Ghana, I love you. But you frustrate me.
I imagine it’s like being the mother to a newborn. The instinctual urge to love, defend and protect. But your child is screaming in public for no apparent reason. She is clean, warm and seemingly comfortable. She has been fed and was a bundle of giggles only seconds ago. A few seconds ago, I was so sure of my child’s infectious ability to impact all who come into contact with her and mused about the future and her place in it. But like a storm cloud approaching in ominous slow motion, her mood turns to darkness and so does my world.
Then come the stares, of other people and their well-behaved, reliably compliant children. A part of me doesn’t want to care; a part of me prefers that my child is different, that she has personality, that she can express herself even if it has to be through this seemingly unwarranted and unnecessary bout of rebellion. But another, smaller part, bears the almost passable hint of guilt. The guilt of knowing that I am embarrassed by her and how she is behaving and how these people are looking at me because of it, partly in pity, partly in annoyance. Because there really is no reason why my child should be screaming so unabashedly in public, no matter how young she is. They think it’s me, I’m sure of it. They judge me silently, but their body language speaks volumes. A sympathetic smile here, an obvious scowl there. I don’t want to say she’s not mine; I just want them to know that I’m not like that. I am better than my screaming child. I am a representation of who she will someday become. Like your children, I too am reliably compliant.
Ghana, I love you. But it’s hard sometimes. Like whenever I read the comments section and notice foundational issues like healthcare, education and the freedom to know I can start a business and not have it bulldozed 10 years later, reduced to poorly-phrased reductive spurts on whatever political party someone with an opposing view belongs to.
Ghana, I love you. But you scare me sometimes. I know you have problems – everyone does – but I can’t help but feel responsible in this case, and it’s exacerbated by a fear of not being able to handle the weight of them. It isn’t the magnitude of your outbursts, it’s the fact that I can never predict them. The most mundane occurrences send you into total uproar; the most grave, barely move you. You scare me because every time I think I know you, you change; like trying to hug a cat and hoping you won’t get scratched.
Ghana, I love you. But I’m afraid of what that love will do to me and the opportunity costs of pursuing it. Of leaving behind a future that in all likelihood will be quieter and less stressful, albeit not as passionate. In all honesty, I am weak and it usually only takes a brush with winter each year to send me rushing into the comfort of your fiery food, friendly smiles and, above all, my family’s arms. A small part of me wishes I were as strong as those who can withstand the cold and have stayed in the belly of it, sometimes for decades. Gestating there like fetuses, they morph into different people – the firey memories of you eventually extinguished along with the unthinkable friendliness and once unbreakable family ties. I don’t ever want to be without your fire. With no sense of fire, I would have no sense of home.
Ghana, I love you. But I worry about who you will be come. As I see you grow, I wonder if you ever truly will, emotionally. I am anxious because I know I alone cannot control your path. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it’s hard when every conversation that village has, dissolves into shouting matches as disheartening as those my mother is somehow able to decipher on the radio. My mother. Ghana, I love you. But I won’t forgive you for what you have done to her and her generation. Because no matter how many times you have hurt and disappointed me, nothing has pulled me to the depths of sadness like watching someone who has always loved you, begin to lose hope.