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24.08.2019 Feature Article

The Underground Man - Part 61

The Underground Man - Part 61
AUG 24, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

Women in big black metal pots steered soups to sell to others and make their living. Dried fish were up for grabs on wooden stands. Sachet drinking water were everywhere available stored away in cooling containers sold for little money. Hair salons competed at every corner for customers while barbers had less to do during the day sleeping to loud music. Children would come back after four in the afternoons to fill the air with loud noise and running around playing with footballs that had lost their air long ago. His observation was that child pregnancy was not rampant, in fact it seemed that even girls took good care of their reproductive conditions to marry at a time ready to feed children of their own. Next to the local church painted in blue a gambling parlor was the place for young men to meet at nights and share stories of the day. Girls would not be allowed to walk at nights but kept safely in the houses. Among all their poverty the people preserved a great deal of dignity being Christians and Muslims alike. Even they physically did not have much, moral standards were their riches something Andre noticed right from the start.

To pay for the help given Andre offered himself to be the Manager of the place. Innocent Osei gathered the Elders and discussed Andre`s suggestions, all agreed trusting him to turn their lives around. He negotiated with the local Assembly and council the setup of the new drainage system, was fighting against the odds to let Sakumono Village see only the best solution for their problems. Ensuring a safe crossing for children by posting unemployed guides at the crossing of Sakumono Village road and Accra Beach Road to stop the traffic for the villagers fast increase his reputation even in the national media. Over time Andre turned the fate of the slum making it look like East Legon. Donors and investors from outside the country entrusted him to ensure safety of their investment and a positive use of donor funding to make a long lasting impact in the community. Delegations from other African countries came to Sakumono Village to study the transformation of a small community in ruins to a community seen as a raw model for improvement in shortest possible time. Politicians of Ghana, representatives of the traditional political elite saw an uncomfortable competition applauded and loved by the locals admired by foreigners. They came together to draw up a plan how to assassinate a man that exposed by his actions their wicked and selfish mind. The mood of the people started to shift and turn massively against the black leaders. They were under pressure to eliminate a man others were benefitting from. He had refused to join them knowing to be close to their corrupt mind would corrupt himself and being a white man in the end not only put shame and disgrace on his name, but quiet natural end his life early, even harm his established name in the world of the white man. Andre took great care when eating to eat food not being poisoned, to take drinks no one was able to temper with, to cross roads with the greatest car, to look around him at any time so nobody would have the chance to harm him. He had trusted a friend inside the village to host him with good food not knowing behind the scene powerful Mallams had corrupted his mind to poison Andre. All villagers walked around his open coffin crying in tears convinced it would not take long and they would fall back into their old misery as maintenance was not their strength, nor the correct management of a life in riches. The tears dropped onto Andre´s face were tears of their own failed mind. Politicians took part in the funeral procession in their numbers only to ensure the white man was really dead and gone, they would again be alone among each other, no more concerns to be disturbed by a white man`s mind.

"What a dream...oh, my God...what a confusing dream!" woke Anna up thinking of Andre and Sakumono village. "It is a wonderful story...yet the end was obvious!"

For days Anna had a strange feeling of great uncertainty. As hard as she tried her mind was failing her to tell her the truth about what was supposed to happen. During her daily morning prayers Anna asked God to have mercy on her and open her eyes to see what was about to unfold. She did not get any information from heaven. Puzzled did she spend her days, went about her business that was coming on successfully making marks in her corner of life. Soon she would be able to purchase her first own house with the most certain reassurance life would make her drive her own Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II in red over silver shortly, the car she had followed for over twenty years and discovered that vintage cars like that lose money for fifteen years dramatically before the price is stable at rock bottom and comes back up after another ten years being a car looked for by many. New cars lost each kilometers money and ten years down the line have no value at all, while classic cars each kilometers driven generate income by later selling price when serviced well. It never came to her mind to understand modern cars, their benefit to people. In her judgment thy basically all looked the same, only to be distinguished by their logos a front. Comfort in poorly designed cars was never what she was after. Cars for her needed to have a face, a design pleasant to the eyes of the owner and people around. Modern cars had the ambition to please many and comply with different requirements of fuel efficiency and economics, while old cars were designed by company founders to give drivers a good feeling, a clear statement for what they wanted to be seen from far. She was always laughing when thinking money cannot buy good taste, only the hand of a visionary in motor manufacturing can do.

