Dear Mena Araba Maahaw Wu,
Remember when we were growing up, Maame often used to mention that sɛ obi yɛ wo papa a, nna ɔahaw wo (tr: if someone does you a favor, s/he has worried you). At that time, I thought I understood what she meant. If someone had bothered to seek my opinion, I would have even determined that the English equivalent of that would be something along the lines of “one good turn deserves another” but Mena Araba, last weekend, someone made me realize that “one good turn deserves another” falls several rungs short of grasping what Maame meant. Indeed hom mma yɛnka dɛ sɛ obi yɛ wo papa a, nna ɔahaw wo dodow! Before I lose you, please don’t forget to send this to all our friends who want to know more about what life is like for a Ghanaian returnee. This is for them.
Mena Araba, do you remember the person I was before I left
I took him out to Celsbridge, where we got some chicken and gordon’s sparks for him and some water for me. More small talk. He thinks
Next day, after my play rehearsal I turned my phone back on to find a message from him saying he’d tried to reach me. Where was I? I drove straight to the hotel, where he was waiting with suitcases. Did I have to apologise? I did. Mena, you know I don’t like to pretend, but under the circumstances...
Mrs. Nkatsema (my little sister) had sent a message from school to tell us that ne kɔn adɔ akokɔnam (tr: she was craving some chicken). Imagine! Chicken! Not Gari, shito, or sardines! Was it that long ago that we were in secondary school? It would never have entered my coconut to stand in line and wait my turn to use the phone booth we used to have in Gey hey merely to ask for akokɔnam. Yes, Mena Araba, children of today have their own interesting demands. If it is indicative of what we should expect from our own children, then we are in trouble! Though I had sent her a response saying that if all she wanted from home is chicken, then she really has no needs at all, we both knew I’d send her some chicken.
So after I picked up our Oga, we passed through Celsbridge again to get some chicken for the girls and for him. We sat at the entrance, waiting for the chicken and our man started misbehaving again. This time, he stuck his index finger into his nostrils and started “excavating”. Mena, I know what you’re thinking. But we all do this? Yes, we all do it, but not whilst sitting in public, No, I would never be so at ease as to pick my nose with such abandon. Ebei! At this point, I migrated to the back on the pretext of visiting the bathroom lest anyone should pass and think I knew this man.
When the chicken was done, we paid for it, got back into the car for round two of the gauche exhibition. Mena Araba, remember when we were little, Maame used to insist that we chew with our mouths closed and noiselessly. At the time, I thought she was being too fussy, but now I have no doubt that she deserves her boba (tr: stone) (There exists an akan expression which suggests that a person be given a stone for being right in any argument) This our alatanyi was chewing like a bush man. To top it off, he bought some coke in traffic, drank about two-thirds of it and offered me the rest. Really, Mena Araba, where did I sleep that night? I managed to politely decline the offer, and after walking around the mall and getting some cloth for his wife, I drove him to the airport.
After I drop him off, I am so thankful for my newly found freedom that I turn to atlantis radio and blast some love songs, ghetto style at full volume as I drive back towards 37, through East-Legon and home!
I barged into our bright-blue, oil-painted living room expressing my displeasure (Yes, the old lady and pops need a crash course in interior design but after visiting many Ghanaian homes, I am confidently declaring it a national problem, worth a chunk of our 2009 budget). I complained that the man had taken my whole day. I couldn’t seem to stop whining, I told everyone who called me within that hour what a terrible day I had had. But you know the surprising thing? None of them heard me. Maame and Paapa thought it was a nice thing for me to do. In fact they don’t think I should have done it any differently. Walahi, this papayɛ abatra heaven dze, I no go do some again. tweakai!I mean, I can do good if it is for an old time friend and I’m enjoying hanging out with the person, we’re making jokes, and so on. Then I don’t mind giving up my day but not this! Mena Araba, no matter how I look at it, I don’t think I can do this kind of good o, but I had to because I owed him a favor. Indeed, sɛ obi yɛ wo papa a, nna ɔahaw wo. How else would this guy have been able to so incommode me when we hardly know each other! I get the impression that Maame and pops and indeed many of the people I complained to would not be so worked up at all if they had been in my shoes. Has abrokyire corrupted me? How I wish to be fully Ghanaian again!