You can run but can’t hide? (I)

BY: Jasmine Arku

She punched out a breathless “good morning” as she pushed the office door opened.  “Agh, you want to break the door,” was my response to her salutation.


That door had been a bit weak for days, especially after its lock was compellingly damaged by one of our colleagues.

One of us, the last person to leave our office a few days before, had forgotten to turn off the air conditioner, had locked the door and had taken the key home. 

Our colleague from another office, who usually stays late to learn for his exams, noticed the “transgression”, but didn’t know how to get the spare key to our office. 

Realising how dangerous it would be to leave the A/C on overnight, he broke the lock to gain access to carry out the obvious task; a process which made the door droop a bit. 

Presently, we push it open with a bit of difficulty because its left base actually kisses the floor whilst opening.  We couldn’t thank him enough for his loyal and gallant deed the day after.

So knowing very well that the door had a problem, why had Naomi decide to push it the way she did? 

She seemed to be in real haste and I wondered why, because it wasn’t like she was late to work or for a meeting.  Time was only five past seven.  I just couldn’t comprehend her behaviour on Tuesday last.

Without responding to my query, she placed her handbag and the small black plastic bag she was holding onto her desk, took out from her top drawer her green flat plate, pulled a sheet of tissue from the pack on the side of her computer, wiped the plate with it and said, panting, “Ablah, you don’t understand”. 

“Hoh, what don’t I understand? You are behaving gracelessly this morning ... and you’re telling me I don’t understand”.  Was I expecting her to retort?  Yes. Did she utter a word?  No. 

Rather, she rushed out again in haste, came back shaking off water from her right hand and finger tips, sat on her just about worn-out leather swivel chair, picked the black plastic bag on her desk, and took out a ball of steaming hot Ga kenkey. 

Then she brought out a large fried cassava fish about eight inches in length and four inches in width, and laid it by the right side of the kenkey.

The fish looked as though it had been dipped in flour before being fried. It looked really crispy and appealing; very alluring. 

Next, she poured by the twosome, red hot pepper from a small translucent plastic bag and placed the emptied synthetic into the black bag.  She did same with a small plastic bag which held black shito.  One could tell the shito was very hot – I could see the seeds of the pepper in the sauce. 

She began to eat with alacrity.  Her manner of munching made her look like a contestant at the Passover Feast in the days of Moses and the Pharaoh of Egypt.  I hear they had to eat that feast in haste.

I was awed, mouth wide-opened, as Naomi worked her way into her banquet.  The manner in which she gobbled her fish-ladden morsels with relish made my mouth water: she broke off the crispy head of the cassava fish and bit into its partially opened mouth with exposed sharp small teeth; then she broke a bit of the kenkey, and rolled it into a ball in the palm of her hand. 

Next, she remorselessly tore off a sizeable piece of the fish from its rear, pressed the fish into the created ball with the aid of her right thumb, dipped it deeply into the red and black pepper, and ate the good mix. 

Sincerely, watching her every move made me hanker the more to partake of the food.  When I thought she was almost done, she brought out another rock of kenkey and demolished it entirely.  I was knocked for six to see her act in that way. 

One, I knew she didn’t like eating anything heavy in the mornings; two, she didn’t like too much pepper; and three, she had to be wheedled to eat even a quarter of a ball of kenkey no matter what time of day it was.  So I knew there was something definitely not right with my colleague.

Watching her closely, I noticed her nose was looking unusually turgid.  Obviously, something physiological was happening to her.
She had her wedding just five weeks ago.

I didn’t want to assume she was pregnant because that would mean her boyfriend at the time, who is now her husband, had impregnated her before their wedding.

I began to analyse a few instances where she had done unusual things to prove she was expecting:  she had stopped wearing high heels – which was very much unlike her. 

She no more wore any perfume at all.  Pimples had spread on her face, especially on her cheeks and forehead. But her tummy was still quite flat.

I examined her from a spatial distance of about 20 inches as she licked the rest of the red and black pepper, and pack away her kenkey peels and fish bones. 

When I couldn’t keep up with the guess-work anymore, I asked as she walked past me to dispose of the rubbish, “Naomi, how many weeks gone?”

Graphic Showbiz/Ghana

A version of this article appears in print on November 7, 2013, on the back page of the Graphic Showbiz edition with the headline: You can run
but can’t hide? (I)