Life Buoy by Nana Yaa Asante-Darko
August 23, 2016
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My head used to be an object of mockery. My friends said it was too big for my body. They would say whilst snickering, that my head was so big, it would weigh me down to the ground if I ever lifted my eyes to the skies. To prove them wrong, I spent close to a third of my break time everyday in school staring at particularly nothing in the sky. I would just take my stand at my favourite spot on the corridor on the second floor (beside the pillar that had created a cozy shelter for some bird’s nest) and look into the blue expanse. My friends never seemed to see those moments, when their defiant little friend will hold his big head in such a sharp angle to his neck at the risk of having his head drop to the ground or sending him tumbling over the rails to his death from two floors up. Or the fact that I could actually look up wasn’t important to them. The only thing they wished to hold on to was their false impression that I would find it impossible to do what I did for at least ten minutes everyday.starsThat started my habit of sky gazing. Soon, I began to appreciate the nature of the skies. Normally the sky was sky blue, obviously. And the white clouds were patched along it like how mummy patched my torn clothes with streaks of thread. The difference was that on some occasions I could see the clouds move. Then the big trees. Of course, I could see that they stood rooted to the ground, but some of them were so tall, I bet they could have been brushing their branches against the skies when they swung with the wind. In fact, if you looked at them in a particular angle, it seemed that the trees were hinged to the skies or rather plastered to the skies. It all looked like some artists impression on a large piece of canvas coloured blue, white and green and dotted with mobile black spots – the birds. I thought the birds were the coolest. They could be in the sky and within seconds shoot down to the ground like they were fired from the barrel of a gun. While some of my friends played a game of trying to shoot birds down with their catapults and pebbles, (when the teachers were not looking) I always carried in my heart the converse; the wish to fly up into the skies to meet the birds.


The secret I wanted to unearth or unsky in this case, was why the sky kept changing colours. When the sun turned red somewhere close to the evening as it moved away from the skies, the skies would also go a shade of red and orange mixed with purple. Then in the evening, it would go black. Or if you were as sky observant as me, you’d  see that the sky was rather a dark shade of blue or even violet. Then the stars would come out, glittering like the diamonds in my mother’s jewellery. I used to ask my mum why the skies changed colours. Was it coloured by God when He felt like it? Or was it some sort of mirror as my friend told me, reflecting at dawn, infancy, at daytime, youth and at night, old age, a daily reminder of the stages we will all have to go through in life? My mother answered by saying that the skies reflected God’s mood every time. When it was sky blue – God was happy. When it was grey to herald rain, God was either angry or sad, and when it was dark blue, God was tired and felt like sleeping. “What about the stars?” I asked. “O that…” my mother replied with a bit of exasperation in her voice after having answered too many of my enquiring questions. “They are God’s angels. Whenever you see a star, remember that God has assigned an angel to you”.angel baby“What about the nights the stars don’t come?” I asked, because that will mean that there will be no guardians on those nights. “The angels will still be around,” she replied. In somewhat a tone that suggested that that was the final answer she was going to give. But I wasn’t satisfied. “But you said the stars are the angels? If they are not around, there are no angels!” She smiled “there are always angels, when they are not up in the sky, then they are walking the earth.” I was stunned. I hadn’t thought about it this way. My face illuminated after a minute of thought, “So it means that in the daytime, many more angels are on the earth since there are no stars at all in the sky.” “Of course, my son…” my mum exclaimed. The stars in the night sky are just a reminder to men that the angels are watching, truth is that majority of the angels are always here with us.” I wasn’t going to let this lie. I had to push it further. “How do I recognise an angel?” Her answer came almost immediately:  “Simple, angels show love. You will understand when you grow up”. That ended the discussion. I had to find one of these walking stars.

A week after, I grew up. I walked to the canteen to get some food. I guess I spent too much time sky gazing because the canteen was full of pupils and I had to join a long queue to get my food. Amidst noise and the bickering of children and their conversation about nothing important at all, I picked up my food and walked to a table. It was when I sat down that I realized that I had sat beside the new girl in my class. She threw a shy smile at me and continued with her food. I smiled back and turned to my food only in time to see the big bully in my class grab my food and run, shouting “Let’s save big head’s head from getting bigger.” The canteen was thrown into raucous laughter; laughter that was mocking me but celebrating the bully.

I hadn’t been treated fairly and I could do nothing about it. I had no more money, I was going to starve for the rest of the day and it was all because of my head. I felt so hot in the face. I wanted to stand up and walk out but my legs felt like they were swimming through porridge. I began to cry.

I felt her small fingers touch my hand and heard her small voice say “Mine is too much, you can share it with me. Mummy says I should share with everyone.” The new girl produced a spoon out of her lunch box and invited me to her food. Her large brown eyes were the only safe ground in the canteen that day. I took a dive into those eyes and ate along with her, shutting the whole canteen behind me.


That evening I went to lie in the garden against my mother’s warnings looking out for the stars. It was very cold. The stars were nowhere to be found. My mother’s angels had not come to keep me company this evening. Something else had, but it wasn’t in the stars. It was only in my memory and it kept me warm. It was the new girl offering her food to big-headed me. She had told me in class later that hr name was Stella which meant ‘star’. She had been my star by showing love to me. Just like my parents had been to me, just like my siblings had been to me. Just like the security man at the gate who always gave me candy, just like every other person who showed me love.

They were the ones that watched over me. They were my angels. I found out about the walking stars at age eight. Since then I have identified quiet a number of them on earth and I have purposed in my heart to become one of them.

Author: Kwasi ’Sei, threesixtyGh writer

Image Source: Google




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