Once again, my awesome grandfather’s birthday is here. But, you may be thinking, I thought that was last year. The funny thing about birthdays, though, is that they tend to happen annually. Last year, I published The Adventures of Charles Seth Ofori: Pipes No Dey Flow. (It might be interesting to know that since then, he managed to donate another envelope full of money to the water-closet.) This year, I present to you…
The Adventures of Charles Seth Ofori (Part II): Acting Fishy.
When young Charles Ofori was in elementary school, a Presbyterian boarding school in Kpando, in the Volta Region, ten miles from Vakpo, his hometown, rules were very strict, and discipline was strongly enforced. This did not, however, stop Charles and his friends from being some of the most inspiring rebels ever.
As students in boarding schools tend to do, Charles and three of his friends wanted to go home. Don’t ask questions. Don’t expect explanations. Sometimes, people just want to go home and eat food and…just generally not be in school. Laws of human nature. So he and his three friends decided to go home unofficially. You might think this would have been a tough act to pull off, but really, no. They just got up and left, or, as we like to put it in modern Ghanaian slang, they ‘bounced.’ Let’s not pretend we don’t know about all the ‘kuluulu’ in our systems. Yes, we know how it is when we like to negotiate with people of authority so that we don’t get into trouble with other people of authority. These four hooligans left for Vakpo very early in the morning, telling the monitor that he should try and cover for them while they were gone. They were hoping to be back before 6:30pm, anyway, just in time for roll call.
Oh, getting to Vakpo was easy enough. In the afternoon, however, that is when the problem arose: they had no means of transportation to get back to school in Kpando. Here, you can just imagine one of the four placing his palms dramatically on his head and exclaiming, “Yie! What are we going to do?”
What else was there for it but to begin walking? But walking ten miles, as we can guess, is tedious, slow business. By 7pm, a half hour past the roll call, they were only halfway there.
[Interlude: Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Meet Me Halfway’]
The situation seemed beyond salvageable. Suddenly, to their delightful surprise, they were able to stop a lorry which was going in their general direction, and they hopped on. The lorry was coming from Keta, from whence also came the fresh fish of the Volta region. Apart from the driver, the lorry was full of women. These women were traders of kenam (essentially, fried fish). They bought their kenam in Keta to come and sell. The women were also in the very front of the lorry. But herein lay the problem: behind them were their baskets of kenam. Behind them. With four boys who were mischievous enough to play truant. Hmm. Not a smart move.
The seats the boys were given, too, were directly behind the baskets of fish. Nigerian man will say, “Trouble don come.”
Though, in order not to be caught, they couldn’t necessarily speak out loud, here’s a direct quote from Grandpa, who told me laughingly, “It was not difficult to communicate, you see.” What did they do? They made a hole and started eating. Just like that.
Forbidden fruit tastes sweetest, though, and we know when we sin, we tend to want more. Unsatisfied with all the pilfering they had done during the ride, upon getting to Kpando, they began to fill their pockets with some more kenam. Then innocently, probably putting on their most cherubic faces, protected by the darkness of the night, they paid the lorry driver and left.
Of course, it was way past curfew back in school. They went inside, and, trying not to make noise, went off to bed without bothering to change clothes or do anything at all of the sort.
Here’s the catch, though: Kenam, as we have already mentioned, is fried fish. Fried fish is fried in oil. Sleeping with oily fish in one’s pockets, more often than not, will leave great, unmistakeable evidence of one’s crimes. They woke up the next morning, and all their shorts were dreadfully soaked with oil. This would have been much less of a serious problem if they had had some spare shorts. They did not. So they pooled all their remaining fish together and ate it secretly. Then, they washed their shorts and left them to dry.
In my opinion, they pulled all this off with rather impeccable swag. I believe their fitting reward was the fact that they didn’t even get punished.
Since many traditional Ghanaian storytellers insist that fables must have morals, I shall conclude by saying this: the moral of the story is that whenever you choose to break rules, break them with impeccable swag.
[Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the story’s subject matter shall not be held accountable for any student’s expulsion as a consequence of reading this story. It is, after all, not their fault that you are deficient in swag.]