I was in one of the blackest moods as I made my way to the cafeteria. My face was set in stone and my body was literally radiating hostility. It was rolling off me in huge waves. Everywhere I walked, people gave me a wide berth. It is this thing called instinct that leads you away from things that could harm you if you get too close. And in that moment, I was a threat to everyone around me. It wouldn’t take much to set me off. It was as if I was waiting for that perfect moment, for someone to approach me in just a hint of the wrong way, so that whichever insult I spontaneously generated would slide off my tongue and verbally slap them senseless. I wanted to get in a fight, to throw a punch at someone.
My phone buzzed. I ignored it.
I shouldn’t have left my room at all – in this state, I was far too combustible – but I was really hungry and neither my mood nor any other facet of my general wellbeing would benefit if I starved myself. As soon as I got my food, I planned to carry it to my room and lock myself in there for as long as necessary, until it was relatively safe for me to be around human beings again.
My phone buzzed a second time. I ignored it once more.
There were illogical amounts of distance in the self-serve line between myself, the person ahead of me, and the person behind me. Although I wasn’t looking directly at the person behind me, I was very familiar with the conflict she was internally dealing with. She was teetering, shifting her weight from leg to leg in hesitation, wondering if she really wanted to be in this line, whether she wouldn’t like the food somewhere else a little better. The longer she stayed, the stronger her doubt that she truly wanted to be here grew. Normally, I’d be self-conscious enough that it would dampen the Darkness a bit, then the space would decrease, the internal doubts would diminish, and her feet would start to find balance in sharing bodily weight equally again. Today, though, I was too far into the Darkness to care much about other people.
In a few seconds, I felt the sudden vacancy of energy. I didn’t have to look back to know that the woman who had been behind me was now gone.
The sea of people trying to get fed naturally parted for me as I made my way out of the door and stalked angrily towards my room, irritation at everything and nothing still bubbling in the pit of my gut. The buzzing of my phone restarted, but this time it didn’t stop after a second. It was incessant, and too agitating to ignore. Rage rose within me as I laid my food down on a nearby bench and snatched my phone out of my pocket, fully intending to terminate the call. I couldn’t press the reject button before I saw the ID of the caller, but I already knew it couldn’t possibly have been anyone other than Mario.
To read more, download the file linked at the beginning of the post! 🙂
It was too hot. Then it was too cold. And now, it was just numb.
It was too bright. Then it was too dark. But now, it was just right.
“What’s wrong, Alicia?”
“What’s the matter, Alicia?”
“It’s too long to explain.”
“Are you okay, Alicia?”
A serene smile.
She stood erect at the top of the cliff, looking straight ahead of her, while the wind buffeted her hair. The faint moonlight illuminated the ripples and waves of the water several feet below.
The land was too insufferable, she thought. She used to be tired – of asking questions that couldn’t be answered. She had been tired of being tired. But now, she was perfectly fine. Tranquil. Brave. This…this was ataraxia. It was enlightenment, and she was at point zero. Void.
She stretched her arms forward and shifted her weight delicately to the balls of her feet. She rocked. She leaped.
It was the most peaceful plunge that man had ever witnessed. Streamlined as she was, the impact barely made a sound. She went in like a sharp-edged dagger. The momentum she had gained took her lower and still lower.
She sank for too long before the panic returned, and she realised that she was in too deep. But this time…this time, it was too late.
Hello, beautiful people who waste your time reading what I write! I promised myself to begin an entire category dedicated to my Grandpa, called “Stories of Charles Seth Ofori.” A lot of people seemed to like the first story I wrote about him, involving a missing wallet and the lack of water. (If you haven’t read Pipes No Dey Flow, click here.)
So, here’s another one (or actually, three.)
What Happened to Grandpa Last Saturday
Just so you know, I’ve saved the funniest story for last, so if you get bored, keep reading…Or you can just skip – but I don’t want you to, so please don’t.
Grandpa Charles went to the airport on Saturday to pick up my dad’s sister’s husband, Johnny. (John and Mary, I hope you’re reading this.) Three mentionable things happened. I’m going to write them out in story-form because it’s what I do best. Note: These are in the order Gramps narrated them to me, NOT the order they occurred. Also, the events are true but the direct speech is not. But which great writer doesn’t embellish the truth a little bit? Okay, here we go.
