The flashback always happened whenever it was nearly time for me to hit the stage. That’s when my mind would decide to transport me back ten years ago.
I am 20. I’m standing defiantly in front of my furious mother. Her hand is raised, as if she’s contemplating striking me. In the background my two sisters are begging her to calm down. Maybe she listens. Because her next sentence is delivered with deadly calm.
“If you think you’re a man, repeat yourself,” she says, the threat clear in her eyes. I clench my jaws firmly, trying to exude more defiance than I am actually feeling.
“Ma, I’ve already made up my mind. I’m going to drop-”
I always never see the hand coming. But I can still feel how painful it is when it strikes my face. How warm the blood that flows into my mouth is. And how much her words hurt.
“Drop out? Drop out! For 20 years! 20 years Akwesi! I’ve had to toil for you to go to school! Do you know the sacrifices I’ve made?! Now you’re saying you want to drop out? You think this is funny? You want to be a comedian! Over my dead body! After all I’ve done for you! You’re no better than that your useless father!”
And then the flashback would fast forward to me sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night…
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR AKWESI TAYLOR!!” The MC makes the crowd go up in an uproar. I shake my distracted self into reality, and walk unto the stage, waving, with a practiced carefree smile. The crowd starts to quieten as I pick up the microphone.
“Good evening Accra! Wow! I’m looking at such a beautiful audience! No, really! Give it up for yourselves! Well, except you. Yes, you. The gentleman in the white t-shirt looking back. Well, if I was you I’d look back too. Anyway, How are you guys doing tonight? Well I’m doing great! Coming back to this place is just wonderful. I haven’t performed on this stage in years! And it brings back memories you know? Good memories! For instance I remember my first real joke. I was 20 years old. I walked up to my mother and said “Ma, I want to be a comedian.” She laughed. You know that kind of dangerous laugh your parents laugh and you just know they aren’t really laughing at what you said, but rather what they are going to do to you for what you said? That laugh.”
A detached part of me noted how the crowd were quick to respond to the family jokes. That’d mean I had to write more of those. These people were my life. My family. And I was going to kill myself to make them see the success that my mother, God rest her soul, never saw in her son.