Monthly Archives: September 2010

Tastes Like Milk of Magnesia

Last night I sank to a new low in my motherhood experience.

A friend of mine has graciously allowed me to use her home for the remainder of my stay in Ghana. It has done A WORLD of difference for my countenance. My father also offered to watch the girls for the next two days to give me some free time. Last night was my first night without them, and I confess, I wasn’t quite sure to do with my time. So I came home and did what any woman who suddenly finds herself devoid of her brood: I watched Nigerian dramas with the house-help -Perpetual, a really sweet girl of about 20 – and ate the least nutritious meal we could conjure up – a fried egg, salty corned beef stew on rice with a side of Indomie.

By the time 11 pm rolled around and we had been satisfactorily amused by dramadies like “The Return of the Snake Girl: Part 4″, my breasts began to ache and throb. Against, my better judgment, I had allowed my father to keep the baby, even though I knew I’d have to nurse her. I helplessly watched breast milk flood the front of my dress and drip onto my friends decorative silk pillows. I was now paying the price for my ‘freedom’.

There are 2 things I should have never left Atlanta without: My nursing pads, and my pump. I can’t give you a proper reason for their absence amongst my luggage. I sat in the living room ruefully brooding over  my predicament. Finally, I could take no more and announced I was going off to bed.

“Good night, Perpetual,” I said.

“Good night, ma!” she replied with a grin.

I grimly went into the bedroom, contemplating how I was going to pass the night with rock hard, leaky boobs. I undressed and looked in the mirror. My mammaries were MASSIVE. They were droopy as well. In fact, they sat square on my belly, elongated by liquid they were ferrying about.

Wait a tic, I thought. If my breasts are long enough to sit on my belly, then surely they are long enough to reach my lips!

I’d watched my daughter Liya hungrily gulp down tummy fulls of breastmilk. It must be pretty tasty stuff, by my imagination. Add to that, a contestant on America’s Next Top Model used to “recycle” her breast milk by pumping it and drinking it. She was away from her infant to compete on the show, and she said it tasted like light soy milk.

Dilemma solved.

I sat on the edge of the bed, naked from the waist up, looking at my reflection in a 2 foot high mirror on the dressing table in front of me. I lifted my right breast and began to drink.

My eyes widened in disbelief.

I gagged.

I sputtered.

I ran to the sink to spit out Nature’s elixir.

Oh. My. GAWD!

How could any child drink this stuff? Was it that bad? Is this what corned beef tastes like in lactose form? Ugh.

Unfortunately, there was nothing to be done about it. I HAD to get relief for my breasts. For the next 8 minutes, I woefully sat on the edge of the bed, sucking and spitting out the substance I’ve fed all 4 of my kids with. The combination of the heat in Ghana and my elevated core temperature attributed to the anxiety I was experiencing caused me to sweat uncontrollably. I vividly recalled the last episode of Family Guy that I saw before I left Atlanta. Brian and Stewie had gotten locked in a bank vault, where Stewie coerced Brian into eating the poo from his diaper. He then declared later that he had made Brian his b*tch.

I had just made myself my own b*tch.

Run and tell that. Homeboy.

Bitter Grass on the Other Side

Today I was alarmed to discover that not only will I never be able to live in Ghana, but after this visit I am very unlikely to make any effort to ever return, even for a short visit. If I do, the circumstances leading to that return would have to be extraordinary, such as some unspeakable calamity so pressing that it would be equally catastrophic if I were not present at such time.

I spent the better half of the beginning of this year poised and excited about the possibility of moving back to Ghana. At some point in March however, I had a moment of doubt, and publicly posed the question: Am I really cut out to live in Ghana?

Friends from Facebook chimed in:

Oh! How can you even ask that? Ghana dey jom!

Yes, yes! You can! Come home.

I dunno…Ghana life can be hard.

No! Don’t listen to them! Life in Ghana is great.

And indeed, life is Ghana IS great…for some. For about 5% of the population who control 80% of the wealth (these aren’t hard government figures, mind you), life is absolutely amazing. When you live in a house of 4 adults and have 6 other people waiting to do your bidding – like bring you a glass of water as you pass through the kitchen – life is pretty frikkin’ sweet. I, sadly, am not in that 5%.

It’s not that I want or need anyone to bring me a glass of water, or that I want anyone to wash my clothes (that is an actual need), it’s just that I had been set up to expect that these sorts of services and structures would be in place prior to my arrival. Sadly, I’ve been gravely disappointed. And my disappointment lies in the illusions I allowed others to create for me.

