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Opinions of Sunday, 12 November 2017

Columnist: Charles Yeboah

My last handshake with Portia

It was at the funeral of my sister's husband - Kwame. At the wake, I stood at a distance, in spectacles with head covered with a hoodie.

I stood at a distance and discussed with my younger brother Moses how we'd enjoyed and danced our hearts out in such circumstances -the death of a young person.

The deceased, my brother-in-law, though a bit older than I, was a class behind me and we attended the same high school.

So I had lost a family member and a schoolmate in Kwame. This reason could have pushed me to the dance floor, but I chose to enjoy others dance as I watched them in my disguise, since I'm no longer that vivacious boy who would dance all night and continue the next day at a funeral.

Funerals in Goka, my native land, are taken seriously by the young and old, so we dedicate three days (Friday to Sunday ) to it.

And that Friday night was the first day.

As said earlier, it was at this wake jams, as I stood in disguise in order not to be recognised by friends who were either aware of my being in town or not. But as said in our local parlance: "we don't pick a lamp to see at night the face of those we know in daytime" , Portia bumped into me from nowhere and shouted "eiii Akobuor, you're here, come, come and let's dance ". Though I'm known in my native land by friends and family members as Charles, unlike in Accra where people know me better when you mention Sir Lord. Portia and few friends in Goka call me Akobuor, a name I was christened during my high school days after showing affection for our former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister and Agric Minister; Akobuor Debra.

As I have said, I wondered how Portia was able to recognise me in that supposed disguise. She protested I should by all means join her to dance. It took the intervention of Moses to let her go off my hand.

Portia later came to inform me that: "Akobuor, if you'll not dance, I'm going home, and you won't see me again ". I laughed for hearing that from her. I thought she was using that as a bait to push me to the dancing floor. Not knowing Portia was saying goodbye to me.

She shook my hands and said : "bye bye, I'm going " (she said that in Twi. And indeed all our conversations had been done in Twi ).

Lo and behold, that was the last time I saw Portia,though my family house is just a stone throw from hers.

Then yesterday (11/11/17) Moses called me in the morning and announced the death of Portia. It took me a hell of minutes to accept that as true. I had questioned how that can be true, amidst tears streaming down my cheeks.

Moses insisted that it was true and that Portia was taken to the hospital that morning, and those who took her there had called her family to inform them of her death.

He later continued that it was rumoured that "Portia had aborted her unborn baby due to the fact that she's nursing a young girl who is barely toddling. "

I then asked why she wouldn't do that at the hospital, since now the laws of Ghana allows such parents to abort under those circumstances?

I then took a swipe at the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE ) for not educating the public enough to learn of this. Because I was told also that Portia relied on poor traditional means to cause the abortion, though it's all still a rumour.

I am writing this piece about my friend Portia, with whom I played in the days of hide and seek in the night when the moon was at its brightest.

It's about 02:00 GMT now, and I simply can't sleep. Our childhood days, the days we'd cooked together, went to dance, shared jokes and did "maame ne paapa " and all that children took fancy in. I've now shifted my attention to her children. Three of them, and the youngest is still crawling and has not been weaned from breastfeeding. Can the husband of Portia come out of these pains early?

Oh Portia, why did you do this to me? Why didn't you consider your children? Did you think about your ailing mother? Who will defend my name any time anywhere when it's impugned?

If tears satisfy the stomach, it'll take me years before I eat any food.

Fare thee well, my beloved Portia. I will forever miss you.