Ghana is a vast country with more than a dozen ethnic groups which in turn have their unique idiosyncrasies and conventions. I am Fante, the year is 2014 and though I believe myself a true daughter of the land, I just found out that ours is a group that has an unwavering respect for the dead. Respect that is palpable enough to make questioning minds uncomfortable and hence my predicament.
‘The door must be locked for a year’
‘That’s how it’s done. This is out of respect, it is only after a year that the door can be opened and mainly by an elderly person’
‘I see’. Was the curt answer that escaped my lips.
The door was subsequently locked and day in day out the mystery of the locked door occupied and assailed my thoughts. How could I avoid it when the door stared back at me no matter which entry or exit point I took in the house? By some twisted fate, it seemed as if the door had also begun to purposefully amplify my fears by looking darker and more imposing than ever.
On some days, I wondered if the occupant of the room came by to sleep in. This silly and unexplainable fear of what lay beyond the door was in part influenced by the help who claimed to have heard a distinct shuffling of feet; the same way my grandad used to walk. I dismissed her claims as ludicrous and still went on observing the door; more curious than ever; checking for tell tale signs of any life , activity or occupancy.
Over time, my relationship with the door moved from a mixture of curiosity and stale fear to resignation. A kind of resignation that made one throw their hands in the air and accept their unchangeable fate.
Whatever I did, the door was here to stay.
I couldn’t dismiss the fear and curiosity that gnawed at me. What was I even afraid of in the very first place?! A fear of ghosts? Ha! Who said they even existed? Or Had I read and watched and read too much Harry Potter to the extent that the dementors in the hooded masks seemed real?
I was a mess, I yearned to know yet was unable to ascertain my willingness to face whatever it was if it decided to face me.