Tomorrow, my mother and sisters are going to board a plane to Ghana and leave me all alone in the United States of America. Abandoned seems to be the perfect word to describe what I feel. True enough, I was extended the invite as well months ago but for several reasons, none of which I wish to expound upon at this time, I decided I would not go. Now that the departure time is upon us though, a little part of me wishes I could be with my family in Ghana this holiday season.
I was last in Ghana in 2008, but for two of my sisters this is their first return since coming to the States twenty years ago. Imagine!
I want to be there as they experience the awfulness of Delta airlines. I want to be there at the airport watching our country people swear up and down that the burgeoning luggage to be checked in is only 50 kg. I want to be there at the gate when there is a rush to board as if seats are first-come, first-serve.
Then when after a few hours sleep it is announced that “we are starting our descent into Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana where the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit”, I want to feel the brimming excitement and restlessness of everyone around. I am smiling now just thinking of that. Then, as the plane touches ground and everyone starts to clap praising the pilots for a job well done before they again rush to exit as if any second longer of patience would mean they would never step foot on the motherland I want to be there too.
I anxiously anticipate my younger sisters’ first impression, those who have not been back in twenty years, when they first step onto the tarmac. That stifling tropical heat with its distinct smell that rushes to greet them then smothers them. I hope that at that instance and throughout their trip, they remember me here bundled up in my many layers to face the cold.
I would imagine that my father would meet them on the tarmac and whisk them away as VIPs for personalized disembarkment processing and baggage handling. Yes, the perks. Oh, and the many kisses, three on alternating cheeks for each, the cheesy smiles, and weary bodies. I think my dad would be the happiest of all to have his wife and children (minus one) with him at home. Last I spoke to him, he had so many things planned for them, and I could feel the bristling excitement in his voice.
I think T’ni would be the one to scrutinize the surroundings at the airport and on the drive home the most. After all, she only has the fading memory of a seven-year old to go by. The often lungo-lungo roads; the hissing of the hawkers; the multitude of hawkers itself, the realization that even though English is the official language of Ghana, many do not speak it well, if at all; all the religious and often hilarious signboards and the traffic.Yes, Accra traffic. Why we expect colonial era infrastructure to keep up with the 21st century, I do not know.
I know I’m going to miss out on all the fresh fruits, street-side foods, and meals cooked with just harvested fruits, vegetables and animals. Fresh! See how gustatory enjoyment is my first regret of what I will be missing out on?
But you know, I forgot. I forgot to go into infectious disease physician role and warn them. I assume they all got their necessary vaccinations. But I forgot to warn them to always wear their seatbelts, no matter what Daddy says. Warn them they will be chewed alive by the mosquitoes happy to receive fresh blood. Maybe I should have advised them to carry an anti-itch stick in addition to a DEET based spray. I hope they didn’t purchase an OFF spray from the supermarket because that, the mosquitoes will only laugh at. I probably should have advised against all those lovely scented lotions
and perfumes that only beckons the mosquitoes to come dance closer. Oh, I forgot also to warn them that the humid weather is not going to cooperate with whatever fancy natural hairstyle they choose to wear and change on a daily basis. Yes, that’s right. The whole family is natural-headed. Surely, I’m a trailblazer. I suppose they are smart enough to carry Pepto-Bismol or something of the sort with them, especially as I know they will be enjoying street-fare. Oh well. They’ll live and learn.
I’m going to miss out on being with our dad and hearing his silly stories. I sure do miss him. I’m going to miss my mother and sisters over the next few weeks. Odd, as I have hardly seen them over the past several years even though they have been at most a quick domestic flight or a few hours car/train/bus ride away. Seriously, I can’t even remember the last Christmas I spent with them. It has been that long. What an Atlantic ocean does. You would think they are going to an unknown part of the galaxy forever and ever where there is no phone or internet access.