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Changes: A Love Story

Ama Ata Aidoo

Plot Overview

Context

Character List

Esi, a government official who works for the Department of Urban Statistics, drives her old car over to the offices of Linga HideAway Travel in order to make some business travel arrangements. There, she meets the head of the company, Ali Kondey, a charming and handsome man who is later described as the best advertisement for the company because of his multiple national identities. The two are immediately attracted to each another. Ali offers to drive Esi home after promising to take care of all of the necessary travel arrangements, but Esi declines because she has her own car.

One morning, Ogyaanowa, the daughter of Esi and Oko, listens to the sounds of her parents fighting while she eats her breakfast. In the bedroom, Oko and Esi instigate yet another fight about their marriage. Oko is angry that Esi refuses to have another child and that she spends so much time at work. Oko says that his friends are beginning to laugh at him. Angry, he grabs Esi and forces her to have sex with him. Rather than apologize for his actions, he grabs the bed sheet and walks out of the bedroom. At work, Esi contemplates the fact that what just happened to her could be described as marital rape, even though no such term exists. She decides that she is going to leave her husband.

Opokuya, Esi’s best friend, begins a conversation with her husband, Kubi, about which of them needs the car. Opokuya, in addition to being a nurse, is also a mother. Although Kubi’s needs are frequently less pressing than Opakuya’s, he almost always “wins” their argument and gets use of the car. Esi runs into Opokuya in a hotel lobby. The two women have a drink and discuss Esi’s recent decision to divorce her husband. As they talk, Ali coincidentally enters the hotel as well. Esi tells Opokuya about the gifts that Ali has been sending her, and Opokuya tells Esi about her children and marriage. Esi hopes that Opokuya can understand her decision to leave Oko.

Ali is already married to his childhood friend and love, Fusena. The two have known each other since they were young, and after developing a friendship, they finally married. Following their marriage, Ali moved to London to complete his education. Fusena gave up her career and education in order to become a mother at Ali’s insistence. In spite of his marriage to Fusena, Ali and Esi’s relationship grows, and they soon become lovers. Ali disappears for two weeks, in part because of complications with his marriage and work. Shortly after he sees Esi again, he proposes to her. After discussing the potential complications with family and Ali’s wife, Ali offers Esi a wedding band. Following the proposal, Ali begins to spend more and more time at Esi’s house, showering her and her family with gifts. Esi discusses with Opokuya her upcoming marriage and her thoughts on polygamy.

Ali takes one of his coworkers to visit Esi’s family to discuss the marriage according to proper tradition. He is rejected because he fails to bring along a respectable member of his family. When Ali finally approaches his family and asks them to speak on his behalf, they are at first reluctant, but eventually consent. Esi’s mother and grandmother are disappointed in her decision to get divorced and become a second wife, but in the end they accept her decision. Ali returns to Esi’s family with his elders, and the marriage is approved. It is a simple ceremony, and afterward, Esi returns home alone.

On New Year’s Eve, Ali rushes over to Esi’s house before returning to his family. Shortly after, Oko appears with their daughter, and the two men begin to fight. Esi grabs Ogyaanowa and runs out of the house to Opokuya’s place. She tells Opokuya and Kubi everything that happened. Kubi goes to Esi’s house and finds that both men have left. He checks on Oko at Oko’s mother’s house and finds that he is only slightly injured.

Six months later, Ali takes Esi to Bamako, his home village, for a vacation. They have a wonderful time. Ali’s family, after initially rejecting Esi, now accepts her. Their relationship begins to change, though after they return, Ali starts spending less time with Esi. Rather than spending time with her after work, he drives his new secretary, who is young and attractive, home. By the end of the year, Esi feels completely abandoned. She is alienated from her own daughter and spends Christmas alone. She takes sleeping pills to help her get through the day. Finally, on New Year’s Day, Ali appears at Esi’s house, driving a brand new car. The car is a present and a bribe for Esi. Immediately after giving her the car, Ali drives off. Esi drives the new car to Opokuya’s house. Opokuya is so jealous and taken aback by the new car that Esi cannot begin to tell her how she really feels about the present. Esi offers Opokuya her old car.

At the start of another new year, Ali spends more time with Esi but quickly falls back into his old habits. He sends her gifts from all over the world in order to compensate for his absence. Three years into their marriage, Esi finally tells Ali that she cannot be in such a relationship with him. Three months later, Opokuya finally goes to Esi’s house to take away her old car. She is too excited about owning a car to share in Esi’s sadness. After Opokuya leaves, Kubi arrives and searches for his wife. Upon seeing that Esi is distraught, he hugs her and then begins to kiss her. Before Kubi can take off his clothes, Esi backs away from him, and he leaves. Esi and Ali remain close friends and occasional lovers, and they never get a divorce even though Ali continues to have affairs with other women.

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