The familiar thickness in the air was no longer welcome. Being grateful for life, was an alien feeling to Aunty Aba. She stepped out into the unused bank parking lot. Rather, she was grateful to the dwindling economy and the sluggish rate of development in Ghana, her beloved country. Had it been any better, or had there been any more responsible leaders, she would have been uprooted from her home ages ago.
Her home; she looked back at the shed her husband Kojo built; porous aluminum sheets for a roof, wooden planks seared with charcoal for walls; and wondered, ‘when will it get better?’
She saw her last born Maama sweeping the parking lot, and asked where her elder sister Abena was.
“She go fetch water” was the reply.
Aunty Aba heaved a heavy and sorrowful sigh. She wished her children had a better life. She wished her children spoke better English. She wished she didn’t have to watch them become like her. She wished she had a better job than selling ‘kooko’ at the junction. She wished her husband brought enough money home to take care of a family of five and not the meager excuses he presented when it was time for dinner. She wished her family could have another meal apart from ‘kooko’ three times a day. She wished she didn’t have to wish so much these days.
As Abena returned, balancing two buckets of water, Kuuku re-ignited the firewood from the night before, and said “Ma, I’ve finish. I’m going.”
She didn’t look at him, nodded and waved goodbye, silently praying he will come home with a job today. He reminded her too much of her father. She knew that he would be broken-hearted at what she made of her life. Despite his efforts and toil to give her a life that he thought she deserved.
But, “All is well,” she whispered repeatedly, “All is well,”
In thirty minutes, the ‘Kooko’ and ‘Bofloat’ stand was ready, Maama and Abena were on their way to try and sell forty sachets of water each. But Aunty Aba knew they would collectively sell just thirty.
She suppressed the deep regret and frustration in her and put on a broad smile, welcoming her first customer,
“Aunty Aba, good morning” Sarah, a 7 year old school girl beamed,
“Morning, oo! Etiseing?” Aunty Aba said cheerfully.
“I’m fine, thankyou,”
That was the order of the day. She smiled and was pleasant and asked how work, their family, and their lives are. She noticed the hesitation to be entirely honest and ignored the inauthentic smiles and pitiful glances, but was sweet and pleasant anyway.
Her last customer a very good looking young man, dressed in a well-tailored suit, greeted her in a smooth bass voice. He asked for GHc 3 worth of ‘Kooko’ and the last of the ‘Bofloat’, giving a total of Ghc5.
As she put his order together, he answered his phone. She served him and smiled as he handed her a note and began to walk away.
“Nice day,” She called after him. He turned and returned the gesture with a smile.
Aunty Aba was just about to put the note into her back when she realized it was a brown note and not a blue not.
She looked up just in time to see the man enter the bank “next door”. Her throat tightened. She clutched in her hand a Ghc 50 note. She should’ve been holding a Ghc 5 note.
The gentleman had either been extremely kind, or had made a huge mistake.
She looked at the intimidating glass building and wondered if she should go and clarify whether it was deliberate. On one hand, she needed the money. On the other, she knew it was wrong to keep the money.
“What should I do?” she heard herself say.