By Obiri-Yeboah Maxwell.
One hot afternoon, I sat in the veranda with my head on her lap as we sung one of our favorite local worship songs composed by Daughters of Glorious Jesus, a legendary Ghanaian vocal trio. The encounter which lasted about 47 minutes has become one of my most treasured moments on Earth and depicts many traits about my first love. Interestingly, the song we sung in the Akan language was cleverly woven from the Book of Isaiah 53:5.
Apart from learning Biblical quotations, singing Christian songs on a daily basis was one of the customs we often associated with in my family house. My mother was always ready to teach us anytime we had difficulty in singing the Twi songs.
She is fond of advising her children by using scenarios, metaphors and Akan proverbs in her speech to sum up the central idea behind her discourse. As teenagers, my siblings and I were struggling at times to understand her fully, for she often spoke to us in profound “tongues” which seemed as though we were adults. We therefore go over to see her at the hall after evening meals, for more explanation be given us from time to time.
I grew up writing many of those quotations and wise sayings in a jotter and I read them to myself during my leisure time. This followed with a series of questions she was always prepared to answer with a smile in a simple language.
Before every singing exercise, she will prepare the mood with some Biblical quotes or scenarios before introducing a song. But today, that mood was absent. She just started singing and I followed suit.
That afternoon, my eyes were closed as I lazily hummed the tune of the song in my throat. She folded her hands and with my face on her laps, she constantly tapped my back rhythmically in a playful manner, like how an adult hits the back of a toddler. My eyes were whirling in its socket and my heart was imagining the meanings of the words we sung.
As a worshiper, she has a very fine “Pentecostal” voice and was often adlibing nicely. I heard a still-slim-voice inside of me urging me to sing well and ponder over the words as I lay down. Instantly, I felt a shock as she went on tapping my back and a shiver followed.
Within about three minutes the song changed and I was speaking in an unknown Heavenly language, as she often did. I did not understand the meaning of the words, yet I could not control what was happening. It was too beautiful to behold. Later I realized that was purely an indication the Holy Spirit was present and at work and she explained to me that only our spirits understood the words we spoke.
I felt a strong arm on me and knew it was my father’s. He was equally in similar mood as he knelt down, touched my head and prayed for me.
Could this be a turning point in my life as I have often heard at church? Or it is a mere daydream?
After about 23 minutes of speaking, I felt a halt and opened my eyes. There they were; smiling to me as I bowed my head calmly. I sat there thinking of what went on but I could not understand fully. My parents went about their busy schedules and in the night, they visited my room and explained what went on to me. “It was a visitation by the Holy Spirit and speaking in those tongues was edification of the spirit, something indicating that you have been baptized with fire, a new baptism”, my father said.
They quoted some portions of the Bible to buttress their points, prayed with me and I was left to sleep. In my sleep, it continued and I woke up speaking this language. This encounter went on for days, and days transpired into months.
After a few days after this incident, I could now understand many of my mother’s proverbs very clearly and quoted certain portions of the Bible as they did. That was the turning point: it was like rediscovering something which is embedded but adamant in me for long and I did not know. When I went back to school after this visitation, I was quick to listen, a bit slow to speech now more than ever, and a bit reserved, too. I became more selective with friends.
This is how I tapped into a Heavenly gift from my first love, the woman whose breasts gave me life. This is where she testified that indeed God is alive and at work in us. I came to believe what is scripted in the Book of Habakkuk 2:3 and Joel 2:28 are real and I am a living testimony to that.
That was how I became conscious of the world I live and understood what my mother meant by saying, “attitudes are contagious…” and she instructed we must tap into her spirit while she is with us. This new life continued for years, because I realized this new me had come to stay and I did not want to do anything to sadden it for it to leave, because I loved its operation. I recall my parents being summoned to my school due to my “weird” new behavior, but both teachers and my parents were happy since it had not affected my academic performance.
If I am to describe this wonderful womb that brought me to life, that is how I will remember her. She tolerated all the torment, the nonsense, changes which came as a result of the pregnancy and made all sacrifices to make sure I am who I am today.
She thought me all I know and continues to assist me in prayers.
I remember when going to Secondary School, the first time I was going to live on my own. She stood in her straight tye and dye dress and gave me three pieces of advice. She told me my life was now in my hands: the choices I make today will affect the outcome of tomorrow’s results. She told me to remember God is with me no matter what may come my way. Lastly, she said if only I do not forget my root, it shall be well with me. Afterwards, she prayed with me and I departed.
I went to school and made it to the university by God’s grace and determination. I recall those days when I was staying at Nsawam and was traveling to Accra for lectures she sold provisions on the streets to get me pocket money for the next day’s transport fare. I recall she waited outside the house for long hours in the night waiting on my return and give me a meal before she went to bed.
Today, I have been living on my own for almost a decade. She taught me no evil will befall me so far as I do not sin against God and my fellow neighbor and she frequently calls to check up on me. She has become my best friend and my confidant. An honorable fellow who believes so much in my toils and forever content with the fact that I have been able to take good care of myself and have not betrayed her trust. She shows appreciation for all the little gifts I give her from time to time.
I recall after my national service, I went home to visit her and I saw she was aging. I was deeply troubled that after all this while I have not had enough to give back to her to boost her pride about me. She told me being around her was enough to make her joy of motherhood complete.
This is my story of my guardian angel, Maame Abenaa. This is the content heart I pray God will grant me in a woman I will name my better half and a reason why I do not want to fail my generation. This is why I want to marry the very character of my mother. This is why I love stretch marks and the beautiful African woman. This is why I treasure simplicity, for Maame Abenaa told me in the beginning that life has a simple spelling of itself; it has only four letter words – L.I.F.E!