How to Call the Dead—Nana Afadua Ofori-Atta

For Aya Quayson’s spirit

Always pound the fufu with salt
It lasts longer that way
Our family has always tethered our souls to food

Wash your face with water from the mortar,
The water with bits of pounded plantain and cassava drifting in it
That’s how your eyes will be able to gaze into the realm of the dead
Our ancestors float above the simmering pots in the kitchen
Ginger, garlic and chilis sautéed in a pan
Our founding mothers are in the kitchen shaking their heads at the food we adopted

Always pound the fufu with salt when you call one of our departed
Our family needs to relearn how to tether our souls
We need to call on the dead
Our history is turning into a collective hallucination
Aya was a witch. Don’t distance yourself from these facts. It wasn’t a malevolent thing then.

To call Aya you will need ripe plantains
Mash them into a pulp
This meal you are making is ofam. Do we still make it?
Rice flour is Aya’s essence
If you use any other flour she won’t show up in your kitchen.
When she does, she should be in orange wax print. If she is not, throw sugar in her face
Your ofam probably didn’t bake through properly

Open your ears 
Shine your eyes
You won’t have much time when Aya hauls herself onto your counter
Ask your questions with care. She is prone to riddles

When she leaves eat the ofam,
All of it before you call our next ancestor
Or you will sever their connection to our family

For Baaba Quayason’s spirit 
Fante Fante

Nana Afadua Ofori-Atta is a Ghanaian writer and poet. Her writing has appeared in Lolwe, Fantasy Magazine, oranges journal, AFREADA and elsewhere. Nana Afadua can be found on Twitter @afaduawrites. 

photo by Overly Olu (via pexels)