I came to this village to do my national service. My first impression when I got here is the people. People here are different. They look at you. They make you feel seen. For some reason, they see a stranger and they know that he/she is a stranger. And when you are a stranger, everyone stops to help you when you need help. I will get down from a car holding a bag in my hand. Someone from nowhere will rush to me and say, “Let me help you carry it.”
He/she would not take a no for an answer. They don’t understand it when you tell them you can carry your own load. It could be someone younger than you. It could be someone older than you. They all want to help. They all want to make life easier for you. They want you to speak well of their village because it’s a small place. They don’t have the amenities to take your boredom away. They don’t have malls where you can have fun. No kids playground. All they have is their kindness. That’s what makes them different. Humans. Deferent kinds of humans.
The house I rented is a typical compound house. It has five different families occupying various rooms in the house. I’m the only one who lives alone in the house. On my first day in the house, I was shown where I can fetch water. I picked my bucket and headed to the place where the whole community fetches their water. Immediately I got to the entrance of the main house, I heard from behind me, “Please let me fetch it for you.” I turned back and saw this lady.
The night before that morning I saw her in the house and thought she was beautiful. A lady in her mid-twenties. I said, “No you don’t have to. It’s just here and I can go and fetch it myself.” They don’t take a no for an answer. By the time I realize, she was holding half of the handle of the bucket so I left it for her.
Minutes later, she came with the water. She wanted to pour it and go for another one. I said, “No I don’t have any water container around. I will fetch and use it whenever I need water. She said, “The water can go off for days. Get yourself a container and I will fill it for you.” I later got it and she later fill it for me. Every morning, by the time I step out, my water container would be full. Her name is Dufie.
So Dufie unofficially became my help in the house. She will ask what I need and she will provide it. In the evening when I sit in front of the house to take in fresh air, she will come around and sit awhile with me. She loved the stories of city life so she’ll ask me questions and I will answer. Sometimes, I will ask about her life and she’ll talk about it glowingly. She’s learning to become a seamstress. “Because I want to be a better seamstress than anyone around the village, I didn’t want to be an apprentice here in the village. I went to the next town, which is more developed than here to learn my sowing skills. I would be done next year. Set up a huge shop in the middle of town and become the best in town.”
I loved her dreams and I loved the passion with which she spoke about it. We became good friends. She cooked for me sometimes and I showed appreciation by buying things for her anytime I’m returning from Tema. I saw the signs and realized that she was getting into me. I liked her too but I was careful. Dating a woman you live in the same house with is very stressful sometimes. You can’t do anything without her probing into it. When trouble comes, the whole house would hear about it. You can’t have female friends who visit. You can’t have breathing space. It was the reason I stayed off her. While I was trying hard to stay off her, she tried everything she could to get me to notice that she is interested in me.
There is a girl in my class who doesn’t come to school often. She is a clever girl but doesn’t like school. Her mother has to virtually drag her to school every morning. Her friends don’t go to school. They wake up and go to the farm instead. She wants to be like her friends. She feels isolated anytime she’s in school. One morning I spoke to the mother. She told me what the issue is. To get the girl to love school, I decided to build a friendship with her.
The school is very close to where the child and her parents live so every morning, I will dress up, pass by their house and wait till she’s ready so I can bring her to school myself.
It worked. She will dress up and wait for me in the house. She has a big sister. I met her each morning when I went to their house. She has this beautiful smile and beautiful set of teeth you wouldn’t believe a girl in a village would have. Anytime I went to the house to fetch her sister, she laughed at us: “Eiii Adwoa is now a VIP student ooo. A whole teacher has to come for her before she goes to school.” We talked every morning until we got to the point where we could meet out of her house and talk.
One afternoon after school, she came to the house looking for me. I met her on the outside and we talked. Hours later, I walked her to her house. Dufie saw us. The next day she started asking questions like: “Is that your new friend?” “Since when have you been friends that she comes home looking for you?” Be careful of women in this village ooo. They can do things to you.” I told her, “She’s a sister to a girl in my class. She has become a friend because of her sister. There’s nothing going on. Just friends.”