In the grand scheme of things, Ghana and America are not that different. Friends and family on either side of the Atlantic make promises and fail to deliver on them either because they can’t or won’t honor the commitments that might influence your decisions. That’s just human nature; and after all, people have their own lives to run too. When you pull back the veneer from American life, Africa is waiting just beneath the surface. The problem with Africa is that is HAS no veneer, and so corruption, greed, poverty and the seldom slips of kindness  and philanthropy that might try to address all these are far more glaring. And when everything is whittled away, I suppose the bulk of my disappointment in Ghana is that it is different from when I left. Ghana is neither better nor worse than when I left here permanently in 1996. The country’s development can be likened to that of an atom: moving neither forward nor backward – it’s simply unfocused and all over the place. I find that I do not like where the atom has landed; and the onus is on me to accept that the Ghana I left in 1996 and the Malaka that left it no longer exists.

Perhaps too it’s the frame of mind I came here with. I was supposed to be on holiday, and so far, I’ve spent virtually every day toiling like a wretched drudge. I hardly feel like recounting all that drudgery, for fear of sounding like a whimpering, whining simp. (And so what if I do? It’s MY glass of beer, and I’ll cry into if I want to!)

Back to the point.

I came here ready to relax and explore the possibility of moving back. So far, I am not relaxed, and convinced more than ever that all that ‘homesickness’ was just a hankering for some hot kenkey and a jovial conversation with friends – both of which needs can be met comfortably in my home in Atlanta through the local Ghanaian market and the magic of social networking. By my second week, I discovered my ‘home’ is where my husband is – and he ain’t HERE. I’m a bit annoyed that I had to spend over six thousand dollars and 12 hours in flight to discover this…but you live and learn.

I really am sad that this is my reality. I brought the kids here, so excited about this trip. I wanted them to love Ghana as much as I did…but how can they, when I no longer favor her myself? All the promises I’d made to them and to myself have yet to come to pass. Ghana had become a proverbial warty, slumped, shriveled prince that I had waited my whole life to live and die for. And what is the sense in that? My daughter pretty much summed it for me just two days ago.

“Mommy? I want to go back home and I never want to come back to Ghana again.”

Neither do I baby. Neither do I, I thought.

And then my heart broke.

“Breaking” a Beggar

Break, def: to “block”; to thwart; to speak disparagingly of to a third party in order to completely ruin a person’s lofty goals.

Last Saturday I went to the Accra Mall with the girls so that they could play in the outdoor playground and to join my BFFFL (best friend for freakin’ LIFE) for lunch. It had been a pretty hectic day. We left early that morning to go to a naming ceremony (and subsequently left the gift for the baby in the taxi we took) and were hungry, tired and aggravated by the time we got to the mall. After nourishing ourselves on salty, low nutrition fare, the girls happily played on the secondhand  inflatable jumpy castles with the 50 or so other kids whose parents could afford the 5 cedis per hour. (Some people spend 5 cedis in a week in Ghana.)

As Nana Darkoa, my BFFFL, took over watching the kids in the play area, I sat and leisurely sipped a soda. It was good to be off duty for a change. My “vacation” in Ghana hadn’t been much of one up until that point, and it was slowly begging to take the shape of one with the few moments that I was able to loose myself in a cool breeze and a cold Coke. My few moments of blank bliss were disturbed when a stranger sat down in a chair opposite me.

“Hello sister,” he said.

Ugh. What did he want? Some hulking man with huge cheeks had already asked me if I was “Kate” from Berekum, and a hairy Arab man had just gotten done ogling me for the better part of the afternoon. I didn’t really want to be disturbed.

“Good afternoon,” I replied.

“I was standing over there watching you, and prayed that God would give me courage to speak to you,” the man said by way of introduction. “I saw that you were watching the playground and must be here with your children.”

I felt my eyebrows rise.

“You see, I am and AIDS patient, and I have come to Accra for treatment.”

His tone was so gentle and convincing that I really began to take notice of him for the first time. He was a dark skinned man, with pallid skin, sunken eyes and several missing teeth. Those still in his possession were horribly aligned, and seemed to shift with every word he spoke. He was a slip of a man with a whisper of a waist. He didn’t seem well at all. Despite his ill physical appearance, he was neatly dressed in a light gray shirt and neatly pressed dark dray slacks. He carried a small black attaché.

