“Sista, what is wrong with our children these days?” my mother exclaimed to my auntie Tina. “They do not know how to clean the oven or how to clean the house. What are they going to do when they get their husbands?” At least I’m pretty sure that’s what my auntie said. I could not understand the Fanti but I was able to string together the few words that I did know in the Fanti language and the English that was mixed in. “Sista, I know”, my auntie eagerly concurred with my mother. “My children, they don’t know what okra is unless they see it in a soup!!” Eh-he-he-he-heh!! My mother and auntie laughed boisterously. They almost sounded like schoolgirls to me. This is going to be a long ride. I laid my head back on the seat.
My cousin Helena should have been here. Why did she have to be late when we came to the house to pick her and Auntie Tina up? The only reason why I agreed to go to the shopping mall with my mom and auntie was because Helena promised to come along. And now here she was deserting me! Oh well, what do the French say? C’est la vie? If Helena were here, we could have both shared in the misery and even made our own jokes and counter-arguments. What did my mother and auntie expect from us? We were not born in Ghana. We were not raised there. How could they expect us to be like them? I might not know what true okra looked like but at least I knew how the frozen ones looked like. Well.....sometimes, I thought as I smiled to myself.
“What husbands?!?” my auntie shouted. I was quickly jolted from my thoughts. “Sista, you won’t believe this?” my auntie said. “What is it?” my mother replied. “My own daughter, Helena, told me this very morning that she might not get married!” “WHAT!?!?!” my mother said in disbelief. “She said that women of today are independent and they do not need men!!” my auntie continued. “‘O MEGYA NYAME!!’”, my mother hollered. “Lord have mercy upon us!!” My mom raised both hands above her head, looking towards heaven, or rather the roof of the car in this case. I glanced at my mother’s outstretched hands which should have been on the steering wheel. This does not look good. The car swerved violently to the left as the wheel was left to plot its own course for the car. “Sista!” my auntie yelled as the car began to drift into oncoming traffic. My mom quickly put her hands back on the wheel and turned it sharply to the right. Oh Lord I thought as I grabbed onto the door handle to keep myself from slamming into the other side of the car. Something interesting ALWAYS happened when my mother and auntie came together but this was the first time my life had been threatened.
My mom regained control of the car and we were once again driving smoothly. “You see”, my mom started as though we had never been in danger of meeting our Maker just a few moments before. “This country is polluting our children”, she began. Oh no, they’ve switched to English. That means they want me to hear exactly what they are saying. No room left for interpretation. I threw my head back onto the seat. My mom glanced at me through the rearview mirror but kept talking. She had to know by now I was very annoyed but I don’t think she cared. I was going to hear what she had to say whether I liked it or not.
“This America is polluting our children, I am telling you ohhh!!” my mom began again. I sighed loudly. In fact, I sighed very loudly because I wanted my mom to hear me. If she did, she did not make any indication that she had heard my sigh. “Helena is not independent” my mother continued. “She needs a husband. What does the Bible say?” my mother asked my auntie. “It is not good for a man to be alone!” my auntie proclaimed loudly. “Eh-heh, that is it!” my mother replied while rubbing one hand against the other to signal that the matter was finished. I glanced nervously at the unattended steering wheel but my mom quickly put her hands back on the wheel as though she instinctively remembered the previous incident.
Well, the Bible says it is not good for a man to be alone. It does not say anything about a woman! I smiled at my ingenuity. My mother gave me a look as if she could hear my thoughts. I looked up to the car ceiling which seemed to have become heaven for all of this afternoon.
I’m sorry Lord. I’m not trying to be sacrilegious. Please forgive me but I just have to get out of this car!! I saw the shopping mall outside the car window. Thank you, thank you Lord I said to myself. As we pulled into the parking lot I saw Helena’s familiar red-colored Honda Accord behind us. “Helena is behind us”, I said to my mom and auntie. I realized my mistake after it was too late. “How is that?” my auntie Tina cried. “We left 10 minutes before her and she is here already?!? She was speeding my sista, I am telling you!” I quickly jumped out of the car before my mom had a chance to shut off the engine. I ran to Helena who had just stepped out of her car. “What’s wrong?” Helena asked with a concerned look on her face. “Why did you leave me alone with them?” I whispered in her ear.
Helena’s dark eyes had a mischievous glint in them. “You weren’t running late!” I declared. Unfortunately I spoke a bit too loud. My mom and auntie gave us suspicious looks. “Shhh” Helena whispered. “Do you think I wanted to ride 30 minutes in the car to hear about how I have to get married and how I can’t clean the oven?” she asked me rather pointedly. Helena and I smiled at each other. I put my arm through hers and we walked towards the shopping mall. “Helena, Otseden?” my mother asked her. “Oh auntie, oye”, Helena replied. I hurried Helena quickly towards the mall entrance. “Mom, auntie, we will meet you back here in two hours time. Is that okay?” I asked. “It’s okay”, my auntie replied. “Thank you auntie, Me daa se pii!” I sang out loudly. When we were out of their hearing I turned to Helena and asked in my best Ghanaian accent, “Sista, what is wrong with our parents these days?” She smiled at me. “O sista, ‘Me Nnyim’”, she responded with a mock expression of pain and dismay. “Nnyim!” I replied. “‘O Megya Nyame!’” Helena and I both replied. We broke out laughing as we walked into the shopping center. Comments on this article can be sent to Susanna Ebiasah at [email protected]