Archive for September, 2016


Death in a Bottle

I remember that moment. That cruel and dark moment. I  remember the struggle. The pain. The horror.  I remember the darkness that clogged and seeped into my throat- compelling me to gag and retch in agony. I desperately seeked refuge in a glass of water but they were nothing more than mere gulps of hopelessness. That existential taste of pure evil still lingered in my mouth. My mind grew distorted as it struggled to process the madness and the shock to my nervous system. The lights in my parents bedroom dimmed and flickered haphazardly. The violent flashes of despair. My soul became cold and numb.

Nothing made sense. It was that moment I had lost my innocence as a child and I  finally grasped that the world was a very very wicked place. It was that horror that consumed me forever. It was the horror of consuming a colon-cleasing tonic named Living Bitters.

I remember the gleeful sadism in my father’s eyes. ’til this day I refuse to forgive him for what he put me and my siblings through. No child deserved that.

However, I must digress and reflect.  If one of the most truly horrifying things that could ever happen to me as a child was my dad giving me colon-cleansing tonic, then I really didn’t have it that bad.

In fact, I was a “Dada Bee.” I ate when I wanted because there was the “house girl” to cook jollof rice for me. The good kind. Ghanaian Jollof. Certainly, not Nigerian jollof.

I went were I wanted because there was  the “Drivah” to drive me around to any of my friends’ houses. There was the “house boy” who cleaned and ironed my school uniform. Shit was done for me and I barely had to lift a finger, most of the time.

I was a spoiled child but on that dreadful day I was forced to become a man.

It was a brisk and dewy Saturday morning with all the things a well-loved and pampered kid could look forward to. A bowl of Kellog’s Frosties, Power Rangers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Malta Guiness and four-corner soccer with the street kids. They were often referred to as Kubolors.

Everything was going well as usual. I was the black Richie Rich bossing his minions, terrorizing lazy watchmen and insulting girls that didn’t want to talk to me and my entourage of kubolors. I mean, I had just bought the whole block of East Legon Fanta and Malta Guinness.  I was the King of Accra.

But once my parents called me back to the house, the parade through my neighborhood was over. I might have been a spoiled young brat and a nuisance in my kingdom but never to my parents. I immediately hurried back home and conducted myself into my parents’ large bedroom. My two older siblings Kojo and Afriyie were there as well. I’ve known them to be the most confident and fearless people I’ve ever known but something wasn’t right as I walked into the room. That day I saw fear in their eyes.

They were cowering together using each other as human shields. As my father slowly walked towards them with a tablespoon and a dark bottle of what appeared to be thick and goopy sludge.

“You go first!” My oldest brother snapped at my sister in panic, “You know what they say. Ladies first!”

“NO! NO! NO! Don’t even try! I went last time! YOU ARE GOING!” she retorted with just as much of a scowl.

“What’s with all the commotion? Do we seriously have to go through this every time?” my father asked in a stern yet reasonable tone. “It doesn’t taste bad at all. It is good for you all. I will clean your insides right out. Come on, step up and be done with it.”

My father turned his attention to me. “Oh Kuuku, good you’re finally here. Before, I thought you were too young to have some of this medicine but after seeing what comes out of you in the toilet, I’ve had my concerns. You most certainly need this.”

A look of embarrassment came across my face.

“What’s this, daddy?” I asked, staring reluctantly at the tablespoon of black sludge. If I recall, It looked like part of the Venom Symbiote that usually corrupted Spider-Man.

“Living Bitters, it will make you stronger, faster  and make you very smart. it will keep you sharp, my boy. Most importantly, it will exorcise those horrific demons inside you.  And keep you from destroying my bathrooms. After this, be sure to eat all the oranges in the house. God knows you need it.”

“Kuuku, don’t take it. It’s so disgusting, you will die.” My brother warned.

“Swallow it as fast as you can. Don’t be scared.” My sister added.

“I’m not scared.”

“Oh, if you’re not scared? Then why don’t you go first?” My brother taunted.

“YES! YES! Kuuku go.” My sister said.

I sucked my teeth and looked right at my older siblings with defiance. I stepped up to my father. “Fine, let’s just get this over with.”

“Very good, Kuuku. I appreciate the pragmatism.”

“YOOOOoooooo, you just wait and see. You will suffer!”

And suffered I did.

But I could not give them that satisfaction. I could not give them the satisfaction of watching me wince and struggle like dying prey being mauled by a lion. In fact, I tried to be strong for the both of them.

I stood fast, braced myself and calmly walked up to my father without fear or emotion. I was calm, cool and collected.

