteng live close by?” she tried to cheer up the disconcerted Malcolm and even changed the topic.

“Yes, he does; some few blocks away. So what happens to Papa Oteng now? He is a prominent person in this community.” he asked as he fetched his keys from his pocket to open the door.
“You should thank your stars that I pulled off a coup to save you from being implicated in a drug trafficking case. Your driver is not good news for you now,” Sabrina said and stepped back for him to struggle with his doorknob.

“Thanks for plucking me from the scene. I really appreciate it, however I can’t abandon Papa Oteng. I have to find out where the police will take him then try and get him home as soon as possible,” Malcolm finally pushed the heavy metal door opened.
“You’re welcome, Malcolm. I must confess that I’m rather concerned about the gunshots and not Papa Oteng. FYI, we’ve been after Papa Oteng and his team for 3 hectic years.”

“I don’t even know how I’m going to break this news to his family. What could Papa Oteng possibly do wrong to warrant a military trail on him for three years? He strikes me as a law abiding citizen.” He switched on the lights in the corridor and invited her in.
“You’ll find out soon, Mal. Appearance has always been deceptive.”

The door opened to a thin corridor that led straight to what was supposed to be the front door. There were two doors to their left and another pair to their right as they walked to the front door.
“‘You’re welcome to my humble abode,’ is what they say,” he said when they entered.
“‘You have a nice place,’ is how they respond,” she replied

“First on your left is my sister, Chloe’s room and the next is the bathroom. On your right is mine, and next is the reading room.”
“You’re Malcolm and your sister is Chloe – nice names.”
“It’s actually Timothy and Chloe. Ahead of us is the kitchen doubling as a sitting room.”

They bypassed the rooms, walked through the front door which opened to a spacious curtained hall used as a makeshift kitchen and sitting room.
“I like this sharp contrast between your room and the environment.”
“I’ll take it as a compliment, thank you.”
“Please do, you’re welcome. Truly, you have a nice place.”
“Would you like to use the bathroom?” he asked her even before giving her a chair to sit.
“No, thank you. I won’t stay for long.”

“I’ll be with you very soon. I have to freshen up before Chloe wakes up.”
“I’ll tell her you said she spends forever in the bathroom.”
“How did you arrive at that? I love my sister but I just don’t want us to sit here for an hour waiting for her to finish using the bathroom.”
“I’ll tell her – straight up!”
Malcolm pulled the curtain for air and light, put on a radio set and left for a quick shower.

Soon afterwards, a large-hipped young lady knocked at the door, entered and walked straight to the hall. She smiled and greeted Sabrina as expected. The young lady pulled a table in front of Sabrina, laid the tablecloth, set breakfast for two, collected some cleaned plates from the kitchen cabinet and empty bottles from the fridge into her basket, lowered the volume on the radio set and left without another word.

“A young lady, probably a teenager, brought breakfast in a basket – slightly toasted bread, fried eggs, groundnut paste, porridge and two bottles of evaporated milk,” Sabrina said loudly to Malcolm’s hearing.
“Nana Akua; she is 21 but will be 22 in two months. Her mother sells porridge in the morning two houses away from mine,” he responded from his room.

“I wanted to know about the food not the girl, and how come you know her age?” she yelled again.
“I don’t think there’s a law against knowing the ages of friends. What do you want to know about the food, you just told me what she brought,” he came out fixing his flying tie to see Sabrina busy devouring the breakfast.
Though Malcolm was glad his guest felt at home, he pondered over what exactly was putting her at ease; was it business as usual for her or nature has gifted him with the woman he’s been looking for.

“That was fast,” she said with her eyes and hands on the food, not distracted at all by Malcolm.
“It’s either you’re very hungry or the food is very tasty, so much that you couldn’t wait for me. Sabrina, I hope you said a prayer before eating.” He tucked a napkin under his chin and joined her for breakfast.
“You look funny without your glasses. Yes, I washed my hands, and I’m not really hungry but I take breakfast seriously – you should too. Has anybody ever told you that when you take a healthy breakfast you enhance your concentration and endurance, gain strength and a positive attitude for the day?”
“Good for me then, because I hardly miss breakfast. How can washing of your hands be an answer to praying before you eat, Sabrina?” She didn’t touch the groundnut paste so he gladly took it all.

“Malcolm, does she bring you breakfast daily, your friend? I watched her for about ten minutes and I like her already, unfortunately she didn’t have much say to. She said nary word to me aside, ‘hi’.”
“Nana Akua, yes, she does; it’s a business arrangement with her mum. How come I’m not surprised that you like her, and do you want to know about the food or the girl?”
“Don’t be silly, Mal.”

“Nana Akua is a gem. You’re yet to see the best of her. If you were not here, she would have straightened every single object which was out of true before leaving.”
“She is the reason your place looks sparklingly clean.”
“Yes, she is.”
“And you said she is 21?”
“Yes, I did. 22 in two months.”

“She looks older than her age. I intentionally said teenager as bait to fetch her age from you. How did she know you had a visitor?”
“Old Freeville is under a sophisticated human surveillance. The minute we arrived, word went out that I’m back and with a visitor. There are eyes everywhere that see everything that goes on both in public and private.”
“You must be really proud of your community,” she said when she had finished her bowl of porridge.

