Don’t blame the bottle

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Don’t blame the bottle

A short story by Femi Akomolafe


The first thing I noticed was an overpowering stench. Initially, I couldn’t place it. It was way-way out of this world. Then I saw them. Mosquitoes. There were zillions of them, with their abdomens red with my blood. They were buzzing all around me. I lifted my tired right hand to drive them away. It was then I felt the sharp pain on my thumb. I gazed in amazement at the festering wound – it was a teeth bite. A vicious hammer was wickedly pounding a fist-size lump on my forehead. It was a dark room with only tiny streaks of light stealing in from a high window with a protective grill. My body ached and my head throbbed with pain. Like a nocturnal animal, I tried to focus on the world around me. A large man with a head like a bullet was asleep in the corner. He was built like a prizefighter and he gave the appearance of a felled giant.

He was sleeping on his back and his massive arms spread out like the limbs of a huge tree. I watched his large stomach rise and fall as if in rhythm to some ancient music. His thick-lipped and largemouth hung ajar, and saliva was pouring out onto the bare floor he had made his bed. The horrible smell emanating from him was like that of a dead animal. With is vast body heaving up and down, the giant was emitting harsh snores.

A plume of despond enveloped me. Was I in a nightmarish dream? I sat down to interrogate my brain.

Gradually, the veil lifted and like a Polaroid film, the images of the past hours came back to me.

It started on Friday. It was in the early evening – say, four-thirty-ish. My wife, Dela, was bustling around the house as housewives usually do. Our little daughter, Oluwakemi, was sleeping peacefully on her back.

She is beautiful, my wife is. No. That’s not correct. My wife is a work of pure art: a Masterpiece. Describing her here would make you as erotic as a stallion. I won’t begin to describe her beauties, lest you started masturbating on these pages. And we don’t want that here now, would we, now? Just imagine the perfect African lady with plenty of good news in her body, multiply that a hundredfold and you can start to get an idea of how beautiful my wife is. My wife’s backyard gives new meaning to the word ‘BLACK POWER!’ Not even the most ascetic of monks can watch those jiggling rear-engines without having carnal desires.

We married three years ago after her mother threatened to put an end to our ‘hanky-panky’ (such grammar!) if we do not make up our minds about marriage fast.

“What are you doing with my daughter?” My (is she in-law, or in-law-to-be? This English language, sef!) – Let’s stick with Dela’s mother. Dela’s mother wanted to know.

How do you answer a woman who asked you what you are doing with her daughter you have been dating for over two years, tell me? I had the mind to tell her that I do with her daughter only the things that a healthy, young thirty-something male would do with a young, energetic and willing twenty-something female, but why bother? But I can assure you that we certainly have not been engaged solely in Bible studies if you get the drift of my gist.

So, folks, I succumbed and married Dela. I would have married her, though – I love her so much and her great beauty is just the least of her admirable assets: You will get fat just by reading the type of muscular dishes my wife cooks for me. But the thought of her mother putting a stop to our (I am quoting her) ‘hanky-panky,’ kind of hastened things up, won’t you agree?

I am a professional mason. To folks that just came from Mars, that means that I am a mortar and brick guy: I put buildings together. Money is not fighting in my pocket but, by the standards that I have set for myself, I am OK. Some of my colleagues are better off and some of them are in worse shape than me. That is life, won’t you agree?

As I was saying, trouble came that Friday. I was busy doing what I usually do on Friday evenings when I am not throwing cement and blocks; checking the status of my lotto affairs. Like many poor folks, I also harbour the dream of making it big. Since I do not carry a pen weighty enough to inflate contracts and lack the courage to rob a bank, I dream my dream of riches in sweepstakes.

I am not trying to apportion blame here, but I could locate the origins of my troubles in the sudden appearance, in the tiny room I share with my family, of Appiah. To those that don’t know, Appiah is a pal I hang around with. According to those that make it their business to know about such things, a pal is a friend you don’t mind getting drunk with. I have gotten drunk on countless occasions with Appiah and that makes him my pal, won’t you say?

