Archive | March, 2013

Ansa…The Return

29 Mar

(Tonight I conclude the story  of Ansa. I would highly appreciate your comments on this book, thanks.

EPILOGUE

‘We mourned you my sister; do you know what that means?’ Kofi held his sister away from him to examine her. ‘We thought you were dead’.

‘We really died’ Mosa said, ‘but Nyame brought us back to life.’ She turned to Ansa, who was still staring at Osei’s lifeless body, ‘Kofi, meet Ansa, my husband.’

‘You could not have chosen a better man my sister,’ Kofi answered as he embraced his brother-in-law.

The people who had taken to their heels gradually returned. Ansa turned to find his mother weeping softly as she sat on her favourite bamboo seat, her daughter trying to console her.

It was apparent she felt embarrassed that she had almost married her son’s abductor, but there was really no reason for that.

Ansa took Mosa’s hand and together they went before his mother. Both knelt down before Nana and Ansa said, ‘Mama, I have returned.’

 

Ansa…The Return

27 Mar
They faced each other, Ansa and Osei.
They faced each other, Ansa and Osei.

CHAPTER NINE

This was Osei’s long awaited day. Today Nana, his beloved Nana would become his wife in front of all these witnesses gathered here and singing praises, singing his praises. If only they knew what he had done to get here they would steer clear of him. They may think of him as a terrible person but to him the end always justified the means.

The marriage proceedings had been going so well until pandemonium broke loose. He could not rise to see why everyone was in a kind of frenzy.  All he knew was that the women were singing praises of someone, and from clear indicators, it was not HIM they were singing about. It sounded like…could it be what he was thinking?

In the fog of his confused mind he watched Nana rise. She rose and everyone went quite still and then suddenly a roar of applause.

Now even the abusua who was presiding over the marriage ceremony rose. His face was all smiles as he watched the “spectacle” that Osei supposed was taking place right behind him.

Every fibre of his being told him to flee, but he could not bring himself to do that. He was no coward. He had always prided himself brave enough to face his own demons. He had to face this one too even if it was the last thing he would do.

He rose to his feet and he turned around to face the worst fear of his life, his very own nemesis.

It was Ansa.

This is impossible! Osei muttered under his breath just as Ansa was muttering the same thing. Mosa, who was standing behind him, let out an involuntary yelp when she saw Osei. The thought of Osei had always had that effect on her and seeing him now, she could not help herself; she shook from head to toe.

Meanwhile, they faced each other, Osei and Ansa. To all those standing around the scene was not a very pleasant one. The atmosphere was charged enough to ignite a fire.

For Ansa the last three years played back in his mind as he tried to take in the near disaster that would have become his mother.

The shock of seeing Ansa made Nana completely unaware of the sparks flying around her. ‘My son, my Ansa,’ she said as she tenderly felt his face, ‘You arrived at a very important moment of my life. See I was getting married. You remember Osei, don’t you?’

‘I am sorry mother, but you cannot marry this man,’ Ansa said through clenched teeth. Even as he said that, he could not tear his gaze away from the man whom he had come to loathe with a passion.

Osei had the audacity to return the look. For shame! He could not conceal his hate for the man whom he carried as a baby, watched grow up, coveted and finally sold. All that ran through his head was, “How many lives has this nemesis of mine got?!”

Nana looked from Ansa to Osei, she could not understand why her son would look upon Osei with so much anger and hatred. Much as she would have wanted to know what he had been through these past three years, she wanted to find that out in the privacy of their home. But with this mutual hatred that she could see between her son and her betrothed, she felt it would be better to find out right away.

‘My son, look at me,’ Ansa gave her a brief look and continued his survey of Osei. ‘Where have you been? What happened to you all of these three years?’ She choked as she was overcome by emotions. ‘You cannot imagine what your sister and I passed through when you disappeared. If not for Osei…’ her voice trailed off.

Ansa never knew he had a dark side. A side that could be murderous, a side that could hate with such intensity he could burst a blood vessel. He watched Osei for any moves. Aside from the mutual hate he could read in Osei’s eyes, Osei remained impassive, unmoving.

‘Well mother,’ Ansa said to Nana, ‘the cure for you malady also happens to be the cause of your illness.’