“I’m full. Thanks for the breakfast Mal, I needed that. But sorry I can’t stay for long, I have a thing or two to attend to this morning,” she said as she dabbed her mouth with the serviette.
“You’re welcome, but you don’t necessarily have to go because I’m leaving, my sister will be around. You can rest for a while; you’ve been up all night.”
“So have you. It’s Monday morning Mal; time will definitely come for me to sleep later. But thanks again, for the offer.” She took her baseball cap and stood up.

“Chloe, come forth!” Malcolm knocked and called his sister when they got to her door on their way out.
“What’s the meaning of ‘come forth,’ am I Lazarus?” his sister responded from her room.
“That reminds me, Chloe. I’ve told you not to switch off my light and particularly not to tuck me in when I intentionally sleep without covers, I’m not a tot!”
“You’re welcome, bro! I will always care.” Chloe stormed out of her room in a housecoat and a novel in her hands.

“I’m leaving. Meet my friend Lieutenant Sabrina Fosu Ottoppah.”
“Golly! Why didn’t you tell me you were with a visitor?” Chloe yelled and took a step back, startled as if she had seen a ghost.
“Come back, where are you going? Meet my friend Sabrina. Sabrina, please meet my sister, Chloe.”
“How do you do,” Chloe greeted.
“How do you do,” Sabrina responded.

“I’ll be back at noon, Chloe. Sabrina, we can leave now.”
“You mean you’ll be back for lunch. Save mine if you get back before I do,” Chloe impishly replied.
“If you meant to mock me in the presence of my guest, then I’m sorry she didn’t get the fun in it.” Malcolm opened the metal door and signaled Sabrina to step out.
“Oh, I did! See you later Chloe,” Sabrina said before stepping out, joining Chloe to pull his legs.

“I hope to see you again Sabrina. I’ll need you in my battles against him. Mal, has Nana Akua brought breakfast yet?” she followed them out to ask her brother.
“Who is the joke on right now, Chloe? You just woke up and you’re already asking for food. I’ll have her bring you food right away because somebody ate yours,” Malcolm responded almost bursting out in laughter imagining Sabrina’s response and countenance.

“Aw Malcolm, so that was Chloe’s food you made me eat. I’m so sorry Chloe,” Sabrina felt a bit mortified.
“Yes, it was her food and no, I didn’t make you eat anything; what an outstanding way to introduce yourself, Lieutenant Sabrina Fosu Ottoppah.”
“Welcome to my world, Sabrina. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t turn my brother into a gentleman.”

“A minute please, I’m going for my motorbike,” Malcolm dashed down to the basement.
“Don’t forget your helmet, Malcolm,” Chloe reminded him.
“I already did. Could you get it for me please?” he yelled from down there.
“What would you have done without me?” Chloe went back inside for his helmet.
“You tell me Sis,” he responded.

They left with Sabrina driving behind Malcolm’s motorbike. When they got to the town centre they went their separate ways. To Malcolm, he had made a vital acquaintance even a God-given friend to help him with Papa Oteng’s case and for other purposes; and to Sabrina, she had won an instrumental confidential informant who will help her with Papa Oteng’s case and other future cases that will involve Old Freeville.


{Backgroud Picture by Ari K}

{Backgroud Picture by Ari K}

“You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing. Doubt is the origin of wisdom. Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power. It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.” René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650)




No polite plea, convincing protest or even harsh warning that Sabrina conjured made Malcolm slow down or turned back to Brofo. Besides, without even turning over the situation for just a minute, she knew Malcolm’s resolution not to turn back was a good call. Who in his or her right sense would run towards danger?
Undercover, unarmed and under direct instruction to stay away during the arrest, Sabrina could only be thankful that Malcolm was way too frightened of the gunshot sound to be influenced by anything, words or deeds to return to the checkpoint.

Her years of experience and Malcolm’s first time impression both informed her that he could easily be a victim of circumstance; notwithstanding, the gunshots gave her a strong cause to believe that the Papa Oteng case could get complicated. It should have been a simple textbook arrest; one that didn’t require gunshots.
The arrest was a huge breakthrough in an epic investigation, one that could lead to the arrest of a major drug lord in the country. It was prudent for Sabrina to ensure she was not unaware of any possible twist the case could take. So while they drove, she sought to find out as much as she could from Malcolm since he had identified himself as Papa Oteng’s employer.

“What’s your name?” Sabrina asked Malcolm, breaking the silence after they had driven for one solid hour without a word. Malcolm had calmed down, no longer speeding and was tranquilly lost in his own thoughts as he drove through the chilly night breeze on the highway. It was as if she didn’t exist. He didn’t look her way even for a second.
“What’s your name, mister?” Sabrina asked again when she didn’t get an answer the first time.
“Me?” Malcolm came back from wonderland.
“Obviously,” she retorted.
“I’m Mal, Malcolm,” he said.
“Mal, Malcolm,” Sabrina repeated.
“No, I mean Oppong Yeboah, thus Timothy Oppong Yeboah. What’s yours?” Malcolm stuttered.
“Mister, I only asked for your name.”
“I prefer to be called Mal or Malcolm.”

Sabrina needed to establish an amiable relationship with Malcom in order to fish out accurate and reliable information to confirm his innocence or otherwise. Though she had no difficulty in being chatty when she wanted to, with her cover blown, she needed to be at her best to get Malcolm to truthfully confide in her. She needed genuine answers from him, not convenient ones.