“Okay, open your mouth.” My father said. I stepped up like a Catholic boy awaiting  communion. But instead of consuming the blood of Jesus Christ, I consumed the blood of Satan Spawn. The moment it slimed onto my tongue and the roof of my mouth, There was nothing but bitterness festering and trickling in the small spongy crevices of my taste buds. This dark sludgy matter violated every part of my being. My soul left me. Waves of bitter disgust and filth raged in my mouth, It tasted like dead rotten plants, corrosive oil and corrupted honey. What came afterwards was unspeakable.

For the first time, I tasted hell. I was instantly transported into another dimension and trapped in my mind. Everything faded to black

I was in the woods by myself. staggering to my knees. I realized I was in a very dark and cold place. I saw angels with broken wings fall through the dimly lit sky. Demonic hands clawed from the earth. Dragging to me the depths of hell. I felt the sludge of living bitters fusing with my mouth and the rest of my body. Swallowing me whole from the inside.

Suddenly, Tyler Durden appeared. He Grasped my hand tightly, pulling me away from my nightmare. He calmly said, “Stay with the pain. Don’t shut this out”

“DEAR GOD! I WANT TO SPIT THIS OUT! I WANT TO VOMIT!” I pleaded.

Tyler Durden grabbed my hand more tightly. “Without pain, without sacrifice. We will have nothing.”

I tried not think of the words. Putrid, vomit, gaggi…

“STOP IT! This is your pain, this is your burning throat. It’s RIGHT HERE!”

“I’m going to my happy place. I’m eating two balls of kenkey with pepper and Titus sardines. I’m finding my power!”

“NOOOO!” Tyler said dismissively while yanking my hand towards him. “Don’t deal with the toils dead people do. Come on!”

“Please, make it stop!” I begged.

“What you’re feeling is pre-mature enlightenment.”

I tried to drift away from the bitter pain. I tried to picture Rashida Jones feeding me kenkey with fish.

Tyler gave me one big dirty slap! TSSSS!

“This is the greatest moment of your life and you’re off somewhere missing it!”

“No I’m not!” I said back.

Tyler went on to explain how our fathers were models for God but had betrayed and abandoned us. I started to believe that he was right. For how could my own father subject me to this cruelty? How could my own father give me Living Bitters. Tyler then asked me.

“What does that tell you about God?”

I whimpered and stuttered. Tyler gave me another dirty slap. TSSSSSSSS!

“LISTEN TO ME! you have to consider the fact that God doesn’t like you. He never wanted you. And in all probability, He hates you. That’s why he gave us Nigerian Jollof.”

Despair ran across my face. Not Nigerian jollof I thought.

“This’s not the worst thing that can happen.” he said.

“It isn’t?” I asked. Wondering what could have been worse than Living bitters and Nigerian jollof.

“WE DON’T NEED HIM! or Nigerian jollof for that matter.” Tyler said. “Fuck damnation, fuck redemption. Fuck Nigerian Jollof. We are God’s unwanted children. SO BE IT!”

“Okay, okay. Please just make it stop!”

“First, you have to give up. First, you have to know, not fear. Know that someday you’re going to die. It’s only that we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” Tyler said calmly.

In that moment,  I accepted Tyler’s cold hard truth. I accepted my fate and let the cleanse and the purge take place. That one must find comfort in the struggle and that life is not always a bowl of Kellog’s Frosties. I accepted that there was no God. I accepted that life is too short to be rude to the house help. What I was experiencing was growth. An evolve. I had gone through the cleansing fire and rose from the ashes a brand new man with a heart of gold and balls of steel. I had swallowed Living Bitters with perseverance and solidarity. And in that brief second my nightmare was over.

“Hey Kuuku, are you okay?” My mother asked with grave concern. She had probably noted the brief lifelessness in my eyes, that I did not seem myself or that I wasn’t here. I stood in the bedroom with no emotion on my face.

Suddenly, I looked around. Slightly confused. I was back in my parents room. I almost didn’t recognize my family for a second. I had to  re-adjust with coming back to reality.

“Well, that’s it. See? No fuss. no struggle. I’m very proud of you. You took that like a man.” My father bellowed. He turned over to two my older siblings. They looked on in awe and confusion.

“You two can learn a lot from your little brother here. He didn’t even flinch once. Macho guy!”

My siblings looked at each other. Probably thinking to themselves what was wrong with me but I couldn’t help but notice how impressed and amazed they were at the same.

I calmly and quietly excused myself from my parent’s bedroom. My big brother gave me a high five as I walked out. “You’re one weird kid.” He said.

“Good job, Kuuku.” My mom said. “I’m proud of you. I thought you would spit it out.”

I shook my head slowly and barely said. “No, I’m ok. ”

I went to my room and started playing Street Fighter. I sat and reflected on my recent experience. I might have appeared calm and brave during that moment but my family would never know the internal and emotional turmoil I was experiencing in that split second. That I was forever a changed man. Either way, I survived.

