The Beautiful Little Girl, Adiza.
NTOABOMA — A young lady walks up to me recently and asks, “Are you Narmer?” I said yes, wondering why a fine young woman, pulchritudinous above and below, would approach a man like myself, an old man.
She says, “I am ready.” I retort, “Ready, how? What’s your name?” She smiles, and breaks out with a fine laugh. At this point the whole thing has got me blushing from my toe to what is left of the grey hair covering my head.
“How do you walk up to me, ask for my name, and never reveal yourself, my dear?” I suddenly insist. She points to the Chop Bar owner, a lady I have known since I was just the tender age of 11 years old, and she says, “My name is Adiza, and there’s my mother.”
“The owner?” I fire back. Shocked.
Now Adiza and her mother are both laughing. They can both see that I was both blushing and stupefied. Adiza was too beautiful, so stunning in posture and manner that I could barely control my seeming infatuation. The Waakye I was buying wasn’t coming quick enough. So I asked Adiza, “So you are ready for what?”
Adiza says, “A long time ago, when I was nine years old, you told my mother how cute I was, that you would wait until I grew up so you could marry me.” I couldn’t recall the event. More, I still couldn’t understand where the story was going.
Adiza continues, “So I am ready.”
My heart drops. I reply so candidly, “Me?” But of course, the way I said it, got both Adiza and her mother on the floor. They haven’t seen me turn red before. And it wasn’t because of the flavor from the pepper or the Shitor of the Waakye.
Thing is, children grow up too fast. Adiza’s mother has been a great, wonderful woman in our little town in Ntoaboma. Everyone knows this woman, and every one respects her. I was flattered by the whole treatment.
However, I quickly realized that it was all a joke — the kind of niceties that come with our cultural peculiarities. This is Adiza and her mother’s way of telling me how much they appreciate me. Or how much they thought that I still looked good for my old age.
No, Adiza doesn’t want to marry me. I knew that! I know some colonial missionary educated men (the Metha in particular), who would have tried taking advantage of the situation and caused heartache and headache in Ntoaboma. Not I.
If you understand our culture, you would quickly realize that all Adiza and her mother were asking for was for me to become another old man out there looking out for this young lady. Adiza is in college, and because of what her mother means to me, some of that cost is now entirely my own.
Nothing more! We call this communal labor.
Me too when I was younger and I needed someone to look after me, outside the home, in that same community, Adiza’s mother stood out. She gave me all kinds of Waakye for free. She gave me food and insisted on not collecting money.
Whenever I left for boarding school, Adiza’s mother gave me something small. Sometimes she snuck an Olonka of Gari to my mother to give to me for school. Other times, she sent me one bottle of shitor here and there when my mum visited me in boarding school. Adiza’s mother didn’t ask to sleep with me or marry me, although she always called me, “My Husband!” You see?
Our culture is one that employs terms, phrases and ideas of endearment for paying respect. That respect is not to be taken lightly. It is not to be abused.
Now, it’s my turn. Perhaps. It’s my turn to look out for Adiza too in the same way that her mother looked out for me when I was a young lad! To sneak in something small here and there to her mother to give to Adiza, for school or for whatsoever. It is not a call to marry Adiza! No! And it is certainly not a call to entice a young girl and ask her for sex! No! It’s called Communal Labor, my people!