“All right, it sounds nice to the ear; so why Mal or Malcolm and not Tim or Timothy?”
“Do you have any particular reason why I have to?” he turned to her for the first time since they set off.
“Hey, I don’t bite. I’m just being sociable,” she said with an engaging smile
“Sorry, I’m a little tensed up,” he said easing up a bit. Sabrina’s smiles worked magic on him.
“No problem Mal, you don’t have to feel pressured at all.”
“You have to promise not to laugh when I tell you why,” he had to be a gentleman and conduct himself well.

“I promise my worst will be a smirk,” she replied beaming already. Ironically, his request braced her for laughter. She was glad to notice Malcolm’s initiative to hold court with her so she happily played along. He was finally warming up to her.
“By the time I was through with senior high, I decided I had had enough of my mates teasing me because of my initials ‘TOY’ – Timothy Oppong Yeboah. It was a bit embarrassing when people who didn’t know ‘TOY’ were my initials called me Toy thinking it was my nickname.”

“Uh-huh,” she uttered to keep him going and suppress her smiles as well.
“As a fresher, I read a book titled ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,’ by a Malcolm Timothy Gladwell,” he said and paused for her reaction. He wondered if she was impressed with his explanation or the whole account was making him sound like a goon to her, but her expressions didn’t give that away.

“So that’s where you had the name Malcolm from.”
“Yes, I took that nickname to cover ‘TOY’. Malcolm X and ‘Malcolm In The Middle’ had already made the name popular so people didn’t have any difficulty welcoming it. In no time ‘TOY’ vanished and I became Mal.”
“I won’t laugh at you because I can partially relate to your story.”

“Tell me about that.”
“Well, I started changing my name since junior high, not because people were making fun of me but because as young as I was then, I could tell I deserved better.” Sabrina didn’t want him to feel he was being cowed into answering her questions, so she was ready to give him some private information about herself to make him feel comfortable doing same.
“You thought you deserved a better name? Tell me about that. What was your name?” Malcolm asked her.

“I was christened Affia Boatengmaa Otopah by a runaway father who never cared about either my mum or I. He broke my mum’s heart when he jilted her and married the then newly appointed district court judge three months after I was born.”
“So you’re indeed related to Justice Clara Otopah.”
“No, I’m not! Didn’t you hear a word of what I said, Mal?”
“She is your dad’s wife, Sabrina.”
“Even in that sense, I’m not because he divorced her years later after several failed attempts to make babies but she decided to keep his name.”
“Doesn’t nature have a big sense of humour?”

“The only substantive input that man you call my dad ever made in my life was his semen that caused my conception. How I wish I could give that back to him.”
“That’s harsh! Do you hate him that much?”
“Do you know what’s harsh? That man got my mum, who was his father’s secretary pregnant when he was a theology student in Singapore, home on vacation, and promised to return to marry her when he was through defending his PhD thesis. She believed him. Yes she did; so much that she couldn’t bring herself to get over the ensuing disappointment she suffered when he ditched her and conveniently forgot totally that he had a daughter with her.”
“Did you say theology student?”

“I bet I did, but fortunately for God and country he’s not a pastor. He wanted a ‘Dr.’ before his name and somehow theology was the only path of least resistance so he took it. My birth and his return coincided so he happily named me Boatengmaa after a queen mother in his hometown, a woman neither my mum nor I knew. Afterwards, he never bothered to find out what had become of my mum or me until decades later when he read in the papers that I’ve become the first female lieutenant in the district.”
“How did you receive him when he came back?”
“I didn’t, my mum did and that’s all he is going to get. I’ve always been baffled by how and why he was able to apathetically abandon us for all those years when we lived in the same city. I believe strongly he’s the reason I never liked guys,” she answered in all sincerity.

As she spoke passionately about her hatred for her dad and men, Malcolm was surprised that she was opening out to him willingly with such details. He saw her in a different light – not as a military woman but as a typical accomplished modern day woman who has done a good job to subdue her past and hurts to face the real cruel world.

“I’m sorry for you, Affia. I hope you don’t go on in life hating men and chasing after women and at the end blame your dad for it. These days you can’t even imagine the reasons people give for doing what they do and how they do what they do,” Malcolm said teasingly trying to water her passionate speech down.
“What are you sniggering at, Malcolm?” she asked after allowing Malcolm’s words to sink in for some seconds.
“Nothing, actually,” he cackled.
“What even makes you think that of me; who said I like girls? Focus! Keep your perverted mind on the subject – change of names,” she giggled. Her plan was working as she wished; the diplomacy veil was off and she could win his trust if they followed that trail.

“I was only following your lead; you brought it up and besides, society has evolved enough for me to surmise that. I’m just saying don’t blame anybody for who or how you love,” he said with a big sneer.
“Exactly my point – I have not spoken about love. Well, by junior high school I was matured enough to drop his name and pick my grandma’s name, Fosu. After a prolong resistance which came in a mixture of confrontation, advice and threats from my mum and my grandma, we arrived at a compromise – Affiah Fosu Otopah,” Sabrina beamed as spoke.

