CHAPTER ONE (CIRCLE WAHALA)
She smiled as she picked up her Ankara top to iron. She tried it on to see if it still fitted her and it did perfectly. Usually, she would have a pale of water by her side to sprinkle some on her clothes before ironing but she had been able to purchase a can of spray starch which she felt was a better and less strenuous option to her usual "style". As she sprayed the fabric, she just couldn't hide her smiles. Anybody who was with her in the room would have thought she was almost losing her mind. She imagined how it would feel stepping out without a curfew. She had nursed this dream for so many years and she couldn't believe it was finally happening.
Koshie was the only girl among the three children of her parents and that meant, she was always being shielded from the outside world. Her father was very strict on her (which is normal with most african fathers) but his leniency with her brothers always confused her. What made them more special than she was? How come they could do anything they wanted and she had so many restrictions? She couldn't comprehend the unbalanced scale being used but she knew better than to question her parent's decisions and ways,especially that of her father's. She always had strict rules to follow and it made her feel like she was always walking on egg shells around her family. But today, she had succeeded in "securing" permission from her reluctant dad to go for a school club seminar.
She knew she had to lie else Mr. Lamptey would not have granted that permission. Koshie Lamptey was the 16 year old daughter of Mr. Daniel Nii Lantey Lamptey and Mrs. Dela Lamptey. They had two sons; Odartey and Odartei Lamptey who were 24 years and 21 years old respectively. Mr. Lamptey worked as a high school principal in one of the prestigious schools in Accra while his wife sold general merchandise at the makola market in the central business district in Accra. They were middle income earners but they always made sure their children never lacked basic necessities. Both parents were disciplinarians and it showed in their military style of raising their children. There were hardly any slip up from the Lamptey kids as they did their best to remain on the good side of their parents. Nobody wanted to be at the receiving end of numerous lashes to iron out any inappropriate behaviour.
Vacation time was exciting for most high school students on academic break because,they got to enjoy socializing outside their usual academic surroundings. It wasn't the same for Koshie. Vacation time meant maximum security prison. Even more secure than the Nsawam prisons. But today was the day she was going to have her own day off from her prison days. She hurried through her bath and tried to hurry through getting dressed because she didn't want her father to change his mind about her going out. As she slapped the lotion on the parts of her body she knew would be exposed, she figured she could look and feel extra pretty for her big day. After all, she deserved it. She smiled and sat on the edge of the bed as she slowly smeared the lotion on her body like she had seen the models do in lotion adverts on Television. Satisfied, she grabbed her jeans and wore it then carefully slid her Ankara top over her head to avoid unnecessary creases. She kept turning in front of the mirror to admire her beautiful transformation. She looked at her nappy 4c short hair and wondered what she could do about it. She applied some shea butter to it and combed it out. Though it was painful and it left her slightly teary-eyed, she knew a neatly combed hair was perfect to complete her look. But she still felt something was missing. Koshie knew that whatever it was, she was going to find it in her mum's dresser. She peeped out of her room to see if daddy was anywhere in sight then carefully tip-toed to their bed room. She quickly searched through the dresser and found some edge control, facial powder and lip gloss. Perfect, she thought. She applied the powder and lip gloss there and left it how she saw it. She then took abit of the edge control cream, hid it in her palm and rushed back to her room. She skillfully applied it on her her edges to lay them and then admired herself in the mirror one last time. She picked up her sling bag and walked quietly through the corridor connecting to the hall. She stopped and took a deep breath before she met Dzata (Tiger) Lamptey. Koshie stepped into the hall and realized it was empty.
"Daddy, I'm ready to go please" she called out. She soon heard laughter and some chatter coming from the kitchen then she realized her dad was talking to someone on the phone. He paused and replied to her from the kitchen.
"Ok. Be careful out there. Pick the money on the centre table and use it for your transportation " he replied.