“I came from Anomabu to get treatment for my AIDS this week,” he continued. “The treatment is free, but unfortunately they do not provide for my transportation or the diapers I have to wear. I have also left my elderly mother alone in the village, and I have to have tro-tro fare to get back to her. As I am talking to you now, my diaper is full, and when I leave here, I have to purchase a new one before making the journey. I have 10 cedis on me, and only need 12 cedis to get home. I thank you for not exposing me or sacking me from your presence.”

His voice trailed off and he ended abruptly, quietly looking at the floor in silent expectation.

When coming to Ghana, I know that I will be the object of one con or another, and I’ve pretty much seen them all. I allow for one person to “get” me on every tri before I deliver a swift “no!” to anyone who looks like they may have their hand out. This AIDS one was a new one on me! For a grown man to sit there and tell me he needed money and that he had soiled himself – even as we spoke – and was languishing in said soiled diaper…well, he couldn’t be lying. Could he? I felt guarded compassion rise within me.

“My brother. Look, I am a Christian, and if you need anything, I will give it to you, because that’s God’s love,” I said. “But just be honest with me: Is what you are saying true?”

His eyes widened and he raised his hands defensively.

“Oh my sister! It is true!” he exclaimed. “I can even show you my AIDS card.”

He hoisted his attaché onto his lap and pulled out a tattered wallet. As he did so, he spoke of his mother and her suffering not knowing how long he would live. He paused short of producing the document. This distracted me. I pulled out my wallet instead.

“Here is 10 cedis and 5 dollars,” I said. “This should be enough to get you home.”

“Ohhh…thank you, my sister,” he said. “Would you allow me to say a word of prayer for you?”

I nodded. He prayed that Jehovah almighty would bless my children and I, and would bring to fruit whatever I was in Ghana to do. It was a rather long, elaborate prayer.  I asked him if I might pray for him as well. I kept mine short and on target.

When I was done, he thanked me again, although adding that he wished I could have done a bit more for him. I reminded him that he only needed 12 cedis to get home. I had just given him 10, plus a 5 dollar bill.

“Oh, it’s just that I need the diapers too….”

“There’s a forex bureau in the mall. You’ll be alright,” I said resolutely.

He said thank you again and got up and left. Nana asked me what that whole deal was about, and agreed that he did indeed look sick. Satisfied and pleased that I had fulfilled some level of Christian conviction, I patted myself on the back with a modicum of pride.

My husband called me the  following afternoon. I told him about the begging AIDS man.

“What about his soul?” he asked.

“Well, he offered me prayer first, so I assumed he’s saved,” I replied.

I heard my husband nod his approval on the other end.

For my part, I thought about the man all week. Had he been able to change the money? Had he been able to change his diaper? Did he make it home safely? Thoughts of him invaded my mind until I saw him again…yesterday. At the mall.

He was wearing the same get up, only this time with a stripped collared shirt. Slow recognition sparked in both our eyes. He smiled sheepishly (and somewhat impishly) and I held his gaze until he disappeared behind a giant stone pillar. Heh! That thief! Suddenly, he re-emerged and sat down in an open seat where a young, attractive couple was sharing an intense conversation. I watched as the young man leaned in to hear more. The young woman’s eyes softened and the corners of her mouth turned downward. I could not take the scene unfolding before me anymore. At the moment, Aya walked over to me and announced she had to go to the bathroom.

“C’mon!” I barked.

I strode over to their table where Mr. AIDS man was launching into this monologue.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “Is this man telling you he has AIDS and asking you for money to get home?”

“Uh. Yeah…” said the man in surprise.

“I JUST gave him 10 cedis and 5 bucks on Saturday. Don’t part with your money unless you really want to,” I advised. “He should be in his village/town by now.”

I spun off on my heel with Aya in tow. The AIDS man followed me. He was 50 feet behind me with an intent, aggressive look in his eye. I dared him through my slitted  lids to say a word to me. He never did, and I didn’t see him for the rest of the afternoon.

Now, I of all people know that times are hard, and we all have to do what we can to get by…but I will break anyone who uses two things people must never toy with to suit their own advantage: AIDS and the name of the Lord!

Oh.

I don’t even know how to title this post. “Oh” says it all. Please allow me elucidate on the circumstances that threaten to bring me to total grief.

