The Mountains: By Henneh Kyereh Kwaku

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I can still see the face of God in the fog 

I have been travelling in hours instead of kilometres, I cannot say with certainty when this started but I am thinking of 2015, the year I made my first journey from Drobo to Hohoe. The Google maps say it takes 10hours 45minustes to travel from Accra to Lagos & 14hours 33 minutes to cover the distance from Hohoe to Drobo. This does not include the stops along the way, or the minutes we’d take to either get another bus or repair the bus in case it develops a fault. The nature of these Ghanaian roads will not be forgiven. But who made these roads? We cannot factor this out. & the places it stops for us to pee. 

Praise be to those who speak up for those of us who would rather keep our pee than stop the bus. Theirs should be the front seats of the bus. 

From 2015, my lecture rooms were surrounded by mountains, mountains that look so close—like a few minutes trek from campus close but are hours away by trek from campus not-close. I don’t know if any vehicles go there & I didn’t care enough to find out. I told Kofi we should visit the mountains one day. After four years, we never did. Well, it isn’t our fault or I don’t want us to take the blame, I want us to be like all students & push the blame on the school, for stressing us so much that we couldn’t do the things we had loved to do. Like, visit the mountains we’ve watched transform from green to golden brown to dark brown as the season changes. Like, going to Leklebi to suffer the roads & climb the mountains there, to feel we have at least accomplished something—getting to the top of the mountain, seeing the waterfall & whatever unexpected thing we may come across. None of these things ever happened, though we wanted them to. 

Maybe we didn’t want them enough. As in, nothing pushed us above our fear of failing, the fear of losing something to gain these experiences. 

For years, I looked through the windows of hot Ghanaian lecture rooms without ACs, staring into the distance, at the mountains. I sought consolation in them, in their boldness & their appearance. For years, these mountains were the background of my selfies. Even if they did not appear in the image, I knew they were there. Sometimes, as I struggled with depression, they were the only things that I believed stood with me. They didn’t change how I felt or the things I struggled with, the sins I keep to myself for fear of bad-mouthing. The word I wanted to use was judgement not bad-mouthing but that too didn’t happen. The mountains never bad-mouth. 

They only made me know that they’re always behind or around me when I need them. 

They didn’t have anywhere to go, like travelling over 14hours to Drobo. Neither are they going to Nigeria, for what? I have dreams of going to Nigeria, to see the friends I’ve made over the years or to read poems—whichever comes first. Today, I still watch the mountains, often from my room; my single room where I play loud music which likely disturbs my neighbours but who never speak about it. Sometimes, the mountains look like a place where God’s face is hiding—white with fog but even in those days, I know they’re still there—listening to my deep fears & my soul-cries. I am thinking of the word ”today,” does it mean ”today” or ”to day” or something else after time elapses? 

Today, we’re suffering a pandemic, in November. A year & some months after I first wrote this—when I was mourning a failed love. 

Sorry if I digress too much or if my thoughts are scattered everywhere—my father told me he does too. He speaks & the digressions take over the conversation. I am always looking for something to fill in. If I speak about a bit of everything or too much about something, I am sorry. Once as I led a prayer service, I digressed & said so much about something, so much that I forgot where I started—I was lost—I had to end there or keep going. Say I asked them to pray for strength so we survive the pandemic—& I said the pandemic was like climbing a mountain that you cannot see the peak & we’re not sure where we are. & there’s fog, so much of it that you cannot see the person climbing next to you. & we’re not sure when we’ll get to the top—I said what I said & what I said & said &—& I didn’t know what we were praying for. But I knew we would need water, food, first aid & energy if we were going to get to the top—so we prayed for that. 

I tried writing this as a poem, now I don’t know what it is. But I know we’re somewhere in something beautiful. I have tried to be one thing at a time but that never works. As a son, I am a brother too. As a father, I would be a husband too or a baby-daddy. But I will always be someone’s child. The guy who sucked at math, Philemon. Or. The poet, Kwaku. 

I am looking at some selfies from a year or two or three or more ago. I can no longer see the mountains through my windows. The smile in the selfie says a lot—I was trying—& I have that same smile now, even after school. I am trying. But I can still see the face of God in the fog, & when I turn my phone on, I know a tweet too is a mountain—& there’ll always be one that will bring a smile.