Thursdays are kinda lit aren’t they? Closer to the weekend and the day of awesome throwbacks. You’ve been missed on here and you’re welcome to the second story under the BS&T series! The first and second parts of the first story were posted earlier so CATCH UP!
Today’s post is for Philip, Nana Oye and Vera; happy belated birthdays! And for Funmi- you’re really loved💫
Reminiscing. The only thing Aku could do as she sat cross-legged, her back against a wall. She was going to miss this place, terribly. She glanced around and sighed, drinking it all in for the last time.
The entire space smelled of liquid soap and meat; heavily seasoned, on-the-stove-cooking meat. The chop bar’s furniture had been stacked smartly in one corner, alternating colours of blue and yellow. She could see stubborn soup stains on tables, stains that Dzidzor scrubbed repeatedly, always swearing under her breath. Aku smiled at the image.
Dzidzor was a good kid. An SHS student, Dzidzor had disturbed Aku every Sunday after church for a vacation job at Anointed Hands. An avid learner with a palate for good cuisine, Dzidzor was brought in to help the kitchen staff. They taught her the right time to put snails into soup and the effect charcoal had when placed in cooking rice whilst Dzidzor showed them the best ways to get rid of palm oil in the serving bowls. She saw girls her age when they came in, strutting behind older men with double chins and sweaty armpits. Aku had taught her to mind her business so she never judged any of them, at least not verbally.
In time the chop bar started filling up. Rose came in first, grinning from ear to ear at the sight of Aku. ‘Ei madam. Today you’re early oo!’ Aku nodded and laughed. She couldn’t bring herself to speak, not now. She watched as her staff continued to arrive. Richie and Adonko, the masters of the pestle who amused her on a daily basis, telling tales of their galamsey days and how big the behinds of their ‘sugar mummies’ are. Adonko never failed to remind them of his stance.
‘These small small girls you see coming here, they don’t have anything o! And it’s not my money that I’ll be giving to them-I need to save for my future children. That’s why I need a big-mama. As for her, it’s only my macho that she needs!’ They were jovial men who respected their job and Aku knew she most probably wouldn’t find another set as dedicated as these.
Rose and Dzidzor were in the act of sweeping when Eno came in, closely followed by her son Bright, a timid looking 5 year old boy who craved attention and got it unconditionally. All sweeping halted. Bright was a weak asthmatic and his mother never passed on the chance of blaming another person for her son’s condition. A soup goddess in every right, Eno was both mother and fighter. A single mother with nothing more than a JSS certificate she couldn’t even find, Eno put her heart into every batch of soup she made. She called them her ‘recipes of love’. ‘Soup is love; good soup is true love ordained by God himself’ she always said. Eno, together with Rose and Dzidzor, were a chop bar force to be reckoned with.
Lunch time had the chop bar filling up fast. Men arrived in groups, smartly dressed and shouting at each other as though they were at sea. Immediately they sat down their jackets came off and their sleeves rolled up. Shots of ‘Agya Appiah’ stung the fresh air with so much vigour.
The ladies came in more conservatively, taking seats nearer to the entrance of the bar. They ordered their usual- a glass of carbonated drink with any rice dish that tickled their fancy at that point time. The most daring ones called for fried plantain with beans stew. Coming from offices, most of the ladies thought more of their shirts getting stained than actually getting full. Eno could never understand this and she always voiced her frustrations out.
‘Amanfoo*, I’ve arrived!’
Eno kissed her teeth, Adonko and Richie started applauding as Rose turned up her nose at Anointed Hands’ favourite customer, Ato Kwamena.
Insistent that he was actually Arthur Cobbinah, Ato had been their favourite customer for a simple reason; he never paid immediately after a meal. Aku never understood this, especially on her very first day at the chop bar. The others apparently, had gotten used to his behaviour and as such, quieted down on the payment demands. Ato always paid, just at his own time. He never ceased to create an atmosphere of laughter and excitement whenever he came around however. With soccer and politics related jokes, the chop bar was in high spirits with every passing moment. Watching him wash and wipe his hands in anticipation of the cheapest meal and thus his favourite- Kokonte-, Aku couldn’t believe he could come back here, acting as though nothing had happened.