“Why did you want to pick your grandma’s name?” Malcolm’s smile was because he was glad they were having a normal chat without riddles, puzzles and commands, whilst Sabrina’s smile was because she was tenderly winning Malcolm over.
“Long story short, she’s the reason I am who I am today. She single handedly catered for my mum and I. She did until I got into the army. Currently my mum manages all her beauty salons,” Sabrina summarised as candidly as she could.

“God bless her heart. Sabrina, why was she against using her name?”
“I used it, but as my middle name in place of Boatengmaa. She said I needed a man’s name as my surname.”
“By a man’s name she meant your dad’s, right?”
“It’s either my dad’s or husband’s, she said.”

“That’s reasonable, don’t you think so Sabrina?”
“In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, people have two surnames. The first surname is usually the father’s and the second is the mother’s. And since my mother also didn’t have a responsible father, my grandmother’s maiden name was undeniably a good pick.”
“You couldn’t have chosen a better country; Spain has a complex naming system.”

“Well, when I got to senior high, without seeking anybody’s permission, I conveniently dropped Affiah and added Sabrina to my name. And when I was through with my first degree, I came home with a certificate that read ‘Sabrina Fosu Ottoppah’. Thankfully, people pronounce my surname very differently from his,” she said with a smug smile.
“So, just as Shakespeare coined the name Jessica, you’ve coined your own surname.”
“Though that was not my intention, I am happy I did because now people are reluctant to assume that I’m related to him or the judge when they see my surname.”

With the grisly episode literally behind them, the two enjoyed a hearty chat in the halcyon atmosphere of a misty dawn as they drove to Malcolm’s house uneventfully. They got to Malcolm’s place around 6a.m. When they turned off to Old Freeville, Sabrina began to actively scan the neighborhood, turning left, right, back and front. As they drove through the community, Malcolm could easily tell that Sabrina was not comfortable.

“I reckon that this wasn’t the Old Freeville you were expecting to meet, Sabrina.”
“Though I’ve not been to this part of the town before, I had a fair idea of how it’s supposed to look like.”
“So, are you pleasantly surprised or coldly stunned?”
“Mal, isn’t it too early for the neighborhood to be swarmed with food vendors and hawkers?”
He was not the least bothered by what Sabrina could possibly be thinking about where he lived, but rather he mocked at her discontentment. Malcolm’s block had few houses properly fenced. If the fences were not wooden, it was at knee level or without gates or it was broken; that was the story of most of the houses they drove by.

“Welcome to Old Freeville and that is my house,” he stopped in front of a well fenced single-storey semi-detached house and pointed to it. The compound did not have enough space for the car to enter so he climbed the pavement in front of the house.
“To tell you the truth Mal, I didn’t expect to see painted or fenced houses or even tarred roads here.”
“You won’t be the last to harbour this perception but for your information, Old Freeville used to be one of the most beautiful communities in the country during the colonial rule.”

“It definitely had to be during the colonial rule. But anyway is it safe to park here, Malcolm?” she asked as she rolled up the windows and got out of the car. Malcolm was contemplating on inviting her in or otherwise, but when she didn’t ask for her keys when he got out, he knew they were going in together.
“With all said about Old Freeville, I can appreciate your apprehension but there is no reason for you to be afraid. It is morning and all the people you see around are keeping an eye on the car. Once people have seen me park this car, nobody will touch it.”

“Why have you parked on the pavement, Malcolm? Where do you want pedestrians to walk when you park your car in their way?”
“Thanks for assuming I have a car but which one exactly is your headache, safety of the car or the pedestrians? Sabrina, you don’t have to be afraid of any danger, though this place looks like a ghetto it’s very safe for those of us who live here,” he said smiling with pride as he led her through the slightly opened metal gate.

“Malcolm, your lofty opinion about this place will be derided by anybody who comes here for the first time. I’m concerned only because the neighbourhood is a tad too crowded, and I didn’t suggest by any means that you own a car.”
“Granted, but let that same person stay for a day or two and he/she would fall madly in love with the place.”

“It seems there are vendor’s tables and posters of everything all over the place. Look at the dust and smoke in the air and the dogs and fouls and goats and sheep; don’t they have owners? The neighbourhood doesn’t match its name at all,” she complained as she followed him closely into the house not knowing what to expect.
“It isn’t unusual at all that not everyone lives in the lap of luxury. Irrespective of the time of the day, people have stuff to sell, others have to sweep, others have rubbish to burn and the huge population is good for advertisement hence the posters. And if you want to see the owners of these animals, just touch the animal,” he answered still not worried about Sabrina’s accession.



“To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say. I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto ‘to live well you must live unseen. He, who hid well, lived well.” René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650)


{Backgroud Picture by Ari K)

{Backgroud Picture by Ari K}


Shortly after Malcolm ended the phone call, a young woman within shouting distance probably eavesdropping, in blue jeans, cream woolly jumper and black baseball cap approached him.

“Mister, may I have a minute of your time?” she asked delightfully as if she was a receptionist at a five star hotel.
And easily, the charm worked on Malcolm – he nodded in approval.
“So, who were you talking to on the phone?” she asked Malcolm sticking out her thumb and little finger in a form of a phone and putting it to her right ear.
“The district police command,” Malcolm answered looking at her quizzically.

