I present to you a very important extract from Chapter Three of Amma Darko’s novel, Faceless.
This extract from Faceless, a novel by Amma Darko, is about an incident which vividly plays out the tense relationship between the character named Maa Tsuru and her daughter, Fofo.
The incident here is found in Chapter Three of the novel, Faceless. This is where Fofo goes with her friend, Odarley, to visit Maa Tsuru. Fofo’s mission is to find out from her mother the reason behind Poison’s attempt to rape her while she lay sleeping on a cardboard at the Agbogbloshie market.
Points to note
- This incident portrays the difficult relationship that exists between Maa Tsuru and Fofo, her fourth child and second daughter.
- Note also that here is where we hear of the death of Baby T.
- Again, it is during these hot exchanges between Maa Tsuru and Fofo that we come face-to-face with the intensity with which Fofo loathes Kpakpo, her stepfather.
- It is also significant to note that it was during this visit to her mother that Fofo took the “boy’s” clothing items that she will later use to disguise herself to attempt to rob Kabria. She took them from her smallish stepfather, Kpakpo’s abandoned plastic bag!
Here now comes the extract that depicts the strained relationship between Fofo and Maa Tsuru.
“Where is he, mother?” she asked Maa Tsuru.
Maa Tsuru winced. She attempted to say something but her voice failed her. She forced, swallows saliva and tried again.
“He left,” she said simply.
“He left?” It was a wail of pain. “After all that he did to Baby T? To us all? He left? And you stood by and just allowed this smallish man to leave? Just like that?”
Tears welled up in Maa Tsuru’s eyes. She did not speak. She couldn’t.
“What made him leave, mother?” Fofo howled on, “and before he left, did you remind him of what you did for his sake? What you sacrificed, did you?”
Maa Tsuru began to weep.
“ I asked you, mother. Did you?”
Maa Tsuru began to cry. “ Go away, Fofo,” she managed between tears. “Go!”
Fofo’s face clouded fiercely. “Is history repeating itself here? Are you sacking me, mother? Because of him?”
“No! No! I am not sacking you from here. Not from this room. Not from this house. I mean to say, go away. From Accra, if possible, Fofo. Go away. Go somewhere far away from here where he can never find you.
“What are you talking about, mother? Is it Poison? What does he want with me?”
“Oh, child, go away!” Maa Tsuru sobbed, “Go.”
“Why mother, why?”
“Because they are animals. They know no mercy. And my hands are tied. Please. Go!”
A part of Fofo was and would always remain the fourteen-year-old that she was; but the harshness of life on the street had also made a premature adult of part of her. She was both a child and an adult and could act like both, talk like both, think like both and feel like both. What she wanted to do was to say a whole lot of things to hurt Maa Tsuru, and cause her pain. But she held back.
Her mother was still not making complete sense.
“Why should I go away, mother? Who are they?”
Maa Tsuru wiped away her tears with the back of her hand and blew her nose into her cover cloth. “It is Baby T,” she said eventually.
“Yes. Maami Broni …”
“The fat fair woman she left with?”
“Yes. She came to me last week.”
“So? Doesn’t she sometimes come to …”
“I know Fofo. I know. Oh God!”
“Don’t bring in God’s name, mother. You knew what you were doing when you chose him over …”
“It was for their sake,” she pointed at the baby and sleeping boy. “What should I have done?”
“I don’t know. But you should never have fed him and his sons at Baby T’s expense. You don’t see her. I don’t see her. We don’t know how she has grown to look like. All for what mother? For what?”
Maa Tsuru didn’t respond. She wiped away fresh tears from her face and resumed from where she had left off. “Something happened, Fofo.”
“Something is always happening, no? Always. And had I not gotten the good sense to leave home, who knows, he probably would have made you send me away too to work for some woman to make money for you four to live on. No?”
Maa Tsuru choked on saliva and coughed violently. “I don’t have the strength to fight you with words Fofo,” she said slowly, “and even if I did, I wouldn’t do it.”
Fofo said nothing.
Maa Tsuru went on; “Last week a body was found behind a blue rasta hairdressing kiosk salon at Agbogbloshie. Did you hear about it?”
“Aren’t bodies always been found there like the aborted fetuses at Sodom and Gomorrah? Is that news? Well, maybe, for people like you living in proper homes like here, it is. No?”
Maa Tsuru ignored the sarcasm to avoid the bait of another round of war with words, for what she was about to say was in itself, war enough.
“Maami Broni didn’t come to give me money, Fofo. She came because she was afraid.”
Fofo frowned. Her unasked question was obvious.
Maa Tsuru went on. “Since she was the one I entrusted Baby T to, she…”
“What are you trying to say, mother?”
“She came to tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“That the body behind the hairdressing salon…” fresh tears choked the rest of her words.
Fofo’s eyes widened. “Baby T?”
Fofo just sat there and stared at her. She felt no immediate pain. Even the anger and mixed feelings lay low. In her mind’s eye was a recollection of the last time she laid eyes on her sister: Baby T’s reddish and swollen eyes from too much crying, with her belongings tied up in an old headscarf and held loosely in her right hand as she followed Maami Broni out of the compound house.