Nana looked at him incredulously, ‘What are you saying my son? What has Osei got to do with your disappearance?’

‘Why don’t you tell her?’ Ansa challenged Osei, ‘Why don’t you tell her that while you were consoling her, you had me under lock and key up in Castle d’Elmina waiting for the slave ships?’

The gasp from the guests was clearly audible. The tales about Elmina was not strange to all of those present.

Nana turned slowly to face Osei. She did not know which was worse; knowing what her son had gone through or discovering who was responsible.

‘This is not true,’ she said to Osei as uncontrolled tears ran down her face. ‘You did not do this.’

Osei simply ignored her. Now that he knew he could never have her he divided up his fraustration and pent up anger between her and her son.

‘What did I not do for you Nana, when your husband passed and you refused to set your eyes on me because you had this…this arrogant son of yours,’ he glared at her. ‘You did not even notice me.’ He gave a sinister laugh as he registered the shock on Nana’s beautiful face.

‘As for you, Ansa,’ he spat, ‘I believe you enjoyed your time in the dungeons of Elmina. And I can see you came back with that girl; did she enjoy her stay too?’ He had his hand inside his kente as he continued, ‘And now that you have returned, what do you intend to do, take me before the Obirempon like the coward that you are?’

The words had their desired effect. Ansa leapt at Osei brandishing his dagger. He would have preferred shooting his head off with his gun but he decided the dagger was a better weapon for he wanted to employ the element of surprise.  He vaguely noticed that Osei had taken out a dagger from under his Kente. The people were scurrying for safety just as he heard the gun shot and the yell.

Ansa registered the shocked expression on Osei’s face as he looked beyond him, his kente turning crimson red and his dagger clattering to ground.

Ansa could not understand what had just happened. He did not have a gun. Who could have come to this gathering with a gun and be angry enough to shoot Osei?

The scurrying people created way for the shooter to walk forward. As he drew nearer Mosa could not believe her eyes.

‘Kofi! My brother Kofi!’ she yelled as she rushed to him.

Kofi, the son of Dankwa had come to the marriage ceremony with the full intention of killing Osei. When Mensah requested to meet with him last night, he had not known what revelation awaited him. Mensah had filled him with enough hate to make him decide that Osei would not see the dusk of today. But then he had arrived to find Ansa and with him, someone with a close resemblance to his sister. He had been torn between going to his sister and giving her a hug that was three years overdue and concluding his mission. Osei’s move to silence Ansa for life had helped him decide.

Now he held his sister in a tight embrace as he watched Osei lying in the pool of his own blood.

Ansa…The Return

27 Mar

CHAPTER NINE

This was Osei’s long awaited day. Today Nana, his beloved Nana would become his wife in front of all these witnesses gathered here and singing praises, singing his praises. If only they knew what he had done to get here they would steer clear of him. They may think of him as a terrible person but to him the end always justified the means.

The marriage proceedings had been going so well until pandemonium broke loose. He could not rise to see why everyone was in a kind of frenzy.  All he knew was that the women were singing praises of someone, and from clear indicators, it was not HIM they were singing about. It sounded like…could it be what he was thinking?

In the fog of his confused mind he watched Nana rise. She rose and everyone went quite still and then suddenly a roar of applause.

Now even the abusua who was presiding over the marriage ceremony rose. His face was all smiles as he watched the “spectacle” that Osei supposed was taking place right behind him.

Every fibre of his being told him to flee, but he could not bring himself to do that. He was no coward. He had always prided himself brave enough to face his own demons. He had to face this one too even if it was the last thing he would do.

He rose to his feet and he turned around to face the worst fear of his life, his very own nemesis.

It was Ansa.

This is impossible! Osei muttered under his breath just as Ansa was muttering the same thing. Mosa, who was standing behind him, let out an involuntary yelp when she saw Osei. The thought of Osei had always had that effect on her and seeing him now, she could not help herself; she shook from head to toe.

Meanwhile, they faced each other, Osei and Ansa. To all those standing around the scene was not a very pleasant one. The atmosphere was charged enough to ignite a fire.

For Ansa the last three years played back in his mind as he tried to take in the near disaster that would have become his mother.