1. Johnny Hulede had just arrived from Maryland. Charles Seth Ofori was there, at least fifteen minutes before the plane was scheduled to land, because Charles was never late. Ever. After the mandatory greetings came the hustle of trying to find one’s luggage, through the sea of heavily-clad, noisy individuals, sweating in the heat they had forgotten after being on that freezing plane, the conveyor belts of Kotoka International Airport.
One suitcase of Johnny’s was much heavier than Charles had anticipated, and that old body couldn’t be expected to do so much labour. Johnny himself had to use a considerable amount of strength to hoist it up onto the trolley. Together, they wheeled it out with great effort, all the way to the car.
Unbeknownst to them, they were being watched by a crafty pair of eyes, which continued to watch them as they made their way from the airport’s exit to the car. Only then did the owner of these eyes deign to reveal himself.
“Afternoon, sa,” he said, with a salute. Charles, who was popping the boot open, turned around to stare at him. If this spying man had been any wiser, he would have trembled under Charles’ unwavering scrutiny. He was not that wise, hence, he did not tremble.
“Make I help you wit de log-age, sa,” he continued. “I tink sey ibi heavy wey I see you pushing da trolley from da airport inside.”
Charles, of course, was having none of it. The result of his examination proved to be true: the man wanted money.
“Herh, herh, my friend,” said Charles coldly. “If you actually wanted to help us, why did you not help us from the exit?” The man had no answer. “What is the use of your help, now that we are already at the car?” Still no answer given. “You people, all you want is money. I don’t need your help. No, no, don’t even try to explain. You want money, isn’t that it? For doing no work at all.”
The man’s mouth opened and closed wordlessly. How to describe him? One word: flabbergasted.
Together, Johnny and Charles managed to lift the suitcases into the old car’s trunk.
“Good…g-good afternoon, sa,” stammered the man, and departed in shame.
2. There was a man who had a brother. This man lived in Ghana. His brother lived in the USA, which happened to be…exactly where Johnny had come from! Now, everyone knows that snail mail can’t be trusted to deliver money safely (especially if it is through or to Ghana), so this was the plan they had carried out: the man’s brother had given Johnny the money to give to the man upon arrival in Ghana.
Said man met Johnny at Charles’ car in the parking lot of Kotoka International Airport.
“You got the moola?” he said, after greeting both Charles and Johnny. (Okay, he didn’t actually say that. I just wanted to use the word ‘moola’ to make him look more gangster-y. Unfortunately, he was 120% un-gangster-y.)
So Johnny was all, “Oh yeah, yeah!” And after rummaging around a bit, found the cash. It was quite a lot, I tell you. But this man was untrusting, a trait he shared with many of his Ghanaian brethren, and so, of course, he had to count the money before he could leave. The trouble in this was that the back seat was full of all the extra luggage that Johnny had brought. Charles’ trunk just hadn’t been big enough. Johnny was sitting shotgun. So the only option left was for the man to sit in the driver’s seat as he counted the money – because everyone knows that in Ghana, you don’t count large sums of money where anyone can see you. Are you freaking ASKING to be mugged?!
Anyway, Charles graciously gave up hi seat for this young man to make sure his package was intact. When he was done, he said a polite “thank you” to Johnny and proceeded to leave.
Charles was Appalled, with a capital A.
“Young man,” he called out. “How can you be so rude? So you have your money, and because of that, you don’t even bother to say goodbye to the octogenarian man who bothered to stand outside in this heat while you comfortably sat in my car counting your money?”
The man shame-facedly apologized profusely. But Charles wasn’t done. Once an Ofori gets started, who dareth interrupt? Charles began to lecture him for about five more minutes about: how he understood perfectly because Ghanaians were all the same; how people generally have lost respect for their elders entirely; how people can abandon rationality and manners in the midst of cash, etc, etc.
I can only speculate about how the man must have felt ten times more ashamed than he would have if Grandpa had just accepted the apology and moved on in life. But that is not the way of Charles Seth Ofori.
3. Backtrack to when Grandpa Charles was waiting for the plane to land – a result of being freakishly early, as usual. Two men stood beside him, obviously waiting for (a) passenger(s) as well. Now, you know these cordial Ghanaians – always unafraid of making small-talk with complete strangers when they’re bored.
These two men decided to strike up a conversation with Charles.
The first asked him, “So who is it that you’re here to pick up?”
Grandpa replied, “Oh, just my son-in-law.”
