Aunty Aba unpacked the ‘kooko’ stand while she embraced her new misery. Her children would not have the future she desired for them and it was her fault.
Her racing mind made her physically exhausted, so she was glad when Kojo came to help her clean up the stand before Dede arrived.
Dede sold roasted plantain after Aba’s ‘kooko’ sold out and before Aisha’s Kelewele was on demand.
Aba felt it was unjust to charge them for using her stand. After all, they all shared the same predicament.
Aba and Kojo walked to the shed in silence. She could detect the pungent smell of alcohol coming off his shirt. And on his breath
“Did you fall asleep at the bar?” she was tempted to add ‘again’ to her question, but thought it wise to keep the conversation civil.
Kojo apologized and explained, “I lost track of time and by the time I realized, it was morning,” and as if it made things better he said, “so I helped them put the place in order for the next shift,”
She ignored the urge to give him a hard time yet again, about staying away from home for a day. Instead, she asked about the places he had visited, in search of a job. He didn’t answer.
He was exasperating her, and she feared she would reach her limit very soon. Based on her view of who a submissive wife is, she preferred to avoid painting out the obvious picture of how unhappy she was.
Kojo tried to act oblivious to the pathetic reality they lived in, but Aba knew it pained him to be a disappointment to himself, his wife and his children. That’s what made her pity him enough to be as supportive as possible.
“Aunty Aba, please I have some roasted plantain,” Dede walked across the car park looking cheerful,
“Oh Dede, thank you!” over a conversation on random nothingness, Aba collected the plastic bag containing roasted plantain and groundnuts.
That would be lunch for the family.
There were five fingers in the plastic bag today; they wouldn’t have to share like they usually did.
“Kojo, where did you go to look for a job?” Aba asked when Dede finally left.
“Hmm… I went to that place near Bus Stop at circle. I heard them saying that they pay well.”
“Who is‘them’?” Aba tried to hide her irritation,
“I don’t know; someone at the bar. But when I went, there was a ‘no vacancy’ sign on their notice board by the gate,” He said with a shrug,
“So you didn’t go in and talk to anyone?” Aba was shocked. “What’s the point? There is no vacancy!”
Aba was just about to raise her voice when her son barged into the crammed shed,“Ma, I got a job!”
The news rang like joy bells in her ears. She embraced her son so tightly, trying very hard to believe that what he said was true. She felt hope spring up in her belly like an unwanted tummy ache, and tried to hold back tears,
“Where? How?” she was almost speechless,
“I’m a webpage manager at this new IT firm.” Aba beamed with pride and Kuuku could identify the glimmer of hope in her eyes.
Kuuku explained the nature of his job and the terms on which he would be hired. He informed them that there was to be a training and evaluation period after which he would be a confirmed employee.
“I think the bosses are white men, they don’t care much about degrees and certificates.” Kuuku explained,
“But Kuu, how?” Aba was on the brink of disbelief
“I started a conversation with this man at a waakye stand…” Aba interrupted, “You were buying waakye? With what money?”
“Ma, that’s not important right now. So I was asking him what he does and I told him how much I wanted to dress up and look smart and go to work. He didn’t understand. So I told him about what we are going through, and I think he pitied me,”
Aba flinched. She noticed Kojo’s face distort at the words, “What we are going through” and she felt a pang in her stomach at the words, “Pitied me,”
She knew that even though her son had no qualifications beyond High School, he was a brilliant young man who had a very bright future ahead of him. That future seemed to have just gotten brighter.
She watched as her husband stormed out of the shed
She knew he was going to the bar again.
He was going back to the bar to drink on credit again.
She shook her head and thought to herself, ‘If only this new hope would not disappoint, we might have a chance at a better life,”
***to be continued***