Anyone who knows my father knows that he is anti-house help. He grew up washing his own clothes, walking where ever he needed to go, weeding, farming, fetching water, you name it. Despite traveling to America and becoming a pilot, this man has refused to honor the time honored rituals of the “returnee”, which says “Hei! You’ve been to America. You’re a big man now. You don’t wash your own clothes”. Returnee or NOT, Ghanaians of a certain stature always have someone to help them in the house. Shoot, even the ridiculously poor will capture somebody else’s child by some derelict means and force them into servitude.

While all my other friends are always eager to go home to Ghana because: a driver will drive them around town; a ‘gateman’ will open the gate to  give access to their premises; a maid will cook and bring breakfast to the room; somebody in the house will iron their clothes – I, Malaka Gyekye, know that that fate does not and never will apply to me. My father doesn’t hire help to do what he can do himself. I, Malaka Gyekye, am sitting here looking at a massive pile of laundry that has been accumulating over the last 3 weeks. And there is no one here to wash it. No one but ME.

Ebei.

Washing clothes in Africa is no easy task. Even with my faithful washer and dryer in Atlanta, which do everything automatically for me – from measuring the water to determining the rinse cycle – I STILL hate doing laundry. Now here I sit in Adenta with no running water and six loads of laundry. All of which I, Malaka Gyekye, must wash by hand.

Oh.

First, I’ll have to make sure there is enough water in the tank. If there is, I’m relatively set. Hmmm, but if there isn’t! – we’re in big trouble. I will either have to wait for it to rain and turn the barrels over to collect the rain water OR, I’ll have to find the tso-tso-tso boys who drive around the area selling water. (At 30 bucks a pop!) 3 basins will be needed. One to wash, one to pre-rinse, and one for the final rinse “cycle”.

Because water is so precious, I will have to wash all the clothes in the same water, lighter clothes first: Whites, then blues/blacks, then reds. It’s back breaking work. I’ll have to bend over, waist down,  in the hot sun on a concrete platform designated for washing. I’ll have to wring each garment by hand. I’ll have to hang each item on the line, skillfully shooing away flies and praying I don’t die of heat exhaustion and dehydration. I’ll be dehydrated from sweating and crying. The sweat and tears will mingle with swirling mass of wet clothing before me. I’ll cry until the task is complete. Have you ever wrung wet jeans by hand before? You’d weep as well.

Once I’m done washing the clothes, I’ll then have to wash each basin, making sure there is no soapy residue or dye from the clothing that might sully the next wash. There is poor drainage in this area, which means I’ll then have to sweep (with a stiff broom that has no handle – you figure that one out) the concrete platform so that the water doesn’t become stagnant and attract a myriad of colorful, enormous African insects.

OH!

What is this fresh manicure I’ve just gotten for? Nothing – because I have NO clothes to wear, and in order to dress myself for a potential outing, I’ll have to ruin said pedicure with the arduous task of washing by hand.

OH!!

I’m just not certain what to do.

Oh.

Yours confusedly,

Malaka Gyekye

What is YOUR 3 year old reading?

*Shaking my head in shame*

I have always known that the American primary education system was failing students across the country, but today, I got a rude awakening as to HOW FAR this failure goes. Whenever a child learns to read by the age of 3 in America, we’re in awe. If a child can’t read by 4 in Ghana, they ask what’s wrong with him/her.

Today my father went to enroll the girls in elementary school. Nadjah being five and a half was expected to go straight into the kindergarten class, possibly even first grade.

“Can she read?” the principal asked.

“Well…I’m not sure,” replied my dad.

He knows that girl can’t read. Just 3 nights ago she asked him to read a book to her. If she could read, she’d do it herself.

When he got home to tell me about their (near) future matriculation, he was all a-chatter about the caliber of student at Faithway Christian Academy.

“You should see the 3 year olds, Malaka,” he said. “They were standing in front of the classroom, reading and reciting their ABCs…and writing them.” He droned on and on about how smart these kids were; which  indirectly said to me how dumb he might think mine are. Waves of shame suddenly washed over me. I pursed my lips.

“Oh yeah?” I said  in response to his reverie. “I see.”

