Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eating Supper at Eleven

It’s 10 O’clock in the night. The children went to bed at 8, tired, hungry, exhausted and unwashed. They just dropped, one after the other, to the crumpled sheets on the floor, like poisoned flies. They slept in their school clothes. There was nobody to care if they had clean clothes for school the next day. If there were no clean clothes, no decent clothes or no clothes at all, the ones they were sleeping in could have been washed and hung to dry on the balcony or in the room under the fan.

A car came creeping up the quiet, sleeping street towards the stately house a little past 11. As it turned onto the compact, clay driveway with the loose little stones on the surface, the man servant heard the wheeze of the old, little engine and the grating of the tyres, and rushed to check the rice on the fire. Perfect, just a little soft and mushy, the way the master liked it. The car came to a gentle stop at the carport. Charles, the man servant, walked briskly to the door, but its occupant was already out of the car. He held a black, cuboid briefcase which he swung slightly in the direction of Charles. Charles caught it with practiced ease and croaked, “Welcome, Sir”.

The master settled in his beer-and-TV chair, called for his beer and turned on the TV. In those days, there was just the national broadcaster, GBC-TV. The 10 O’clock news (which was never broadcast at 10 O’clock) had come and gone. On, was the programme, ‘Contemplations’. Why anybody would bother to feed philosophy to the hungriest inhabitants of the third world was a stroke of genius which the present writer’s obviously simple mind struggles to comprehend.

Not long after the beer came the food. It was 11.30. The master must have remembered, then, that he had children germinating somewhere in the big government house.

“Where are they?”

“They are all asleep, Sir. I’ll wake them up to come and eat.”

And, so it was everyday that the children would go to bed dirty, hungry and tired in their school clothes. Then they would be rudely woken up to straggle downstairs like zombies at about 11.30 to eat dinner, and go straight back to bed.

14 comments:

  1. Your storytelling is beautiful, so good the story must be true, no?

    Could supper at eleven, then straight to bed be the explanation for Ghanaian males having the beginnings of potbellies before they've even become men?

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  2. Anonymous05 June, 2008

    poor african child

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  3. Sounds like you were there. Sounds so real. Tell me more.

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  4. Thanks for the compliment, Maya. I'd like to leave it to readers to decide whether the story is real or wholly fictional.

    About beer bellies, eating at 11 might well be half the reason.

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  5. Dear Anon,

    I've read my post again. I do not feel it is so uniquely African. I think it is more about neglect than about poverty or African-ness. Just my thoughts though. I respect yours too.

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  6. Dear Victoria,

    I promised the young lady who told me this story that I would not say more than I already have about it. Sorry.

    If you know how to call me, I might tell you more then ;-)

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  7. Nana, your story is so real.Chasing monies killed the act of parenting.

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  8. About chasing wealth, I agree with you, Splashes. But why do you think that everybody is saying that this particular post is so real?

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  9. Anonymous06 June, 2008

    i think the bit about GTV and Contemplations makes the piece so real. we all remember those dark days don't we? Kordai.

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  10. Methinks Ghanaian females have heavier and more protruding potbellies than males before the former become women and the later become men. Methinks.
    Nana, perhaps it so real to people bcos they see their daddies in the stories.

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  11. Maya, I see Kiz has thrown down the gauntlet. Are going to pick it up? :-)

    About people seeing their fathers in the story, I believe so too, and also that people are still too loyal or protective to criticise how they were brought up (or in some cases reared). My most compelling passion in life is to make wherever I happen to be a wonderful place for the children around me.

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  12. Kiz, I do not see my father in this picture at all. Just observe your neighbors and you'll find the reality of this story if you do not find it same at home.

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  13. God bless your father, Splashes!

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  14. Splashes, wish I could oberve my neighbours but they live in what appear to be self-made prisons or at best, bunk-holes with at least 9feet high impenetrable borders. And about perhaps finding it same at home, you just buttressed my point.

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