Email from Sandra: Just a little love

BY: Graphic Showbiz

A former neighbour of mine had issues with her six-month old’s health.  Test upon test couldn’t bring out any meaningful diagnosis.

 So she kept changing doctor after doctor until a pediatrician asked her one day:  “who has been eating with your child?”  

She said to me, “Ablah, initially I was a bit confused because Anna eats alone.  She has her own cup, bowl, spoon and water bottle.  Then the doctor explained to me that my baby was suffering from an infection which was transferred from someone else’s mouth. 

That was when my mind went on to the fact that my house-help could be the culprit.  The doctor said she possibly was eating some of Anna’s food with Anna’s spoon, and thereby passed on the infection to her”.  

She was in tears as she recounted this story to me.  The house-help had no business eating the baby’s food with that spoon.  But truth was she was almost always hungry.  So it was during the time of feeding the baby that she also got to “feast”.  The baby not only got infected, she grew leaner and leaner because her food was never enough. 

 Two people we need to treat well in our homes are one, our drivers, and two, our house-helps. Their lines of duty sometimes make them get so close to our affairs, we become vulnerable to their obtained level of data. 

On Sunday I observed a pathetic incident at the lorry park of our church.  I had travelled to worship via public transport.  The taxi dropped me behind a brand new 4x4 whose driver obviously was in the auditorium.  But close to that same vehicle was a young short lanky girl of about ten years, who was pushing a baby’s stroller away from the car. 

 In the stroller was a chocolate complexioned chubby, healthy-looking infant whose hair was all braided in twisted lengths of eight.  Multi coloured hair ribbons hovered along the plaits in many directions; she looked like a well decorated Christmas tree.  A large bag whose unclosed zip exposed baby wipes, a pack of diapers and a bottled baby food hanged around the stroller’s handlebar. 

 To tell you the truth, the modernised perambulator, the baby and the bag were all heavier than their pusher.  I took a second look at the girl and wondered who it was who had left her baby in the care of such a fragile looking girl on a busy car park.  In a split second, I discerned that the pusher was a house-help. 

How did I know the girl was a house-help?  Her bola blouse, whose crimpling fabric was stamped with large motifs of purple pawpaw leaves, was outsized enough to accommodate two kids her size.  

Her necklace?  A rusty lengthy prototype of Gye-Nyame-patterned Abyssinia (that fake metal which fades and corrodes without provocation). Her earrings were a plastic pair of pink pearls, and her hair was all shaved in an around-the-city style.

 Her blue flowery skirt, which looked four sizes bigger at the hip was short enough to expose her insect-ridden skinny legs.  And goodness, her shoes!  They were a loud yellow patent pair.  They were so big, the wrist of a six-month old could conveniently fit behind her heels; a very roomy pair.  I couldn’t initially tell whether they were stuffed with tissue, papers or not stuffed at all, but I could see she was really struggling to walk. 

 The oversized shoes made her unable to roll through her steps with her forward feet from heel to toe, thereby flattening out prematurely with each landing on the graveled park.  The girl was really fighting her steps, and was hitting the ground with heavy slaps. 

The gravels were making it a bit impossible for the wheels of the “chariot” she was pushing to roll along freely.  Then about ten metres away from them, I heard a loud, “ajiiiii” behind me.  I turned.  The girl, the stroller, the bag and the baby were all on the floor. 

“Whoever left this baby in the care of this girl should have known that she would be incapable of executing that task”, I thought, and walked on.  But my conscience stopped me in my tracks and ensured a good turn of assistance.  Thankfully the baby was strapped so it hadn’t fallen out of the carrier yet.  I lifted her up together with the stroller, and next, helped the girl up.  They were both crying. 

 I took the baby out and began to pat her on the back. The girl, looking very miserable, asked me to give the baby back to her whilst dusting her knees with both hands.  “My madam will beat me if she sees you holding the baby”, she said, still sobbing.  That statement did something to me.  How could she even think like that?  That she would be beaten for obtaining help in time of need?

As she spoke, I saw a neatly dressed young woman emerging out of the auditorium and heading towards us.  The brim of her hat alone could shelter two others in the midst of rain.  Her nails were well manicured – both fingers and toes.  She could pass for a thirty-five year old. Behind her trailed a girl of about nine or ten years.  She was neatly dressed too, in a pair of cream leggings and long top, she had her mother’s eyes.

She smiled pretentiously as she neared us and said, looking into the fallen girl’s face, “Ah, Stella too … you can be wonderful papa.  This small diaper you went to change in the car is what is making you roll all over the floor with my child?  What is wrong with you? Do you want to hurt this child or what?”  Her daughter also reprimanded the poor girl for letting her sister fall with the stroller.

 I was expecting her mother to tell her not to talk to the crying girl that way but she didn’t, and said, “thank you Madam” and took over her baby from me.  I could tell from the woman’s body language that the crying girl would be made to face the music when they arrived home from church that afternoon.

As I walked away, I wondered and wondered why this woman couldn’t spare just twenty Ghana cedis to dress her house-help up properly.  It was obvious the clothes and shoes the girl was wearing wear handed down by her madam.  For ten Ghana cedis, she would have obtained from the market not less than three befitting clothes.  The remaining “ten Ghana” would buy the girl a nice pair of fairly used shoes. 

 There was such a contrast between the woman’s daughter and the house-help who looked malnourished and unhappy. Did the woman know the essence of treating well the person who takes care of her children? Hmm. 

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