Koshie expressed her thanks and picked the ghc50 note from the table and joyfully skipped out of the house. Stepping outside the gate was like freedom. She would have kissed the ground if not for the people going about their business walking past her. She excitedly looked at the ghc50 note her dad had left her and remembered the other ghc50 note her mum gave her the previous evening. That brought her net worth to whooping ghc100. She was rich, she thought. So now the plan was to map out her route for the day. She was going to pick a trotro ( public transport buses) to atomic junction, then she would make her way to Circle and call Becky then go to her house. The first trotro that passed was heading to madina so she ignored it. The next cars that passed were private cars. Soon she heard a mate (bus conductor) shout "Atomic! Atomic!!". She stopped them and took her seat by the window. The trotro kept stopping several times to pick up more passengers and this annoyed Koshie because she felt her precious calculated time was being wasted. Soon, they were at atomic junction and she got down from the car and walked to the bus stop. There was a circle trotro parked there already loading. She rushed in and took her seat by the window. Soon other passengers joined her and one young man sat by her. She took out her phone and put in her ear piece after she had selected her hip life playlist. The bus moved but got stuck in heavy traffic around legon. Soon, everyone started sweating and feeling uncomfortable. Koshie was feeling the heat as well but what bothered her most was the foul onion-like smell that engulfed her nose. She knew it was definitely the smell from someone's sweaty armpit but she couldn't tell whose. Soon, she found the owner of the stench and it was none other than Mr. Young man sitting by Koshie. She figured it out when he had a phone call and put his elbow on the next seat as support while placing the phone to his ears to answer. Koshie, swiftly turned her nose outside to breath in some fresh air because the smell was enough to kill. She wondered if he couldn't perceive the smell himself. The traffic situation turned to a go-slow (slowing moving traffic) which didn't ease the killing-me-softly smell matter at all. Apparently, Koshie wasnt the only one who was experiencing the smell of death😂😂😂. An old woman who was clad in black, obviously going for a funeral, turned and told the young man to put his hands down before he kills someone. Mr. Man was obviously confused and Madam old woman saw it. She said in Ga (a local dialect of Gas in the Greater-Accra Region)
"Owula, juu ohe ojogbang " meaning, "youngman, bath well". Everyone burst out in laughter as the youngman became self conscious and of himself. Koshie felt embarrassed for him but couldn't say anything. As the traffic situation eased up, the mate collected his fares and occasionally, he had disagreements with some passengers over the fares. Soon, a pastor joined the bus and started preaching. Most passengers listened with rapt attention as he delivered the sermon.
He soon got down after collecting offertory and that's when Koshie realized that the struggle was real. Soon, a self acclaimed drug seller also joined the bus. He sold drug that he claimed could cure piles, malaria, erectile dysfunction, fibroid, hernia, and a thousand more diseases. Koshie was astonished and she just couldn't hide it. The little science she read in school told her it was impossible but he got buyers. Even the old woman bought one to treat her aching joints.
Charley, life wasn't easy in Accra oo. Looks like everyone must chop oo. They were soon at Circle and Koshie got down. She was immediately overwhelmed by all the colours, people and noise around her. She pulled out her phone to call Becky but one of the seller who had displayed her wares on the pavement told her that she shouldn't try it. She cautioned Koshie to hide her phone because, in Circle, they can steal your soul and you won't realized it till you are dead. She said they can even steal your sense. Koshie laughed but she knew the woman was not joking. She had heard about how someone's phone got stolen while he was still listening to music with an earpiece and only realized the phone being missed after joining a car. She had heard the thieves had upgraded their skills and even used juju (voodoo) to hypnotize their victims. Times were hard and everybody was trying to get by as best as they could. Even the thieves.
Koshie walked towards the VIP bus terminal which she felt was a safe haven to pull out her phone and call Becky. She made her way through the crowd while clenching her bag close to her chest. Many people bumped into her because pedestrians were competing for walking space with sellers who had displayed their goods on the pavement. It was a normal phenomenon in most cities in Ghana. She soon made it to the bus terminal and stood in the corner. She dipped her hand in her bag for her phone but couldn't feel it. She panicked. Had she been robbed? Her mind started to race and her heart started to beat fast. What was she going to do? How was she going to explain to her parents how she lost her phone at circle? Circle was nowhere near her route to the venue for the seminar. They would ask how she got to Circle if the venue was at Legon. She started sweating profusely and she found the nearest chair to sink into. She poured the contents of her bag in the next chair and still no phone. Tears filled her eyes but before they could fall down her cheeks, she felt a vibration in her right thigh. She touched it and realized her phone was there. Relief washed over her and her breathing normalized. She pulled out the phone and realized it was Becky calling. She hurriedly picked up and gave Becky her location. Since Becky lived at Adabraka ( a suburb of Accra), it would only take her a few minutes to get to the bus terminal. Within 15 minutes, Becky arrived in a floral petite dress and they hugged. This was the first time they were seeing each other after vacation from school and they were so excited to be in each other's company. They then planned to go and have pizza at Papa's pizza along the ring road so they could take pictures and upload them on their various social media handles. Before they left, Koshie realized she was missing her purse. She didn't want to overreact like the previous time so she took calculated breaths and calmly searched for it for the third time. After a few minutes, they realized her purse was really gone. Now, the tears that couldn't fall earlier, cascaded down her cheeks while Becky consoled her. All her money was gone and she wouldn't even be able to go home. Soon, some travellers in the terminal approached them and asked what the matter was and amidst her tears, she told them she had lost her purse.
Traveler 1 said " Dont mind them. This is how they deceive people with their crocodile tears and collect money from people"
Koshie was hurt by that remark but she was overwhelmed by grief so much so that, she just couldn't utter a word.
Traveler 2 asked" How much was in the purse?"
"I had ghc100 in the purse, maa" replied Koshie. Becky suggested they go to the police station to report it
Traveler 3 responded " Report to Ghana police because of ghc100?" All three travellers laughed.
The security guard who was listening all this while joined the conversation
"Madam, forget about police oo. Your money is gone. Understand that Accra you dey, so your mind for dey (you are in Accra so you have to be careful) "
FELLAS, ACCRA STAY BY PLAN.
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