Sunday, September 28, 2014

Evening Aug 13, 2014 - Ashale Botwe

I'm sitting under an empty stall, waiting for the Indomie woman to finish my order. After a day criss-crossing town, catching power naps in trotros and avoiding death at the hand of Accra Metro bus drivers, I am finally able to pause to take in the details. My feet ache from walking and I feel badly in need of a good bath.
The Indomie woman has 3, maybe 4 kids from the look of things. I'd put her age at 32 at the very oldest. She's smallish, maybe 5"6, no taller, but with an almost child-like form, she looks shorter. The youngest child, a toddler is tied to her back as she cooks in a large Wok over a tabletop stove 10feet from a busy road, where even at this time, cars and trotros speed past, on their way to Madina.
Her 6 or 7 yr old son comes round to me and raises himself on his toes, supported by the plastic chair on which I sit. He peers wide eyed over my shoulder as I type these words. He calls to his sister. She must be about 13. 
"herh! Look" He cries, half running off, half-darting back behind me, too transfixed to the screen to actually tear his eyes away, let alone himself.
Then he calls to his mother,
"mommy, mommy, look at the big phone!"
She does a half turn, 
"it's not a phone. It's an iPad". She looks from him to me and smiles politely before returning to her cooking, her movement as delicate and disposition as accommodating as a Geisha. The baby, its mouth open at an angle, remains completely undisturbed, enjoying the sleep of the innocent.

Noon Aug 13,2014 - Legon

The Northern girl selling biscuits at the mouth of Legon campus half rises as I approach her table. She must be in her early 20s if that. Slim, almost thin, with a small round head on a neck that is almost too long. Her hair, entirely concealed in a pinkish head wrap,
I point at a bottle on the table and ask, "How much is that?" 
"3y3 three cedis oo", she says more as a warning than a response.
"why, how much are the others?"
"the same thing oo". She says. Then adds, "Right now everything has gone up". The apology is more in her eyes and how her shoulders slump ever so slightly as she says it. Like she is personally embarrassed or sorry for the price hike itself.
I throw her a side-long smile and dig into my wallet. I jerk my chin at a pack of biscuits. "Add that"
She nods enthusiastically, and begins tying the biscuit and drink in a black rubber bag to go, and rummaging for change from a tin.
As I reach for the bag, she suddenly adds, 
"Please, take this one" and reaches for two lemon sweets from a pile.
I flash her a friendly grin and thank her, feeling a bit awkward about not paying for them.
It still amazes me, these little gestures of kindness, even with things getting increasingly harder, especially for traders like her.

Morning Nov 17th, 2013 – Pokuase.

A butt-naked toddler tears across the dirt road covered in nothing but soap lather; his teenage sister hot on his heels, in a half-Crouch and wielding a chale-wote and yelling at him in Twi; his flight shall be to no avail, her retribution shall be swift and immediate...
But of course, it's bath time