The man nodded understandingly, with such gravity that you’d think that waiting for one’s son-in-law was akin to sending a very important minister to a Parliament meeting. So much wisdom and intelligence was encompassed in this man’s nod, which was all consummately shattered by the next words that came out of his mouth: “Is it a man or a woman?”
No mercy. Charles couldn’t laugh. Had he just heard right? Had he actually just been asked the most moronic question he’d heard since the beginning of the decade? Apparently so! Because the second man had erupted into laughter.
“Don’t you know?” said the second man. “This man is speaking the Queen’s language!” He then explained how the “son” part of son-in-law referred to a male person that was married to your daughter…
(Now I, myself, do not know the difference between “Queen’s language” and normal English, but I’m just quoting what Grandpa says he said.)
Grandpa wasn’t laughing (yet). How to describe his facial expression in one word: flabbergasted.
I think I can honestly say that a few days ago, I was waited on by the most amusing waiter I have ever had in my life.
This man goes by the name of Samuel.
So we went to Aburi to spend a day there, for no particular reason at all, and it happened to be at a resort called Hillburi, a sort of play on words, since, you know, it was on a hill.
My cousin said that it was obvious from the very moment we walked in that the guy didn’t like us at all. I wonder why? Maybe it was because there were just so many children. The only adult there was my Dad. Apart from that, it was me, my ten-year-old brother, Delali, my best friend Lena, my cousins John and Mary. I would assume that is the most likely case, since this tablet was basically the first thing I saw when I walked in.
It says: “TEENAGERS: Tired of being harassed by your stupid parents? Act Now!!! Move out, get a job, pay your own bills, while you still know everything.”
So then he started asking us for our dinner orders, and he was obviously peeved because we arrived late and the restaurant was supposed to have been closed like an hour ago. He was trying to hide his annoyance professionally, but it was obvious that it wasn’t working. And we were so indecisive, too! It must have taken us what, twenty minutes to choose from a single page? And my brother said he didn’t want to eat and suddenly he did want to eat but then he didn’t want to eat now so there was a lot of confusion.
But this waiter too…he managed to bamboozle my Dad into paying 35 cedis for a Ground Beef pizza without the ground beef but with pepperoni, which he could have paid 25 cedis for, for a Margherita with a pepperoni topping. Which was basically the same thing. And he told us one pizza was only big enough for one person, so we ordered more than we had intended.
So there, we didn’t like him, and he didn’t like us.
When the dinner actually came, oh man! We looked at the food in front of us and wondered how in heaven we were going to eat it all! He had told us it was only big enough for one person. Meanwhile, all of us could have shared one and gotten enough to eat. The situation was so absurd that we all started laughing spontaneously, and Samuel just didn’t seem to understand what was going on, every single time he came to the table.
There we were, trying to eat up all of that not-very-spectacular food, when I saw a little cat coming down the stairs a little way away from the area where we were eating and I said, “Look, a cat!”
My cousin John saw it too and said, “Look, Mary, there’s a cat behind you.” I promise you, she almost jumped out of her seat. And then everyone started laughing like crazy again, and we were all saying variations of: “It was just a cat!”
All of a sudden, Samuel walked in and, as if we were so confused, so blind, and like we hadn’t been saying it for the past fifteen seconds…he said, “Oh, sorry. That was a cat.”
That set us all off again, because really. Don’t you think we would have figured THAT out by now? What did he think we saw, a dragon? What was extremely funny was the apology. “Oh, sorry.” What was he apologising for anyway? And he looked so harassed, as if he thought we found HIM to be the joke. Which, I must admit, he partly was.
The next morning when we were having breakfast, he kept getting all our orders wrong. And we all started laughing again. When we were done, we ordered some snacks for later, and Samuel recommended the famous ‘Pavilion Sandwich.’ When Lena was asked if she’d have one, she asked of him, “What’s in it?”
And he repeated, blankly, “Pavilion Sandwich.”
How could we NOT crack up?!
Oh, Samuel. We probably ruined his whole week, with all our laughing. And we just kept doing it, all through the visit, from the time we walked in to the time we walked out. He even called John to lecture him about ‘reasons for laughing’ or something of that sort, leaving John with the advice that when he goes back to his room, he must sit down and think about why he laughs…That man must hate all our guts. But we had so much fun being waited on by him.
I just cannot forget that time when he came up and said, “Oh, sorry. That was a cat.”