Kenkey Conversations

It was at times like these that Fiifi and I liked to engage in what we both referred to as ‘proper’ conversation. ‘Proper’ wasn’t in reference to the propriety of the topic (for we run seamlessly through a plethora of topics, some of which weren’t exactly conventional in the eyes of society), but rather to just how full the conversation could get. “A proper conversation after a proper meal,” was exactly how Fiifi had put it the day we coined the term. We coined a lot of terms and inside jokes during these times.

On Sunday evenings, after consuming some of Ashorkor Maami’s divine kenkey with grilled tilapia, we’d sit on the veranda of our small flat which we had both contributed to buy straight out of university a couple of years ago, fanning our sweaty selves with our bellies spewing out our boxer shorts. We were both now financially stable enough to move out into much larger, individual quarters, but none of us was moved to. There was no need to go through the hustle of looking for a new place and moving out when we were comfortable here. Of course this didn’t sit well with our parents and some of our friends; apparently it ‘wasn’t fine’ that two gentlemen with well-paying jobs whose classmates were getting married should be living together. Once, on an evening like this, we’d talked about it and Fiifi had pointed out that we had gone to secondary school with people who got married before we’d even completed. The logic was quite flawed.

Today’s conversation begun with a lou d belch. Fiifi’s, of course. I was the one with the proper home-training, like he always teasingly pointed out.

“You sure say then what me then am get be love?” Fiifi asked, his way of introducing the topic. It had been nearly two years since he’d broken up with Faustine, his Togolese love, but he’d never really been able to let it go. Because we had been friends since Class Four, I always knew what Fiifi was talking about whenever he asked such a question without so much as an introduction.

“Of course it was, boss. Ah why, then I no dey see you people? Massa you were even ready to move out at the time,” I chuckled, remembering how he’d shown up quite drunk one day from clubbing with Faustine and had started throwing his stuff into a suitcase, shouting that he was getting married soon and I was probably going to die alone if I didn’t stop my promiscuous life and settle down. It had been hilarious, because Fiifi went through girls just like a politician’s car burned through fuel; indiscriminately.

“You sure? Sake of I try analyse why we dawg, but still I no dey barb.” Fiifi had never shed a tear over breaking up with Faustine, but he’d changed. He’d quit his heavy social drinking, and had become more focused. It was remarkable. A breakup had done to him what our old folk swore a good wife did to a man. I used to tease him about it constantly till I found new things to tease him about.

“As for me I barb why you people dawg,” I offered. I’d had this theory in the works for years and was glad for the opportunity to finally share it. He looked up at me, curiously.

Yoo professor, what be the reason?” He asked with a chuckle.

“Then ebi love. But then ebi you p3 you dey love am.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. To him whatever he had felt for the girl had been a mutual thing. But to me it hadn’t.

“Listen oh. First of all, then you dey like am for the longest time. Wey she come soak give you. Like you for barb say the intensity of what then you dey feel never go be fully reciprocated. Be like at first then you dey barb. But as the relationship start dey source, you start feel sey then she really dey like you the same way. And I’m not saying she didn’t like you. I’m saying she wasn’t as into you as you were into her. And that’s okay. We don’t particularly have a choice as to who we fall for. I mean we have a say in who we commit to, but who we fall for is left to fate, really. So to you, it was something that would have lasted forever. And I genuinely think she felt the same way too at a point. But chale, you cannot force something for long, you barb? She was bound to leave, man. And forget her flimsy excuse chale. And her miserable attempts at explaining. She left because it wouldn’t have worked out. And she knew it. But you didn’t. Or maybe you did, but weren’t ready to accept it. After all, you were whipped chale,” I ended with a slight chuckle, lightening the mood a little.

“Chaleee! I was whipped bad,” he laughed too. And then he asked, “So you’re saying she didn’t love me as much as I loved her?”

“Yup, exactly that. I mean nine months together has a way of testing the theory of love, doesn’t it? If it’d work out past that time, you should be able to know. I liked Faustine. She was a very rational thinker. Can’t say the same for you ankasa and your other women,” I laughed again, and he joined in.

“But you should understand there are some parts of ‘love’ in a relationship that are societal constructs. You can love someone terribly and they wouldn’t love you as equally. Sometimes they wouldn’t love you at all. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t love you feel for them. ‘Love’ is a personal thing, and not (necessarily) a mutual thing. You’re really lucky if the one you love, loves you equally, you know? Not a lot of people find that. It isn’t a given. Not in the least.”

Fiifi chuckled at my logic. I could see he wanted to find some rebuttals, and normally he wouldn’t have had to even try, but Ashorkor Maami’s kenkey was working its slow, intoxicating magic on him and his mind was a little muddled. As was mine. But I knew what I’d said would sit with him for a while. He’d think about it, dissect and analyse, and then bring it up again sometime in the future.

I was counting on it.


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