This is probably my favorite portion of the story.
“Yaa, is everything all right?” her mother asked breathlessly when her daughter’s face came into view on the computer’s camera a few hours later.
Unlike the majority of her friends and family, her mother rarely referred to her as Agnes or Aggie. Rather, she preferred Aggie’s Akan middle name, Yaa, given to girls born on a Thursday. This suited Aggie just fine. Gone were the days of adolescent longing when she wanted her mother to call her by her English name like the other girls in her boarding school. Now, hearing “Yaa” sweetly reminded her of her birthplace, her culture, and a family she hadn’t seen in quite some time. “Everything is fine, Ma. Sorry to call you so late,” she said. Switzerland was two hours ahead; it was 1:15 in the morning in Accra.
Akosua Boateng waved her hand. “It’s fine. We just arrived home from your auntie Mercy’s house anyway. Those parties. They are endless.”
Aggie laughed. Her aunt Mercy, the youngest of her mother’s six siblings, was famous for throwing Friday night parties that lasted long into the early morning hours. Her mother both loved the parties and loved to complain about them.
“How are you, Yaa? How is Thomas? Diana? Marley? Daniel?” she questioned.
“They’re all doing well.”
“Are you washing your own dishes, Yaa? Doing your part and helping and thanking Thomas and Diana for their hospitality?”
Aggie smiled. “I am.
“Work is fine?”
“Work is fine. Most of my colleagues are quite nice, and I don’t pay any mind to the not-so-nice people.”
“Good girl. Well, it sounds like everything is fine. But things are not. I can tell.” Her mother leaned forward and peered into the camera. “What is it?” her mother questioned.
Taking a deep breath, Aggie launched into describing everything related to Marième, from their first meeting to yesterday’s jarring encounter. “I just want to shake her,” she said. “Just grab her and ask why she did this to herself.”
Her mother sighed. “You were always so disturbed when you would see those women. I should have shielded that from you.”
“It was nothing you could control, Ma.”
Her mother nodded slowly in agreement. “I will tell you something now, Yaa. Listen to me carefully.” She paused. “When you were born, we knew there would be no more children after you. The doctors had already told your Daddy and me. There were complications; there was nothing we could do.”
Aggie breathed in sharply, having always been told that her parents were simply content with one child, which had unsurprisingly caused a divide in both sides of a family—and a society—where multiple children were the norm. As far as that divide, it rapidly disappeared after a succession of warnings leveled by her mother to respective members of their families to keep their mouths shut.
“The day you were born,” her mother continued, “we held you and your father looked at me and said, ‘She will always know that she is the center of our world.’ Did you know that, Yaa? That you were and still are the center of our world?”
“Yes,” Aggie whispered.
“Good. But some women don’t have that. They were not the center. And if they were, they didn’t know it. Maybe this woman doesn’t have what you have. No love in her life, family, true friends. Maybe she believes she will find that love if her skin is lighter.”
Stunned by the truth of what her mother was saying, she merely nodded and waited for her to continue.
“Some people, some women, are just lost,” her mother said. “I understand that you were excited to see her. But do not allow her choices to make you unhappy, to bring you down. Just wish the best for her.”
“Do you feel better?” her mother asked several minutes later.
Aggie had excused herself to shed more than a few tears following her mother’s words and disclosure. She smiled. “All better. Thank you for the advice, Ma. I appreciate it.”
“You will do the right thing,” her mother replied.
Aggie nodded, still relatively unsure of the matter, yet nevertheless feeling better about things than she had previously. A voice in the back of her head now urged her to discuss Daniel with her mother. She decided to obey it. “So, Ma,” she began, “I met a boy.”
Her mother’s eyes widened. “A boy? Yaa! Who? Who?”
“He’s very nice. He’s actually known for me a long time. I like him a lot. And he really likes me, too,” she said, recalling Daniel’s earnest entreaty from before.
Her mother frowned. “Yaa, who is this boy that has known you for so long? It’s not Julian Asamoah, is it? Sarah Asamoah’s oldest son? I heard that he is also in Switzerland. Yaa, his head is far too big for his body. It’s not natural and your future children will suffer..”
Aggie stifled her laughter. “No, Ma, it’s not Julian. This boy isn’t Ghanaian. He’s European.” She studied her mother, waiting for a reaction. Nothing. She hadn’t actually expected a reaction, but was curious nonetheless.
“Fine, but who is he?” her mother asked.
“And he’s not a boy, either. He’s a man,” Aggie specified, momentarily surprising her own self with that particular description and how proudly she had said it.
“Fine, fine, he is a man. Who is he?”
“It’s Daniel, Ma.”
Her mother blinked repeatedly. “Daniel? Van Streck? Your big brother, Daniel?”
Aggie chuckled. “I don’t look at him that way anymore, but yes, Daniel.” She then told her mother everything, from his revelation a few weeks ago to their decision to start seeing each other.
“Oh, my,” her mother said, visibly astonished. “Do Thomas and Diana know?”
Aggie shook her head. “Just me and Daniel and now you. I haven’t even told Marley yet.”
“Well, he’s always been a fine young man. Raised well, good manners. And he has a nice-sized head. See what happens, Yaa,” her mother said. “But I know you will marry him.”
“Oh, Yaa, you will. Trust your mother; she knows these things.” She then smiled brightly. “Next time you call, I want him to be there with you. I want to talk to him.”
Envisioning the many highlights of that future conversation, she promised her mother that Daniel would indeed be with her on their next Skype call. Later, after Aggie had told her mother repeatedly that she loved her until the latter playfully but firmly ended their call—she had never been one for “I love you’s”—she climbed into bed and reached for her mobile phone.
Thank you for earlier, Aggie typed.
Almost seconds later, her phone buzzed with Daniel’s reply. You’re welcome.