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A Togolese Play— Kokouvi Dzifa Galley

Feb 15, 2023 | Non Fiction | 0 comments

Des-pairs 

 
Translated from the Togolese by Dodzi Edem Amenyo

 

A Togolese Play by Kokouvi Dzifa Galley

Artwork by Lette Valeska (Taken from Wikimedia Commons)

 
Synopsis: 

 A couple. She and He. She doesn’t want to let him go. He doesn’t know what she is trying to say until… 

 

Characters: 

He: 25 years

She: 21 years

 

They may be in their yard or the living room. One can see a suitcase in a door ajar. Besides the suitcase, lay some shoes.

He: We need to talk… we must… are you listening? You must…

She: We must. We must. Always the same words. And so on and so forth. You…

He: I am boring you with my stories.

She: You will not stop.

He: Oh yes! I will be free, at last.

She: What about me?

He: Everyone is happy.

She: I am no longer alone. Nothing will be like before. I am ok here. Look at you. Am appealing to all your senses… make an effort. I believe that…

He: It does not happen often… these kinds of feelings, which every second, evolves… which seems to ask you to make the step. Nothing but just a step.

She: You do not realize our luck. To be where we are. Both of us. Finally… your mind is so far. Your ears are plugged… you want to put fire at everything around… this perpetual quest of emptiness around you… this kind of madness… which is wearing down body and mind… even the landscape… you feel like sucked into the horizon. Something is grabbing you. You are feeling hot.

He: You may not know.

She: Surely. My mind is set… you don’t know… the same, I do, I need to take time to search within, besides, and to raise up something…

He: Your projects.

She: You are the one who would like to talk to me…

He: Everything is ok…

She: Everything is ok, you excepted if I understand well. You keep shivering. You look like a hunted animal.

He: I hate this way of doing things.

She: All your life…

He: It is for this reason.

She: …is her…

He: Since…

She: What happened at that time? I missed an episode? You were… you dragged your hump across the tracks, in all the airports, looking for something you do not know… exploration of something, I do not know. The round of the earth… it is high time you made a break. That you camp along here a little than usual. That you unload your suitcase, and that you forget your cliques and clashes, instead of camping on your positions.

He: You speak of the episode. Maybe it’s me who missed it. An episode or a step… or a corner… or a plug or something similar… and I must start again until I leave… just now… right now.

She: You have a short memory.

He: What?

She: Mr. starting whining, he tells me his life story… he has not slept for months, he is walking around and continues despite the tiredness… as if his legs were taking precedence over his head… You forgot… all that sweat on your face. On roads where your steps lead you… months without a bath or toothbrush, without washing your socks… without drinking… you wandered, lost… as a needle sank into the sand. Chance… by chance, I drag my feet there. I see you lying. Only your arm goes up at times. I put my hand on your face… you do not know why… wash the body and feed it with my body… you were telling me… do not bother. All these years. Thou hast counted? One? Two? Three?… Ten? Twelve. You become a carp?

He: Not twelve. Twelve and a half. You knew that one of these days I will leave…

She: You placed yourself on my way. Chance, maybe. Even if it is by chance, I don’t believe it…

He: You cannot do anything about it.

She: You’re so sure of yourself.

He: You’re wasting my time. Why are you laughing? Are you kidding me? Anyway, I will not miss you.

She: Tomorrow.

He: Tomorrow? Right now.

She: You do not understand me. I will miss you tomorrow. You will come back here but you will not find me. Men are so. They believe all is about passing the rear gear and stepping on the accelerator… and then…

He: I do not know what put you in my way… but whatever.

She: As you wish. You’re leaving tomorrow.

He:

She: You said… we, you and I, forever.

He: Always hang on to the past as a bat hanging with the head down in a cave. Wake up!

She: All these things do not make you a credible man. You said…

He: It does not mean to stay.

She: Leave me, it’s too tight, I need to breathe.

He: Do not shout. (Quietly) Like my father on my mother.

She: This is the tone of my voice when someone tries to carry me along. You said…

He (quietly): He also said that.

She: What are you saying?

He: I said… it does not mean to stay.

She: What…

He: It does not mean what you think. You sing.

She: That does not mean go, after all that. Or come and go.

He: All that, as you say, that’s life. She is here, she is elsewhere.

She: Elsewhere, is just the other side. So stay.

He: If you say so. I’ll be there just like here.

She: Like. Not exactly.

He: That’s something.

She: Me… All alone.

He: Like me there. And it’s better that way.

She: It’s better for you.

He: That’s something.