But she saw us together too often to believe that we were just friends. She talked about the girl being dangerous. She talked about how some women in the village love strangers and would do anything to have them. She talked about how some women fleece money from National service personnel like me. But those talks wouldn’t stop me from seeing the The-girl-with-the-beautiful-teeth. She came and left as she pleases. I went to her whenever I was bored. Her attitude towards me doesn’t reflect a woman who is in love with me. She likes me and likes to be around me. Yes, I have had the intention to strike somewhere along the line but I’m taking my time to enjoy her friendship. To know her better. To look at her teeth often.
So one evening, The-girl-with-the-beautiful-teeth visited. She came to my room. She sat and we talked. It was around 7pm when she said she was leaving. I walked her to the street and came back home. Immediately I got home, Dufie came around asking if I had eaten. I told her, “Yes, I have but it was in the afternoon.”
I was in my room when she knocked and brought me a bowl of rice and stew. I didn’t expect it. I thanked her profusely and she left. It was late so I didn’t eat the food. I left it on the table and thought of eating it in the morning before I go to school. In the morning, I forgot about it. When I came back from school, the stew on the rice had gone bad. I poured everything into a polybag and threw it away.
When Dufie came from work and she saw me she asked, “How was the food last night? Did you enjoy it?” I said, “Oh yeah I enjoyed it just like I’ve always enjoyed your meals. Thanks so much. It really helped a lot.” She smiled and went inside. The next morning was a Saturday. When she saw me she said, “You lied to me. You didn’t eat the food.” I said, “Who told you? I ate everything. Not a single grain was spared.” She was quiet. She said solemnly, “You didn’t eat the food. That’s ok.” She sighed heavily and started walking away. I followed her: Dufie, I ate it. I ate everything. Why are you looking worried?” She walked into her room and I got back into my room.
That’s when the war started.
She doesn’t talk to me. She doesn’t respond to my greetings. She has stopped doing everything she used to do for me. She was the one scrubbing for me whenever it got to my turn. She has stopped. There’s a woman next door who had accepted to do it on my behalf. I give her money and buy her detergents. Recently, the woman too had stopped for no reason at all, and to make matters worse, she also doesn’t talk to me. I asked why and she said, “I just don’t feel like doing it anymore.” No problem. I do my own scrubbing these days.
Whenever Dufie sees me hanging my washed clothes, that’s when she would start sweeping the compound so the dust will go into my washed clothes. Not once. Not twice. Every single time she does that. I’ve spoken to her to stop. I’ve asked her to forgive whatever I’d done against her. She’s always angry. She could be laughing heartily but immediately she sees me passing by, she’ll frown and bare her teeth. I don’t mind. It’s her life. She can decide to be angry for the rest of her life.
She has now taken it upon herself to make everyone in the village hate me. Kids no longer run to me to help. At first, when I go to the community tap, they made me jump the queue. These days they don’t mind me. I will wait till it gets to my turn. The girl-with-the-beautiful-teeth came to my house the other time. She asked what is going on between me and Dufie. I asked, “Has she come to you?” She said, “Yes but not directly. She spoke to my mom. She told her you said you only want to sleep with me, get me pregnant and run away so my mother should stop me from seeing you.”
“All because of the food she thinks I didn’t eat?”
I narrated the whole story to The-girl-with-the-beautiful-teeth. How it started and how it escalated quickly. She said, “Find a new place to rent. The girl is after you in a special way.” I asked her, “What do you mean?” She said, “That’s all I can say. Just start looking for a new place if what you told me is the truth.” She won’t go into details. She won’t say anything more than she had said. She had been encouraging me to leave this house but I rented this place because it’s a little bit closer to the community toilet. All the other places are a place too far.
My issue now is the explanation The-girl-with-the-beautiful-teeth is hiding from me. What is there to know that she’s not telling me? It’s my life in danger? Is there anyone here who has explanations? I would be glad to know.