Her calmness, when she opened her lips again to address Maa Tsuru, surprised her own self. “Mother, what is happening? Where do I fit into all this? What has all this got to do with Poison?”
“He got upset when he heard of Maami Broni’s visit to me. He knew she had come to tell me.”
“Tell you what? Are you saying Baby T is dead?”
Maa Tsuru nodded.
Fofo didn’t know what to think. “So Baby T is dead?”
Maa Tsuru nodded again.
Fofo was scared and confused and in great emotional pain all at once. “ My sister was staying with Maami Broni. Then she dies. So Maami Broni comes to inform you about it. You, who are her mother. And because of that, Poison gets upset? For which reason he tries to rape me? It doesn’t make sense to me. What does it all mean?”
“He came to me, Fofo. He came here.”
“He came here and turned me into a leper.”
“So that was why the woman in the third room didn’t respond to Odarley’s greetings?”
“Yes. And why you should also go away from here; he told me he will find you.”
“Yes. And he swore to replace Baby T with you if we made him angry.”
“Replace? Make him angry? What are you saying mother? What is all this roundabout talk?”
“Look, Fofo, please, go away.”
The sleeping anger in Fofo awakened. “It’s all you keep telling me. Go away; go away!” Fofo yelled. “How do I just go away somewhere, mother? Where should I go? I have nothing on me. I got a job at the vegetables market just a few days ago. I tried to stop stealing. But the little I had on me too, I just lost to Macho. So tell me something better.”
“I have nothing better to tell you, child, and no money to give you, too.” Maa Tsuru cried.”I looked on and allowed something to happen that shouldn’t have happened. My hands are tied. I have my finger between his teeth. If I hit him on the head, I’ll make him chew off my own finger too inside his mouth. Then what would happen to them?” she asked and paused, pointing again at her sons, “Look at them,” she went on, no longer crying but clearly hurting. “What have they done? Their only crime is that they came into the world through me.”
Rage gripped Fofo. “Is their father still your husband? You said he left, no?”
Maa Tsuru broke down. She began to cry again. “Don’t talk to me like that, Fofo,” she sniffed. “Just because I made a lot of mistakes in life and I am poor, it doesn’t make me less your mother. So don’t talk to me that way.”
Fofo’s heart churned. She looked at her mother long and then turned her face away. “I don’t like coming to see you, mother,” she began slowly, “Odarley’s mother sacks her like a fowl when she goes to see her. She says Odarley is a thief. You don’t sack me when I come to see you. Yet, I don’t like coming to see you because I don’t like what I feel when I come to see you, mother. I don’t.”
Maa Tsuru looked away and stared into the outside void through the tiny window. Fofo’s outpouring didn’t shock her. It wasn’t the first time Fofo had said this to her. But somewhere inside her she said a silent prayer, that somehow something would happen to make it the last.
“Mother,” Fofo resumed. Her voice was calm and steady; too calm and too steady, “why was Poison upset about Maami Broni coming to tell you about Baby T?”
“He didn’t want me to know that Baby T was dead.”
“Just like that?”
Maa Tsuru pursed her lips and refused to respond.
“But Maami Broni came to tell you anyway.”
“Yes. She was afraid. If Baby T was made out, someone was bound to remember that she was staying with her.”
Fofo felt exhausted. “Did anyone say what happened? Why Baby T died?”
“Poison only said it was Baby T’s own fault.”
Fofo digested that and chuckled bitterly. “So how do you feel, mother?”
“How I feel? How am I supposed to feel? How do you suppose I should feel? Do you know what Poison told me to the face? That Baby T ceased to be my daughter the day I sold her to the streets. I sold her to t he streets? I sold my own daughter to the streets? Oh God!” She broke down again.
Fofo remained calm and unimpressed.
“I carried her for nine months in my womb.” Maa Tsuru cried on. “I screamed in pain when I was bringing her forth. And she looked w here she ended up dying? Under the open skies behind a kiosk at the marketplace? And all I have left is my anger at the world. Oh God!” She noticed Fofo studying the blue and white plastic rattan bag in the corner near the bed.
“Do you need it?” she asked Fofo calmly, thinking Fofo needed it to pack her few belongings and get away from Accra.
Fofo turned her attention from the bag and it was like she had aged ten years more within the last few seconds.
“I can give it to you if you need it,” Maa Tsuru offered.
“I don’t need the bag,” Fofo retorted. “ does he have some things inside?”
“A few of his clothes. Yes. He left without warning. He just left.”
“I don’t really care about that, mother,” Fofo snapped and rose to the bag, thankful for her stepfather’s smallish frame. She unzipped it. Inside was sparse, the leftovers of a man neither here nor there. Not there for the wife, not there for the sons, yet, not gone completely from their lives either. She rummaged through and picked out an old pair of shorts; a faded checkered shirt, torn at one shoulder; and a crumpled old baseball cap which still carried a pungent smell. Her four-year-old half brother was up by the time she was through with her pick and was all over Maa Tsuru on the bed like his big brother. Fofo paid them no attention.
“I’m off!” she announced brusquely, and stepped out of the room.