By the time Tsali was five, no one was quite sure how many languages he spoke, not even his mother. Everyone agreed that children pick up languages very fast but Tsali spoke more languages than most adults knew existed.
Anytime someone walked into his mother’s small shop, he would start a conversation in the person’s native language. His mother, Esinu, would immediately explain, “we once had a guest who spoke your language and that’s where he learnt to speak it”.
Ever since Tsali was born, Esinu had fallen into the habit of explaining his peculiarities. Like that time when a neighbor walked in on Tsali, then aged two, teaching a ten-year old boy his seven times table. She explained that Tsali’s father, Keli, a primary school teacher, sang the times table in songs to Tsali as a lullaby, when he was a baby. She had been particularly proud of that one. It became an extended explanation for many other happenings, like how everyday, when lower primary students had closed, Tsali while waiting for his father to close from class six maths class, would start answering questions. Esinu was trying her best to give Tsali a normal childhood. She didn’t understand why Keli allowed him to sit through class six classes when he should be playing with children his age.
But there were some things that were hard to explain. Like the animals. Animals for some strange reason took a strong liking to Tsali. The roof of their rented house was always full of birds. One had to be careful of bird droppings when walking anywhere in the house. They couldn’t visit anyone with pets without the pets following them home. For the last two weeks, their expatriate neighbor’s big dog had pitched camp in their veranda.
The first day the dog followed Tsali home, the angry owner came screaming in a language Esinu didn’t understand. She watched nervously as the white man shouted at Tsali and he calmly replied in whatever language it was they were speaking. Nosy neighbors started gathering at the gate and Esinu was getting even more nervous. After a while Tsali whistled and dog came running, he whispered something into its ears and to Esinu’s surprise, the dog started whimpering like a child and followed the white man home. The next day the dog was back! All attempts to send it back had proved futile. The owner, or former owner, who was completely enthused by the whole thing, went over twice everyday, to feed him. The dog was now Tsali’s dog. The damn animal, in the short period it had been in their house, had chewed every shoe it could find.
One day, about a year ago, Esinu had come home to meet Tsali playing with a Royal Python. She screamed, dropped the foodstuff she had bought from the market and rushed off to call the local pastor. The poor pastor spent two hours praying on top of his voice while random animals walked in to be petted by Tsali. One particularly stubborn billy-goat kept head butting the Pastor while he prayed. He left the house shaking his head saying, “Madam, the thing in your son, it is not normal,” and that was the last they ever saw of him.
It had been one strange experience after the other since Tsali was born. Even his name. They had originally planned to name him David. A name they had picked two months to his birth, but on the day before his naming ceremony, Esinu had inexplicably decided to name him Tsali. Keli had no idea where the name came from, but he wasn’t about to argue with his wife over something as trivial as a name. They had been waiting for a child for close to eleven years. He wasn’t too bothered about names or even about the large birthmark that covered his son’s left eye. He was just happy to finally have him.
According to Esinu’s mother-in-law, Tsali was Togbui Tsali, the powerful Wizard from Anlo mythology, reincarnated. She pointed to his birthmark as proof. Esinu had initially laughed it off, but with each mysterious event, she couldn’t help but wonder. If Grandma was to be believed, the Legendary Togbui Tsali came into his full powers when he turned six.
Tomorrow, little Tsali turns six….
Note: Hi everyone this is my first attempt at fiction. I’m trying to work something that mixes Ghanaian mythology with today’s world. I’m still juggling with ideas. Please leave a comment with what kind of things you would like to read, which direction you would like this to go etc. All comments are appreciated. I need ideas to play with. Of course, first tell me if you like it. Thanks