On a gusty September morning, many moons ago, myself and a bunch of snot-nosed nine-year-olds shuffled into Class 4.

Everyone wanted to sit with their friends. I looked with dismay at the dirty urchins around me. I was looking to sit next to someone cool, someone I could exchange story books with and discuss movies when the class got boring. And it had to be a girl too.

I had discovered that the fairer sex offered more loyalty and intrigue than boys. I was done with them! I had sat next to Hannah the year before, but the breakup was terrible…she took my Marshall Math set home and in return I got a tired crayon set. Hannah spotted me and waved at me, I looked right through her. She was so last term. I was moving up the ladder in Class 4

I glanced at the lineup. Sheila…way too short (I was probably the shortest guy in the class) oh and a cry baby to boot…Nope. Next!.

Vanessa…Ugh, I hated her colored ribbons. She hadn’t progressed further than “Through The Garden Gate” the first book in Class 3…I couldn’t with illiterates!

My eyes fell on Minerva Sam, a girl I had a crush on…. year 4 was ours!

There was a simple formula I had discovered from class 2 when it came to choosing your sitting place. 

Rule 1. Teachers have sussed out which kids are friends with who, from the previous teachers – never sit next to your actual friend at first. 

Rule 1 didn’t apply to me. I had no friends. They were only a means to survive these fiendish hellholes.

Rule 2. If you are short or troublesome, avoid the back. Both of which , unfortunately applied to me. I will move from the middle seats to the front.

Rule 3. Sit next to the opposite sex. Many kids at that age wanted to only associate with the same sex. Amateurs!

With my understanding of cracking the system, my eyes followed Minerva like a hawk. 

Her best friend was Ama Akrofi and they were as thick as thieves, however they didn’t sit next to each other. Ama Akrofi went straight to row A and Minerva to Row B, separated only by an empty chair and the aisle. I sat in the empty chair before Mark could waddle his dumb ass over. The impudence! He could barely spell his own name and he thought he could sit next to her?. He glared at me and sheepishly moved on. Did he already forget I was the musical chairs king at his lame birthday party?

Minerva had her head buried in a Nancy Drew novel, totally ignoring me. I took out my Hardy Boys storybook and stared intently at the pages, pretending to read, all the while furtively looking at her. She was an angel from heaven. No blemish or flaws. Unlike Hannah who had this gnarled toe, I had noticed much to my disgust towards the end of our ‘relationship’

Miss Yeboah, the class teacher, waltzed in a few minutes later and promptly started ejecting people from their seats. Many friends had sat next to each hoping she wouldn’t notice. She did. I saw her glance briefly at Minerva who had her head buried in her book. After 10 minutes of shuffling people around, Minerva and I were still next to each other… a match made in heaven.

The first class was some calculus, the next English and by breaktime Minerva and I were chatting away like old friends. We had even agreed to swap novels by next week. I congratulated myself for a beautiful execution.

By week two, it had become obvious that Minerva and her friend Ama Akrofi had played me. Minerva will beg me to swap places with her for a minute so only the aisle separated her from Ama Akrofi. She did give me the Nancy Drew book, “The Secret At Shadow Ranch” and spent half the time chatting with Ama Akrofi. By week three she stopped asking to swap places.I’d get to school and Minerva would be in my seat.

Even Miss Yeboah did not notice that Minerva never ever sat on her chair and that she had done a hostile takeover of my seat.

There was a rule four I had not figured out till then: 

Get an easily manipulated dummy to break the direct link to your best friend. 

Minerva and Ama Akrofi knew that rule.

I missed Hannah, we used to talk about so many things. I looked around the class one day wondering who she was sitting next to. I saw her in the middle of the class sketching away on her drawing pad as she usually did. I made my way to an empty chair next to her and tried to win her over with lame jokes. She gave me the cold shoulder and several come back lines that drew laughter from neighbouring students. I deserved that. 

“Hey, get up from my chair,” someone bellowed.

I looked up. It was Mark.