Naturally, my wife hates his guts. I didn’t expect my wife to be the cheerleader of the guy that gets drunk with her hubby, but I didn’t expect her to hate my friend, even my enemy, with such venomous passion. Very few things get Dela worked up – the sight of Appiah is one of them. Many people would fake it and would be all smiles to their greatest enemies, but not my wife. She is as straight as (you don’t expect me to use that worn cliche, do you?) a bullet and hypocrisy is certainly not her greatest forte.

“That bastard will get you into trouble one of these days.” She told me that day, right in the presence of my friend, Appiah. Her disgust of him would not even permit her to refer to him in the second-person pronoun. My no-nonsense wife cleanly demoted my friend to third-person.

“Bastard?” I feigned ignorance.

“That bastard standing there with his foolish smiles,”  she spat, pointing at my friend’s chest.

Women are said to possess great intuitions. Could they see what we male species, with all our macho pretensions, cannot fathom? Sitting in the darkroom (I later discovered that it was police cell) and ruminating about my tragedy, I wished that I had listened to my wife. But then such is life. We are all the wiser after the event. But you could also look at it another way: Had I listened to her, you won’t be reading this tale, would you? Do you see what I mean that nothing is as easy or as complicated as it first appears?

Embarrassed beyond words by my wife’s outburst against my friend, I did what appeared to me as the best thing. I hustled Appiah to Burkina Faso. No, silly, I don’t mean BF, the country – ‘Land of the Upright.’ with Ouagadougou as its capital. Our Burkina Faso is the new akpeteshi spot that opened recently with all the bells, whistles, pomp and pageantry. It is a neat establishment, I tell you. The owners must have read a thing or two about business management. Instead of the usual ‘one-million-cedis’ shack, it was housed in solid walls. The walls were painted and fine ‘home-used’ Persian rugs adorned the floor. There were easy chairs and low stools.

On the walls were giant posters of revolutionaries. There was a fierce looking Malcolm X, a finger stabbing at the oppressors of his race. Bob Marley, a giant spliff hanging from a corner his mouth, smiles a knowing, romantic and prophetic smile from a poster. The legend ‘One Love’ was boldly imprinted across his chest. Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah gazed down sagely from another poster. His calm, philosopher’s face radiates an aura of indestructibility. From another poster, Thomas Sankara, an eternally youthful smile pasted on his handsome face, shouted curses at all imperialists of all ages. A large sign over the bar in gothic lettering demanded to know: “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?

From small wall-mounted speakers, Peter Tosh was singing ‘Mystery Babylon,’ demanding the return of Africa’s stolen gold, ruby, and diamonds.

The ambiance was cozy. I ordered a bottle of the best hooch. A massively hipped lady in the body-hugging outfit, with half of her incredibly large breasts hanging out, served it. As she left, I watched her twin rear engines vibrating, with fascination. I gulped down the two-fingers worth of the fine spirits. It coursed down nicely and I felt the fire in my belly. Appiah did the same. His face was calm and I could see that my wife’s insults were distant memories lost in the fog of drink. We settled down into an executive session with our drink, all the while debating and philosophizing about the world’s ills. You know how it goes when you are feeling just irie, don’t you? So, you don’t know, eh? Go and get yourself plastered with enough hard liquor and you’ll have some idea what I am talking about.

Appiah and I discussed the state of Ghana’s football – great, we agreed. We got into American politics and agreed that Madam Rice is just a figurehead at the State Department. She, we agreed, is just a house Negress put there to appease the eternally gullible blacks. She carries no weight at all, and if she had any monkey sense at all, she would resign soon. Appiah and I agreed that African leaders have no business changing their countries’ constitution just to garner for themselves unconstitutional terms of office. We condemned the hypocrisy of the West and railed against the impotence of Russia. We threw insults at African leaders who steal their people’s wealth, bank them in Western banks and then go hat in hand to beg for loans, handouts, and HIPCs. Yes, of course, we discussed women and solemnly pledged never to go for fat women. We pledged to one another that from now till eternity, it is the slim ones with plenty backyard for us. Such friendship!

