Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Simple Bead Story

Today, at the Accra Mall, I saw a sight I report not because it was that remarkable. After all, I see a lot of that these days in the city of Accra. But it reminded me of a curious history lesson I was given, on a cold and rainy day, many years ago, when I was trapped at a leaky bus stop with a chatty old man.

The sight – a slender girl in a hipster and a top way too short; no feast of colours to excite the active mind later. But in that bare midriff, played a metallic, askew-hanging, curve-caressing, waist-gyrating chain. She was gliding freely in the aisles oblivious to all the bold comments (whispered undertone) :) by the older women, between stolen glances. Had I not heard the comments, I would have sworn I saw raw, enchanted admiration in their eyes. I smiled quietly to myself, my only regret being that I could not emerge in her direct line of vision, to give my silent ovation.

Now, I will tell you a one-minute version of the garrulous old-timer’s tale. It used to be a sin, big sin, merely to touch the waist beads of a woman. Funny, but in those distant days, it was a crime approaching capital if, somehow, the beads got tangled, broke and clattered to the ground. A sexual act or offence was complete, and strong medicine was cruelly handed down. What I do not recollect is if this relic-rule applied to both maidens and matrons.

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