Writers Project of Ghana

Red Leather

The harmattan was unfriendly, it had rendered the heels of the peasant farmers severely calloused and the breath of the gold miners awful -- those men who drew inspiration from the calabashes of Maame Sarfowaa by sitting under her shed to drink local gin by the time the first rooster started to crow. It is said of Ampene that the other day Tulasi, Maame Sarfowaa's husband, mistook him for the man whom he feared his wife was seeing behind closed doors, with disastrous results. Ampene had grown up in that part of town where a man is deemed a man when he bears a fearful look and a masculine stench like Ampene had developed as a result of too much drinking.

That day, Tulasi chose to go hunting in spite of the thick haze that blanketed the forest. He left home at about a quarter past 3 A.M. in his favorite red leather jacket and faded jeans. The Ebola virus disease outbreak had limited his game dynamics, so in recent times his catch hardly sold well on the market, and to add salt to his wounds, his entire family had been approached by the chief concerning the acquisition of their family lands by the Cocoa Development Corporation. He already was an angry man, and returning later in the evening empty-handed did not help matters in any way.

In his own compound that very evening, Ampene had been served in his favorite earthenware pot with local gin for motivation while his wife, Sadia and four of their children sat round the family table to eat. That was when Tulasi barged in, drenched in sweat. He had come to settle with Ampene for the unwelcome visits he suspected Sarfowaa had been paying him.

You see, there is more to it. The barefooted hunter could not beat his barren wife over cold soup! No, it was when Sarfowaa compared him to Ampene that Tulasi was led to the conclusion that the Ampene was performing the duties he could not, and this drove him to Ampene's house, spoiling for a fight.

The drunkard chose to fight naked in the full glare of his wife and kids. Ampene, fifty years old, burly, knock-kneed and about 5"9' tall... Tulasi, forty-seven years old, bald, slim, bow-legged and about 6"1'; it was a sight to behold. It was known by all that Ampene fought nude so no one could stop him from attacking his opponent. The fight began. The quick-tempered hunter was not only fighting for the insults of that day but for yesterday's insults as well -- insults going as far back as the time when he was seeking Sarfowaa's hand in marriage, and the troubles Ampene had created for him. They had been enemies for quite a long time.

Now the actual story is, Sarfowaa was afraid that Ampene had a hand in Tulasi's impotence and that was why she visited him on countless occasions, this Ampene, to beg the 'release' of her husband so they could bear children of their own. She was tired of seeing Sadia with their children and each time she did she almost broke down in envy and sorrow. Of course Tulasi did not know this; he could only fight.

Ampene’s phallus shrunk and vanished into the unkempt pubic hair as he struggled to knock Tulasi down. The sharp cry that pierced the dry harmattan breeze reached Sarfowaa's ears and knocked her heart down into her stomach. She knew that voice. She dropped the pestle in her hand, tightened her wrapper and ran to where she knew her husband was, but the news met her halfway with her husband being dragged behind Ampene.

Ampene had pierced him with the venom that would cripple him for the rest of his days. Ampene fought nude so no one could stop him, and he fought nude, so what disappeared into his pubic hair, could reappear as the weapon that held that venom.

by Daniel Nii Ankrah.