I have often wondered about memory – how are our memories constructed, and why do we (consciously and unconsciously) construct them they way we do?
As I traveled with my mother to Sokagope about a month ago, we had had a conversation about my childhood…
It started when a baby boy in the bus threw a messy tantrum. Shaking my head in a amused superiority, I said something along the lines of “I would never have done that – I was a quiet well-behaved baby”.
Now, I know this because I have been told by aunties, grandpeoples and uncles… but mama burst into laughter and said, “yes you were quiet but quietly doing naughty things”.
I feigned shock – I mean, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this, but it’s the first time I’ve heard it from her. I always thought I outsmarted her! Darn.
Anyway, my latest latest favourite story from my childhood is about the teacher who taught me to love mathematics. In my memory, it is the epic story of my love for one of my favourite studies teachers (extra classes tutor) and how we fought against all odds to achieve something I don’t even remember anymore.
Of course my mother remembers it differently… Apparently I wasn’t always the maths shark you know me to be 😊. Up till class four, I would get between 90 to 100% in every subject… except maths… I was languishing around 50% or 60% there. I wouldn’t swallow this dubious information hook, line & sinker if I were you – it’s clear my mother has an agenda
Back to the story – naturally, this inexplicable poor performance in Mathematics which I am clearly naturally good at worried my parents so much that they found me a maths tutor who with careful instruction, clever quizzes and outright bribery got me to a 90-100% grade level. Boring.
Now I don’t remember that – I remember hating the “Cedis and pesewas” topic because my little brother would tease me about having a clever mouth except when it came to answering cedis and pesewas” questions (No wonder I used to beat him. I should go beat him now even. Nonsense)
And oh, I remember, I remember that I LOVED Mr. Abanga. My mum said I sometimes wouldn’t eat lunch until I saw him and that I wouldn’t shut up about everything he taught me.
I remember he taught me to write “w” the way he did – Beautifully. I remember I wanted to scratch his girlfriend’s eyes out. (I still do, now that I think about it. If you’re reading this, come let’s fight)
I also remember he took me to the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park for a show and that’s where I first saw Tic Tac and learned the Philomena Kpitingeh dance (If this makes me sound older than 16, then change Tic Tac to Efya, and insert Efya song).
I remember he bought me a necklace – a bit of string with a glass trinket hanging from it which was my most treasured possession until… I forget when… my next great love interest I suppose.
My mother tells me the funfair was my reward( or bribe) for scoring 10% over the 80% target Mr. Abanga set for me.
I liked hearing my mother tell me her version of events, and I totally understood her when she added how worried she was about the appropriateness of the whole thing when she realized how serious my infatuation was… Apparently when he realized it, he tried to create distance between us…. But it was tooooo late, I knew his house and I was scoring 90% – 100% in maths.
He left Ghana eventually and though he came back briefly, I don’t know where he is now. Mr Daniel Abanga, if you’re reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you and please get in touch. We can talk about how you remember all of this ❤️
The other thing I remember differently is not as heartwarming…
So! I have a vague memory of eating the most delicious pastry ever when I was a child. They called it “tyt” which I’m pretty sure is almost definitely actually supposed to be ‘tart’ lol. I remember it as a creamy, delicious yellow bread-like pastry, and so therefore when I heard a woman shout “yeees tyt” at Tema roundabout as I sat with my friend Sarpong waiting for a trotro to fill up, I immediately told him about it. And then I bought one. And bit into it. Waiting for the Angels to break into song. It was disappointing. Tasted like cardboard soaked in the tears of disappointment of Arsenal and Liverpool fans and fried in the oil off the faces of heavy-breathing Accra Hearts of Oak fans.
<shudder> Anyway, on the way to Sogakope I asked my mother about tyt. And got laughed at. Again. Basically, she didn’t feed me much sugar in my childhood and tyt was one of the first sugar-rich things I ever ate. According to her it’s always tasted like that – but as I noted earlier, she clearly has a nefarious agenda here. I therefore reject her memory, and encourage you to reject it as well – I SWEAR it was soft and creamy and buttery and delicious – so if you have a memory of tyt (which echoes mine), let me know.