Inwardly I fretted over my children’s academic success. Aya could be forgiven for being somewhat behind. After all, she just turned 4 two months ago and has never seen the inside of a classroom. Nadjah on the other hand is nearly 6, and is the victim of Georgia’s reprehensible and ridiculous policy which says no child can even set foot in a Pre-K facility until they turn 4 in September. Na was born in December, which means she had to sit out an entire calendar year before starting Pre-K. To add insult to injury, the Pre-K curriculum only requires children to be able to count to 10, and prior to her graduation, I have never seen her bring home a sheet of paper that proves she can write her alphabet free hand. (That was something I had to teach her at home myself.) Prior to attending Georgia public Pre-K, she could count and recognize numbers up to 30 by the time she was 3. All that training went down the drain when her numerical aptitude was replaced with songs about popsicle sticks and mischievous bunnies.

A friend of mine enrolled her 3 year old child in school in Ghana last year. In 3 months, she had learned her two times tables and could write her numbers from 1-20. A product of a Ghanaian education herself, my friend was terribly displeased with what her child’s private school in Texas was teaching her daughter – which was nothing.

“We believe in developing the whole child,” the administration said in defense of their curriculum. Sure, but in developing that whole child, can you throw some math and science in there too?

Looking into my eldest daughter’s eyes, I know she’s not ready to deal with the rigors of a Ghanaian school. The teachers will not brook opposition, rude interruptions or back talk – and she is the poster child for all three.

“This school doesn’t look fun,” she lamented, after she’d been introduced to her new teacher and class.

“It’s not supposed to be all fun, Nadjah,” I scolded lightly. “You will have fun when it’s time for that…at recess perhaps…but you’re here to learn.”

I asked her if she understood and she nodded forlornly.

Aya on the other hand picked up a sheet of paper, asked the principal for a pencil, and declared she was ready to start school.

Tonight, I’m praying that they can get through the first week without too many tears and/or being ejected from the school for some asinine reason…like jetting out of the classroom to chase chickens. When I rise in the morning, I’ll do the same thing. I know my children are smart, and can pick up material if in the right environment. Children are sponges, and can learn virtually anything – if parents and educators are willing to believe in them, challenge them, and set the bar higher than memorizing the theme song from Barney & Friends. It’s just a shame that (once again) it’s taken classroom full of 3 year olds from a “third world country” to demonstrate how far America truly has to go in terms of laying a foundation for academic success.

No wonder so many children get left behind.

Chasing Chickens

Although she’s had a harder time adjusting to life in Ghana, my oldest daughter Nadjah has begun to receive all the benefits that I’d hoped she would. She’s learning to listen, not to talk back to adults, to be a little kinder – and most importantly – to use her imagination.

My great shame as a parent is that I have allowed my children to be socialized by iCarly, Sponge Bob and the ridiculous visual fare offered on American cable TV. As any parent (who actually cares to pay attention) will tell you, shows like these teach little kids that the little guy can/most likely will triumph over the tyranny of the adult world and that impudence is cute, amusing and to be expected. As my father simply (and harshly) explained to Nadjah on her third day here: Not in Ghana.

It’s taken all of two weeks, but she is coming around and understanding, to my relief, that those blofo ways will get you nothing in a country that expects nothing from its children other than complete and instant obedience.

My father has no cable TV in his house, no grass, no running water, no easy paved road leading to his house, and until I got the Vodafone hook up, had no internet either. The last 4 years I’ve visited him have been frustrating and miserable at times. These remote conditions also dismayed my daughter, who has asked me no less than 13 times a day when we are going back to Atlanta. I’m happy to say that as of Friday, she’s only asked me 8 times a day. However, it is due to these conditions that she is making such positive changes.

On our daily walk to buy bread and juice, she breaks away from me to chase chickens. Chickens, lizards, goats and whatever other domesticated animals are roaming the area in the morning. It does my heart a great deal of good. The other day while I was washing dishes by hand (shoot me NOW please!), I heard her outside with her sister playing with rocks, stones, sticks, seeds and other things not to be found at a retailer near you and assigning them names and various functions.

“Aya,” she said to her little sister. “This is a crabby patty. I’m going to be the customer, and you say ‘Order up!’ when you’re done making the food.”

“Okay Nadjah!”

Sitting shirtless and barefoot outside, they played a myriad of made up games that made sense only to the two of them – which is exactly what a pair of 4 and 5 year old sisters should be doing…not clustered around double PC screens playing nickjr.com for 4-6 hours every day.