AND HOW WAS YOUR WEEKEND?  The Septugenarian, the Absentee Farmer and many broken promises

This weekend promised to be exciting and it was! Thanks to Auntie Coro, I haven’t been out as much as I used to. I have sadly, become hooked to tv shows that are of no value to my hungry life in Accra. Binge watching Lucifer, Hemlock Grove and other mindless series have yet to put food on my table.

I had decided years ago, not to listen to an old man who implored me not to go into farming. According to him, farming was tough and with my day job it would be near impossible to be a successful farmer. 

Thanks to this bad combo of Covid and Netflix I have found myriads of excuses not to go to my farm and this Saturday a surprise visit revealed what I feared would happen. My farm was on the brink of collapse. The Moringa crops had still not germinated and the factotum who served as my farm manager’s excuse was lack of rains. He essentially blamed God for our failure. 

I patiently waited for the eejit to explain the major and minor rainy seasons to me for the umpteenth time and calmly reminded him that his excuse was 2 months old – I had since ‘borrowed’ an 18 feet water hose from my parent’s place and brought it to the farm. I pointed out where the said water hose was stored plus the overhead water storage tank, I’d had installed. According to him the water hose had been in storage for so long, that it was irreversibly knotted. I then proceeded to spend the next half hour with him and two other farm hands to unknot the labyrinth-like water hose. All the while, I made a mental note to do better. I had been warned that the worst thing I could do was to be an absentee farmer…but hey that’s me. I just love rediscovering the fucking wheel.

I felt so down with the situation on the farm I ended up Netflixing and chilling with some comfort food I bought on my way home to drown my sorrows.

Man, this grownup thing called life sucks, big time!

The next day I had a seventy-year old’s birthday to attend at a small catholic church in Weija. I had not been to church in a while, was fashionably late and had to sit outside.

The money from the Catholic coffers had obviously not reached this church. I was later told by a staunch catholic that these days it was every church for himself. I did enjoy the service tremendously and was really glad about the camaraderie extended to me as a first time worshipper there. As is wont of me, I made an empty promise to donate something to this church when I was one-day rich and famous. I took several pictures with the seventy-year-old birthday girl on my pretentious I-phone 12 Pro Max that had put a dent in my farm budget.

From there it was off to Serenity Beach at Kokrobite for a sumptuous meal.  I stuffed myself silly and was positive I had gained 5 kilos by the end of that debauchery. Eating and drinking with friends and family made me happy and depressed at the same time. I thought of life and seventy years. Would I finally have a Moringa Plantation by then? Would I be obese with nothing but broken promises and empty dreams – I drank a few shots of WoodFord reserve (Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey) to drown such sad thoughts.

And for only the third time in my life, I hijacked that bottle of whiskey from the party and went home to continue drowning my sorrows. 

I had a call from my farm manager to tell me in an annoyingly happy voice, as if he was the rainmaker, that it was now raining at the farm, and yes he will continue planting the Moringa seeds the very next day. I silently thanked God for rain and drank to the health of my seventy year old aunt plus other good things life had to offer. 

Don’t you really hate those weekends where the Universe is obviously sending some deep message but your head is clouded by whiskey and not able to make sense of it? No? Just me then?

And How was your Weekend?

BE NICE TO FAT PEOPLE – One day they might save your life

I was born in a house full of skinny people. My mother fed my siblings and myself tiny portions of food and subconsciously we were indoctrinated early to see being fat as uncool

My mother says she was brought up by her German grandmother (maybe she was a matron in a Nazi concentration camp), our food portions were always small….so we turned out  skinny or as some of us believe, stunted.

My mother and aunts abhorred fat people…at least that was the impression we had growing up. Man is a product of his environment! And I in turn grew up not being a fan of the fat.

I remember as a kid throwing stones at freckled, red-haired, hunched backs, physically challenged and fat kids.

But then I grew up and realized that I shouldn’t be mean to people who were different. In time I became accepting and even went on to have a bunch of fat friends.
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