How I came here

With two bags, two suitcases of clothes to be precise. 

They were overweight. Re-arranged at the airport. 

The lucky making it across the sea with me. 

Years of clothes, clothes that held memories I didn’t want to let go. 

Why so many clothes? You may ask. 

Have you been to those retail shops? 

A blouse costs 30 euros, 30 euros! 

Clothes are expensive. 

The last thing I want is my money running out on shopping sprees. 

But they were primarily summer clothes. 

Yes, two bags full of clothes for the summer. 

To dwell in a country of four seasons. 

A country where the winters are coldie coldie coldie as my son describes coldness. 

What was I thinking? 

Was I prepared for this new life? Or refusing to face it truthfully? 

I didn’t even have a winter jacket. My confidence drowned in the summer semester, typed boldly on my admission letter. 

“Why is it so cold?” I asked the administrator at the international students’ office when I arrived to register as a student. 

“I thought it is summer” I added. 

If she did answer my strange and stupid question, I don’t remember what she said. 

Here I was, expecting an April to be summer. 

Yes, the same German April that does what it likes to be sunny and warm. 

Don’t marvel, but that was the superpower I had. 

Things turning around my way and being just as I wanted, even the weather. 

Funny, isn’t it? 

When I look back, I wonder, what was I thinking? 

Why didn’t I check the weather? 

Why didn’t I ask what to bring along? 

I’d been to Germany before. Even that June, Summer had been coldie. 

Was my self-inflicted decision to return home only when I had finished my two years of studies what I was running away from? 

Maybe that was why I had packed two suitcases of tee-shirts, blouses, dresses, loafers and sandals for 2 years of summer, winter, autumn, and spring hoping, just hoping that they may all be summer for me. 

Just Mercy

Last year I read The Sun Does Shine, a true story about Anthony Ray Hinton. He was held in maximum prison precisely on death row for over 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit. That story did a lot to my spirit. I cried. I was angry. I was blown away by the injustice in the justice system, mostly because the story was non-fictional. It taught me the power of hope. It taught me the power of the mind. It pushed me to look out for and support the Equal Justice Initiative, www.eji.org.

Here are my thoughts on The Sun Does Shine.

Since 2020, I start my year with David Goggin’s Can’t Hurt Me and Joyce Meyer’s The Battlefield Of The Mind. In the first week of this year, I picked up Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson while book hunting. I had bookmarked it last year as a want-to- read, but not really ready to read about more injustice and heart-breaking true stories. Seeing the book in the bookshop made it seem it was time to face the truth.

So, I picked it up.

Maybe The Sun Does Shine did prepare me for Just Mercy, I only cried once 🙂 while reading Just Mercy. I just could not help it, I broke down in the part about children on death row. So, I refuse to use this post to rant about the jailing and killing of black adults and children. But it is hard to now know this truth about the systems made to kill hope, and destroy lives based on the errors of society. Some children’s destinies have already been determined by the law systems even before they reach their adulthood – poverty, jail, then death.

That is just dark. Makes me sad, but Bryan Stevenson’s work gives me hope. It makes me realize it is possible to overcome darkness.

So instead of totally ranting, I choose to join forces with the heroes like Bryan Stevenson in my little way with my little light to help bring light to the places where evil brings darkness.

It’s really unfair that the US spends so much money on everything around the world, but the lives of US citizens who could contribute to the US but most importantly also see their dreams come true. People being made to pay extremely for being poor, black, or sick. That is bad.

In the case of the Walter McMillan, the majority of Monroeville would rather see him dead than benefit from all that he was to their town. Why were they keen, and the systems easily manipulated to kill people.

Evil is evil can’t fight that, it is senseless. It looks forward to robbing, killing, and destroying lives.

This book has made me stick to accepting that things really can be defined as being light or darkness.

Doing nothing about the injustice means choosing darkness. A lesson I only recently learnt.

But no matter how much darkness proceeds, light will win the moment we step up.

How to plan a funeral in 10 days

About seven years ago, I got an idea for a book. It is about two friends, women, very successful in their chosen fields. I started writing excerpts for the book and have been working on it for a while. It has metamorphosized into something that looks rather like a short story but has an unsatisfied writer sitting at the other end of it. Each year I ask myself what to do with this piece. I intend to finish it, but seriously do not know how to mend it all together into  something someone would enjoy reading.

The heading in itself sounds odd, how to plan a funeral in 10 days. In this story or book, I am supposed to give the reader ten steps into planning their own funeral. Yes, you read that right. This has nothing to do with future plans to save your family from giving you a non-warranted and non-appreciated funeral. The story is about faking your death so you can have a life away from a demanding family and society. A society which keeps pressurizing you to do things you would rather not do while they in themselves contribute zero to your life.

Okay, before you begin to judge and say this is crazy, check this out. Last year while scouring the internet for inspiration for my story, I came across a very interesting news item related to my idea, which happened in real life in Nigeria. A 19-year-old girl faked her death to avoid financial pressure from her mother.  So, it did not turn out as she and her friends had planned, for they planned it poorly. The whole social media thing was a weak link in the equation. Now she lost her job and is seen someway bi by her family.

So, you get my point, there are many people living under the heavy pressure of performing to society’s expectations such that they would rather disappear into nothingness to avoid this pressure. But is this really a viable solution? Faking one’s death? Sacrificing all that is true to you and pronouncing yourself as dead, wishing death on yourself to gain peace. I don’t know. Not everyone is that strong, not everyone can do the “I don’t care” thing. Some people cannot say no to pressure and would rather crumble under the expectations. For some hiding is their refuge.

The thing is changing society and its expectations is possible, but hard work that takes time. And until then, what do we do? There are people living half of their lives because of financial pressure for people’s wants. People living in misery (some in jail, some dead) due to society’s expectations of marriage, children, or wealth. Anyway, until I figure out what I will do to this half-baked story, may we soon achieve mastery in staying focused and not allow society to wreck us into living only a quarter of our lives.

~ peace

~Nana Kesewaa Dankwa