She: You deserve better.

He: I know.

She: Not very ambitious.

He: What does it mean for you, being ambitious?

She: Do you want me to sing… do not leave me.

He: I cannot forget all.

She: Forget what?

He: I do not know… the road… the desire to…

She: You’re not telling me everything.

He: There are things that do not come out… who cling to my nerves like a child beaten by his mother.

She: You’re already gone. Very far. Silent. Hollow, empty… frozen look.

He: Too late… the fear of the other.

She: Your father warned me. “He will eventually… you know the song.” He said the problem that made him flee away will eventually size hold you, like a cat on a mouse: tchakk… he told me that in his eternal wandering, he has been grazing dry leaves to quench his unquenched thirst of roads, he has been eating bitter roots in order to keep his convictions or to see them melt, he said I was wasting my time with a loser like you.

He: Shut up! Shut up! Do not talk about him. He and I have nothing in common.

She: Maybe it’s… I do not know what you’re running after by leaving for another round!

He: You do not know what it is… Drunk as father. Beating his son in order to feel good or I do not know.

She: I’m going with you.

He:

She: You have no choice.

He: I, either.

She: An escape.

He: A continuation.

She: A continuation without me and without… If you were leaving, I know… you will not come back. You will walk very slowly along the walls. You will put on a mask or a wide hat so that our ways may not cross.

He: I’m leaving. That is all.

She: And all that you refuse to think about.

He: It’s not your problem. (He removes a pendant from his neck that he gives to her) You said that it belonged to your mother.

(…)

He: I stop fearing for long time.

She: She is reborn… his lights are shaking your pupil.

He: Let me go.

(He tries to hug her. She pushes him.)

She: It’s too easy. Another? That’s it! Another fragrance than mine, is turning you mad?

He: What do you say? You’re losing your reason?

She: I know.

He: Take it as you want.

It:

He: Yes, you heard me.

She: All these years.

He: And you have a good reason to leave me alone.

She: What shall remain of our love?

He:

She: Speak!

He: Ashes?

She: Ashes of what?

He: Of nothing, but scattered in direction of the four winds.

She: Do you think you are leaving me alone?

He:

She: You already have told me everything. And him? Or she? Maybe they will be two or more!

He: Who?

(She holds his hands and rests on his belly. He removes his hands and shouts louder. He takes a few steps)

She: I’ve bound you, neither feet nor hands. You have to go.

(She leaves and returns with a suitcase and shoes that she throws at his feet.)

He:

She: Leave us alone. Go away. (He is confused, and stands still) I wait!


Originally published as Des-pairs in BaladeThéâtrale, Editions Awoudy, Lomé, 2013 (ISBN: 9791091011259)


Also, read four Macedonian poems by Lidija Dimkovska, translated into English by Ljubica Arsovska and Patricia Marsh, and published in The Antonym:

The Past Indefinite & Other Poems— Lidija Dimkovska


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Kokouvi Dzifa Galley was born in Lomé. He holds a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Lomé. A Togolese writer, his imagination is deeply attached to the land. His creative universe beyond the theater extends to poetry, short stories, and tales. The writer explores the culture of equity but also themes related to ecology, environment, and sustainability. He speaks and writes fluent Ewe, his mother tongue, and French. A member of Escale des Écritures, a network of playwrights from Togo and elsewhere, he writes many texts for the theater: Dés-espérances (2013), Peau de braise (2015), Un pas avant… (2018), La Réserve (2018), Otages (2020), published by Éditions Awoudy in Togo, Arènes intérieures (2018) by Editions Passage(s). He published two collections of poetry: Bris de vie, bris de souffle, published by Ponts de Lianes in Lomé, in 2017, and Vagues à lame, published by Unicités, in Paris, in 2020. As part of the ODYSSÉE program, he has done residencies at the Prieuré de la Charité—Cité du Mot, at the Maison Maria Casarès, at the Saline Royale d’Arc-et-Sénans, and at the Chartreuse-CNES. He has been a contributor to the literary journal Legs and Literature since 2016.

Dodzi Edem Amenyo is a literary man, polyglot, and multidisciplinary translator. He was born on March 26, 1984, in Lomé and graduated in American literature. He is the author of several specialized translations for major law firms around the world. He writes and continues to translate literary texts by young Togolese and American writers. His references in literature are Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Maya Angelou. Since August 2022, Dodzi Edem Amenyo has been a consultant on the Utah Vibes project at Utah Shoes, for the creation of poetic and artistic content from the Arches National Park, Utah in the USA. He is married and a father.

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