The shock of seeing Ansa made Nana completely unaware of the sparks flying around her. ‘My son, my Ansa,’ she said as she tenderly felt his face, ‘You arrived at a very important moment of my life. See I was getting married. You remember Osei, don’t you?’

‘I am sorry mother, but you cannot marry this man,’ Ansa said through clenched teeth. Even as he said that, he could not tear his gaze away from the man whom he had come to loathe with a passion.

Osei had the audacity to return the look. For shame! He could not conceal his hate for the man whom he carried as a baby, watched grow up, coveted and finally sold. All that ran through his head was, “How many lives has this nemesis of mine got?!”

Nana looked from Ansa to Osei, she could not understand why her son would look upon Osei with so much anger and hatred. Much as she would have wanted to know what he had been through these past three years, she wanted to find that out in the privacy of their home. But with this mutual hatred that she could see between her son and her betrothed, she felt it would be better to find out right away.

‘My son, look at me,’ Ansa gave her a brief look and continued his survey of Osei. ‘Where have you been? What happened to you all of these three years?’ She choked as she was overcome by emotions. ‘You cannot imagine what your sister and I passed through when you disappeared. If not for Osei…’ her voice trailed off.

Ansa never knew he had a dark side. A side that could be murderous, a side that could hate with such intensity he could burst a blood vessel. He watched Osei for any moves. Aside from the mutual hate he could read in Osei’s eyes, Osei remained impassive, unmoving.

‘Well mother,’ Ansa said to Nana, ‘the cure for you malady also happens to be the cause of your illness.’

Nana looked at him incredulously, ‘What are you saying my son? What has Osei got to do with your disappearance?’

‘Why don’t you tell her?’ Ansa challenged Osei, ‘Why don’t you tell her that while you were consoling her, you had me under lock and key up in Castle d’Elmina waiting for the slave ships?’

The gasp from the guests was clearly audible. The tales about Elmina was not strange to all of those present.

Nana turned slowly to face Osei. She did not know which was worse; knowing what her son had gone through or discovering who was responsible.

‘This is not true,’ she said to Osei as uncontrolled tears ran down her face. ‘You did not do this.’

Osei simply ignored her. Now that he knew he could never have her he divided up his fraustration and pent up anger between her and her son.

‘What did I not do for you Nana, when your husband passed and you refused to set your eyes on me because you had this…this arrogant son of yours,’ he glared at her. ‘You did not even notice me.’ He gave a sinister laugh as he registered the shock on Nana’s beautiful face.

‘As for you, Ansa,’ he spat, ‘I believe you enjoyed your time in the dungeons of Elmina. And I can see you came back with that girl; did she enjoy her stay too?’ He had his hand inside his kente as he continued, ‘And now that you have returned, what do you intend to do, take me before the Obirempon like the coward that you are?’

The words had their desired effect. Ansa leapt at Osei brandishing his dagger. He would have preferred shooting his head off with his gun but he decided the dagger was a better weapon for he wanted to employ the element of surprise.  He vaguely noticed that Osei had taken out a dagger from under his Kente. The people were scurrying for safety just as he heard the gun shot and the yell.

Ansa registered the shocked expression on Osei’s face as he looked beyond him, his kente turning crimson red and his dagger clattering to ground.

Ansa could not understand what had just happened. He did not have a gun. Who could have come to this gathering with a gun and be angry enough to shoot Osei?

The scurrying people created way for the shooter to walk forward. As he drew nearer Mosa could not believe her eyes.

‘Kofi! My brother Kofi!’ she yelled as she rushed to him.

Kofi, the son of Dankwa had come to the marriage ceremony with the full intention of killing Osei. When Mensah requested to meet with him last night, he had not known what revelation awaited him. Mensah had filled him with enough hate to make him decide that Osei would not see the dusk of today. But then he had arrived to find Ansa and with him, someone with a close resemblance to his sister. He had been torn between going to his sister and giving her a hug that was three years overdue and concluding his mission. Osei’s move to silence Ansa for life had helped him decide.

Now he held his sister in a tight embrace as he watched Osei lying in the pool of his own blood.

Celebrating Art and Culture

26 Mar

I was at the art and culture day of Darman Model college today-that happens to be the school my kids attend. It was a fun day. I took the time to take some snapshots. Enjoy them.