“Please, if you don’t mind let’s step aside for a minute,” she started walking and strangely Malcolm followed. “You said you just spoke to the district police command?” she asked again demurely, this time patting Malcom as if to tell him, ‘It’s okay Mal, you can tell me everything’.
“Yes, I did. I needed him to intervene.”
“How and why would he do that?”
“I engaged that driver in handcuffs to transport cartons of shea butter to a factory at the industrial area. Honestly, I don’t know what he’s done for the police to descend on him in this dramatic manner. The police will not listen to me, so I had to call the district police command for help.”

“Shea butter?” she asked to confirm what she heard.
“Yes, it is shea butter. That’s what the driver told me.”
“Ah, you’ve not seen what’s in the truck with your own eyes.”
“I contract truck drivers to transport goods for my customers. Most of the time I meet the driver at the delivery point, so it’s not unusual that I haven’t seen the goods personally.”
“Hmm, what did the district police command say when you spoke to him?”
“It is hard for me to believe that he says there is nothing he can do about the situation.”

“So why did you call the district police command in the first place?” she asked.
“I’ve known Command for months and he’s been very helpful especially when I encounter crook officers. I’m surprised tonight he says he can’t help me out. He knows I have genuine permit and up to date documentations to transport goods across the region,” Malcolm answered still under the charm of the soft spoken young lady.

“Yes, I knew it!” She sighed happily stepping away from Malcolm.
“Excuse me?” Malcolm asked, finally coming back to his senses.

“I knew the district police command had to be in on this,” she said punching her left fist in the air. When she was through with her brief celebration, she turned to Malcolm and removed her cap for him to get a better look at her.
“Who are you?” Malcolm asked. It started drizzling again and as if the water washed away the charm, he realized he had been talking to a complete stranger.

“Look over there. Have you seen that black Benz parked under the street light?” she said pointing to the direction Malcolm came from.
“That’s my car. Take the key and get out of the rain; go and sit in the car and switch on the ignition, I’ll join you in a short while,” though she said to him in a masculine tone, she held his hand and put the car key in it as daintily as possible. Malcolm was a bit at sea; why did this softly spoken lady come from and what did she want from him.

“I didn’t catch your name, honey,” Malcolm asked and stretched his arm to block her way.
“It’s because I didn’t give it to you, honey,” she retorted.
“I’m confounded. May I know your name, please?”
“Gentleman, take my kind offer and get into that car over there. You’re running out of time,” she instructed him again pointing to the car as if she was ordering a six year old to go to bed.

She gave him a stern look, from his face to the stretched arm then back to his face; Malcolm quickly got the message so he put his hand down and allowed her to pass. The stranger who charmed him to talk did not give him the sympathy he wished to get but rather she was offering a mystery to unravel. The rains had stopped again and Malcolm stood silently gazing into empty space thinking. If that young lady was an angel, then she was one without compassion; he said to himself.

Gradually, Malcolm’s misery was giving way to self-pity. Obviously, the lady was not there to give him a shoulder to cry on, neither did she look like she was ready to answer any question from Malcolm. She left him, moved away from the police barricade and walked towards the highway. She looked at her wrist watch then the highway repeatedly as if she was expecting somebody who was running terribly late. The few cars that drove by were allowed through the barricade without any major inspection, except to check their driver’s license. The police did their best to reduce the attention their arrest was causing.

“Who are you waiting for?” Malcolm followed her to ask.
“I don’t think you really cherish your freedom of movement, gentleman,” she replied after a while with her eyes still fixed on the road, and occasionally stealing glances at her watch and the police who were offloading the boxes from the truck.

“How do you expect me to get into a stranger’s car in the middle of the night without knowing why?” Malcolm protested, but deep within him he was also afraid that the lady could be military, and she could be waiting for the backup Command spoke to him about. But again, his protest fell on deaf ears.

Malcolm looked at the key in his hands, the young lady, the pacing officers, thought for a while and walked some few steps towards the Benz at a sedate pace, but turned back to ask the lady the same question he had been asking all night.

“Who are you?” undoubtedly out of frustration, Malcolm came back to ask her.
“You are kidding me?” she yelled when she heard his voice again.

“I need to know who you are.”
“I’m your Messiah! If you know what’s good for your soon-to-be-sorry self, you’d stop interrogating me and do as I say. Some other time we can meet to have a good natter, but right now, you need to obey a very simple instruction and get into my car.”

“I can’t abandon either the goods or the driver. That’s out of the question. I deliver. That’s my proud hallmark. It will ruin my business if word gets out that I failed to deliver because the police arrested my driver. That’s bad for business. I have to do something about it,” Malcolm had mixed feelings of anger, confusion and distress.
“Clearly, you have no idea of what you’re talking about. Just by saying you hired him to transport those goods puts you into trouble worth several years behind bars,” she answered softly reverting to her charm.

“Please, just this once – who are you?” Malcolm pleaded.
“Are you a drug pusher? Do you deal in ammunitions? Do you trade in fake currencies?” she turned and looked straight into his eyes and asked.

“I need answers not questions, please,” Malcolm implored her.
“Well, those questions are the closest to answers you’re going to get from me. For crying out loud, don’t they have enough clues for you to figure something out?”
“Your puzzles are only making my head spin the more”.
“How can you be involved in this and not be an adroit pleader or convincer? You’re really horrible at this. Do you ever get anything you desire in life?”