In ‘Soul on Ice,’ Eldridge Cleaver said that too many agreements kill a chat. He didn’t know what he was talking about. I could only guess that our man was too busy revolutionizing to get into a bar and see healthy deliberations and solemn agreements especially with the one with the fat pocket paying for the hooch as I was doing.

Over-, or is it underwhelmed, by all booze and all the chitchats, my head sagged and fell on the table. I was snoring before my head hit the table – so I was told later.

The first inkling of trouble I felt was when a faint echo of a familiar voice penetrate my inebriated brain to register recognition. It was Dela’s (my wife) voice. I shook my head in an effort to clear the fog. It was my wife’s voice all right and she was slugging it out hard with Appiah – his was slurred, hers high-pitched. A fool, my friend was. Never try to partake in a shouting match with a woman; you can’t win. There she was, my wife, screeching insults at my friend, a hundred a yard.

The fog in my brain hadn’t totally cleared but there were enough good patches here and there to take in what she was saying to my pal. They were not pleasant, I tell you. I cannot repeat them here without insulting some folks’ sensibilities. You do understand, don’t you? Worst of all, my wife included me in her insults. I have become, (and I am telling you what my brain gathered from what she said) a useless, good-for-nothing, impotent, shell of a husband. Okay, I agree that I like the bottle a little bit (more than a little bit, let’s be honest) more than necessary, but that doesn’t make me useless (I still bring the bacon home, as the Americans are wont to say). I do get drunk now and then (which man born of woman doesn’t?), but I still perform my conjugal duties – I assure you. I won’t claim to be the most virile hunk this side of the Atlantic, but I still know a trick or two that could send a woman moaning with ecstasy.

So, that makes what my wife was saying blasphemous. Patent falsehoods. A woman to whom I am legally married (yes, I paid the dowry – a part of my inebriated brain tried but failed to recollect what the dowry was, but never mind) has no right to come and disgrace me in the full glare of my friends and foes. And to question my manhood? That stole all the thunders.

Something exploded someplace in my fogged brain and my feet obeyed some dangerous signals transmitted by some errant neurons. I staggered to my feet and tottered to where my brain told me my wife was standing. Her mouth was still working like well-oiled pistons. Instead of my beautiful wife, what I saw was a monster with horns and fangs and things. I saw her arms flail (perhaps to emphasise a point) and I thought I was under attack and went into action.

I should mention that although I am no Bruce Lee, I know some bits and pieces of Kung Fu. I am a Chinese action film enthusiast.

It was later established that drunk as I was, I gave a pretty good account of myself. The only problem was that my opponent was my own wife whom I swore to protect. I have, in a drunken fit, battered the mother of my daughter! I was later told that I cried like a banshee when she bit my thumb. It was further established that the owner called the police on his mobile phone (chic, won’t you agree?) and that the men in black came with full force. Witnesses agreed that I gave as much as I received and the battle was not ended until a coward (enterprising, some might say) of a policeman took a combat stance and swung his Mark-IV rifle and the butt made impact with my skull, and my legs gave way and I fell down like a cut tree.

When they brought the charges, it was longer than your arm – I don’t know how long your arm is, but it was longer than mine. Among what I was charged with are: affray; insulting and attacking policemen conducting official duties; threatening misbehavior; destruction of private and public property; general incitement; incitement to riot; constituting general public nuisance; breach of public; first-degree assault; assault with intent to commit murder; public drunkenness; wife battering; assault and battery; second-degree riotous behavior.

They forgot to throw in arson and treason. We have to thank Him for small blessings, don’t you say?



About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and ModernGhana, and Correspondent for the New African magazine, Femi lives in both Europe and Africa and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the Man and Machine Coordinator at Alaye Dot Biz Limited, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organization that specializes in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
  2. WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
  3. Ghana Writers Association office, PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra.
  4. Afia Beach Hotel, Accra

Where to buy them online:

On Lulu Books:

18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories

Ghana: Basic Facts + More:

Africa: Destroyed by the gods:

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Africa: Destroyed by the gods

on Kindle books:


18 African Fables & Short Stories:


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