The Masquerade: An Excerpt

The Masquerade

Against my better judgement, here’s an excerpt from something I am currently working on. Something I am very excited about. 

1.

In which Kwaku gets into a fight.

The chair was faster than he was. It was no sooner in the air than it came into contact with him, its hind leg smashing into the side of his face. He winced in pain and fell to his knees. For seconds, the world burst in and out of focus. Heat waves burnt brightly on the spot where the chair had hit. He fought back tears as he attempted to scramble back to his feet again. The tip of Atto’s shoe stopped him mid-way. A pained grunt burst out his bruised lip and he fell back to the floor.

The crowd around the two boys had been silent a while now. The fight had gone beyond what any of them had anticipated. Uneasy whispers floated through the crowd as the felled boy tried to stand up again. With shaky hands, he managed to raise himself off the ground only long enough to fall back on his face. In the front, a little boy’s quiet tears turned into a wail. He tugged at the hand of his older brother, begging to be taken home. He was ignored. His brother, like all the other school children in the crowd was transfixed by the violence he was witnessing. Ato wiped the bruise on his eye with the back of his uniform and picked his foe up by the collar. The groggy Kwaku was defenseless. His tongue stuck out of his mouth like a snake as his own shirt choked him. He felt Atto’s grip loosen. He did not see the blow that knocked him out.

The headmaster took him home that evening. Something both of them had become accustomed to. This particular evening however, the old man had decided to spare himself the heartbreak of yet another scolding. Rather than attempt to resuscitate Kwaku and give him ‘a good talking to’, he brought the boy home in his unconscious state and instructed his mother to allow him sleep it off. His father would soon return from Thursday Prayer Service. The Man of God would deal with his own son in his own way. For years, Kwaku had responded to his attempts at mentorship as tastelessly as he had his father’s whip. Perhaps for one night only, the world could be saved the exertion of witnessing two of its son’s waste strife on an equally meaningless effort. Perhaps the world would be better off. He waved the boys’ mother goodbye and drove away from the Pastor’s compound.

 It was mid-night when Osofo Anor came home. His wife was sitting at the porch, cheek in hand, waiting for him. He knew even before he got to her, but he did not break his whistle. He parked his bicycle next to her and asked for his food in a hoarse voice. Like the headmaster, the monotony of Kwaku’s nkwasiasem and his fruitless attempts at reformative punishment had waned off him. It was only when he was done eating that he mentioned his son. He wiped his mouth with a napkin tentatively, and as if talking to himself, muttered under his breath, “We have to take him.”

“ERH!?”

The boys mother, who had fallen into a somber silence as she normally did when these things happened, looked like she had seen a ghost. Her eyes were about ready to burst out of their sockets.

“Anor. You can’t be serious. Take him where!?”

“Mensima, are you not tired? Do you not see? This thing will destroy the boy’s life if he doesn’t go. Do you want him to die!?”

She had her palms over her eyes now. Warm tears coursed down her cheeks in torrents.

“But you’re a man of God now Anor. What happened to praying? Have we given up on God!?”

The pastor calmly lifted himself from behind the table.

“I have decided Mensima. He leaves tomorrow.”

From inside his room, Kwaku – who had been waiting for his father’s call the whole time, tore his ear away from the door and stared quizzically into space. Where were they taking him? What was going on? He took out the exercise books he had hidden inside his shorts in anticipation of his spanking, and gingerly lay inside his bed, making sure to avoid touching the places that hurt too quickly.

2.

In which Kwaku meets the Beginning of Life.

At dawn, a gentle touch across the shoulder woke Kwaku up. Fighting off the strains of a head-splitting headache, he carefully squirmed his way to the bed post so he was sat up and tried to make out who had touched him. His mother was seated on the bed next to him. She looked sad – like she had been crying. Dark circles shrouded her large eyes. She reached for his hand and smiled thinly at him.

 

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