EPISODE 14: When the Sun Pointed South

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Home again, Gone again

Darra approached cautiously, especially as she could hear the sound of quarreling.

“Find my daughter, woman!” a masculine voice boomed, as the other person — her poor mom, surely — only sobbed and sniffled in response.

Had her parents been fighting over/in her absence, even after so much time had passed?

She paced ahead more deliberately, each step heavier than the last. In a moment spelt by pure coincidence, Baba Yussif emerged from the hut . . . and froze in his tracks. His voice, dripping with anger seconds prior, was now lost. And when it returned, praises — to the gods that might have brought his long-lost daughter back home — burst forth first. Baba’s muscular arms, wide open, excitedly willed Darra into them.

Darra, for once in her life, didn’t find them so welcoming — but she obliged anyway, though reluctantly. Ma Gezele, still sniffling, popped out her head to see just whom Baba was speaking to — to her own wide-eyed surprise. All three were locked in a tight embrace for minutes, and the other children soon made it bigger and better. Somehow, there was room for all: a reality Darra was still coming to terms with.

“Shh, shh . . . keep it down,” the ever-cautious Ma Gezele urged, as the family of 10 walked into one of the huts.

The tale of how Darra had disappeared one night and resurfaced one morning could be the talk of the town for days, even as doubts still lingered about whether the rites — which she had fled from — performed while she was away had really appeased the gods. Ma Gezele, who sent her out that fateful night, was fretful, as much about the consequences of her actions as about what had befallen her precious daughter. The latter, at least, was now answered in the best — and most unexpected — manner possible.

Darra had much to say, and she couldn’t wait. Her fears eased somewhat, she went to bed early and exhausted. Yet sleep didn’t come easily to the teen. Her dad’s wrath seemed to have passed — overcome as it was by the sheer relief of having her back — but had the village’s?

In the adjoining hut, between her parents, not many winks were shared. They believed the gods were all-seeing and that Darra hadn’t escaped their vengeful gaze. Still, they agreed, Darra would be safer elsewhere. Before daybreak, a plan had been worked out and, promptly, Darra was briefed and escorted out. Her siblings had been warned to make no mention of her; nobody could know that she’d come — and gone again. This time, however, it was with their collective – though begrudging — consent, sending Darra a good and safe distance away.

Darra did feel safe enough, but not so good. Everything, including the love and warmth of her family, seemed as fleeting as fragile bubbles – here in a moment, gone in the next. Those thoughts stirred her up from a short nap under a tree on the outskirts of a village so far away from her own. It was Saturday and the sheer emptiness and silence haunting the parched area made it seem as though it had been desolate for centuries, waiting to be discovered by some wandering archaeologist. The sun, high and hot at noon, only worsened her misery.

Thankfully, loneliness wouldn’t be counted among her many worries. Just when Darra thought she was all alone, she spotted a fellow seated under an isolated shea tree. He seemed to be making much better use of his solitude, too, and Darra felt she could feed off his companionship — maybe more.

A few short strides got her to his end and, after poignantly narrating her ordeal – though carefully omitting all details that might blow her cover – Darra had the man convinced.

“Follow me,” he said to Darra, shuffling away and ahead.

To where, though?

When the Sun Pointed South is a weekly series — exclusive to Daily Mail GH every weekend — that tells the entirely fictional and incredibly inspiring story of a young girl who escaped the rigors of life in Ghana’s North, braved odds down South, and emerged radiant. Get the previous episode here if you missed it.

Mathy Adortsu — Daily Mail GH

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