It was time for her to dress up, to get ready for Hamburg Airport and take the first flight out to Cambridge in England where she had placed her company headquarters, the city she loved so much since she had set foot into it. The traffic was heavy, time was short. Sitting in a taxi Anna had time to reflect on the months past. Almost two months had she spent in Namibia and Zimbabwe with short stops in Kenya and Tanzania to discuss with their Presidents various longtime projects that would change their agenda and improve the lives of many.

The airport was deserted, not many people showing up at the early morning hour, mainly businessmen with their small suitcases enough for a day trip had taken their seats at the Gates for planes to board and to take them out to European countries. While reading the morning papers, Anna saw a young lady sitting next to her smiling. She smiled back. Unexpectedly did the young lady that had no language at all with her even not seemed to be a regular traveler or even wanting to board any of the planes coming to pick up their passengers. It felt strange to her to sit next to that young lady that showed no signs of being a business minded person at all. The woman gave her her hand and greeted her. Anna was feeling a kind of cream in her right hand thinking the young lady had applied it after showing to keep her body fresh and good looking. Unexpectedly did the young lady leave her. Anna looked after her asking what the encounter was all about not suspecting any evil action. It did not take long another young lady sat next to her while Anna was continuing reading her morning papers. The lady started to greet her; Anna returned the good morning wishes. The unknown lady stretched out her right hand wanting to greet Anna properly, while all of a sudden an older businessman accidently pored his coffee over the legs of the young lady making her get up to clean her jeans. From one second to another did the young lady disappear.

The next day sitting in her office in Cambridge was Anna getting a short text message from her sister Alexa informing her, Irena had been involved in a serious accident the night before close to her home in Altona. Doctors were telling her she possibly would not survive the next days as her injuries had been too severe. She advised her to prepare for the worst. She herself had been rushed to the hospital Irena had been admitted to and would keep her updated as new information would come in. Three days later Anna received a second short text message from Alexa attending a royal party their sister Irena had not made it, had passed on peacefully. Anna sat down to contemplate on the news received. All her encounters with Irena were flashing through her mind, how Monika Willers had raised them, how their relationship went apart, the good time and the bad once. A film of her childhood appeared before her eyes. She still remembered the moment she had presented to Irena her business plan requested for a boutique, for wanting to attend university, for her plan to start drawing artistic paintings again; nothing of what she had ever started to peruse, only to talk and dream about. While Irena had wanted to be rich and famous trusting it can be achieved by not overcoming hardship but open mouth and let milk and honey flow down to be digested in her stomach and see the end of it all flashed down the toilet when the body would do its job. Anna on the other hand had been pushed from level to level upwards to come up great in life and enjoy admiration of many. Not for a moment was she thinking to return back to Hamburg and take part at her sister`s funeral leaving the work to Alexa and her sister`s family. Instead Anna joined the royal party guests and had a great time.

The night was dark, filled with white fog, spooky as far as her eyes could see. Never before in her life had she experienced a night like that in which even to see few meters ahead became a problem. The streets were empty, no one dared to walk in the mist of clouds crawling on the ground to raise up several meters above them. Like a blanket is covering humans at night, was this feeling trying to send out a mysterious message. Anna was feeling scared. Slowly, very, very slowly was he car moving meter by meter constantly out on the look to see a pedestrian or other car standing in front of her possibly with no time to stop the car and avoid a tragic accident. Below Barmbek Ring Brücke, a bridge only constructed for cars, turned Anna right into Alte Wöhr. She wanted to reach Blankenese in the fastest time where she had bought herself a house on Falkenstein with very rich neighbors at all sides, a place she felt comfortable to be; a place of style with people easy going and friendly when approached friendly and easy.