“What are you talking about?” he asked innocently.
“I can tell you have no idea what is going on here,” Sabrina said with a flash of sympathy in her eyes. She pulled out a purse from her back pocket, reached for an ID and shoved it into his hands.

“Heavens above! Command was right,” Malcolm exclaimed in shock.
“Yes, he was!” she rejoined.
His eyes lit and his hands started shaking when he read Lieutenant Sabrina Fosu Ottoppah on the ID. Malcolm stood stunned, unable to believe his eyes. He looked at both sides of the ID repeatedly, not knowing exactly what to do.

“We have less than a minute to get out of here, pronto!” she said and moved on ahead to her car when she saw a fleet of cars with unusual large headlamps speeding towards them.
That was her cue to leave. They hurriedly got into her car, but Malcolm couldn’t bring himself to put the key in the ignition let alone start it. He got instantly dazzled after catching a glimpse of the military trooping in armed to the teeth. Whatever Papa Oteng had gotten himself into was way bigger than Malcolm had imagined.

“Let’s get out of here, please,” Sabrina tapped him to start the car.
“Who do we have at the steering?” an old man in a raincoat and a folded umbrella sneaked up on them in the car.
“Hide my ID,” Sabrina whispered but Malcolm wasn’t swift enough. Whilst Sabrina kept her cool Malcom was startled to the bone by the man’s intrusion. He was having a horrible time.

“Lieutenant, why are you in a hurry to leave?” the old man asked her.
“Colonel, we were about to leave the scene. I will call the office and get you a written report first thing in the morning,” Sabrina sat up and answered the old man.

“Who are you mister?” he asked Malcolm again and disregarded Sabrina’s response.
“A cousin,” that’s all the disconcerted Malcolm could come up with.
“Is that what we are now, cousins, really? Don’t mind this philanderer,” Sabrina said, putting on an act to save the day.

“Sorry sir,” Malcolm quickly apologized not too sure what exactly was going on.
“I have an unfinished business to attend to. See you on Monday, Sir,” she answered.
“Sab, today is Monday,” the old man retorted.

“Drive! Don’t tell me you don’t know how to drive,” said Sabrina impatiently.
“Where are we heading to, madam?” Malcolm was revived quickly by the old man’s inclusion to the night’s puzzles. He could sense the tension between Sabrina and the old man, but he absolutely didn’t want to find out why. Not another puzzle.

“Let’s go anywhere out of here, fast! That old man is my former boss and he knows all the four members of my nuclear and extended family,” she told Malcolm as they sped off.
“So he knew I was lying.” Malcolm was not really sorry for lying to an old man he might possibly never meet again.

“Yeah, the cousins lie was very dumb to him and if we had stayed there just for another second, his next question would have betrayed your identity.” She switched off the air conditioning and rolled down the window for fresh air.
“I didn’t know you could get nervous when the shit hits the fan,” Malcolm was able to afford a smile in a very long while.

“He deliberately called me Lieutenant upon seeing my ID in your hands. Later, I would have to explain to him how and why my ID got into your hands. It’s the last thing an undercover soldier should do – carry an official ID, let alone show it to a stranger. I’m bound to face censure from him, that I can’t escape.” she explained.
“Sorry for putting you into trouble,” he felt bad.

“I can only tell the depth of my woe when I meet my boss but I should be able to gracefully swallow whatever comes my way. I only hope you’re worth the trouble anyway.”
“I’ll be forever thankful, Sabrina.”
“You’re welcome.”

“Can I have your cellphone number, please?” He pulled his double-chip phone with his left hand and handed it to her.
“Why not, I’ve done the worst.” She keyed in the digits, and called the number so she could also have his number.

“I live at Old Freeville so when we get to the town centre, I’ll alight and get a cab home.”
“That won’t be necessary. We’re going to Old Freeville.”
“Where do you live, Sabrina?”

Just when he thought he had seen enough for the night; just when they thought the whole horror of the night was ebbing away; just when they thought they were going to have a quiet drive home, they heard gunshots. They had driven for some few minutes away from the checkpoint.

They had two distinct instincts. Whilst Sabrina was shouting ‘turn around’, the car was already purring up accelerating at top speed – Malcolm was getting as farther away from the gunshots as possible.


Backgroud Picture by Ari K

(Backgroud Picture by Ari K)


Malcolm was reluctant to open his eyes, let alone get out of bed. He lay on his double divan wishing he had the luxury of switching off his cellphone at least when going to bed. He knew very well the world he lived in did not permit that; not all the businessmen who brought him money were on the Greenwich Meridian. Now he hated the tempo and lyrics of his favourite song and ringtone, Jamie Grace’s ‘Beautiful Day’.

Though Malcolm had an early night to get enough rest, he was also aware those midnight disturbances were not improbable. They were often good disruptions. The phone kept ringing and ringing although nobody was answering; it became evident that it was a local call. He had no other option than to go for the phone. It was the wee hours of Monday morning; how unkind could the caller be? he thought.

Malcolm was expecting the ace truck driver, Papa Oteng to call him early in the morning after the delivery, but certainly not in the middle of the night. Experience had taught him that a local call at that time was often far from awesome; good news hardly came via phone calls after midnight. He could bet his last coin on the hunch that if the call at the time was from Papa Oteng, then it meant the end of his sleep.