I wondered what new struggles would come my way and how I could overcome them. But with my newfound toughness in life. I wasn’t so concerned. If a little kid like me could swallow a whole tablespoon of living bitters, then there wasn’t much I couldn’t do. I smiled finally.

I also drank a shit ton of Malta Guinness afterwards.

It’s been over two years since I last wrote on this blog. So naturally, it didn’t survive the inevitable writer’s block and the dark void in which abandoned blogs go to die on the Internet. But thanks to my older brother who helped established this space for me in the first place, he’s now retrieved the domain for me. So I transported myself here and like that of a hero’s homecoming, I’ve been gone for too long but needed more than ever. I re-read old articles I posted here and I have to say it’s a shame I stopped . I am a good writer.

But I’m here now and it’s time to pull away the cobwebs of inactivity from this space.

The first thing I want to do is just have a heartfelt discussion with myself and just reflect on where I am with my life. Reflecting, the only way I know how. This is my only outlet.

I’m not working in the field for what I studied in college. I was not really sure of what I wanted to do with my life. To be honest, college was just a huge waste of money and now I’m in debt but nothing too bad compared to what the average college student is paying in student loans. So I decided to learn a skill that was valuable in the job market- Coding and web development.

I took a three-month class of learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript and after six-months of grinding away on the minimum-wage slave ship afterwards, I landed a salaried job that’s helping me live.

At least, I’m now on track to paying off my credit and student loan debt and that’s a start.

I’m still not sold on therapy yet but I know it’s important but I haven’t drafted an action plan on how I can get started.

That’s another issue in itself.

But back to the matter at hand and the deep soul stirring questions I’ve been asking myself lately for a long time now.

If I died today, would I have made a difference in the world? Would I be happy about the things I accomplished? Have I contributed enough to my community and those less privileged than myself? Have I seeked forgiveness from people that I hurt, wronged or betrayed? Have I said thank you for the opportunities and privilege I’ve been given? Even as a black, African, Ghanaian man in the United States?  Am I spending enough time with my family? Have I crossed off the things on my bucket list? And what the hell is on my bucket list? Have I taken that road-trip I’ve always talked about? Have I traveled enough? Have I gone back to friends Have I reconciled or initiated contact with some of my long-lost friends? Have I personally told them I’m proud of them instead of secretly wishing and rooting for their success on social media?

To be honest, the fact that I can not answer yes to all of these questions and that represents a huge disconnect on where I am emotionally with my life.

I want to be happy but I’m truly not. Not until I correct all of these things. So I’m planning to be happy again.

I have friends that I deeply care and want to reconnect with but life (but actually, excuses) get in the way. On top of that as men, we are not even allowed to think this way “of wanting to connect with long-lost friends” because that seems vulnerable and men can’t be vulnerable or open about their feelings.

You appear weak but I don’t give a shit anymore. I truly miss my fucking friends. I need to reach out to them and my family more often.

I have my dreams. And a dream with a date becomes a goal. A goal with steps becomes a plan. A plan with action becomes reality.

These are constructs of my perfect world and I’ve trudged slowly through them for way too long. I have to do these things now. I tell people this but people will tell you

“Yeah, but you’re only 20-something, you’re still so young. You have time.”

But the most fucked up thing I’ve noticed about time is that time’s like a doctor without any patients.

Time doesn’t treat you right at all and it’s surely not waiting on you.

That’s why I have to write that book before the zombie Apocalypse becomes real, I have to become a soccer coach for girls before a nuclear meltdown hits New York, I have to pay off my debt before I get hit by a bus, I have to see Arsenal play before Donald Trump bans soccer, strips away my freedom and makes “America great again.”

You never know. I’m getting older and I don’t have much time.

I can’t bear the fact that I’d be an old man slumping away in a chair at a nursing home, not being able to speak  with some youth volunteer looking at the regret in my sullen and baggy eyes.

If you ask me, people don’t think often enough about this shit before it’s too late but I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. I’m going through that “almost 30” crisis and when I reflect, I feel like spent my early 20’s not grabbing the opportunities before me and wasting all my time on things that did not move me forward.

I hope you guys can relate.

You can’t make up for lost time but you can sure set a new timeline of your own.

But this will take patience. And I have to be realistic. I’ve got my dues to pay and I have to work hard.

I hate that I sound gloomy and depressed but for the most part.  I’m blessed to have this hope.

So for the next couple of things I write are going to focus on steps and action plans to cross off  my bucket list and reconnect with my long-lost friends and family.

They will raw, pure and honest. I can’t fuck around any longer. I’m going to be happy.