From her right front wheel was Anna hearing a strange noise coming. She knew what it was, not a good sign in the white fog covered in darkness; dampness filled the air. Anna felt cold. She pulled over, parked the car underneath a big poster, got out, and walked around the car to see the problem. Indeed the tire was flat down, no chance for her to fix the car herself in this condition. She got up lamenting about her misfortune. It took her few minutes to recover from her shock and question how on earth would should now come to Blankenese? Certainly no taxi would take her, no train operating anymore. She was stranded, certainly so for hours to come. Minute by minute passed; she looked around. Her eyes got opened, she stood before the bunker opposite Alte Wöhr 19, her place to find out, to find out the secret behind the closed rusted door. Anna closed her eyes concentrating on the possibilities of what she might find inside the bunker when all of a sudden she heard a screaming metal noise as if something unwilling would be pushed aside. She was staring at the bunker seeing the door was opened by invisible hands. Her heart stood still for few seconds. Finally, after all those years past during which he had wanted to unreal the secret of the bunker, there it was before her, the open door. She stopped breathing not to let anyone know she was there standing before the open door of the bunker ready to take her next step and walk in. Carefully, observing each step taken, walked Anna down the stairs over the degraded leaves from last fall.

She pushed the heavy, rusted open door aside to enter. Anna needed all her strength to force her way through that barrier standing in the darkness, freezing. She closed her jumper. No sound to be heard, no light to be seen. Anna was standing in water puddles but did not care. Dampness all around. Her heart was beating fast, her senses were on alert. Cobwebs in her way. She took them down. Using the small torch light of her mobile phone, Anna made her way step by step deeper into the unknown not knowing what to expect. In the near distance Anna saw a blockage of stones and gravel to climb over directing her to a left walk way from which two small rooms opened up. One of which seemed to be constructed to serve as a utility facility to provide electricity and water for the people looking for shelter during air rides by the former Allies, in Hamburg particularly by the British. No flying dogs were to be seen. She listened into the darkness, no sound to be heard. It must have felt like being dead down under the grass looking for salvation was she thinking. Anna felt her heart beat all around her neck. She turned right along a small and narrow corridor deeper and deeper into the bunker. Metal beds were hanging on the walls or laying on the concrete floor. She tried to imagine how it must have felt during last world war fearing life could be over at any minute by force from outsiders. She closed her eyes in honor of the victims that had lost their lives all over Europe and the rest of the world. Her feet were wet, so her t-shirt from the dampness in the bunker. Passing two more small rooms that had hosted people for safety; Anna stood all of a sudden in the largest room she had seen so far. She brought her torch light up to examine the room inch by inch imagining what it might have been used for. As she was flashing the room, a mighty male figure appeared in the right hand corner from nowhere. She went one step back, her heart beating her nearly to death, blood pressure dangerously rising high. The man stood quietly and calm before her not moving an inch. He looked at her and smiled. He was all dressed in black, only his teeth were shining white. Warm atmosphere had capture the room even it was cold from the cold thick concrete walls. Anna was not scared or frightened rather drawn closer and closer to the unknown man that still did not move an inch only smiling at her. She tried to grasp his size, his statue but ended to find it out by only looking into his eyes being charmed by his friendly facial expression. She moved one step forward to stand right in the middle of the room. The man still did not move a single inch. She did not know what else’s to do, whether to say something, turn around and think outside what to do or to wait for whatever might happen next.

Anna took her heart asking in silent tone: "May I ask...who you are?"

Karl-Heinz Heerde
Karl-Heinz Heerde, © 2019

This author has authored 330 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KarlHeinzHeerde

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