Malcolm opened his eyes to utter darkness and was suddenly peeved at his younger sister Chloe for turning off his light and tucking him in. He was even angrier at whoever was calling at that ungodly hour for abruptly ending his sleep. He pushed away his duvet and sat on his bed in the darkness livid with anger dabbing his eyes, as he waited for his retinal and opsin to recombine back into rhodopsin so that he could find his way to the buzzing phone. ‘It’s high time I took this ‘vitamin A advice’ seriously,’ he said under his breath.

Usually, whenever he planned to wake up at dawn, being a heavy sleeper, he did away with quilts and comforters, kept the lights on and the windows slightly down to get his room cold at night and unconducive for sound sleep. But Chloe on the other hand, a light sleeper, needed the whole house to be completely dark before she could sleep. So she made it her business to turn out every single light in the house before she went to bed, even Malcolm’s, if he didn’t lock his room.

“Papa, why are you calling me at this time?” Malcolm answered the call in a gloomy bass voice not hiding his displeasure, just so Papa Oteng understood that his call was not A-OK.
Malcolm wiped the journals off the study table to the floor with his left arm to create space, sat in the armchair, lifted both legs onto the table, and kept his eyes on the ticking second hand of the wall clock.
“Hello, thank God you’re awake. Master, I’ve a trifling situation here but disturbingly, I need your help to handle it,” Papa Oteng said too petrified to notice Malcolm’s tone.

“What kind, Papa?” Malcolm asked in a less sullen tone.
“Master, it is the police but you don’t have to panic at all. Somehow, without any tangible reason, they’ve purposefully decided to get stroppy only to give me a hard time. They’re the most irrational bunch I’ve ever met,” Papa Oteng started rattling. The absence of the usual composure in Papa Oteng’s voice was a sure sign of malady.

“Specifically, what have the police done, Papa?” Malcolm asked. Papa Oteng was never grouch, so his whine and call for help was unlike him.
“They’ve held me up and are putting up unthinkable reasons to confiscate the goods. I’ve provided every single document they’ve requested for, yet they are bent on keeping the truck here,” Papa Oteng continued whining.

“What goods are you transporting?”
“Shea butter; I’m transporting cartons of shea butter, master.”
“So, where exactly are you now, Papa?”
“I’m at the Brofo Customs Barrier.”
“Papa Oteng, why are you at the checkpoint at this time?” Malcolm asked, astonished.
“Master, I haven’t erred in any way. It is the police. You know I’ve been doing this business for years and I scarcely get into trouble with the police. It’s not my fault, master.”

“Oteng, you were scheduled to leave the village at dawn so you’d get to the checkpoint after five in the morning, why are you there before 1a.m.?” Malcom was baffled as to how Papa Oteng, a habitual late comer would be at the checkpoint at that time.
“Master, the problem is the police, not my timing. Mind you, I’m on your side not the police.”

“Papa, you’re adept at handling the police, why do you need me?”
“Master, this is a bit different. If it was not absolutely necessary for you to be here I wouldn’t have called. I’ve done all I can, yet it doesn’t look like they’re going to give in any time soon. I need to introduce an external factor to the equation.”
“I’ll be with you soon.”
“Master, please hurry. I’ll tell you what to say when you get here, so don’t worry.”

Malcolm put his cracked iPhone screen back on charge and made a beeline for a warm cup of coffee. He got dressed, wrote a note for Chloe, shoved it under her door, fetched his glasses and an old Samsung double-sim phone with torchlight, and left the house into a chilly wet night. Old Freeville never completely went to sleep, but it was no easy task convincing any cab driver to go to Brofo Barrier and back at that time of the night in that inclement weather.

Malcolm was anxious as he stood in the drizzling night looking for a cab. Papa Oteng was extremely deft at handling the night patrols whenever they confronted him, and he was also in the good books of almost all of them. He could also call the district police command if things really got out of hands, so Malcolm wondered why he called him for help. After a while, Malcolm got a young driver in his twenties who was enticed by the fare he offered to pay.

“Director, what business do you have to do at Brofo Barrier at this late hour?” the driver asked boldly. He turned down the volume on the cab’s radio set, so that he could hear Malcolm well.
“A truck full of shea butter heading the industrial area has been held up,” Malcolm replied. It was going to be a two hour or even more journey, so Malcolm could use a distraction. Cool reggae music and an interesting conversation was all he needed to get his head off what could possibly be the problem with Papa Oteng.

“That’s smart business, manager. You want to add value to it before exportation. You know the growth of our economy is directly related to exports, huh?” the driver asked and peeped into his rearview mirror to catch Malcolm’s response.
“Yes, it sounds logical. Export is very vital, I reckon,” Malcolm replied nodding and smiling.
“This is how it works, chairman. If we increase export, we increase foreign exchange and this will increase the nation’s purchasing capacity in the international market.” the driver shared his sage opinions happily.
“Impressive!” Malcolm was genuinely enthralled with the young man’s insight.

“Currently, milk is cheaper than water in Europe because Russia has stopped importing dairy products, and their ally China has also reduced the importation of dairy products from Europe. Boss, your countenance says you expected me to be dim-witted,” the driver said with his eyes on the road when he noticed Malcolm was a bit surprised at what he was hearing.
“Far from that, I’m rather impressed to meet an economics buff driver,” Malcolm rejoined.

