You probably should read the first part of Little Matters (again) before you go down this road. Enjoy!
“Please give me Kelewele and groundnut worth 5 Cedis, add gizzard 5 Cedis. I want another set of the same thing, next please give me Kelewele 7 Cedis and gizzard three Cedis, I do not want any groundnut. Then I want 6 cedis…”
Enam rubbed her left feet up her right leg in a lazy attempt to ward off mosquitoes, she mumbled insults at the girl in front of the queue who seemed to want to buy all of Okele’s Kelewele. Overripe plantain drenched in oil is definitely not a healthy meal for someone who claimed to be watching her weight, but no one on the entire GIJ campus could resist Okele and Enam wasn’t going to be the first. When she first came to the Green Leaf hostel, Keith introduced her to it, she remembers when she first saw Okele’s makeshift kiosk perched on a wide drain at Osu. She was disgusted.
“I cannot believe that any self-respecting journalist in training will ignore all the health implications of buying food situated on an open drain! How then can you in clear conscience write articles about the Ministry of Health and Cholera epidemics when you come here and expose yourself to the risk of getting it yourself?”
“Why must you kill the joy in everything! It is only Kelewele o Madam ah! Besides it is always hot, the germs are already dead!” and as if to further justify himself Keith added “Look, we’ve been eating from places like this all our lives, and we are still alive. Abeg if you are madam hygiene, the way is your front” Enam left Keith at Okele’s kiosk and vowed never to return.
A month later during a combined class of marketing and advertising, students were tasked to work in groups of four and come with a marketing strategy for any product of their choice at the Akwaaba week celebrations. They were to come up with a Marketing strategy and an advertising plan for the product and raise an amount of One thousand cedis in profit.
Enam knew at once what project to work on. She would market Okele’s Kelewele and fried gizzard. Students already liked it and it would look great when it was nicely branded. She asked Keith, Geena to be her team members. Keith, only because he was a loyal customer of Okele so he would be able to convince her to participate in their plan easily, Percy because he was great with design and would be in charge of creating the branding for the packages and flyers, and Geena because she could convince the residents of hell to buy heaters! She had the perfect group formed in her mind.
And she was right. On the day of the assignment, their kelewele project was the buzz of GIJ’s tiny campus. They sold the kelewele with gizzard, pork, sausage or chicken accompaniments. The students flogged their stand so much that even though Enam was in charge of coordinating sales, she had to assist Okele in frying the food. Percy was right to have suggested the second burner and set of utensils for frying incase of increased demand, she thought, pouring in a new batch of kelewele into the oil on the second burner. The oil was too hot and rewarded Enam with a splash on her wrist for her troubles.
“sista oh, sorry oo” said Okele in the most unsympathetic tone conceivable. “Kitchen no be your strong point”
Enam just ignored Okele examining her wrist. “I will be right back.” she said and walked towards the school cafeteria.
“Excuse me, I’m Judah, I work with GOtel”
“Hi Judah, your T-Shirt and name card disguise that very well.” Enam smiled, sizing up the man in front of her. She had seen him walking after her and decided to pick her pace but he caught up anyway. Taller than most men she’d seen on campus she had spotted him earlier when the team from GOtel were setting up their stands at the event grounds. Quite Handsome too. She thought running a quick head – to – toe glance. He was very dark and had one of those low clean haircuts she’d heard the guys in class describe as fade, only his didn’t come with the ridiculous lines that usually characterized such looks. He had small eyes hidden behind the dark red horn rimmed frames of his glasses.
Enam “you guys are sponsoring the Akwaaba week.” She said
“Yes-” Judah started
“- and getting everyone to buy a GOtel chip. Well you don’t need to worry much, I am already on GOtel.”
“That’s great, but I actually just wanted to be sure you’re fine”
“I’m sorry? -”
“I saw the oil splash on your wrist”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” impulsively running her right hand over her left wrist. “I will get something for it after I get a drink at the cafeteria.”
Ok, can I walk with you?
“To the cafeteria?” Enam quizzed trying to determine whether the fine gentleman was just being nice or trying to hit on her.
“Well, yeah.” He replied. “It’s a hot day, I could use a cold bottle of coke too”
“You need to get that checked” Judah’s deep baritone voice reiterated as he doubled his pace to keep up with her
“You mean like go to the hospital?” Enam said, surprised at the insinuation “it’s just a slight burn I will be fine.” She said dismissively.