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Igbo cultural attire

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Eastern Nigeria kids do their thing

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Yoruba traditional attire

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Western Nigerian dancers

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Hausa traditional attire

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Clay work on display

 

 

 

Ansa…The Return

25 Mar

CHAPTER EIGHT

He watched Osei for any moves. Aside from the mutual hate he could read in Osei’s eyes, Osei remained impassive, unmoving.

The man moved under the covers of the dark shadows surrounding him. He had on dark clothes to complement the dark night which had become his abiding place for the past three years. It had to be this way. He needed to conduct his businesses at night and sleep by day like the owls and other night creatures.

He had cursed himself roundly for his blind trust. A trust that cost him his life…almost. His family had had an elaborate burial for him unlike the one they had for the man Ansa who many still considered a boy three years ago. He had heard about his burial. He had heard about the role his ‘good’ friend Osei played at his burial. He had nursed himself to health and also succeeded in nursing his loyal friend to health. With each day that passed his only purpose in life found a deeper root and a more sinister meaning.

He lived for the day he would step out of this darkness and live a normal life like all else. The day he would walk down the path or the road in broad daylight while people look upon him and say their greetings to him the way they used to until the day Osei had betrayed him and left him for dead at the Prah.

Mensah sat down after his long trek. As soon as he sat down Akan came out to meet him. Akan had indeed depreciated considerably. The once athletic looking Akan had become lanky; his hair was long and tangled from a lack of grooming.

‘Were you able to get it?’ he asked Mensah.

Mensah had a faraway look in his eyes. He appeared oblivious of his surroundings.

Akan checked to see if he was holding onto anything that had a resemblance of the weekly supplies he had gone for. He saw nothing. He knew it would be futile trying to extract any form of information from Mensah.

He has seen Mensah in this kind of mood many times before. After both of them had survived the near drowning experience at the Prah his master had become a very distant bitter person.

Their survival at the Prah that night had been nothing short of a miracle. As the boat they boarded got as far as the middle of their boat trip, he and Mensah suddenly realised that every other person in the boat with the exception of they themselves, were part of a grand plan.

He had sensed that they gave them the persona non grata treatment, but he had dismissed it since they did not come from these parts. But soon the leader made himself manifest. He ordered the other men to divest them of all they had. He was particular about demanding the money they had realised from the recent trade they had engaged in.

It was at this point that he had realised this was no ordinary robbery. Mensah had given them all they asked for and without warning he had plunged into the Prah. He had tried to follow suit, but he was slow and so he had taken a stabbing before he made it over the edge of the boat.

Ordinarily, Akan and Mensah were strong swimmers, but with the wound he had sustained, he could hardly move his arms. He had started sinking immediately he hit the water. Mensah alone knows how he got them both away from that river for he came to three days later in this shack in the middle of nowhere. Mensah had nursed him back to life and he had made no contact with any other human since then. It was Mensah that had told him how Osei had betrayed them and thrown them to the wolves. Mensah was sure Osei was the brain behind the robbery and his regular nightly visits to town over the years had yielded enough information for him to conclude unequivocally that Osei had plotted to have him eliminated.

Akan sat down on the bough of a felled tree. He had to wait for Mensah to come out of his mood. What was the hurry anyway; he had all his life to wait.

At length Mensah let out a huge breath. He stared unseeingly in Akan’s direction and then as if suddenly realising Akan was there he appeared startled.

‘Welcome back,’ Akan greeted him.

‘He is getting married to Ansa’s mother the day after tomorrow,’ was Mensah’s reply.

Akan moved to his side immediately. ‘This is what you have been waiting for all these years. What is your game plan?’

‘That marriage must not take place’, Mensah growled as he turned to stare into the darkness again. ‘Osei must pay for what he did to us.’

‘The man has no shame,’ Akan said as he shook his head. ‘He certainly has a twisted mind. How could he set this elaborate plan in motion just in order to marry a woman? Is the woman made of gold?’

‘He really has a warped mind,’ Mensah nodded. ‘He kills the son to marry the mother, really crazy!’

‘So what do you want to do?’ Akan asked. ‘Would you put in an appearance at the wedding?’

