Bitter Honey is a Ghana-based series, centered around the Quartey family. Kojo Quartey; a taxi driver, his wife Aba; who runs a bank’s canteen, and their three children; Kuku, Abena and Maama live through a series of fortunate and unfortunate events. The Bitter Honey series tells the story of different bittersweet experiences that build their characters and teach them life lessons. Enjoy.
Abena wanted to go and play *ampe with the other girls in the class. She wanted to run to the ice cream seller and buy fanyogo. But no; ever since mommy came with her to school three weeks ago and spoke to Mr. Ebenezer, her teacher, she has been kept from going to first break. Instead, she stayed in the class to read the student’s companion. She hated it.
She was staring at the page infront of her and listening to the shouts of excitement happening just a few steps from the classroom door. They had just finished playing one round of ampe and were about to play a second one. Abena put her head on her table and allowed the stinging tears to flow.
It wasn’t fair. She only went out for second break when everyone will be busy eating their lunch. Even after school, she stayed for an extra thirty to forty-five minutes for extra classes while her classmates resumed the games they started during first break. She didn’t like being the odd one out, and for that reason she was angry with her mother.
She felt someone patting her back. It was a grown-up’s hand. She sniffed and inhaled Mr. Ebenezer’s strong smell. He always uses too much spray and it made her cough. “Abena, do you want **FanYogo?”
“No, Sir,” She sat up quickly and buried her face in the student companion.
By the time the bell rang for classes to resume, she had eaten two FanYogos. She was very pleased. She thought to herself: “Mr. Ebenezer is nice. Maybe tomorrow if I start crying early, I can beg him so that he will let me go and play,”
Kojo’s late night jobs had stopped completely. He liked the freedom of driving around and getting random customers. Customers who ask you to come for them at specific times limit the number of clients you get to meet. Take today for instance; he had transported a pregnant woman and her husband to 37 Military Hospital, a newly discharged patient and his mother to a home in Dome estates, and had driven some Legon girls to a house – no, a mansion on the Aburi hill. All these customers and it wasn’t even 12 o’clock!
As the girls got out of the taxi, he enjoyed the view of the city of Accra. One of the girls handed him a fifty cedi he started looking for the balance he owed her.
There were four girls. The one who seemed to be the leader – she was wearing a red tank top and jeans, a quiet one- she was wearing a black dress, a talkative one – wearing very short jeans shorts, and the last one was very fair and had curly hair that didn’t look Ghanaian.
Madam Red was the one who handed him the note.
“Boss, can you come and pick us up around 9:00pm?” Kojo knew she was talking to him. He ignored her – hopefully she would get upset and call him rude, and save him the trip back here.
“Can’t we call an Uber when we are ready?” It was the talkative one who asked the question, and Kojo silently prayed that Madam Red will listen to her.
“No, we need someone who can be here before we are done.”
Kojo sighed and handed her the money. “Ok. What time will you be done?”
“9:30” Madam Red said. Kojo knew she was lying but he didn’t argue.
They exchanged numbers and parted ways. As Kojo turned the car around, he noticed a police officer opening the gates to the mansion in his rearview mirror. He wondered what was going on inside that house.
Kuku had been texting Ma Dee a lot; she was interesting to talk to. He had never been so distracted at work. He clung to his phone and jumped to answer texts as soon as they came. Though her replies delayed a lot, he was eager to read what she had to say and reciprocate her wit. He doubted he was as interesting to her as she was to him, but that didn’t keep him from trying.
Unknown to him, he was acting like a little boy with a new crush and it was an exciting time for him. He asked the right questions, and she kept the information flowing. She enjoyed the attention, and he could tell she had a soft spot in her heart for him.
Over the past month, they had met and had dinner of different forms; they had kelewele in her parked car on a deserted street, a three-course meal in a secluded room at a high-end restaurant, and a casual meal at a bar in Osu. They weren’t picky – whatever worked for both their schedules and within Ma Dee’s budget was perfect.
His friendship with her made him realize he didn’t have many friends. He was staring at her last text – an invitation to her beach house for a Saturday night jazz party. The message instructed: ‘Come with a date’.
He sighed. ‘Who kwraa can I go with?’
***To be Continued***
Next Week on Bitter Honey…
Kuku felt out of place. The vibe was great: the waitresses brought around a new set of drinks very often, there was good music playing on very loud speakers, the waitresses were skimpily dressed enough to pass as eye candy, but he felt alone. This Jazz party felt like a good idea earlier – but now, he wasn’t too sure.
Someone slumped onto the couch next to him. “Hi!”
She was beautiful. Her eyes glistened in the night light and her smile shook him.
He smiled back,
“I’m Caroline! What’s your name?” Kuku reached out to shake her outstretched hand,
“I’m Kuku. Nice to meet you.”
*Ampe – itis a simple game played by school-age children originating in Ghana and also played in neighbouring areas. It is played by two or more players and requires no equipment.The leader and another player jump up at the same time, clap, and thrust one foot forward when they jump up.
**Fanyogo – Frozen yoghurt drink made of Strawberry, mango, and passion fruit. Eaten from a colourful sachet. Popular in the West African Market