Many mother’s will tell you that they have and will continue to learn a lot from raising their children. For my part, I’m learning to try to not sweat the very large frustrations that life in Ghana brings. Our useless crop of politicians, our poor sanitation, the difficulty in performing the simplest tasks because of the ineptness of the person sitting opposite you. I’ve had to contend with the fact and frustration that life in Ghana is NOT like life in America, and anyone who’s traveled between the two places knows what I’m talking about. I’ve had to complete own adult version of ‘chasing chickens training’ in these two weeks as well, and am a more contented (and slightly less cynical) person for it.

Thanks for the lesson Na.

A Day Spent With Friends

This Thursday I had the pleasure of having brunch at Café Dez Amis with my Auntie Obi – that’s the Hon. Minister Oboshie Sai Cofie to the rest of you. I got there around 10 am with my two oldest girls and ordered breakfast while we waited for Auntie Obi to arrive. They had pancakes, and I being a sucker for pastries had a cinnamon roll and a meat pie. OMG. What a meat pie! A meat pie is like a Jamaican beef patty but better, if done properly, and the chef at Dez Amis knows properly.

Pardon me as I drool in reflection.

As it would turn out, I literally spent an entire day with friends at the café. Having only gotten 2 hours sleep the previous night, and having no car in Accra, and still trying to sort out my bearings in the city, I was perfectly content to ‘shroom on the premises and direct people to meet me there. There are little things about the café that make it special. Cream colored colonial columns welcome you at the door way. The café is fitted with free wifi and a flat screen TV. There are two nooks with sofas and side tables for intimate or relaxed conversation. Sea shells serve as ash trays and the bill is presented in leather bound box lined with red felt. There’s an eclectic mix of old world Africa and modernity. My eldest daughter collided with the two when she knocked over an imposing oware board and made a bee-line for some chrome object before I halted her progress.

In self imposed detainment, I watched as a mix of patrons came in and out of the doors. Young and old, expatriates and locals, posh people and common folk all came to sample the simple pleasures of the café: good food and a really great atmosphere. I sat in the garden until sunset, where I stared blankly at trees that had been there since I first came to the grounds as an eight year old. The café shares a compound with Afrikiko, one of Accra’s oldest establishments. Saplings from 1986 now provided a broad shady canopy and the landscaping featured one of my favorite Ghanaian flowers – lady in a boat. Among all the patrons of the day, the most memorable had to be a racially ambiguous White/Arab/Lebanese/possibly all three man named Harry who spoke Ga so indigenously that if you weren’t looking, you would expect the speaker to be a fishmonger just returned from the shore. As he conversed intensely with Auntie Obi, employing all the mannerisms of a man who had grown up on the continent, their discourse was disturbed by his ringtoe: the theme song from The Godfather. How oddly appropriate. He was a throwback to the days when foreigners endeavored to immerse themselves in local culture, as juxtaposed by today’s Ghanaian youth who communicate in a myriad of LAFAs (locally acquired foreign accents), some doggedly refusing to speak any native vernacular at all.

In the moments that I awaited two sets of friends’ arrival, CANOE magazine was my silent companion. I have been waiting for months to get my grubby hands on a copy, because it looked so glossy and editorial online. I was delighted to find that visually, it was everything I hoped for. I read every article cover to cover. My delight turned to dismay, as I was distraught by the content. Too many of the articles were cumbersomely written.

You’re being a snob, Malaka I thought. My best friend later echoed my thoughts: A lot of the writers were indeed crap. I was relieved. I hate snobbery, and there’s nothing worse than embodying the thing you hate.

Later that night, she and I went to Koala for a Ghana Bloggers meeting. It was jolting to be in the company of snarky and progressive people. Most of the bloggers there were foreign, or Ghanaians that had grown up abroad. The average Ghanaian is pretty straightforward, and the subject of our discourse is pretty predictable. I felt pressured to say something witty, but as I had had virtually no sleep, I knew I would come out incoherent. I chose to cackle at the version of humor my new acquaintances offered instead.

It was an absolutely amazing day, sullied only by the taxi driver who threw my money out of the window after driving me home because he wanted to be paid 12 cedis instead of 10 (despite the fact that we agreed on 10 before I got in the car), and my father furiously berating me for getting home so late (11:15 pm) and informing me that I was lucky that I was brought home at all.

“He could have raped and killed you!” he raged.

Ahhh. A father’s love. So reassuring.

That night, I went into a coma-like sleep, my dreams of delectable pastries interrupted by thoughts of some wanker taxi driver chasing me down flooded roads with the intent of raping me. Not a good mix.