‘That would have been very dramatic, would it not?’ Mensah answered, a smile forming on his lips. ‘But that would not favour us, my friend. If I do that I shall be putting us both in danger. Osei is very tricky and could turn the table on us.’

Akan looked frustrated. It seemed Osei might get away with it again.

Mensah turned to look at Akan. ‘Don’t bother your head about this,’ he told him. ‘Osei would pay for this with his life.’

Ansa…The Return

24 Mar

CHAPTER SEVEN

Ansa never knew he had a dark side. A side that could be murderous, a side that could hate with such intensity he could burst a blood vessel.

It was a cool evening, three years after Ansa passed, and they had just finished supper, Nana, Osei and Kwame. Nana sat back and gazed at Osei. They had become quite a threesome especially after her daughter got married about a year ago.

Nyame had been merciful. Though her daughter’s first suitor had withdrawn his interest after the incidence of her son’s disappearance, she had gotten another who had the ability to look beyond the present and recognize what a tragedy really is—a tragedy. All she prayed for now was that Nyame bless her with a grandchild. She was expecting one quite soon, her daughter had told her so. That would make her joy complete. That, and finally settling down.

She was finally seeing all the virtues in Osei. Her accepting him would be a welcome development to many of her kinsmen who have watched their relationship blossom. They shared practically everything except her bed.

Osei had proved himself a loyal friend and confidant. He had proved true to his promise to take care of her. Not a single day had passed in the last three years that he or his friend, Kwame, had not called in to check on her. Osei had even stood in as a father for her daughter, giving her away in marriage.

Nana felt it was only right for her to accept him.

Osei could see the change in Nana. He had not expected her to hold out for this long but he could see her letting down her guard. Especially this evening. She had been so kind as to prepare for him a special meal. He had eaten with such gusto to impress her even the more.

He, Osei, definitely knew how to take care of a woman. He knew she had been gazing at him all through the meal, but he had to pretend he did not notice. He could be getting his long awaited answer tonight, but he did not want to get his hopes up.

‘This meal must have cost you a fortune’ Kwame praised Nana. ‘A fortune in time and money’.

Nana smiled at him, ‘I am happy you enjoyed it.’ She then turned to Osei. ‘What say you? Did you enjoy it too?’

Osei gave her his most winning smile. ‘You know that nothing you give me can ever be faulted by me.’

‘You are too good for my own good’ she said shaking her head. ‘You are fast becoming a habit.’

To Osei, those words were the best he had ever heard in his entire life. He beamed her a dazzling smile, considering his not too handsome features.

Kwame took a hint and excused himself.

When they were alone Nana said, ‘I know how difficult it has been for you all these years just trying to remain friends with me when what you really want is to make a wife of me.’

Osei simply smiled and said nothing, so Nana continued.

‘I for my part always considered myself too old to be thinking of remarrying after my late husband who must have taken his place with his ancestors. But then in deference to you, I believe it is not fair that I selfishly keep rejecting you, so I accept to marry you and fulfill all my obligations as a wife to you.’

To Osei, Nana’s words were like music to his ears. He had spent many a sleepless nights trying to assuage his guilt; trying to justify his eliminating his obstacles while trying to woo a woman who has consistently refused to set her eyes on him. Finally, he thought, Ansa and Anan would stop haunting and tormenting him for he has finally gotten what he has wished for all those years.

He took Nana’s hands in his. He thought about what to say in response to her acceptance, but he could think of nothing. So he did what he had often observed the white man do with his lady love; he kissed her fingers.

Nana found his manner quite amusing. What was with the finger kissing? She counted herself lucky though. They lived in a culture where marriages were often arranged and for someone as old as she was, the prospect of marrying again was often zero. But Osei had been good to her. He had dignified her in a way no man has ever done…even her late husband if she dare say, and she knew he won’t ever stop treating her like a princess.

Kwame wandered back into the room like some stray goat, wondering if he had returned too soon. He knew how people would see it if Nana had any late visitors and they report seeing her all alone with Osei. Her reputation would be ruined.

He could see, as soon as he walked in, how happy his friend looked, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Finally the wait had paid off and his master was about to get his heart’s utmost desire.

