Image: MJ Reilly via Flickr
Image: MJ Reilly via Flickr

Nana Offrata arrived earlier this afternoon at Gatwick Airport. His arms and feet exposed to June’s torrential rain.

His greeting, after all this time, is a complaint. British summer, he seethes. Rain drips past his bald head, clumping his eyelashes. The eternal sun he abandoned at Kotoka Airport should have travelled with him, was his honeyed black skin made for such cold?

He pulls up the soaked red and orange kente cloth slipping off his right shoulder. Gold bracelets clang, gold rings glisten. No hug, no kiss. E. T. Mensah sings away the silence.

He hums ‘All for You’ while I tap to the claves on the steering wheel. I speed down the M23, connect to the M25 to get back to Edmonton, North London. We stay this way, exchanging our silences with high-life rhythms.

Nana Offrata clears his throat and, instinctively, I lower the volume.

He twists his gold rings, the sound of moist flesh rubbing against metal captures his awkwardness, my anger. He spoke of wars, philosophies, the kingdoms, his chiefdom, the corruption of government. I focus on the motorway, its stretches of black tar deluding my ability to see its end.

He talks Nkrumah, post-colonial dreams – we are still colonised! – honouring our ancestors, our traditions, without them who are we? He spoke of his lamenting generation, then, in shock, asks me what I am doing.

I pull up on the hard shoulder, indicators blinking.

It has been six years, I remind him, and this is what you tell me. We haven’t seen each other over a year and you forget to mention love.

Because the battles I endure are bigger than your so-called love. He replies, annoyed.

Kwame sneaks into my thoughts: my younger, suppler, honeyed black skinned part-time lover. His hunger for the world, curiosity of love, sex and humanity. I think of him, of his agility.

Nana, you must learn to love my young mind with your aged hands, I say while indicating right to re-join the M25, and groped his thigh. Finding a slip within his kente I slide my fingers in and explore his soft wet skin.  His eyes widen, and I show him a life unburdened.