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Email from Sandra' Onko and I

Email from Sandra' Onko and I

All too soon, a week has passed since we celebrated the death of our Lord. I hope you had a long restful weekend.  Well, mine was restful till the night of Resurrection, Sunday when my 72-year-old uncle decided to switch me into a keep-vigil-with-me mode.  


I can still feel the fatigue of that night, twirling around my eyes.  Whoever said baldness was caused by piles? Or should I put it this way, do piles cause baldness?  I just don’t get it. 


If you ask me, the two are so very not related. But this old man has refused to see himself as aged, and therefore does things to prevent time and chance from happening to him. 

 He abhors the greys on his face and hands, and dyes them meticulously with a toothbrush and gentian violet.  Now he doesn’t want to be bald.   So what did he do this time? 

He bought a small bottle of locally manufactured herb from the public transport his daughter had put him on, en route to Accra.  I picked him from the lorry station on Saturday afternoon. 

He is here on a check-up – something to do with his knees and muscles.  But why wouldn’t they ache him the way they do?  This old man is phenomenal. 

After the passing into glory of my auntie (his wife), he remarried.  We were all joyful to know he was going the nuptial way again because he was so close to my aunt, no one ever thought the man could love again. 

But the day we set eyes on the new woman, we were all so disturbed and shocked at the same time:  a young palpable mammal who was half his age.  And he was 68 at the time. 

How was he not to “overwork” his muscles, hormones and emotions on such a youthful blooded daughter of Eve, who was almost the same age as his youngest child.  How?  We kicked against his decision vehemently, but Uncle Amanor wouldn’t listen.  

Ever since he remarried, it has been one ache or ailment after another.  Whenever we blame him for being responsible for all that, he tells us the story of David in the Bible – that in his old age, he got a young woman, a comforter by his side who warmed his bed and took good care of him till his death.  

But David was a King and had what it took to maintain such a young woman, even if it meant not “hopping on” at all.  I hope you catch my drift.  But my uncle can in no way compare himself to David. 

To think that his new wife didn’t even accompany him on this trip to Accra.  In fact!  So … oh sorry, see how I drift.  Onko Amanor, as we call him, and his bride have a way of getting to me sometimes.  Let me continue narrating what happened on the night of Easter Sunday.

We had had our evening prayers (and yes, he is very religious), and had retired to our rooms.  In what seemed like 55 minutes, Obodai and I heard a yell from his room.  “Mawu na’amorbor, Mawu na’amorbor” were his cries.  Literally translates as “God have mercy on me, God have mercy on me”.

We rushed in there with the speed of light.  There beside the bed knelt a pain-stricken naked Uncle Amanor.  The entire room was filled with the smell of menthol.  He quickly requested for an ice cube.  

“Onko, what is it?  Are your knees locked?” He said nothing in response.  Not wanting to look on his nakedness for too long, I rushed out of the room like a good niece, to get him the ice cube, and thereafter, stayed at the doorway to enable Obodai help him wear his pajamas. 

“No don’t wear the trousers”, I heard him say with an effort.  Please help me put the cube in there”.  I wondered what the “in there” meant.  “Oh Onko, please this one … can you do it yourself?  My hand can’t enter there”, Obodai said, paused for about three seconds and asked, “and why do you want to place the cube in there?”  “Awooooo, awwoooo, Mawu na’amorbor”, he cried.  I could tell that the old man was in serious pain as he groaned and moaned. 

“Ablah come, come and help us.  He’s helpless.  Erm erm, okay, please pick a latex glove from the kitchen cabinet and help us place the ice there for him”, directed Obodai who had held the old man up with his left elbow.  And he yelled!  Whaaaaat!  At a point I thought he would wake the neighbourhood up.  Time was approximately 11:45 p.m.

Managing to clap his butts together after hiding the ice in there, I mopped the drops with his cover cloth as the melting hydro dripped between his thighs.  His demeanour at the time confused us all, I forgot to reach for his towel. 

A bit relieved, and after much persuasion, he narrated to us what caused his plight. On his way to Accra the previous day, in the public transport whose passenger he was, a herbalist had entered to vend some herbs, one of which was the kind in the small bottle beside his bed. 

 “Ablah”, he said, “the man said it could cure baldness, and that baldness was caused by “kooko” (piles).  I have always sought for a cure for my baldness but nothing seems to work.  

So after seeing pictures of how some bald women and men had been healed through this medication, I was moved to buy it.  It cost only Ghc15.  Being an old man, he gave me a discount of Ghc5.  So I bought two bottles.”

According to Onko Amanor, the herbalist directed him to dub some of the medication on his anus, three tinctures, four times a day.  That night was his first time of applying the medication. 

Since when did baldness have anything to do with piles?  Heh?  My uncle’s hair follicles had shrunk and shaved themselves off since I was a child.  The residue on his head is a crescent of shallow tresses that have formed in a thin line spanning from the lower back of his left ear all the way to the same level of his right ear; like a thin horseshoe.  

Almost everywhere on his head has shaved off like a smooth bottle.  So what at all was he thinking?  That the concoction running on his anus would climb up his scalp to resurrect his hair? Aaaaaagh! 

I still can’t get it.  What does my uncle want in this life? Why can’t some people accept the fact that they are old?  The aftermath of that incident, coupled with the resulting complications that made him bleed “in there”, that made them admit him at the clinic, that almost numbed his feeble joints, have made me almost weak too.  

Please let me end here.  Will update you on this, next week.  When you say a prayer, say one for my uncle and I.  


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