Ansa…The Return

23 Mar

CHAPTER SIX

Osei had the audacity to return the look. For shame! He could not conceal his hate for the man, whom he carried as a baby, watched grow up, coveted and finally sold. All that ran through his head was “How many lives has this nemesis of mine got?!”

 

Ansa’s funeral was a sombre affair. It was considered bad luck for a parent to bury their child and relatives had advised Nana to keep it as quiet as possible.

Osei, though, had tried to insist that the entire funeral rites performed for adults should be performed for him too. This advice was more to assuage his guilt feelings and to assure himself that Ansa was dead and buried both to him and to the entire community.

Nana on her part did not see why she should do that because down at a tiny recess of her mind, she still held on to the hope that one day her son would return to her. This hope was borne out of the fact that the body was not found. She did not believe that Nyame would be so cruel as to take her son and not even give back his body.

Osei did his best to be a pillar of support for Nana throughout the funeral. When all the guests had finally dispersed later that night, he was left alone with Nana and her daughter. His man, Kwame made himself scarce though he kept an eye on what was going on from a distance.

‘You should try to leave the past behind you and move forward,’ Osei said in consoling Nana.

‘The past would always be behind,’ Nana answered. ‘And the future would always be ahead of us.’

‘I am happy to hear that,’ Osei ventured further. ‘You need an extra hand around here and my man Kwame would always be on hand to assist you in whatever you may desire.’

Nana smiled mirthlessly. ‘I believe I stopped living today when I had to bury my own son.’

Her words tore at Osei’s conscience. Much as he tried to convince himself that all he had done, he had done out of love for her, he knew in his heart of hearts that no man alive would exonerate him of blame if this came to light of day. He needed by all means to kill his conscience in order to silence it once and for all. But he was only human and nothing could stop the guilt feelings. He vowed to himself that once he succeeded in marrying Nana he would remain a faithful husband catering to her every need. It was just as well, he had lived the better part of his life fantasizing about this woman, he could see his entire scheme succeeding someday soon and he could not afford ruining his conquest with a troubled conscience.

He held Nana’s hands in his palms and peered into her face. She looked so forlorn and he wanted so badly to hold her in a warm embrace. Much as he wanted to do that he knew that any move in that direction would only scare her away from him and he could not risk that…not now anyway. There definitely would come a time when she would see there was nothing preventing her from willingly looking to him as a woman does a husband.

‘I think it is about time you left,’ Nana finally said as she retrieved her hands from his. ‘We don’t want the neighbours to talk, do we?’

Osei had a good mind to say to hell with everyone, but this time he let it pass and allowed her to rise, signaling the end of his stay. He swallowed his pride and rose also.

‘Don’t forget what I said about Kwame’ he reminded her. ‘He would be here every day to check if there is anything he could help you with,’ and report your every move to me. He smiled at her and she managed a smile for his benefit.

He gestured to Kwame and that one rose from where he was seated and approached him.

‘You would keep an eye on Nana for me,’ Osei told Kwame. ‘Check on her each day to be sure she lacks nothing.’

Kwame did well in concealing his bewilderment. It was obvious to him Osei was losing it. How could he turn him into a simple errand boy? He smiled his acknowledgement of the assignment.

‘I must leave now,’ Osei said to Nana.

They left the compound before Kwame spoke. He had gotten over the shock of the assignment but he wanted to know why Osei should humiliate him so.

‘Do not consider it a humiliation,’ Osei pacified him. ‘I need to know what she is up to. What if she becomes interested in some other man? You yourself know how hard I have worked for her. Won’t it be a tragedy if she becomes interested in some other person now?’

Kwame had to agree. It would indeed be a disaster.

‘So that means my real reason for the daily visits is to make sure no one comes around to help her out.’

‘Yes. I have to establish a presence, and you are to help get me information as to her everyday activities.’

*             *                  *

Nana watched Osei and Kwame leave. She knew why Osei was doing this. His interest in her ever since her husband died was no secret. He was patient, she would give him that and with the new development…

Could she bring herself to consider Osei for marriage? She had been so self-sufficient since her husband’s death because Ansa had always been there to take care of her. But now things were different, Ansa was no longer here and a huge vacuum had been created.

She turned to find her daughter watching her. Could she have imagined what was going over in her mind? Would she accept Osei as a stepfather?

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