“Well, times have changed since Grandma was young. Knowledge is not the preserve of the schooled or elite. My work keeps me glued to the radio all day and night. By listening to international news and discussions, I’m forced to learn a lot,” the cab driver proudly explained.
“Keep it up; this acumen will surely come in handy sometime soon,” Malcolm encouraged him.

“I know you may be used to this, but I would still like to thank you for all you’ve been doing for the community. Director, we need people like you in our society. The low interest rate loans you give to traders – all the stuff you supply on credit. You have no idea what that means to us. Chief, don’t you think all rich men should do same for the poor?”
“You’re welcome.”
Unluckily for the driver, Malcolm couldn’t shake Papa Oteng off his mind. Malcolm had divided attention throughout the whole journey. He resorted to listening rather than talking. So he took most of the driver’s questions as rhetorical and smiled, nodding to his intelligent ideas.

The driver addressed Malcolm by every title that came to mind but never asked his name; neither did Malcolm bother to ask for his.

“Manager, this is exactly the reason nobody wanted to bring you here,” the cab driver said at the sight of beams of rotating beacons and halogen lights about two hundred metres away from Brofo Customs Barrier. He started panicking and pulled over at a signpost that read ‘WELCOME TO BROFO’.
The cab driver had agreed to take Malcolm to the Brofo and back but changed his mind the moment they drew near the barrier. The blue and red rooftop flashing lights and the alley lights of the police cars parked on both sides of the highway made the night sky as bright as noonday. It was an intimidating sight, even if you didn’t have any cause to fret.

“You don’t have to freak out. A heavy presence of police shouldn’t be a menacing sight if you’ve done nothing wrong. Let’s go and find out exactly what is going on,” Malcolm tried his best to hide his own fright.
“Go where, to do what, boss? This is where the road ends for you; please give me half of the agreed fare and find a different cab back to the city,” the driver stopped and waited for Malcolm to pay him and get down.

Malcolm couldn’t fault the driver for being terrified. He also easily understood why Oteng had to call him. It wasn’t a normal police stop. The cab driver made an illegal U-turn, took a bypass off the highway and sped away whilst, Malcolm walked to the customs barricade. Fortunately it had stopped drizzling.

Amidst the incessant drizzle and even the time of the night, the police could not prevent people from gathering around, but could only keep them at bay. Though people were not trooping in by the score, the crowd was huge enough for Malcolm to elbow his way through to the front.

Malcolm saw Papa Oteng and two other guys sitting in the mud in front of the truck with their hands behind them handcuffed and legs wide opened. There was only Papa Oteng’s truck so he concluded that those two were with Papa Oteng. About a dozen officers were either inspecting or offloading the content of the trunk and a few others engaging Papa Oteng and his friends. Strangely, the truck was full of boxes instead of cartons which Papa Oteng had told him of.

“Go back! Go back!” screeched an armed policeman who spotted Malcolm hurriedly drawing near the blockade. He put up his left hand to signal Malcolm to stop coming any farther. Papa Oteng saw Malcolm walking towards him and bowed and shook his head down in shame.
“Officer, calm down I’ve only come to talk to you,” Malcolm said firmly with all the courage he could muster. He kept walking and didn’t budge.
“What! Go back gentleman!” the grim-faced officer shouted louder drawing attention to Malcolm. Whatever his rank was, it was palpably clear that the policeman was not used to people talking back whilst he spoke. He was astonished Malcolm had the guts to talk back to him.

“Have patience officer,” Malcolm responded but stopped walking towards him when he saw the officer’s right hand moving to his holster.
“This is a restricted area. Go back!” a different officer re-ordered.
Malcolm gave up, sensing he was only arousing the ire of the police. He could count six Nissan Navara patrols cars, three unmarked police cars and a couple of civilian cars. They were not the regular night patrol he knew.

“Hello Command, this is Malcolm,” Malcolm walked few metres away from the crowd to call the district police command. That was the only solution he could think of – call the one person who has been taking twenty percent of the money he earns per trip.
“Hello, Mal. I’ve been waiting for your call for over an hour since Oteng called,” the district police command responded.

“He didn’t mention that he called you. I’m at the checkpoint now and we need your help.”
“Well unfortunately, I can’t touch this case. He explained everything to me but I’m afraid to say that he is on his own, Mal.”
“What do you mean by he is on his own, Command? The police have put handcuffs on him!” Malcolm began to raise his voice without realizing it.
“Oteng informed you after the fact. Mal, have you seen those civilian cars?” Command ignored the tenor of Malcolm’s question and asked as if he was watching the whole situation live on TV.

“Yes, three or four of them,” Malcolm answered after taking a look again, but didn’t count nonetheless.
“Well, the people in those cars are military and I learnt backup is on the way. They want the military police involved in this case. Oteng is in trouble and you can nothing about it right now.”

“Command, what are you talking about? You’re only fogging my perplexity. What’s going on here, please?” Malcolm asked trying to calm down.
“I’ll advice you to immediately get out of there and let us find means of getting Oteng out of trouble later. It is a showery night. Go home Mal,” Command spoke as composed as he could but the measured cadence in his speech ensured that Malcolm didn’t miss the gravity of the situation and the urgency for him to leave straightaway.