On where I belong – even though that’s nowhere
‘Kuu kuu’, as I open my eyes, I hear a cock doing his daily morning routine that only seems new to me. ‘kuu kuu’, time to wake up, no need for an alarm when in Ghana. I check the time, 06:45, however I wasn’t feeling tired. As I slowly try to sit up in bed, positioning myself in the bed that still feels a bit unfamiliar, I reflect on the evening before. On how I stepped out of the plane and that heatwave hit me, you’re in Ghana. On how I waited for a mini-bus to take me from the plane to the baggage reclaim; you’re in Ghana. As I walked through the busy halls, people pushing to stand in line and get through first, I look around me: Akwaabaa. A word I saw everywhere, it meant welcome, one of the few Twi words I knew.
I felt welcome and at home, until airport staff members with neat green suits, pushed me back to reality: ‘passport’, she said unamused, unbothered and very unwelcome! I obeyed her commands and gave her what she needed. None of the scenarios in my head that I imagined happened. I travelled alone with my brother for the first time, I was 17. My dad gave us strict orders before we left ‘make sure you give them this number if they ask. If they ask an address give them this one.’ ‘Okay dad’, I politely answered as I wondered why he hammered on being so precise. So I started making up scenarios of what could go wrong. Will I end up in prison if I give them the wrong address? Luckily, everything went just fine, I over-exaggerated it in my head, like always.
As I was preparing to take a bath I reflected some more. I passed a mirror and looked at my beautiful skin glow. ‘You look fine girl’, I smirked while looking in the mirror. ‘There is no place like home’, I chuckled. But was this home though? A place where I get teased with obroni (white woman) because I am from abroad. A place in which people chuckle when I can’t seem to twist my tongue in the right directions to say 'me saadje' (I’m learning). Was this home if people turned their head on the street like Europe was painted on my forehead with big fat letters. A place in where I tried to reduce my European standards in order to fit in like a complete Ghana baa. I replaced my normal broom with a twig made broom. My fake curls with my beautiful kinky natural 4c hair. And my hot water with cold. Then realization hit me. I do feel at home. Because home is a subjective feeling. Something you feel in a particular time and place. A feeling no one can take from you, even after that 5th obroni hits. Home is that tingly feeling you feel, that warmth that takes over your heart, that joy and inner peace (you feel). That friendliness you experience, those little moments of complete joy where you feel nothing but… pure happy.
Flying down from the Netherlands in search for a home made me realize I had no home but I had homes. The Netherlands with its prejudices towards my skin and Ghana with its curiousness towards my behavior, both felt like home and no one could take that feeling from me, on where I belong. Even though it’s nowhere, I’m at home everywhere – home is where the heart is.