Shaayoo came out onto her porch, where a bucket of water and washing implements had been set. A boy of about six was waiting by a basin, naked and silent. She was clad, the woman, in an old anniversary cloth and a fading blue t-shirt which traced out large drooping breasts to their nipples, no slippers on her feet nor activity on her face.

She pulled a stool toward her and sat on it. She then pulled Osa into the brass basin and began to rub anagosamla into a moist sponge.

Her phone rang. It had been ringing since two nights ago, when news and rumours about Ataa Oko’s death started spreading; news that a sewage truck heading toward Lavender Hill had knocked him down while he was staggering across the street. Rumours that he had held on to a bottle of dry gin and shitɔ loo right to his death. That his scrotum had stuck to a rear tyre. That his penis suddenly became erect, though everyone knew that he had become impotent since the birth of Osa. That it was a painful death and there were no last words…only a long belch.

She had ignored most of the phone calls, but she would answer this one, for no particular reason. She untied the exhausted phone from an ear of her cloth, the same end where she kept taakotsa money. It was Naa Ode. She picked up.

Both women knew what this conversation would entail; Naa Ode would mention cautiously that she had heard what happened. Shaayoo would confirm the news with a meaningful “hmmm” and then burst out into loud sobs. Then, her friend would attempt to console her and promise that she was coming right away.

But something else happened.

Once Naa Ode had said a solemn hello, there were seconds of silence, and then Shaayoo started to sing.

woyemokoniatseɔ le yesu

woyemokoniatseɔ le yesu

woyemokoniatseɔ le yesu

shi le nɔɔebaafee

Naa Ode sang along, like they had done many nights as teenagers at Palladium, and lately, at women’s fellowship. They sang this old Ga hymn with a spirit and odd joy, this same song they had sang into each other’s eyes even at a prayer meeting, days ago. Today, they both had found a song, an expression of their grief and word, in this song -this song about a Jesus they knew, who was able to do, who was able to do.

That is all that happened, and all she needed this very moment.

She ended the call and stared at the screen of her phone for longer than a moment, and then a tender smile occurred on her face. She tied the phone back in place and took up her washing implements again.

Osa watched his mother’s face with the eyes of a child. The phone call had both confused and made him afraid. He stretched out a palm and touched Shaayoo’s cheek, and then a tear, which even she had been oblivious of, disappeared.