“Ok, but at least put some ice or Vaseline on it”
“Don’t worry about it Mr. Barimah” Enam replied and then, almost immediately, as though struck by something funny, broke off into loud uncontrollable laughter.
Judah was puzzled.
“Did I miss something”
“hahaha no … but…” Enam said between fits of laughter “your surname means man, right?”
Judah shrugged and nodded “I guess. Why?”
“that’s what’s funny,” Enam said laughing again “So each time I say Mr. Barimah, I am actually saying ‘Mr. Man’”
“Oh but that’s not funny.” Judah said amused that something so insignificant could throw her into such a long fit of laughter.
“It is to me, Mr. Man.” Enam said bursting into laughter again.
“You know besides the facts that we are sponsors, and are trying to get students to sign on to GOtel,” Judah cut in, “we’re also looking for interns for a new campaign.” His phone beeped, he quickly pulled it out, took a glance and put back into his pocket. “I think you should send us your CV if you’re interested.” He said handing her a complimentary card.
“Sorry, I have to go now. It’s been a pleasure meeting you Miss- I- just-realised- I- don’t- know- your-name- yet”
“Enam. Enam XeXemeku”
“Same here.” Replied Enam but Judah was already walking off. Enam examined the card. Judah Twum Barimah. Chief Commercial Officer.
“Hmm” Enam responded to Okele’s impatient voice, clearly jostled out of her trip to the past.
“How much you wan buy?” Okele asked although she was already dishing out in a takeaway pack for Enam.
“Okele you know dada.”
“When is the wedding?”
Enam pretended she had not heard Percy’s question. She wasn’t interested in visiting that part of her life right now. She was in Percy’s room at The Vine Hostel. It was the Trassacco of hostels, one student per room, with an air conditioner, microwave, fridge, and TV.
She was laying on her back on his bed, a book in hand, earphones in ear and legs raised up against the wall. Percy knew she was ignoring him. Sometimes the actions of this small Ewe woman amused him.
“Young lady, you know you’re going to have to answer my question eventually right?” Percy queried.
“Mmm” Enam mumbled in response.
She didn’t want to talk about it, but he was tired of being an escape from her troubles with that man who wanted to marry her. He wanted something permanent or at least with the potential to be permanent. He wanted to talk about the future; he wanted to know if he should work immediately after school to save money for their wedding or take up his parent’s offer of sponsoring his masters in Development Communication.
“What does that mean?” Percy asked again, not willing to back down. “Could you please stop what you are doing so we talk? I do not feel you’re listening to me”
Enam put the book down, sat up on the bed and looked in the direction of Percy. “I am listening to you. I just do not want to think about him right now, in this moment am choosing you.” She said then picked up the book again.
“That’s where you get it wrong E. What happens in the next moment when he calls or shows up at your hostel? Besides, I am not yours to choose. If anything at all, I do the choosing, I do the pursuing.” Percy said, firmly and yet calmly.
“You know what–” Enam interrupted.
“Hold on I am not done”, Percy said holding up his right hand in a gesture meant to stop Enam. “I don’t appreciate being an option, I mean know you are in a fix right now but I cannot put my life on hold so you make a decision to marry this man or not. I do not believe in this romantic nonsense! It is frankly immature. This is not some winding telenovela or unrealistic Ghanaian movie. You need to make up your mind. Please, do so quickly.” Then he got up from the desk and headed to the fridge for a drink.
Enam watched his Adam apple bob up and down his throat as he drank from the Bel Aqua bottle. When he put the empty bottle in the dustbin she said “He wants to have it next year” barely above a whisper.
“I’m sorry, what?” Percy replied, not quite sure he had heard what she said.
“The wedding,” She said coldly “He wants to have it March next year”
“That’s just… nine months away Enam!” he exclaimed “Only nine months!” He said again even louder, as though he had just realized the brevity of the time. “And when were you planning on telling me please?” he asked in feigned politeness, his words clearly buttered with seething anger and exasperation.
“I do not want to do this Percy.” Enam said amidst sobs.
What didn’t she want to do exactly; talk about the issue, marry the other guy, or choose him? Percy was confused, but he looked at Enam’s small body convulsing with sobs and immediately felt terrible for bringing up the conversation. He sat on the bed next to her and scooped her into his arms.
“It’s ok,” he said “Everything will be ok” but His heart betrayed the assurance in his words because he knew every new day in the nine months left would rob him of a little faith in that promise. He must find a way to end whatever this is as quickly as possible.