The chop bar was as noisy as ever, with Bright and his newly found friends running around, Adonko pounding the fufu so hard you would think he was going to be given at least a morsel. Dzidzor was clearing empty tables near Aku, who was chatting animatedly with John her youngest son. Having just returned from secondary school, he had so much to tell her. Ato entered with his usual intro but at a higher pitch. Aku looked up from her conversation to find five other individuals; three ladies and two guys Aku recognised as regular ‘one shot’ customers. They were so loud every head turned towards them, wondering what all the excitement was for. One of the many songs being sung by his companions spoke of how Arthur had won some form of ‘too sure’ lottery and had decided to treat them, his strategists, to lunch. Aku hardly noticed the girls until Rose shouted at the men for ‘bringing their wives’ maids’ with them. The girls looked somewhat mature but with the wonders makeup worked nowadays one couldn’t be too sure. Their clothes were flimsy strips of fabric, loose enough to aid in breathing in, tight enough to show you just how much flesh they had.
Ato was in another realm, ordering anything and everything that crossed his mind. He knew how reluctant Aku always was in serving him, so he pulled out what was to be one of many wads of crisp 5 cedi notes from his batakari’s pocket- proof. Shouts of ‘Arthur nie!’ and ‘Ogyam’ filled the entire eating area. His destiny had changed! When Ato’s food was placed on his table, Dzidzor, who held the food herself, still couldn’t believe it was his.
His fufu was bigger than his fists put together, shaken and rolling over, an enormous island surrounded by a sea of different creatures, members of both land and sea. This sea was a slum; over populated with different species. Snails swam where salmon dwelled and crabs held on to tuna for dear life. There was beef, fat pieces of chicken thighs and the one and only trustworthy ally of every fufu eater- goat meat.
Half an island later the chop bar was filled with sharp shouts of ‘Ato!’ Everyone turned towards the voice to behold a 6 foot something, heavy muscled man, visibly a mechanic with his grease covered overalls. He looked mad, sounding it too. When he laid eyes on Ato finally he flipped and lunged for him. It took the strength and pleas of the entire bar to hold the man down. Aku demanded to know exactly what ‘Arthur’ had done.
‘Arthur? Who’s Arthur? He’s called Ato Kwamena! And that’s my daughter’ he pointed to the girl who sat beside Ato. He saw the wad of bank notes and his pupils dilated. ‘That’s my money!’ the man was outraged. His eyes looked like the definition of murder as he dragged his 16 year old out by her belt, promising to deal with Ato in relation to his money.
‘I swear, if I see you within six feet of my home, those things between your legs won’t last another second!’ The bar stayed silent, everyone was stunned. Ato looked dead in advance; his food ceased to reduce in volume after that and he never came back, once he’d mustered enough courage to leave.
Until now. He was back and as loud as ever. Aku marvelled at his level of bravery, but respected him in a minute way.
Looking at what had been her routine for the past 15 years she wondered if it had been worth it. She could see Ato bargaining with Eno, half of whose attention was on Bright as he climbed atop chairs and tables. She could see Adonko and Richie singing one of their galamsey songs to Dzidzor with Rose laughing her head off, visibly flirting with one customer. This was her life, her family and she’d grown to love them. All for what? Cervical cancer? She didn’t have enough strength to comprehend it.
Aku continued to look at them as tears rolled down her cheeks. She knew she wasn’t going to make it to the end of July-she could feel it-, and she was okay with that. She had all she could ever ask for right at this very moment, in this very chop bar. For now, her soul was calm even though her body felt excruciating pain. She had family, this family. For now, she was fine; she was home.
●Amanfoo*- People in Twi
Next week is the final instalment and honestly I’m stuck. What should I write for ‘Tears‘? If you have any idea or prompt don’t hold back; comment below! You could send me an email as well: email@example.com or dm me on social media (Yes, the whole Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp shenanigans😊).
Till the next one!