Friday, July 19, 2013

'Awoe' (* ah-way*) - 'The Bats'

It was around that time of the year when the coconut fruits begun to dry on the tall gnarled coconut trees, that we made our yearly trip to my father's village. It was 1962, I was about seven, still clueless about what Ghana's independence meant, but nonetheless excited to be on holidays with my two older rambunctious brothers whom I adored and looked to for acceptance in their games and adventures.

The journey was always the same, my mother packed enough food to last our week stay into the car, my father drove, and my brother's and I goofed in the back seat - pressing our noses against the window and making faces  at the passing scenery, playing 'I spy' and of course dozing off when we got tired. I remember my mother waking us up to have a quick lunch, perhaps halfway to the village before continuing on our journey. I remember the ride in the Aunty Dede ferry at Tefle which slightly made my tummy pitch throughout the thirty minutes ride.

Denu was always a welcome breath of fresh air. To any seven year old; the freedom to run about barefoot in the sea sand without any qualms about having to do home work for the next day of school was utterly heavenly!

However before we settled in we always had to deal with our unwanted house guests, a generation of cave bats who had taken over our village house  for as far back as i could remember in all my seven years.

This year round, my father decided to put a complete stop to their tenancy by sealing the entrance through which they flew in to nest. He said he had had it with the bats and their mess and the creepy screeching noises  they made throughout the day.

A local handy man who was noted for his prowess at catching house rodents was summoned and tasked with proposing a permanent solution to sacking the bats from the roof before the opening was sealed.

I remember how the corners of his eyes crinkled with delight as he gave my father a toothless grin, rubbed his knobbly hands together and named his price for his services. The amount must have been pretty ridiculous because my mother exclaimed loudly. Him and my father haggled some, a fair price was agreed upon and the handy man agreed to arrive at the house within an hour with his potions for the task.

He arrived on time I suppose, for I didn't have a watch, but the sun had not yet gone down when he came back. He mixed a few things from a cacophony of bottles and containers, threw in a few blocks of charcoal and fanned the mixture until it formed a murky mess with a rather revolting smell.

 I tried to go closer to have a look, but my father yelled at me in his usual gruff manner, and rebuffed I retreated to the shade of the guava trees under which my brothers were playing a noisy game of alikoto.

I knelt quietly in the sand for a few minutes next to them until they let me join in the game, so I don't quite remember what happened next, but suddenly, there was a loud screech and the bats hurled themselves into the skies above , angry at being rudely woken up before they were ready.

We watched in awe as they scattered into the sky. Then we chased  after them and jumped at the ones who came close to us, tempting us with false hope of being caught, as they swooped down and shied away from us like a dark blanket  against the molten red sky, as the sun made its descent in the horizon to the west.

Narrative by : Rosaline Gbeho
Words: Aku Duse

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